Hockey: Ten Players to Watch in 2015-2016

Brian Ireland
Milford goalie Brian Ireland will be counted on to backstop the Hawks this season is a player to watch in 2015-16. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Keagin Larkin, Attleboro – The Bombardiers made an improbable run to the Div. 3 South semifinal last season and one of the reasons for their success was the play of Larkin in the tournament. The senior forward returns as one of Attleboro’s biggest threats on offense. He scored seven goals and had 17 assists last year and he will hope to be able to create scoring opportunities along with P.J. Elliott and Jake Parker. Larkin has good stick skills and is tenacious in the attacking zone, both in the corners and crashing the net. If Larkin can stay healthy, Attleboro could get the chance to surprise some more people in the tournament.

Matt Lazaro, Canton – Over the past two seasons, Lazaro has been the top Canton’s top goal scorer and the former HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year is primed for another super season. He scored 24 goals (and 16 assists) in his sophomore campaign and had 26 goals (and 17 assists) last season, both a team-high. He doesn’t score with power but his speed can cause havoc for defenses and he’s able to sneak by a lot of defenders. Once he gets in close, he’s one of the toughest forwards to try and stop if you’re a goalie.
Jackson Maffeo, Canton – The reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year returns to man the blue line for the preseason favorite to win the league title. Maffeo is a smooth defenseman with puck skills and late last season he became much more aggressive looking for his own shot from the point. Now in his third year on varsity, Maffeo reads the play as well as anyone in the league and has become more physical over the past two seasons. The Bulldogs remain one of the contenders for the DIv. 2 South title and, considering some losses on the forward lines, the defense could be a major reason why. Maffeo is now a veteran in the program and he will be expected to be a leader out on the ice.
Tyler Oakes, Franklin – The senior defenseman is a newcomer to the Franklin program after spending time with the South Shore Kings last season. For the Kings, Oakes played 23 games and scored a goal and an assist. He is a little bit of an unknown for the coaches and the rest of the Hockomock but Franklin coach Chris Spillane said that he is a solid offensive defenseman that will step right in and contribute. After losing 21 players to graduation, Franklin needed someone to step in and Oakes could prove to be the right player to help fill in for the hole left by Mason Saunders and Kyle Filbert, both of whom liked to push forward into the attacking zone. Oakes’s return could be perfect timing for the Panthers.
Collin Cooke, King Philip – The sophomore forward is coming off an impressive rookie season in which he total double digits in goal (11) and assists (10). Cooke, who also played for the U-16 South Shore Kings, has strong stick skills and speed to burn. He showed the ability to fight in the corners and to find his way to the dangerous areas in front of the goal. Not every scoring opportunity had to be a pretty one on the break, which is impressive for a young player. Now that he has acclimated to the pace and physicality of the varsity game, Cooke could be in for an even bigger season this winter under new coach Paul Carlow.
Matt Farragher, Mansfield – The Hornets head into another season as one of the favorites to challenge Franklin in the Kelley-Rex and Farragher is one of the players that will be counted on to pour in the goals for Mansfield. Coming off a season in which he was named an honorable mention for all-star by the league’s coaches. He emerged as one of the team’s top scorers as a sophomore and could be ready for a breakout season along with fellow juniors Pat Sunderland and Chad Piotti, as the Hornets turn to the next crop of talented forwards.
Brian Ireland, Milford – There aren’t too many returning starting goalies this year but Brian Ireland is one of them and he’s got a lot of experience under his belt. After seeing minimal time his freshman year, Ireland has been the main man for the Scarlet Hawks the last two years and will be in the role — maybe even more so — this year. He has five shutouts over the past two seasons and had 1,002 saves coming into the season this year. He improved his GAA by nearly a half a point from his sophomore to junior seasons. He’s quick moving side to side and reads the play well and get position himself well.
Erik Clements, North Attleboro – The Rocketeers will be looking to try to replace all of the offense that graduated with Sean Young but head coach Steve Snizek has plenty of options and that includes junior Erik Clements, now in his third varsity season. There are a lot of experienced Rocketeers that will require attention but Clements is a big, strong forward that not only can power his way forward but is also shifty. He has 18 career goals in his two years while his 20 career assists shows he’s more than just a player focused on putting the puck in the net. If he gets an open shot it will be trouble for opposing goalies.
Mark Sheehan, Stoughton – Stoughton hasn’t had a lot of wins over the past couple of seasons but senior Mark Sheehan has been a bright spot for head coach Dan Mark. He’s had a team-best 30 points over the past two seasons, including 14 goals in his sophomore year. With the puck on his stick, Sheehan is one of the fastest players on the ice and has no fear of going right at defensemen. Whether he chooses to just blow by them or go through them with a deke is what makes him hard to handle for opponents. He has a good shot too and is already off to a good start with three goals in two games this season.
Nick Terry, Taunton – Although Terry is a junior, he already has three years of varsity experience for the Tigers after playing as an eighth grader. Each year, Terry has improved his skating and positioning and it has shown with his play. Through three years, Terry has three goals as a defenseman and 25 assists so far. Terry’s ability to read the play and force a turnover and then has improved his puck moving skills to get the offense in gear. During his junior season we could see an increase in scoring if Terry can get up the ice.

Ryan Lanigan
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