Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 04/21/22

Today’s games are listed below.

Baseball
Foxboro, 11 vs. Quincy, 5 – FinalFoxboro erased a five-run deficit with a huge fifth inning to score a win over Quincy at Adams Field. The Warriors pushed across 10 runs in the fifth inning to turn a five-run deficit into a five-run cushion. Liam Mulkern (two RBI, two run) had three hits while Sean O’Leary (RBI) and Tyler Prescott (two RBI, run) each had two hits in the win. Ryan LeClair also drove in two runs while Kenny Mello and Louis Carangelo each had one RBI. After the Warriors took the lead, O’Leary came in and pitched three strikeout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out seven.

King Philip, 7 vs. Nipmuc, 1 – FinalKing Philip bounced back from its first loss of the season by taking care of business in a win over visiting Nipmuc. The Warriors plated three runs in the first, tacked on single runs in the second and fifth, and had two runs in the fourth inning. Shawn Legere and Dan Nineve (two RBI) each had singles in the first to drive take a 3-0 lead. Legere extended the lead with a second inning sac fly, and both Eli Reed and Brendan Senjac each had an RBI single in the fourth inning. Nick Viscusi had a strong outing on the mound, allowing just one run (unearned) on three hits and one walk, striking out five in five inning of work. Senior Quin Garstka tossed two shutout innings in relief, striking out four without allowing a hit or a walk.

Milford, 3 vs. Oxford, 2 – FinalMilford overcame an early two-run deficit, plating all three of its runs in the bottom of the fourth in a win over visiting Oxford. Oxford jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first before Milford sophomore starter Anthony LaPierre settled down, pitching five straight shutout innings after. He finished with four strikeouts, four walks, and two earned runs on six hits. In the fourth, Alex McColl singled, Tyler Lane walked, and Grant Scudo singled to load the bases for the Hawks. Ian Carter drew a walk to bring in the first run, and two at-bats later, Damien Carter laced a two-out, two-run single to left field to put Milford ahead.

Stoughton, 5 @ Brockton, 3 – FinalTrailing 3-0 after three innings, Stoughton rallied for two in the fourth and three more in the sixth to break into the win column by knocking off the Boxers. With two outs, Sean Farley reached on an error allowing both Jonah Ly and Anthony Tilton (walk) to come home to score to make it a one-run game. The Black Knights added three more runs with two outs in the top of the sixth. Farley again reached on an error as Brad Franey and Tilton came home to score, and three pitches later, Anthony Girlamo hit a single to score Farley for a 5-3 lead. Sophomore Hunter Malkin allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks, striking out four in 3.1 innings of work. Tilton was strong in relief, with just two hits and three walks allowed, striking out three in 3.2 scoreless innings.

Softball
Foxboro, 1 @ Silver Lake, 13 – Final

Sharon vs. Duxbury, 2:00

King Philip, 13 @ Milford, 1 – Final (5 inn.)King Philip scored in each inning, including a five-fun fourth inning to blow it open for a win on the road over Milford. The Warriors had nine hits as a team, including a team-high three hits from Charlotte Raymond, who also had four RBI and three runs scored. KP also showed patience at the plate with eight walks on the day, two apiece from Meg Sherwood (run) and Taylor Regan (run). Sarah Cullen and Caitlyn Sencaj each added an RBI double in the win. Jordan Bennett and Emma Sheehan combined to allow just one run and strike out 11. Sophomore Maddie Burns had an RBI double for the Scarlet Hawks, scoring classmate Sarah Wengal (walk) in the second inning.

Boys Lacrosse
Canton, 8 @ Ashland, 3 – Final Sam Carlino led the charge with six goals as Canton went on the road and picked up a win over Ashland. Jeffrey Chaput added two goals while Sean Connolly, Brendan Tourgee, and AJ Thomas recorded an assist. Pat Drury had a big day in net, making 17 saves in the win.

Foxboro, 12 vs. Falmouth, 8 – FinalFoxboro bounced back from a loss in the opening round of the Chowda Cup to take down Falmouth. The Warriors had a balanced attack with Tommy Sharkey (two assists) and Lincoln Moore (assist) leading the way with four goals apiece while Conor Noone scored twice and had one assist, and Jack Avery and Ian Foley both scored once. Adam Addeche made seven saves in net while Finn Stapleton and Matt Grace both played well defensively in front of the cage.

Franklin, 21 vs. Walpole, 6 – FinalAfter an even first quarter (2-2), Franklin dominated the second with eight goals and never looked back in a win over visiting Walpole. The Panthers will take on St. John’s on Saturday at Lexington. Jayden Consigli led the charge offensively wiht seven goals and two helpers while Jake Davis (five goals, two assists) and Tyler Sacchetti (three goals, four assists) each added seven points in the win.

Mansfield, 0 vs. Norwell, 13 – Final

North Attleboro, 17 @ Silver Lake, 16 – Final (2OT)Silver Lake scored as time expired in regulation to force the extra period but North Attleboro recovered to get the win in double overtime. Connor Ruppert (four goals, two assists) took a pass from Clayton Billingkoff (two goals, three assists), split a double team and deposited the winner into the back of the net. Brady Backner added a hat trick, Luke Ward scored twice, and Luke Antonetti added one goal for the Rocketeers. JT Gallagher had 12 saves, including some key stops in overtime to keep North alive. Jared Vacher continued to impress from the X, winning 26 of 33 faceoffs.

Oliver Ames, 4 @ Nipmuc, 12 – Final

Girls Lacrosse
King Philip, 8 vs. Medfield, 16 – FinalKing Philip trailed by just three at halftime (6-3) but Medfield had a big second half to pull away for the win. Makenzie McDevitt had four goals for the Warriors while Lily Brown added a pair of goals. Head coach Kourtnie Wilder praised the defensive effort for Margo Riley and Sammy Cloutier.

Oliver Ames, 13 vs. Nipmuc, 5 – Final

2022 Hockomock League Boys Lacrosse Preview

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview
Following a first South final appearance, Franklin returns a strong group to go after a state title. Find full previews for all teams below. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

Attleboro

2021 Record: 3-11
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Kevin Patton
Attleboro had some growing pains during the 2021 campaign, but has a good chunk of the roster back in the fold for 2022 and will try to take the next step forward as a program.

The Bombardiers will have a strong foundation on the defensive end of the field. Captain Fred Wheaton is back for another year to anchor the defense and he’s joined by fellow returners Bobby Sawyer and John Wheaton to give Attleboro a solid veteran nucleus to try and shut down some of the top offenses in the league. Attleboro also has sophomore Harry Wheaton back in net after gaining valuable experience in the cage in 2021.

Having last year’s top scorer in Carter Shelton back in the fold will give the Bombardiers a good start in the attack. Shelton scored 30 goals and had 15 assists, finishing 12th in the Hock in scoring. Captain Keigan Conley is also back to bolster the attack, coming off a 22 goal, 10 assist campaign a year ago. Freshman Nathan Conroy is also in the mix already in the attack.

Attleboro’s midfield will be anchored by captain Ryan Betts along with Chad Beaupin and Seth LaPlace. The Bombardiers also expect contributions from Cole McKenna, Patrick McAvoy, and Spencer Scherck.

“We have a lot of returning guys that picked up valuable varsity experience last season,” said Attleboro head coach Kevin Patton. “We are looking forward to a strong season in 2022.”

Canton

2021 Record: 14-2
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal
Coach: Ryan Quinn
Canton split its two games with Foxboro to win a share of the Davenport title in 2021, just the third league title in program history and were an overtime goal away from reaching the Div. 2 South final. The Bulldogs have a lot of experience in the attack and the midfield this season with the goal of putting in another challenge for the league crown and putting together another state tournament push.

The Bulldogs had a dynamic attack last spring and the league’s leading scorer Sam Carlino headlines a strong group this season as well. Junior Jeff Chaput joins Carlino in the attack and the midfield group is filled with experience from last season. Sophomore Brendan Tourgee, juniors AJ Thomas and Chris Hamilton, senior Eddie Gillis, and Charlie Vaughn will all give Canton playmaking at the middie position.

Defensively, Canton will definitely miss graduated goalie Dylan Coyne but the Bulldogs have a talented group of poles that should be tough to score against this season. Senior Sean Connolly will lead that defensive group alongside sophomores Luke Darling and Colin Blake.

“I am really excited about this upcoming season,” said second-year coach Ryan Quinn. “Our student-athletes have been working hard to build on our success from last season, but are very aware that everything we achieve is based upon the work we put in this year, every day.  We are led by a small, but strong senior class, and have depth across all four grades levels. This group is a very coachable group and we are very excited to begin”







Foxboro

2021 Record: 11-4
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central/East Quarterfinal
Coach: Matt Noone
After graduating just two seniors from last year’s team, Foxboro is back with a strong lineup that will look to reclaim the Davenport title that it shared with Canton in 2021. The Warriors will have depth up and down the field with the goal of not only returning to the top of the division but also being ready for a deep run in the statewide tournament.

Foxboro’s attack is all back from last season. The Warriors finished third in goals scored in the league in 2021 and a year’s worth of experience should make them even more dynamic. Junior Conor Noone was the league’s third-leading scorer last season and he will lead the line again alongside sophomore Lincoln Moore, coming off a breakout rookie campaign, and senior Jack Avery. Senior Tommy Sharkey was an all-star middie last season and he will be joined by junior Finn Stapleton and sophomore Tony Sulham, another player who made a strong varsity debut as a freshman.

Depth should be a strength for the Warriors, who return their second midfield group as well, including sophomores Sully Kenneally, Ryan Cotter, and Ian Foley. Foxboro’s defense is returning as a group too. Seniors Dylan Kerrigan and Ben Ricketts are the leaders at the back and will be joined by classmate Mark Jansen. Senior Matt Grace will start at LSM with sophomore Jack Sullivan backing him up. Sophomore Adam Addeche is back in goal, backed up by classmate Nate Urman, and freshman midfielder John Sacchetti and defender James Dee Gaffney are newcomers with potential.

“The Warriors graduated two seniors and return the core of their team,” said Foxboro coach Matt Noone. “Everyone is a year older with varsity experience which will help us in our 2022 push.”

Franklin

2021 Record: 18-1
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final
Coach: Lou Verrochi
After reaching the program’s first sectional final in 2021, Franklin brings a typically strong lineup of experienced players who will be aiming to make a run in the new statewide tournament. The Panthers have loaded up their regular season schedule to prepare for the rigors of the tournament with state powers Medfield, Lincoln-Sudbury, and St. John’s Prep among the teams that Franklin will challenge itself against to be ready to shoot for silverware this spring.

Franklin’s attack scored more than 300 goals in 19 games last season and should be just as dynamic this year with junior All-American Luke Davis joined by classmate Jayden Consigli, who were both in the top five in scoring in the league in 2021. Junior Tyler Sacchetti will be the third member of the attacking crew. Sophomore Drew Hansen and Ed O’Brien and junior John Walshe will make up the first midfield. Junior Justin Alexander was one of the best face-off middies in the state last year and the Panthers will be counting on him to control possessions again this season.

Senior Kyle Palmieri will lead the defensive group, which should once again be a challenge for the opposition to score against. Junior Ben Harvey and senior Billy Gardner will also be key players at close defense. Sophomore goalie Matt Corvi will step into the cage this spring and has the potential to be a standout.

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

“Once again, we will have a very competitive team this spring with a very tough schedule,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi.




King Philip

2021 Record: 9-5
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Hal Bean
With more than a dozen players back in the fold from last year, King Philip is looking to take another step forward after posting a 9-5 record last year.

The Warriors have key pieces in the lineup all over the field, starting with senior goalie James Boldy. Boldy had a great campaign a season ago and will be among the top goalies in the league this year. He will work with fellow senior captain Will Weiblen and senior Shaun Fitzpatrick as the anchors of the King Philip defense.

There is a strong core of midfielders back in the mix this year, starting with returning faceoff specialist Thomas Brewster. He will be joined by a very experienced group that features seniors Ben Riggs, Sean McCarthy, Andrew Longobardi, Nolan Feyler,
Brayden Thompson, John Campbell, and Ian Hill, along with sophomore standout Noah Minkwitz. Riggs (31 points last year) will be one of the most dangerous two-way players in the league but KP has a lot of depth in the position.

Offensively, King Philip has Sean Crowther back in the fold, who was just one of six Hock players to reach the 40-goal mark on the season. He’s joined by Kip Bishop and Colin Lightbody, who both registered 19 points a year ago, as well as Colin Gillis and sophomore Donovan DeVellis.

“King Philip boys lacrosse expects to compete in every game and anticipates a productive season and playoff run,” said KP head coach Hal Bean “We all are looking forward to a fun season!”

Mansfield

2021 Record: 6-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Tim Frias
With a handful of young faces fighting for spots in the lineup, Mansfield is hoping to pick up valuable experience early and make a late charge for a spot in the state tournament.

The Hornets do have some experience on the defensive side of the ball with Ryan DeGirolamo starting in the cage and senior captains Zander Holmes and Mark DiGirolamo patrolling the space in front of him. Mansfield has a handful of young poles that will be in the mix including Liam Barry, Patrick Gormley, Nolan Bordieri, and James DeGirolamo.

The group of upperclassmen will make up the majority of the field with senior Dash Munson joining a trio of talented juniors in Grady Sullivan, Drew Sacco, and Cody Gordon. The Hornets have a lot of young players looking to find spots in the midfield and lineup and general, and new names that could contribute early on include Aidan Steele, Jake Feinberg, and Liam Steele.

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

In the attack, senior Jack Roberts will be accompanied by a pair of sophomores in Tommy Smith and Andrew Burnham.




Milford

2021 Record: 2-11
2021 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Austin Costa
Under the guidance of new head coach Austin Costa, the Scarlet Hawks are aiming to show improvement throughout the season and set the program on an upward trajectory.

There is a strong mix of veteran leadership and new faces eager to find a spot in the lineup for Costa and the Scarlet Hawks this season. Senior captain Eric Landry is set to be the leader on the defensive end, and his experience will be key as Milford tries to fend off some lethal offenses. Landry will be joined by Brian Goncalves and junior Nick Casilli, both returners for the Scarlet Hawks. Defensive experience will be key as the Hawks turn to Alex McGuire for his varsity debut in the cage.

Offensively, look for veterans Jacob Ligor and Eric Farrell to be major contributors for the Scarlet Hawks. Both have a good amount of experience playing at this level and know what it takes to compete in the Hockomock League. Other returners for Milford include Kyle Donelan, Shawn O’Donnell, and Ronn Swineford while freshmen Alex Maietta and Jayden Martins have impressed early on and could be key contributors right away.

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

North Attleboro

2021 Record: 7-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central/East Quarterfinal
Coach: Kevin Young
North Attleboro finished in a tie for third in the Davenport division last year and had an impressive playoff win over Belmont before being beaten by sectional finalist Medfield. The Rocketeers only graduated two players from last season’s team, so Big Red comes into the spring with big expectations of competing for a first league title since 2017 and being a threat in the state tournament.

The North attack should be an area of strength this season with seniors Matt Antonetti, Connor Ruppert, and Clayton Billingkoff all back up top. Antonetti led the team with 57 points in 2021. Juniors Jack Regan and Luke Ward have both had strong preseasons, while freshmen Ethan Gustafson and Brady Brackner could be poised for breakout debuts. Senior Jared Vacher will do his best to get as many possessions as possible for the North attack by winning draws.

North’s defense has plenty of experience as well. Senior Max Hobbs, Anthony Ferro, and James Brennan will get plenty of help from sophomore Connor Rajotte and junior LSM Julian House. The Rocketeers can also count on two experienced goalies with senior Ethan McGrath and junior JT Gallagher both back in the cage this spring.

“We know the Hockomock will be strong this year,” said North coach Kevin Young. “I am excited to watch this group compete and grow as a team.”

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

Oliver Ames

2021 Record: 3-11
2021 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Ben Devlin
Oliver Ames coach Ben Devlin stepped down after last season, but he was convinced to come back this spring to lead a young Tigers team. Twenty-four of the 34 players in the program this year are either freshmen or sophomores, so OA will be counting on younger players to step up across the field and Devlin is excited about the promise he sees during the preseason.

Senior midfielder Wyatt Fritchman and junior attacker Ben Reardon will be the leaders on offense. Fritchman was second on the team in scoring last year and Reardon went on a run of nine goals in the final three games of his sophomore season. Senior Wes Tower is back to run things in the midfield and sophomores Ryan Jaco and Alex McAndrew have the potential to find the back of the net.

On the other end of the field, senior Cam Tower has been converted to LSM this season. The other poles will be led by junior Jake Manthous, who also was in charge of the face-offs last year, and sophomore Landon Grothe. Junior Noah Isleib returns in goal to keep things organized on defense and sophomore Ethan St. Jean will be his backup.
 
“Despite being much younger, we are looking to improve on last year’s results and continue building the program,” said Devlin. “We expect to have some growing pains early in the season, but look to improve as the younger players get experience and develop their game during the season. It’s never easy to rebuild in a talented league like the Hock. There aren’t any easy games as every team is talented and well-coached…but we are setting our sights on winning enough games to reach the postseason.”

Sharon

2021 Record: 9-6
2021 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Jon Shocket
Sharon has a solid core back from last year’s nine-win team but without any juniors on the squad, there will be a lot of young players in the lineup with most getting their first taste of varsity lacrosse.

With over a half dozen seniors on the roster, head coach Jon Shocket will lean heavily on their veteran leadership and experience as the new players get integrated into the lineup and acclimated with the speed of the high school game. The senior trio of Ben Shocket, Brady Daylor, and Ryan Zunenshine are this year’s captains.

The other seniors on the team include Jace Nestler, Matt Mahoney, James Lillenfeld, and Chance Hanah, and all four will be vital as the Eagles make a push for the postseason. There are four freshmen already in the lineup including Matt Powers in net, Jordan Burke at attack, and Zach Bernstein and Ben Goldberg at defense. Sophomores Gabe Korn, Ryan Brown, Jacob Kaufman, and Ronin Widland will also be in the mix for the Eagles.

“I hope to get a lot of growth from our team as we get more experience,” Shocket said.

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

Three-Peat Bid Dashed as Canton Falls to Tewksbury

Canton boys hockey
Canton junior Jack Digirolamo tries to redirect a shot in the second period against Tewksbury. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


BOSTON, Mass. – Throughout its postseason run, Canton has been able to put teams on their heels almost from the drop of the puck and has mostly played from in front. On Saturday evening at the TD Garden, it was Tewksbury that got off to the quick start and the Bulldogs were never able to fully recover.

In a rematch of the 2019 Div. 2 title game, the Redmen came out with extra energy, scored twice in the first period and then held on in the third to secure a 3-1 win. Tewksbury clinched its first title since 2011, ended Canton’s win streak at 22 games, its postseason win streak at 13 games, and its bid at a third straight state championship.

“It was a heck of a hockey game,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “I think two of the better hockey teams in the state made it this far and Tewksbury came as advertised, outstanding team, especially on the back end, made it really hard to get any offense going in this game and then when you did get a couple opportunities against them their goalie made some great saves.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

He added, “Incredibly proud of our guys battling. It could’ve unraveled there when we went down 2-0 but we fought.”

It didn’t take the top seed long to show its intent to put pressure on the Canton defense. Jason Cooke forced a turnover in the attacking zone and fired a shot that freshman goalie Colin Davis turned aside with his blocker.

A couple minutes later, the Redmen took the lead. Caden Connors split a pair of Canton defensemen to get in on goal. He dragged Davis away from the net with a nice deke and the loose puck was knocked into the empty net by Matthew Cooke.

Things seemed to be just a little bit off for the Bulldogs. Passes didn’t seem quite as crisp or as accurate and pucks just seemed to be rolling off the blade at crucial times. Still, Canton kept battling and trying to create chances. Eddie Gillis set up a couple of shots, one from the blue line for Ryan Doucette and another on the forehand for AJ Thoams but Benjamin O’Keefe saved them both.

Davis came up with a big save with four minutes left in the first, as he stayed strong to deny a point-blank tip from Jason Cooke. Canton picked up a penalty on the back check and Tewksbury took advantage of the extra skater to double the lead. Connors again showed off his stick skills, weaving his way through three players before dragging it to the backhand while falling and depositing it in the open net.

“They did exactly what you want to do in a game like that, which is get the puck in the other team’s zone and keep it there for a while,” Shuman said about Tewksbury’s fast start. “Our goalie made some big saves. They set the tone for the game and, when that happens, it takes a little while to claw back in it, but I thought we did.”

Canton had a couple of chances at the end of the first. Eamon Kelly took a hit and forced a blocker save out of O’Keefe from the slot and Brennen Pecararo tried to match Connors with a dangle through the legs of the defensemen but O’Keefe closed down the five-hole.

Although shots were nearly even in the first (10-9), Tewksbury seemed to be creating more clear-cut chances. That continued at the start of the second. Another turnover gifted Cooke with a chance from close range that Davis saved. Two minutes in, Justin Rooney had a shot deflected and Doucette had to clear the rebound from the crease.

Brendan Tourgee tried to get things going with a steal in the neutral zone and a shorthanded slap shot that was partially blocked and kicked away by O’Keefe. With seven minutes left in the period, Canton had a great chance to get back into the game. Patrick Drurry’s shot from the left wing boards was kicked right to the stick of Brian Middleton in the slot, but the sophomore’s wrister was snagged by O’Keefe’s quick glove.

There were signs that the Bulldogs had turned the tide a little and they got a huge opportunity with their first power play. Sean Connolly twice had shots from the point saved, despite Jack Digirolamo providing a net-front presence, and Kelly forced a save with a wraparound try. Pecararo then hit Thomas right on the edge of the crease but again the Tewksbury goalie was there.

Canton made the breakthrough midway through the third period. Gillis collected the puck in the slot and slid a perfect pass into the path of an onrushing Thomas, who slammed in a one-timer to cut the lead to 2-1 with 7:13 to play.

“AJ’s had a great year,” Shuman said. “I think he surprised some people early on but he didn’t surprise anyone in our locker room. He’s got such a quick shot and he’s truly talented around the net.”

The spark of life from Canton was short-lived. In fact, it was Tewksbury that seemed to get a boost. Tyler Barnes spun and fired off a quick shot that Davis did well to turn aside, Ryan Flynn jumped on a mistake to race in alone but smacked the bar, and then Barnes got behind the defense on another breakaway only for Davis to shut down the five-hole and keep the Bulldogs in it.

With Canton pressing forward in the final minute and the net empty, Connors was able to break free down the left wing and he sealed the win for the Redmen.

When asked what it meant to be back playing at the Garden, especially after the Bulldogs were denied that opportunity in 2020, Shuman said, “Give me this any day of the week, to be here and give the kids the chance to play in this wonderful place, this amazing venue, and it’s just great to be back playing postseason sports. There’s nothing like it.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton (22-3-1) has lost only four games in the past four seasons, including two unbeaten campaigns. In that span, the Bulldogs have won four league titles, extended their win streak in the Hockomock League to 43 games, won two state titles, made three state title game appearances, and compiled a remarkable record of 79-4-6.

“It’s a testament to the kids that we have,” Shuman said about the sustained success of the program. “You look up in the stands there and you see all these Canton youth hockey players and these younger players from Canton that dream about being out there and they work hard so that they can make it out there and they work hard so they can make our program great when they do make it here.

“I think it’s a community effort and a community love for the sport and I think it just feeds itself.”

With Fast Start Canton Reels in Another Garden Trip

Canton boys hockey
Canton players celebrate an early goal in front of their traveling fans at the Tsongas Center during the first period of the D2 semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


LOWELL, Mass. – It isn’t often that Canton goes into a game as an underdog, but with No. 2 seed Gloucester waiting in the Div. 2 semifinal at the Tsongas Center, the third-seeded Bulldogs knew that they were facing a battle-tested opponent with a strong resume.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

All of the concerns about the Fishermen were thrown overboard just five minutes into the first period when Canton stormed out of the locker room and scored four goals on their first seven shots. Behind two goals apiece from senior defensemen Sean Connolly and Brennen Pecararo, the Bulldogs rolled to a 6-3 victory and return to the TD Garden for the third straight season.

Canton, the two-time defending state champion, has now won 22 straight games this season (following an 0-2-1 start) and has won 13 straight in the playoffs dating back to the 2018 South semifinal.

“You have to just look at this crew and have so much respect for what they’ve done because they have big shoes to fill,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We have some alums here right now that were part of those 2019 and 2020 [state title-winning] teams and they feel the pressure and I think they really did take it one game at a time. It’s not a cliche, just their approach to the game.

Connolly, who was a freshman on the 2019 team that played at the Garden, said, “It means everything. It’s what we all dreamed about as kids. Hoisting that trophy above your head is a memory that’s going to last a lifetime.”

When asked about getting back to the Garden after the pandemic took away that opportunity in 2020, Connolly replied, “It’s a redemption game. I remember sitting in a classroom, all of us bawling our eyes out. To get the chance to get right back at it, I can’t wait.”

Just seconds into the game, Gloucester looked like it might have the chance to grab the lead when Emerson Marshall got behind the defense but a strong back check helped dislodge the puck right before he was able to shoot. Things swung down the other end and it was Canton that grabbed the advantage. Pecararo, who joined the team after playing in juniors for three seasons, sniped a shot over Gloucester goalie Nick Tarantino’s shoulder on the first shot of the night.

Only 86 seconds later and the lead was doubled. This time it was Connolly, who limped off the ice two rounds ago after an injury in the closing minute against Plymouth North, throwing a puck at the net. It went through a crowd of bodies in front and past the unsighted goalie.

Before the Canton crowd had even settled down, the Bulldogs added another. Only 13 seconds into a power play (and 48 seconds after the second goal), Brendan Tourgee made a perfect angled pass from the left wing boards right to the stick of Connolly, who didn’t need a second touch, knocking his one-timer into the open net.

“Those two guys have played well all year long,” Shuman said about Connolly and Pecararo. “There are two guys who have been huge forces for us offensively, but most importantly defensively. Their game starts in the D zone out and I thought they played great defensively and generated some opportunities in the offense too.”

Things went from bad to worse for the Fisherman a little over a minute later. Tarantino made the initial stop by Eddie Gillis was on hand to collect the rebound and put it away. Even up 4-0, Canton didn’t stop, as Tourgee and Eamon Kelly forced Tarantino into good pad saves and AJ Thomas dragged his way past a defenseman and put a backhand off the goalie’s pads. Canton outshot Gloucester 18-5 in the first (41-21 for the night).

“We’ve been in a couple of those games over the years,” Shuman explained, “late round games that we start off really well and it’s great, don’t get me wrong, but you know that there is a lot of game left and they are a really, really good team. For our guys to come out and play with that kind of poise at the start was really awesome, I’m so proud of them.”

If the Fishermen though that the intermission would slow Canton down, Pecararo showed that was wishful thinking. He made a nice move to keep the puck in at the blue line and fed Thomas, who went top shelf to make it 5-0 less than 90 seconds into the period. With 8:55 left in the second, Pecararo doubled his tally for the night with a pinpoint shot from the point.

“He’s awesome, one of my best friends, and I was glad to get him back this year,” Connolly said of Pecararo. “We do well together and he’s a great addition to our locker room and on the ice.”

Throughout the postseason, Shuman has talked about teams playing with more urgency and desperation when trailing. Taking advantage of a power play, Gloucester started to find that sense of urgency and tallied twice in only 23 seconds to try and make a game of it. Joseph Orlando knocked in a rebound for the first and a nice pass across the crease from Jack Costanzo to Brett Cunningham accounted for the second.

Gloucester turned the tide in the final few minutes of the second and started to put pressure on freshman goalie Colin Davis, who made a series of big stops down the stretch despite the Fishermen throwing as many bodies at the net as possible. Davis made a big stop early in the third after a long rush by Costanzo and denied Colby Jewell on a point-blank stop to keep the four-goal lead.

As the third period wore on, Canton regained its footing and created a series of chances against Gloucester’s backup goalie Riley De Haan. Connolly’s shot forced a save and Jeffrey Chaput sent the rebound just wide. Another Connolly shot was tipped in front by Sam Carlino, but the goalie stayed with it. Tommy Phaneuf had a wrap around try stopped by the goalie’s toe.

Although Gloucester would get a third on a Costanzo power play goal with less than a minute remaining, Canton was able to celebrate another victory and another trip to a state final. It is a special moment for a team that missed out on a chance to skate at the Garden two years ago.

“I think it’s exciting just to be back out there in the playoffs,” said Shuman. “Last year, we were so lucky just to be out there skating and this is great. You cannot beat a playoff high school sports season.”

Canton (22-2-1) will take on top seed Tewksbury in the final, in a rematch of the 2019 championship game that the Bulldogs won 6-2 to complete an unbeaten season. The game is scheduled for Sunday at 3:15 at the TD Garden.

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Thomas Nets Twice, Canton Continues Title Defense

Canton Boys Hockey
Brennen Pecararo celebrates after putting Canton up two goals against Plymouth North in the D2 Sweet Sixteen. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – It took a few minutes for Canton to find its footing in Wednesday night’s Div. 2 Sweet Sixteen matchup with No. 14 seed Plymouth North at the Canton Ice House. The Bulldogs found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 power play and their play didn’t have its typical sharpness.

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But, the Bulldogs still found the breakthrough midway through the first and then took full control of the game with a two-goal burst in the final minute of the period, including a goal from AJ Thomas with no time on the clock. That surge turned out to be decisive, as the two-time defending state champs would hold off the Eagles for a 4-1 victory.

Canton extended its win streak this season to 20 games and its playoff win streak to 11 games, going back to the D2 South semifinal in 2018.

“It started off well and then some penalties and stuff that kind of took us out of our rhythm, but they’re a good team,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “They worked hard from start to finish and they played with more of a sense of urgency when they were down but we had our chances. We had plenty of chances and their goalie played very well.”

The game got off to a sluggish start in part because, before either team had gotten into a flow, there were three penalties called in the opening four minutes. Canton was spent almost 90 seconds down two players, but managed to kill off the Plymouth North power play and keep the game scoreless. It was a big early boost.

“Credit to our guys killing off that 5-on-3, that was huge,” said Shuman. “You still see some nervous energy out there with some of our younger guys and we just have to battle through it and not find ourselves in the penalty box early in the game. Credit to our PK team, they did a great job killing those early ones off.”

Patrick Drury had one of the few good chances early in the game for Canton when his shot from the right wing circle forced a pad save out of Kaden Bono. About two minutes later, Canton had the lead. Eddie Gillis blocked a clearance in the slot, spun quickly and snapped off a shot that went inches wide. The Bulldogs kept battling to keep the puck in deep and Gillis wound up in the right spot to jam in a shot at the near post.

Things started to click into gear as time went on in the first. James Young made a nice pass up the far boards into the path of Andrew Valkanas, who raced down the left wing and forced another good pad save from Bono.

Canton’s best passing move of the night led to the second goal. Brendan Tourgee drove forward through the neutral zone and flipped a pass out to the left to Eamon Kelly, who in turn dropped a pass into the path of defenseman Brennen Pecararo. The senior, who played juniors for his first three seasons and started the season as a forward, smashed his one-timer past Bono.

“As soon as we moved him back to D, the third or fourth game, things have really settled down back there,” Shuman said of Pecararo. “He’s just a really strong defender but he sees the ice really well, can move the puck, and he’s been a real offensive and defensive strength for us this year.”

The Bulldogs beat the buzzer to add to the lead. Brian Middleton took a perfect outlet pass right down the middle but his breakaway opportunity was denied by Bono. Thomas was hustling to follow up the play and he was able to collect the rebound and snipe the top far corner just before the horn sounded.

Leading 3-0, Canton could’ve relaxed but the Bulldogs came out aggressive to start the second. Jay Kelleher held a puck in at the blue line and set up Thomas going to the net only for Bono to make a good stop.

Three minutes into the second, Thomas had another chance saved. The loose puck popped out to Pecararo pinching in but his shot just missed the open net. Thomas continued to fight for the puck on the side of the net and roofed a shot for his second and the team’s fourth.

Valkanas teed up Tourgee for a quick release shot that forced a pad stop from Bono and Pecararo later kept a puck in the zone to set up Thomas for a chance at a hat trick but the Eagles’ goalie made another good save.

The visitors would be outshot 32-19 for the game but weren’t without chances of their own. Evan Hallissey and Kevin Norwood both gave the Canton defense some issues with their speed but freshman Colin Davis continued to be a rock in goal, denying the Eagles from close range on several chances over the final two periods.

Plymouth North did get some momentum before the end of the second. Josh Bates had a steal at the blue line and raced forward for a shorthanded breakaway and he ripped it high to the glove side to make it 4-1.

Rather than let the Eagles build on that momentum in the third, Davis and the Canton defense were able to largely keep things tight in the defensive zone and the attackers were able to keep pressure down the other end of the ice.

There weren’t a lot of great chances for Canton, Valkanas had one shot saved and nearly connected with Tourgee right in front and Kelly forced a nice blocker save after a steal, but the Bulldogs remained in control throughout.

Shuman explained, “Those games are often tough, when you get up early on a team, desperation kicks in on their side, they really elevate their game, and that’s what happened to Plymouth North. They really elevated their game in the second and third period, in particular, and I thought our guys did a good job of still controlling the play and getting some chances.”

Canton (20-2-1) will face No. 6 seed Walpole in the D2 quarterfinal at a date, time, and location to be determined.

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Canton Dominates Plymouth South in Return to Playoffs

Canton boys hockey
Andrew Valkanas drives towards the net during Canton’s dominating 3-0 win over Plymouth South in the D2 first round. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – While tournament success is nothing new for Canton, including back-to-back state titles in 2019 and 2020, a season lost to the pandemic means that many of the Bulldogs on the ice for Wednesday night’s Div. 2 first round visit of Plymouth South to the Metropolis Rink were getting their first taste of the playoffs.

There may have been a lot of new names and faces, but the result looked very familiar.

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Canton dominated from start to finish, scoring twice in the first period and outshooting Plymouth South 47-8 to earn a 3-0 victory and advance to the round of 16. In the process, the Bulldogs earned their 19th straight win this season and avenged a loss to the Panthers from the 2018 South semifinal, which was the last time anyone beat Canton in the playoffs (10 straight wins and counting).

“It was the first real postseason game for a lot of those guys in there due to forces beyond their control,” Canton coach Brian Shuman explained. “Even though you may have played playoffs in your youth hockey days, there’s nothing like playing a high school playoff game and I thought they played very well.”

The Bulldogs may have had some nervous energy on the bench, but on the ice they jumped right into top gear. Canton outshot the Panthers 17-3 in the first period. AJ Thomas had a great scoring chance inside the opening minute when he stole the puck in the left wing circle and charged towards goal only to be denied by Plymouth South goalie Tristian Holmes.

Canton opened the scoring after nearly three minutes. Patrick Drury had the first effort from the side of the net, but Holmes made a good stop. With the puck sitting on the edge of the crease, Brian Middleton crashed the net and buried the rebound from close-range for his first career playoff goal.

Brendan Tourgee created the second goal six minutes later. He collected the puck in his own zone and danced through almost the entire Plymouth South team to get a clean look on goal. He didn’t get all of the shot and Holmes made the save but the rebound was loose and Thomas was first to react. Thomas didn’t get a lot on his shot but it was enough to push it past the leg of the goalie to double the lead.

“I think in a first round playoff game, in particular, it’s good to have a good opening five, 10 minutes,” Shuman said about Canton’s push from the opening face-off. “Even if you don’t get a goal, it’s good to put the pressure on.

Chances kept coming for the Bulldogs. Sean Connolly made a rush up ice and teed up Thomas for a chance, but Holmes covered up the five hole. Tourgee again showed off his strength on the puck to get loose in the slot and he flipped a pass to Andrew Valkanas but again the visiting goalie made the stop.

The second period seemed to be played at a slower pace, but with Canton still firmly in control. Drury did well to keep a puck in along the boards to create a chance in front that Holmes stopped. Valkanas had another good look with a shot from the right wing circle only to have Holmes flash the blocker.

With 5:38 left in the second, Eamon Kelly, one of the few Bulldogs with any significant postseason playing time prior to this season, put the game away. He dragged the puck past a Plymouth South defenseman in the right wing circle and then roofed his backhand shot, giving the goalie no chance.

Colin Davis (eight saves) was largely a spectator in the Canton goal, but he kept his concentration to come up with a big stop to deny Kenneth Thurston when the Panthers forward skated onto a loose puck on the edge of the crease. He picked up the first playoff shutout of his career.

One of the traits that made Canton so tough to handle in its last two playoff runs was that the Bulldogs maintained their pressure for the full three periods. The current crop of Bulldogs showed a similar attitude in the third.

“One of the things we kept saying was try to get the next one, play it like it’s 0-0,” said Shuman. “We got the third goal and there was still a lot of nervous energy on the bench and it’s natural in a first round game to never feel comfortable and a way to try and be more comfortable is to go out and just keep playing, keep pushing.

Kelly created a great chance a few minutes in when he slipped a pass into the path of Valkanas, who in turn moved the puck to Tourgee for a shot on goal. Kelly also set up Connolly for a wrister through a crowd that forced Holmes into a good pad stop. Valkanas continued to be a pest in the attacking zone and had another chance right in front stuffed with six minutes to go.

Shuman said, “It was 3-0 but I think we had plenty of opportunities, plenty of chances, and their goalie played great. They’re a good team, they had a great end to the season (finishing 7-3 after a 1-11 start). It was just a good hockey game.

Canton (19-2-1) keeps its title defense alive and advances to the Round of 16 to face the winner of No. 14 Plymouth North and No. 19 Concord-Carlisle at a date, time, and location to be determined.

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Sunday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 02/13/22

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Attleboro, 57 vs. Catholic Memorial, 52 – FinalAttleboro senior Alvin Harrison dropped a team-high 18 points and junior Jaiden Outland had some key plays in the final minutes to help Bombardiers secure a win over visiting Catholic Memorial. Senior Colin Morais converted a tough layup with 1:30 to go to put the Bombardiers ahead 52-49, but CM made it a two-point game with a free throw. The Knights had a chance to tie the game after an Attleboro turnover with just a minute to go both Outland raced back and combined with Harrison to steal the ball back. Outland sank a key free throw, and then leading by just one, he scored on a breakout with just under 20 seconds left to make it 55-52. Morais finished with 10 points while Outland had a career-high nine points for Attleboro, who overcame a 30-21 halftime deficit, starting with a 20-point third quarter in which seven players scored.

Milford, 78 vs. Ludlow, 21 – FinalMilford had 12 players get into the scoring column in a big win over Ludlow, its second win in a three-day span. Freshman Gustavo Coutinho hit three of the Hawks’ 11 three-pointers and finished with a career-high 18 points to lead the offense. Senior Justin Luchini scored all of his 13 points in the first three quarters while freshman Andrew Rivera had nine of his 11 points in by halftime.

Taunton, 67 vs. Durfee, 54 – FinalTaunton senior Trent Santos sank five three-pointers and finished with 12 makes from the field for a game-high 35 points as the Tigers avenged their loss to the Hilltoppers in December. Faisal Mass added 20 points and sophomore Troy Santos chilled in with eight points for Taunton, who had a 36-32 lead at halftime.

Girls Basketball
North Attleboro, 45 @ Sharon, 49 – FinalTess Letendre led three Eagles in double digits to help them split the season series with the Rocketeers. Sharon led by two at halftime, but North came up with 17 points in the third quarter to take a five-point lead into the fourth. Sharon held the visitors to just six points in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. The Eagles scored 15 in the final quarter, including 6-for-10 at the line. North was only 5-for-12 from the free throw line for the game. Jasmine Davis added 12 points and Rachael Hager scored 11. Summer Doherty was North’s top scorer with 14 and freshman Sam Faria added 10. Ava McKeon and Sam Sweeney each scored seven points in the loss.

Boys Hockey
Canton, 4 vs. Reading, 3 – Final (OT)Eamon Kelly scored his second goal of the game to give Canton the overtime win and seal the Walter Brinn Division championship of the Ed Burns Coffee Pot Hockey Classic. Reading twice had the lead in the game but Kelly, who was named tournament MVP, tied it at 1-1 and Patrick Drury made it 2-2. AJ Thomas put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time late in the second period, but the Rockets were able to score with 27 seconds left in the third to force the extra period. It was Canton’s 15th straight win.

Franklin, 0 vs. Natick, 2 – Final

Girls Hockey
Franklin, 3 @ Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 2 – Final – Maggie McCaffrey scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with three minutes left to play, to help the Panthers pick up the road win. Molly Hurley had the first goal for the Panthers while Lindsey Dennett, Shaw Downing, Samantha Wong, and Dana Stott each had an assist. Maeve Anastasia and Kylie O’Keefe each scored for MOAF, the latter tying the game at 2-2 with nine minutes to play. Cammy Shanteler, Cierra Doherty, and O’Keefe each had an assist for the Warriors.

Tourgee, Blake Net Canton Comeback Win Against KP

Canton boys hockey
Sophomore Brendan Tourgee (13) celebrates the game-tying goal with less than three minutes remaining in the third period, helping Canton to a come from behind win over King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Despite Canton dominating play in the third period and holding King Philip to just two shots in the final 15 minutes, the Warriors went into the final three minutes holding onto a one-goal lead. It would be a rare win for KP in the series, a rare win for any Hockomock League team against the Bulldogs, and a chance to take a big early step towards a second straight league title.

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But, there is a reason that Canton went into Wednesday night’s game at the Metropolis Rink having won 36 straight league games. The Bulldogs scored a pair of goals in 1:39, completed a comeback after being down two goals twice in the game, and pulled out a dramatic 4-3 victory.

“It’s huge for our psyche,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said. “It’s good for our guys to see that they can come from two goals down. Hopefully they’re not in that position too often, but it’s still good to build that mental toughness.”

After the game, KP coach Paul Carlow rued the missed opportunity to grab a lead in the Kelley-Rex division, even if it is just three games into the league campaign.

“They pinned us in in the third,” he explained. “They outshot us and outplayed us in the third period. Instead of continuing to take it to them, it felt like we were more trying to hang on. That never works.”

It was all KP at the start of the game. The Warriors came out flying and needed only 27 seconds to pick up the opening goal. Shaun Fitzpatrick did good work down the right wing, driving at the net and drawing a couple of Canton defensemen. He flipped the puck out in front to Sean Crowther, who sent the puck through a crowd of legs across the crease where James Boldy was standing all alone to tap into the empty net.

Rather than being a wake up call for the home team, the goal seemed to spur the Warriors on for more. Fiztpatrick collected the puck against the right wing boards and turned towards goal. He had a free path right at Canton goalie Aiden French (18 saves) and stuffed the puck under the pads to make it 2-0 less than six minutes in.

Shuman said, “KP does a great job of getting pucks and bodies to the net and you saw that on the first goal. That’s their bread and butter and we struggled with that mightily tonight. We just weren’t tough enough out in front, we were puck watching, and losing guys. They play a tough brand of hockey.”

KP got a chance on the power play midway through the first and Max Robison forced French into a tough save on a shot from the point. Canton cleared the rebound. It was one of a couple chances that the Warriors had to try and extend the lead, but the Bulldogs held on and got the kill.

Only 13 seconds after getting back to even strength, Canton was on the board. AJ Thomas’ pressure on the forecheck caused a turnover in the attacking zone. His first shot from point-blank range was stopped by KP goalie Kyle Abbott (28 saves) but Thomas stuck with it and knocked in the rebound, cutting the lead in half.

The goal seemed to give Canton momentum, as the Bulldogs went into the locker room on the front foot, but it didn’t carry over to the second period. Only nine seconds elapsed before KP added a third. Boldy snapped off a wrsiter just as he was entering the zone on the left wing and French appeared to be unsighted as the puck flew under the bar on the stick side.

“We had some really good chances and then didn’t convert,” said Carlow. “Canton had the momentum off the kill and then I think they scored the very next shift and now it’s a one-goal game. We got a goal to start the second and I think we just kind of ran out of gas.”

Canton needed a spark. Sophomore Brendan Tourgee nearly had a quick response when he sailed into the zone, split a pair of defensemen and got off a backhand shot from a tight angle that Abbott kept out. Sam Carlino had a partial break for the Bulldogs but Robison hustled back to get a piece of the shot from the right face-off dot.

The Bulldogs were able to cut into the lead midway through the second. After a couple of shots from the point by Sean Connolly that Abbott pushed aside, they swung it across the blue line to Ryan Doucette. His shot was heading wide of the post but sophomore Brian Middleton was able to get a telling touch on it to sneak it past Abbott low at the near post.

“To get one there was big and that line of Middleton, (Patrick) Drury, and Blake continue to get it done and I think our other guys can learn a little bit from them because they’re having success and getting big goals just by getting to the tough, dirty areas,” said Shuman.

KP tried to hold on in the third, blocking shots and trying to keep the Bulldogs away from the crease. Eddie Gillis nearly set up Thomas for a tying goal, but Abbott stayed with the tip in front and kept it out. Tourgee then showed off his strength on the puck, holding off two defensemen to allow the Bulldogs to get back onside and then turning into the zone, forcing Abbott into a good save with his shoulder.

Connolly had another shot from the point that forced Abbott into a save. Tommy Phaneuf corralled the rebound in front but was pressured off the puck and couldn’t get a shot on target.

While the chances were piling up, the clock was winding down. Finally, with 2:42 to play. Tourgee found the back of the net. He dragged the puck through a stick check on the left wing boards and then angled towards goal. His backhand shot through the crease somehow snuck through a thicket of legs and found the far corner.

“He’s so gifted on the puck,” Shuman said of Tourgee. “He’s strong on the puck, he’s fast, he’s just got a nose for the net. I think he’s got to trust getting pucks to the net instead of always trying to pick those corners because you can see how offensively gifted he is.”

The pressure continued, as Canton outshot KP 13-3 in the final period. With 1:03 to go, the Bulldogs got the winner. Brennen Pecararo dropped a pass back to sophomore Colin Blake and he pounced on the chance in the slot, slamming the puck into the back of the net.

KP had one last look with the goalie pulled and less than 10 seconds on the clock, but Brad Guden’s shot from the point hit a body to the side of the post and ricocheted into the corner.

“We just got off to a tough start this year with injuries and illness,” Carlow said. “I think we had eight out sick the first week of the season, so we got off to a tough start and we’re just trying to get rolling.”

Canton (4-2-1) will be back home on Saturday afternoon to face Mansfield, which was the last team to hand the Bulldogs a league loss back in February 2017. King Philip (2-4-1) returns to Canton on Saturday night, this time at the IcePlex, to take on Archbishop Williams.

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Chaput, Coyne Lead Canton in Defensive Battle at North

Canton boys lacrosse
Jeffrey Chaput (17) celebrates after scoring his fourth goal of the game, during Canton’s win at North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Davenport division title race is lining up to be a three-way race that could come right down to the final games of the season. On Wednesday night at Beaupre Field, two of those teams squared off trying to stay unbeaten in league play and keep pace at the top of the standings.

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Jeffrey Chaput scored four times and Dylan Coyne made nine saves to lead Canton to an 8-5 win at North Attleboro in a game highlighted by strong defensive play by both sides.

“It was a big win,” said first-year Canton coach Ryan Quinn. “Our seniors really stepped up and held us together. I’m proud of the way they responded. It was a tough game, physical game, but I thought we were better today.”

North got off to a good start, with Connor Ruppert hitting the post just 90 seconds in. JT Gallagher (seven saves) made a good stop on a long-range shot by Canton’s Jeff Fitzpatrick and then a great check on the edge of the crease by Sam Gugliotta dislodged the ball from Colin Albert and led to a quick North break. Ruppert fed Clayton Billingkoff but his shot went just wide of the cage.

With 5:33 left in the first, the hosts snagged the lead. Billingkoff went to the bounce to beat Coyne and make it 1-0. Brendan Tourgee hit the post for Canton seconds later, but North settled down and doubled its lead with just under two minutes left in the first. Matt Antonetti was able to turn the corner and went up top with his effort for a 2-0 advantage.

The Bulldogs had been struggling to get any rhythm on the offensive end, but used a man-up situation to cut the lead to one before the first break. Chaput fired a shot at Gallagher’s feet, finding the corner and giving Canton momentum.

Tourgee struck the post early in the second and Canton started to get a foothold in the attack. Eamon Kelly turned a steal on one end into a great transition, carrying the ball the length of the field and flipping a pass to Sam Carlino for a low-angle rip that tied the game. Two minutes later, Carlino added his second with a bounced shot on the spin and the Bulldogs took their first lead.

Coyne made a nice stop on a chance by Ruppert and then he was able to deny Will Copley from point-blank range after a turnover on the clear. Gallagher added a nice save before halftime, reading the bounce to deny Carlino a hat trick.

North coach Kevin Young praised his team’s defensive effort. He said, “I know we have good defensemen and today they stepped up. It’s a very inexperienced group and the kids who went in there really filled their role. They played well, they never overextended. Whenever you get a game with two teams under 10 [goals], that’s as good as you can ask for in lacrosse.”

After scoring the final three goals of the first half, Canton added the first two of the third quarter as well. Fitzpatrick got his hands free and fired a man-up goal and then Chaput intercepted a clearance and was able to beat Gallagher with a leaping shot from straightaway.

Just seconds after Coyne made a great kick save, North was able to cut the lead back to two. Antonetti assisted on a man-up rip by Ruppert to make it 5-3. The teams then traded goals in the span of 16 seconds. Tourgee fed Chaput right in front but Jared Vacher won the face-off and Antonetti was able to convert on the other end.

Down by two, North had a great opportunity to get back into the game. Coyne was penalized for a hit with 2:21 left in the third. Defender Sean Connolly stepped into the cage for the rest of the quarter, but the Rocketeers managed only one shot off target in that period and the Bulldogs maintained their lead into the fourth.

“I saw the momentum swing a few different times and frankly I thought it was going to go their way a little more,” Young said. “I thought they were solid moving the ball up and down, in the clear and the ride. I’ve got guys who’ve never seen varsity before and it shows at times, but the guys stepped up and played like old pros.”

Ruppert completed his hat trick with a spin and low shot 90 seconds into the quarter, but Fitzpatrick won the draw and Canton turned it into a quick response. Fitzpatrick got the ball ahead to Carlino who moved it along to Chaput and he fired a quick-release shot into the top corner just 12 seconds after North cut the deficit to one.

“Our attack has a knack for the big goal and the big moment,” Quinn said. “When we need it, they always give it to us.”

Canton sealed the win with 1:58 to play. Tourgee made an interception and the ball ended up in the stick of AJ Thomas for the finish. Coyne made the goals stand up, saving chances from Ruppert and Antonetti and then adding a ninth save just before the minute mark on another low rip by Ruppert.

Quinn said, “Today was all about our goalie and our ‘D’. I’m pumped about our attack, but our goalie and ‘D’ really held it down for us. He’s really the heartbeat of our team. he does a great job communicating for our defense, our defense listens well, and then our attack just finished when we needed it.”

Canton (8-0, 5-0) remained in a tie for first with Foxboro. North Attleboro (5-3, 4-1) dropped one game back in third place. The two teams will meet again on Friday afternoon.

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Chaput Snipe Lifts Canton to Win Against North

Canton boys hockey
Sophomore Jeffrey Chaput celebrates his second period goal that turned out to be the game-winner for Canton against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – North Attleboro got bodies in the way all game long, not letting pucks get through on goal, but sometimes it only takes a sliver of space to find the back of the net.

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Sophomore Jeffrey Chaput got that one chance in the second period and buried it in the top corner and it turned out to be all that the Bulldogs would need. Canton added an empty net goal in the final minute and skated to a 2-0 victory over North Attleboro that puts the teams in a tie for first in the Davenport division.

“North Attleboro does a great job blocking shots, they always have,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “They sell out, they take away the shooting lanes. Also a failure on our part, too many shots above the knees, which are the easiest shots to block. We have to keep it low, along the ice, and find shooting lanes. Stop trying to go top shelf on their goalie and try to create more rebound opportunities.”

It was an even game, despite Canton’s edge in shots on goal. Both teams came out flying and the Bulldogs showed no rust from having a week off between games.

Shuman explained, “We’ve been fortunate enough to be skating normally, so I think that in itself is keeping us in a good flow and a good rhythm. We’re just lucky to be playing right now because there are a lot of teams that unfortunately aren’t.”

Jack Digirolamo sprung Brendan Tourgee down the left wing for an early chance that was saved by North goalie Kyle Gruber (23 saves). Andrew Valkanas stayed with the puck after his initial shot was blocked and had a good look coming off the right wing boards, but again Gruber stood tall.

The chances kept coming for Canton in the first. Digirolamo had a shot blocked in front and the rebound fell to Tourgee at the post, but the freshman forward was denied by the freshman goalie’s pad. AJ Thomas had another chance between the circles with a quick spin and shot but Gruber, who was making his first varsity start, was again equal to it.

“Why not?” chuckled North coach Ben McManama when asked about having his goalie make his debut against the Bulldogs. “I was a little worried about doing that but you can tell he’s a tough kid mentally and you know what? You’re going to have to learn sometime and we thought it would be good experience for him.”

North started to get more looks in the offensive zone as the first period wore on. Charlie Connolly angled a shot from the right point that was tipped in front by Joe Quinn, but went just wide of the post. In the final seconds of the first, Nik Kojoian pushed towards goal from the left circle but was denied at the post by Canton goalie Liam Polles (15 saves).

Despite starting on the kill, Canton dominated zone time in the second, keeping North pinned back in its defensive zone. Even with all that pressure, it was North that had the edge in shots on goal (6-5) in the period. The Rocketeers defensemen continually got in the way of shots and kept Canton out of the middle.

“It can be a little deceiving sometimes,” said McManama. “There may be a lot of zone time, but are we giving up quality shots? I think we didn’t give up too many except for the goal they scored. They did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and our goalie did a great job and we also helped him out.”

Jake Gruber had a good chance for North when he forced a turnover near his own blue line and then forced a blocker save from Polles on the other end of the ice. Mark Ayvazyan almost had a breakaway for the Rocketeers, but pulled up short of the crease to avoid a defenseman and then fired just wide.

By that point, Canton had gotten its one good chance. After a spell of pressure in the zone that saw a couple of shots blocked in front, the puck kicked out to Chaput just inside the left circle. He barely settled the puck before whipping a shot into the top corner that gave the goalie no chance.

“Jeff had a great shot and a quick shot, quick release that kind of surprised the goalie,” said Shuman. “He worked hard. He had the best game I’ve seen him play in his two years for us and he deserved that.”

The pattern continued in the third period, with Canton using its speed to gain the zone and put pressure on the North defense, but with the visitors holding firm and creating the occasional scoring opportunity on the other end.

“Coach Spillane said it best on the bench, let’s get some breathing room and get that goal early in the period,” Shuman said of Canton’s approach to the third period. (With his assistant coaches unavailable this week, Shuman asked former Franklin coach Chris Spillane to help out on the bench.) “We had a couple good chances, just couldn’t bury it.”

Sam Clarke nearly tied the game inside the first minute of the third. He blocked Jay Kelleher’s shot from the point and raced past the Canton defense before forcing a blocker stop from Polles.

It was a warning for the Bulldogs that the game wasn’t over. The best chance to double the lead came when Dylan Coyne’s shot from the slot was blocked and the rebound fell to Eddie Gillis, but his tip slid just wide of the post.

North came closest to tying the game with 2:30 remaining. Tyler Sarro stretched to tip a clearance in the neutral zone to avoid an icing and, after a battle behind the Canton net, the puck came out to Nick Longa on the edge of the crease. Polles kept his pads on the ice and was able to cover up.

Just a few seconds after North pulled its goalie, Canton wrapped up the win. Sam Carlino blocked a pass on one end, chased the puck down, and flicked into the empty net to make it 2-0 with 40.2 on the clock.

“We’re going to have to look at the film and see how we can generate more offense,” said McManama. “Sometimes they do such good job with our ‘D’ zone coverage that we get stuck down there. We’re going to have to work on ways to get ourselves better entries through the neutral zone.”

Canton (3-0) and North Attleboro (1-2) will meet again on Wednesday at the New England Sports Village.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.