FOXBORO, Mass. – During last year’s state tournament, forward Maggie Malloy caught fire and gave Canton the offensive firepower to match its solid play in the defensive zone. Malloy scored six goals and had three game-winners during that tournament run and it appears that momentum has carried right over to this season.
Malloy scored all four of her team’s goals on Wednesday night at the Foxboro Sports Center to help Canton open its Hockomock League title defense with a 4-1 road win against King Philip. She has six goals in three games to start the new year.
“She’s always going to have the offensive stuff but coming into this year we talked about how we needed her to be more complete,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich about Malloy’s play in all three zones. “We have a lot of young kids and her defensive game has really improved a lot and everybody sees that and that’s what they want to do too.”
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to open the scoring. Sophomore Ellie Rae Roberts (two assists) drove down the right side of the ice and sent a puck into the slot where Malloy was camped out. She fired a shot past KP goalie Lilly Potts (12 saves) and handed the visitors a 1-0 lead inside the first two minutes.
“We talked about getting off to a good start,” Aldrich explained. “They always play us really well and we thought it was important to come out quick and really pressure them. They’ve got some really dynamic players…so we had to get on them and not give them any space.”
Canton nearly doubled the lead a couple minutes later with Roberts having a shot from the right circle kicked aside and then Potts was quickly out to smother Malloy’s rebound attempt. KP’s first attempt on target came with four minutes left in the first when freshman Sydney O’Shea forced a save from the right wall.
KP started to get a foothold in the game over the final few minutes of the first period, but again Malloy was there to pounce on a rare scoring chance. On the power play, Alexa Maffeo kept the puck in at the blue line and got the puck to Malloy, who was able to pick an opening past Potts.
“That goal late in the period was kind of deflating at the time because the girls were playing really well at that point,” said KP coach Jack Unger. “Canton is a very, very good team and you can’t afford to make any mistakes and we had times where we couldn’t get the puck out of our zone just due to a couple small errors and they took advantage of it.”
Down 2-0 at the start of the second, the Warriors had a great chance to cut the lead in half. Alli Meehan weaved through the Canton defense onto her backhand, but was denied by Canton goalie Ava Pacitti. It was a big moment for the senior netminder, who is in her first varsity season, taking over after Colleen Kelleher graduated.
Aldrich said, “Ava’s been really making some good saves for us. We’re used to having that, it’s just a different number but she’s really embraced this team and the team has embraced her. It certainly doesn’t look like she hasn’t played before this year.”
The Bulldogs came close to a third midway through the period when freshman Tess Khoury teed up Malloy in the slot, but Potts was there for a big stop. Maria Femia followed that with a shot off that caromed off the post and then Potts made good stops to deny Roberts and Malloy on the edge of the crease. Lauren Fitzpatrick also forced a save with a shot from the right circle.
Malloy completed her hat trick with three minutes left in the second. Khoury set her up alone in the middle of the zone and Malloy showed remarkable patience before firing a shot under the bar.
Meanwhile, on the other end, Canton was holding KP to just eight shots through two periods, combining strong defensive play with aggressive back-checking from the forwards. In particular, Aldrich praised his seniors, Malloy and Fitzpatrick for setting the tone.
“Lauren Fitzpatrick is one of those players who can have a great game without scoring a goal,” he said. “This was one of the best games she’s ever played and I don’t think she got a point.”
KP came out strong in the third period, but Malloy essentially sealed the win inside three minutes. She stole a puck on the edge of the attacking zone, dragged the puck to her left, opened up her body and found the back of the net.
The Warriors didn’t stop skating, despite being down by four goals. Sammy Robison fired a shot from the point that was redirected inches wide by Meghan Gorman. Nicole Connor, who was all over the ice for KP, fired a shot from the point that Pacitti (16 saves) gloved and then was denied by a quick pad on a wraparound attempt.
With 3:49 left to play in the game, KP got on the board. Sophomore Avri Maxwell went five-hole with a shot from outside the right circle for a power play goal. She almost got a second a minute later but Pacitti stopped two efforts on goal.
KP outshot the Bulldogs 9-3 in the third and 17-16 for the game. “We knew we were down by three goals and it’s a young team but we’ve got some veterans who are pretty competitive and they don’t like to lose, so they wanted to go out and at least try to win that third period.”
He added, “They had the effort from start to finish, we just need to put the puck in the net more.”
Canton (3-0) will look to continue its unbeaten start to the season on Saturday with a trip to Whitman-Hanson. King Philip (1-2-1) will take the trip to Dennis-Yarmouth looking to get back to .500 on the season.