FOXBORO, Mass. – Just 48 hours removed from another loss to Franklin, King Philip boys hockey coach Paul Carlow challenged each player on his roster.
Carlow challenged his squad to work harder, play with structure, and play at the level he knew they were capable of doing — something he believes they failed to do in Monday night’s 6-1 setback in Franklin.
The Warriors answered their coach’s challenge and were rewarded in the form of a 5-4 win over the Panthers.
It marks KP’s first win over Franklin in over 20 years according to research by HockomockSports.com and local high school hockey guru Jim Clark. The last win found by either came in 2000 when the Warriors won 4-3.
“We didn’t play with enough structure and we didn’t play with enough determination in that second half…they outplayed us,” Carlow said of Monday’s game. “I just didn’t think we competed in the first game the way that we can compete. I felt if we competed hard tonight and played with some structure and discipline that we could play with them. Obviously, it was a back and forth game, we had to go on the kill a couple of times. I just thought we outworked them tonight.”
King Philip’s improved work ethic was a direct result in two goals, and its willingness to play to the final buzzer led to another. Despite giving up the first goal of the game, KP took the lead in the second period and never trailed the rest of the way.
Franklin opened the scoring late in the first period with just under five minutes to go. Dylan Marchand took a pass from the defensive end and found Conor O’Neil streaking into the attacking zone. O’Neil latched onto the pass and unleashed a wrist shot just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
A prolonged trip in the offensive zone from KP’s third line resulted in a face-off and eventually the equalizer before the end of the first. Nolan Jackson passed to his defensive partner Rocco Bianculli, who rifled a shot wide off the end boards. The puck bounced behind the goal and to the other side of the net where senior Paul McDonald buried his bid into the open net.
King Philip struck first in the second period just over five minutes into the frame. Max Robison won a foot race in the defensive zone to gain possession and hit Aidan Boulger in the neutral zone. Boulger lifted a pass forward and the bouncing puck eluded a Franklin defenseman and rested on the stick of a streaking Ian Hilll. Hill deked in front of goal before sliding a backhand shot five-hole for a 2-1 answer.
But similar to how KP had an answer in the first, Franklin had a response in the second. Just two minutes later, the Panthers capitalized on a power play chance. SSean Connelly found Justin Abely entering the attacking zone on the right boards, and Abely patiently waited for O’Neil, who came streaking to the far post. Abely delivered a perfect pass and O’Neil redirected it in past KP sophomore goalie Kyle Abbott (29 saves) to make it 2-2 with 7:24 left in the period.
Just when it looked like the teams would head to the final period knotted at 2-2, King Philip’s hard work was rewarded with a goal that just beat the buzzer. Bianculli linked up with Boulger as he skated out of the defensive zone. Boulger fired a shot wide but Jackson tracked down the loose puck and tossed it right back in front. With a scrum in front, senior Conor Cooke was able to get his stick on it and the puck found the back of the net just as time expired for a 3-2 lead.
Despite a zamboni break, King Philip’s momentum carried into the third period. Freshman Brad Guden hopped onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and found junior Sean Crowther at the blue line. Crowther connected with Shaun Fitzpatrick, who deked between two defensemen and tucked his shot past Franklin senior Jack Paterson (24 saves) into the back of the net for a 4-2 lead just under a minute into the third.
“Those are huge goals for us,” Carlow said of scoring on either side of the second intermission. “Coming off a one-goal performance the other night…it just didn’t look like us the other night. I knew we were better than that. I challenged our guys and hats off to them, they responded. We’re led by an awesome senior group, we have eight of them, and eight juniors so it’s a veteran group. I knew they’d answer and I felt like they outworked them tonight.”
Franklin kept things interesting with a goal five minutes later to cut the deficit to just one. Franklin couldn’t take advantage of a 3-on-2 but the Warriors were unable to clear it. After a brief scramble in front, the puck popped free to senior defenseman Pat Dolan who stepped into a blast, beating a pair of KP players and Abbott to make it 4-3 with 9:18 to play.
“We knew they were going to push at the start of the third,” Carlow said “They are well-coached, they have a lot of talented kids over there, they always do. They got us twice on penalties, we have to do a better job there and limit those mistakes. But just trying to keep them to one goal and get the momentum back, try to answer quickly. I think we answered just about every time, we played three lines almost the entire game. The depth of this program has improved over the past couple of years and to be able to play more guys, that helps a lot against a team like Franklin.”
KP’s hard work was rewarded once again, this time proving to be the game-winning goal. Bianculli cleared a puck off the glass and Boulger turned on the jets, flying down the ice to beat out an icing call and take possession. Franklin nearly cleared it but David Lawler quickly pinched and kept the puck in the attacking zone. Lawler carried the puck behind the net, drawing the attention of three Panthers. He circled back around and found Cooke wide open in front for a one-timer and a 5-3 lead.
“Plain and simple, we got outworked,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “When you come to the rink and think you don’t have to work so hard because you just beat them 6-1, that’s not going to work. We knew…they are well-coached, disciplined, all it’s going to take is put two guys on the puck and they are going to outwork you. That’s exactly what happened. We lost 50-50 puck battles, we lost foot races to the puck in our own zone…a lot of self-inflicted stuff with turnovers in our own zone. Before you know it, you’re two goals behind and the clock is running out.
“They didn’t lose their composure. They didn’t stop, they didn’t quit and that’s what good teams do. Hopefully, we’re humbled by this and they come back and work harder. We got outworked from start to finish, plain and simple, for all 45 minutes.”
Franklin went back on the power play just moments after KP’s goal and needed just nine seconds to make it a one-goal game again. Declan Lovett won a battle at the blue line, kept possession, and then skated to the middle of the ice before blasting a slap shot through traffic and in to make it 5-4.
Franklin had a pair of faceoffs in the attacking zone in the final minute but KP’s defense prevented the Panthers from getting a good look off on Abbott.
King Philip (3-1-0 Kelley-Rex, 3-1-0 overall) sits in first place with half of its division games played. The Warriors are scheduled to take on Oliver Ames in a pair of non-league crossovers next. Franklin (1-1, 3-1) has a non-league crossover title against North Attleboro on Friday.
2019-2020 Record: 5-14-1 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Greg Chamberlain
Attleboro struggled down the stretch last season, losing nine of its final 11 games (five of those losses by two goals or fewer) and narrowly missing out on a postseason berth. Former Canton assistant Greg Chamberlain has taken over this season with the goal of making the Bombardiers competitive in the Kelley-Rex division.
Goalie will be a position of strength this year, as Attleboro has three players that can step in between the pipes. Junior Nick Piazza will be the starter after a breakout sophomore year where he made nearly 500 saves. Junior Michael DuTremble and freshman Julien Horton are the other goalies on the roster. In front of Piazza, Attleboro has three solid pairings. Senior Owen Dryjowicz moved from forward to defense late last season and looked comfortable on the blue line. Junior Sean Marshall and senior Zack Pierce are also returning defenders that the Bombardiers are counting on.
Offensively, the Bombardiers will miss the scoring of Ryan Morry, who led the team with 21 points, but with several returning players Attleboro has the potential to put together solid forward lines. Senior Aidan Dryjowicz is the team’s top returning scorer with nine goals and classmate Jake Ward, junior Nate Parker, and freshman winger Dane Holskie have the potential to contribute to the attack this season.
“I think the key to this season,” said Chamberlain, “is that everyone needs to pull their weight. If you look around the league teams that win have three or four lines that they can roll out every night. That is going to be the name of the game for us. Keeping it simple and do your job.”
2019-2020 Record: 21-1-3 2019-2020 Finish: Div. 2 State Co-Champion Coach: Brian Shuman
Although Canton didn’t get the chance to go to the TD Garden to face Lincoln-Sudbury and try to avenge its only loss of the past two seasons, the Bulldogs brought home a second straight Div. 2 state championship. Even for a program with the sustained success of Canton, last year’s senior class had a uniquely impressive record and that class’ graduation leaves a lot of holes that new faces will need to step into.
Last year’s top scorers, Johnny Hagan and Chris Lavoie, combined for 37 goals and 68 points, so it will be tough to reproduce that output. Senior Dylan Coyne will be hoping to make up some of that scoring punch and the Bulldogs will hope junior Eamon Kelly can return from an injury and get back to the form he showed last year.
While the defense was also hit hard by graduation, Canton returns a pair of defensemen that saw considerable time on the blue line last season. Junior Sean Connolly and sophomore Vincent Sica both jumped right into the lineup and looked comfortable competing at the top level, but this year they will also be experienced veterans and leaders in that group. Senior Liam Polles will get the chance to jump in goal this year.
Canton coach Brian Shuman said, “I can say that after the first two weeks, things are certainly different in many ways, but I am confident that we will adapt and adjust like most teams our league to give our players a much-needed physical outlet and important connection to a team.”
2019-2020 Record: 12-5-5 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Semifinal Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro has grown by leaps and bounds in recent seasons. Each of the past three years have seen the Warriors set a new standard for the best season in program history, culminating in last winter’s 12 wins and run to the Div. 3 South semifinal.
Depth at the forward line will be a strength this season and Foxboro should be capable of scoring plenty of goals. Senior forward Kirk Leach was second in the Hock last year with 20 goals and he leads an experienced group. Junior Jack Watts had 13 goals and 14 assists last year and is another big, physical forward. Senior Brady Daly will look to add to his nine points from last season and junior Eoin Reager can play multiple positions, including forward, and added 14 points as a sophomore.
The Warriors will obviously miss former Hock MVP Espen Raeger, who was one of the league’s top goalies. Senior Jack Spinney was the backup goalie last year and could step in between the pipes after seeing a few minutes of action as a junior. Junior Dylan Pothier and sophomore Alex Coviello are two of the returning defensemen from last year’s team and both played big roles in the team’s strong performance in the postseason. Eoin Reager can also play in the back line.
“We have a lot of forwards returning, so the depth is there,” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We also have a lot of skilled defenseman holding the blue line. Looking forward to the season, even though it will look and feel a lot different, I’m just happy for our guys get to play.”
2019-2020 Record: 11-8-4 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Anthony Sarno
Head coach Anthony Sarno can’t help but wonder what could have been for this season. Franklin had a strong group of returners back from last year’s squad and Sarno had a schedule filled with top teams from around the state ready to see how his Panthers stacked up to the elite talent. But now Franklin will focus on its 10-game Hockomock schedule with a chance to prove it’s the top team in the league.
Franklin will rely on its senior class to lead the way. The Panthers will be very solid in the back, starting with senior goalie Jack Paterson. After serving in a backup capacity previously, Paterson steps into the starting role but is getting pushed in practice by classmate Gary Mandia. Along the blue line, Franklin has plenty of familiar names with the likes of Joe LeBlanc (nine points), Will Sheehan, Justin Abely, and Pat Dolan — all four are seniors with a good amount of varsity experience.
Offensively, the Panthers have a good variety of attacking options led by last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Dylan Marchand (13 points). Sarno is carrying 20 players and plans to use them all, rolling four lines offensively. JT Dwyer and Declan Lovett are both senior centers and have been strong in the face off circle so far. Sophomore Ben Jarosz should see an expanded role after getting some time last year. Franklin will look to expand on its puck possession after making the switch from a dump-and-chase team.
“We were looking forward to playing against some of the best teams in the state but we’re going to make the most of this opportunity,” Sarno said. “We’re going to give it our all each game. We’ve going to practice as hard as we play in games, the energy the kids have brought has been contagious. We’re treating every game like a playoff game, that’s the type of energy we want to bring to each game.”
2019-2020 Record: 10-6-5 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip pushed Franklin to the final week of the regular season in its quest to win a first league title since 2013 (and end the nine-year reign for the Panthers in the Kelley-Rex). The Warriors did get back into the postseason, although again Franklin stood in the way in the preliminary round, and will return 13 players to make another run at that elusive league championship.
Experience on both ends of the ice will be the strength for KP this season, with eight seniors and eight juniors on the roster, including a pair of four-year players. Senior forward Conor Cooke and senior defenseman Rocco Bianculli have been critical players for each of the past three seasons. Bianculli is not only a leader at the blue line, but also one of the league’s top offensive defenders. KP returns three of its top four scorers from last year. In addition to Bianculli, senior Aidan Boulger and junior Nolan Feyler provide the scoring punch on the forward line and are a good mix with Cooke’s physical presence up front. Seniors Paul McDonald and Justin Yatsuhashi add speed and depth.
Defensively, senior David Lawler will join Bianculli on the blue line. More of a defensive-minded player, Lawler adds solidity in his own zone and is counted on to make the right plays under pressure. Seniors Shea Cunningham and Geoff Bowes are also returning defensemen that couple size and experience around their own net. Sophomore Kyle Abbott will take over between the pipes
“As always we are looking to build on last year and compete for the league title,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. “Our team this season has some good experience. We also have some real skill and speed in the younger group.”
2019-2020 Record: 7-8-6 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets aren’t focusing on how many games are on the schedule but focusing on taking it one game at a game instead. Mansfield brings back a lot of players that picked up varsity experience last season during the team’s postseason run.
Replacing three-year starter Sean McCafferty in goal won’t be easy but head coach Mike Balzarini has praised the work of Chris Hormann, who will be taking over in between the pipes. Balzarini said Hormann learned a lot last season in his backup role, is coming off a stellar fall season and has looked strong so far in practice this year. Captain Jake Quirk will anchor the blue line unit for the Hornets and will be joined by some familiar faces. Senior Joseph Gormley will bring a lot of experience to the defensive group and will be joined by sophomore Patrick Gormley as well as Ben Levine and James Hughes.
Senior captain Cam Page will spearhead the attack for the Hornets this season. Mansfield lost most of its point production to graduation so there will be plenty of opportunities for new faces to take advantage of. Mark DiDiralamo, Kyle Oakley, Dillon Benoit, Ryan Doherty, and Liam Anastasia are all in the mix for the top six for Mansfield.
“It’s a shortened season but we have looked good thus far in practice and in our scrimmage,” Balzarini said. “We’re looking to push the pace this year and play a faster-paced game.”
2019-2020 Record: 7-8-6 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Ben McManama
On the ice, it’s been business as usual for the Red Rocketeers, who have a strong returning core ready to make a run at dethroning Canton atop the Davenport division. The biggest challenges for head coach Ben McManama and his squad so far have been adapting to all of the changes off of the ice.
Expectations are high for the Big Red with some familiar names at each position. The most returners come from the offense where the Rocketeers have a handful of forwards back, giving McManama the flexibility to run at least three lines. Senior captain Tyler Sarro will be a leader on and off the ice and will be joined by his brother Brady as the wings on the top line. Nik Kojoian is back after missing almost all of last season and will center the top line. McManama notes his second and third lines are interchangeable, more “2A” and “2B” rather than second and third lines. Juniors Sam Clarke and Nick Longa and sophomores Mark Ayvazyan and Joe Quinn will all be in the mix.
The Rocketeers will have a lot of spots to fill along the blue line after graduating a strong corps of defensemen from last winter. Senior Charlie Connolly and junior Austin Comery are the veterans in the group, entering this season with the most experience. McManama has tabbed junior Anthony Westcott as another option along the blue line while the final spot is up for grabs. Senior James Burtch will take over in net for the Rocketeers while freshman Kyle Gruber is pushing for time.
“The big thing for us this year is being a system team,” McManama said. “We have to be disciplined with our system. We’re really harping on sticking to our system and what we do, and we have to be really disciplined and do our jobs. That’s how we’re going to generate goals and it’s going to be how we stop shots too, it works on both ends. We’ve had great practices, it’s been fun getting the kids back.”
2019-2020 Record: 6-13-2 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Mike Zucarelli
Oliver Ames finished 2019-20 with six wins, but also had four losses by a single goal (all four to teams in the playoffs), so the Tigers were closer to earning a postseason berth under first-year coach Mike Zuccarelli than the final record may indicate. This season, the Tigers return to the Davenport division for the first time since 2016 and with only six returning players there will be opportunities for new faces to step in and contribute right away.
Seniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro will provide leadership in the forward line and much-needed experience for a young group. Sophomores Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron both saw action last year and their development will be important for the Tigers to get consistent production from the forward lines.
Defensively, senior Kevin Tremblay and junior Elliot Cohen both grew into bigger roles last year and will be expected to lead the blue line corps this season. Sophomore Brandon Burke will take over in net after backing up Owen Connor last winter. Zuccarelli is also counting on a strong freshman group to come in and provide an instant impact and is excited about the potential for the program going forward.
“Patience and resilience are going to be two major themes this year as we have already experienced,” said Zucarelli. “Our goal is to grow as a team and tackle each challenge we are presented together both on and off the ice. I am confident with our senior leadership, outstanding assistant coaches, and the support we receive from the OA community that we will have a season to remember.”
2019-2020 Record: 4-16-1 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Dan Mark
After an up-and-down first year in a co-op with Brockton, the Black Knights are aiming for an improved 2021 season. After a year away, Stoughton is back in Hockomock League competition and will be vying for the Davenport title.
With just four players gone to graduation, longtime head coach Dan Mark has a veteran squad at his disposal for the upcoming 10-game schedule plus a small postseason planned. The foundation of the team starts between the pipes as the Black Knights have two goalies back with experience. Sophomore Chris Andrade will compete with senior Ryan Spano for the starting job in net.
In front of goal, Mark is leaning on a trio of juniors plus one senior to get the job done. Senior Kenny Young will be joined along the blue line by Josh Greenspoon, Anthony Hern, and Steven Westerlund — all returners from a season ago. Offensively, the Black Knights will turn three-year starters in junior Colin Alessi and Joe McNulty to anchor the offense. They’ll be joined by seniors Kyle Cruickshank, Cade O’Connell, Mike Andrade, and Ryan Flannery to bolster the attack.
“We have a veteran team blended with some younger players and are looking to improve on last year’s record,” Mark said.
2019-2020 Record: 10-11-3 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton is returning a plethora of players from last year’s varsity squad that had double-digit wins and made a trip to the postseason. Now, the Tigers are just hoping to play a complete — albeit shortened — season.
The Tigers got a couple of days on the ice before the school district paused all athletic activities over the winter break. Head coach Kris Metea and his 18 returning players are hoping to resume practice on Monday and get their season back on track. While the break will certainly be a setback for the Tigers, having such an experienced squad will help when Taunton does get back on the ice. Leading the way will be a pair of defensemen: senior captain and Hockomock League All Star Brady Nichols and junior Jack DeMoura, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team selection.
Having reliable options on the blue line will be key as the Tigers sort out the situation between the pipes. Senior Jason Frates, who only has a handful of years of experience at the position, is set to start in net. Offensively, the challenge will be replacing the production from Michael Albert, one of the most productive players in program history. Metea will look to juniors Nathan Fernandes and Loren Corcoran as well as sophomores Colton Scheralis and Connor McGrath to replicate that production. Senior Camden Faria will be a leader of the offensive group
“2020 has been a challenging time and we are hoping that athletics can provide respite for players and families as we enter 2021,” Metea said. “We will take whatever games guidelines allows us to play and be thankful for the opportunity to skate in the presence of friends!”
BOURNE, Mass. – The Franklin boys hockey team had a sizable advantage in shots on goal, chances in the offensive end, and time in the attacking zone, but the Panthers walked away from Gallo Ice Arena with nothing to show for it.
Despite outplaying the 14th-seeded Bishops of Archbishop Williams for most of the game, the Panthers came up empty-handed. Archies scored a pair of power play goals and added a shorthanded one to skate to a 3-0 decision over the 10th-seeded Panthers.
“The seedings, you can throw them away,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. The D1 South Semifinals featured 9, 10, 12, and 14 seeds. “It’s about who comes to play, who wants it more. You’ve got to be on the right side of the puck and tonight, we had our chances we just couldn’t put it away. I thought we carried a lot of the play in the first and second periods, we just couldn’t put on behind the goalie.
“You can’t put your finger on one single thing, but it just wasn’t our night. I told the seniors, don’t hang your heads. We tried to do the best we could tonight, we just didn’t have it tonight. But it’s a great group of boys and they worked hard from start to finish.”
Franklin peppered the Bishops’ net with 30 shots, plus a handful of good bids that went just wide or high, and at least a dozen chances blocked down by the Archies defense, but couldn’t solve sophomore goalie Nick Buccella.
What looked like a good opportunity to start the game ended up being a big boost for the Bishops. Franklin went on the power play just 1:09 into the game on a cross-checking call. The Panthers kept the puck in the offensive zone for the first 30 seconds before a shot from the blue line was blocked.
Archies junior John Riley quickly pounced on the puck that he just blocked and raced into the attacking zone with Franklin’s Declan Lovett going stride for stride with him. Riley unleashed a shot that was turned aside by Ray Ivers but Riley batted in the rebound to give the Bishops a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
“In all honesty, I felt like we were on our heels the whole first period,” said Archbishop Williams head coach Derackk Curtis. “We got that lucky bounce and John Riley worked his ass off on that first goal, we’ve been working on that banging in the rebounds. Franklin had the momentum, they were on us a lot and we weathered the storm. I thought it kind of evened out after that. [Franklin] is a good team, they are a hard-working group but my team worked hard too.”
“We knew they were aggressive on their penalty kill,” Sarno said. “From that point on, we were chasing them. You have to tip your hat to Archies, they played hard. They kept picking up our sticks, they were playing through our sticks, they were pesky. And we didn’t make the most of our power plays either. We weren’t moving it quick enough knowing they’d be aggressive. “
The Panthers still had time left with the man advantage and nearly tied the game when Kyle Hedvig redirected a shot from Will Sheehan but Buccella squeezed the pads to prevent the puck from going five-hole.
Franklin spent the majority of the period in the offensive zone but didn’t have a ton of quality chances to show for it. Archies nearly doubled its advantage late in the period in a similar fashion to its first goal as Christian Koylion blocked a shot at the blue line and raced into the offensive zone but Franklin defenseman Paddy Dolan recovered well and swept the puck clear.
Dylan Marchand’s battle in front helped draw a penalty on Archies with 10:39 left in the second period, giving Franklin its second man-advantage chance of the game. But Franklin had just one quality bid when Colin Hedvig blasted a shot that was saved and Kyle Hedvig’s rebound chance was stuffed.
The chances continued throughout the second, as Kevin O’Rielly settled a puck for a shot from Justin Abely that was saved. Minutes later, Domenic Lampasona connected with CJ Jette, but his shot from close was misfired. And the best opportunity came with just under five minutes to go as Colin Hedvig intercepted a clearance and rifled a shot that was off the iron and stayed out.
“We were just snakebitten, it seemed like everything we threw at the net he was there,” Sarno said. “We had plenty of chances, it just wasn’t our night. You can have 30 or 40 shots on net and sometimes it’s just not your net.”
Archies went on the power play with 2:08 in the period on a trip call, and a second tripping penalty 1:15 later gave the Bishops a 5-on-3 chance for 45 seconds. The Bishops made the most of the chance as Ivers denied a pair of shots in close but Archies sophomore Jackson Sylvester lifted the third chance over the sprawled out goalie to make it 2-0 with 28.2 seconds left in the middle period.
Starting the third period with the power play, Archies needed just eight seconds to tack on an important insurance goal. Thomas Page rifled a shot after striding over the blue line that went under the bar for a 3-0 lead.
Franklin pushed to get on the board but was unable to find the back of the net. Marchand and Colin Hedvig linked up but the latter couldn’t lift his backhand past Buccella. With nine minutes to go, Conor O’Neil blasted a high shot that Buccella had to fight off, and seconds later, Sean Connelly blasted a shot with O’Neil screening in front but it was saved.
Even with just under two minutes to go, the Panthers had a perfect play with Connelly finding Lovett in front for a one-timer but Buccella was in the perfect position and made the pad stop to preserve the shutout.
Franklin boys hockey finishes the season at 11-8-4.
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – The Franklin boys hockey team might have had a little luck on its first goal, but the second two tallies were certainly earned.
After #2 Natick tied the game early in the third period and stole momentum, the 10th-seeded Panthers battled back to strike twice in the last five minutes to earn a 3-1 upset over the Redhawks.
With a little help from a deflection, Franklin picked up a 1-0 lead in the first period and it lasted until the third. Natick lit the lamp just over a minute into the final period to take control of the game but the Panthers weathered the wave on momentum.
Instead of the Redhawks capitalizing, the Panthers went back ahead with just under five minutes to play and added an insurance goal with just over a minute to go to secure the win.
“They kept their composure, we knew [Natick] was going to come out with everything they have,” said first-year Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “They are a physical team, a strong team, and they weren’t going to give up…they weren’t seeded No. 2 for nothing. We fought through the adversity, we kept our composure, and we believed in each other and we played for each other. I couldn’t be more proud of them, I couldn’t be more happy for them…this group has earned it from day one.”
A clearance attempt took a deflection and ended up bouncing in the left circle. Natick’s Matthew Haskell was the first to it and timed his shot perfectly on the bouncing puck, smashing a shot into the back of the net, leaving Franklin goalie Ray Ivers (19 saves) little chance.
Natick didn’t have any chances right after the goal, instead having to race back to break up a potential breakaway bid from Dylan Marchand, and a minute later, Franklin’s Kevin O’Rielly had a hard wrist shot knocked away with a blocker save.
The Redhawks did test Ivers just before the midway point of the period when a shot from Nick Haswell tossed a shot from the blue line that hit Ivers’ mask, but the Franklin goalie was quick to cover up the loose puck in front.
As the clock ticked under five minutes, Franklin junior defenseman Will Sheehan pinched up to deny a clearance attempt, keeping the puck in the Panthers’ offensive zone. Sheehan eventually got the puck back and fired a shot that was knocked down.
With both Shea Hurley and Shane McCaffrey digging at the puck down low, Natick goalie Luc Gagnon was forced to go low. The puck popped back into the slot and Colin Hedvig blasted into the back of the net to make it 2-1 with 4:53 to go.
“Will was out for a while with an injury but his confidence, his patience, his poise, and most important his instincts, his instincts are spot on,” Sarno said of Sheehan making the right read to pinch. “For a kid that age to be that composed and that poised to step up and make that play at the right time…that’s how this team is playing right now.
“Right now everyone is pulling in the right direction right now. I have a great coaching staff too that helps so much. This is what we hoped for, this is why our schedule is as tough as it was. Hopefully we can continue it.”
Franklin kept the pressure up, denying Natick a chance at the tying goal. Instead, the Panthers added an insurance tally. Junior Sean Connelly used a slick move to split a pair of defensemen in the attacking zone, feeding the puck back in front and classmate Conor O’Neil buried it for a 3-1 lead with 1:25 to go.
Chances were hard to come by through the first two periods of play. The Redhawks went on the power play with 8:44 to go in the first but a pair of clearances from Sheehan, plus a strong forecheck from Hedvig helped the Panthers limit Natick to just one shot on goal during the man advantage.
After killing the penalty, the Panthers found the back of the net. Junior Joe LeBlanc went to blast a shot from the blue line but a Natick player was able to get his stick on it right away. The puck popped high into the air and eluded Gagnon, dropping into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 5:34 left in the first.
“We got a little puck luck but to make those plays to make your own breaks,” Sarno said. “You have to create those opportunities, you have to get into the position. We’ll take it, you need the bounces too. The difference between a good team and a great team is good teams do just enough to get by, great teams do all the little things to make a difference at the end and that’s what we’ve got right now.”
Ivers came up with a nice glove save on a wrist shot from the circle from Natick’s Andrew Christileb. The Redhawks finished the period with 1:20 of a power play but a clearance from junior Paddy Dolan helped kill most of the man advantage.
Natick did have a shot off of Ivers back that caused a scrum in front but the Panther collapsed as a defense to prevent anything.
Franklin killed the remaining 39 seconds of the power play to start the second and then had to kill another just past the midway point. This time, O’Neil hustled to block a shot, Tom Tasker intercepted a pass and took the puck into the attacking zone and both JT Dwyer and Hedvig came up with clearances.
“We tried to forecheck them and cut off the middle of the ice. We knew they loved to clog the middle of the ice so we figured if we could step up at the blue line and force the dump in, our speed would prevail. They are working for it, and they got what they deserved, they earned this win.
The Panthers had their lone power play in the second with 3:28 to play but couldn’t muster up many chances. Hedvig had the best bid, skating past a defenseman but his backhand bid from in tight was denied.
Franklin boys hockey (11-7-4) will take on #14 Archbishop Williams in the D1 South Semifinals on Wednesday at Gallo at 5:30 Archies knocked off #3 Bridgewater-Raynham (2-1) and #11 Wellesley (2-1) to reach the semis.
CANTON, Mass. – One team looked like it was hitting its stride at the right time of the year and looked like it was as comfortable playing on the playoff stage as it was at any point during the regular season. The other team looked like it was making its first playoff appearance in five seasons.
Franklin scored twice in the opening four minutes of Thursday night’s Div. 1 South first round contest at the Canton Ice House, including one just 36 seconds in, and never looked back, rolling to a 7-1 victory over King Philip in a battle of the top two finishers in the Kelley-Rex division.
“I thought we would’ve had more,” said KP coach Paul Carlow, admitting that Franklin played like a playoff-tested team on Thursday. “We were on our heels from the get-go and we never got out of the starting blocks really. I was worried all week about the game being too big for them and it was.”
The Panthers wasted no time grabbing the lead. Tom Tasker fired a wrist shot from the point and through a screen in front that slipped past KP goalie Jesper Makudera, after just 46 seconds.
Three minutes later, Franklin doubled its advantage on the power play. Kyle Hedvig sent a pass across the zone to Tasker at the point and the big defenseman blasted a shot that Makudera did well to get a pad to, but the rebound fell right to Colin Hedvig and he lifted a backhand past the sprawling goalie.
“He could stop a freight train with that shot,” Franklin coach Anthony Sarno said. “We showed up to play. The forecheck 5-on-5, we just took it to them. We started to create some space for ourselves cycling it down low.”
He added, “That team is a good team and the hardest thing to do is beat the same team twice. Paul is a great coach and they’ve got some really great players and we didn’t take them for granted. We knew they would come in with all the fight they had. We had to do all the little things, the intangibles you need to win.”
It took a while for the Warriors to get their legs under them. Nolan Feyler set up Rocco Bianculli for a shot from the left circle that Ray Ivers saved and Conor Cooke had a tip from in front knocked aside by the goalie as well. Ivers was forced to made a smart pad save on Chris Daniels from close range.
Despite those chances, KP was struggling to get anything consistent in the offensive zone. Franklin held a 13-9 edge in shots after one.
The Warriors did have a golden opportunity to try and get back into the game in the second period when they started with 1:28 of two-man advantage. KP didn’t manage a shot on goal during the power play.
“We came out in the second with the 5-on-3 and we still didn’t settle down,” said Carlow. “Our power play has been really good all year and it just looked like we were nervous. We had trouble controlling the puck and getting set up in the zone and as soon as they killed that off I felt like momentum swung back.”
Franklin continued to have good luck getting offense from its blue line corps. Tasker blocked a clearance against the far boards and then skated towards goal only for Makudera to stay square and make the stop. Justin Abely caused havoc with a shot from the point that was saved but that produced a rebound that sat untouched on the post with the goal gaping.
A third goal came with 5:20 left in the second. JT Dwyer sent a puck out in front that deflected off a KP skate and right to the stick of Sean Connelly in the slot. He took a touch to control and then ripped a shot over the goalie’s shoulder.
Declan Lovett came close to making it four with a steal in the offensive zone, but it was Colin Hedvig that would extend the lead. He was set up by Kevin O’Rielly and Kyle Hedvig, knocking in a pass through the crease at the back post.
The four-goal lead only lasted 30 seconds. Aidan Boulger finally was able to get behind the Franklin defense and he managed to squeeze his breakaway underneath Ivers to make it 4-1.
Joe LeBlanc nearly restored the lead near the end of the second but his shot from the point struck the post and stayed out. Dylan Marchand nearly got it back just 13 seconds into the third when Kyle Hedvig hit him with a perfect pass from the left to right circle but Makudera made the glove save.
“We told them to keep forcing the forecheck down their throat and keep playing the right way, sticks in the passing lane, bodies in the shooting lane, and make sure it stops,” Sarno said of the message before the third period.
Three minutes into the third, Franklin got the crucial fifth goal and in back-breaking fashion. Tasker hit Dwyer with a perfect tape-to-tape diagonal outlet pass from his own zone. Dwyer teed up a slap shot that went off the goalie’s blocker, straight up into the air, and then landed behind the goalie in the net.
Carlow said, “I thought the next goal was big. I thought if we could cut it to 4-2 then we could make a run at them there but that goal was obviously a big goal at that point.”
Marchand added a sixth a little more than a minute later. Going from left to right across the zone, Marchand roofed it over backup goalie Nate Ihley. Andrew Demerchant added a seventh in the final three minutes.
Sarno said, “It’s one win, four more to go, but we’ve just got to keep out composure and keep bringing it every night. We can’t take shifts off.”
Franklin (10-7-4) will travel to Loring Arena on Saturday night to take on No. 2 seed Natick. King Philip finishes the season at 10-6-5.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Coming off a tie to Mansfield and a loss to Canton, and now trailing by a goal to King Philip with just a period left, the Franklin boys hockey was on the verge of letting its grasp of the Kelley-Rex division slip away.
But first-year Panther coach Anthony Sarno challenged his squad to rise to the occasion over the final 15 minutes, and the team delivered.
Franklin scored three goals in the third period, erasing a one-goal deficit and landing a 4-2 win over King Philip. With the win, the Panthers move into sole possession of first place in the division with 10 points with one game to go. The win also secures a playoff spot because Franklin can’t finish worse than second place in the Kelley-Rex.
“‘How bad do you want it?’” Sarno asked his players between the second and third periods. “It’s not the X’s and O’s, it’s the will to win, how bad do you want to push back? We’re tired of being slapped in mouth late in the games with all these ties. And against Canton last game, they the best team in the league no doubt, but we didn’t really challenge them the way we should have or could have.
“We have to take care of the puck and do all the little things, we have to do what we did in the third period tonight and we came out with the will to win.”
Franklin took the first lead of the game midway through the opening period but King Philip answered inside the final minute and took the lead with the only goal of the second period.
Despite not converting on a very early power play chance in the third period, the Panthers pounced on a chance just over four minutes in to level the scoring. Senior forward Kyle Hedvig fired a tough angle shot on goal that was knocked down by KP senior goalie Jesper Makudera (40 saves) but senior defenseman Colin Hedvig had pinched down in and lifted the rebound into the back of the net to make it 2-2.
King Philip nearly regained the lead past the midway point of the period but the play ended giving the Panthers the go-ahead strike. KP senior Joe Boselli intercepted a clearance attempt and skated into the slot before unleashing a hard wrist shot. Franklin senior goalie Ray Ivers (26 saves) got just enough of it with his shoulder to keep it out, the puck deflecting over the net and up the sideboards.
From there, Franklin raced into a 2-on-1 situation as Kyle Hedvig snuck a pass under the KP defenseman to an open Declan Lovett in front, and he buried his chance from in close to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead with 4:11 to play.
The momentum stayed with the Panthers for the remainder of the game, and Kyle Hedvig and Declan Lovett combined to set up the insurance goal for the hosts, finding Colin Hedvig wide open in the slot in front of goal and his one-timer made it 4-2 with 1:49 to play.
“It was nice to see the kids make the push to come back,” Sarno said. “I give them a lot of credit. Like I said from the beginning of the year I love these kids, they’ve been resilient and really fought through a lot of adversity, even if we created some of it on our own. But it takes a hell of a team to come back from that, now we just have to stop putting ourselves in those positions and start using our assets like our speed, moving the puck quickly, stick to stick, and I think if we do that, we’ll be a much more deadly team in these last seven games.”
King Philip had one other good chance in the third period, coming on the penalty kill. Boselli jumped onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated it towards goal before firing a shot that was denied by Ivers. The Warriors had 10 total shots in the third but didn’t threaten with a serious chance after falling behind.
The Warriors were also without their top defenseman in Kyle Gray (sick), who is also third on the team in points, but head coach Paul Carlow said that wasn’t an excuse.
”Kyle’s our anchor back there so we had a built-in excuse with him out but the boys didn’t take it, they rallied around each other,” Carlow said. “I felt like we gave everything we had, just ran out of gas. I felt like we needed some momentum so that first goal in the third was going to be huge. They got it and I think that kind of turned the tide. We played mostly two lines, four or five defensemen, I just think we ran out of legs.
“We had some breakdowns at the end and I think it was fatigue more than anything else. I don’t think it was their will, we just ran out of gas and [Franklin] is a good team.”
Both teams scored in a first period that was fast-paced and full of hard hits as both teams came out flying. The Panthers jumped ahead just moments after Makudera robbed them of the opening tally. Shane McCaffrey intercepted a clearance pass and made a nice move to find space to unleash a shot that Makudera saved, the rebound falling to Shea Hurley but a diving stop from the goalie kept it scoreless.
But on the ensuing faceoff from the right circle, the puck squirmed towards the slot with multiple sticks batting at it. The puck eventually found the stick of junior JT Dwyer and he turned and whipped a shot on target that found the back fo the net for a 1-0 lead with 6:11 to go in the first.
King Philip responded in the final minute. Senior defenseman Ethan McGuire ripped a low shot through traffic that hit the back of the net and came out, quick enough that the ref signaled for no goal. But the second official called the play dead, got together with the other ref, and ruled it had gone in making it 1-1 with 37 seconds left in the first.
The Warriors’ lone power play chance came early in the second period but Ivers denied chances from junior Conor Cooke and sophomore Nolan Feyler to keep the game tied.
Just over the midway point, the Warriors broke through to take their first lead of the game. A quick break from Chris Daniels led to a two-on-one opportunity and Daniels made the right decision, sliding a pass over to Aidan Bougler and the junior smashed his one-timer into the back of the net to make I 2-1 with 5:22 left in the third.
Franklin came close on a handful of chances in the final couple of minutes but Makudera made some terrific stops to keep the Warriors ahead. Senior Tom Tasker had a blast denied, Will Sheehan linked up with Kyle Hedvig right in front but Makudera made the point-blank stop, and then denied Lovett on the rebound.
KP nearly added to its lead on a break as Rocco Bianculli sent a chipped pass into the zone for Jack Coulter, but Ivers was up to the task.
On the other end, Sheehan tossed a shot on goal that was redirected by Sean Dunbar just over the net, and in the final seconds Colin Hedvig sent a cross-ice pass to McCaffrey who quickly delivered a pass in front to Dylan Marchand but his one-timer was blocked by Makudera and Hurley had his rebound bid stopped.
Franklin boys hockey (4-1-2 Hockomock, 6-4-3 overall). can clinch the Kelley-Rex division outright with a win over North Attleboro when they meet on Saturday at 7:30. A point can also clinch depending on the outcome of the Mansfield and Foxboro game. King Philip (3-2-2, 8-4-2) falls into third in the division but is still in contention for a division title, but would need help from Foxboro and North Attleboro, and would have to take care of Oliver Ames on Saturday at 6:10.
CANTON, Mass. – It was a championship theme inside the Canton Ice House on Saturday afternoon.
It started with a pregame ceremony honoring the 10th anniversary of Canton’s 2010 D2 State Championship squad and it ended with the 2020 Bulldogs clinching the program’s 10th straight Davenport division title with a 3-1 win over rival Franklin.
The Canton boys hockey team is the only program in the entire Hockomock League in any sport to win ten 10 straight division championships. The Bulldogs are the only team to win a Davenport title for boys hockey, winning every year of the decade since the league split into two divisions.
“It’s a great thing, we’re very lucky to be apart of something like this here in Canton,” said Bulldogs coach Brian Shuman, who quickly went from one rink to the other inside the Ice House, coaching a 6th/7th grade Canton youth team immediately following the Bulldogs’ win over Franklin. “All of these guys were watching our game before coming over here for their game, and all of our guys watched the teams before them.”
Canton erased a one-goal deficit after a period of play, scoring twice in a two-minute window in the second period and tacked on an insurance goal in the third period to secure the win. The Bulldogs went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
A pair of those kills came in the first period, including one just under three minutes into the contest. A tripping call put Canton down a man but an aggressive kill prevented the visiting Panthers from registering a serious chance on goal.
After Canton had a power play go without a goal shortly after, the Panthers once again had a man-advantage chance just past the midway point of the period. Again, the Bulldogs applied plenty of pressure, not allowing Franklin a good look in the offensive zone.
Instead, the best chance of that two-minute span fell to the Bulldogs. Senior Johnny Hagan pounced on a loose puck, slammed on the brakes as he crossed the blue line to shake a defenseman, dropped a pass to senior Chris Lavoie, who dished it back across to Hagan in front but the senior center couldn’t get his stick on the puck in time as the bid went just wide.
The Bulldogs knocked on the door against as the clock ticked under two minutes as Dylan Coyne connected with Donny McNeice but Franklin goalie Ray Ivers (18 saves) came up with the save and covered the rebound.
Although it was Canton who had the best chances for the majority of the period, it was Franklin that found the back of the net first. Junior Conor O’Neil connected with classmate Sean Connelly as the pair entered the offensive zone. Connelly worked his way past a defenseman and tossed the puck back in front and O’Neil completed a hard crash on net with the final touch into the back of the net.
Canton came out strong to start the second period, with Lavoie smashing a shot off the crossbar in the opening minute. The equalizer came just under four minutes into the period as sophomore Eamon Kelly drove hard behind the net, dishing the puck in front just before circling around. Hagan found the puck in the middle and dished it off to senior defenseman Jack Connolly, who deposited a shot into the top corner to make it 1-1 with 11:13 left in the second period.
The Bulldogs went on the power play shortly after and needed just seven seconds on the man advantage to go ahead. Lavoie dished it back to senior defenseman Owen Lehane after an offensive zone faceoff win and, after skating towards the center of the blue line, Lehane unleashed a wrist shot. With both Kelly and Hagan in front screening, Ivers had no chance as the puck found the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
“Just a huge goal…when you think too much on the power play, you get in trouble,” Shuman said. “Our guys tonight, they really did a phenomenal job moving the puck. And when they had the opportunity, just rip it. If you wait a half second longer or think too much, you miss the chance. We want Owen to shoot more at the top and he just fired it, it was a huge goal.”
Franklin had a golden chance with five minutes left in the second as Connelly came up with a turnover in the attacking zone, firing a pass over to Shane McCaffrey in front but the senior forward couldn’t get all of it on his shot and it went just wide.
The Panthers went on a power play in the final minutes of the second but were unable to convert. Dylan Marchand had a shot denied by Canton goalie Joe Cammarata on one try, and Cammarata made a stop on a tip from Connelly on a shot from Joe LeBlanc.
“We gave them too much space,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “We didn’t take good care of the puck…we have to be better in every facet of the game. We have to be committed to our game, stick to our game, we have to forecheck hard. We can’t give them that much space on the blue line…instead of forcing a dump in we were giving them 20 feet of room to maneuver. Against a good team like that, you have to minimize your mistakes.
“Special teams is going to make or break you in a game like that. They brought it and we didn’t. The first period was fine but after that, they wanted it more than we did.”
Coyne delivered the insurance goal for the Bulldogs. The junior forward whipped a low shot on goal as he crossed the blue line and the puck eluded Ivers and bounced into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead.
Franklin had a final power play chance to cut into the deficit but again without a goal. Tommy Tasker blasted a low shot but Cammarata read it the entire way without traffic in front. The Bulldogs went on to block two more shots and deflect another pair out of play to kill the penalty.
“We spend a lot of time on it, at least once a practice,” Shuman said. “And I think that was the best game we’ve had so far on the penalty kill. They were aggressive, and you have to be aggressive against [Franklin] because they are aggressive on their power play. You look at a kid like TJ McCabe, filling in for one of our best penalty killers in Tommy Ghostlaw, and he had a great game.
“It’s about being smart in those situations. You have to recognize what’s around you when you have the puck and make the right decisions, and we had some chances tonight. They put some forwards on the point [on the power play] so they aren’t used to playing defense so you can kind of take advantage of that.”
Canton boys hockey (6-0-0 Hockomock, 11-0-2 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it hosts North Attleboro. Franklin (3-1-2, 5-4-3) will host King Philip on Wednesday in a battle of the top two teams tied atop the Kelley-Rex division.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Last season, the Kelley-Rex division title wasn’t decided until the final game of the league campaign and this season is shaping up to be just as close. Coming into Thursday night’s showdown with Mansfield, Franklin was in a first place tie with King Philip, both sitting on seven points in the league, with the Hornets just two points back.
After a thrilling 5-5 shootout at Pirelli Veterans Arena, in which it twice battled back from two goals down, Franklin moved back into first place by itself, but by only the slimmest of margins. The tie sets up another exciting finish to decide the league champ, as all three teams have three games remaining.
“I’m proud of the fact that they came back and battled through adversity,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno. “They didn’t quit. To lead up to that point, we didn’t really help ourselves, but it takes a hell of a team to fight through adversity two or three times in a game and pull even.”
Mansfield missed an opportunity on Thursday to create a three-way tie atop the division, after twice leading by two goals, including a 5-3 lead with 8:02 remaining in the game.
The Panthers celebrated senior night before the game and came out flying once the puck dropped. Franklin held a 14-4 advantage in shots on goal at the end of the first and had a series of scoring opportunities denied by Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty (33 saves).
Liam Anastasia had the game’s first good chance when he intercepted a pass in the Franklin zone, but the defense recovered on the back-check and Ray Ivers (17 saves) was able to make the pad stop. Just seconds later, Dylan Marchand forced a glove save out of McCafferty on the other end.
Defenseman Joe LeBlanc put another shot on target, sneaking his effort through a crowd and forcing a pad stop. On the power play, Declan Lovett had two great chances to put the hosts in front. He cut across the crease and had a chance at the post, but McCafferty went post-to-post to make the kick save and then scrambled to get big and stop Lovett’s rebound effort.
The game remained scoreless until the final three minutes of the period. Tom Tasker showed patience on the puck at the blue line, hesitating to find a shooting lane and firing a wrister inside the post.
Franklin went into the locker room with confidence, but it was the Hornets that were buzzing when they came back onto the ice. In just 1:24, Mansfield turned a one-goal deficit into a 3-1 lead.
“Starting is something we continue to battle, but we kept our composure in between periods,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We knew they were a quick team and we knew that we had to jump on them early. We knew that we had to get pucks to the net and just crash the net and that’s what we did.”
Chris Jenkins set up the first goal when he forced a pad save from the right circle. Jake Lund crashed the far post and smashed the rebound in to tie it after 28 seconds. Just 22 seconds later and the Hornets grabbed the lead when Jenkins had a shot from the near boards go off Ivers’ stick and glove and into the back of the net.
The momentum was with the visitors and they took advantage on the power play to extend the lead to two. A mishit shot from the right face-off dot slid wide of the net and Cam Page was in the right place to knock it home.
“We didn’t help ourselves at all,” Sarno admitted. “We didn’t take care of the puck, especially in our own zone, and we turned it over in our zone at crucial times and it cost us goals. We were fighting it and instead of playing disciplined we were chasing it.”
It only took two minutes and a power play opportunity to get Franklin back into the game. Seniors Colin and Kyle Hedvig nearly combined on a great passing play only to have McCafferty make the stop. The duo stuck with the play and Kyle Hedvig got free in the left circle, going top shelf to make it 3-2.
Franklin nearly tied it right after the goal when a shot rang off the bar and Marchand and Kevin O’Rielly both had good looks that were saved. Mansfield went close after a great passing move from Jenkins to Page to Kevin Belanger, but Ivers was in the way. Kyle Hedvig had a shorthanded effort go over the bar and then Lovett got behind the defense only for Ryan Doherty’s back-check and McCafferty’s save to keep the Hornets in front heading into the second intermission.
As wild, fast-paced, and end-to-end the first two periods were, things went to another level in the third.
The Panthers wasted no time getting level, as Shea Hurley got on the end of Marchand’s pass at the back post just 18 seconds into the period. Twenty-two seconds later, the Hornets regained the lead. Lund was left alone in the slot and fired in a one-timer.
“My guys knew it,” said Balzarini about Franklin coming out hard to start the third. “A two-goal lead is probably the hardest thing to keep in hockey and we knew that they might try to stretch us early and we had to be prepared for it.”
Franklin kept pushing and had several good looks. JT Dwyer had an effort from the high slot snagged by McCafferty, LeBlanc smacked the post with a shot from the point, and then LeBlanc forced a pad stop that was followed up by Hedvig only for the rebound to slide wide of the post.
As the hosts pushed forward, Mansfield hit them on the break. Jenkins snuck behind the defense and made no mistake on the breakaway, rifling a shot in off the post and seemingly sealing a victory for the Hornets.
It only seemed like the game was over. Franklin came storming right back with O’Rielly knocking in a rebound from the edge of the crease to give the Panthers a lifeline with 6:33 to play. Less than two minutes later, it was 5-5. Pat Dolan’s pass out of defense found Shane McCaffrey streaking down the middle and he lifted his backhand to beat the goalie.
“I think we were a little more complacent when we had a 5-3 lead,” said Balzarini. “It was late and I think we did take a couple of shifts off. We didn’t win a couple of puck battles, but I thought we continued to play well in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone.”
There was even time for one more chance for the Panthers, as Sean Connelly teed up Conor O’Neil, but McCafferty made the stop to preserve a point apiece.
“We need them,” Sarno said about getting a point. “We need them all. We’ve got a tough stretch. There are no easy nights. Everyone is going to bring their best game against us, so we need to have our best game and even if we do we have to limit our mistakes.”
Franklin (5-3-3, 3-0-2) leads the Kelley-Rex by a point heading into a difficult closing stretch of games that begins with a trip to Canton on Saturday. Mansfield (4-4-3, 2-2-1) will travel to second place King Philip on Saturday for another critical divisional game.
2018-2019 Record: 10-10-2 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
The Bombardiers will be looking to stretch their postseason streak to three years this season. It showed how deep the Kelley-Rex division was last year that the Bombardiers, who did not fare well in league games, made it to the state tournament.
One reason that Attleboro is hopeful for a spot in the state tournament is the addition of a couple of transfers to the program. Jake Ward joined the program and will apart of the Bombardiers top line alongside senior captain Ryan Morry and junior Aidan Diggin. Both Morry and Diggin have a plethora of experience at the varsity level so expect Attleboro’s top line to be a dangerous one in the offensive zone. Attleboro picked up some needed depth with the addition of junior Owen Dryjowicz and freshman Aidan Dryjowicz, who will join sophomore Nate Parker on the second line.
The third line could see some rotation but will mostly feature junior Austin Blais at the center spot, and senior Liam McDonough, junior Owen Graney, and senior Kyle Miniati on the wings. The Bombardiers will have some experience on the blue line with senior Sam Flynn and junior Zach Pierce holding down two of the top spots, with sophomore Sean Marshall also in the mix. The fourth spot between the top two defensive pairs is still up for grabs in the early going. Sophomores Nick Piazza and Michael Dutremble are battling for minutes in net.
“We hope to improve our record from last year through commitment and hard work collectively, and gain entry to the state tournament,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer.
2018-2019 Record: 25-0-1 2018-2019 Finish: D2 State Champions Coach: Brian Shuman
Having won nine straight Davenport division titles, Canton is used to having a target on its back as the rest of the Hockomock League tries to knock the Bulldogs from the top. But this year, that target is even bigger than before.
Fresh off one of the best seasons in both program and league history that ended with a D2 State Championship, the Bulldogs will be getting everyone’s best game in and game out. And while Canton certainly graduated some key pieces, like two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Ryan Nolte, the Bulldogs enter this season as not only the favorite for a 10th straight division crown but will certainly be in the mix when it comes to the 2020 D2 State title.
While replacing Nolte will be tough, the Bulldogs have several key forwards back from last year’s championship team. It will all start with senior Johnny Hagan, who was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a sophomore and racked up 51 points with 21 goals and 31 assists on the season. Hagan will have a lot of experience to work with in senior Timmy Kelleher (seven goals, seven assists last regular season), senior Tommy Ghostlaw (five goals, six assists), and senior Chris Lavoie (13 goals, 12 assists). Lavoie could be poised for a breakout year, scoring twice in the season-opening win over Franklin.
Canton also brings back top players along the blue line with Jack Connolly and HockomockSports.com Second Team selection Owen Lehane. Both seniors, Connolly and Lehane not only are among the best defensive players in the league but play a big part of the Canton offense with their shooting. Seniors Ronan O’Mahony and Declan Pfeffer are also experienced defensemen that will see increased roles this year. Canton turns to senior Joe Cammarata to start in between the pipes with junior Liam Polles impressing early on and could push for starting minutes.
“We have a lot of experience returning, but that’s true for a lot of teams across the state,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. If our preseason was any indication, there are a lot of outstanding, talented teams this year that improved greatly in the offseason. We will have our work cut out for us in the Hock and with a tough non-league schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-7-3 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South First Round Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro built upon its 10-season win two years ago with its best season in program history last year, picking up 12 wins including one in the postseason. After posting back-to-back successful seasons, the Warriors are hoping that trend continues.
With a good amount of returners back this year, the Warriors will be in good position to compete in the Hockomock League and will be aiming to make a deeper run into the state tournament behind a beefed-up schedule. One strength for Foxboro this year will be its offense with its two top regular season point producers back in junior Kirk Leach (15 goals, 20 assists) and senior Ronnie MacLellan (14 goals, 20 assists). That duo provided the Warriors with a lot of its offense last season and will be one of the top returning duos this season. Senior Sebastian Ricketts brings a vast amount of experience to the offense while sophomore Jack Watts (10 goals, four assists) will be looking to build on an impressive freshman year. Brady Daly, Eoin Reager, Josh Bertuman, Ryan Jacobs and Ben Ricketts will provide needed depth offensively.
Defensively it all starts with senior goalie Espen Reager, the defending Hockomock League MVP back after a strong junior season between the pipes for the Warriors. Reager has the ability to keep his team in teams, and he showed last year that he can help steal a game like he did against Mansfield. In front of Reager, senior Kyle McGinnis is one of the more experienced defensemen in the league and will be the anchor of the blue line group for Foxboro. Freshman Alex Coviello has impressed early on and will be a key piece of the defense.
“Our strength on offense this season will be our depth and overall team speed,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We have more depth on offense than we’ve ever had. We’re looking forward to this season, with a lot of depth up front, excellent team speed and a great goalie we feel we can compete with any team on our schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-10-4 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final Coach: Anthony Sarno
A new chapter begins in Franklin boys hockey with Anthony Sarno taking over on the bench after longtime Panther coach Chris Spillane stepped down following last season. While the Panthers might have a bit of a new look, expectations are still high inside Pirelli for the defending Kelley-Rex champs.
Sarno is hoping that momentum will carry over from the Panthers’ impressive playoff run from a year ago when Franklin upset Mansfield in overtime and knocked off Catholic Memorial in the semifinals. But there won’t be any nights off for Franklin with a loaded schedule that features Malden Catholic, Pope Francis, and a loaded Mt. Hope tournament — and that’s just December.
“It will be a work in progress and we will look to develop a solid team chemistry with a relentless work ethic, staying true to consistency, and discipline in an environment where effort and attitude is paramount, and not up for discussion,” Sarno said.
Up front, the Panthers will be leaning on seniors Shane McCaffrey, Kevin O’Rielly, and Shea Hurley to lead the way. McCaffrey is the team’s top scorer returning from a year ago so it will be vital for new players to step up and contribute. Juniors Conor O’Neil and Declan Lovett are also going to be important pieces to the Panthers’ offense. Senior Ray Ivers returns between the pipes are stepping in last season and playing well. In front of Ivers, Franklin will have two of the best defensemen in the league with senior Tom Tasker, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last year, and junior Joe LeBlanc, who had a breakout sophomore campaign.
2018-2019 Record: 10-11-0 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Paul Carlow
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back seasons, the Warriors have a chance to end that drought in 2020 behind an experienced group of players after losing just five players to graduation.
Head coach Paul Carlow says this is the most experienced group he’s had at his disposal since taking over behind the Warriors’ bench in 2015. There are nine seniors back this year and eight juniors so King Philip certainly boasts a lot of depth, and players that have played plenty of minutes at the varsity level. It starts with senior captain Chris Daniels, senior assistant captain Joe Boselli, and senior assistant captain Jack Coulter. All three have skated plenty of minutes for Carlow over the past couple of years and will be relied upon for their leadership.
Daniels is a crafty forward that scored five goals and had six assists while Coulter is the top returning scorer back this year after scoring six goals and recording nine assists a year ago. Seniors Bryan Lucente and Noah Ray will also be in the mix offensively alongside Daniels, Coulter, and Boselli. The Warriors will also rely on a handful of juniors to chip in offensively including forward Conor Cooke. Cooke had a terrific season with 10 goals and four assists and could be poised for a breakout year.
Defensively, there is a lot of veterans along the blue line for King Philip. Seniors Kyle Gray and Ethan McGuire are joined by junior Rocco Bianculli, a Hockomock League All Star and a HocomockSports.com All Underclassman selection a year ago. Gray is a three-year player that provides physicality while Bianculli is one of the top scoring defensemen in the entire league, scoring seven goals and adding seven assists during his sophomore season. Seniors Nate Ihley and Jesper Makudera will battle for minutes in net.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” Carlow said. “On top of the seniors and juniors, we also have a strong sophomore class competing for spots. We have speed up front, we’re strong on the back end, and we have two good goalies. I’m looking forward to working with this group and fully expect them to make the tournament.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-6-3 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Mike Balzarini
Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini was a little concerned about his team’s depth coming into the season after graduating nine players and losing two top players to prep school. But after tryouts and a strong preseason, Balzarini believes this year’s squad will be just as deep as last year’ 14-win squad.
Losing a talented senior class hurts, and with Matt Copponi (eight goals, 28 assists, 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year) and Brian Grant (HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team) off to prep schools, the Hornets will need new faces to step up and contribute on both ends of the ice. But Balzarini and the Hornets have something that none of the other Hockomock teams have and that’s senior goalie Sean McCafferty. Now in his fourth year starting, McCafferty is a game-changer. Even if the Hornets aren’t having their best games, they’ll still likely have a chance to win because of McCafferty.
In front of McCafferty, the Hornets will turn to senior Joseph Troiano to anchor the defensive unit. He will be joined by Jack Gormley and Conor Benoit, both of whom picked up valuable minutes last season and should help Mansfield be one of the stingiest defensive groups. Offensively, the Hornets do get a boost with the return of senior forward Chris Jenkins. Jenkins was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team in 2017 after he had 11 goals and 10 assists as a freshman. He will join veterans Jake Lund and Kevin Belanger to form a talented first line for the Hornets. Cam Paige, Liam Anastasia, and Ben Ierardo will team up on Mansfield’s second line.
“We have a little bit of a sour taste after how last year ended,” Balzarini said. “We want to get over that hurdle of the first round of the playoffs. This group really plays well together, they play as a team. They’ve gelled nicely since the first day of tryouts.”
2018-2019 Record: 11-9-2 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinals Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro will be leaning on its defense in order to get back to the tournament again this season. With the defending state champs in Canton as well as an improved Foxboro squad, the Rocketeers have their hands full with a difficult three-team Davenport division.
Seniors Jake McNeany, Will Yeomans, Jeff Baker, and junior Charlie Connolly are all back this season to give North Attleboro a veteran defensive group. With a handful of experienced players leading the way defensively, it should make the transition from four-year starting goalie Ryan Warren a bit smoother. Another reason that transition should go smoothly is senior goalie Nick Digiacomo, who has been impressive in the preseason so far this year.
Senior Dennis Morehouse is back after a breakout junior campaign and will be in the mix as one of the top players in the Hockomock League this season. Morehouse was second on the team in points last year with 15 goals and four assists and is the top returning scorer back for the Rocketeers. Senior Jack Connolly is another experienced forward that will be a key piece of the offense while junior Tyler Sarro will look to build upon a solid sophomore season.
“For us to be successful, we need to be discipline and get scoring from our second and third lines,” said North Attleboro coach Ben McManama. “We are not as big as we were in years past so we need to play tough and physical.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9-1 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Mike Zucarelli
There is a new face at the helm of the Tigers this season, but its a familiar one. Mike Zucarelli takes over after serving as an assistant coach and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
Replacing one of the league’s top forwards in Brett Williams won’t be easy, but the Tigers boast experienced returners at every position on the ice. Senior Owen Connor is back for his third year in between the pipes. He took a big jump from his sophomore to junior year and that Zucarelli expects that trend to continue for the 2019-2020 season. In front of Connor, OA returns senior defensemen Ryan Gottwald and Matt Nosalek. Gottwald, one of the team’s two captains, had an impressive junior year and will be the leader of the defensive group this season.
Offensively, there will be some familiar faces including senior captain Hunter Costello. Costello, who scored nine goals and had 15 assists in the regular season a year ago, is joined by fellow returners Jake Gottwald, Duncan Pereira, and Brad Powers. All four of those seniors will be vital in the attack while juniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro should see expanded roles this year.
“We are going to be a gritty, hardworking team this year,” Zucarelli said, citing a preseason scrimmage with Milton. “We held our own during the first as Milton took it to us. We came out flying in the second, tied up the game and took the momentum into the third period with a huge penalty kill. The overall play of the team after one week was great to see.”
The Tigers enter the season with a relatively young squad but the goal is to integrate all of the youth with the returners and make a push for the state tournament by the end of the season.
Junior Mike Albert will be the main guy on the offensive end. Albert, who scored 10 goals and added 19 assists last season, was the leading scorer for the Tigers as a sophomore and is looking to take the next step this year. Junior Steve Roderick and sophomores Jack DeMoura and Michael Lucier are all new to the program and should be in the mix right away to help bolster the Taunton attack.
Head coach Kris Metea is also counting on some of the younger players to have breakout seasons, including sophomores Nathan Fernandes, Loren Corcoran, and Evan Perreira. On the defensive side, junior Brady Nichols will anchor the blue line unit. Although just a junior, Nichols has a wealth of varsity experience and the Tigers will lean on him to guide a young defensive core. Senior Andrew Gomes and junior Sean Bunker will battle for minutes in net.
“We have a group of young players that we will look to continue to develop over the course of the season,” Metea said. “The key to our success will be the meshing of the new players with the development of young players. The sky’s the limit for this group with continued commitment.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Canton was on its heels for large portions of Saturday night’s season opener at Pirelli Veterans Arena, struggling with the speed of the Franklin forwards and struggling to find the outlet passes that would send the Bulldogs racing forward into the offensive zone.
Still, the Bulldogs know how to find ways to win games. Senior forward Shane Marshall took advantage of a fortuitous bounce off a skate to score a power play goal with 11:27 to play and it turned out to be the difference in a 3-2 victory that extends Canton’s unbeaten run to 27 games and makes it four straight wins against the Panthers.
“It was probably not as tightly played as we’re used to, but that’s a really good team,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said. “They’re a very skilled, high-flying team this year. They were doing some stuff that we hadn’t seen them do in the past. I was very impressed with them, they played very well, and they took it to us.”
He added, “We got a lucky bounce on the power play goal to go up and then we just kind of hung on.”
The first period was relatively even, the teams putting nine shots on goal apiece. Owen Lehane had the first good chance for the Bulldogs, pushing forward from defense, splitting a pair of Franklin players, but having the puck roll off the blade at the last second. A face-off win set Shea Hurley up for a chance that was saved by Canton’s Joe Cammarata and the rebound was tipped over the glass.
Chris Lavoie got into the act with a pair of chances off a Canton attacking zone face-off win, but was unable to beat Franklin goalie Ray Ivers at the near post.
With 6:34 left in the first, just after a power play had ended, Lavoie would put the Bulldogs in front. Johnny Hagan weaved his way behind the Franklin net and sent a pass right on the tape for Lavoie, who was left open in the slot, to one-time past Ivers.
Canton cleared off a two-man advantage but sophomore Dylan Marchand nearly tied the game before the end of the period when another face-off win set him up for a look from the slot. Declan Lovett dangled past the Canton defense on the left wing and forced another save from Cammarata, as the Panthers turned up the pressure.
It didn’t take long after the first intermission for Franklin to even the score. Sean Connelly was able to push past the first defenseman and then laid off a perfect pass across the crease to Shane McCaffrey, who smashed a one-timer into an open net less than a minute into the period.
The Panthers almost grabbed the lead when Marchand stole an outlet pass in the neutral zone and sped past the retreating Canton players. Cammarata stayed big and was able to stop the breakaway and then also recover to stop JT Dwyer’s follow-up effort.
Lavoie gave the Bulldogs back the lead on the power play. He corralled a loose puck in the slot, spun quickly onto his forehand, and fired a wrister just under the bar to make it 2-1.
Tom Tasker nearly set up a tying goal with a perfect angled pass from the right point to the far post, but Hurley was unable to knock it into the empty net. It was one of several good looks that the Panthers failed to capitalize on, as they outshot Canton 10-5 in the second. Franklin was also 0-for-5 with the man advantage in the first two periods.
“We had our chances, but I felt like we left a little on the table there and didn’t pull the trigger when we had to,” said first-year Franklin coach Anthony Sarno. “We were trying to be a little bit too polished and a little bit too cute and sometimes you just have to get the puck to the net.”
Just like in the second period, Franklin wasted no time to tie the game in the third. With 14:17 to play, Tasker stepped up to a loose puck on the near boards and let fly with a rocket of a slap shot blocker side, which gave Cammarata no chance.
Sarno said, “He’s got a shot like I’ve never seen before. He’s a big, strong kid and that goal he scored to tie the game was incredible. We need more of that. We need everybody to step up and contribute. We have to be committed.”
Also just like the second period, Canton wasted little time grabbing the lead back thanks to its dangerous power play (2-for-6 on Saturday). Ronan O’Mahony stepped up from the blue line to fire a shot on goal, which hit a skate in front and deflected directly to the stick of Marshall, who was stepping in from the left face-off dot. He didn’t need a second touch to knock it past the dive of Ivers.
“For the most part, for the first game we have a lot to learn,” said Sarno. “We need to take better care of the puck in our own zone. I thought we gave up a little too much space, especially on the initial rush. We need gap up a little better, take away their speed coming in, and force them to dump it in.”
Hagan nearly got his second assist when he set up Timmy Kelleher in front but Ivers was able to stay with the partially deflected shot and push it aside. The Bulldogs had an opportunity to put the game away after a major penalty was assessed to the Panthers, but Franklin managed to clear it off and also create a couple of chances to tie it in the final 1:15.
Lovett had the first chance with a shot from a face-off win, but it was stopped at the near post. Seconds later, Marchand had a slap shot that was sticked aside. Despite the Franklin pressure (the Panthers held a 29-21 advantage in shots for the game), and Canton looking shaky in its own zone, the Bulldogs managed to hang on.
“Our guys who have been around struggled tonight,” Shuman admitted. “Usually our strength is in the ‘D’ zone and breaking out and the guys who’ve been around really struggled. Hopefully it’s just first game jitters.”
They are now 26-0-1 in their last 27 games dating back to the start of last season, although Shuman is quick to turn the page on last year’s state championship.
“We rarely talk about last season, unless we’re asked about it and even then we kind of dismiss it,” he explained. “Based on scrimmages, based on this game, other teams got a heck of a lot better and we’re still figuring out how much better we got it. We had some magic last season and this season is going to be totally different.”
Canton (1-0) will host Shrewsbury in another tough non-league contest on Wednesday. Franklin (0-1) will host perennial power Malden Catholic on Tuesday night.