Boys Lacrosse: Davenport Division Preview 2016

Canton senior attack Ben O'Neill is one reason that the Bulldogs have a chance to repeat as Davenport champs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Canton senior attack Ben O’Neill is one reason that the Bulldogs have a chance to repeat as Davenport champs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

CANTON

2015 Record: 11-7
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Bill Bendell
The Bulldogs have won two Davenport division titles in the last three years and will be looking for a third in 2016. With a beefed up non-league schedule, Canton will be looking to make a deep run in the D2 South tournament this season.
“I really like this team and I think we will be very difficult to beat once we figure things out,” head coach Bill Bendell said. “Our goal this year is to trust the process…ignore the scoreboard and instead focus on doing your job to the best of your ability and the wins will follow.”
Canton will be relying on an experienced defense this season. Senior Chris Albert returns to the cage while senior Jake Ragusa and junior LSM Michael Pigeon will anchor the backline. Senior Dan Nadeau, junior Jonathan Sutton and sophomore Gabe Galeotos all saw time on defense last season and will fit in nicely again this year.
On offense, Ben O’Neill – one of the best offensive players in Canton history – enters the season with 125 career points. He’s got a high lacrosse IQ and can battle through defenses to find the net. Shaun Kirby, Dan Dillon, Bobby Mullaney and Eddie McCabe will all chip in with O’Neill offensively.

FOXBORO

2015 Record: 12-8
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals
Coach: Matt Noone
Foxboro graduated a handful of talented players last season but the biggest loss might be losing last year’s leading scorer Pat McCarthy to a knee injury this year. But with five seniors and plethora of youth, Warriors will look to try and claim their first Davenport title since 2011.
“You can’t replace Pat McCarthy, thankfully we still have his leadership, he will help the young guys,” Foxboro head coach Matt Noone said.
Connor McNamara and Brian Buckner are both entering their third year on varsity and will be relied upon heavily. McNamara is a factor at both sends of the field, Noone adding “He can carry us at times.” Buckner, a defenseman, possess great speed and positions himself well, Noone saying “His athleticism and IQ make him tough to beat on and off the ball.”
Foxboro will rely on Andrew Whalen, Louis Piccolo and James Silveria – all sophomores – on attack. McNamara will be complemented in the midfield by senior Austin Ryan and juniors Colin Spinney and Trey Guerrini. Noone called all three great athletes. Defensively, two year starters Tom Piccolo and Bobby Kierce will work alongside Buckner while sophomore Pat Kaveny has improved his game as well.
Expect sophomore Jake Addeche and junior Tyler Silveria to battle for the starting goalie job.

MILFORD

2015 Record: 2-17
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ralph Bono
Milford will be looking to try and improve after recording just two wins in the 2015 season. New head coach Ralph Bono will try to turn things around in his first year at the helm.
The Scarlet Hawks graduated their two top scorers from last season in Nick Mobilia (30 points) and Spencer Lawson (19 points) so there will be some questions to answer up front.
In midfield, junior Alex Salamone registered 10 points last season and had 12 grounds balls while sophomore Andrew Gallagher made an impact with nine points in his rookie campaign. Jack Boyle, Nick Lurie and Ian Bucal all factored into the scoring last year as well.
Defensively, Harrison Bliss led the Scarlet Hawks defensemen in grounds balls as a sophomore while Andrew Palaria and Riley Burns also saw time. In goal, Pietro Bon Tempo made 123 saves last year in 17 games played and should provide some experience in the back.

OLIVER AMES

2016 Record: 6-10
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris DiGiacomo
After missing out on the playoffs last season, second year skipper Chris DiGiacomo will be relying on a large senior class to try to get back to the postseason.
“There is a lot of positive energy surrounding the program currently,” head coach Chris DiGiacomo said. “The boys have been working very hard, and we are very excited to get started.”
Senior attack Matt Gilson is back for his fourth year on varsity to pace the offense while senior Jake Aronson returns to man the goal for the Tigers. Senior captain middie Aidan Connly will be relied upon to take care of both ends of the field.
Connly will be joined by classmates Mike Sullivan, Jack Long, Connor Howe and Max Bamford so the Tigers will boast a very experienced midfield. On defense, senior Max Sheldon will anchor the backline in front of Aronson.

Sharon

2015 Record: 10-9
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East First Round
Coach: Peter DeSisto
The Eagles are looking to get back to the top of the Davenport mountain and are hoping former Canton player Peter DeSisto will lead them there in his first year at the helm.
“I am really excited for this season, we are a young team but the captains and upperclassmen have really set the tone for this season,” DeSisto said. “They’re showing the newer players what it takes to be successful at this level. We’ve set high expectations for ourselves, but we know that if we come together as a unit and work hard we are completely capable of reaching our goals.”
After coming up just short in the division race last year, Sharon has a strong returning core to try to win the division for the second time in three years. Senior captains Mark Bloom and Craig Titus will be the focus of the attack again this year while sophomore Jon Greenberg will be back in goal after a terrific freshman campaign in 2015.
UMass commit Josh Rotman will be paired with senior captain Matt Cancian in the midfield to provide a power 1-2 punch while sophomores Spencer Hall and Chase Waxman will also see a lot of time in the middle of the field. Sharon will have to fill some holes defensively but expect junior Jared Zunenshine and sophomore Zach Reingold to step in.

The 2016 Hockomock Hockey All Stars & HMs

Below are the official Hockomock League Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Mark Sheehan, Stoughton

Hockomock League All Stars

PJ Elliott, Attleboro
Matt Lazaro, Canton
Jackson Maffeo, Canton
Justin Slocum, Canton
Bobby Mullaney, Canton
Aidan Sullivan, Foxboro
Tyler Oakes, Franklin
Nick Jasinski, Franklin
Jake Downie, Franklin
Jack Chaffee, Franklin
Clay Geuss, King Philip
Collin Cooke, King Philip
Evan Remmes, King Philip
Anthony Visconti, Mansfield
Michael Arnold, Mansfield
Brian Ireland, Milford
Andrew Casson, North Attleboro
Zach McGowan, North Attleboro
Matt Mancini, Oliver Ames
Jared Costello, Oliver Ames
Mark Sheehan, Stoughton
Nick Terry, Taunton
Tyler Pietrzyk, Taunton

Honorable Mentions

Jake Parker, Attleboro
Jim Jenkins, Canton
Jeremy Miller, Franklin
Kyle McCarthy, King Philip
Matthew Chirichello, Mansfield
Jonathan Chase, Milford
Paul Baker, North Attleboro
Owen Gallagher, Oliver Ames
Eoin Doherty, Stoughton
Michael Volkmann, Taunton

Canton Pushes Rival to Shootout in Quinn Final

Canton hockey
Jim Jenkins celebrates the opening goal in the Joe Quinn Tournament final against Medfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry

RAYNHAM, Mass. – While the game may have only been a regular season matchup and both teams will have their sights set on bringing home other trophies this winter, when Medfield and Canton met on Thursday night in the Joseph Quinn Tournament final at the Raynham IcePlex the game had the feel of a sectional final.

The game featured all the hallmarks of a Div. 2 playoff game with big hits, fast skating, great saves, and plenty of drama.

Following a 2-2 tie through regulation, the teams skated through two scoreless periods of overtime (the first was five on five and the second was four on four), before the game had to be decided in a shootout, which the Warriors won 2-1 to claim the tournament title.

Canton coach Brian Shuman was effusive in his praise for Medfield. He said, “That was a hell of a game. Start to finish that was a great game…They have boatloads of talent over there.”

The feeling was mutual outside the Medfield locker room. Warriors coach Toby Carlow said of the Bulldogs, “They’re a great team, well-coached, and they skate hard with a good goalie. If that’s the type of hockey we’re going to see the rest of the way, that’s alright.”

The Bulldogs started the game on top by limiting Medfield’s ability to transition quickly out of the defensive zone. From the bench, Shuman could be heard yelling, “cross-ice pass, cross-ice pass,” obviously picking up on Medfield’s strategy of bypassing the neutral zone with long passes from its own blue line.

The forecheck put pressure on the Warriors defensemen and created chances. The best one of the first period came from junior forward Shaun Kirby, who set up Jim Jenkins on the edge of the crease but Medfield goalie Matt Malvese got across in time to block the shot.

With 48.4 remaining in the first, the same combo hooked up again with Kirby centering the puck to Jenkins, who settled it and sent a shot towards the post that Malvese had just left to make it 1-0.

Justin Slocum (30 saves) was forced to stop a late flurry from Medfield in the period’s closing seconds. He got his stick to a shot by Matt Treiber that looked destined for the top corner and then also blocked a chance at the post by John MacLean.

Canton doubled its lead in the second period. Junior defenseman Jackson Maffeo pinched in from the blue line and Kirby picked him out in space. Maffeo rifled a shot off the post and in to extend the lead to 2-0.

The two-goal cushion would last less than a minute. MacLean backhanded a loose puck past Slocum after a scrum in front of goal and the Warriors were back in the game. Two minutes later and Medfield tied it on the power play with Treiber assisting on freshman Brian Abely’s goal.

“It was one of those things where we were playing well, but there was scrum in front and the puck found one of their sticks,” said Shuman. “The power play goal that they scored, one of our guys got knocked down in the corner and the puck squirted to one of their guys, so it was just bad luck.”

He added, “I still felt like we battled and played hard after that…They hit two posts and we had some great chances. It was anyone’s game after that.”

Canton nearly regained the lead with 1:12 left in the second. Jenkins split two Medfield defensemen with a tape-to-tape pass to Kirby just as he hit the blue line, but Malvese (22 saves) was able to stick out a left pad and kick away the shot.

The game went back and forth through the remainder of regulation. Medfield got the edge in shots, 10-4, in the third period, but Canton also had good chances in the slot for Bobby Mullaney and Matt Lazaro but both sent their efforts wide.

“That goes down to him figuring out what we want to do and when we adjusted he readjusted,” said Carlow about the battle of wits on the benches. “That’s how you get down to these kind of hockey games that go to two overtimes and a shootout.”

Medfield had several face-off chances in the offensive zone in the final minute of regulation, but Mullaney was excellent on face-offs all night and he was able to win the late ones to help preserve the tie.

In overtime, Medfield twice hit the post through MacLean, but neither team could find the winner and the game went to a shootout. MacLean scored for Medfield but was canceled out by Mullaney who created an opening and squeezed a backhand shot through Malvese’s five-hole.

Ryan Johnson got a second for Medfield, while Kirby, Jenkins, and Lazaro were all saved by Malvese allowing the Warriors to celebrate with the tournament trophy at center ice.

“They weren’t happy with a tie and they definitely weren’t happy with a shootout loss,” said Shuman about his squad’s mood in the locker room after the game. “So I think more than anything else they want to sit and let it burn for a little while and hopefully we’ll get another shot at them.”

He added, “Considering they’re the D2 South favorites and who many people think is the top team going into the tournament, for us to stick with them for that whole game…I was really proud of our guys.”

Canton (14-2-3) will close out the regular season with another tough test when it travels to face Newburyport a week from Friday.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Canton and Franklin Finish Scoreless in Rematch

Nick Jasinski
Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski (31) denies Canton forward Matt Lazaro (9) in the second period on Saturday. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – The top two teams in the Hockomock have been struggling to score goals consistently this season and on Saturday afternoon at Pirelli Veterans Memorial Rink Canton and Franklin continued to find offense hard to come by in a scoreless tie that provided plenty of excitement despite the puck never finding the back of the net.

“I joked with Coach Spillane in the line, if that doesn’t sum up both of our seasons right there then I don’t know what does,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We’re both struggling to put the puck in the net.”

“Ironically that was one of the most wide open Franklin-Canton games. We both had plenty of chances.”

Franklin coach Chris Spillane agreed with those sentiments. All season he has talked about the need for players to step up on the offensive side and that continued against the Bulldogs.

“Canton has the same disease as Franklin, can’t put the puck in the net,” he laughed. “Both teams had really good opportunities and maybe credit the goaltenders, they stepped up and made stops when they had to but yeah it was a game with very few quality, wow that should’ve been a goal.”

Franklin had the first chance of the game just two minutes in. Alex Bissanti and Luke Downie combined to create an opening to slide a pass across the crease to Adam Assad charging in at the back post but the junior was not able to put the puck on net under pressure from the defenseman.

With 7:44 left in the first, Jeremy Miller had a chance after intercepting a poor clearance but his shot from the slot was wristed wide.

Canton held a 5-4 edge in shots after the first but the Panthers dominated territorially in the second, controlling the puck in the Bulldogs’ zone for the opening four minutes of the period and managing five shots on goal. Despite Franklin’s domination of possession, it was Canton that had the best chances.

Midway through the period, Jim Jenkins redirected a shot from the point but was denied by a quick kick save by Nick Jasinski (15 saves). Nearly two minutes later, Canton had two great chances, both created by Matt Lazaro. He set up Bobby Mullaney for a shot from the slot with a behind the back pass but it went wide and then 30 seconds later he had another chance on an odd-man rush and was stoned at the near post by Jasinski.

“Any time that their first line was on the ice they seemed to have a little edge,” said Spillane. “Lazaro creates opportunities and other than that it was equal. He’s always finding those second and third trailers and giving them good opportunities.”

With 4:23 left in the second Miller had another shot on a rebound in the slot but Justin Slocum (25 saves) stood tall and denied the close-range chance.

“You can’t discount what the goaltenders did,” said Shuman. “They made some big saves on both ends.”

The third period was a replica of the second. Franklin outshot Canton 21-10 in the final two periods and had almost constant pressure on the Bulldogs back line, but defensemen Jackson Maffeo, C.J. Martin, D.J. Trerice, and Ryan Lodge helped Slocum keep the Panthers off the board.

Shuman explained, “They were all over us for very long stretches of time. I thought they outplayed us for long part of that game, but we still had chances to win it. It was an exciting game.”

Canton also had the two  best scoring chances of the third, despite only recording four shots in the period. Brad Murphy created the first with a charge up the far boards and a pass right across the crease that Bubba McNeice directed towards goal but Jaskinski snatched it. With 1:01 remaining, Lazaro had a clear look from the slot but again the Franklin goalie stood tall to save.

“That’s what you get with us,” said Spillane about the rivalry. “There was very little flow, it was back and forth, hard forechecking, hard hits…it’s good hockey, good to watch.”

He also credited his defensemen for keeping shots from getting all the way to the goaltender. Joe Corsi made a diving intervention to block a 2-on-1 in the first period and he and fellow seniors Matt Pleshaw and Tyler Oakes and freshman Kevin McKay were regularly in the way.

“Sometimes, I think it was more out of panic, sliding around, but today I think that we did line up with them well and play good, positional defensive hockey,” said Spillane.

It was a game that had the potential to break open, but both teams came in struggling to create offense and that continued, although both will go home with an important point and still unbeaten in the league this season.

“We just couldn’t put it away and sometimes that happens,” said Shuman. “Two good teams, good defenses and a couple guys holding the stick a little tight and throwing it at the pads.”

Franklin (7-3-3, 5-0-2) will travel to Asiaf Arena to face Stoughton on Wednesday, while Canton (10-2-1, 7-0-1) will travel to Aleixo Arena to face Attleboro on Monday.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Taking Stock of the Hock: Ice Hockey 2015-16

Jackson Maffeo
Junior defenseman Jackson Maffeo (7) has been one of the key cogs for a Canton defense that has been one of the stingiest in the league. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Who is the midseason hockey Player of the Year?

Josh Perry – Canton hasn’t gotten its offense to click into gear quite yet, but the Bulldogs have only allowed 13 goals in 13 games through Monday and one of the main reasons for that stinginess is the continued development of junior defenseman Jackson Maffeo. The three-year starter is a beast on the blue line for Canton and has become one of the team’s leaders on the ice.

Maffeo reads plays well and has turned into a much more physical defender capable of battling in the boards when needed. He is quick and decisive and continues to add more offensive play to his game as well. With Maffeo, and transfer C.J. Martin, Canton has the defensive corps to compete with the top teams in the always competitive Div. 2 South bracket.

Ryan Lanigan – At the midway point, this is certainly one of the most competitive races for the top player in the Hockomock. I think Canton goalie Justin Slocum has really put together a nice season so far but historically our Player of the Year has been a skater (not that that won’t change). Taunton’s Tyler Pietrzyk has also put together a strong season this year and anytime you have nearly 40 points at the midway mark, that’s impressive.
But right now I’d say my pick is Canton senior forward Bobby Mullaney. He’s not an overly flashy player but he does a lot of things right and does them well. He’s emerged as a leader and a constant for Brian Shuman and Canton. He’s the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 15 points (8G, 7A) and has helped Canton to a perfect league record so far.

Who is the midseason hockey Underclassman of the Year?

Perry – Once again there are a number of young players that are making instant contributions at the varsity level. Jeremy Miller and Kevin McKay have been solid for Franklin, Colin Cooke continues to emerge as a potential star at KP, and OA has several freshmen that are keeping the Tigers in the thick of the league title race, but right now my pick would be freshman goalie Ryan Warren of North Attleboro.

Warren has stepped right in between the pipes and helped North stay within a point of first place in the division. North has only allowed 19 goals in its first nine games this season and Warren had a goals against average of 2.36. He has already made 189 saves and has a save percentage just a hair under 90 percent while recording two shutouts. Goalie is a tough position and Warren has stepped right in and been solid.

Lanigan – Just like the Player of the Year race, there are a handful of real strong candidates for the top freshman or sophomore this season. Franklin’s Jeremy Miller, Stoughton’s Sean Doherty, KP’s Collin Cooke and Attleboro’s Jake Parker have all been impressive so far this year but my choice at the midway point is Oliver Ames’ Owen Gallagher.
Gallagher, just a sophomore, has been one of the Tigers’ best players this season while playing on the top line and has six goals and 10 assists. He’s a very unselfish player that can create a lot of things for teammates, and when he wants, he can create opportunities for himself. He seems to be in the right place at all the right times too. He showed he has no problem setting teammates up with a three assist game against KP and then showed he can score too by potting a hat trick the very next game against Taunton.

Midseason First Team

Perry
G – Justin Slocum, Canton
D – Jackson Maffeo, Canton
D  – Tyler Oakes, Franklin
F – Mark Sheehan, Stoughton
F – Tyler Pietrzyk, Taunton
F – Bobby Mullaney, Canton

Lanigan
G – Justin Slocum, Canton
D – Jackson Maffeo, Canton
D – Clay Geuss, King Philip
F – Owen Gallagher, Oliver Ames
F – Tyler Pietrzyk, Taunton
F – Bobby Mullaney, Canton

What has been the biggest surprise this season?

Perry The biggest surprise is that when looking at the league standings last week Mansfield was on the bottom of the Kelley-Rex. The Hornets, who have jumped up to fourth in the division, have consistently been among the top two in the league for years and have played several strong games this season including a 3-1 loss to Canton and a 2-2 tie with North Attleboro, but there was also a narrow 2-1 win over a much-improved Stoughton team and a 2-2 tie with Attleboro that raised some eyebrows and highlighted the Hornets’ struggles to score goals.

Mansfield needs to make a strong run in the final nine games of the season because second place in the league, which has been a way of getting into the playoffs in past seasons, is slipping away. Make no mistake, the Hornets have played a very difficult schedule that has included the likes of Franklin, Canton, Coyle, and Peabody and has not been blown out once, but it is still a shock to see Mansfield not among the Kelley-Rex leaders at this stage of the season.

Lanigan – I’d say the biggest surprise so far has been Taunton. I think everyone expected the Tigers to continue to head in the right direction, but so far this season they have taken a giant step forward and are closing in on a playoff berth. After narrowly missing out on the state tournament last season, the Tigers have meant business from Day 1 of this season. Tyler Pietrzyk has been on a tear offensively and the whole team is averaging just a shade under five goals a game. Although they haven’t been overly strong in Hockomock League play, the Tigers can still pick up some key league wins in a tight Kelley-Rex race.

At this point, which team will be going furthest in the tournament?

Perry Right now, this sort of feels like a no brainer. Canton has the pedigree, having made it to the Div. 2 South final each of the last two years and at least the semifinal for the past three seasons, and also has the defensive strength to make a run and challenge the TVL trio of Westwood, Medfield, and Medway. The Bulldogs are among the favorites to win the South title and make a trip to the Garden and although playoff match-ups will determine a lot of who goes how far, the Bulldogs will be confident that they can compete with any of the teams that they may come up against.

Lanigan – It’s really tough to pick against Canton, so I won’t. I know coach Brian Shuman wants to see a more consistent offense and the Bulldogs will need it if they want to challenge the TVL for D2 South supremacy. Oliver Ames is another team I could see hitting a hot streak and if Zach Walsh plays like he did against Canton in the postseason, we could see a strong run for the Tigers. Don’t count North Attleboro in D2 South as well and of course, if Franklin can develop a consistent scoring threat, they will be a tough out in D1 South.

Jenkins Scores Twice To Help Canton Solve Walsh, OA

Canton's Jack Goyetch (11) and OA goalie Zach Walsh watch as Jim Jenkins' (not pictured) shot fins the back of the net. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Canton’s Jack Goyetch (11) and OA goalie Zach Walsh watch as Jim Jenkins’ (not pictured) shot fins the back of the net. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
BROCKTON, Mass. – Canton broke a scoreless deadlock in the final seconds of the second period then added an empty net goal late in the third period to earn a 2-0 win over Oliver Ames.
The Bulldogs didn’t struggle with quantity when it came to scoring chances, registering 27 shots in the first 29 minutes but couldn’t beat OA goalie Zach Walsh with their quality chances.
It wasn’t until the final minute of the second period when a quality chance finally found its way past Walsh. Canton senior defenseman CJ Martin took control of the puck, skated down to the corner and then toward’s the back of the goal. Instead of wrapping around, Martin dished the puck right in front to senior Jim Jenkins, who buried it to make it 1-0.
Canton had the advantage in shots in the first period with a 12-3 edge and had a power play but didn’t have a serious scoring chance. That changed in the second period.
Junior Tommy Kilduff had the first chance in the first minute, putting a backhand attempt on goal off a rebound but Walsh stopped it with a sprawling save. At the other end of the period, senior Matt Lazaro’s saucer pass found the stick of Jenkins on a two on one but his shot was pushed aside by Walsh.
“I thought the days of OA goaltenders making incredible says that I’ve rarely seen before were behind us,” Canton head coach Brian Shuman said. “Their goalie played great and they played well, they’re a good team. They grinded it out and they force you to execute. Those guys played a really good game and frustrated some of our better players. They beat us up with some big hits and outworked us in a couple spots but we grinded it out, we battled back and we did what we had to do to get the W.”
“One mistake, we had a bad change,” OA head coach Mark Homer said. “We were skating with them, we were battling with them and we made that one mistake. When you play a good team like that they’re going to capitalize and that’s what [Canton] did. I thought our third period there was a fight in our guys. Against Medway and Franklin we might have let up a little bit but tonight they had a will to win. It’s great when you’re that close and you score the goal to tie it but it’s so frustrating to be that close and lose on just one mistake. Our younger kids continue to improve too.
“We had to play a lot in our own end. We didn’t get a ton of offensive opportunities and you need to have more against a team like Canton. We started winning more battles in the third but we just didn’t get enough opportunities.”
Shots were even in the third period but Canton couldn’t get another by Walsh and OA didn’t muster up any serious scoring chances against Bulldog goalie Justin Slocum.
Midway through the period, Bobby Mullaney took possession just over his own blue line, skated through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone but his shot clanked off the crossbar and into the netting.
In the final two minutes, Jenkins fed Lazaro on a two on one but again Walsh came up with the save, this one while falling backwards.
With Walsh pulled and OA trying to get control in the offensive end, Jenkins got to a loose puck first, tipped it forward and buried the empty netter for his second goal of the game.
“You hate to say it but for a lack of a better word it was an ugly game,” Shuman said. “There were passes going off skates, guys looking for pucks behind them on both ends. Sometimes those games – college, high school, the NHL – they happen. When teams know each other so well and they know each other’s tendencies, they can both take those things away and what they want to do. And the result sometimes is just an ugly game.”
Neither team got a real rhythm going and neither side was able to set up in the attacking zone – there was only one penalty and it came in the first period – mostly because of the play of the defenses, with both coaches crediting their defensemen.
“I think our defense played very, very well,” Shuman said. “A guy like DJ Trerice, I thought he had his strongest game of the season and he keeps getting better and better the more ice time he gets. He was rock solid back there. There was a shift where OA had come chances and looked like they’d get another and he got his stick right in there. The defense played well and limited their shots.”
Slocum had 14 saves for the shutout win. Walsh finished with 30 saves for the Tigers.
“Walshy came out of his shell today, I think that’s the best game he’s played,” Homer said. “They had probably a dozen really, really good opportunities in front and he made some acrobatic saves, desperation saves. He was focused, he played well enough for us to win and that’s what he has to do against teams like this. I’m happy for him. He struggled a little bit earlier in the season and Jimmy Tierney’s name kept being mentioned so he’s had to fill some big shoes. He’s growing up out there and he’s gained confidence.”
Canton (10-2-1, 7-0) became the first Hockomock team to qualify for the state tournament and inched closer to clinching another Davenport title and will have a chance to clinch at least a share when they travel to Franklin on Saturday. Oliver Ames (6-4-1, 4-2) will try to get back on track on Wednesday with a trip to Foxboro.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Medway Goalie Saves The Day Against Canton

Shaun Kirby
Medway goalie Mike Purnell made 25 saves to shutout Canton on Wednesday in a potential Div. 2 South matchup. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – Coming into Wednesday afternoon’s game with Medway at Pirelli Veterans Arena in Franklin, Canton knew that it would be facing an uphill battle to score against Mustangs goalie Mike Purnell, who is one of the top high school netminders in the state.

The Bulldogs also boast a strong defensive unit, one that had only allowed 11 goals in 11 games entering Wednesday, so this was poised to be a game where one opportunity could be decisive.

Canton thought it had the chance with eight minutes remaining in the second period. A misplaced Medway clearance was intercepted by Matt Lazaro and turned into a quick two on none break for the Bulldogs. Lazaro held the puck for an extra second before sending a pass across the crease to a wide open Jim Jenkins.

It seemed to everyone that Canton was about to take the lead, until Purnell, who had been hugging the post to deny Lazaro a shot, dove across the goal and denied Jenkins point-blank and at full stretch with his glove.

“The whole bench had their hands up and they thought it went in,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman after the game. “It was just a great save.”

“He had a 2 on 0 and I think that’s what great goalies do – they can sense when that pass is going across and he was leaning and made the stop. It was probably the save of the season.”

Just three minutes after Purnell (25 saves) made his remarkable stop, Medway jumped into the lead. A shot from the point was knocked down by a screened Justin Slocum (25 saves) and the rebound was batted in by Matt Narducci. It turned out to be the game-winner, as Medway added a second goal in the third period and skated away with a 2-0 win.

“He’s certainly rewriting the record books for us in Medway,” said Mustangs coach Chris Ross about Purnell. “He’s probably the top goaltender Medway has ever had. His mystique sort of started in the shootout last year against [Oliver Ames goalie Jimmy] Tierney and he’s played unbelievable.”

The Bulldogs were the team that came out flying to start the game. Canton held an 8-1 advantage in shots early in the opening period, but many of them came from the outside, including a few shots from junior defenseman Jackson Maffeo. None of the shots looked likely to beat Purnell.

As the period wore on Medway started to gain traction and created the two best chances of the frame. Narducci nearly opened the scoring with 8:35 left in the first but his wrister in transition clipped Slocum’s shoulder before skipping off the crossbar. Four minutes later, Andrew Diebus had a good look in the slot from a face-off win but Slocum gloved his hard shot.

“They were right in his face the entire game, knocking him down, and he got up and made some big saves,” said Shuman of Slocum. “He’s a very good goaltender and I know we’d love to have another crack at these guys.”

Canton again got off to a strong start to the second period with Maffeo stepping into a slap shot that bounced off the outside of the post. Jenkins and then senior Bobby Mullaney both had chances off a rebound four minutes into the period but Purnell was able to adjust and block both shots.

“Against him you’ve to get guys out front because very rarely do you beat him clean,” said Shuman. “All credit to them for matching our net front presence; very rarely did we outnumber them and they were able to clear away some pucks.”

Other than the turnover that led to Purnell’s amazing save, Medway bottled up the Canton forwards limiting them to shots from the outside and keeping bodies central to force the play out to the wings.

Ross explained, “We spent all week working on our forecheck and that was definitely our plan to stop their progress from their zone coming out. We felt with our goaltender and our defense we’d be able to take care of things in our zone, I was more worried about transitions.”

Trailing by a goal entering the third, Canton struggled to get into a rhythm and sustain pressure on Purnell and the Medway defense. An early pass went through the crease but Medway outshot the Bulldogs, who twice were forced to the penalty kill, 10-7 in the period.

With 7:15 remaining, Lazaro had Canton’s best chance to tie the game when he managed to squeeze past two defensemen and skate in on Purnell. He gave a head fake and then dragged the puck to the backhand getting the goalie to slide, but his shot to the back post slid wide.

Medway sealed the win with 2:05 left. James Anderson sprung Cole Fisher with a quick outlet pass and, despite the best efforts of Ryan Lodge to get back, he managed to hold off the defense and flick a shot just inside the post.

Shuman said, “That second goal was just a result of us trying to get a little too aggressive at the blue line. Both Jackson and C.J. [Martin] pinched and it left the middle wide open, but when you’re down 1-0 with a couple minutes left you have to take those chances.”

Canton (9-2-1, 6-0-0) will try to rebound on Saturday with a trip to Asiaf Arena to face Oliver Ames.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

One Shift, One Goal and a Dream Come True for Matty

Matty Marcone
Matty Marcone (11) took the ice for the first time for the Bulldogs and scored his first varsity goal in a moving night at Asiaf Arena. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

BROCKTON, Mass. – The line was pouring out the door of Asiaf Arena and into the snow on Tuesday night, as Canton and Stoughton hockey prepared to take the ice for a Hockomock game that meant far more than its impact on the league standings.

Fans packed into the rink, with all four sets of bleachers filled. It was reminiscent of when Asiaf plays host to the Div. 2 South semifinals, not an early-January contest.

In the last locker room, down the hall on the left, senior Matty Marcone pulled on his No. 11 jersey with Canton scrawled across the front. It is the same number that had been worn three years ago by his older brother J.C. A captain’s ‘C’ had been pinned onto the front of the jersey and when the Bulldogs made their way to the ice, it was Matty that was first through the doors.

He was introduced on the ice with the team, standing between captain Bobby Mullaney and junior Ryan Lodge. Although he was not technically going to be a starter, there was only one name that the crowd was waiting to hear and like a hometown player at an all-star game, when his name was called he received by far the loudest roar.

When the puck was dropped, Stoughton reluctantly scored a goal on the opening shift. Black Knights coach Dan Mark admitted that none of his kids wanted to score at the start of the game for fear of taking the spotlight away from Matty, but this was all part of the plan. On the second shift, Matty skated out to center ice to take the draw.

He won the face-off and skated across the blue line all alone on the goalie, just as he had dreamed about countless times shooting on the garage at home, at practices with the Bulldogs, or every Saturday skating with the Boston Bear Cubs. He threw in a quick deke, admitting later with a wry smile that he wanted to add some style to the goal, and then he wristed a shot just inside the post.

Immediately he wheeled away to his right, arms raised in triumph, waiting for his teammates to join him in the corner. He was only there for a second before he was lost, swallowed up in a sea of green and white jerseys.

“He’s a goal scorer,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We’ve seen it all these years in practice…and when he scores a goal, he’s practiced his celebrations before…Seeing his smile made it all worth it.”

During the first intermission, Matty explained how he felt on the ice. He said, “I liked coming in. I liked seeing all the fans coming too. It’s a lot of fun.”

He added, “That was just cool out there.” When asked what it was like celebrating a goal with his teammates after all these years, Matty replied honestly, “I felt like I was going to fall over a little bit.”

Matty has been the manager for the Canton hockey team, as well as football and lacrosse, for the past four seasons. He is a senior in the special education program at Canton High (and according to his mother Susan will be receiving a diploma this spring) and in 2012 was diagnosed with dyskeratosis congenita, a rare disorder for which at this time there is no cure.

When it was decided to organize a game for Matty and to give him the chance to take the ice, Shuman and his parents attempted to keep it a secret, but it slipped out. It hit social media and quickly spread through the ranks of media members, classmates, parents, other hockey programs, and soon #ShiftForMatty was trending on Twitter.

“We tried to keep it a secret but then it hit everywhere and he found out,” said Susan Marcone during the second period. “Actually, he said that all the ladies were texting him, so he was pretty excited.”

When asked what this night meant for her and for the Marcone family (both J.C. and Matty’s sister Nicole were able to attend), Susan said, “It’s just what you want for your kid. I’ve seen it with my other kids and I’ve supported them and it’s just nice to be able to see him in that role as well.”

Shuman joked that Matty seemed to be handling the buildup to the game better than the most of the adults.

“I didn’t get much sleep thinking about the start of the game because so much planning went into it from so many people,” said Shuman.

“He’s cracking jokes and talking to the cameras and he was the most calm and composed of anyone before the game. Typical Matty.”

Matty took part in the team’s pregame rituals including the team dinner on Monday night and wearing a shirt and tie to school on game day. He had always been an important member of the program, but now he could officially call himself a member of the team. The excitement was shared by the rest of the Bulldogs.

Shuman said, “They love him like a brother. I think every one of them would say they have another brother in their family and it’s him. He makes so many people happy and he’s such a pure and kind young man.”

Praise was also directed to Dan Mark and the Stoughton program for jumping at the opportunity to be part of the night. The Stoughton players cheered for Matty during the intros and when he took the ice for the first time and came together to congratulate him after the goal.

“I can’t say enough about the sportsmanship of those kids to really do this,” said Susan. “Especially because Canton and Stoughton are such big rivals.”

Shuman added, “What can you say about Danny Mark? He’s just the best and tonight wouldn’t have been possible without his generosity and the sportsmanship of Stoughton High School.”

Mark took a second between the second and third periods to share his thoughts on the occasion. He deflected credit to Shuman for planning the night and said simply, “To see a smile on Matty’s face was well worth it. Of course the score isn’t that great (8-1 at the time), but it’s a minor thing by comparison.”

“This is great. Mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned.”

Sports have the ability to provide awe-inspiring moments of skill; athletic feats that cause you to wonder how it could be possible to score that goal or to make that shot.

Sports also have the ability to create awe-inspiring moments of a very different kind. Sports bring communities together, creating and celebrating moments of humanity, of sportsmanship, and of inclusion. They allow spectators to share in those moments together and those are the memories that will love on.

As Matty Marcone was introduced before the standing room only crowd on Tuesday night in an old rink in Brockton, with all the fans, Stoughton and Canton alike, cheering for No. 11 in green, it was clear that sports had created another moment to cherish.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

 

Canton Opens League Play With Win Over Mansfield

Canton's Bobby Mullaney looks to shoot in the third period against Mansfield on Saturday evening. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Canton’s Bobby Mullaney looks to shoot in the third period against Mansfield on Saturday evening. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
CANTON, Mass. – A year after Mansfield snapped Canton’s lengthy Hockomock League unbeaten streak, the Bulldogs opened this year’s slate of league games with a 3-1 win over the Hornets.
While each team scored in the first period, neither team found the back of the net in the second. It took until the first couple minutes of the final period for Canton to score the winner and until the final seconds for the insurance goal.
“It was an interesting game,” Canton head coach Brian Shuman said. “A lot of penalties which sort of disrupted the flow of the game. Our penalty kill was good. I wouldn’t say that we played undisciplined I just think we were too amped up sometimes and we had some big hits that often times can go either way. We killed the penalties we needed to kill and pulled out a win. I just told the guys it wasn’t our best game but we still pulled out a win. Mansfield is a good team, they had great goaltending, great defense and they had some guys on offense that really can go so it was a good game.”
Canton junior Jackson Maffeo the scoring inside the first five minutes of the game to give the Bulldogs the lead. A defenseman, Maffeo had the puck and a Mansfield forward coming at him. He batted the puck to keep it in the zone and then bodied the forward to the ground. He took a pass a second later, faked a shot to get around another charging forward, stepped to his right and fired a rocket through traffic that found the back of the net to make it 1-0.
“There was a lot of anger in that shot, Jackson’s had a couple of shots blocked this year that he wants to have back, it was a beautiful shot,” Shuman said. “It’s something we’ve been working on with him too, he walked into the middle and saw he didn’t have the shooting lane and walked it back, it was a great goal.”
It looked as though Canton would have an opportunity to add to the lead just over three minutes later when Mansfield was whistled for a hooking call. But for the first of two times in the period, the Bulldogs would erase the man advantage by taking a penalty while on the power play.
Right after Canton’s first penalty expired, Bobby Mullaney and Seamus Pecararo combined to force a turnover in Mansfield’s defensive end and then combined on a neat give and go by Pecararo’s close range bid was stoned by Mansfield goalie Anthony Visconti (33 saves).
“I thought he played phenomenal,” Mansfield coach Rick Anastos said of his goalie. “That first goal, I was right there on the bench, that was a bullet. We’ve been playing some tough teams and we don’t have a win but I think we just showed what we’re made of.”
With just over two minutes left in the first, Canton once again went on the power play when Mansfield was whistled for a cross check. But the power play only lasted 39 seconds because of a hit to the head called against the Bulldogs.
In a four on four situation, Canton head a shot blocked at the blue line by Mansfield’s Matt Farragher. Max Hoffman jumped to the loose puck and raced into the offensive zone and delivered a perfect pass to Farragher on the two on one and the junior buried it to tie it 1-1 with 1:07 left in the first.
The second period belonged to Canton in terms of shots on goal while Mansfield had the two best chances of the entire period but neither team scored.
Canton went shorthanded less than 90 seconds in for an interference penalty but were able to kill it off. Midway through the period, Maffeo ripped a shot that deflected twice by a diving Visconti was able to steer it clear before any big rebound chance.
Mansfield went on the power play with just over five minutes to play but a cross check a minute in made it four on four. Another Hornet penalty made it five on three for 31 seconds but Canton couldn’t cash in. When Mansfield’s latter penalty expired, Jack Garland raced out of the box and took a chipped pass up ice for a breakaway. He fired a shot that beat Canton goalie Justin Slocum but clanked off the post and out.
With less than a minute to play, Canton went on the man advantage but it was Mansfield who came away with a breakaway on goal with less than 10 seconds to play but Slocum was up to the task and made the save.
“It was one of those games, we were playing well and then all of a sudden a guy is out of the box and he’s on a breakaway or they shot blocked and they are on a breakaway,” Shuman said. “It just goes to show you in this game moves too fast to ever get comfortable. You think you’re in control but a strange bounce you can just go the other way and there is a scoring opportunity.”
It didn’t take long for Canton to find the back of the net in the third period. After a clearance by the Hornets hit the net, a face off came to the left of Visconti. There was a tie up but the puck eventually squirted free to the stick of senior Matt Lazaro and he ripped a shot from straight away right between the circles to the top shelf to put Canton up 2-1.
“That’s vintage Matty Lazaro right there,” Shuman said. “He moved his feet right away off the face off and creates some space and gets a nice little shooting lane and throws it where he always does in the top left, it was a great shot.”
Mansfield went on a power play with 1:02 left and with Visconti pulled, the Hornets had a six on four opportunity but Mullaney was able to pick off a pass in the center of the defensive zone and ripped a shot the length of the ice for an empty net goal for the insurance goal.
“It’s frustrating not to win especially when you don’t have one yet but I thought it was a great game, it could have gone either way,” Anastos said. “We had three breakaways and we hit the post once, there’s four opportunities blown right there. It all comes down to opportunities but I thought we played pretty good. They’re a pretty fast team and I thought overall, I don’t think they dominated us, it was was just a great game.”
Canton moves to 4-1-1 overall and 1-0 in Hockomock League play. The Bulldogs will be back in action on Wednesday when they take a trip to Foxboro Sports Center to take on King Philip (3-3, 1-0) at 8:00. Mansfield (0-4-2, 0-1) will look to break into the win column on the same night with when they host Stoughton at 5:40.
“Mansfield plays a tough schedule and they are battle tested,” Shuman said. “I remember last year coming in they had a similar record and they pulled it out. We knew this was going to be a battle because they played good teams tough but it’s good to get off to a good start in the league.”
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.