CANTON, Mass. – When the end of February rolls around, and March on the horizon, expectations in Canton are sky high.
The Bulldogs have been the most successful team in the Division 2 South bracket over the past decade, reaching the semifinals nine times and the finals four times. Only one team made the finals more (Franklin) in that span but no one has been as consistent as the Bulldogs.
With another playoff season upon us, the Bulldogs made a statement that they plan on making another deep run.
#2 Canton dominated from start to finish, skating past D2 newcomer #15 Somerset-Berkley with an 11-0 decision.
“A lot of these guys have been here before, they want it,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “They know there are expectations and pressure. As much as we like to say there aren’t seeds and everyone is 0-0, they expect a lot of themselves so it was good to see them work through those first 10 minutes when they weren’t playing up to their potential and comeback and have a good second period.”
Canton scored a pair of goals in the first period but delivered the knockout blow with seven goals in the second period. The Bulldogs scored the first two goals of the period just 22 seconds in and then buried three goals in a period of 92 seconds later in the frame.
“I thought the first 10 minutes or so we played very nervous,” Shuman admitted. “You could feel it on the bench, they weren’t talking on the bench, they weren’t talking on the ice.”
But after those 10 minutes, Canton went on cruise control.
Sophomore Owen Lehane finally broke the statement just over 10 minutes into the game. He took possession behind his own goal, skated the length of the ice and past the defense but had his bid in close denied.
While the puck bounced around in front of goal, Lehane alertly got back into position at the blue line. The puck popped free onto the stick of the sophomore and he ripped a low shot through traffic to give Canton a 1-0 lead.
The Dogs capitalized on the momentum, adding a second tally with under a minute to play. Off of an offensive zone faceoff, junior Ryan Nolte was the draw clean right back to sophomore Johnny Hagan. Hagan skated between the circles and fired a wicked wrister top shelf to make it 2-0.
“I think goal scoring is equally as mental as physical,” Shuman said when asked how scoring the first goal changes his team. “All it takes is to squeeze the stick a fraction of a second too long or squeeze the stick half a pressure too tight and that makes all the difference. When you get the first one, and then the second, guys start to relax a little more and make some more plays.”
It didn’t take nearly as long for Canton to find the back of the net in the second period. Nolte won the opening draw back to Hagan who skated along the boards on the left side. He tossed a pass back in front to Nolte and the junior played the puck off of his skate and onto his backhand and flipped in his shot to make it 3-0.
Nolte gained possession of the puck himself on the ensuing faceoff. After losing it briefly, he picked the puck back up again, circled into the center of the ice and rifled a wrist shot in for a 4-0 lead just 22 seconds into the second.
Canton continued its offensive pressure with a fifth goal less than five minutes into the second. Sophomore Jack Connolly dumped a puck in, senior Jack Goyetch did well to keep possession, eventually getting it back to Connolly. The sophomore delivered a shot through traffic that senior Bubba McNeice got a tip on, making it 5-0 with 10:05 to play.
The Bulldogs went on the power play for the first time in the game shortly after their fifth tally and cashed in late with the man advantage. After a lengthy possession in the offense zone, senior Matt Casamento to across the blue line to junior Brad Murphy. Murphy took his time, allowing the forwards to get possession in front of goal. Murphy then released his shot and Joe Robinson redirected it off the post and in to make it 6-0.
The offense continued to dominate for Canton, especially its top line of Hagan, Nolte and Timmy Kelleher. Just a minute over Robinson’s tally, Nick Allen dumped the puck in deep, Hagan touched it along to Nolte, Nolte lifted a pass in the air in front of goal and Kelleher batted it out of the air and into the net to make it 7-0.
“That was a good start, that’s the line that’s getting that’s sort of getting a lot of the production this year,” Shuman said of the Hagan-Nolte-Kelleher line. “Ryan Nolte had the two goals and Johnny Hagan threw that nice pass to Timmy Kelleher for one. That line seems to get the big goals for us when we need it, to get us going. They like to be the go-to line.”
Bulldog senior Quinn Gibbs made one save in two periods of play while senior Niko Donovan turned away two chances in the third period.
Canton boys hockey advance to the D2 South Quarterfinals and will take on either #7 Westwood or #10 Oliver Ames. The Dogs are familiar with both teams, sharing a home rink with the Wolverines while splitting the season series with the Tigers. The game is scheduled for Saturday with the time and location to be determined.
“Our side of the bracket is brutal, anybody can beat anybody,” Shuman said. “OA has proved that, Westwood has proved that. The difference among these teams is razor thing. Whoever plays well on any given night can get the win. From now on in there are going to be some tough games.”
RAYNHAM, Mass. – For the fourth straight year, Canton found itself in the final of the annual Joseph I. Quinn Memorial Tournament at the Raynham IcePlex, but the Bulldogs also found themselves down a goal to the host team, Coyle & Cassidy, heading into the third period.
Junior forward Ryan Nolte scored 21 seconds into the third to tie the game and then he popped up with just 54 seconds left on the clock with the tournament-winning goal, handing Canton a 3-2 win, its third Quinn Tournament title in the last four seasons, and a chance at the top seed in Div. 2 South.
“It was a good comeback,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “It was a great third period. We responded well in the third and I’m proud of the guys for that.”
The Bulldogs got off to a perfect start to the game. Nick Allen’s shot from the blue line was kicked aside but right to the stick of forward Timmy Kelleher. The sophomore knocked in the rebound for a 1-0 lead just 34 seconds into the game.
While Canton got the early strike, Coyle did not allow the Bulldogs to control the game, quickly regaining the momentum in what turned out to be an evenly played period that did not feature many clear-cut scoring chances.
“We were talking about learning our lessons from past games,” said Shuman. “We went up early and I think we took our foot off the gas a little bit. We got fired up on the bench and we talk about good starts but you’ve got to have a good start and sustain it.”
Kevin Murphy and Jack Goyetch each had shots on target midway through the first, Murphy from the slot and then Goyetch following up the rebound, but both shots were turned aside. With 1:17 left in the first, Coyle finally connected on a long outlet pass, catching the Canton defensemen wide and pushed forward, and Drew Arpin made it count with a five-hole finish on goalie Quinn Gibbs.
Canton came out of the gates on fire in the second period, despite having to kill off an early penalty. Shorthanded, Nolte created havoc on the forecheck and forced a turnover that he nearly put away with a wraparound chance and then John Hagan was denied as he got to the rebound.
Five minutes into the second, with Canton clearly in control of play, the Bulldogs made a mistake trying to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. It hit Jacob Ducharme on the leg and he was able to step forward clean through on goal. His backhand effort slipped under Gibbs for a Coyle lead against the run of play.
“It doesn’t matter shots in the end, who had zone time, puck possession, all that matters is the scoreboard and after two we were down,” said Shuman. “We were panicking a little bit. We just said, this time of year, you can’t let one- or two-goal deficits get in your head. You just have to take it one goal at a time.”
Canton had plenty of chances to tie the game in the second, outshooting Coyle 15-2. Sophomore Chris Lavoie had a shot from the left circle tipped just past the top corner and into the netting and Nolte took a shot from the same spot on a 3-on-1 break that was comfortably saved. Despite dominating play in the period, the Bulldogs went into the third down by a goal.
Starting the third with a power play, the Bulldogs wasted no time in getting level. Hagan had the first chance on the edge of the crease but the puck was blocked right to Nolte at the far post and he roofed his close-range shot to make it 2-2 just 21 seconds into the third.
Shuman explained, “You saw there with the power play at the end of the second period, we had a 5-on-3, we were panicking and just throwing shots on net from bad angles and I think those guys showed some poise [in the third] and made a good shot.”
The game settled into a similar pattern with Coyle trying to sneak players behind the aggressive back line of the Bulldogs, but the defenseman continuing to make plays to keep the Warriors from getting off shots. Jack Connolly, Owen Lehane, Matt Casamento, Charlie Malloy, Brad Murphy, and Allen all made big plays to stop Coyle in the neutral zone or at least keep the Warriors from getting a clean look. Gibbs faced only three shots in the final 30 minutes of the game.
Malloy also had one of Canton’s best chances in the third with a blast from the point that was saved to the corner. Charlie O’Connor also had a couple of chances but multiple times hit the side of the net in the third. Allen had Canton’s best chance after he stepped up into the attack with Kelleher and Hagan, but his one-timer missed the net by inches.
Just seconds after Hagan saw a shot that looked destined for the top corner gloved to the back boards, Nolte again found himself in a battle on the edge of the crease and managed to find the back of the net with the go-ahead goal.
“It’s great when one of your most skilled players is also one of your best defensive players,” said Shuman of Nolte, who he praised for his all-around performance. “Ryan played great defensively this game and his goals just came from being in the middle of the ice. A lot of times, Ryan will make a move, deke, and beat guys but he also needs to score in those dirty areas and he had a couple today.”
It was the second time in the past three games that Canton had scored a game-winner in the final minute, a trait that could be the difference between a potential tournament run and an actual one.
Canton (15-2-4) will wait for the result of a coin toss to see if it ends up with the top seed in Div. 2 South.
CANTON, Mass. – Holding a 2-1 lead with under five minutes to go, the Canton boys hockey team was whistled for too many men on the ice.
It was just the second penalty of the game for the Dogs, but the visiting Panthers of Franklin High needed just 20 seconds in the second period on their first chance of the man advantage to cash in.
With the game on the line, Canton’s penalty showed it had learned its lesson from earlier on, coming up with a near perfect kill. The Bulldogs went on to score just over a minute after killing the penalty, and again with the net empty, to earn a 4-1 win in a clash of Davenport and Kelley-Rex division champions.
“That was a great kill,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “Bubba [McNeice] had a great game with the two goals but he was great on the kill. Jack Goyetch, Johnny [Hagan], Ryan [Nolte]…they all had a big kill. They learned their lesson from the first one around. They played very smart on that second kill, that was a huge part of the game.”
Franklin needed just seconds on its first power play of the game with senior Brendan O’Rielly finding classmate Luke Downie at the back door for a simple one-timer. The goal had tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period.
“I was happy with our effort in the first period and a half,” said Franklin head coach Chris Spillane. “I thought we competed with them, skated with them, and even had some stretches where we controlled the play. But the second half of the game, they just outplayed us. All three zones, they wanted it much more than us and it showed.”
This time around, Canton didn’t even let the Panthers have a sniff at a scoring chance. Matt Casamento blocked an early chance, leading to a clear from Hagan. When Franklin attempted to bring it back in, Casamento forced the puck loose with a hit and Charlie Malloy came in and made the clear.
“I thought the defense was ready,” Shuman said. “I thought Matt Casamento played the best game I’ve ever seen him play, he was exceptional. Talk about a guy that played every other shift for us. Losing Brad Murphy put a little strain on the defense but Matt has stepped up like I’ve not seen a defenseman step up before. He played at a whole new level tonight, big hits, big plays. Charlie Malloy played well as well too. The defense stepped up and played well.”
Franklin had its lone shot of the power play up next but Quinn Gibbs (20 saves) made the save right into his chest. From there, McNeice had a pair of clearance, the latter helped along by a nice stick lift from Nick Allen.
Shortly after the penalty was killed, Canton’s Timmy Kelleher linked up with Nolte, but his backhand attempt was just wide. Nolte then returned the favor, finding the sophomore in front for a one-timer but Franklin goalie Owen Ginley (31 saves) made a point-blank save.
With Franklin pushing numbers trying to find an equalizer, Canton was able to take advantage of a mistake in the neutral zone. McNeice jumped on a loose puck a Franklin defenseman couldn’t handle, skated in on a breakaway and roofed his shot to make it 3-1 with 1:19 to play.
McNeice added an empty-net goal in the final seconds to put an exclamation point on the win.
“The line of Bubba, Mike Dadasis and Jack Goyetch…they thrive in that type of game,” Shuman said. “They’re all about getting pucks to the net, playing hard, playing in tight spaces…they love a game like that. They aren’t flashy, they might not have the flashiness of some of the other guys but they get their nose dirty, they play hard. I thought they were probably our one consistent line and we built on that going forward.”
While Canton had the strong finish to the game, Franklin was the team that came out on the front foot. The Panthers’ speed caused problems for the Bulldogs and the visitors had a lead in shots until the final few minutes.
Franklin’s best chance of the opening period came when senior Kenny Demerchant took a pass against the grain, catching the defense going the opposite way. That allowed him to skate in alone but Gibbs came up with the pad save on Demerchant’s tough angle bid.
Canton picked up some momentum at the end of the period when Franklin was called for tripping with 1:09 left. Ginley stopped a shot from Allen, and then a follow-up chance from McNeice. And then Owen Lehane had his shot stopped and Dadasis saw his rebound chance blocked.
The power play carried over into the second period, and the Bulldogs needed just 13 seconds to convert. After winning the opening faceoff, Kelleher linked up with Hagan in front of goal, and the sophomore used his backhand to go upstairs to beat Ginley for a 1-0 lead.
Franklin tied the game exactly four minutes later, just 20 seconds into their first power play chance.
With the rest of the period playing out equally, Canton grabbed the momentum back with four minutes to go. Nolte had a chance at the right post but went just wide. On the ensuing scrum in front, Kelleher was able to get his stick onto the puck and into the back of the net to make it 2-1.
“That was a great goal, [Franklin] has a great power play,” Shuman said. “It was well drawn up by the coaches…nice shot, nice goal. Couldn’t do much about it. But getting one back was big, we had to respond. In the past, they’ve gone up or they’ve scored and we haven’t responded, and that was a time we had a good response.”
“It took a little wind out of our sails but we still had a whole 15 more minutes to come out and play hockey,” Spillane said of Canton’s late second-period tally. “We had a power play late in the third and had nothing to show for it. We looked like a tired team out there, they looked fresh. They are a great hockey team and they just wanted it more than us. I don’t think the players that we lean on played to their capabilities.”
A win for Canton boys hockey (8-0-0 Hockomock, 11-1-4 overall) meant avenging its lone loss in regulation this season. The Bulldogs fell to Franklin earlier this season in the second game of the season in a non-league clash. Not only was it their lone loss in regulation, it was just one of three games they had allowed two or more goals in three periods of play.
That, on top of senior, with bragging rights between division champs on the line, resulted in a spirited effort from the home side.
“We sometimes talk about having the best record in the Hockomock,” admitted Shuman, but added that there wasn’t much talk about the first meeting. “These guys have done a pretty good job of looking forward. There’s so much of a difference between the first week of December and February. We don’t really look back, we didn’t even watch that film to get ready for it. We watched some more recent film because its two different teams from then and now. It was a good hockey game, Quinn made some save, their guy made some saves. It could have gone either way, but just a good hockey team between two good teams.”
Franklin (12-3-3) dropped its second straight game after falling to Hingham 6-2 earlier this week.
“We’re in a good position but you want to be playing your best hockey in the last week or two of the season, and we’re having a hard time finding that again,” Spillane said. “I think our locker room has to do some soul-searching. The 22 guys that suit up and ultimately have a say in the game, they just aren’t performing the way they should.”
Canton is back in action on Saturday when it takes on Oliver Ames at Warrior Ice Arena at 8:00 while Franklin returns to action on Valentine’s Day for a date with St. John’s Shrewsbury at 6:00.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Through two periods of play, the Canton boys hockey team had controlled the game, dictated the tempo, dominated time in the attacking zone, and had a large advantage in shots on goal.
Despite all of that, the Bulldogs led just 1-0 through 30 minutes of play.
But instead of letting North Attleboro hang around in the third period, Canton emphatically slammed the door shut with four goals in the final frame, picking up a 5-0 win over the Rocketeers in a clash of the Davenport’s top teams.
“We didn’t really change anything in the third, we just kept trying to get pucks and bodies to the net,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “We just focused on the next play. There wasn’t a better representation of our season so far than those first two periods. We had 40-something shots on net and only one goal, that’s how it’s been all season.
“Instead of focusing on missing a chance, we talked about focusing on the next play, the next opportunity. I think that’s what they did in the third period. I thought the guys did a nice job of getting to the net without being chippy out front.”
Holding a 1-0 lead and a 39-3 advantage in shots entering the third period, the Bulldogs wasted little time adding to its lead. Despite starting with a 5-on-3 opportunity, Canton took a penalty just 23 seconds in to make it 4-on-3.
North killed off the remaining 47 seconds to get a skater back to make it 4-on-4 but Canton cashed in just seconds later. After he first mishandled the pass across the blue line, senior Brad Murphy collected the puck off the boards, skated towards the center of the ice and unleashed a low wrist shot that found its way through traffic for a 2-0 lead.
“If there’s one thing we’ve really been working on the last couple of weeks its been getting more shots from the defense,” Shuman said. “We don’t need the big slap shot to generate goal scoring chances. I thought our defense did a fabulous job of getting shots through. Brad Murphy…talk about improvement of generating offense from the blue line. He’s a four-year player for us but this year he’s playing at a whole new level and I was happy to see him get his first tonight.
The goal seemed to give the visitors confidence as they were able to add to the lead just four minutes later. McNeice created the play from the beginning, knocking down and controlling a saucer pass as he entered the zone. He then dropped a pass right in front of goal that both Goyetch and Dadasis crashed the goal on. The puck popped free back to McNeice and he converted to make it 3-0.
“When you can establish that forecheck and then get a turnover and attack right away, you can catch some teams,” Shuman said. “We tried to do that…get a turnover, get a forward caught down low, use the point and generate the offense from there and I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight.
“I thought our breakout was good tonight. When North did get the puck in the zone, we won the puck and we broke it out pretty well tonight. That was a big part of generating our offense.”
Just a minute later, Murphy rifled another low shot through traffic that North goalie Ryan Warren (52 saves) turned away with a pad save but Nolte latched onto the rebound and roofed his shot for a 4-0 lead.
With less than a minute to play, Canton put an exclamation point on the win when Goyetch tipped in a shot from Lehane from the blue line for the Dogs’ fifth goal.
Canton established control in the opening period, keeping the puck in its attacking zone for the majority of play and outshooting Big Red 14-3.
The Dogs had a couple of solid chances, including Ryan Nolte’s rebound bid off Nick Allen’s shot just a couple of minutes in, Mike Dadasis had his pass slide just ahead of the reach of both Bubba McNeice and Jack Goyetch at the midway point, and Nolte nearly pound McNeice with two minutes left but drew a tripping call on the play.
The second period is where Canton really asserted itself, finishing with a 24-0 advantage in shots. Big Red only had two half chances in the period and neither were on frame thanks to an uptempo pressure defense from Canton.
Despite the large margin in shots, the Dogs didn’t get a good scoring chance until they went on the power play with nine minutes left in the period. Less than a minute after going on the man advantage, Allen slid a pass along the blue line to sophomore Owen Lehane, who quickly fired a diagonal pass through the defense to Nolte. Nolte got a touch onto Johnny Hagan, who bored is chance from in close for a 1-0 lead.
“We recognize there is a target on our back,” Shuman said. “When you’ve had the success that this program has had, there is a target. We have really good teams in this league that bring out the best in us, and North Attleboro is one of them. They’ve been a good rival for some years now, they have some good players, it’s a good program. We know that we have to show up every game we play them.”
Canton boys hockey (5-0-0 Hockomock, 7-1-4 overall) returns to the New England Sports Village on Saturday in a non-league tilt against Bishop Feehan. North Attleboro (3-4-0, 8-6-0) will try to bounce back next Wednesday when it welcome Stoughton.
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled in its closing games of 2016-17 and narrowly missed out on a place in the state tournament via the Sullivan rule. This year’s Bombardiers are hoping that a mix of youth and experience will be enough to get the team over the hump and back in the playoff mix.
The main scoring threat for Attleboro this season is senior forward Jake Parker, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection last winter who led the team with 20 goals despite facing regular double teams and playing loads of minutes. Parker will be joined up front by sophomore Ryan Morry, who is coming off a solid rookie campaign and will try to take advantage of the opportunities Parker creates near the net.
Attleboro’s experience is on the defensive side of the ice. Seniors Eddie Noel and Sam MacKenzie and junior Kyle McCabe provide size, physicality, and reading of the game to protect the Bombardiers goal. Attleboro coach Mark Homer, in his second season with the team, is expecting the defensemen to be aggressive in the zone and be more prepared to clear the puck. The Bombardiers are also experienced in goal with junior Evan Andrews and sophomore Derrik Rivet offering a solid one-two between the pipes.
“As a team, we are working on becoming more competitive in our games at all phases of the game, said Homer. “We will strive to be better today than we were yesterday but not as good as we will be tomorrow. Our success will be measured by how hard we work and not by our wins and losses.”
2016-2017 Record: 16-5-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
After another league title in 2016-17 and a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal, Canton has started this season with a win and a draw (that turned into an overtime win in the final of the Gormley Cup) and the expectations remain as high as ever for one of the teams to beat in D2.
Last season, Canton was by far the league’s best defensive team, allowing only 32 goals in 24 games. The next best defense allowed 48 goals. But, the Bulldogs will need to rebuild the blue line this season after the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and Third Team selection C.J. Martin. Defensemen Brad Murphy and Nick Allen have experience and will be counted on to step up to bigger roles this year.
The key for the Canton defense, which has allowed only one goal in two games so far this season, will be junior goalie Quinn Gibbs. He was a HockomockSports.com First Team choice last year with a league-best 0.924 save percentage and there is hope he can get even better with a year of experience. Offensively, the Bulldogs bring back most of the goals from last year with Ryan Nolte, Johnny Hagan, Bubba McNeice, and Jack Goyetch all returning this season and all having scored big goals in big moments for Canton during last season’s tournament run.
“I think the most important determinant of our success will be whether we can find some depth at forward and defense,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Teams need more than two lines and four ‘D’ to make a deep run, so we need some guys to compete for those remaining spots.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 3 First Round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro saw improvement last year, increasing its win total, goals for, and allowed fewer goals than the season before. Head coach Mark Cedarchuk is hoping that trend continues this season as the Warriors look to try and compete for the spot in the postseason.
The Warriors will be relying on a mix of experience as well as youth to try and compete in the Hockomock League this year. Senior captain Aidan Sullivan (two goals, six assists) has been an anchor of the team’s blue line unit over the past couple of seasons and will be relied upon to lead the way again this year. Senior captain Taylor Sharfman is another defenseman that gives the Warriors two capable and reliable options in the back. Junior Tanner Kennedy is also back after a solid sophomore year and Warriors added junior Brendan Tully to the defensive unit.
On offense, Foxboro graduated its top three goal scorers but sophomore Ronnie MacLellan (four goals, seven assists) is back after a strong sophomore year. He will be joined up front by senior Sam Garrabrant and sophomore Sebastian Ricketts, who had four goals and two assists last year.
Foxboro will have to find a replacement for goalie John Cronin, a multi-year starter in between the pipes for the Warriors. Foxboro has three goalies – freshman Jack Spinney, sophomore Espen Reager, and freshman Connor Callahan – listed on the roster.
“With a combination of experienced upperclassman and talented underclassman, we’re looking forward to an exciting and competitive season,” Cedarchuk said.
2016-2017 Record: 14-9-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Chris Spillane
Although last winter was atypical for the Panthers, losing two games in the league for the first time in several years, Franklin won another league title and with 20 players back for this season the expectation is that a seventh straight league crown is a distinct possibility – not to mention making a run in the state tournament.
Experience will be the key for the Panthers. Most of the forwards were members of the team that won the state championship two years ago and know what it takes to get goals against top competition. Leading scorer Brendan O’Rielly is back after scoring 20 goals and recording 11 assists last season. He should have plenty of help up front with classmates Luke Downie, Jeremy Miller, T.J. Durkin, and Ken Demerchant, who are all three-year varsity players for the Panthers.
Defensively, Franklin has lost several talented young defensemen to other programs in recent seasons, but still boasts a strong defensive corps heading into this winter. Jack McGrath, Matt Crane, Connor Norton, Cam Cassella, and sophomore Tom Tasker will all contribute to the defensive pairings this season and that depth will be important over a long season. The goalie position is a battle between three seniors, including returning netminders Owen Ginley and Dan Sheehan, who both saw time last year.
“I will be looking to our leading goal scorer from last year Brendan O’Rielly to once again lead the offensive charge,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “From a small practice sample (one skate) I was impressed with our team speed.”
2016-2017 Record: 4-16-0 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip finished just below .500 in the league last season, and just five points out of second place in the Kelley-Rex division, but struggled in the non-league schedule, losing all 11 games outside of the Hock. The Warriors will look to improve that considerably this year with an experienced roster that wants to challenge for a league title.
KP returns 13 players from last year’s squad and that experience will be vital to allow the Warriors to compete not only in the league but against a schedule that has been bolstered because of the program’s move up to Div. 1 several seasons ago. Offensively, the attention will be on senior forward Collin Cooke, who chipped in with 10 goals and seven assists and has been drawing the focus of opposing defenses for several years. Senior Gavin Maxwell had nine goals and eight assists last season and will again be a solid counterpoint to take some of the pressure off Cooke in the attacking zone.
On the defensive side of the ice, KP continues to be a physical team that likes to be aggressive attacking the puck. Senior defensemen Will Connor will get some help at the back with the return of senior Mike Curtin from juniors, who head coach Paul Carlow said could be an “anchor” on defense. Senior Shane Frommer, fresh off a stellar football season and another Super Bowl title, will quickly transition from the gridiron to be the team’s starting goalie, after posting a 2.66 goals against average in 2016-17.
“Our strength is that we have a total of 13 returning players from last years team,” said Carlow. “We have experience up front and on the back end. We should see some team chemistry with this many returning players.”
2016-2017 Record: 12-8-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round. Coach: Mike Balazarini
In last year’s state tournament, Mansfield held its own against perennial power Xaverian before losing 2-1 in the opening round and that defeat is spurring the Hornets on this season, as the team has built a deep roster that believes it can challenge for the Kelley-Rex crown.
Team speed is going to be a strength for the Hornets this season, even without several key pieces from last winter, including breakout freshman Chris Jenkins, lost to graduation or to juniors. Senior forward Dylan Tivnan and Cullin Anastasia will be back to man the top scoring line along with freshman Coleman Jenkins. The second line will feature a lot of youth with sophomore Jake Lund and freshman Matt Copponi alongside junior Chris Copponi.
Seniors Tyler Oakley and Tim Arnold will be the leaders on the defensive side this year, while senior Ryan O’Hara and juniors Nick Levine and Austin Ricker will give the Hornets depth in the defensive unit. That depth should make things easier for sophomore Sean McCafferty, who will be stepping between the pipes for Mansfield this season.
“I think everyone wants to pick up where he left off last year,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We’ve had a good mindset early on this season. We have some new faces and everyone has gelled so far. We can’t take everyone lightly, we have to play every shift as its out last.”
2016-2017 Record: 14-4-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro is coming off its most successful season in program history, and will be starting a new chapter with new head coach Ben McManama.
The Rocketeers will be tasked with finding replacements for some of the top players in the league from a season ago. Someone will need to step up in order to fill the void left by Zach McGowan (19 goals, 13 assists for 32 points – third most in the Hockomock) as well as Hunter Sarro’s 22 points and Erik Clements’ 20 points.
Senior Jason McNeany is a key piece back for the Rocketeers, fresh off a terrific football season. He scored 13 goals last season and added 13 assists, and has been a big piece of the offense for many years now. He will be counted on to be a leader this season, both in the locker room and on the ice.
2016-2017 Record: 14-7-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Under first-year head coach Sean Bertoni, Oliver Ames proved to be a strong skating team that could cause a number of problems with its dangerous attack. That speed up front will be put to the test again this year, as the Tigers look to jump from second in the Kelley-Rex division to the top of the standings.
The Tigers have a number of talented forwards returning from last season’s team, which reached the Div. 2 South tournament and beat Nauset only to run into state finalist Scituate in the second round. That loss will provide motivation for junior forward Brett Williams, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team with 12 goals and eight assists last year, and the rest of the OA forwards. Williams will be joined up front by seniors Eric LeBlanc and Rory Madden and junior Max Ward.
On defense, junior Matt McCormick returns to be one of the top four along with senior Mike Nikiciuk. Both players will provide leadership for a defensive unit that promises to be aggressive in both zones, as Bertoni continues to implement his system at OA. Sophomore goalie Owen Connor will be the new goalie for the Tigers.
“We will continue to use our team speed and play an aggressive style offensively and defensively,” said Bertoni. “We hope to compete at a high level in all three zones. If we bring an aggressive forecheck we can create turnovers which should result in production.”
2016-2017 Record: 7-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Numbers are a bit down for the Stoughton High hockey team this season, so the Knights will be relying on their most experienced players to lead the way, especially early on.
On offense, the Knights boast senior Brendan Campbell at center and junior Sean Doherty at wing. Campbell had a team-high in points last season, finishing second with 11 goals while recording a team-best 15 assists for 26 points. Doherty was third on the team, tying for the team lead with 12 goals and finishing with 25 points.
Senior Cam Nelson and junior Josh Hough will be the leaders of the Knights’ defensive unit. Hough is a captain along with Campbell and Doherty and has the most experience on the blue line. Nelson also saw plenty of time last season, recording an assist.
“We are an inexperienced team that will improve as the season goes on,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark.
2016-2017 Record: 12-9-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons, setting new program bests for wins and making the state tournament two seasons in a row. This year’s team features only three seniors, so the Tigers will be hoping recent success will continue with a youthful lineup.
Senior forward Will Walsh has returned from junior hockey and will provide a boost to the front line, which head coach Kris Metea has high hopes for this season. Senior Jake Roberts is also back for the Tigers after scoring 18 points last year and junior Cam Sneyd is back after a 16-point season last winter. Metea is counting on high energy from the offensive unit and believes that the roster is capable of creating loads of scoring opportunities.
Sophomore Sean Bunker will be in net for the Tigers and the defensive unit is fairly inexperienced, although the coach believes that by working together Taunton will be able to put together a solid back line. The hope is that defense will become a strength of the Tigers by the end of the season.
“The players enjoy wearing the orange and black and look forward to coming to the rink every day,” said Metea. “The coaching staff has preached about enjoying the journey of a season and the developmental process. These players strive to work hard and get better every day. They will be fun to watch grow throughout the season.”
2016-2017 Record: 14-5-6 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Final Coach: Dennis Aldrich
Canton is coming off a remarkable state tournament run that took the No. 14 seed all the way to the TD Garden and the program’s first state title game appearance since 2006. After years of competing in the SEMGHL Coastal division, the Bulldogs are excited for the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and enter the new season as favorites to bring home the first Hock title.
A number of key players are back from the team that battled Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in the state championship game last March and will be counted on to put together another solid defensive effort that made the Bulldogs so tough to play against during the tournament run. Spearheading that defensive unit is senior goalie Colleen Kelleher, who was stellar throughout the state tournament with clutch saves in key situations.
On offense, Canton returns plenty of firepower. Juniors Maggie Malloy and Lauren Fitzpatrick emerged as big time scorers last year and came through with important goals to help the Bulldogs make a run to the Garden. Senior forwards Melissa Devane, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil give Canton a loaded attacking unit that always seemed to pop up with goals when the team needed it most.
“The strength of the Bulldogs will continue to be a tenacious, smothering team defense, strong goaltending, and balanced, opportunistic scoring,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “We are proud to have our roster filled with 11 Canton team captains amongst our 22 rostered players.”
Franklin enters the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season with a young roster, but one that is expected to compete with the other four teams and have a shot at bringing home the inaugural title.
Junior Regan Paterson and senior Jackie Connelly will be expected to provide leadership and create scoring opportunities for a roster that is loaded with underclassmen. Both players provide speed and playmaking ability in the attacking zone and the Panthers will be counting on their experience to make the difference.
Leadership is going to be critical for this year’s team and head coach Marjorie Burke is looking to her senior class to provide direction for the youthful lineup on both ends of the ice. Among the seniors that Burke is looking to this season are Bella Trask, Caroline Hedvig, Maddie Hinkley, Jillian McGlaughlin, and Connelly.
“We are excited about the upcoming season,” said Burke. “We are young but look to be competitive.”
Three years ago, King Philip was the top seed in Div. 2 and after two more playoff appearance, the Warriors now have the opportunity to bring their recent success into the first ever Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and hope that an experienced lineup could make them the first Hock champs.
Junior Nicole Connor is off to a strong start this season and has the potential, according to KP coach Jack Unger, to be one of the top players in the Hockomock League this year. Connor will play both at forward and along the blue line, crucial versatility that makes her an important piece for KP. The Warriors return five seniors who will be the “backbone” of the squad, said Unger. Kyleigh Remmes, Olivia McCarthy, Jessica Daniels, Katie Crowther, and Talia Quinn give the Warriors depth all over the ice.
Lilly Potts returns for her third year in between the pipes, while sophomore Cristina Coleman will be the backup netminder. Freshmen Avari Maxwell and Jordyn Remmes will be instant contributors on offense, while classmate Marin Cormier will step in on defense. Sophomores Abby Carr and Sammy Robison are also expected to step in at forward this season.
“[The roster is] rounded out by a number of talented juniors who should be able to spread out the scoring amongst the three starting forward lines,” said Unger.
2016-2017 Record: 14-6-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round. Coach: Mike Dalton
Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro have joined forces since the 2014-15 season and have reached the postseason each of the past two winters, suffering an overtime loss to Walpole in the first round of the state tournament last year, and have started this season with an impressive win in the opener.
The Warriors will be led by Foxboro’s Catherine Luciano. The senior was the team’s leading scorer last year and scored a hat trick in the season opener to get off to another strong start. Joining Luciano on the top line will be Mackenzie Fraser and Isabelle Shanteller. Other contributors in the offensive zone include senior Kayla Dalton, Kristina O’Connell, and Lindsey Corning.
While the Warriors are expected to create a number of scoring opportunities, defense will be just as important if Mansfield/OA (MOA) is going to make it a third straight playoff appearance. Denea Reager, Ali Delano, and Emily Bubencick will all be critical components of the Warriors defensive unit. Senior Kerren Holmes will be back in goal this year to stifle the opposition, while freshman Cate Gallegher will be the backup netminder.
“A strong freshman class will assist the team with help on both offense and defense,” said MOA coach Mike Dalton. “The team looks to compete for a top position in the Hockomock League and secure a spot in the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-19-1 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Richard Grasso
The newest of the programs in the inaugural season of Hockomock League girls’ hockey, Stoughton is in only its third season of varsity play, but the Black Knights are counting on last year’s experience and the growth in the program to make them a team to watch out for this winter.
Two-time all-star Julia Russell will be one of the key defenders for the Black Knights, but also brings an offensive punch with her speed forcing opponents to worry about her carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Senior Sarah Widrow will join Russell at the blue line and provides consistency in the defensive zone. Both will be expected to provide leadership for the less experienced players on the roster and try to make Stoughton a team that is tough to play against.
The offense will be sparked by a pair of freshmen. Hailey Nelson and Morgan Lesso made an instant impact on their debuts, helping Stoughton start the season with a 6-5 win at Framingham in the season opener. Lesso recorded a hat trick against the Flyers to set a high standard in her first varsity action.
“Stoughton will be a much stronger team this year than last,” said Black Knights coach Richard Grasso. “However, this will be a great challenge for our program. We have a lot of respect for the teams in the Hockomock League. There’s a lot of talent out there and each team is well-coached.”
CANTON, Mass. – Canton has been one of the top defensive teams in the Hockomock League this season, allowing only 19 goals in its first 12 games, but the Bulldogs have struggled at times to find consistent offense and that problem persisted on Saturday evening against potential Div. 2 South challenger Medway at the Canton Ice House.
The Bulldogs had one defensive lapse, leaving a Medway forward all alone in the high slot early in the third period, and that goal was all it took for the visiting Mustangs to walk away with the 1-0 win and the two points.
“When you score zero goals, there’s little margin for error and we had one back coverage in the zone and left that third guy high, which is where they generate a lot of their offense, and we didn’t account for him and he made a big shot,” explained Canton coach Brian Shuman after the game.
Canton had a hard time generating attack through the neutral zone, as the Mustangs clogged the middle of the ice and made sure to keep a forward in the middle to stop potential odd-man rushes. The Bulldogs could not get the typical breakouts that make their offense tick.
“They’re as good as a defensive team as there is,” said Shuman of Medway. “They always make sure to keep that third guy high; you’ll never see them give up a 3-on-2 or a 2-on-1 by being out of position. They play a good system that clogs that neutral zone, so it’s hard to get speed generated.”
Medway was not creating a lot of scoring chances early in the game either but had the best opportunities of the first period. James Anderson skipped past the check of Jackson Maffeo and forced Quinn Gibbs into one of his 18 saves. With a minute left, Anderson again created a chance and then Gibbs made the second stop on Andrew Diebus’ rebound effort.
The best chance for the Bulldogs in the first came from the defense, when senior C.J. Martin led the rush up ice and forced a Patrick Malloy glove save from the right circle. In the second period, Martin, Maffeo and Brad Murphy all had shots on goal for Canton, which was getting most of its chances from the defensemen.
“I think our wings in particular were really tentative and not doing anything on the breakout and the defense made up for that with their legs and getting the puck out of the zone,” said Shuman. “That’s why you have defensemen who can skate.”
Gibbs was forced into a good pad save to deny Jake Tomsik early in the second, while the best chance for Canton was created by freshman John Hagan, whose pass from behind the net to Tommy Kilduff was saved by Malloy.
Canton was outshot 17-13 through the opening two periods and Shuman was disappointed in the Bulldogs’ inability to get the puck deep and force Medway back into its defensive zone.
He said, “One of the things we didn’t do in the first two periods is get the puck down low and work from below the dot, which is what we do well, and we didn’t generate any shots from the point.”
The opening goal came 2:21 into the third period. Diebus drove the puck behind Gibbs and then flipped a pass out to Anderson, who was left wide open and gave Gibbs no chance with a one-time rocket into the top corner.
From the time of the goal to the final horn, Canton turned the tide and dominated play. The Bulldogs outshot the Mustangs 8-2 in the third but could not find a way past Malloy.
“In that third period, we had some really good chances and somehow didn’t find the back of the net,” Shuman said. “It just was one of those things where you play better and still lose the period.”
Hagan followed up a Kilduff shot but his shot was right into the goalie’s chest and with three minutes remaining Charlie O’Connor had an opportunity on a rebound after Malloy kicked aside a shot from Murphy, but the senior goalie recovered to save the second chance too.
Malloy made another kick save to deny Martin’s shot from the point through a screen, which have taken a deflection along the way. Despite the pressure, the Bulldogs could not find the back of the net and were shutout for the first time this season.
“I thought we played well defensively,” said Shuman. “Quinn played well, but if you score no goals then it’s tough to come out with the points.”
Canton (9-3-2, 6-0-0) will get back into league play, needing three points to clinch at least a share of the Davenport title, against Taunton on Wednesday at the Ice House.
CANTON, Mass. – Canton and Medfield have developed quite a rivalry since the Warriors made the leap into Div. 2 several years ago. The teams consistently meet in the regular season, including last year’s shootout thriller in the Quinn Tournament in Raynham, and have also met a couple of times in the latter rounds of the South sectional.
Although both teams have a number of new faces this season, the expectation was for a fast-paced, high-energy game. And with both teams looking for consistent offense after the graduation of key forwards, it was also expected to be tight.
On Wednesday night at the Canton Ice House, the teams met for the first time this season and the game mostly lived up to expectations, finishing in a 1-1 tie. Tommy Kilduff got the lone goal for the Bulldogs to even the score early in the third period, as the Bulldogs closed the game with a flurry after an inconsistent opening two periods.
Despite earning a point and outshooting the Warriors, who are the defending state champions, 29-16 (11-1 in the third period alone), Canton coach Brian Shuman was left wanting more from his team.
He said, “I’m happy that we battled back and had some good chances in the third period, but that’s a game that we need to go out there and put out a better effort.”
Shuman admitted that several of the players were frustrated in the locker room after the game. He said that he understood why. “They are in the elite of our division, so how do you not bring your best effort and get guys stepping up and performing?” Shuman asked. “That was the most frustrating part, not bringing the energy and making plays when we had the chance.”
Both teams are known for playing with speed and precision, but that was largely missing from the opening period. There were flashes of the passing that makes both teams hard to stop, but most of the game was played between the blue lines with the offenses struggling to make an impact.
Kilduff created the game’s first scoring chance with a good forecheck that forced a turnover but his shot was just wide across goal. The puck came back to Matt Cassamento and he fed Kilduff in front but Kevin Walsh (28 saves) came through with the stop. Canton goalie Quinn Gibbs (15 saves) made a nice stop on Dylan McNally and with 20 seconds left in the first Jack Goyetch had a chance on a 2-on-1 but Walsh managed to sit on the puck and cover up.
Medfield jumped in front a little more than a minute into the second period, and just seven seconds after a penalty on Bubba McNeice, when Ryan Johnson swung the puck across the blue line to Nick Wheeler. The senior defenseman flung a shot through traffic that Gibbs could not see.
The Warriors had their best period of the game, putting 11 shots on Gibbs in the second, but had few legit scoring opportunities. Kilduff nearly tied it with 7:15 left in the period and the rebound popped out to Ryan Nolte but his shot slid just wide of the post with Walsh prone on the ice.
The Canton forecheck created another chance two minutes later as first Goyetch and then Jackson Maffeo had shots beaten aside by Walsh. Freshman John Hagan had a snap shot kicked aside as well.
In the third, the Bulldogs finally found a way past Walsh. Nolte had a point-blank chance carom off the goalie’s shoulder when it looked destined for the corner, but the Bulldogs kept the play alive in the zone and Kilduff was able to pounce on a loose puck in front to slide in the goal.
“He was frustrated at the start of the season because the goals weren’t coming but to his credit, patience, he didn’t lose control of his emotions and he’s had a great couple of weeks for us,” said Shuman of Kilduff. “We’re going to need him going forward because it seems like we’re just riding his coattails right now.”
The Bulldogs dominated the third period and the defense limited Medfield to only one shot in the period, while Maffeo (paired mostly with Brad Murphy) and Martin (paired with D.J. Trerice) regularly found themselves pushing up into the attack.
“They weren’t feeling it this game, but they still battled through and they made all the plays they needed to, they recovered well, and they played a lot of minutes,” said Shuman of Martin and Maffeo. “The problem hasn’t been keeping guys off the board this year; we’ve been doing that pretty well. It’s getting more pucks to the back of the net.”
Canton had one last chance to try for the game-winning goal and again it was the top line that created the opportunity, Kilduff broke free down the left wing and fired a pass across goal to Nolte, but somehow Walsh managed to get across and make a sprawling save that left the Canton alumni on the opposite side of the rink mystified as to how it was not a goal.
Shuman knows that Canton is going to need more people to rise to the occasion if the Bulldogs are going to make a tournament run this season.
“We can’t rely on one line and that’s what is happening right now,” Shuman explained. “We have one line that is carrying our play, that everyone is looking to do something, and the other lines are sort of just along for the ride. We can’t get a full team going.”
Canton (7-2-2) will get back into league play on Saturday with a trip to Asiaf Arena to take on Stoughton before next week’s visit of Davenport challenger North Attleboro.
Attleboro, 5 @ Ashland, 1 – Final – Jake Parker scored four goals for the Bombardiers and P.J. Elliott scored the fifth.
Canton, 2 vs. Newburyport, 0 – Final – Tommy Kilduff scored the opening goal off a Brad Murphy assist in the third period. John Hagan added an empty net goal with 30 seconds left to wrap up the win. Quinn Gibbs had the shutout in goal for the Bulldogs.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Bishop Feehan, 2 – Final
Stoughton, 9 @ Apponequet/Connolly, 2 – Final – Stoughton sophomore Sean Doherty scored a hat trick to pace the offense. Ryan Chipman and Jon Lessa each added a pair of goals for the Black Knights while sophomore Luke Bainton scored his first career goal.
Taunton, 2 @ Somerset-Berkley, 2 – Final
Peckham Tournament (Canton, Sharon) – Canton took second overall with 243 points at the 20th annual Peckham Tournament while Sharon grabbed fourth place with 176 points. Norton won the tournament with 289 points. First place finishes for Canton included Harry Carter (120), Eddie Marinilli (126), Anis Chakir (132), Joe Pacitti (152) and Mark Whalen (220). Sharon’s Ian Langol-Leonard won the 195 bracket.
Braintree Quad (Mansfield), 9:00AM
Attleboro @ Mansfield, 7:00
Stoughton @ North Attleboro, 3:00
Oliver Ames, 137.3 @ Attleboro, 141.5 – Final – Oliver Ames totaled its highest all around team score in four years but fell just short to Attleboro. OA sophomore Gianna Martucci placed third in the all around with a 35.75, scoring an 8.9 on both vault and bars, an 8.75 on beam, and a 9.2 on floor. Freshman Lauren Picanzi placed fourth overall with a 35.2, scoring an 8.8 on vault, 8.9 on bars, 8.6 on beam, and an 8.9 on floor for the Tigers. OA junior Charis MacCuish tied for first on the bars with a 9.4.
King Philip, 133.95 @ Attleboro, 141.5 – Final – According to athletic director Mark Houle, this was a school record score for the Bombardiers.
Mansfield @ Sharon, 9:30AM
Franklin, 114.35 @ Sharon, 126.7 – Final – Franklin junior Liz Traphagen took the individual all-around with a score of 32.65. Traphagen scored an 8.1 on vault, 7.6 on bars, 8.35 on beam and 8.6 on floor. Franklin sophomore Sadie Rondeau was third overall on beam with an 8.1
Franklin, 0 @ Canton, 6 – Final – Canton junior Marissa Devane potted a hat trick to pace the Bulldogs.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 4 @ Stoneham, 2 – Final – Shayna Menzer scored a pair of goals for Mansfield/OA. Isabelle Shantler and Kenzi Fraser each scored a goal in the win.
2015-2016 Record: 16-3-4 2015-2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal Coach: Brian Shuman
Throughout the years, Canton has had plenty of skillful goal scorers that pace the offense. Heading into this season, it’s still to be determined who will emerge as Canton’s top offensive threat.
The Bulldogs lost a lot of scoring from a year ago, including the team’s top for scorers – Matt Lazaro, Jim Jenkins, Bobby Mullaney and Seamus Pecararo – who combined for over 100 points. However, the Bulldogs have one of the strongest programs from top to bottom in the area and it will be the next man up. Senior Tommy Kilduff (nine points) and junior Jack Goyetch (12 poitns) are likely candidates to be top offensive weapons on their respective lines.
One area that Canton is rock solid is defense. The Bulldogs are bringing back their top four defensemen from a year ago, including HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and HockomockSports Third Team selection CJ Martin. Those two will be joined once again by DJ Trerice and Brad Murphy, giving Canton a solid foundation to work off of.
“Overall, we expect to be a scrappy team with no real superstars, but a good balance of gritty forwards, experienced defensemen, and deep goaltending hopefully will allow us to compete with the top teams in the Hockomock League,” Canton head coach Brian Shuman said.
2015-2016 Record: 5-14-1 2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
With a strong blend of experienced players and young talent, first year head coach Mark Cedorchuk is hopeful the Warriors can find their way back to the state tournament.
The Warriors return both of their top scoring threats from a year ago with seniors Mike Carresi (seven goals, 10 assists) and Peter Smith (10 goals, six assists) both back to pace the offense, as well as classmate Paul Vey. Junior Aidan Sullivan is back after an impressive sophomore season (eight points) and will be a big presence along the blue line along with classmate Taylor Sharfman and senior John Brolin.
It will be a familiar face between the pipes for Foxboro again this season as John Cronin returns as one of the top netminders in the league.
“With this core group of excellent upperclassman and talented underclassman we’re very excited about our season this year,” Cedorchuk said. “With the roster we have we’re looking to compete at a very high level and can’t wait for our season to start.”
2015-2016 Record: 13-5-4 2015-2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals Coach: Steve Snizek
Between a strong returning core of players and a switch to the Davenport division, 2016-2017 could be the year the Rocketeers make a serious run at a league title. Standing in the way will be Canton.
Five of the Rocketeers’ leading scorers are back this year, including top goal scorer Erik Clements (13 goals, 10 assists) and top assist man and HockomockSports.com First Team selection Zach McGowan (12 goals, 12 assists). Juniors Jason McNeany (eight goals, 12 assists), Andrew Wissler (nine goals, nine assists) and Hunter Sarro (nine goals, four assists) are all back as well with varsity experience. The depth in North Attleboro’s attack will make them tough to deal with.
Defensively, it all starts with sophomore goalie Ryan Warren, who had a terrific freshman year and was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. In front of him, senior Vincent Zammiello – a HockomockSports.com Third Team selection – and sophomore Brendan McHugh will anchor the defensive unit.
“In order for our team to be successful, we need to stick to our style of hockey and be well positioned and physical,” North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek said. “We also need to take advantage of power power play opportunities while staying disciplined.”
2015-2016 Record: 6-12-3 2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Mark
Stoughton returns a good handful of experienced varsity players from last year’s squad, but will still be one of the youngest teams in the league.
Senior forwards Jon Lessa and Nick Hardy are two of the more experienced players on the team. Lessa was second in scoring a year ago with nine goals and also added six assists while Hardy chipped in with seven points. Sophomore Sean Doherty will likely see a lot of ice time this season after an impressive freshman season. Doherty had seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points – second most on the team.
On defense, senior Cam Doherty will anchor the blue line while sophomore Josh Hough will look to build upon a strong rookie campaign a year ago. Sophomore AJ Scott is back in goal this season after making over 600 saves as a freshman. Having a year of varsity experience will be vital for a handful of Stoughton’s returning players.
“We are young team that will improve as the season goes on,” Stoughton head coach Dan Mark said.
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 twobest 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.