By HockomockSports.com Staff
Player are listed alphabetically
Rocco Bianculli, Senior – King Philip
King Philip has plans for trying to topple Franklin’s reign at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and Bianculli, a four-year varsity player, is one of the reasons for optimism. A quintessential attack-minded defenseman, Bianculli is always looking to push the puck up the ice and has the quickness to turn a standard breakout into an odd-man rush. His strength in possession and his stickhandling ability make him tough to stop in open ice and he has the vision to find scoring chances for himself or for teammates. He led the Warriors in assists and tied for the team lead with 24 points last season. Bianculli isn’t afraid to take risks moving forward and more often than not that leads to a shot on the offensive end. He’s also a physical presence in the defensive one and reads plays well to cut the danger. His energy is a key to KP’s success on both ends of the ice and a critical component to the Warriors making a league title challenge.
Sean Connolly, Junior – Canton
During its run to back-to-back state championships, Canton was known for a team that could score goals in bunches, overwhelming teams with its ability to put the puck in the net. The Bulldogs were also a dominant defensive team, allowing opponents only the rare open look at goal. Connolly has emerged from the pack as one of the top blueliners for the Bulldogs after an impressive sophomore season. He combines the speed, stickhandling, passing, and willingness to be physical in the corners that make Canton defensemen difficult to play against. He can also jump into the attack himself, scoring two goals and recording six assists last season, and showing the knack for finding the right breakout pass to get the Bulldogs transitioning up the ice. With a couple of years of experience at the varsity level, Connolly will have to be a leader on the ice this season and help the various new faces on the roster acclimate quickly and keep the Bulldogs at the top of the Davenport division.
Eamon Kelly, Junior – Canton
After back-to-back D2 state championships (with a combined one loss over two seasons), Canton has established itself as one of the top programs in the state. There will be a lot of new faces for the Bulldogs this winter and a lot of layers taking on bigger roles to try and maintain the team’s dominance of the Davenport division. Kelly is battling back from an injury for the second season in a row but will be one of the main attacking threats for Canton this year. The crafty forward scored five goals and had 12 assists last winter, despite missing games at the start of the season. A solid forechecker and a player willing to get to the front of the net, Kelly has popped up with big goals in big games, and his willingness to battle in the corners and fight for the puck open up scoring opportunities for his linemates. With graduations taking their toll on the roster, Kelly is Canton’s top returning scorer and will be counted on to make the jump up to the top lines and produce. Canton reloads rather than rebuilds and Kelly will be leading the cause this winter, as the Bulldogs seek an 11th straight league title.
Kirk Leach, Senior – Foxboro
Each of the past three years, Foxboro has set a new program best for wins and points in a season and last winter added a run to the D3 South semifinal as well. The shortened season means the Warriors won’t be able to keep that trend going but there is still a lot to play for and a lot of attacking firepower to make Foxboro a tough team to beat. Leach is one of the main offensive threats for the Warriors this season. Fresh off a 20-goal, 14-assist junior year, Leach enters the winter as one of the top scoring threats in the league. A creative forward with good speed and the size and strength to keep hold of the puck under pressure, Leach consistently find space for himself and his teammates. He can burst through the neutral zone to create odd-man rushes or go down into the corner and battle for pucks to maintain possession. Leach was the third-leading scorer in the Hock last year and will be hoping to keep Foxboro on the front foot again this winter.
Joe LeBlanc, Senior – Franklin
Year in and year out, Franklin is one of the toughest teams to break down defensively. They are one of the most disciplined groups that clog shooting lanes and work tirelessly to interrupt passes. And the Panthers usually have one defenseman they can rely on most and this year it’s the experience of senior Joe LeBlanc. In this third year on varsity, LeBlanc plays in virtually every situation for the Panthers – five-on-five, penalty kill, and power play. Not only is he a reliable option anchoring the blue line unit in the defensive end of the ice, LeBlanc is a weapon when the Panthers push forward. Franklin is aiming to be a puck-possession type team this year and LeBlanc’s skill with the puck will help in the attacking end. Last year as a junior, LeBlanc scored one goal and had eight assists.
Dylan Marchand, Junior – Franklin
Franklin junior Dylan Marchand burst onto the scene last year, emerging as one of the most dangerous attacking players in the Hockomock League. His speed is the first thing that jumps out, racing away from defensemen into the attacking area. Even if it seems like he is out of the play, his speed gets him right back in the mix. Not only can is he able to use his speed to work his way around and past defensemen, but he also has strong stick handling skills and does a nice job finishing around the net. He was a catalyst for the Panthers’ offense last year, scoring four goals along with registering nine assists. Look for Marchand to take a big step forward this year with an expanded role in the offense.
Brady Nichols, Senior – Taunton
If the Tigers get on the ice again this season — and we certainly hope that’s the case — the strength of the squad will be in its blue line group. Taunton has two of the top defensemen in the league in senior Brady Nichols, a Hockomock League All Star selection last year, and junior Jack DeMoura, a HockomockSports.com All Underclassman Team selection. Nichols is one of the most experienced players in the league, part of the varsity squad since he was an eighth-grader. Not only will he relied upon to lead the way defensively during his fifth season with the Tigers, but Nichols is also a catalyst on the offensive end too. His speed allows him to attack from the blue line and he has a strong shot as well. During his junior year, Nichols was among the top scorers in the Hock with 14 goals and 17 assists.
Mansfield relied on its top line for the majority of its offense last season but graduated all three players that combined for nearly 70% of the team’s goals. That means head coach Mike Balzarini will need some new players to step up and produce offensively. One candidate to step up and lead the charge will be senior captain Cam Page. In his third year on varsity, Page will see an expanded role this season. He will provide a lot of leadership both on and off the ice for the Hornets, who have a relatively inexperienced group of players. Page is a hard-worker that does a nice job back-checking and setting an example for others to follow. Offensively, he isn’t a flashy player but makes a lot of good decisions and is an unselfish player, always willing to make a pass to turn a good chance into a great chance.
Nick Piazza, Junior – Attleboro
New Attleboro coach Greg Chamberlain considers goalie to be a position of strength this season and Piazza’s return between the pipes is one of the main reasons for that. The junior netminder had a breakout season in 2019-20, earning All-Underclassman Team honors after an impressive debut as the starter. He made 489 saves in 19 games, recording a 0.911 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. In back-to-back games, Piazza held Mansfield and Canton to just one goal apiece, keeping Attleboro in games against two perennial league powers. He showed remarkable poise for a young goalie, not getting flustered as teams crashed the net, staying with and clearing pucks from the crease, and pulling off big stops against some of the league’s top forwards. His composure in net was a confidence boost for the guys playing in front of him, knowing that they could count on him to make the stops. As Attleboro learns a new system under a new coaching staff, the Bombardiers know they can rely on Piazza to make the stops to give them a chance at grabbing results.
Tyler Sarro, Senior – North Attleboro
North Attleboro is starting a new goalie and has a lot of new faces on the blue line so the Rocketeers will be leaning on its experience on the offensive end of the ice, especially early in the season. One of the most experienced players is senior forward Tyler Sarro, who is in his fourth year on the varsity squad. Sarro is a reliable player that is going to provide a lot of leadership both on and off the ice. He sets the tone with his hard work, a two-way type player that works hard on the backcheck. On offense, he does a lot of the little things right and his work ethic is contagious. He’ll be joined on North’s top line with his brother Brady, another experienced Rocketeer forward on the other wing, and center Nik Kojoian. Sarro, a captain, will look to build on his production last season when he scored once and had 10 assists.