Franklin Falls Short In Rematch of State Title Game

Franklin hockey
Franklin senior James Kilroe (7) scored a third period goal in the loss to St. Mary’s (Lynn) in a rematch of last year’s state final. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – The last time that Franklin and St. Mary’s (Lynn) met on the ice, it was an instant classic. The Panthers and Spartans wowed the crowd at the Boston Garden in a dramatic, double overtime thriller that Franklin won to claim its first state championship in three decades.

On Saturday night, the teams met again, this time in the smaller confines of Pirelli Veterans Arena, and the game played out very differently.

Franklin got off to a great start, taking a lead just 1:23 into the first period, but for the majority of the next 43 minutes the game was dominated by the visitors. St. Mary’s took the lead by the end of the first and never looked back, pulling out a 7-3 victory and exacting a measure of revenge for last season’s title game defeat.

“I thought we played well for the first 10 minutes,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “I thought we had a jump in our step, we forechecked well, we were physical, and then right after that you could see it start to derail. That’s sort of been our season. We haven’t played a full 45 [minutes].”

The Panthers got off to the perfect start to the game. Jeremy Miller burst into the zone and had a shot from the right side kicked aside by St. Mary’s goalie Andrew LoRusso, but Adam Assad was following up the play and he knocked the loose puck into the open net.

Shortly after the goal, the Spartans would be given a four-minute power play of which the first 90 seconds would be a two-man advantage. Thanks to a couple of solid kick saves by goalie Owen Ginley and strong defense that kept the visitors on the edges, Franklin managed to clear it off and gain even more energy.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the strong start could not be sustained.

Colin Reddy tied the game with 3:18 left in the first when he tapped in Jason Loeser’s pass that slipped through the skates of a Franklin defenseman. Two minutes later, Kyle Ouellette flipped a pass towards goal that was knocked down into the slot by Mike Zampanti and knocked in by Anthony Bono.

Ginley came through with a huge save on Bono after a mix up by the Franklin defense in the final seconds of the first, but he picked up an injury in the process and would be taken out for Cam Benham in the second.

Spillane said, “We had all the momentum. It was great and then right after that we just lost it. Our starting goaltender got hurt at the end of the first period and then we had to switch goalies, got a cold goalie coming in…and it just kept rolling.”

Franklin got off to a decent start to the second period with Miller setting up Zac Falvey only for LoRusso to deny him. Benham made a big save on Bono after a slip by the Franklin defense gave the St. Mary’s forward a breakaway, but was unable to stop a wraparound by Damon Maribito that made it 3-1.

Benham stopped Maribito four minutes later on another breakaway and the Panthers nearly had an answer when James Kilroe was set up Noah Nasuti, but the shot was off-target. Twenty-four seconds after that chance a puck up the boards bounced between a pair Panthers and started a 2-on-1 break for the Spartans. Reddy scored his second off an assist by Mike Desmond.

“One bad bounce and that’s it,” said Spillane. “We sort of hung our heads…We have capabilities, we have good hockey players, but we’re not consistent right now. Against a team like this, you can’t play inconsistent.”

The fourth goal seemed to open the floodgates for St. Mary’s with Bono scoring on a blast off a face-off win to make it 5-1. Assad struck the post before the end of the second, but just three minutes into the third period Loeser flicked a wrist shot from the high slot through traffic that snuck inside the post.

The Panthers showed some life in the final period helped out by several power play opportunities. Brendan O’Reilly set up Luke Downie (the hero from last March’s final at the TD Garden) but LoRusso again made the stop. T.J. Durkin had a goal disallowed a minute later when he knocked in Assad’s pass only for the officials to rule that the net was dislodged first.

With 8:34 left to play, Kilroe followed up a rebound from Jack McGrath’s shot from the point to cut the lead to four with a power play goal. Dan Sheehan stopped a breakaway to keep it 6-2 and Cam Trask had a chance saved before Franklin added a third. Tom Sicchio drove to the red line and cut a pass across the crease that was tipped on net by Matt Holmes and tapped in by Downie.

St. Mary’s sealed the win in the final minutes with a shot through traffic by Marc Zampanti. Despite the defeat, Spillane saw positives for his team from playing that level of competition.

He said, “At the end of the day, it’s good for our kids in the long run. They’re a good team and we’re going to see teams just like this down the road, so we’ve got to be ready.

Spillane added, “I think we have the players to compete, it’s just got to be 45 minutes night in, night out. Now we go into our league play and I’m going to demand we play 45 minutes every night or you’ll be on the bench. We’ve got a lot of kids that want to play.”

Franklin (6-3) will return to Hockomock play on Wednesday when the Panthers travel to Aleixo Arena to play Taunton.

Hockey: 2016-2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2016-2017 Kelley-Rex Hockey Preview
King Philip and Oliver Ames will be divisional opponents when the two teams tack to the ice this winter after the Tigers were moved from the Davenport. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016-2017 Kelley-Rex Hockey Preview

ATTLEBORO

2015-16 Record: 7-11-2 (1-8-1)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Mark Homer

Attleboro narrowly missed out on a playoff spot last season, losing in its final game against a Div. 3 opponent and this year’s team will be motivated to try and get back in the postseason under new head coach Mark Homer, who made the switch from Oliver Ames where he coached the past three years, and with a new home – moving from Aleixo Arena in Taunton to the new England Sports Village just a couple minutes from the school.

In what has become a common issue for the Bombardiers program, Attleboro will not have
a lot of depth to call on this winter with only 15 skaters and two goalies on the varsity roster, but there is some experience coming back. Senior P.J. Elliott is a talented skater and stick handler who will be counted on to provide the scoring punch along with Jake Parker and Dylan Weallac on the first line.

Sam McKenzie emerged last year as a physical presence and senior captain Eddie Noel will partner him on the top defensive pairing. Sophomore Evan Andrews and freshman Derek Rivet will battle it out for the starting goaltender position for the Bombardiers. There are several other underclassmen who could make immediate impacts, including sophomore forward Cam Littig.

“With the new facility in Attleboro the hopes are that in the coming years, the roster will grow to include increasing depth to the program,” said Homer. “The goal of this years team is to stay healthy, work together as one unit on and off the ice, and get better each day. It’s a new day for Attleboro High School Hockey with a promising future.”

FRANKLIN

2015-16 Record: 18-4-5 (8-0-2)
2015-16 Finish: Won the Div. 1 State Championship
Head Coach: Chris Spillane

After being the first Hockomock League team selected for the prestigious Super 8 tournament in 2014-15 and then graduating 21 players, Franklin was supposed to need a year to rebuild, but the Panthers showed just how strong their program is by bringing home the Div. 1 state championship in a dramatic double overtime thriller against St. Mary’s at the TD Garden. It was the program’s first state title at any level since 1983.

The Panthers graduated another large class of 13 seniors from last year’s champions and lost promising freshman defenseman Kevin Mackay who transferred to Dexter. Still, expectations remain as high as ever for the Panthers, who have won four straight league titles. Much of that excitement comes from the potential in the offensive zone with Franklin returning last year’s title game hero Luke Downie, leading goal scorer Jeremy Miller, and Brendan O’Reilly and the top line of seniors Joey Blasie, Adam Assad, and James Kilroe. Sophomores Matt Holmes and Zach Falvey will add depth to the offense.

Defense is where the Panthers will have some new faces, although seniors Tom Sicchio and Stan Carter will add some experience to the back line. Juniors Jack McGrath and Connor Norton will make the jump up from the JV team to add to the defensive lines and freshman Collin Opet will also see playing time on the defense as well. For the third season in a row, Franklin will have a new No. 1 goalie with senior Cam Benhamand junior Owen Ginley will battle it out for the starting spot.

“For the Panthers to be successful this year it will be a result of a team defense concept,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The offense will take care of itself, we will be focusing on strong play in our zone.”

KING PHILIP

2015-16 Record: 9-8-4 (5-2-3)
2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 South playoffs
Head Coach: Paul Carlow

The Warriors made strides last winter under first-year head coach Paul Carlow, including a regular season tie with Franklin and reaching the postseason for the first time since the program was moved back up to Div. 1. This season, Carlow is hopeful for a return to the postseason and to challenge for KP’s first league title since 2007, despite losing 10 seniors from last year’s roster.

The offensive zone should be strong for the Warriors this season with several key returning players that put up solid totals last winter. Junior forward Collin Cooke is the main weapon after putting up 11 goals and 15 assists for a team-high 26 points to be named a league all-star. He is joined up front by senior Ritchie Lucente, who scored 10 goals and had nine assists last year, and senior Jacob Kelly, who finished with 11 goals and nine assists.

KP will also return a few important pieces on the defensive side of the puck, including junior goalie Shane Frommer, who was 3-1-1 in his five starts last year. Frommer’s start to the hockey season will be slightly delayed after helping the football team win its first Super Bowl title. In front of the Frommer will be senior Jeremy Smith, who chipped in with three goals and four assists last season.

“We had some success last season qualifying for the D1 playoffs,” said Carlow. “We have our work cut out for us this season… We are a young team with only five seniors but I expect us to get back to the playoffs.”

MANSFIELD

2015-16 Record: 5-10-5 (4-4-2)
2015-16 Finish: Missed the playoffs
Head Coach: Mike Balzarini

Last winter was atypical for the Hornets, who missed out on the playoffs and finished fourth in the Kelley-Rex division, but Mansfield is hoping for a quick turnaround under new head coach Mike Balzarini, who makes the move from Milford. The Hornets have a number of returning players, including several from club or other school programs to bolster the depth.

One of the returning players is Joe Olsen, who spent last year with a juniors program but will be a significant addition to the Hornets top attacking line alongside fellow seniors Matt Farragher and Chad Piotti, who both had solid years in 2015-16. Junior Cullen Anastasia is another forward to come back to the program and could step right in to make an impact. Freshman Chris Jenkins is going to be the center on the third line and classmate James Bezeau will also see playing time this year.

On defense, the Hornets will be led by senior Cullen Murphy, a physical presence at the back and one of the leaders on the ice. Juniors Tim Arnold, Ryan O’Hara, and Tyler Oakley will also be important pieces on the top defensive pairings. Freshman Joseph Troiano will also be on the defense after he decided against attending Xaverian this year. The defense will be protecting senior goalies Brendan McKenna and Tony Rullo, who will each see time.

“We’re a lot deeper,” said Balzarini, who said that the Hornets would be carrying four lines and four sets of defensemen and is excited about the potential on the team. “It’s been good having two weeks to prepare. They have to get used to our new system and adhering to the structures that we’re putting in place.”

Oliver Ames

2015-16 Record: 10-10-1
2015-16 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Head Coach: Sean Bertoni

Oliver Ames will be looking to keep its postseason streak alive under new head coach Sean Bertoni – a former standout goalie for Franklin.

If the Tigers want to get back to the state tournament, they’ll need some help from their younger players; Oliver Ames has eight sophomores and four freshman on its roster this year. OA does have seven seniors and a group of experienced juniors that can help lead the way.

Owen Gallagher (26 points), who led the team in scoring a year ago, is back along with Eric LeBlanc (18 points), Cullen Gallagher (13 points) and Max Ward (12 points). Junior Rory Madden also returns this season after a year away; Madden registered 14 points his freshman year. Defensively, seniors Jack Maloney and Jared Costello bring a lot of experience to the blue line. Zach Walsh will be back between the pipes after a strong junior season.

“The goals of the team are to progress from Day one to the end of the year,” Bertoni said. “We have to use our team speed and forecheck extremely hard. We will be a disciplined, hard working aggressive team.”

TAUNTON

2015-16 Record: 13-10-0 (3-7-0)
2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South playoffs
Head Coach: Kris Metea

The Tigers got to experience what the state tournament is like last season for the first time since 2006-07 and only the second time in the past two decades. Taunton had the fourth most wins in a season in the 44-year history of the program and scored a remarkable 106 goals last season, which was the best in the Hock.

This year, Taunton will try to build on its historic season and make a quick return to the postseason. Leading scorer Tyler Pietrzyk has graduated but there is plenty of firepower returning for the Tigers this season, including senior forward Zack Albert who is coming off a 30-point campaign. He will be joined up from by classmate Jordan Hoey, who had 17 points last season and senior Cam Carnes, who had 10 points. Sophomore Cam Sneyd could be poised for a breakout year for the Tigers.

Defensively, Taunton can lean on three-time league all-star Nick Terry, who will man the top defensive pairing. Mike Volkmann may be listed as a defenseman on the roster but he can get forward into the attack with 29 points a season ago. Junior Cam Welby will be a new addition to the defense after playing juniors all of last season. Senior Justin Chappell returns in net.

“This year’s group of seniors are first class kids,” said head coach Kris Metea. “They exemplify leadership across the board…They had a chance to taste the tournament last year, and are focused on acquiring more than just a taste this time around.”

Wednesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/13/16

Today’s games are listed below.
Boys Basketball
Canton, 54 @ Archbishop Williams, 47 – Final – Sophomore Tony Harris had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while seniors Mike Harris and Rishi Jambunathan each chipped in with 11 points. 
Hockey
Attleboro, 0 @ North Attleboro, 6 – Final
Foxboro, 1 @ Norton, 0 – Final – Paul Vey scored the lone goal of the game in the second period for the Warriors. 
Franklin, 4 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final – Sophomore Kenny Demerchant scored his first career goal while sophomore Brendan O’Reilly, junior Adam Assad and sophomore Jeremy Miller each scored once. Nick Jasinski had the shutout in net for the win.
King Philip, 6 @ Taunton, 4 – Final – Taunton held a 4-1 lead through two periods but King Philip scored five goals in the third period to get the win. 
Oliver Ames, 7 @ Milford, 1 – Final – Eric LeBlanc scored a pair of goals, Jack Maloney and Matt Mancini each scored once and Korey Sweezy, Adam Healy and Cullen Gallagher each scored their first varsity goal in the game. 
Wrestling
Foxboro, 43 @ Sharon, 30 – Final
Franklin, 48 @ Mansfield, 18 – Final
North Attleboro, 55 @ King Philip, 3 – Final
Milford, 41 @ Stoughton, 39 – Final
Swimming
Boys
Attleboro, 45 @ Taunton, 49 – Final
Sharon, 99 @ Canton, 71 – Final
Franklin, 79 @ Milford, 80 – Final
Girls
Attleboro, 39 @ Taunton, 48 – Final
Sharon, 84 @ Canton, 86 – Final
Stoughton, 53 @ Milford, 116 – Final
Girls Hockey
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 6 @ King Philip, 3 – Final
Stoughton, 1 vs. Latin Academy, 3 – Final

Downie and Miller Spark Panthers Against OA

Nick Downie Jeremy Miller
Jake Downie (9) and Jeremy Miller (5) each scored a pair of goals for the Panthers in a 5-0 victory over OA. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – Heading into their first Hockomock game of the season, the Panthers seem to have solidified the blue line, but there are still question marks about who will provide the goals for the defending league champs.

On Wednesday night at Pirelli Veterans Arena, senior Jake Downie and sophomore Jeremy Miller provided the offensive punch. The second line forwards contributed four goals and two assists to propel the Panthers to a 5-0 victory over visiting Oliver Ames.

“Those two guys have been pretty consistent for us,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane about Downie and Miller, who have been the team’s top scorers this season.

While he praised his second line for its production, he also added, “We need to rely on our first line a little more. If you’re going to have success then you need to have three lines contributing and right now we sort of have one going for us.”

The first line of Adam Assad, Alec Gilliatt, and Alex Bissanti started the game well, despite not having played in a full week due to a postponement on Saturday. Just four minutes in, Assad was robbed by a Zach Walsh kick save and just about three minutes later Gillatt set up Bissanti but Walsh went post to post to deny the point-blank chance.

The Panthers dominated the first period, but could not find a way past Walsh. The sophomore made 11 of his 30 saves in the first and kept the Tigers in the game. But, in the second, Franklin finally found the breakthrough.

A shot from the point by Stanley Carter was knocked down by Walsh and the puck sat in the crease for a second before Miller smartly tapped it to the left to a wide open Downie to finish into the open net.

“The defense threw it at the net,” said Miller, “and I was just kind of in front battling and he was where he was supposed to be on the back door.”

Downie added, “I was in the right spot and it just happened to pop out to me.”

Although the Tigers only managed five shots in all three periods and spent long stretches in the defensive zone, OA had several scoring chances. Senior Ben Litwack was left alone in the slot with four minutes left in the first but his shot was right into the pads of Nick Jasinski and early in the second Jared Costello sped forward and forced the goalie into another good kick save.

“At 1-0, they had some great chances and it easily could’ve been a 2-1 game for them,” said Spillane. “Nick’s been in there all year for us, he’s battle-tested, and he’s been making save after save for us.”

OA coach Mark Homer said, “I thought we were in survival mode too much during the game and maybe that comes with the inexperience we have, but I told the guys I don’t care if you’re a freshman or a senior if you’re on this team then we need to perform to their capabilities.”

Assad nearly doubled Franklin’s lead less than two minutes after Downie’s opener, but his great move to get past the defense ended with a shot ringing off the inside of the post.

Just 17 seconds into the third period, OA went on the power play, but the Tigers could not take advantage and did not get a shot on goal. Fifteen seconds after the penalty expired and with OA still pressed forward, a loose puck bounced onto the stick of Downie and he finished his breakaway to make it 2-0.

“It’s unfortunate because that was a good opportunity and we didn’t capitalize,” said Homer of the power play chance.

“The whole night we seemed to be playing too much in our own end. You’re facing a team that’s got fresh legs every shift with three or four lines…you get that energy that gets taken away.”

With 6:11 remaining the floodgates opened for the Panthers and it was another heads up play by Miller that broke it open. Freshman defenseman Kevin McKay fired a shot from the point that was blocked in front and Miller was first to react and flicked a shot past Walsh.

Brendan O’Reilly managed to make it 4-0 on a fluky goal after Walsh had saved the original chance. The puck was cleared off the Franklin player’s leg and looped over the stranded goalie. With just 42.5 left, Downie picked out Miller with a perfect pass on an odd-man rush and the sophomore tapped it in to complete the scoring.

Homer insisted this was a learning experience for the Tigers (3-2, 1-1) early in the season, including for his sophomore netminder, who is trying to fill the pads of graduated goalie Jimmy Tierney.

“He made some good stops early and kept us in the game,” said Homer of Walsh. “We need to work with him on controlling his rebounds because they got a lot off second or third opportunities…and that’s not entirely his fault.”

The Panthers (3-3-1, 1-0) are back to .500 after the win, but Franklin has also played a very difficult schedule that has included perennial powers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. According to Miller, the early competition has forced Franklin to improve quickly.

“It’s been a huge change,” he explained, “because we came in here and didn’t really know what to expect. We lost a lot of guys last year and so it’s definitely more than anyone expected.”

Spillane agreed there has been progress, but still expects more for Franklin to compete on the level it has come to expect. He said, “I knew we were going to be offensively challenged at the beginning of the year but we just need those guys to step up and finish some goals.”

OA will host Attleboro on Saturday, while Franklin will travel to Foxboro.

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

Wednesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/06/16

Today’s games are listed below.
Boys Basketball
Attleboro, 66 @ Durfee, 76 – Final – Attleboro was even with the Hilltoppers at the end of the first quarter but was outscored by 15 points over the second and third quarters. Jake Dunkley led the Bombardiers with 21 points and nine rebounds, Nate Douglas had 15 points and Kyle Murphy had 11 points and 15 rebounds. 
Girls Basketball
Attleboro, 74 vs. Durfee, 40 – Final – Attleboro let throughout, including a game-high 28 points from senior Emily Houle. Junior Sarah Deyo added 21 points and Samantha Pierce had 10 points. 

Mansfield, 35 @ Bishop Feehan, 45 – Final

Stoughton, 57 vs. Fontbonne, 68 – Final – The Black Knights got within three points in the third quarter but couldn’t complete the comeback. Alecia Quinones had a team-high 15 points and Ava Siegel had nine points for the Black Knights. 
Hockey
Milford, 1 @ Attleboro, 6 – Final – Jake Parker scored a hat trick and PJ Elliott had three assists for Attleboro. Milford’s Brian Ireland made 30 saves in goal. 

Canton, 2 @ King Philip, 1 – Final
Foxboro, 1 @ Taunton, 4 – Final

Oliver Ames, 0 @ Franklin, 5 – Final – Jake Downie and Jeremy Miller had two goals and an assist apiece to lead the Panthers. Brendan O’Reilly had the other goal for Franklin and Nick Jasinski recorded 15 saves for the shutout. OA goalie Zach Walsh made 30 saves in the loss. 

Stoughton, 1 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final
Wrestling
North Attleboro, 66 @ Mansfield, 6 – Final
Indoor Track (@ Reggie Lewis Center)
Boys
Attleboro 30 vs. Mansfield 70 – Final
Canton 25 vs. Stoughton 71 – Final
Franklin 32 vs. Taunton 68 – Final
Milford, 45 vs. Foxboro 55 – Final
King Philip 38 vs. North Attleboro 62 – Final
Oliver Ames 42 vs. Sharon 58 – Final
Girls
Attleboro 15.50 vs. Mansfield 84.50 – Final
Canton 64 vs. Stoughton 36 – Final
Franklin 72 vs. Taunton 28 – Final
Milford 38 vs. Foxboro 62 – Final
King Philip 36 vs. North Attleboro 64 – Final
Oliver Ames 44 vs. Sharon 56 – Final
Swimming
Boys
Foxboro, 58 @ Canton, 86 – Final
Franklin, 36 @ Taunton, 58 – Final
Mansfield, 97 @ Oliver Ames, 82 – Final
Sharon, 122 @ Milford, 48 – Final
Girls
Foxboro, 80 @ Canton, 86 – Final
Franklin, 60 @ Taunton, 34 – Final
Mansfield, 96 @ Oliver Ames, 79 – Final
Sharon, 78 @ Milford, 92 – Final
Gymnastics
Canton, 117.45 @ Sharon, 136.80 – Final
Girls Hockey
Canton, 0 @ Sandwich, 3 – Final
King Philip, 2 @ Franklin, 5 – Final
Stoughton, 0 vs. Cohasset/Hanover, 9 – Final