Milford Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive With Win at Canton

Milford baseball
Nate Irwin threw three scoreless innings of relief, including a two-on, no outs jam in the fifth to pick up the win. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – The tournament has started early for Milford. The Hawks entered Monday afternoon’s game with Davenport rival Canton sitting on 10 losses and needing six wins in a row to try and qualify for the postseason.

Milford got a little help from the Bulldogs to keep its playoff hopes alive, as seven Canton errors led to 10 unearned runs for the Hawks in a 14-6 victory. The Hawks lost a 5-0 lead and fell behind 6-5 in the fourth, but used a seven-run sixth inning (fueled in part by three errors) to break the game open.

“I think the important thing was we put the bat on the ball and put the ball in play and we took advantage of some miscues,” said Milford coach Paul Pellegrini. “If this was the fifth game of the year this might not have happened but the kids are starting to get it a little bit more as the year goes on.”

The visitors jumped out to a lead in the top of the first against Canton starter Sean Doyle. Alex Coady drew a one-out walk and scored on Aidan Wilde’s double to left center. Wilde was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Blake Hill singled to continue the inning and after a walk, a fly ball to left off the bat of Anthony Arcudi was dropped allowing the Hawks to take a 2-0 lead and setting the tone for a tough day in the field for the Bulldogs.

In the second, Milford added two more runs. Brian Ireland started the inning with a homer to right and a two-out walk to Coady would lead to another. Wilde was up next and was hit by a pitch and Hill drew a walk to load the bases. Zack Tamagni drew the inning’s third walk to earn an RBI.

Coady would make it 5-0 in the third with a two-out fielder’s choice that scored Ireland, but Canton rallied in the bottom half of the inning. Joe Peccia drilled a two-run homer to right to get the Bulldogs on the board.

In the fourth inning, Canton took its first lead. Kevin Monagle led off with a walk and Doyle followed with a single to right. After a wild pitch, Daniel Harnett hit into a fielder’s choice that scored one run, but Doyle got caught in a run down for the first out.

Matt Cassamento and Mike McMahon both singled to load the bases and a wild pitch brought in the second run of the inning. Peccia added his third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game at 5-5 and when Griffin Jerrier’s grounder was not fielded cleanly, Canton took the lead.

Another error led to another unearned run for Milford in the fifth and tied the game again.

“Of the 14 runs they scored, I think four or five were earned runs,” said Canton coach J.P. Scott. “We seemed to struggle to make the defensive plays. I think we’re a team that has to make all the defensive plays, we can’t make mistakes, to win in this league.”

Canton had a chance to regain the lead in the bottom of the fifth after Hill walked Jim Jenkins and Monagle with no outs. Milford turned to junior Nate Irwin, who induced a 6-3 double play from Doyle and a pop up into shallow left for Wilde to track down and end the threat. Irwin would allow only one hit and two base runners in three scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win.

“Nothing bothers him, just came out and he did his job,” said Pellegrini. “He doesn’t get upset, doesn’t bother him; he just comes out and does his job.”

The game was won in the sixth. Milford scored seven runs on three hits off Peccia, who took the mound in the fourth inning in relief of Doyle. Canton also made three errors in the inning, extending the at-bat for Milford and leading to 11 hitters coming to the plate in the frame.

With one out, back-to-back errors and a hit batter loaded the bases. Irwin hit a grounder towards third, but the attempt to get the lead runner was bobbled allowing everyone to reach safely. Chris Speroni’s grounder also got away from a fielder to bring in a second run. Coady singled to left and it was 9-6 for the Hawks with the bases still loaded.

Peccia struck out Wilde to get the second out, but he could not limit the damage, as Hill drilled a line drive double to right center that if not for the fence could still be traveling. The hit cleared the bases and Hill came home one batter later on a single by Tamagni.

“He’s been really killing the ball this year,” said Pellegrini of Hill. “I haven’t seen someone who hits the ball as hard as him in a long time.

“He hit a ball against Franklin that I still haven’t seen a ball hit that far at Fino. It hit the branches halfway up the tree at the ‘432’ sign and came down and hit the fence. It was a triple.”

Alex Macek doubled to start the seventh and would eventually score on a wild pitch to wrap ip the scoring for the Hawks (5-10, 5-9), who will need to win all five of their remaining games to earn a spot in the tournament.

“We’ve got some work ahead,” said Pellegrini. “We’re not giving up and we’ve got some tough games coming up, but if we hit the ball like that we’ll be okay.”

The loss could prove pivotal for the Bulldogs as well. Canton (6-9, 5-9) now needs to win four of its last five games to return to the postseason. Scott said, “It’s a question of desire and how much fight do we have.”

He continued, “I think we have the talent, just have to make sure everyone shows up ready to play… We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

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

Panthers Pounce Early, Hold Off Late Milford Push

Franklin baseball
Franklin senior shortstop Nick Santucci, who had three RBI, throws a runner out at first. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MILFORD, Mass. – After being shutout in its previous two games, Franklin wasted little time in finding offense on Saturday, plating seven runs in the first inning on the way to a 9-6 win over Milford.

The Panthers were shutout twice in a three day span but it took just two at bats for Franklin to score a run in the top of the first inning against the Scarlet Hawks. In total, the Panthers batted around in the first, sending 12 to the plate and using six hits to score seven runs.

“I do believe we have a good offensive baseball team and it was only a matter of time,” Franklin coach Zach Brown said. “The guys have been really diligent and working hard in the cages. I told them after the last game that being shutout two times in a row is kind of an anomaly for this group and that we were playing really clean baseball and getting good pitching. I felt if that continued, the wins would follow.”

Franklin senior Nick Santucci battled his way to a lead off walk and junior Jake Lyons belted an RBI triple on the third pitch he saw to go up 1-0. Ryan Hodgkins followed with a walk to put runners on the corners and catcher Tyler Gomes followed it up with a two run single. After a single from Josh Macchi and a walk to Brad Jarosz loaded the bases, Milford got their second out on a force at home. Alex Bissanti scored Macchi with a single and kept the bases loaded for Santucci, who ripped a two run single. Lyons picked up his second RBI of the inning in his second appearance at the plate with a single to score Bissanti.

“We just needed to have that one run and everybody kind of loosened up and started to hit,” Brown said.

The Panthers extended their lead two innings later in the top of the third inning. A lead off double from Mike Skaza put Franklin in good position. Bissanti’s sac bunt pushed Skaza to third and Santucci notched his third RBI of the game with his second hit of the game to make it 8-0.

Milford was able to chip into the deficit in the bottom of the inning though. After two near perfect innings from Franklin’s Skaza on the mound, a one out walk to Brian Ireland preceded Milford’s first hit, a single from lead off man Chris Speroni. Freshman Alex Coady batted his way to a walk to load the bases for sophomore Aidan Wilde. Wilde ripped the third pitch he saw into deep left center, clearing the bases to make it 8-3.

It didn’t take long for Franklin to respond, adding another run in the top of the fourth inning. Gomes led off with his second hit of the game – a double – and moved to third on a sac bunt from Joe Corsi to batters later. Jarosz grounded into a 6-3 out but it was enough to score Gomes from third to make it 9-3.

The Scarlet Hawks kept themselves in reach by adding two more runs in the fifth inning. Speroni’s fly ball down the left field line fell in and a walk to Coady put two on with no outs. Wilde knocked in his fourth run of the game with a hard his ball to score Speroni. Blake Hill then blasted a shot to right field, hitting a tree just inside the fence at Fino Field for an RBI triple.

Those two runs proved to be very helpful as the Scarlet Hawks put themselves in a position to complete the comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Speroni was the catalyst again, leading off with a single down the right field line and once again, Coady followed up with a walk. Wilde drew a walk on a full count to load the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate with no outs. Santucci, who took over for senior Ryan Morse on the mound after Morse was perfect in relief in the sixth inning, was able to get out of the jam.

First, Santucci induced a tough pop up in foul territory from Hill that was caught nicely by Macchi. A ground ball to second from Anthony Arcudi drove in one run but got the second out. Santucci then induced a line drive right at Macchi down the line for the third out and the save.

“The pop fly in foul grounds was the toughest of the plays and he did a great job,” Brown said. “[Josh] was actually under the weather today and were going back and forth on if he was going to play or not. But he was really he wanted to be out there and it worked out for us that he was.”

Skaza earned the win, scattering six hits with three strikeouts. Morse threw a scoreless sixth inning, needing just 11 pitches and Santucci got the save after allowing one run in the seventh.

“You can’t give up seven runs in the first inning, that’s for sure,” Milford head coach Paul Pellegrini said. “I give [Franklin] credit, they hit the pitches they should have. When you get behind batters, you tend to build confidence as a hitter and they did. Aidan [Wilde] left the ball up some and they took advantage of it. And we also had a couple of chances I thought to get out earlier in the inning and we just didn’t make the plays. It’s baseball and it happens.”

Milford turned to lefty Tylor Renaud after the first inning and the junior was very solid in relief, going six innings with just two runs surrendered. Renaud struck out six batters, issued three walks and allowed just three hits.

“Tylor loves the game, I wish I had 20 more of him on the team,” Pellegrini said. “For his size, he brings a lot to the table. He did a good job, he kept them off balance and did what I expect of him.”

For Franklin, Santucci led the Panthers with three RBI while Lyons and Gomes each knocked in a pair.

“Those guys have been pretty consistent throughout the course of the year,” Brown said. “Unfortunately we hadn’t been hitting a lot with runners in scoring position but it was good to see us get the line moving today and hopefully we can build off of it.”

Franklin baseball moves to 6-7 overall on the season and 5-5 in Hockomock play. The Panthers will try to make it two in a row when they host Attleboro on Monday. Milford drops to 3-9 overall, 3-8 in the league and will travel to Sharon on Monday.

Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Stoughton Rallies For Walk-off Win Against Milford

Stoughton junior Justin Hutchinson struck out a career-high 11 batters on Friday afternoon. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Stoughton junior Justin Hutchinson struck out a career-high 11 batters on Friday afternoon. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – The Black Knights’ baseball team hasn’t faced a deficit very often this season, nor have they played in many close games. They had to deal with both on Friday afternoon, but that wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing for head coach Mike Armour.

Stoughton rallied from a 3-1 deficit, scoring a run in each the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, the last being a walk-off hit by junior Jack Connelly to hand the Black Knights their sixth win of the season.

“It’s good to be in games like that and it’s nice to win games like that,” Armour said. “Not being in a lot of close games, I think you could see our guys were making more errors then we’ve made all year. Not to take anything away from Milford, their kid pitched a hell of a game and they came to play today. At the same time, we got down a couple of runs and it kind of took the wind out of us before we got it back.”

Senior Jake Gibb was the catalyst of the comeback, starting with a big defensive play. He threw out a Milford base runner trying to steal second to give Stoughton some momentum heading to the bottom of the fifth. Stoughton capitalized with leadoff man Pat Hagerty drawing a walk on a full count and advancing to second on an infield hit from Doug Seaman. Gibb followed up with an RBI single through the left side, playing Hagerty to make it 3-2.

Seaman made a nice play at shortstop to end the top of the sixth and Stoughton used that momentum to tie the game in the bottom half. Luke Johnson reached on a hard hit ball that got through at second base and Justin Hutchinson’s hit was bobbled at shortstop to put two on with no outs. After a sac bunt from Nick Quattrucci advanced the runners, Hagerty plated Johnson with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-3.

“Gibb kind of had his coming out party [offensively] against Foxboro early this week and since then he’s just been mashing the ball,” Armour said. “And then another senior captain, Doug Seaman came in on the soft hit ball and made the play in the sixth inning. In a one run game, that’s big time baseball. It’s nice to see good things happen to the kids who do all the right things.”

Hutchinson shined on the mound in his seventh inning of work in the top of the final inning. He needed just 11 pitches to notch his ninth, 10th and 11th strikeouts of the game to give the Black Knights a wave of momentum entering the bottom of the seventh.

“I think Hutch got into a little zone there [towards the end],” Armour said. “He’s the one guy wehave that can throw a lot of pitches, he’s kind of got a rubber arm. He was not coming out of the game. It was nice seeing him kind of stepping up to another level and he really dealt in the top of the seventh.”

Gibb helped finish the rally he started two innings earlier, leading the bottom half with a double. Senior Kyle Romaine came in as a pitch runner for Stoughton and Connelly connected on a 2-2 pitch, driving the ball into left field, right out of the reach of a diving Alex Coady for the winning run.

“The boys woke up,” Armour said. “There’s a lot of talent on the team, their a tight group, everybody gets along so they expected to win. It’s just nice to see good things happen because they do a lot of the little things. A lot of the things I ask, and a lot of the times I don’t even have to ask, they do those things. It’s just about putting it all together.”

Both teams scored in the first inning before the Scarlet Hawks pulled away through the middle innings. In the top of the first, Chris Speroni led off with a single, moved to second when Coady reached on an error and then scored on a two-out RBI single from Anthony Arcudi to make it 1-0.

Gibb drew a two out walk in the bottom of the first, moved to second on a wild pitch and then to third when the throw to second sailed into the outfield. A single from Connelly plated Gibb to tie the game 1-1 after an inning.

The Scarlet Hawks tacked on a run in both the third and fourth innings. Coady walked and moved to second after an errant pickoff throw. Blake Hill reached on a fielder’s choice and then a throwing error allowed Coady to scamper home from third. Milford’s third run came in the fifth after a leadoff single from Nick Johnson. A sac bunt from Brian Ireland pushed Johnson to second and he came in to score on a triple from Alex Macek.

Both starters pitched well, with Hutchinson earning the win in a complete game effort. Hutchinson struck out a career-high 11 batters, scattering six hits and issuing just two walks. Macek was strong in his season debut on the mound for the Scarlet Hawks, allowing just one run in five innings of work while striking out six.

“Stoughton did a good job, they capitalized on our inability to finish seven innings, that’s been our problem all year,” Milford coach Paul Pellegrini said. “We haven’t played great defense and it shows sometimes. We had a couple mistakes there in the sixth. Whether they were errors or not, the ball was in front of us so we have to make those plays. We just haven’t completed a game yet. We had a lead on OA late the other day and the same thing, we made errors. You can’t do that against teams that can play.

“This was Alex’s first time on the mound all year. He’s our go to guy too, and that’s been part of the problem is having our top three pitchers out all year. Alex looked good, he felt good and that’s what good pitchers do. That was good to see because we’re going to really nice him going forward. We’re not a bad team that’s for sure, we’re better than 2-7 but we just need to play some better defense to show that.”

Stoughton baseball improves to 6-2 overall, 6-1 in league play and will be back in action on Monday when they host King Philip in a battle of division leaders. Milford (2-6, 2-7) will look to bounce back the same day when they play host to Franklin.

Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Baseball: Davenport Division Preview 2016

Stoughton junior Ryan Sullivan will look to try and lead the Black Knights to the playoffs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Stoughton junior Ryan Sullivan will look to try and lead the Black Knights to the playoffs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

CANTON

2015 Record: 11-11
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: JP Scott

The Bulldogs graduated a handful of key pieces from last year’s team that reached the playoffs but they also return plenty of experienced players and hope to reach the playoffs again.

“The expectation for us is to have a successful season and make a run for a small Hock title,” Canton head coach JP Scott said. “But our main goal of the season will be to make it back to the state tournament like we did in 2015.”

Canton has 11 seniors on the roster this season led by captains Griffin Jerrier and Joe Peccia. Jerrier has plenty of experience on the bump while Peccia was second on the team last year with a .393 batting average. The Bulldogs also have their top batter back in Kevin Powers, who batted over .400 last year and drove in 15 runs in the season. Powers was also one of Canton’s top pitchers after logging over 40 innings in 2015.

Scott also brings back Jim Jenkins, Mike McMahon, Sean Doyle and Joe Bires, all which have starting experience. Junior Jackson Maffeo, fresh off a tremendous season on the ice, is expected to contribute in his first season on varsity.

FOXBORO

2015 Record: 4-16
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris Sullivan

After just four wins last year, the Warriors look poised to improve on that this year. Foxboro graduated just two seniors year last and have seven starters back for 2016.

“This is the hardest working and most dedicated group that has come through the school since I graduated in 2002,” head coach Chris Sullivan said. “We have a ton of guys who worked hard in the weight room, in the cages, and by playing competitive summer baseball this past offseason.”

Justin Garcia will lead a strong group of experienced pitchers. Garcia had a 1.54 ERA last season, striking out nearly 50 batters to rank near the top of the league. Colin Thoener, Darren Kelly and Aaron Wentling will also all see time on the mound this season.

Chad Bearce will likely handle first base while Garcia is on the mound while Darren Kelly and John Cronin will see time up the middle. Thoener will show off his defensive prowess at third and senior Nick Wright will return for his third season patrolling centerfield for Foxboro. AJ Cavossa, AJ Bubencik and Cam Feldman will all split the other outfield time and Jesse Galanti is back behind the plate for the third consecutive season.

MILFORD

2015 Record: 11-10
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Paul Pellegrini

After just getting into the postseason last year, Milford has key pieces back in key positions to try and keep their playoff streak alive.

“This team is a very athletic team with lots of versatility,” head coach Paul Pellegrini said. “If we put everything together, which I believe we will, we should be fun to watch. We will definitely be very competitive and strong team all around.”

One big reason that Milford has a shot at getting back there is sophomore Aidan Wilde, who led the league as a freshman in batting last year. He hit had 36 hits and hit .537 with 21 RBI and was selected as the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Junior Blake Hill has batted .360 over the past two years and will also be a key part of the Scarlet Hawks pitching staff.

Junior Alex Macek will be one of the more experienced pitchers in the Davenport and will be relied upon as Milford tries to replace Griffin Lynch and Alex Croteau. Brian Ireland, who also is the starting third baseman, will also get innings for Milford this season.

OLIVER AMES

2016 Record: 15-7
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Leo Duggan

Losing arguably the two top players in the league will be tough for Oliver Ames but the Tigers have been the class of the league in recent years and have reloaded year after year.

Oliver Ames has won six straight league titles but this season might be the biggest challenge. Hockomock MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Brendan Welch is off at SNHU now and Mike Ferrara, who set the single season hit record for the Tigers, is out at Worcester State.

However, Leo Duggan has infielder Chris Romero back to lead OA after batting .474 last year, good for fourth in the league. Romero gets it done at the plate, in the field and on the bases – stealing 18 bases last year. Romero will be joined by Josh Minuskin, who saw time all over the field last year and will settle in behind the plate in 2016.

Ryan Adams will be another key piece, playing in 18 games last year and batting .404 with 10 RBI. Sophomore Matt Muir also returns after a standout freshman year. Sam Burr, Kevin Geary, Mitchell Goulet and Nick Zwerle should all see some innings on the mound this season.

Sharon

2015 Record: 6-14
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kee Arguimbau

For the first time in nearly a half a century, there will be a new head coach for the Sharon Eagles baseball team. After 44 years at the helm, Joel Peckham retired after last season and assistant Kee Arguimbau has taken the reigns.

Senior Isaac Miley will be a leader that Arguimbau will rely on all over the place. He’s been on varsity since his sophomore year and is returns as the starting shortstop this season and will be one of the program’s top pitchers.

Senior Mark Botaish will also see a lot of time on the mound and will man third base when he’s not pitching. Arguimbau noted Botaish’s strong junior season and is hoping that will be built on this year. Andrew Filipkowski is back in the outfield for his third season and will be relied upon to get the offense started from the leadoff spot.

Junior Jake Marglous is back at catcher again this season and classmate Aiden Arnold is back to man first base. Arnold was also one of the Eagles’ top hitters last season and will help pace the offense this year. Arguimbau also expect contributions from Rob Bayha, Mike Dumont, Jordan Chabot, Ryan Crooks and Spencer Singer.

Stoughton

2015 Record: 9-11
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Armour

The Black Knights came up just short of the postseason last year but return a strong core and are poised to punch their ticket to the playoffs in 2016.

“With a mix of experience and youth, we are looking to field a competitive team this season that should be able to compete with anybody,” head coach Mike Armour said.

Jake Gibbs has been one of the top players in the league the last two seasons and will look to do the same during his senior year behind the plate. Junior Ryan Sullivan showed a lot on the mound last season and will see a lot of innings along with juniors Justin Hutchinson and Nico Parmeggiani and senior Barry Cooke.

Armour is looking for Doug Seaman to take on an expanded role during his senior season after being limited to just hitting last season. Junior Jack Connelly will man first base for the Black Knights while Joe Piana will see time at third base. Expect Chris McNulty, Nick Quattrucci, Matt Gallagher, Luke Johnson, Michael Batte to all see time in the field while Jared Maher will log some innings on the mound.

The 2016 Hockomock Hockey All Stars & HMs

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

Hockomock League MVP

Mark Sheehan, Stoughton

Hockomock League All Stars

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

Honorable Mentions

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

Second Period Surge Lifts Attleboro Over Scarlet Hawks

Attleboro's PJ Elliott is tripped up as he takes the puck to the net. Elliott had three assists. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Attleboro’s PJ Elliott is tripped up as he takes the puck to the net. Elliott had three assists. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
TAUNTON, Mass. – After a scoreless first period, Attleboro scored the all important first goal in the second period less than a minute in, added three more in the frame and skated to a 6-1 over Milford.
Milford goalie Brian Ireland made 10 his 30 saves in the first period while Attleboro goalie Tim Gile stopped 12 of his 17 saves in the opening frame. The best chance from either side came when Bombardiers junior PJ Elliott rang the post with a wrist shot with just over six minutes to go.
“The first period went really well,” Milford head coach Mike Balzarini said. “We had two solid days of practice and really focused on breaking down d-zone coverage and making sure guys were where they were supposed to be. And it was evident int he first period, the shots were even too. We made sure we were sound defensively first then transitioned into offense.”
On the other side, Attleboro head coach Mike Cripps wasn’t too pleased with being level after the first 15 minutes.
“We weren’t too happy going to the locker room after that first period,” Cripps said. “We came out a little flat to start despite coming off two good games. That was pretty much our message in the locker room, you better come out with some intensity.”
The Bombardiers had the opportunity to cash in right away as they had 35 seconds of man advantage to start the second period. It took nearly all of that time but Attleboro was able to take advantage of the power play. Senior Keagin Larkin had his shot saved by Ireland but the rebound was batted in by Parker to put Attleboro up 1-0.
Attleboro’s offense was able to keep Ireland busy for the next six minutes, evan forcing a kick save off a double deflection and then a rebound save to rob Nick Miniati with just over nine minutes remaining in the second period.
“Four mistakes in the third period cost us four goals,” Balzarini said.
But inside a four minute span, Attleboro was able to find the back of the net three times to create a big cushion heading into the final period. First, the Bombardiers caught Milford’s defense in a long chance and used a two on one with Elliott feeding Miniati for a tap in with 8:53 left. Two minutes later, the Scarlet Hawks were once caught in a long change after a turnover in the neutral zone with Elliott picking off a pass and finding Parker right on the doorstep to make it 3-0.
“They’ve been clicking well all year,” Cripps said. “Elliott has led us in points and the two of them have some good chemistry.”
Just over a minute later with a man advantage, with a face off in the attacking zone after Milford was called for a penalty, the Bombardiers added another goal to their lead. Just five seconds into the power play, Parker was wide open in the slot and ripped a shot upstairs for Attleboro’s second power play goal of the period.
“We’ve been working on [the power play] quite a bit and that unit’s finally kind of gelling after six games,” Cripps said. We had some success in the last game too. That group is starting to calm down and take their time, realizing they have a minute and a half to use.”
Sam Larkin added a fifth goal for Attleboro in the final period after picking up a loose puck along the nearside boards, skating to between the circles and firing a low shot through traffic. Mitchell Caruso capped Attleboro’s scoring with just under two minutes to go after a deflected shot beat Milford freshman goalie Matt Shaver. Shaver had four saves over the final four minutes, including a glove save on an open shot from Larkin.
Milford was able to get onto the scoreboard with just under five seconds to play on a great individual effort from sophomore RJ Stansbury. Stansbury weaved his way through through a pair of defensemen and then beat Gile.
Attleboro (4-2-1, 1-0) picked up its third straight win and will look to make it four when they travel to Asiaf Arena on Saturday night to take on Oliver Ames at 8:10. Milford (0-5, 0-1) will look to try and break into the win column the same day when they host North Attleboro at 5:30 at Blackstone Valley Ice Arena.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Hockey: Davenport Division Preview – 2015-2016

DSC_0085_2
By HockomockSports.com Staff

CANTON

2014-2015 Record: 16-6-1
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Final
Coach: Brian Shuman
The Bulldogs will look to write a new chapter in their jam-packed history book as they will play their home games at the Canton SportsPlex this season after a roof collapse at Metropolis last season.
That isn’t the only change for Canton this season as they will have to overcome the graduation of many seniors, including Brian Hagan, and the transfers of John Femia and Jerry Harding. The good news is that Brian Shuman returns a bulk of talent including Matt Lazaro, the team’s leading goal scorer the past two seasons.
Also back is last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Jackson Maffeo to power the blue line, goalie Justin Slocum, entering his third year as Canton’s starting goalie, junior forward Shaun Kirby (28 points last season) and senior Jim Jenkins, who has impressed so far in the preseason according to Shuman.
“We have a lot of new faces in the program, so getting the new players acclimated to the varsity level pace of play will be the challenge early on,” Shuman said. “We need to find some balanced scoring this year, as well as get our forwards to play in all three zones – not just the O-zone. Defensively, it starts with Justin Slocum. We’re hoping for a big year out of him. We also need some guys to step up and round out the top five defensively.”   

FOXBORO

2014-2015 Record: 3-12-3
2014-2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jim Genovese
The Warriors only graduated five skaters (and one backup goalie) from last year’s team and will be looking to make big strides this season.
Leading scorer Peter Smith is back and head coach Jim Genovese is looking for a big offensive season out of the junior after his 11 goal season as a sophomore. Mike Carresi, another player who impressed last year as a sophomore, is back and is looking to improve on his seven goal campaign.
Junior John Cronin, who has been the starter since midway through his freshman year, is back for another year between the pipes after 333 saves last year. Defensively the Warriors are going to rely on youth with sophomore Aidan Sullivan, junior John Brolin and three freshmen joining in.
“We look good up front with the top two lines of returning players,” Genovese said. “This league is tough and for us, we have to come to the rink every night and play mistake free hockey. We don’t have the numbers in our program like some of the other schools so we need to be ready and bring the same intensity every night. I’m excited to get started.”

MILFORD

2014-2015 Record: 13-8-1
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Balzarini
Anytime you are coming off the best season in program history, there is a lot of pressure to follow up. That challenge is going to be a lot harder for head coach Mike Balzarini as he only has 11 total players, two of which are goalies.
After limiting eventual D2 State Champion Westwood for the majority of the game in the D2 South Quarterfinal at Asiaf last season, it looked like it was just the beginning for the Scarlet Hawks. Instead, a mix of transfers, players going to juniors and a handful of players not returning leaves Milford in a tough spot.
The good news is that Milford has senior goalie Brian Ireland back for his third year as starter and he is one of the best netminders in the league. Senior forward Jonathan Chase will be one of the top offensive options, RJ Stansbury is back after an impressive freshman campaign, senior Spencer Lathrop will be another player that will be relied on heavily for the Scarlet Hawks and sophomore Jacob Balzarini – who has a high hockey IQ – will be a good two way player for Milford.
“We’re going to have to be patient,” head coach Mike Balzarini said. “The kids have really put in a lot of effort and we’re going have to stay positive throughout the whole season.”

OLIVER AMES

2014-2015 Record: 9-9-3
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Mark Homer
If there was one (Davenport) team that had the most to replace, it would be Oliver Ames. Besides Franklin graduating over 20 seniors from its Super 8 team, the Tigers have to somehow fill the void left by former HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Tyler Provost, 30-point player Tim Doherty and three time HockomockSports.com Goalie of the Year Jimmy Tierney. And on top of that, 13 other seniors were lost to graduation.
Yet there is a lot of optimism around this year’s Tigers hockey team. Matt Mancini (six points last year) will move up to the first line along with former Stoughton player Ben Litwack (three points). Oliver Ames will rely on a pair of sophomores – Eric LeBlanc and Owen Gallagher – to pair up with freshman Cullen Gallagher to provide an attacking punch. Jared Costello is back for his third year and will be a leader on defender after the Tigers lost five defensemen to graduation.
“We will take one practice and one game at a time and will continue to improve as a team moving forward in the season,” OA head coach Mark Homer said. “We need to get better each day and work on things that will develop us to becoming a competitive program in the Hock.”

STOUGHTON

2014-2015 Record: 1-18-3
2014-2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dan Mark
It might have taken until the last game to get the first win last season but the Black Knights already have three points in two games this season and there is a lot of promise in this years squad.
Mark Sheehan is lacing his skates up for the Black Knights for the fourth year and will be a big part as Stoughton makes a push for the playoffs. As a Hockomock League All Star last season, Sheehan will be a vital part in getting a young Stoughton team going. Eoin Doherty is another player that is entering his fourth year on varsity for the Black Knights and should anchor the defense. Junior Jon Lessa has shown flashes over the past two years and could be a strong contributor for Stoughton.
“We are still a young team, skating eight freshmen and sophomores, but we are returning many veteran players,” head coach Dan Mark said. “Our strength should be several returning players who have played varsity for three or more years.”

Hockey: Ten Players to Watch in 2015-2016

Brian Ireland
Milford goalie Brian Ireland will be counted on to backstop the Hawks this season is a player to watch in 2015-16. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Keagin Larkin, Attleboro – The Bombardiers made an improbable run to the Div. 3 South semifinal last season and one of the reasons for their success was the play of Larkin in the tournament. The senior forward returns as one of Attleboro’s biggest threats on offense. He scored seven goals and had 17 assists last year and he will hope to be able to create scoring opportunities along with P.J. Elliott and Jake Parker. Larkin has good stick skills and is tenacious in the attacking zone, both in the corners and crashing the net. If Larkin can stay healthy, Attleboro could get the chance to surprise some more people in the tournament.

Matt Lazaro, Canton – Over the past two seasons, Lazaro has been the top Canton’s top goal scorer and the former HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year is primed for another super season. He scored 24 goals (and 16 assists) in his sophomore campaign and had 26 goals (and 17 assists) last season, both a team-high. He doesn’t score with power but his speed can cause havoc for defenses and he’s able to sneak by a lot of defenders. Once he gets in close, he’s one of the toughest forwards to try and stop if you’re a goalie.
Jackson Maffeo, Canton – The reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year returns to man the blue line for the preseason favorite to win the league title. Maffeo is a smooth defenseman with puck skills and late last season he became much more aggressive looking for his own shot from the point. Now in his third year on varsity, Maffeo reads the play as well as anyone in the league and has become more physical over the past two seasons. The Bulldogs remain one of the contenders for the DIv. 2 South title and, considering some losses on the forward lines, the defense could be a major reason why. Maffeo is now a veteran in the program and he will be expected to be a leader out on the ice.
Tyler Oakes, Franklin – The senior defenseman is a newcomer to the Franklin program after spending time with the South Shore Kings last season. For the Kings, Oakes played 23 games and scored a goal and an assist. He is a little bit of an unknown for the coaches and the rest of the Hockomock but Franklin coach Chris Spillane said that he is a solid offensive defenseman that will step right in and contribute. After losing 21 players to graduation, Franklin needed someone to step in and Oakes could prove to be the right player to help fill in for the hole left by Mason Saunders and Kyle Filbert, both of whom liked to push forward into the attacking zone. Oakes’s return could be perfect timing for the Panthers.
Collin Cooke, King Philip – The sophomore forward is coming off an impressive rookie season in which he total double digits in goal (11) and assists (10). Cooke, who also played for the U-16 South Shore Kings, has strong stick skills and speed to burn. He showed the ability to fight in the corners and to find his way to the dangerous areas in front of the goal. Not every scoring opportunity had to be a pretty one on the break, which is impressive for a young player. Now that he has acclimated to the pace and physicality of the varsity game, Cooke could be in for an even bigger season this winter under new coach Paul Carlow.
Matt Farragher, Mansfield – The Hornets head into another season as one of the favorites to challenge Franklin in the Kelley-Rex and Farragher is one of the players that will be counted on to pour in the goals for Mansfield. Coming off a season in which he was named an honorable mention for all-star by the league’s coaches. He emerged as one of the team’s top scorers as a sophomore and could be ready for a breakout season along with fellow juniors Pat Sunderland and Chad Piotti, as the Hornets turn to the next crop of talented forwards.
Brian Ireland, Milford – There aren’t too many returning starting goalies this year but Brian Ireland is one of them and he’s got a lot of experience under his belt. After seeing minimal time his freshman year, Ireland has been the main man for the Scarlet Hawks the last two years and will be in the role — maybe even more so — this year. He has five shutouts over the past two seasons and had 1,002 saves coming into the season this year. He improved his GAA by nearly a half a point from his sophomore to junior seasons. He’s quick moving side to side and reads the play well and get position himself well.
Erik Clements, North Attleboro – The Rocketeers will be looking to try to replace all of the offense that graduated with Sean Young but head coach Steve Snizek has plenty of options and that includes junior Erik Clements, now in his third varsity season. There are a lot of experienced Rocketeers that will require attention but Clements is a big, strong forward that not only can power his way forward but is also shifty. He has 18 career goals in his two years while his 20 career assists shows he’s more than just a player focused on putting the puck in the net. If he gets an open shot it will be trouble for opposing goalies.
Mark Sheehan, Stoughton – Stoughton hasn’t had a lot of wins over the past couple of seasons but senior Mark Sheehan has been a bright spot for head coach Dan Mark. He’s had a team-best 30 points over the past two seasons, including 14 goals in his sophomore year. With the puck on his stick, Sheehan is one of the fastest players on the ice and has no fear of going right at defensemen. Whether he chooses to just blow by them or go through them with a deke is what makes him hard to handle for opponents. He has a good shot too and is already off to a good start with three goals in two games this season.
Nick Terry, Taunton – Although Terry is a junior, he already has three years of varsity experience for the Tigers after playing as an eighth grader. Each year, Terry has improved his skating and positioning and it has shown with his play. Through three years, Terry has three goals as a defenseman and 25 assists so far. Terry’s ability to read the play and force a turnover and then has improved his puck moving skills to get the offense in gear. During his junior season we could see an increase in scoring if Terry can get up the ice.

Black Knights Start on High Note With Big Win

Stoughton junior captain Jon Lessa fires a wrist shot in the third period against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Stoughton junior captain Jon Lessa fires a wrist shot in the third period against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief

BROCKTON, Mass. – Even though it was just the second period of the first game of the year, there were some positive takeaways for Stoughton.

After the Black Knights extended their lead to two goals with 6:19 to play in the middle period, Milford responded within 30 seconds to grab the momentum and cut the deficit to one.

But this year’s Stoughton showed resiliency, battling to gain the momentum back, scoring the all important next goal in the final two minutes of the second period and taking care of business in the third period to open the season with a 5-1 win over the Scarlet Hawks.

“That was huge,” Stoughton head coach Dan Mark said of the late second period goal. “In past years, we’ve fallen apart. We’ve been up two goals, like against Attleboro and Foxboro last year, and normally we fall apart. We didn’t fall apart and I thought our guys played hard.”

Despite a 13-6 advantage in shots and two big chances, the Black Knights headed to the locker room in scoreless tie at the first intermission. Milford’s Jonathan Chase made a nice move just 90 seconds into the game but his bid at the near post was stuffed by Stoughton freshman goalie AJ Scott (16 saves).

The Black Knights had two chances back to back in one sequence but Milford goalie Brian Ireland (30 saves) came up big both times. First Ireland got his pad down for a kick save on chance from Jon Lessa and then after the puck cycled around, Lessa had a open wrist shot right in the slot but Ireland got the handle of his stick in the way to push it over.

“He’s very good, he had a lot of shots against him and played well,” Mark said of Ireland. “Their whole Milford team played really hard, I give them a lot of credit.”

It didn’t take long for Stoughton to take the lead in the second period, finding the back of the net just over two minutes into the period. Senior captain Mark Sheehan picked up possession in the corner, skated towards the front of goal and tucked it in past Ireland to make it 1-0.

Stoughton doubled its lead with 6:19 left when Lessa found junior Ryan Chipman out in front for the one timer.

That’s when Milford snatched the momentum back. Just 22 seconds later, Milford’s RJ Stansbury centered a pass that eighth grader Griffin Burns hit one time to find the back of the net to make it 2-1.

From there, the Black Knights were able to overcome any push from Milford and with with 1:49 left, Stoughton freshman Carter Gerome notched his first career goal right in front to get the two goal cushion back. Since the Scarlet Hawks only had nine skaters, Stoughton knew the third period would be a time to use their skating to push the pace.

“We told the kids to keep playing hard until the end,” Mark said. “We actually had a couple captains speak up because they’ve experienced [losing the lead] before. They spoke up in the locker room to push in the third period.”

To seal the deal, Stoughton’s Sheehan sent in a centering pass less than a minute into the third period that deflected off a skate and in, leaving no chance for Ireland. Lessa added a fifth goal right in front off a feed from Donnie Foley with 6:17 left in the third.

“It’s going to be a learning process trying to figure out if we can move guys from defense to forward and double shift and things like that,” Milford head coach Mike Balzarini said. “As far as the nine skaters we had, I thought we did a good job and the kids never gave up. Even when we were down in the third period the kids didn’t give up. As far as the effort I’ve very pleased. There’s always room for improvement, even with just nine guys.

Stoughton (1-0) matches its win total from last year and will try to make it two when they travel to Stoughton on Monday night. Milford (0-1) will look to break into the win column on Wednesday when they host Attleboro.

“This is great,” Mark said. “We didn’t win until our last game last year and the kids liked the feeling of winning. I think it’s great for the kids, it’s great for them. It’s great to get a win early in the season.”

Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.