The 11th-seeded Panthers built a two-goal lead after a period and appeared to add another over halfway through the second period.
Just before Shane McCaffrey released his shot, a referee blew his whistle on a delayed penalty against seventh-seeded Catholic Memorial. While Franklin was heading onto the power play, it had a clear goal taken away.
And then the Knights used an aggressive penalty kill to score a shorthanded goal. And just minutes later, Catholic Memorial scored another shorthanded goal, and suddenly the game was 2-2 late in the second period.
But these Panthers have seen just about everything this season, and found ways to fight back. That’s just what they did, going back in front with less than a minute to go in the second period.
Franklin tacked on an insurance goal early in the third and scored an empty netter in the final minutes to secure an upset 5-2 win over Catholic Memorial in the D1 South Semifinals.
“It’s a credit to the boys in the locker room, how hard they fight, they never gave up,” said Franklin head coach Chris Spillane. “The seed doesn’t matter, it’s what you do on the ice that matters.”
The Panthers, who qualified for the state tournament by winning the Hockomock League’s Kelley-Rex division, will take on top-seeded Duxbury in the D1 South Final. Franklin previously knocked off #6 Falmouth and #3 Mansfield while the Dragons defeated #5 Barnstable, 3-2, in double overtime.
At the midway point of the first, the Panthers went on their first power play but only managed one shot before getting whistled for an interference call to make it four-on-four. Franklin didn’t let its penalty kill the momentum.
Falvey found sophomore Joe LeBlanc at the blue line, and he shuffled the puck over to junior Tom Tasker. Tasker ripped a hard shot through traffic and past CM goalie Henry O’Brien, with Elliott providing a screen in front. Franklin led 1-0 with 6:27 left in the first.
Just two minutes later, the Panthers doubled their lead behind a terrific hustle play by senior CJ Spillane. Spillane blocked a shot at the blue line from one CM defensemen, beat the other CM defenseman in a foot race to the loose puck, and went in alone on a breakaway before depositing his wrist shot past O’Brien’s blocker for a 2-0 advantage with 4:11 to play in the first.
The Panthers nearly had a third in the final seconds of the period but O’Brien was able to get just enough of his pad onto a low shot from the blue line off the stick of Matt D’Errico. And on the rebound. Kyle Hedvig tossed a shot towards goal from the corner, and the puck bounced off the inside of O’Brien’s leg and out the other side.
Franklin goalie Ray Ivers (30 saves) had a strong game throughout, including a big save just a minute into the second. Franklin’s defensemen slipped allowing CM junior Owen Brady a chance in close but Ivers stood tall.
A minute later, the Knights had a two-on-one break, and Jack Curran elected to shoot but Ivers made the glove stop without giving up a rebound.
CM went on the power play with 8:54 left in the second but the Panthers got the kill. Falvey killed some time with a trip into the offensive zone, and Colin Hedvig had a clearance to kill off more time. The Panthers nearly grabbed a shorthanded goal when Spillane forced a turnover in the offensive zone, but O’Brien made a terrific glove save in close.
Kyle Hedvig and Joey Lizotte combined in the offensive zone, finding McCaffrey in front and he buried his chance but it was waved off in favor of a delayed penalty against CM. The Panthers couldn’t get a clean clear from the defensive zone, and Chris Rooney linked up with Will MacNeil to get the Knights on the board with 4:15 left in the second.
Franklin went on the power play with 3:42 left and cross check on CM was going to set up a 5-on-3 but the Panthers were whistled for a matching penalty to cancel the cross check out. The Knights got the offensive zone faceoff and Rooney made them pay, winning the faceoff then roofing his shot to make it 2-2 with 2:18 left in the second.
Back-to-back slashing calls within10 seconds gave Franklin a 5-on-3 opportunity for the final minute of the second. The Panthers took advantage as Tasker’s rebound fell in front of goal and Kyle Hedvig poked the loose back through the five-hole to put Franklin back up, 3-2, with 46 seconds left in the second.
“I think we found a team identity [down the stretch],” Spillane said. “For the past month, this is pretty much the team we’ve had. Where it was for the first month and a half, I couldn’t tell you but I’m glad we found it. It wasn’t pretty all the time tonight but it was effective. We don’t have a lot of pure goal scorers so we have to grind every inch of the ice and I thought we did that well minus the two shorthanded goals. Five on five, I thought we pretty much eliminated their quality opportunities, I thought we did a nice job.”
Franklin got an insurance goal just over three minutes into the third period. LeBlanc fired a shot from the blue line and Lizotte got just enough of his stick on the high shot to redirect it in as he skated past the front of the net.
“I just put my stick up, I saw it at the last second,” Lizotte said. “Luckily I’m so short it wasn’t a high stick.”
“Even that fourth goal, smallest kid on the team, he’s got that stick up by his shoulders, it’s a good goal,” Spillane said. “Anyone else on the team, it’s probably a high stick, so we’ll take it.”
Catholic Memorial had a chance to pull within one when it went on the power play a minute later but the Panthers didn’t surrender any big scoring chances and forced the Knights to take a penalty with 10 seconds left.
Franklin didn’t muster much up on the man advantage as O’Brien handled Franklin’s one good shot off the stick of Cam Cassella.
Ivers came up big again with 4:16 left, making a nice stop on Curran and then handling the rebound bid from Brady.
With the goalie pulled at 2:38, Colin Hedvig got a clearance for the Panthers, Falvey had a shot go just wide of the net and Ivers made a stop on Tommy Rooney.
After a battle in the neutral zone, McCaffrey came away with the puck and deposited a shot from distance to make it 5-2.
“One of the last games of the season we played LaSalle, we were down two goals and we came back and won it,” Lizotte explained. “That was a big confidence boost and every since then we’ve gone with it. I love this team. We’ve been through it all year, we’ve had a tough schedule from the start of the year. We got each other’s backs, and that’s what we did tonight. It felt really good.”
Franklin boys hockey (12-9-4) will square off with #1 Duxbury (20-4-0) on Sunday, back at Gallo Ice Arena, at 6:15.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – When the teams headed into the lockerroom for the halftime break, it looked as if the game was headed to a classic Franklin-Catholic Memorial finish that would come down to the final minutes.
But instead, Franklin came out swinging in the third quarter, outscoring the Knights 28-15 in the frame en route to a 74-60 win for the Panthers.
The third quarter started out similar to the first half as a back and forth affair. CM’s Kani Glover (seven points) opened the scoring up for the Knights, but Franklin sophomore Chris Edgehill (eight points) quickly responded with a three for the Panthers.
Anthony Morales (ten points, eight rebounds) responded back with a layup off a feed from Jarrett Martin (nine points). Jack Rodgers (career-high 18 points, four rebounds, five assists) scored for Franklin down the other end, and Martin hit an athletic layup seconds later to put CM up 37-36 with 6:03 left in the third quarter.
But from the 6:03 mark to the end of the third, Franklin finished with a 23-7 run that included five points apiece from Paul Rudolph (seven points off the bench) and Alex Klowan (eight points and four rebounds off the bench). At the end of the quarter, Edgehill buried a three from just inside half court as time expired to give Franklin a 13-point cushion to end the quarter.
“Chris’ three was huge, you don’t see that coming, it definitely brings a huge momentum into the fourth quarter, the guys were excited in the huddle, so we were ready to go,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely about Edgehill’s three at the end of the third.
Franklin got off to a fast start as they held a 15-11 edge at the end of the first quarter. Rodgers had eight of his 18 in the first frame, while Jalen Samuels (nine points, ten rebounds) chipped in four points.
Catholic Memorial came back with 20 points in the second quarter, behind six points off two threes from Will McDonnell and seven points from Jarron Flynn (team-high 15 points, five assists, five rebounds). Matt Elias (14 points including four threes, five rebounds) had six points off of two threes for Franklin in the quarter.
One of the keys for Franklin was their senior leadership, as 57 of their 74 points came from seniors, including 18 from Rodgers, 14 from Elias, and ten from Paul Mahon (who also contributed seven rebounds and four assists). In addition, Klowan and Rudolph brought a spark off the bench, as both played big roles in Franklin’s third-quarter run that helped them put the game away.
“They’ve definitely seen CM before, so they know the deal, I think when you don’t play them you don’t get that type of refresher, they’re one of only a few teams than can press you like that and bother you, and when you haven’t seen it you get guys all over you and you can a little nervous throwing the ball around, but they knew it was coming, and we woke up this morning expecting pressure, so now they know it’s coming, they’ve seen it before, so I think it was huge to have them, and then Jalen and Chris have been in a lot of games for us in big moments, so they might as well be seniors at this point,” Neely added about Franklin’s senior leadership.
Since this was an exclusion game for Franklin, it will not count toward their tournament record. The Panthers (2-1 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) are scheduled to take on Oliver Ames (4-2) in their first Kelley-Rex matchup Friday night in Easton.
The Knights (3-3) will face Malden Catholic on the road on Friday Night. Franklin beat Malden Catholic 62-38 in a recent tournament game.
WEST ROXBURY, Mass. – Even though it’s been a nearly a decade, Stoughton senior lineman John Jolley vividly remembers the last time he found himself in the end zone scoring a touchdown.
He was just nine years old, playing Pop Warner.
Jolley isn’t likely to forget Stoughton’s 28-14 win on the road at Catholic Memorial anytime soon either.
On the last play of the first half, the 6’2, 220-pound defensive end was in the right place at the right time, coming up with an interception and returning it 72-yards for a pick six.
Not only was it a once in a lifetime play for a high school lineman, it was a play that completely changed the momentum, and possibly the outcome, of the game.
Stoughton’s defense held the Scarlet Knights to just 21 yards over the first three series of the game, but Catholic Memorial was in the midst of putting together its best drive of the half.
CM had rattled off eight plays, covering 61 yards to get into Stoughton territory with just five seconds to play. When the Scarlet Knights trotted out its kicking unit for a long field goal, Stoughton head coach Greg Burke used his first timeout of the half to ice the kicker.
With Stoughton up 7-0, first-year CM head coach Brent Williams elected to send his offense back out to try and tie the game on the final play.
Stoughton ended up getting pressure into the backfield and senior Jason Joseph made a huge play, hitting CM quarterback Nick Goffredo as he threw. The ball fluttered out of his hands and right to Jolley, who caught the ball and sprinted 72 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw someone come off the back side and hit the quarterback and the ball popped up and I just grabbed it and started running,” Jolley said. “I was looking back while running and saw my teammates so I knew I was going to score cause they’d throw good blocks.”
“Jolley was there, I don’t even know how far that run was,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “That’s pretty impressive for a big guy to get down there. It started with the sack and the ball popped up.”
And if you needed any more reassurance of just how big the play was, Stoughton was flagged on the play because its bench ran down the sideline in celebration of the big play.
And in a rare instance, Burke was fine was the penalty.
“That’s high school!” Burke beamed.
That interception was just one play in what was a very solid outing for the Black Knights’ defense. CM scored on its last two drives of the game, but its first five series ended in the following: fumble/turnover on downs, punt, punt, pick six and turnover on downs.
“It was pretty steamy out there, first half I thought we did real well on their run game,” Burke said. “They’re a big tough team, they probably didn’t think much of us. Their quarterback was our top priority, especially on scrambling. The end was a little hairy but we’ve got some tough kids. I was really happy, I thought we did pretty well when they came at us.
“This was a good 20-25% better than last week. We had a couple penalties, maybe. And we filled up some holes better inside. We got lit up a little bit inside and today [CM] didn’t get much inside.”
Stoughton’s offense also had a strong day, with four of its six drives resulting in double-digit plays run. Another was cut short by an interception, and its final drive of eight plays ended with the final seconds ticking off the block.
“That was it for us,” Burke said of the long drives. “If we can do that [consistently], we’re going to win a lot of games. We have to be able to run the ball but defenses have to be able to cover both. We can run our offense out of both sets. We can run pass plays or run plays from both sets so that helps us.”
The Black Knights were set to receive the opening kickoff but CM’s Will Fay blasted his kick off a Stoughton player and recovered the kick to give the Scarlet Knights the first possession. But on a fourth down in Stoughton territory, Alex Sjoquist came up with a strip sack with the ball bouncing out of bounds to give the Black Knights the ball.
Stoughton used a 12-play, 64-yard drive to take the lead. Highlighted by first-down runs of 10-yards and 12-yards by Justin Ly (16 carries, 77 yards), the Black Knights went up 7-0 on an eight-yard scamper by Alex Iverson on a counter play with just 14 seconds left in the first quarter.
The game stayed scoreless until Jolley’s pick six right before halftime. The bench penalty forced Stoughton back on the conversion and the two-point attempt was knocked away in the end zone.
“It was a huge momentum shift,” Jolley said. “If we got into the half tied and they’re getting the ball back, it’s a completely different came. But instead of 7-7, it was 13-0 and it was huge for us right at the end of the half.”
Stoughton’s defense started the second half as it did the first half, forcing a turnover on downs on CM’s first offensive possession. And its offense also had a repeat of the first half, taking its first possession to the end zone.
Ly’s game-long 18-yard run got the drive started early and eventually, Stoughton found itself on the CM 11-yard line. It looked as though Stoughton had a touchdown on fourth down, but an offensive offside call negated the score and pushed Stoughton back five yards.
Stoughton came up short of the end zone on the next play, but did get the ball to the 1-yard line on a pass from Evan Gibb (12/16, 137 yards, six carries, 30 yards) to Ruben Gonzalez (six catches, 79 yards) for a first down. Gibb then punched it in on a sneak and then found Sjoquist for the two-point conversion and a 21-0 lead with 5:18 left in the third quarter.
CM finally got on the board with under two minutes to play in the third, when Goffredo hit Khari Johnson in the flat. A bad snap on the extra point attempt resulted in a try for a two-point that failed.
The Black Knights did a nice job responding, putting together a 10-play, 58-yard drive that took up nearly six minutes (5:57) of the clock. Gibb’s completion of 23 yards to Iverson on a first down surprised the Scarlet Knights and was the longest play of the drive. Sjoquist punched it on an 8-yard toss with 6:41 to play.
The Scarlet Knights scored on its final drive of the game. Goffredo floated one to the left side of the end zone and Franklin native Jarrett Martin absolutely climbed a ladder to win a jump ball for a 24-yard touchdown. CM converted the two-point conversion.
Stoughton then ran eight plays to kill the final 3:55 and all of CM’s timeouts.
“Being 2-0 right now with practically 99% of these kids being new, I’m as thrilled as I’ve been while coaching,” Burke said.
Stoughton (2-0) opens Davenport division play on Friday night when it takes a trip to Jack Martinelli Field in Foxboro to take on the Warriors (1-1).