The Black Knights are a relatively young team this year, so they will be relying heavily on their experienced players to lead the way and make a difference. Senior Brendan Campbell was one of three players to go over the 20-point plateau last season, and just one of two returning this season along with junior Sean Doherty. Campbell was second on the team with 11 goals and notched a team-high 15 assists for a team-best 26 points. Campbell is one of the fastest skaters in the league, which gives him an edge on defensemen. Once he gets the puck on his stick, he’s a threat to make a big play. Whether it be setting up a teammate for a great opportunity, or putting it on goal himself. He is someone opposing teams will need to focus on this again season.
Two years removed from being selected for the HockomockSports.com Third Team and All-Underclassman Team, King Philip senior Collin Cooke remains one of the most dynamic forwards for the Warriors and someone capable of helping KP climb up the league standings. Last year, Cooke scored 10 goals and recorded seven assists and was tied for second on the team with 17 points. His speed and his ability to beat defensemen in the attacking zone opens up space for his teammates and he is capable of picking the right pass to ensure a scoring opportunity for the Warriors. Cooke will be one of the key players for KP, if the Warriors are going to book a spot in the state tournament.
Quinn Gibbs had big shoes to fill when he stepped between the pipes last season, trying to fill the void left by a three-year starter. But Gibbs held his own, and quickly made a name for himself around the league as a top goalie. During his first year in net, he made 320 saves (0.924 save percentage) while allowing just 1.31 goals against a game. As the year went on, you could see his confidence grow. He will be a vital part of the Bulldogs’ defense this year after losing a handful of starters to graduation. He already has a good amount of playoff experience as well, which will be key as Canton will likely be a contender in D2 South again this season.
Mansfield senior defenseman Tyler Oakley will be the leader of the Hornets defensive effort this season and will set the tone with his physicality and ability to pick the right pass to spring the forwards into the attack. Oakley was a HockomockSports.com Second Team performer in 2016-17 after anchoring a defense that allowed only 50 goals on the season, which was second best in the Kelley-Rex division and fourth best in the league. He also recorded 10 assists from the blue line and recorded a team-high plus-18 for the season. With Oakley back as a top-four defenseman, Mansfield will be hoping to improve on last year’s third-place finish in the division.
Franklin senior forward Brendan O’Rielly will be hoping to lead the Panthers on a run similar to his sophomore season when they won the Div. 1 state title. O’Rielly was the team’s leading scorer last year with a team-best 20 goals plus 11 assists for 31 points. He will spearhead an experience group of forwards and will use his strong skating, good stick-handling, and accurate shooting to help Franklin make another run at a Kelley-Rex division title. As a three-year varsity player, O’Rielly has continued to develop throughout his career and has the potential to be one of the league’s leading scorers again this winter.
Attleboro senior forward Jake Parker returns to lead the Bombardiers attack this winter and, as usual, will be counted on to not only create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates but also to chip in on the power play and penalty kill. An unselfish forward with a keen eye for a pass, Parker is always the first look for an Attleboro defenseman to try and break the puck out of the zone with speed. With great stick-handling ability, Parker can get Attleboro set up in the offensive zone and gives the Bombardiers much-needed patience on the puck. Parker, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team last year, scored 20 goals and had six assists in 2016-17, including a five-goal performance in a tie with Mansfield.
Foxboro has been able to rely on Aidan Sullivan for the past three years and will look to him for leadership both on and off of the ice this season. Sullivan enters his fourth year as a member of the Warriors’ defensive unit and has improved every single year. He was named to the 2015-2016 HockomockSports.com All Underclassman Team as a sophomore and improved his production on the offensive end of the ice last season notching a career-high eight points, scoring twice with six helpers. Foxboro has a relatively young group of forwards this season so it will be important for Sullivan to be an anchor on the defensive end as the younger players gain experience.
After a season away with a juniors team, Taunton senior forward Will Walsh has returned to provide a boost to the Tigers attack. Walsh is a dangerous scorer with an accurate shot and a lot of energy that is contagious. His teammates feed off the emotion and energy that he plays with. Two years ago, as part of a powerful Taunton offense, Walsh scored three goals and 11 assists. In 21 games with the South Shore Kings in 2016-17, Walsh scored two goals and seven assists and his addition will open space for his fellow forwards and add to the potent Tigers attack.
North Attleboro’s Ryan Warren has been one of the most consistent goalies in the league over the past two seasons. He was stellar during his freshman season and earned HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors, and last year during his sophomore campaign he helped Big Red to 14 wins by making 395 saves and a .892 save percentage. From his first year on varsity, Warren has always shown great positioning, and his ability to control rebounds makes it difficult for opponents to net second chance goals.
Oliver Ames had a handful of young talented forwards last season, and Brett Williams emerged as one of the most talented in the league. Williams helped the Tigers have a terrific season, coming within one point of the Kelley-Rex division title. As just a sophomore, he scored a team-high 12 goals while adding eight assists for 20 points. His speed is what really sets him apart from others in the league. His quick burst allows him to get get pass defenses and fly in on goal, and on top of his speed, he has the ability to finish.
King Philip junior Nicole Connor is one of the most versatile girls’ hockey players in the newly formed Hockomock league and will be a key to KP making a run at the inaugural league title. Connor will see time as both a forward and on the blue line, giving the Warriors help all over the ice. As a sophomore, Connor scored five goals and had six assists while playing primarily as in defense and she is poised to have a breakout winter for the Warriors.
Canton senior goalie Colleen Kelleher returns after a strong season in net for Canton, leading the Bulldogs from the No. 14 seed to their first state final since 2006. Kelleher came through numerous times in the playoffs to keep opponents out and give the potent Canton attack the chance to find winning goals. She will backstop Canton’s attempt at winning the inaugural Hockomock League title.
Foxboro senior forward Catherine Luciano has been one of the most dynamic scorers in the area over the last two years and led the Warriors in scoring last winter with 25 goals and 12 assists. Luciano is off to a flying start this winter with a hat trick in the season-opening win against Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton. The partnership of Luciano with Mackenzie Fraser (19 points last year) and Isabelle Shanteller (21 points) could be the key to Mansfield/Oliver Ames making a run at the first ever league title.
Franklin junior Regan Paterson will be one of the primary attackers for Franklin, as the Panthers compete for the first ever Hockomock League title and book a return to the state tournament. Paterson score 11 goals and had five assists as a sophomore and is coming off a strong fall for the Franklin field hockey program. Her experience will be counted on to lead a young Panthers roster this winter.
Stoughton senior defenseman Julia Russell is coming off a pair of all-star seasons for the new program and will be hoping to take her form from the SEMGHL to the Black Knights opening campaign in the Hockomock League. Russell is a speedy defender who can also step into the attack and her leadership will be key for a talented group of underclassmen that have Stoughton confident in a big improvement this winter, as evidenced by a season-opening win over Framingham.
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled in its closing games of 2016-17 and narrowly missed out on a place in the state tournament via the Sullivan rule. This year’s Bombardiers are hoping that a mix of youth and experience will be enough to get the team over the hump and back in the playoff mix.
The main scoring threat for Attleboro this season is senior forward Jake Parker, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection last winter who led the team with 20 goals despite facing regular double teams and playing loads of minutes. Parker will be joined up front by sophomore Ryan Morry, who is coming off a solid rookie campaign and will try to take advantage of the opportunities Parker creates near the net.
Attleboro’s experience is on the defensive side of the ice. Seniors Eddie Noel and Sam MacKenzie and junior Kyle McCabe provide size, physicality, and reading of the game to protect the Bombardiers goal. Attleboro coach Mark Homer, in his second season with the team, is expecting the defensemen to be aggressive in the zone and be more prepared to clear the puck. The Bombardiers are also experienced in goal with junior Evan Andrews and sophomore Derrik Rivet offering a solid one-two between the pipes.
“As a team, we are working on becoming more competitive in our games at all phases of the game, said Homer. “We will strive to be better today than we were yesterday but not as good as we will be tomorrow. Our success will be measured by how hard we work and not by our wins and losses.”
2016-2017 Record: 16-5-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
After another league title in 2016-17 and a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal, Canton has started this season with a win and a draw (that turned into an overtime win in the final of the Gormley Cup) and the expectations remain as high as ever for one of the teams to beat in D2.
Last season, Canton was by far the league’s best defensive team, allowing only 32 goals in 24 games. The next best defense allowed 48 goals. But, the Bulldogs will need to rebuild the blue line this season after the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and Third Team selection C.J. Martin. Defensemen Brad Murphy and Nick Allen have experience and will be counted on to step up to bigger roles this year.
The key for the Canton defense, which has allowed only one goal in two games so far this season, will be junior goalie Quinn Gibbs. He was a HockomockSports.com First Team choice last year with a league-best 0.924 save percentage and there is hope he can get even better with a year of experience. Offensively, the Bulldogs bring back most of the goals from last year with Ryan Nolte, Johnny Hagan, Bubba McNeice, and Jack Goyetch all returning this season and all having scored big goals in big moments for Canton during last season’s tournament run.
“I think the most important determinant of our success will be whether we can find some depth at forward and defense,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Teams need more than two lines and four ‘D’ to make a deep run, so we need some guys to compete for those remaining spots.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 3 First Round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro saw improvement last year, increasing its win total, goals for, and allowed fewer goals than the season before. Head coach Mark Cedarchuk is hoping that trend continues this season as the Warriors look to try and compete for the spot in the postseason.
The Warriors will be relying on a mix of experience as well as youth to try and compete in the Hockomock League this year. Senior captain Aidan Sullivan (two goals, six assists) has been an anchor of the team’s blue line unit over the past couple of seasons and will be relied upon to lead the way again this year. Senior captain Taylor Sharfman is another defenseman that gives the Warriors two capable and reliable options in the back. Junior Tanner Kennedy is also back after a solid sophomore year and Warriors added junior Brendan Tully to the defensive unit.
On offense, Foxboro graduated its top three goal scorers but sophomore Ronnie MacLellan (four goals, seven assists) is back after a strong sophomore year. He will be joined up front by senior Sam Garrabrant and sophomore Sebastian Ricketts, who had four goals and two assists last year.
Foxboro will have to find a replacement for goalie John Cronin, a multi-year starter in between the pipes for the Warriors. Foxboro has three goalies – freshman Jack Spinney, sophomore Espen Reager, and freshman Connor Callahan – listed on the roster.
“With a combination of experienced upperclassman and talented underclassman, we’re looking forward to an exciting and competitive season,” Cedarchuk said.
2016-2017 Record: 14-9-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Chris Spillane
Although last winter was atypical for the Panthers, losing two games in the league for the first time in several years, Franklin won another league title and with 20 players back for this season the expectation is that a seventh straight league crown is a distinct possibility – not to mention making a run in the state tournament.
Experience will be the key for the Panthers. Most of the forwards were members of the team that won the state championship two years ago and know what it takes to get goals against top competition. Leading scorer Brendan O’Rielly is back after scoring 20 goals and recording 11 assists last season. He should have plenty of help up front with classmates Luke Downie, Jeremy Miller, T.J. Durkin, and Ken Demerchant, who are all three-year varsity players for the Panthers.
Defensively, Franklin has lost several talented young defensemen to other programs in recent seasons, but still boasts a strong defensive corps heading into this winter. Jack McGrath, Matt Crane, Connor Norton, Cam Cassella, and sophomore Tom Tasker will all contribute to the defensive pairings this season and that depth will be important over a long season. The goalie position is a battle between three seniors, including returning netminders Owen Ginley and Dan Sheehan, who both saw time last year.
“I will be looking to our leading goal scorer from last year Brendan O’Rielly to once again lead the offensive charge,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “From a small practice sample (one skate) I was impressed with our team speed.”
2016-2017 Record: 4-16-0 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip finished just below .500 in the league last season, and just five points out of second place in the Kelley-Rex division, but struggled in the non-league schedule, losing all 11 games outside of the Hock. The Warriors will look to improve that considerably this year with an experienced roster that wants to challenge for a league title.
KP returns 13 players from last year’s squad and that experience will be vital to allow the Warriors to compete not only in the league but against a schedule that has been bolstered because of the program’s move up to Div. 1 several seasons ago. Offensively, the attention will be on senior forward Collin Cooke, who chipped in with 10 goals and seven assists and has been drawing the focus of opposing defenses for several years. Senior Gavin Maxwell had nine goals and eight assists last season and will again be a solid counterpoint to take some of the pressure off Cooke in the attacking zone.
On the defensive side of the ice, KP continues to be a physical team that likes to be aggressive attacking the puck. Senior defensemen Will Connor will get some help at the back with the return of senior Mike Curtin from juniors, who head coach Paul Carlow said could be an “anchor” on defense. Senior Shane Frommer, fresh off a stellar football season and another Super Bowl title, will quickly transition from the gridiron to be the team’s starting goalie, after posting a 2.66 goals against average in 2016-17.
“Our strength is that we have a total of 13 returning players from last years team,” said Carlow. “We have experience up front and on the back end. We should see some team chemistry with this many returning players.”
2016-2017 Record: 12-8-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round. Coach: Mike Balazarini
In last year’s state tournament, Mansfield held its own against perennial power Xaverian before losing 2-1 in the opening round and that defeat is spurring the Hornets on this season, as the team has built a deep roster that believes it can challenge for the Kelley-Rex crown.
Team speed is going to be a strength for the Hornets this season, even without several key pieces from last winter, including breakout freshman Chris Jenkins, lost to graduation or to juniors. Senior forward Dylan Tivnan and Cullin Anastasia will be back to man the top scoring line along with freshman Coleman Jenkins. The second line will feature a lot of youth with sophomore Jake Lund and freshman Matt Copponi alongside junior Chris Copponi.
Seniors Tyler Oakley and Tim Arnold will be the leaders on the defensive side this year, while senior Ryan O’Hara and juniors Nick Levine and Austin Ricker will give the Hornets depth in the defensive unit. That depth should make things easier for sophomore Sean McCafferty, who will be stepping between the pipes for Mansfield this season.
“I think everyone wants to pick up where he left off last year,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We’ve had a good mindset early on this season. We have some new faces and everyone has gelled so far. We can’t take everyone lightly, we have to play every shift as its out last.”
2016-2017 Record: 14-4-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro is coming off its most successful season in program history, and will be starting a new chapter with new head coach Ben McManama.
The Rocketeers will be tasked with finding replacements for some of the top players in the league from a season ago. Someone will need to step up in order to fill the void left by Zach McGowan (19 goals, 13 assists for 32 points – third most in the Hockomock) as well as Hunter Sarro’s 22 points and Erik Clements’ 20 points.
Senior Jason McNeany is a key piece back for the Rocketeers, fresh off a terrific football season. He scored 13 goals last season and added 13 assists, and has been a big piece of the offense for many years now. He will be counted on to be a leader this season, both in the locker room and on the ice.
2016-2017 Record: 14-7-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Under first-year head coach Sean Bertoni, Oliver Ames proved to be a strong skating team that could cause a number of problems with its dangerous attack. That speed up front will be put to the test again this year, as the Tigers look to jump from second in the Kelley-Rex division to the top of the standings.
The Tigers have a number of talented forwards returning from last season’s team, which reached the Div. 2 South tournament and beat Nauset only to run into state finalist Scituate in the second round. That loss will provide motivation for junior forward Brett Williams, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team with 12 goals and eight assists last year, and the rest of the OA forwards. Williams will be joined up front by seniors Eric LeBlanc and Rory Madden and junior Max Ward.
On defense, junior Matt McCormick returns to be one of the top four along with senior Mike Nikiciuk. Both players will provide leadership for a defensive unit that promises to be aggressive in both zones, as Bertoni continues to implement his system at OA. Sophomore goalie Owen Connor will be the new goalie for the Tigers.
“We will continue to use our team speed and play an aggressive style offensively and defensively,” said Bertoni. “We hope to compete at a high level in all three zones. If we bring an aggressive forecheck we can create turnovers which should result in production.”
2016-2017 Record: 7-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Numbers are a bit down for the Stoughton High hockey team this season, so the Knights will be relying on their most experienced players to lead the way, especially early on.
On offense, the Knights boast senior Brendan Campbell at center and junior Sean Doherty at wing. Campbell had a team-high in points last season, finishing second with 11 goals while recording a team-best 15 assists for 26 points. Doherty was third on the team, tying for the team lead with 12 goals and finishing with 25 points.
Senior Cam Nelson and junior Josh Hough will be the leaders of the Knights’ defensive unit. Hough is a captain along with Campbell and Doherty and has the most experience on the blue line. Nelson also saw plenty of time last season, recording an assist.
“We are an inexperienced team that will improve as the season goes on,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark.
2016-2017 Record: 12-9-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons, setting new program bests for wins and making the state tournament two seasons in a row. This year’s team features only three seniors, so the Tigers will be hoping recent success will continue with a youthful lineup.
Senior forward Will Walsh has returned from junior hockey and will provide a boost to the front line, which head coach Kris Metea has high hopes for this season. Senior Jake Roberts is also back for the Tigers after scoring 18 points last year and junior Cam Sneyd is back after a 16-point season last winter. Metea is counting on high energy from the offensive unit and believes that the roster is capable of creating loads of scoring opportunities.
Sophomore Sean Bunker will be in net for the Tigers and the defensive unit is fairly inexperienced, although the coach believes that by working together Taunton will be able to put together a solid back line. The hope is that defense will become a strength of the Tigers by the end of the season.
“The players enjoy wearing the orange and black and look forward to coming to the rink every day,” said Metea. “The coaching staff has preached about enjoying the journey of a season and the developmental process. These players strive to work hard and get better every day. They will be fun to watch grow throughout the season.”
2016-2017 Record: 14-5-6 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Final Coach: Dennis Aldrich
Canton is coming off a remarkable state tournament run that took the No. 14 seed all the way to the TD Garden and the program’s first state title game appearance since 2006. After years of competing in the SEMGHL Coastal division, the Bulldogs are excited for the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and enter the new season as favorites to bring home the first Hock title.
A number of key players are back from the team that battled Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in the state championship game last March and will be counted on to put together another solid defensive effort that made the Bulldogs so tough to play against during the tournament run. Spearheading that defensive unit is senior goalie Colleen Kelleher, who was stellar throughout the state tournament with clutch saves in key situations.
On offense, Canton returns plenty of firepower. Juniors Maggie Malloy and Lauren Fitzpatrick emerged as big time scorers last year and came through with important goals to help the Bulldogs make a run to the Garden. Senior forwards Melissa Devane, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil give Canton a loaded attacking unit that always seemed to pop up with goals when the team needed it most.
“The strength of the Bulldogs will continue to be a tenacious, smothering team defense, strong goaltending, and balanced, opportunistic scoring,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “We are proud to have our roster filled with 11 Canton team captains amongst our 22 rostered players.”
Franklin enters the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season with a young roster, but one that is expected to compete with the other four teams and have a shot at bringing home the inaugural title.
Junior Regan Paterson and senior Jackie Connelly will be expected to provide leadership and create scoring opportunities for a roster that is loaded with underclassmen. Both players provide speed and playmaking ability in the attacking zone and the Panthers will be counting on their experience to make the difference.
Leadership is going to be critical for this year’s team and head coach Marjorie Burke is looking to her senior class to provide direction for the youthful lineup on both ends of the ice. Among the seniors that Burke is looking to this season are Bella Trask, Caroline Hedvig, Maddie Hinkley, Jillian McGlaughlin, and Connelly.
“We are excited about the upcoming season,” said Burke. “We are young but look to be competitive.”
Three years ago, King Philip was the top seed in Div. 2 and after two more playoff appearance, the Warriors now have the opportunity to bring their recent success into the first ever Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and hope that an experienced lineup could make them the first Hock champs.
Junior Nicole Connor is off to a strong start this season and has the potential, according to KP coach Jack Unger, to be one of the top players in the Hockomock League this year. Connor will play both at forward and along the blue line, crucial versatility that makes her an important piece for KP. The Warriors return five seniors who will be the “backbone” of the squad, said Unger. Kyleigh Remmes, Olivia McCarthy, Jessica Daniels, Katie Crowther, and Talia Quinn give the Warriors depth all over the ice.
Lilly Potts returns for her third year in between the pipes, while sophomore Cristina Coleman will be the backup netminder. Freshmen Avari Maxwell and Jordyn Remmes will be instant contributors on offense, while classmate Marin Cormier will step in on defense. Sophomores Abby Carr and Sammy Robison are also expected to step in at forward this season.
“[The roster is] rounded out by a number of talented juniors who should be able to spread out the scoring amongst the three starting forward lines,” said Unger.
2016-2017 Record: 14-6-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round. Coach: Mike Dalton
Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro have joined forces since the 2014-15 season and have reached the postseason each of the past two winters, suffering an overtime loss to Walpole in the first round of the state tournament last year, and have started this season with an impressive win in the opener.
The Warriors will be led by Foxboro’s Catherine Luciano. The senior was the team’s leading scorer last year and scored a hat trick in the season opener to get off to another strong start. Joining Luciano on the top line will be Mackenzie Fraser and Isabelle Shanteller. Other contributors in the offensive zone include senior Kayla Dalton, Kristina O’Connell, and Lindsey Corning.
While the Warriors are expected to create a number of scoring opportunities, defense will be just as important if Mansfield/OA (MOA) is going to make it a third straight playoff appearance. Denea Reager, Ali Delano, and Emily Bubencick will all be critical components of the Warriors defensive unit. Senior Kerren Holmes will be back in goal this year to stifle the opposition, while freshman Cate Gallegher will be the backup netminder.
“A strong freshman class will assist the team with help on both offense and defense,” said MOA coach Mike Dalton. “The team looks to compete for a top position in the Hockomock League and secure a spot in the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-19-1 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Richard Grasso
The newest of the programs in the inaugural season of Hockomock League girls’ hockey, Stoughton is in only its third season of varsity play, but the Black Knights are counting on last year’s experience and the growth in the program to make them a team to watch out for this winter.
Two-time all-star Julia Russell will be one of the key defenders for the Black Knights, but also brings an offensive punch with her speed forcing opponents to worry about her carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Senior Sarah Widrow will join Russell at the blue line and provides consistency in the defensive zone. Both will be expected to provide leadership for the less experienced players on the roster and try to make Stoughton a team that is tough to play against.
The offense will be sparked by a pair of freshmen. Hailey Nelson and Morgan Lesso made an instant impact on their debuts, helping Stoughton start the season with a 6-5 win at Framingham in the season opener. Lesso recorded a hat trick against the Flyers to set a high standard in her first varsity action.
“Stoughton will be a much stronger team this year than last,” said Black Knights coach Richard Grasso. “However, this will be a great challenge for our program. We have a lot of respect for the teams in the Hockomock League. There’s a lot of talent out there and each team is well-coached.”
BOSTON, Mass. – Heading into the third period down by a single goal to defending Div. 2 state champion Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), the Canton girls’ hockey team was probably thinking that it had the Cougars right where it wanted them.
The Bulldogs (14-5-6), who entered the playoffs as the No. 14 seed, had shown a propensity for coming from behind to pull out wins during an improbable tournament run that had brought Canton all the way to the TD Garden for its first state title game appearance since 2006. Despite being behind by a goal, the Bulldogs remained confident.
“It was only 1-0 and we have come back from 1-0 games so many times,” said senior captain Rebecca Eckler. “We can get a goal in 30 seconds. We just knew that we can come back, we can do this, never give up and even with a minute left, we just cannot give up.”
Canton did come back and tied the game early in the third period. Andrea McNeil popped in a backhander on the rebound and fired up the large contingent of fans that made the trip up 93 for the early morning game.
However, the Cougars (23-0-1) responded just nine seconds later to regain the lead and freshman Katherine Pyne caught fire, scoring all four of NDA’s goals in the third period, while classmate Skyler Irving added a goal and three assists. The Cougars skated to a 5-2 victory and back-to-back state titles, despite a roster that has zero seniors.
“To see them tie the game, we could have crumbled,” said NDA coach Jean-Yves Roy, “and things could have gone south for us but I think it showed a lot of character and bounced back very next shift and we just kept rolling from there.”
Defense has been the strength of the Bulldogs all season. Sunday’s final was only the second time this year that Canton allowed an opponent to score more than two goals in a game and the first time since Barnstable scored four all the way back in December. That defense was put to the test against the high-scoring Cougars.
Junior goalie Colleen Kelleher stood tall to make an early save on a scoring opportunity for Emma Duffey, but six minutes into the game Irving reacted first to a rebound and was able to finish for a 1-0 lead. Pyne also had Kelleher beat two minutes later only to see her shot come back off the crossbar.
Kelleher made nine saves in the first and the Bulldogs grew into the game as the opening period wore on. Sophomores Katie Trerice and Leah McClellan, senior Molly McLaughlin, and freshman Alexa Maffeo all making solid plays to limit the Cougars to shots from the edges and the forwards starting the defensive effort with an aggressive forecheck.
“We thought we had a pretty good grasp on what they wanted to do and it kind of in a way fit into what we do anyways,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “A couple times they almost stuttered with the puck because we were taking away their wide wings and stuff like that.”
Sophomore Lauren Fitzpatrick had Canton’s best chance of the first period with a solo rush up the right side and a shot from the circle that was blocked aside.
Canton took control in the second period and started to create scoring chances by forcing turnovers in the neutral zone. McNeil had a good chance just a minute into the second but her rush to the net was blocked at the last second. Five minutes later, Trerice had a shot through traffic batted away and Ava Bevilacqua took the rebound the length of the ice and forced Kelleher into a save.
Kendra Farrelly nearly created the tying goal with seven minutes left in the second but her initial rush was tipped away by NDA goalie Erin Murray in the crease and Farrelly’s deflected follow-up was well saved by Murray. Three minutes later, Farrelly again created an opening down the left but her shot through the crease could not be tapped in at the back post by Fitzpatrick.
“These girls’ heads never drop,” said Aldrich. “There’s no panic. Our mantra all along has been attitude and focus and it’s not if it’s going to happen but when and how.”
Just two minutes into the third period, Canton’s seemingly stole the momentum for the game with the tying goal. McNeil pounced on a rebound off a shot by Fitzpatrick and planted it top shelf.
Aldrich said, “When we tied, I don’t think the girls were surprised, I certainly wasn’t surprised. I’ve seen them do it over and over again.”
NDA won the ensuing face-off and the puck slid all the way down into the Canton zone. Pyne showed off her speed to react first to the loose puck and she buried the chance for a 2-1 lead. The game was tied for only nine seconds.
“It was just one of those squirter pucks,” said Aldrich. “There’s no one at fault, no one to blame, just one of those squirters that happen. When you’ve got someone like the Pyne girl swarming around like a shark, she smells the blood and she can finish.”
Pyne added a second goal a little more than a minute later, but again Canton showed the resiliency to fight back. Fitzpatrick turned in the high slot and flung a shot at goal that took a funny bounce and ended up in the back of the net.
NDA responded quickly to regain the two-goal advantage. Pyne’s wraparound effort slid under the pads of Kelleher, who appeared to have it covered until she was bumped but the goal was given. With 2:26 left, Pyne added her fourth and the team’s fifth to seal the title.
Despite the disappointment of losing Sunday’s final, Rebecca Eckler reflected on what it meant just to get to that round. She said, “The journey here was just as awesome as it was being here. We never gave up in any games and all our hard work paying off and to come here…it was just awesome. I’m so proud of everyone and we did our best.”
Aldrich noted that three years ago, the Bulldogs won just three games. He praised the leadership of the seniors for getting the program to this point. “These guys, especially Rebecca and Kristen (Eckler) being our leaders, kept everyone focused on what we wanted and needed to do as a program. We got consistently better each game,” he said.
Aldrich added, “I coached boys’ hockey for 13 years and these guys, no offense to the boys, have taught me more in five…I’m just very, very grateful and proud to go on a run like this.”
When asked what it was like to skate on the TD Garden ice, Kristen Eckler said, “When we first stepped onto it, I couldn’t wait for that moment. I’ve been thinking about it all week, you step out there and you see your town, you see your parents, you see your family, it’s just awesome to have this experience.”
She joked, “If you told me a month and a half ago that I’d be playing at the Boston Garden, I would probably slap you or something because I wouldn’t believe it…It was just so much heart, soul, and hard work, blood, sweat and tears…that’s just our team.”
Canton, 7 vs. Boston Latin, 3 – Final – Canton overcame a two-goal deficit to finish the season with a win. Junior Bubba McNeice and sophomore Ryan Nolte each scored a pair of goals for the Bulldogs while Tommy Kilduff, Johnny Hagan and Jack Goyetch each scored once in the win.
Franklin, 5 vs. Barnstable, 2 – Final
Taunton, 9 @ Durfee, 3 – Final – Taunton senior Zack Albert registered four points while classmates Nick Terry, Cam Carnes and Jordan Hoey each notched three points in the win. Albert scored twice and had two assists, Terry found the back of the net twice with one assist, Carnes scored once with two helpers and Hoey had three assists. Mike Volkmann and Cam Welby each added a goal an assist while Jake Roberts and Owen Ross each scored once. Cam Sneyd and Andrew Carter each had two assists while Camden Faria had one assist. Goalie Justin Chappell (16 saves) also had an assist in the win.
Canton, 3 vs. Walpole, Final – Canton’s Colleen Kelleher recorded her seventh shutout of the season for the Bulldogs.
Stoughton, 57 @ Taunton, 44 – Final – Stoughton junior Jordan Motley led the Knights with 18 points and 12 rebounds while freshman Shyanne Trinh added 16 points and junior Val Whalen finished the night with 13 points. Taunton was led by sophomore Lily Patnaude’s 14 points.
Attleboro, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames senior Jared Costello scored the lone goal in the first period and sophomore goalie Matt Mullaley made his first career start in net, turning aside 10 shots to earn the win for the Tigers.
Canton, 3 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Canton senior Tommy Kilduff scored early in the first period to give the Bulldogs the lead and then broke a 2-2 late in the third period to hand the Bulldogs two points. Bubba McNeice also scored a goal in the first period to give Canton a 2-0 lead after one. Franklin cut the deficit in half in the second period and tied the game in the third period.
King Philip, 6 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – King Philip had 11 different players register a point in the win, with five different players finding the back of the net. Junior Collin Cooke scored a pair of goals while Jacob Kelly had two assists and Gavin Maxwell had a goal and an assist. After a 1-1 first period, KP tacked on three goals in the second period and then two more in the fourth. Jack Coulter, Richie Lucente and Mitch Cormier also scored for KP while Jeremy Smith, Luke Damico, Sam Colella, Tim Hanson and Joe Boselli each had an assist.
Stoughton, 0 @ Taunton, 3 – Final – Taunton’s Mike Volkmann scored twice and Cam Snead added a goal as the Tigers qualified for the state tournament for the second straight season.
Franklin @ Bridgewater-Raynham, 7:00
Mansfield vs. New Bedford, 7:00
Oliver Ames, 12 @ North Attleboro, 51 – Final
Canton, 3 vs. Falmouth, 0 – Final – Canton’s Colleen Kelleher made 31 saves in net to earn shut out and help the Bulldogs qualify for the state tournament.
Franklin, 0 vs. Westwood, 6 – Final
King Philip, 2 vs. Medfield, 3 – Final
King Philip, 13 @ Oliver Ames, 51 – Final – Oliver Ames raced out to a big lead, winning the first eight weight classes of the meet and finishing with wins in 10 of the 13 matches wrestled. Sean Cosgrove (170) picked up a double overtime win for the Tigers while freshman Owen Napoti (106) and sophomore Nick McGovern (113) also had wins for OA.
Stoughton @ Milford, 7:00
Taunton vs. Josiah Quincy Upper School, 6:00
Oliver Ames, 34 @ Taunton, 50 – Final
Oliver Ames, 41 @ Taunton, 52 – Final
Canton, 0 vs. Barnstable, 0 – Final – Canton’s Colleen Kelleher made 27 saves for her fourth shut out of the season.
Attleboro, 76 vs. Bishop Feehan, 47 – Final – A pair of freshmen made an impact as Attleboro swept the season series against Feehan. Qualeem Charles had 10 points and seven rebounds and Bryant Ciccio had 12 points and five rebounds. Senior Jake Dunkley led the Bombardiers with 19 points and six rebounds.
Franklin, 64 vs. Malden Catholic, 70 – Final
Milford, 69 vs. Tantasqua, 46 – Final – Anthony Arcudi dropped a career-high 22 points to pace the Scarlet Hawks to a win. Zack Tamagni added 13 points while Shane Cosquete finished with nine points. Junior Kayden Kelley scored 10 points and hauled in a career-high 21 rebounds. Milford will face Waltham in the final of the Scarlet Hawks Classic on Thursday at 7 p.m.
King Philip, 59 @ Bridgewater-Raynham, 58 – Final – King Philip overcame a seven point deficit in the first half to take a five point lead by half. The Trojans came back to seize a three point advantage after three quarters. KP was able to build a four point lead late and hold on. Sophomore Kyle Layman had 18 points, eight rebounds and five blocks to lead the Warriors while Justin Vine added 17 points and Will Weir had 12 points.
North Attleboro, 57 vs. Reading, 42 – Final – The Rocketeers jumped out to an 18-9 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Up 33-21, Big Red used another dominate quarter, outscoring the Rockets 17-4 in the third. Junior Chad Peterson led the way with a career-high 15 points while Jonny Friberg added 14 points and Kyle McCarthy finished with 13 points.
Oliver Ames, 58 vs. East Boston, 36 – Final – Oliver Ames deployed a zone defense and then pounced with a press in the second quarter to pull away from East Boston. The Tigers outscored East Boston 21-4 in the second quarter and 13-5 in the third quarter. “We used the press and we played zone,” OA head coach Don Byron said. “We got pretty active – tops on that list was probably Welch, he gets his hands on a lot of stuff in the zone. We ran out on that pretty well and we were able to compound things a little bit by jumping into the press once we scored.” Jack Spillane led OA with 12 points and 11 rebounds, Dylan Mahoney had 12 points and five rebounds and Matt Muir finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Sharon, 52 vs. Arlington Catholic, 33 – Final – Senior Ricardo Ripley scored all of his team-high 14 points in the second half to lead Sharon to the win on the road at Wilmington. The Eagles only allowed 13 points in the second half and won the fourth quarter 17-6. Jimmy Fitzhenry also had 14 points in the win while Jayvon Monteiro scored 11 points.
Taunton, 73 vs. Hope (RI), 49 – Final – Freshman Naz Kenian scored a career-high 16 points as Taunton rolled past Hope. Junior Malik Charles chipped in with 14 points for the Tigers.
Attleboro, 60 vs. Cranston West 35 – Final – Sarah Deyo led the way for the Bombardiers with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Julia Strachan, Sam Pierce, and Jordyn Lako each added 10 points for Attleboro.
Mansfield, 52 vs. Marshfield, 47 – Final – Jen Peel had 18 points and five assists to pace the Hornets. Meg Hill added 12 points, 12 rebounds, and eight blocks and Ann Maher had 10 points for Mansfield. The Hornets will play Duxbury in the final of the Holiday Tournament on Wednesday at 5:45 p.m.
Milford, 60 @ Hudson, 31 – Final – Kate Irwin was the top scorer for the Hawks with 23 points and Jess Tomaso chipped in with eight points.
Oliver Ames, 48 vs. Needham, 42 – Final – Oliver Ames rallied from a halftime deficit to tie the game but the Rockets reestablished a lead (31-26) at the end of the third. The Tigers seized the lead early in the fourth quarter and held on. Kayla Raymond led the Tigers with 18 points while Niyera Mitchell had nine points and a career-high 19 rebounds. The Tigers will host Walpole in the final of the Sure Rivard Tournament.
Attleboro, 3 vs. Ludlow 5 – Final
King Philip, 4 @ Quincy, 6 – Final
Lowell Holiday Tournament (Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Stoughton) – After the first day, Foxboro is in eighth place with 79 points and Franklin is in 11th with 69.5 points. Wrestlers that made the quarterfinals include Foxboro’s Adam Lanctot (106), Canton’s Justin Dickie (113), Franklin’s TJ Remillard and Foxboro’s Phil Dure (126) and Foxboro’s Matt Kelley (132).
Marshfield Tournament (Mansfield, North Attleboro, Oliver Ames, Sharon) – North Attleboro is in third place with 111.5 points with 10 wrestlers moving onto day two. Mansfield is just outside the top 10 with 66.5 points (13th place) with six wrestlers moving on. Wrestlers that advanced to the semifinals include North Attleboro’s Brady Folan and Mansfield’s Antonios Sevastos (106), Sharon’s Yosef Ellis-Rech (126), Oliver Ames’ Liston Funai (132), Mansfield’s George Glaropoulos and North Attleboro’s Nick Gould (152), Mansfield’s Vinnie Holmes (170) and North Attleboro’s Brad White (220).
Franklin @ Mansfield, 1:00
King Philip @ Mansfield, 12:30
Canton, 2 vs. Dedham, 0 – Final – Sophomores Lauren Fitzpatrick and Maggie Malloy each netted a goal in the third period to lift the Bulldogs. Junior goalie Colleen Kelleher made 24 saves for her second shutout of the season.