Taunton Bunkers Down to Beat North in D2 Playoffs

Taunton boys hockey
Taunton players celebrate Michael Albert’s game-tying goal in the second period against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming into Sunday afternoon’s Div. 2 South preliminary round game, Taunton had never beaten North Attleboro. The Tigers had a couple of ties against the Rocketeers prior to joining the Hockomock League, but no wins. They found the perfect time to change that record.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Behind a strong performance from senior goalie Sean Bunker (36 saves) and a pair of breakaway goals, Taunton came from behind for 2-1 victory at the New England Sports Village, overcoming North’s 37-14 edge in shots on goals.

“He played awesome,” Taunton coach Kris Metea said. “He has big game experience. He knows that no rebounds means no goals, and he controlled everything, he smothered everything, and got us whistles. He did everything we needed him to do.”

Bunker made 17 saves in the first period alone and had several memorable stops, including a diving glove save to rob Jack Connolly in the opening period, a big pad stop on a Dennis Morehouse breakaway with three minutes to play, and a flash of his glove to stop Will Yeomans in the final minute.

“There were a lot of pucks lying around that we’ve got put it in,” North coach Ben McManama said. “We’ve got to bear down, but that’s been us all year. We want the easy goals but we’ve got to work harder to get those dirty, greasy goals. I thought we played pretty well.”

North came out flying to start the game, putting 18 shots on goal in the first and using its size and physicality to keep the Tigers pinned back in the defensive zone. Matt McSweeney had a chance at the post after a puck rebounded off the back boards, but Bunker got his pad down to make the stop and to block the ensuing scrum.

After five minutes, the pressure paid off with the opening goal. Tyler Sarro drove down the right wing and got below the goal line before firing a pass to the edge of the crease where Brady Sarro was on hand to redirect the pass through the five-hole from point-blank range.

Taunton had a couple of chances in the first. Michael Albert had a shot from the right circle on a quick transition and Colton Scheralis had a pair of chances at the post that Nick Digiacomo (12 saves) was able to smother.

The Rocketeers thought they had doubled their lead with three minutes left in the period. Morehouse gained the zone and fired a shot towards goal that took a deflection to Connolly at the far post. The forward knocked the loose puck towards what appeared to be an empty net, only to have Bunker dive across and make the stop.

In the second period, North managed eight shots, but struggled at times to gain the zone. The Taunton defense looked more comfortable than in the first, although Metea said there were no significant changes between periods.

“We knew that in the first period we were going to have to weather the storm,” Metea explained. “We said, you’re in the game, just keep doing what you have to do, box it up, stay tight, wait for your opportunities. They stayed with it and it was awesome.”

With 11:32 left in the second, Taunton used its lone scoring chance of the period to tie the game. Connor McGrath flipped a puck out of the zone and the North defense struggled to control the bounce. Albert pounced and got a free skate at goal. Taunton’s leading scorer planted a shot just under the bar on the glove save to make it 1-1.

North had a flurry late in the period. Jeff Baker picked out Nick Longa right in front of goal, but Bunker made the pad stop. Jake McNeany was allowed to skate right down the slot but his chance went just wide and then McSweeney collected the loose puck and forced another big save from the Taunton netminder.

“They give us fits because they block shots, they do the right things, and they’re tougher in front of the net then we are,” said McManama. “That’s it. They were tougher in the dirty areas and my hat’s off to them. We’ve got to play through that better.”

Both teams had chances early in the third to try and grab the lead. North used the defensemen and threw bodies in front to try and cause problems for Bunker. On the other end, Digiacomo had to be quick with the blocker to stop a shot through a screen.

Connolly had a pair of chances for the Rocketeers. He drove behind the net and faked Bunker out to open space at the post, but the puck rolled off his stick as he went to score. Sam Clarke then set Connolly up inside the right face-off dot but he sent his shot just past the top corner.

“We missed the net a ton tonight,” said McManama. “We had a lot of shots on goal but we had even more shot attempts, a ton more. We’ve got to hit the net.”

The missed chances came back to haunt North. Scheralis slipped a puck through a pair of defensemen at the blue line and into the path of fellow freshman McGrath. The forward raced in alone on goal and showed great composure to fire a shot into the top corner for a shock lead.

Metea said, “We knew that they come in so hard that one pass through the ‘D’ will probably allow us to flip it out to center and allow our wings to go to work. I felt confident we could beat them in a footrace and we got the chances off that and I’m thankful that they stepped in.”

North was increasingly desperate for an equalizer as time wore down, but Bunker continued to be unbeatable. He stuffed Morehouse on a break down the right wing and then showed quick hands to deny Yeomans after Nik Kojoian teed him up right in front of goal.

“North played great, but Sean was equal to the test,” said Metea. “Goaltenders are the greatest equalizer and if you have a good one then you’re going to be in games.”

Taunton (10-9-3) will try to get some more strong play from Bunker and upset another league opponent when it travels to top seed Canton on Wednesday night.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Wednesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/29/20

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Hockey
Attleboro, 0 @ Foxboro, 3 – Final

North Attleboro, 1 @ Canton, 5 – FinalCanton scored five straight goals, netting a pair in each the first and second periods, the skate away with a win over North Attleboro. Seniors Chris Lavoie and Johnny Hagan each scored twice and added a pair of assists to lead the charge for the Bulldogs. Timmy Kelleher also scored while Eamon Kelly and Ronan O’Mahony each had an assist.

King Philip, 2 @ Franklin, 4 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.

Oliver Ames, 0 @ Mansfield, 4 – FinalMansfield scored twice in the opening period and never looked back to register a league win over Oliver Ames. Kevin Belanger scored a pair of goals, including one in the first period, and had an assist on another. Chris Jenkins and Dillon Benoit also scored in the win while Joseph Troiano and Patrick Gormley recorded assists.

Stoughton, 0 @ Taunton, 4 – FinalTaunton junior Brady Nichols netted a hat trick for the second straight game to lead the Tigers to a win over Stoughton/Brockton. Dillon Parker also scored in the while, Jack DeMoura and Steve Roderick each had a pair of assists, and Connor McGrath had one helper. Andrew Gomes made 13 saves to record the shutout.

Girls Hockey
Canton, 0 vs. Duxbury, 0 – FinalCarolyn Durand made 18 saves and recorded her seventh shutout of the season, as the Bulldogs grabbed a hard-earned point against Duxbury.

Franklin, 6 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final

Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 5 @ King Philip, 2 – FinalKing Philip twice cut into the deficit to make it a one-goal game but the Warriors scored twice in the final minute to pull away with the win. Emma Pereira scored MOA’s first three goals, building a 1-0 lead, pushing it 2-0 early in the second, and extending the advantage to 3-1 early in the third period. KP’s Makenzie Shandley scored twice, making it 2-1 at the end of the second and again to make it 3-2 in the third period. MOA’s Melissa Shanteler scored an empty net goal with 35 seconds left, and freshman Reese Pereira added an insurance goal in the final seconds.

Wrestling
Stoughton, 57 @ Canton, 18 – Final

Milford, 27 @ Foxboro, 36 – Final

Taunton, 31 @ Mansfield, 41 – Final

North Attleboro, 19 @ Sharon, 37 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this match.

Oliver Ames, 33 vs. Montachusett, 6 – Final

Saturday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/11/20

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Hockey
Taunton, 3 @ Attleboro, 2 – FinalTaunton pulled out a one-goal win over Attleboro to earn its first league victory of the season. Michael Albert had a goal and an assist while Xavier Abel and Connor McGrath each scored once in the win. Jack DeMoura, Brady Nichols, Noah Gravel, and Colton Scheralis each had an assist in the win. Ryan Morry and Nate Parker scored for the Bombardiers while Aidan Diggin, Sam Flynn, and Owen Dryjowicz each had an assist.

King Philip, 2 @ Canton, 5 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Franklin, 1 @ Foxboro, 1 – FinalFranklin senior Tom Tasker scored in the third period to help the Panthers overcome Foxboro goalie Espen Reager and earn a point on the road. Tasker scored just under five minutes into the third to bring the Panthers level, the only time Franklin could solve Reager (54 saves). Sophomore Jack Watts put the hosts in front with a goal in the first period.

North Attleboro, 2 @ Mansfield, 2 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Oliver Ames, 0 @ Bridgewater-Raynham, 4 – Final

Girls Hockey
Canton, 2 @ Waltham, 1 – FinalCanton put more than 30 shots on goal and came away with a win in the battle of unbeaten teams at the Bentley rink. Junior Faith Nelson opened the scoring in the first period and, after Waltham had tied it, freshman Olivia Maffeo scored the eventual game-winner on a second period power play.

Franklin, 2 @ Dedham, 5 – Final

King Philip, 5 vs. Medway, 1 – Final Makenzie Shandley scored twice to lead the Warriors to a win over visiting Medway. Morgan Cunningham, Sydney O’Shea, and Bridgett Nally each scored once in the win.

Stoughton, 3 @ Cohasset, 10 – FinalMorgan Lessa scored a pair of goals and Jillian Parker found the back of the net once but the Black Knights dropped the contest to Cohasset. Zofia Bangs had two assists for Stoughton.

Wrestling
Peckham Tournament – Four Hockomock teams competed in the annual Peckham Tournament with Sharon having the best team finish, taking second overall. Mansfield was third, Stoughton took sixth, host Canton was eighth overall, and all four schools had at least one individual champion. The Eagles had two first place finishes and 11 total wrestlers place fourth or better in the tournament. Adam Landstein (106) and Amit Levin (120) grappled their way to individual titles while Eric Rabkin (195) finished second overall for the Eagles. Mansfield had six wrestlers go to the finals with Antonios Sevastos (126) and CJ Glaropoulos (170) winning their brackets. Ciaran Connolly (160), Max Farley (132), Noah Jellenik (220), and Will Stratton (145) were second for the Hornets. Stoughton’s John Santos (113) and Canton’s Eddie Marinilli (152) also won individual titles.

Hingham Quad (Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames earned one win on the day but suffered a pair of setbacks to finish 1-2. The Tigers pinned down a win over Sandwich (47-36) but fell to host Hingham (61-18) and Walpole (44-30). Junior captain Remi Creighton (126) and sophomore Giovany Juste (145) each went 3-0 on the day.

Midland Duals (King Philip), 10:00 (@ Quabbin)

Cumberland (RI) Tournament (North Attleboro), 9:00AM

Wilmington Quad (Milford), 9:30AM

Durfee Quad (Taunton) – Taunton picked up a pair of wins at the Durfee meet, pinning down wins over the host Hilltoppers (60-12) and Everett (63-9). Brandon Mendes (113), Tyler Lima (120), Jackson Mandeville (138), Christian Balmain (152), and Jackson Wellman (195) each went 2-0 with two pins on the day for the Tigers.

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 12/26/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Hockey
King Philip, 4 vs. Milton, 2 – FinalKing Philip built a 3-0 lead in the second period and added an important fourth goal in the third period to skate past Milton and into the championship game of the Quincy Youth Arena Holiday Tournament. The Warriors scored first as Jack Coulter lit the lamp with assists from Conor Cooke and Rocco Bianculli for a 1-0 lead through 15 minutes. KP tacked on two more in the second with Joe Boselli scoring unassisted and Coulter netting his second, from Cooke. Milton got on the board to make it 3-1 heading to the third. Aidan Boulger scored on a feed from Noah Ray to give the Warriors a 4-1 lead. The Wildcats scored on a power play with the goalie pulled in the final minute. KP will play North Quincy in the final on Saturday.

Oliver Ames, 0 @ Winthrop, 3 – FinalThe Tigers took a one-goal deficit late into the game but Winthrop scored on a late penalty and added a third in the final minutes to get the win. Senior goalie Owen Connor played well in net for the Tigers while freshmen Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron had strong games.

Stoughton, 6 vs. Tri-County, 3 – FinalStoughton/Brockton broke into the win column behind a six-goal outburst against Tri-County in the consolation game of the Bellingham Boosters Tournament. Junior Dante Massaro led the charge offensively, scoring a hat trick while junior Kyle Cruickshank scored twice and junior Ryan Flannery found the back of the net once. Junior goalie Ryan Spanno made 26 saves in net for the win.

Taunton, 2 @ Middleboro, 1 – Final – Taunton scored a pair of goals inside the final five minutes of the game to stun Middleboro with a come-from-behind victory. Camden Faria scored both goals for the Tigers, including the game-winner with just 16 seconds left to give Taunton two points. Brady Nichols recorded a pair of assists while Michael Albert and Connor McGrath each had one. Sean Bunker made 19 saves in net to earn the victory.

Girls Hockey
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 7 vs. Walpole, 5 – FinalMansfield/Oliver Ames needed less than a minute to open the scoring, eventually skating away with a 7-5 win in a high-scoring affair. Emma Pereira and Alex Ledin each scored a pair of goals to lead the way for the Warriors, who led 3-1 after one and 6-4 heading into the third. Ella Waryas, Tess Luciano, and Melissa Shanteler all scored once in the win while Emma Garland, Sam Ledin, and Reese Pereira each recorded a pair of assists.