2018 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

2018 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 6-14
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Matt Bosh

After missing out on the postseason a year ago, Attleboro head coach Matt Bosh believes his team’s depth and versatility will help the Bombardiers get back there.

Junior Eoin Kelleher is back to lead the pitching staff after a stellar sophomore season in which he earned HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors. Kelleher posted a 1.00 ERA in 35 innings of work, including throwing a no-hitter against rival North. Senior captains Jason Weir and Jon Candiales, senior Drew Pagano along with junior Sam Larkin will all see time on the mound for Big Blue as well.

Candiales and Weir also anchor the offense with the former patrolling shortstop and the latter seeing time in both the outfield and first base. Candiales gives the Bombardiers power from the left side of the plate while Weir is a three-year starter that gives Bosh flexibility in the lineup. Larkin will be in the outfield when he isn’t pitching and can use his speed to hurt teams. Corey McKenna returns as the starting second baseman while senior Dakota Kirby is back behind the dish after a year off. Kirby will add pop to the lineup as he hit 0.425 as a sophomore with 10 RBI.

“The biggest improvement that I see from last year is our team speed and athleticism,” Bosh said. “We have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions and we’re very athletic. We have a high number of kids who can play anywhere.”

Canton

2017 Record: 6-12
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Greg Digirolamo

A strong core of returning players and a good amount of depth will be keys for the 2018 Canton Bulldogs baseball team.

After losing just four players from last year’s team, there is a good mix of experienced players and talented youth for head coach Greg Digirolamo to work with. The Bulldogs will look to three senior captains to the lead the way: Matt Casamento, Robbie Wilkinson, and Tommy DeLello. Casamento is a three-year starter in center field, DeLello will man first base and Wilkinson will try to carry over the momentum from an impressive junior year into 2018. Wilkinson went 3-1 last year with a 1.58 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched.

Wilkinson will be joined in the pitching staff by seniors Austin Maffie, Niko Donovan, and Ryan Hickey, along with juniors Paul Corcoran, Robbie Sullivan, and Kevin McGonigle. Freshman Matt Connolly will also figure into the mix on the mound.

Casamento anchors the defense from the center field spot while junior catcher Matt Pigeon and sophomore shortstop Nate Quan bolster the defense up the middle.

“It’s a good group of kids that like to compete every day, what else can you ask for as a coach?” Digirolamo said. “For us the biggest thing will be seeing live pitching. If we’re to have any success this year we’ll need to do a better job at the plate.”

Foxboro

2017 Record: 7-14
2017 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round
Coach: Derek Suess

New Foxboro head coach Derek Suess sees a little bit of the past in his first team as head coach. Suess, a former Warrior himself, said the 2018 version of Foxboro reminds him of a team that won 15 games during his senior year just over a decade ago.

“This team is hungry to put the program back on the map,” Suess said. “I couldn’t ask for a better senior group to lead us. They remind me of the senior group I was a part of in 2007 in which we won 15 games. With a good mix of underclassmen, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s hard work pay off on the field.”

After losing a painful eight games by just one run a season ago, including a near upset of third-seeded and D3 South Finalist Norton in the playoffs, the Warriors will be looking to turn those losses into wins this time around.

“We need to make more winning plays to put those tallies in the win column,” Suess said.

Junior Anthony Mollica will spearhead the offense after leading the Warriors with a 0.367 batting average a year ago. Senior Chad Bearce and sophomore Joe Cavaleri will bolster the middle of the lineup, freshman Sean Yoest has shown flashes early on at the dish, and seniors Joe Freitas, Matt Rongione, and Jack Franceschelli provide the Warriors with some speed.

Senior Steve McLaughlin returns after an impressive 2017 season. Despite posting an 0-6 record, McLaughlin struck out 24 batters in 32.2 innings of work and posted a 1.73 ERA. McLaughlin will be joined by Cavaleri, Yoest, and junior Guy Quartarone in the rotation while senior Robert Theriault returns behind the dish after getting a year of experience last season.

Franklin

2017 Record: 18-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Zach Brown

Focusing on pitching and defense, the Panthers will be looking to get better each and every day as they try to replicate the success from a season ago.

Franklin won the Kelley-Rex division last year, its first league title since 2012. And the mix of pitching and offense put the Panthers in some conversations for Super 8, but the Panthers ended up in the D1 South and bowed out in the quarterfinals after being forced to play on back to back days.

The arms that helped the Panthers have so much success last year as almost all back, starting with staff ace senior Jake Noviello. The Fairfield-commit struck out a Hockomock-best 61 batters a year ago, going 6-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 55.1 innings of work. Noviello is complemented by lefty Jason Ulrickson (7-0, 0.80 ERA, 35 K), Bryan Woelfel (3-2, 0.91 ERA, 4 SV, 31 K) and senior James Leofanti.

The defense will be anchored by a pair of returning starters in junior shortstop Alex Haba (0.360, 12 runs) and junior catcher Jake Macchi.

“While we are returning a number of experienced arms we are also turning over a number of positions last season,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “So, we will be young or inexperienced at a number of positions. Offensively, my hope is that as the season progressing we will be able to develop an identity and find a way to manufacture runs.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 10-11
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Greg Kessler

After just squeaking into the postseason a year ago, first-year KP head coach Greg Kessler is hoping his team will be in contention for a Kelley-Rex division title in 2018.

One reason for that is the senior class and the handful of returning players that have plenty of experience at the varsity level. Ben Furfari returns as a key piece of the Warriors’ outfield and lineup. He hit 0.298 last season and will provide the power on offense. Senior Pat Limerick, committed to play at St. Joseph’s (ME), will set the tone as the leadoff hitter.

On the mound, senior Jeremy Rhines (2-1, 1.45 ERA) and junior David Morganelli will be the main options while hard-throwing senior Liam Rohan will also be in the mix. Nolan Bradley returns behind the plate as one of the top catchers in the league while sophomore Robbie Jarest will step in to take over at shortstop.

“We have a great group of senior this year,” Kessler said. “They have been dedicated to the weight room and leading our underclassmen. They continuously strive to build a team that will compete for the Hock championship. They deserve to have a great year. I guarantee that will be the most vocal and most energetic team in the Hock. We pride ourselves on being positive and enthusiastic every pitch.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 14-8
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Joe Breen

There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Mansfield baseball program this season. And with the arms they have back, there’s good reason for it.

Senior Tyler Dalton, a UMass Amherst commit, returns after missing the majority of his junior year with an injury. Dalton was tremendous during the 2016 season as a sophomore, posting a 6-2 record while striking out 35 batters and posting a 1.78 ERA. He will be joined on the Hornets’ staff by senior Kevin Dow (UMass Amherst commit, 4-1, 1.93 ERA), junior lefty Connor Sheehan (2.82 ERA, 28 K), and junior Kyle Moran (three saves). Sophomore John Carney will also likely see time on the mound for the Hornets.

Senior catcher Cullin Anastasia returns after being named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com Second Team. Anastasia had 19 hits a year ago, knocking in 10 runs and scoring 10 runs as well. Sam Nugent will give the Hornets a spark in center field and on the base path with his speed, Moran picked up plenty of experience at third base last season, and Eric Longley will provide Mansfield with some pop in the middle of the lineup.

“We will rely heavily on our pitching staff this season to keep us in games and look to make the plays behind them and be aggressive with our offensive and baserunning approach to get those guys a few runs per game,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “As always, we will turn to our senior class to set the tone and for our underclassmen to blossom under their leadership.”

Milford

2017 Record: 12-10
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Alex Dion

Milford baseball starts a new chapter in its historic history as longtime assistant Alex Dion takes over the reigns of the program.

Dion’s first challenge will be having to overcome the loss of a dozen seniors, including team ace Alex Macek, reliable infielders Zack Tamagni and Anthony Arcudi, and hard-hitting outfielder Ryan Goncalves. However, the good news is that Dion has one of the best players at his disposal in Stonehill-commit Aidan Wilde. Wilde had 59 hits between his freshman and sophomore years and added 21 more in the regular season a year ago. After seeing time as a catcher last season, Wilde will mainly man the corner infield positions in 2018.

Wilde will be complemented by junior Matt Shaver, who picked up some experience a year ago at both shortstop and on the mound. The Hawks will rely on Shaver to anchor the defense from short and give the offense a spark from the leadoff position. Junior Tyler Almeida will step in behind the dish and will provide some offense from the left side of the plate. Sophomores Luke Rosa and Colby Pires look to be in the mix as well as junior Nick Marcolini, who will pitch and patrol the outfield.

“We graduated a strong senior class this past year and are now in a situation where we have a lot of new players who we will look to take advantage of new opportunities,” Dion said. “I am excited about the athleticism that we have on our roster and the energy that these guys bring to practice each day. I think our philosophy is simple, but we preach a team-first mentality to our guys and strive to get quality pitching, play clean defense and get timely hits to win games.”

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 8-10
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Hart

North Attleboro didn’t have to go far to find its new coach. Mike Hart takes over for Paul Tobin and Hart truly bleeds Big Red – a graduate from the school and three-sport coach.

And expectations are high for the Rocketeers after just missing out on the postseason a year ago. Senior captain Nick Sinacola returns after having an MVP-caliber junior season. Big Red will rely on Sinacola on both sides of the plate, leading the offense (he batted 0.415 last year with 15 runs scored) and being the ace of the staff (48.1 IP, 49 K, 2.01 ERA). Senior captain Zach DeMattio is also back after being named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com First Team, batting 0.333 with 15 RBI and three home runs. Big Red also gets senior Nate Pearce (0.371) back after a strong junior year.

Senior Peter Cohen (24 IP, 0.29 ERA) will look to build upon a superb junior year while Nolan Buckley and Jeff Gale bring experience to the outfield. Aidan Harding also has varsity experience and will be in the mix to get innings on the mound along with juniors Matt Wanless, Jake Palmer, Matt Seavey, Nick Raneri, and Ben Arrighi.

“We have a truly industrious group of players,” Hart said. “We’re going to keep moving guys around until we find the lineup that works for us. Some may have to play multiple positions, depending on whose pitching on any given day. We had a decent season last year, with many guys getting some varsity time, but we’re still unproven. We need to continue to improve every day and only worry about the things we can control. Guys will be competing every day all season, which will only make us better. We will approach each day, with a great attitude, high effort, and a steadfast approach.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 14-9
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals
Coach: Joe Abarr

A lot of the players that helped Joe Abarr have a successful first season as head coach last year are back, which means the Tigers are aiming to replicate that success.

Despite finishing in a tie for third in the Kelley-Rex, the Tigers put together the best playoff run of any Hock team, knocking off #2 Dighton-Rehoboth on the road to reach the sectional semifinals. Junior Matt McCormack is back after earning a spot on varsity late in the season this year, and along with classmate Tom Parker, should give OA a solid 1-2 punch. With a handful of capable arms in the mix, the third spot in the rotation is still up for grabs.

Abarr won’t have to worry much about anything hit to the left side of the infield as the Tigers return third basemen Chris Pearsons and shortstop Matt Muir, two of the top defensive players at their positions. Both are capable hitters as well and will provide some pop to the lineup. Another returning starter is senior Mitch Goulet. Goulet had a breakout junior campaign in center field (0.347, 7 RBI), catching fire in the second half of the year. Abarr is hoping that momentum will carry over to this season.

The Tigers have a battle for the spot behind the plate as both junior Jake Erlich and junior Reid Latham are back, both with experience behind the dish.

“We have a great core of returning players that will be the backbone of the program,” Abarr said. “We have to fill positions in the outfield and at first. If we have some guys step up in that role we should have a decent lineup from top to bottom.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 6-14
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kee Arguimbau

Sharon is aiming to improve on its six-win season in 2017, and will be looking to ride its senior leadership to do so.

Senior captains Max Tarlin and Drew Naisuler are two of the most experienced players in the league and will be spearheading the Eagles’ offense and defense this year. Tarlin (5-4, 46 K, 1.11 ERA) is the anchor of the pitching staff, picking up five of Sharon’s six wins last season. When he’s not on the mound, expect to see Tarlin patrolling shortstop. Naisuler returns as the team’s No. 4 hitter to provide some pop to the lineup and will be a key defensive piece at both center field and first base.

The Eagles will also rely on senior Ben Schwartz, who will mainly be catching this year as well as being a major offensive contributor. Junior Noah Kamens will be a major piece of the pitching puzzle after impressing during his sophomore year. Similar to Tarlin, Kamens will be a major player in the offensive lineup and will see time off the mound spent in the outfield. Spencer Singer is transitioning to the outfield and will continue to be one of the players the Eagles look at for offensive production.

“I have a lot of guys who are multifaceted baseball players and I can foresee a lot of games being played with straight nine in the lineup,” Arguimbau said. “We have great senior leadership and some very promising sophomores that are going to play a major role in our season’s success.”

Stoughton

2017 Record: 15-6
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Mike Armour

There are a lot of questions to be answered for this year’s Stoughton baseball team, but head coach Mike Armour is excited for his players to rise to the challenge.

The Black Knights graduated nearly their entire team (10 of its 13 rostered players), which won its second straight Davenport division title. So not only will Armour be leaning heavily on his three returning players, he is looking for new faces to seize the opportunity.

“This is an exciting year for our program,” Armour said. “It’s an awesome opportunity for our younger guys. The JV and freshmen teams both over 15 or more games last year, so we’re looking for them to carry that winning attitude into this season. I expect our team to play with heart and execute the fundamentals to make us a competitive team.”

2017 HockomockSports.com First Team selection and senior captain Ruben Gonzalez returns as one of the top players in the league, both defensively at shortstop and offensively at the plate. Senior Matt Hadley and junior Evan Gibb, both captains, are the other two returning players for the Knights. Gibb has plenty of varsity experience behind the plate and Hadley, although he will miss some time with injury, will be key piece in the outfield.

Meanwhile, Armour is looking for sophomores James Genest (first base) and Michael Nazzaro (third base/catcher) to step up and play important roles both offensively and defensively this season. Juniors Kyle Gagnon, Kevin Dixon, and Cian Swierzewski will see time in the outfield and classmate Robbie Seaman will be in the mix for middle infield.

For pitching, Gibb will see time on the mound as well as behind the play. Senior Will Eckhart has some varsity experience and junior Zak Paquette will likely log some meaningful innings for the Knights. Seniors Tim Kellogg, Talyor Atkinson, and Mike Anderson provide infield depth and Jack Brown and Ryan Semler will be in the mix in the outfield.

Taunton

2017 Record: 12-10
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Blair Bourque

There are a lot of good pitchers in the Hockomock League this year, and it looks like the Tigers’ staff could be right near the top of the list.

Taunton returns senior Tyler Medeiros, who had a terrific junior campaign and will get junior Jack Moynihan back on the mound. Moynihan was impressive during his freshman year two seasons ago but an injury limited his action on the mound last season. Medeiros fanned 68 batters in 56.1 innings of work, posting a 1.98 ERA to anchor the staff. Look for senior Trevor Pietrzyk and juniors Griffin Tomaszycki and Josh Lajoie to get some meaningful innings on the mound as well.

“Tyler clearly emerged as our top pitcher last year,” said second-year head coach Blair Bourque. “Fortunately, he’s a big kid and was able to put us on his back and carry us. Hopefully, we’re able to provide more support for him this year.”

Moynihan will also play a big role in Taunton’s offense this year. While patrolling third base, Moynihan will try to provide some pop in the middle of the lineup. The Tigers also get their top two batters back with senior shortstop Jacob Crawford (0.350, 15 runs) and senior Christian Simoes (0.340, 12 RBI).

Taunton will carry nine seniors and eight juniors this season so experience will be key.

2018 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars

Below are the official 2017 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Jack Goyetch, Canton

Hockomock League All Stars

Jake Parker, Attleboro
Nick Allen, Canton
John Hagan, Canton
Jack Goyetch, Canton
Ryan Nolte, Canton
Quinn Gibbs, Canton
Aidan Sullivan, Foxboro
Brendan Tully, Foxboro
Luke Downie, Franklin
Owen Ginley, Franklin
Jack McGrath, Franklin
Jeremy Miller, Franklin
Collin Cooke, King Philip
Mike Curtin, King Philip
Cullin Anastasia, Mansfield
Tim Arnold, Mansfield
Jason McNeany, North Attleboro
Drew Wissler, North Attleboro
Matt McCormack, Oliver Ames
Michael Nikiciuk, Oliver Ames
Brett Williams, Oliver Ames
Brendan Campbell, Stoughton
Will Walsh, Taunton

Hornets Knocked Out By Xaverian Comeback

Mansfield boys hockey
Mansfield senior Patrick McCafferty opened the scoring in the first round playoff match-up with Xaverian at the Canton Ice House. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – The final score was in no way indicative of the type of game it had been, but the end result was the same as last year for Mansfield against Xaverian in the opening round of the Div. 1 South tournament at the Canton Ice House.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Hawks tacked on three goals in the final 1:02 of the game, including an empty net goal and one with six seconds on the clock, to add gloss to a 6-2 scoreline and knock the Hornets out of the playoffs for the second straight season.

“They played very disciplined hockey and they capitalized on our mistakes,” explained Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “It’s been a tough struggle with that all year, but I thought we battled back. I thought we played really well all three periods. We played with the same intensity with the lead and without the lead.”

Mansfield (9-7-5) came into this year’s game as the nine seed and Xaverian as the eight, a reversal of last season, and the game played out as these match-ups typically do. The game was end-to-end, hard-hitting, and tight.

Ryan Pomposelli had the game’s first chance straight off a draw but his point-blank effort was saved by Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty at the near post. Two minutes later, the Hornets nearly took the lead with a shot from beyond the blue line by Jake Lund that took a slight deflection in front and turned into an awkward blocker save for A.J. Scott, who played at Stoughton last year.

McCafferty came up with a kick save to deny Ross Vona midway through the first and Scott was called upon to stop a backhanded effort by Cullin Anastasia. With four minutes left in the first, the Hornets took advantage of a power play opportunity to take the lead. Tyler Oakley’s shot from the point was tipped in front by Patrick McCafferty, giving Scott no chance.

“One of the things we talked about was getting off to a good start and playing with the lead and we did,” said Balzarini. “They outshot us in the first period but we were able to capitalize.”

The lead was doubled early in the second. Freshman Matty Copponi skated past his marker on the left side of the goal and attempted to saucer a pass in front to Coleman O’Brien but instead, the puck took a deflection and slid under the pads of the Xaverian goalie.

There was a delay before the officials signaled for a goal and then Scott argued that the net had been dislodged prior to the puck crossing the line. After a conversation between the officials, the goal stood and Mansfield had the 2-0 advantage.

“The ref was right there and he called it a good goal,” said Balzarini, “and that seemed to pick us up even more. We played with the same intensity all three periods, but they’re a good team.”

The Hornets could have added a third on two occasions. Dylan Tivnan forced Scott into a shoulder save with a wrister from the left circle after a quick transition and then Anastasia put the puck into the crease where a scrum of bodies was located but no one was able to find the necessary touch to knock it in.

Xaverian had speed to bother the Hornets, but generally, the defensemen, led by Tim Arnold and Oakley, were able to keep the Hawks to the outside and limit their chances. With 1:16 left in the second, Xaverian finally managed to get on the board. Pomposelli got a third bite of the apple from the edge of the crease and managed to lift it over the leg of the sprawling McCafferty, who had already made two saves in the sequence.

The goal gave the Hawks a little energy, but they took a penalty that appeared to give the impetus back to Mansfield. Unfortunately for the Hornets, a mix-up on an offensive zone face-off led to a tying goal. The puck could not be held in at the blue line and Josh Barton was on it in a flash, creating a shorthanded breakaway that made it 2-2 with just 15.2 on the clock.

Balzarini remarked, “It was just a miscommunication. We didn’t get the puck in deep on the first one and they were able to come down through transition in the neutral zone and on the second one we had a lefty on the right point and it got by him but, it happens and they capitalized.”

The momentum carried over into the third period. Xaverian quickly took control again and Austin Ricker was forced to give up a power play in order to stop a breakaway opportunity. On the power play, the Hawks crashed the net and, again after a couple of McCafferty saves, Matt Ryan was able to punch across the go-ahead goal.

Mansfield was struggling to create scoring chances against the organized Xaverian defense, which was clogging the shooting lanes. The Hornets only put five shots on goal in the third, although Patrick McCafferty did have a breakaway chance with six minutes to play that was saved by Scott.

With 1:02 remaining, as people were waiting to see when Mansfield would pull its goalie, Xaverian got a quick breakout of the zone and Matt Talarico scored to seal the win. An empty netter and a goal with barely any time on the clock would make the score far more lopsided than was the action on the ice.

Balzarini said, “They just kept coming and coming, but I thought player for player we hung right with them. It wasn’t a 6-2 game. I’m very proud of them.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Saturday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 02/10/18

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Hockey
Attleboro, 2 vs. Southeastern, 1 – FinalAttleboro’s Cam Littig and Ryan Morry each scored to lift the Bombardiers to a key division win over Southeastern (15-4).

Canton, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – FinalOliver Ames junior Matt McCormack scored early in the first period and sophomore Owen Connor had a strong game in goal, making 42 saves to earn the shutout in a non-league clash at Warrior Ice Arena. McCormack took a pass from sophomore Jake Gottwald to score the game-winning goal.

Mansfield, 4 @ Brockton, 1 – FinalMansfield junior Chris Copponi scored a hat trick in the first period, the second two less than a minute apart to lift the Hornets to a win on the road. Copponi opened the scoring on an assist from Nick Levine. Coleman Jenkins and Jake Lund set up Copponi’s second goal, and Lund and Tyler Oakley earned helpers on Mansfield’s third goal. Cullin Anastasia added a goal in the second period with Chris Kelleher and Adam Anastos assisting.

Taunton, 9 vs. Durfee, 1 – Final Taunton’s Cam Sneyd scored a hat trick, Mike Albert and Jakob Roberts each found the back of the net twice.

Girls Hockey
Canton, 2 @ Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 1 – FinalCanton’s Kendra Farrelly scored a pair of goals to help the Bulldogs pick up the win. With the win, Canton clinches at least a share of the first ever Hockomock League title for girls hockey.

Franklin, 7 @ Leominster, 0 – Final

Indoor Track (@ Reggie Lewis)
Hockomock League Championships – Click here for a recap and a photo gallery of this game.

Gymnastics (@ Shrewsbury)
Hockomock League Championships – Click here for the Results and a Photo Gallery from this meet.

Canton Skates Past Mansfield To Earn Shuman’s 200th

Canton boys hockey
Canton’s Ryan Nolte looks for someone to pass to in the first period against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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CANTON, Mass. – Even on a night with plenty to celebrate for himself, Canton head coach Brian Shuman made sure the focus was on something much bigger.

The Bulldogs scored once in the second and two straight in the third to earn a 3-1 decision over Mansfield, marking Shuman’s 200th career win.

While the timing of Shuman’s 200th win and Saturday night’s “Hockey Fights Cancer” doubleheader was coincidental, it was only fitting that the big milestone came on a night that Shuman helped organized to benefit others.

Canton and Mansfield followed a clash between Xaverian and Malden Catholic, a doubleheader that raised money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in memory of Reo Todesca, mother of Xaverian assistant Paul Todesca and a beloved friend to many in the Canton hockey community.

Canton’s list of accolades on the ice, including numerous Hockomock titles, dozens of playoff wins and a state championship in 2010, is just about as long as the amount of charity work Shuman and his Bulldogs are apart of off the ice.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

There’s the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk every September that Shuman and his Bulldogs walk in to benefit The Jimmy Fund. And there’s the annual Evening of Hope Gala that Shuman helps organize with his wife Tara.

And Shuman and the Bulldogs spend plenty of time on the ice with the Bear Cubs Hockey program, which team chairman Matty Marcone is apart of. And who could forget two years ago when Shuman, along with Stoughton coach Dan Mark, worked to get Marcone on the ice of a varsity game.

The list goes on and on, which is why it’s so fitting that Shuman reached the milestone while helping raise money to fight cancer.

“I’m a bit embarrassed it happened on a night like this because it’s not about me, it’s a night to remember all of the people that have fought this battle [against cancer],” Shuman said. Canton wore special pink uniforms for the game. “But it really is special because some of the best nights I’ve been a coach in this program have been nights like this where we really together as a community in support of someone or a family, and that’s what makes it all worth it to me as a coach.”

And of course, Shuman was quick to deflect credit away from himself and to the program for getting to 200 wins in just 13 years.

“It says everything about the program. I’m incredibly fortunate to coach in a real hockey town. I think it’s one of the best hockey towns in Massachusetts. It says everything about our players, parents, families, community…just every single time I start or finish a season, I think how lucky I am. This is just one of those special moments that you reflect on how lucky you are.”

The visitors came out strong in the first period, having an edge in time of possession and attacking zone time. The Hornets also had a pair of power play opportunities, the first after a Canton cross-check with 11:17 left in the opening period, and again after a roughing call with 6:17 to go.

But out of those two man-advantage situations, the only real threat came late in the second one when freshman Matt Copponi went to circle the net but dropped a pass right in front of goal instead to his brother Chris Copponi, but the elder brother was unable to get the puck past Canton goalie Quinn Gibbs.

The Bulldogs came out flying in the second period and dominated the second period. Mansfield was able to kill off a cross-checking penalty but Canton was able to cash in a minute later. Junior Ryan Nolte connected a pass to sophomore Johnny Hagan, who lifted his backhand attempt top shelf to give the Dogs a 1-0 lead.

“I thought that first period, that was probably the most we have been outplayed in a period all year long,” Shuman said. “Mansfield has a good team, they play hard, they work hard, they have a great system and they are very, very well coached. I think the breakout for us was everything in the first period. I think the breakout sets the tone for so much of our offense and the flow of the game, and we could not break the puck out of the zone, we struggled in all facets of the breakout. Give credit to Mansfield, they made it hard for us.

“The second period was much better, I think a lot came from our breakout. I thought our line of Ryan Colby, Charlie O’Connor and Kevin Smith really gave us some life in that second period. They went out and had a really good shift and created some chances. Those guys are kind of a hybrid third/fourth line and I thought they played great.”

Canton had two more power play chances, including a brief 5-on-3 chance with just over three minutes to go, but the Dogs couldn’t add to their lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield’s best chance came when the Hornets killed off their third penalty. Senior Adam Anastos came out of the box, took a feed from Cullin Anastaia as he entered the zone, and then center a pass back to Anastasia but his tip effort sailed just wide of the post.

“I’m not sure what exactly happened in the second period, we had such a great first period, we came out with energy,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini. “Their first few shifts kind of set the tone, then we settled down and stuck to the gameplan. I can’t remember a time since I started here that we only had one shot on net in the period. But we had to kill three penalties in that second period, we played shorthanded for six minutes. That sort of gave us some life toward the end of the period and we had that late chance.

“I thought we had a better third period but Canton is a good team, they play every single shift and they play 200 feet.”

Canton senior Jack Goyetch nearly doubled the Bulldogs’ lead two minutes into the final period when he redirected a shot from Jack Connelly but Mansfield sophomore Sean McCafferty made a terrific glove save.

But the Bulldogs continued to put pressure as Goyetch and Mike Dadasis linked up before finding Bubba McNeice in front for a one-timer to make it 2-0. Canton cashed in on its fourth power play attempt with 9:20 left in the game.

Mansfield won the faceoff clean straight back, but McNeice was first to the loose puck and fired a centering pass to Goyetch for a tap-in.

The Hornets struck back just 17 seconds after Canton’s third goal. Fresh out of a timeout, Mansfield had a strong attacking zone possession before sophomore Joseph Troiano stepped into a loose puck and fired one into the back of the net.

“I have nothing but respect for Brian and what he’s done with Canton,” Balzarini said. Both Balzarini (’93) and Shuman (’98) graduated from Catholic Memorial. “It’s bittersweet for him to get the 200th win against us, but him being a CM guy, I like Brian a lot, he’s a really good coach and he deserves it.”

Canton boys hockey (7-0-0 Hockomock, 10-1-4 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it hosts Franklin in a clash of Davenport and Kelley-Rex division champions. Mansfield (5-2-2, 7-5-4) will try to bounce back in a week when it travels to Brockton.

Wednesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/31/18

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
North Attleboro, 55 @ King Philip, 51 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Girls Basketball
King Philip, 48 @ North Attleboro, 57 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Boys Hockey
Mansfield, 5 @ Attleboro, 0 – FinalMansfield took a 1-0 lead after one period and then scored twice more in each the second and third to beat Attleboro. Cullin Anastasia scored in the second (unassisted) and in the third (from Tim Arnold and Austin Ricker), Ryan O’Hara opened the scoring in the first (from Adam Anastos), Chris Kelleher (from Coleman Jenkins) made it 3-0 and Jake Lund scored an unassisted goal in the third period. Sophomore Sean McCafferty had the shutout in net for the Hornets.

Canton, 10 @ Taunton, 0 – Final

Foxboro, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – FinalOliver Ames junior Brett Williams gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the second period but Foxboro stormed back with a pair of third-period goals to earn the upset on the road. Junior Brendan Tully scored on a power play with eight minutes left in the game to tie the game, and then, along with Aidan Sullivan, set up Tanner Kennedy for the game-winner with two minutes to play. Espen Reager made 36 saves in net for Foxboro.

Franklin, 3 @ King Philip, 1 – FinalKing Philip’s Collin Cooke scored in the first period to give the Warriors the lead after 15 minutes of play, but Franklin tied it in the second and scored two more in the third for the win. Dan Magazu had a pair of goals for the Panthers while Jeremy Miller scored once.

Girls Hockey
Canton, 6 vs. Sandwich, 0 – FinalCanton senior captain Kendra Farrelly and freshman Lizzie Tassinari each scored a pair of goals to help the Bulldogs skate past Sandwich. Junior Maggie Malloy recorded two assists for her 50th career point.

King Philip, 10 @ Stoughton, 2 – Final

Wrestling
Stoughton, 13 @ Canton, 56 – Final

Mansfield, 36 @ Foxboro, 37 – Final

King Philip, 6 @ Franklin, 45 – Final

Taunton @ Milford, 7:00

North Attleboro, 59 @ Sharon, 12 – Final

Oliver Ames, 49 vs. Newton South, 15 – FinalOliver Ames seniors Cobey Williamson (126) and Casey Bellevue (132) each victories on Senior Night for the Tigers.

Boys Swimming
Foxboro, 70 @ Hopkinton, 91 – Final
King Philip, 75 @ Franklin, 93 – Final

Girls Swimming
Foxboro, 67 @ Hopkinton, 95 – Final
King Philip, 83 @ Franklin, 87 – Final

Gymnastics
Oliver Ames, 143 @ King Philip, 134.5 – FinalOliver Ames improved to 7-0 with the win, setting up a showdown with Mansfield next week that will likely decide the Hockomock champion. The Hornets stand at 6-0 with a meet against Canton on Thursday night. For Oliver Ames, sophomore Lauren Picanzi won the all around with a 35.9 while junior Gianna Martucci took second with a 35.8. Picanzi scored a 9.2 on the bars and an 8.9 on each the vault, beam and floor. Martucci earned a 9.2 on both the bars and the floor. Hannah Moynihan had the highest score of the meet with a 9.5 on both the beam and the floor while also recording a 9.0 on the bars. Senior Charis MacCuish scored a 9.3 on floor while freshmen Kiara Nagle, Ashlyn Latham, and sophomore Tina O’Neill also made strong contributions to the team score.

Wednesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/17/18

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Hockey
Attleboro, 9 @ Stoughton, 0 – FinalAttleboro senior Eddie Noel scored twice, including his first career goal while senior Jake Parker netted a hat trick in the win. Kyle McCabe added a pair of goals for Big Blue.

Foxboro, 2 @ Mansfield, 4 – FinalMansfield raced out to a 3-0 lead but had to hold off a late surge from Foxboro to earn two points. Junior Chris Copponi scored a pair of goals, including an empty net goal late in the third period to secure the win. Patrick McCafferty (from Cullin Anastasia) and Adam Anastos (from Dylan Tivnan) also scored for the Hornets. Foxboro’s Brendan Tully and Ronnie MacLellan each scored once for the Warriors.

Taunton, 0 @ Franklin, 8 – FinalTaunton limited Franklin to just one goal through two periods, but the Panthers exploded for seven goals in the final 15 minutes. Joey Lizotte, Cam Trask, and Luke Downie each scored a pair of goals to lead Franklin.

North Attleboro, 3 @ King Philip, 5 – Final

Girls Hockey
Canton, 1 vs. Medfield/Norton, 1 – FinalLauren Fitzpatrick scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs, who remain unbeaten on the season.

Franklin, 8 vs. Dedham, 0 – FinalSenior Jackie Connelly had a hat trick and freshman Natalie Stott recorded another shutout for the Panthers in a big non-league win. Regan Paterson chipped in with a pair of goals, while Amanda Lewandowski, Jordan Dwyer, and Victoria Quinn each scored once.

King Philip, 3 vs. Medway/Ashland, 2 – FinalNicole Connor scored a power-play goal inside the final five minutes to lift the Warriors to the victory. Meghan Gorman scored a pair of goals for KP in the win.

Wrestling
Canton, 27 @ Sharon, 40 – FinalSam Vilk, Will Stern, Matt Callan, and Alex Bolt each earned pins for the Eagles in the win.

Stoughton, 13 @ Foxboro, 58 – Final

Franklin, 46 @ Oliver Ames, 12 – FinalOliver Ames’ Anthony Berksza and Dean Pacini each earned wins for the Tigers in the loss.

King Philip @ Taunton, 7:00

Mansfield, 43 vs. Dighton-Rehoboth, 12 – Final

North Attleboro @ Milford – Postponed to Thursday, 1/18 at 7:00.

Boys Swimming
King Philip, 55 @ Taunton, 39 – Final
Sharon @ Milford – Postponed to Thursday, 1/18 at 4:00.

Girls Swimming
King Philip, 56 @ Taunton, 38 – Final
Sharon @ Milford – Postponed to Thursday, 1/18 at 4:00.

Gymnastics
Taunton, 118.75 @ King Philip, 129.1 – FinalVault – Kamryn Li (THS) 9.0; Sidney Treeful (KP) 8.9; Alexis Berthiaume (KP) 8.7. Bars – Elise Ferreria (THS) 8.6; Sidney Treeful (KP) 8.3; Alexis Berthiaume (KP) 7.8. Beam – Sidney Treeful (KP) 9.4; Elise Ferreia (THS) 8.7; Alyssa Florio (KP) 8.1. Floor – Kailey Abbott (KP) 8.6; Alexis Berthiaume (KP) 8.5; Elise Ferreria (THS) 8.4. All Around
Sidney Treeful (KP) 35.4; Alexis Berthiaume (KP) 32.3; Kamryn Li (THS) 31.1.

Mansfield Edges North Behind Late Arnold Winner

Mansfield hockey
Tim Arnold (4) celebrates his power play goal with five minutes remaining that turned out to be the game-winner for Mansfield against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


FOXBORO, Mass. – Chris Copponi’s shot was scuffed. The forward barely making contact with the puck just outside the right circle, but enough contact was made to redirect it past several sliding North Attleboro players trying desperately to block the Mansfield junior’s attempt at a power play goal.

The puck squirmed through the crowd of bodies right to senior defenseman Tim Arnold, who took advantage of the space and a wrong-footed North goalie Ryan Warren to one-time it into the empty net.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Arnold’s goal with five minutes remaining in the third period turned out to be the game-winner for the Hornets, who held on to beat North 3-2 in Saturday night’s league encounter at the Foxboro Sports Center.

“He whiffs and it still gets through, but we’ll take it,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini outside the locker room after the game. “We’ve been working on our power play because we knew they’d be a tough opponent from the first time we played them (a 4-1 North win in the season opener) and we were just patient. Yeah, it was a misfire, but we’ll take it.”

The Hornets converted on two-of-five power play opportunities in the game, including the game-tying goal in the second period and the eventual winner in the third. Arnold’s goal came on the third power play chance for the Hornets in the final period.

“Penalties are part of the game,” said first-year North coach Ben McManama, “but we’re getting too many lazy penalties where we’re playing defense with our sticks and not our feet. It was a game where we were in it but we shot ourselves in the foot.”

He added, “We also have to have more energy all game. We’re not having a consistent effort and that’s hurt us.”

There was no lack of energy from the Hornets at the start of the game. Mansfield came out flying in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, part of what has made this one of the league’s top rivalries in the last few seasons.

Freshman Justin McIvor created an early scoring chance with a big hit on Will Yeomans on the half-board. The puck popped loose to Copponi for a one-timer from the slot, but Warren (21 saves) stood tall to stop it. Warren then came up with a big pad save to rob Jake Lund in the slot and then blocked the follow-up effort too.

“The first period has been a struggle all year because we’ve come out flat,” Balzarini explained. “We played Stoughton on Wednesday and we scored three goals in the first period and that was the stresser during practice on Friday to come out with intensity.”

The Hornets made the good start count. Senior defenseman Tyler Oakley jumped up to join the attack, skating right down the middle of the North defense. His first shot was saved but he collected the rebound and finished. It was the first of two goals and three points out of the senior defensemen in the game.

“That’s why they where the ‘C’ on their jerseys,” said Balzarini of Oakley and Arnold. “They’re both really good captains, really good leaders and for those guys to step up not only on the ice but off the ice has been huge for us.”

With 7:11 left in the first, a fire alarm went off, momentarily forcing the stands to empty and the teams to head back to the locker rooms. It also stole the momentum from the hosts and allowed North the chance to regroup.

Drew Wissler had North’s first good scoring opportunity when he caught Mansfield up ice and found space in the left circle, but his shot was saved by Hornets goalie Sean McCafferty. The Rocketeers tied the game two minutes later, with only 25.1 on the clock, when Wissler fed the puck to Anthony Zammiello for a shorthanded breakaway and the junior went five-hole for the score.

“Before I could even have a chance to talk to them, they knew that they didn’t come out ready,” said McManama of the fire alarm break. “We’ve had a lot of bad starts this year and it really needs to change. The team is aware of it, but we just need to suck it up and come out ready to play.”

North took its first lead early in the second period. Wissler flew down the left side again, opened his body and unleashed an unstoppable shot over the shoulder of McCafferty and just inside the top corner.

The lead lasted six minutes before Mansfield responded with a power play goal of its own. Oakley lined up a blast from the point that Warren could only parry. The puck fell to Cullin Anastasia and he deposited it into the open net.

The Hornets had the chance to get back in front early in the third but Patrick McCafferty saw his shot carom off Warren’s mask and off the boards behind the net. After Arnold scored, defenseman Nick Levine nearly got into the act for the Hornets but Warren again made an important close-range save.

With time running down and North scrambling for an equalizer, Jason McNeanyhad a tap in at the back post that went wide of an open net and Nick Raneri had a shot in the final minute that was kicked aside at the post.

“The penalties in these games disrupt the flow, so things may be going our way but a penalty for or against if we don’t capitalize changes the whole momentum of the game,” said McManama. “A good hockey team doesn’t get affected by these things, but we’re not there yet. We’re going to get there, but we’re just not there yet.”

Mansfield has now won two in a row and Balzarini is hoping the Hornets can build off a strong week. He said, “The momentum was ours from Wednesday to today and I’m hoping it continues [at practice] on Monday and Tuesday.”

Mansfield (3-3-1, 2-0-0) will host Brockton in a non-league game on Wednesday. North Attleboro (5-3-0, 1-1-0) will host Franklin at the New England Sports Village.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Saturday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 12/16/17

Today’s games are listed below.

Hockey
Foxboro, 1 @ Attleboro, 2 – FinalRyan Morry and Jake Parker each scored once to help the Bombardiers earn their first win of the season, a non-league victory over Foxboro. Warriors freshman Kirk Leach scored his first career goal for Foxboro in the loss.

King Philip, 3 @ Bridgewater-Raynham, 0 – FinalKing Philip bounced back from its season-opening loss with a strong win on the road against the Trojans. The Warriors scored once in each period while junior James Lewis made 15 saves in his first varsity start to earn the win. Mike Curtin opened the scoring in the first off of assists from Garrett Maxwell and Collin Cooke. The Warriors made it 2-0 when Luke D’Amico converted off of a feed from Curtin. In the third, Cooke buried an unassisted goal into an empty net to secure the win.

Mansfield, 1 @ North Attleboro, 4 – FinalNorth Attleboro opened its season in style, scoring the opening goal just 21 seconds into the game and never looking back against the Hornets. Drew Wissler opened the scoring off of an assist from Anthony Zamiello, and then returned the favor to Zamiello later in the period to give Big Red a 2-0 lead after a period. Mansfield senior Cullin Anastasia scored a short-handed goal to bring the Hornets within one but Jeff Baker restored the two-goal lead for North within a minute to make it 3-1. Wissler scored an empty-netter in the third period to ice the game.

Stoughton, 2 vs. St. John Paul II, 5 – Final Brendan Campbell and Sean Doherty each scored a goal for Stoughton.

Girls Hockey
Canton, 1 @ Falmouth, 1 – FinalCanton peppered Falmouth with 41 shots but only broke through once to earn a point on the road. Andrea McNeil found the back of the net for the Bulldogs in the first period while Colleen Kelleher finished with 30 saves.

Mansfield/Oliver, 2 Ames @ Franklin, 2 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton, 0 @ King Philip, 7 – Final

Wrestling
Marlboro Early Bird (Canton) – Canton placed fifth overall among 16 teams. Sophomore Eddie Marinilli won the 138 bracket for the Bulldogs.

Mike Melish Duals (Foxboro, Sharon), 9:00AM

St. John’s Prep Quad (Franklin) – Franklin had the best team at the meeting, sweeping all three opponents. The Panthers opened with a dominant 45-18 win over Lawrence, earned a hard-fought victory over the hosts St. John Prep (31-21) and finished the day with a 58-16 win over Salem (NH). Jordan Carlucci went 3-0 on the day with three pins.

King Philip @ Milford, 10:00AM

Brockton Tri-meet (Mansfield) – Mansfield rallied for a win over host Brockton to pick up its second win of the day. The Hornets beat Barnstable (60-18) before coming back to beat the Boxers (39-31). Sam Isaacson (126), Ethan Nirenberg (195), and Sam Hutton (220) all picked up huge wins for the Hornets to help complete the comeback against Brockton.

North Attleboro Quad (North Attleboro) – North Attleboro picked up three wins on the day, including over one of the state’s best programs in Norton. Big Red beat Hope (RI) 53-22, took down Chariho (RI) 39-22 and picked up a win over Norton, 45-30. Seniors Jake Direnzo, Brady Folan, Zack Gould, Adam Eberle, and Brad White all went 3-0 for the day.

Marshfield Quad (Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames dominated the day, picking up four wins to move to 5-0 on the season. The Tigers beat Whitman-Hanson (53-15), Pembroke (47-24), Toll Gate (57-24) and host Marshfield (51-27). Freshman Remy Creighton (106), junior Nick McGovern (113), senior Brandon Belleton (138, three pins), junior Anthony Berksza (145, four pins) and junior Dean Pacini (195, three pins) all went 4-0 on the day for Oliver Ames.

Sandwich Early Bird (Taunton) – Taunton had a successful day at the Sandwich Early Bird tournament with seven wrestlers finishing first, second or third. Josh Grasso (132), Alex Simon (195) and Woudanly Danger (220) emerged victorious from their respective weight classes while Candido Santos (160) and Mason Frank (285) finished second and Tyler Kennedy (152) and Jordan Manning (285) each finished third.

Boys Indoor Track (@ Reggie Lewis)
Attleboro, 29 vs. Oliver Ames, 70 – Final
Canton, 25 vs. Sharon, 75 – Final
Foxboro, 23 vs. North Attleboro, 77 – Final
Franklin, 61 vs. King Philip, 39 – Final
Mansfield, 76 vs. Taunton, 24 – Final
Milford, 46 vs. Stoughton, 50 – Final

Girls Indoor Track (@ Reggie Lewis)
Attleboro, 31 vs. Oliver Ames, 69 – Final
Canton, 17.66 vs. Sharon, 82.33 – Final
Foxboro, 23 vs. North Attleboro, 68 – Final
Franklin, 77 vs. King Philip, 23 – Final
Mansfield, 43.50 vs. Taunton, 56.50 – Final
Milford, 71 vs. Stoughton, 29 – Final

Gymnastics
Taunton, 124.1 @ Attleboro, 134.65 – Final

North Attleboro, 136.15 @ Canton, 103.35 – FinalNorth Attleboro had four different individuals each win a single event in a victory over Canton. Kaleigh DeMarco won the vault (9.1), Caroline Szajda won the bars (8.4), Lindsay Robinson was first on the beam (8.7) and Paige Moore was victorious on the floor (8.8).

King Philip @ Canton, 7:00

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys and Girls Hockey Preview

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys and Girls Hockey Preview
Canton and North Attleboro will once again battle for the Davenport division crown this winter, as Hockomock League hockey kicks off a new season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Attleboro

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.”

Canton

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.”

Foxboro

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.

Franklin

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.”

King Philip

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.”

Mansfield

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.”

North Attleboro

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.

Oliver Ames

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.”

Stoughton

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.

Taunton

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.”

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview
Colleen Kelleher and Canton will be one of the favorites to win the inaugural Hockomock League girls’ hockey season, which begins this winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Canton

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

2016-2017 Record: 4-15-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Marjorie Burke

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.”

King Philip

2016-2017 Record: 11-10-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Coach:

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.

Mansfield/Oliver Ames

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.”

Stoughton

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.”