WATERTOWN, Mass. – Sometimes you run into the wrong team at the wrong time. Canton (12-6-5) believed it was one of the top teams in Division 2 heading into the state tournament and had the potential to make a run at a third straight title game appearance, but then it got drawn with arguably the top team in D2, Wellesley, in the first round.
The Raiders seemed to have found another gear in the past few weeks and that form continued on Monday night at the John A. Ryan Arena, as Wellesley rolled to a 5-0 victory and a return to the D2 quarterfinal.
“That’s not the team that I scouted that tied Walpole and lost to Notre Dame,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich about Monday night’s opponent. “They’ve got three solid lines, they’re strong with their sticks, their transition game is the best that I’ve seen. We couldn’t get pucks through. It’s just a really, really deep, solid team.”
Wellesley opened the scoring after five minutes when freshman forward Lulu Rourke weaved through a trio of Canton defenders and dropped a perfect pass in the path of her sister Emily, who then fired a shot inside the post. Only 71 seconds later and Wellesley doubled its advantage. Bridget Noonan got the puck in the slot and picked the corner for a power play tally.
“Unfortunately, the slow start, we’ve had that this year a few different times,” Aldrich explained. “I didn’t think we played too badly. Our breakout I thought was fine. We knew some things they were going to do and we counteracted that pretty well.”
The Raiders dominated zone time in the first period, but the Canton defense managed to hold the puck to the outside and limited Wellesley to only three shots on goal. Meg Aldrich, Alexa Maffeo, Katie Trerice, and company were able to block shots and keep the front of the net clear.
On the other end, Canton’s chances were rare. The Bulldogs also managed three shots on goal in the first, but were unable to sustain zone time and take some of the pressure off the defense. Aldrich created a turnover in the neutral zone, which sprung Leah McClellan for a shot from inside the left face-off dot that was saved by Wellesley goalie Liddy Schultz.
The second period was all Wellesley. The Raiders put 13 shots on goal in the second and Canton goalie Ava Pacitti had to hold firm to give the Bulldogs any shot of a comeback. Erin Fleming added a third goal with an unstoppable shot from the right circle to the stick side and Bliss Vernon found the five-hole from the high slot, but Pacitti kept Canton close despite all of Wellesley’s attacks.
Tess Khoury nearly created a goal out of nothing for the Bulldogs when she poke checked a Wellesley defender on the edge of the crease and forced Schultz into a pad stop. McClellan aggressively forechecked shorthanded and tried to stuff the puck in from a tight angle after forcing a turnover.
Although they went into the third period trailing by four goals, the Bulldogs managed to put together their best attacking period of the game. Lauren Fitzpatrick and Maggie Malloy were finally able to create some space to get off shots, as did Lizzie Tassinari.
“There’s only so many things that you can control,” said Aldrich. “People can beat you but they can’t out-compete you and I thought they really brought it in the third period. The seniors, it was their opportunities to sign their names to this game as what they want to leave as a legacy. I was really pleased with the effort.”
Canton would outshoot the Raiders 10-9 in the third, but it was Wellesley that added to the scoreline. Lulu Rourke took the puck down the left side and again showed off her stick skills to dodge a pair of defenders and stick the puck in with a backhand shot that made it 5-0.
“I think we’re one of the top four teams in this division,” said Aldrich, “and to have to meet probably the best team in the division in the first round kind of stinks.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – During last year’s state tournament, forward Maggie Malloy caught fire and gave Canton the offensive firepower to match its solid play in the defensive zone. Malloy scored six goals and had three game-winners during that tournament run and it appears that momentum has carried right over to this season.
Malloy scored all four of her team’s goals on Wednesday night at the Foxboro Sports Center to help Canton open its Hockomock League title defense with a 4-1 road win against King Philip. She has six goals in three games to start the new year.
“She’s always going to have the offensive stuff but coming into this year we talked about how we needed her to be more complete,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich about Malloy’s play in all three zones. “We have a lot of young kids and her defensive game has really improved a lot and everybody sees that and that’s what they want to do too.”
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to open the scoring. Sophomore Ellie Rae Roberts (two assists) drove down the right side of the ice and sent a puck into the slot where Malloy was camped out. She fired a shot past KP goalie Lilly Potts (12 saves) and handed the visitors a 1-0 lead inside the first two minutes.
“We talked about getting off to a good start,” Aldrich explained. “They always play us really well and we thought it was important to come out quick and really pressure them. They’ve got some really dynamic players…so we had to get on them and not give them any space.”
Canton nearly doubled the lead a couple minutes later with Roberts having a shot from the right circle kicked aside and then Potts was quickly out to smother Malloy’s rebound attempt. KP’s first attempt on target came with four minutes left in the first when freshman Sydney O’Shea forced a save from the right wall.
KP started to get a foothold in the game over the final few minutes of the first period, but again Malloy was there to pounce on a rare scoring chance. On the power play, Alexa Maffeo kept the puck in at the blue line and got the puck to Malloy, who was able to pick an opening past Potts.
“That goal late in the period was kind of deflating at the time because the girls were playing really well at that point,” said KP coach Jack Unger. “Canton is a very, very good team and you can’t afford to make any mistakes and we had times where we couldn’t get the puck out of our zone just due to a couple small errors and they took advantage of it.”
Down 2-0 at the start of the second, the Warriors had a great chance to cut the lead in half. Alli Meehan weaved through the Canton defense onto her backhand, but was denied by Canton goalie Ava Pacitti. It was a big moment for the senior netminder, who is in her first varsity season, taking over after Colleen Kelleher graduated.
Aldrich said, “Ava’s been really making some good saves for us. We’re used to having that, it’s just a different number but she’s really embraced this team and the team has embraced her. It certainly doesn’t look like she hasn’t played before this year.”
The Bulldogs came close to a third midway through the period when freshman Tess Khoury teed up Malloy in the slot, but Potts was there for a big stop. Maria Femia followed that with a shot off that caromed off the post and then Potts made good stops to deny Roberts and Malloy on the edge of the crease. Lauren Fitzpatrick also forced a save with a shot from the right circle.
Malloy completed her hat trick with three minutes left in the second. Khoury set her up alone in the middle of the zone and Malloy showed remarkable patience before firing a shot under the bar.
Meanwhile, on the other end, Canton was holding KP to just eight shots through two periods, combining strong defensive play with aggressive back-checking from the forwards. In particular, Aldrich praised his seniors, Malloy and Fitzpatrick for setting the tone.
“Lauren Fitzpatrick is one of those players who can have a great game without scoring a goal,” he said. “This was one of the best games she’s ever played and I don’t think she got a point.”
KP came out strong in the third period, but Malloy essentially sealed the win inside three minutes. She stole a puck on the edge of the attacking zone, dragged the puck to her left, opened up her body and found the back of the net.
The Warriors didn’t stop skating, despite being down by four goals. Sammy Robison fired a shot from the point that was redirected inches wide by Meghan Gorman. Nicole Connor, who was all over the ice for KP, fired a shot from the point that Pacitti (16 saves) gloved and then was denied by a quick pad on a wraparound attempt.
With 3:49 left to play in the game, KP got on the board. Sophomore Avri Maxwell went five-hole with a shot from outside the right circle for a power play goal. She almost got a second a minute later but Pacitti stopped two efforts on goal.
KP outshot the Bulldogs 9-3 in the third and 17-16 for the game. “We knew we were down by three goals and it’s a young team but we’ve got some veterans who are pretty competitive and they don’t like to lose, so they wanted to go out and at least try to win that third period.”
He added, “They had the effort from start to finish, we just need to put the puck in the net more.”
Canton (3-0) will look to continue its unbeaten start to the season on Saturday with a trip to Whitman-Hanson. King Philip (1-2-1) will take the trip to Dennis-Yarmouth looking to get back to .500 on the season.
2017-2018 Record: 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 state title game. Coach: Dennis Aldrich
For two straight winters, Canton has advanced to the TD Garden to play in the Div. 2 state title game. Two years ago, the Bulldogs shocked everyone by getting to the final, but last season there was an expectation that Canton could make a deep tournament run. Those high expectations are there again this year, as the first-ever Hockomock League champions return two experienced lines of forwards and defensemen that all saw time during the tournament run.
The first line returns the team’s top two scorers with senior forwards Maggie Malloy (10 goals, 13 assists) and Lauren Fitzpatrick (14 goals, nine assists) forming a dynamic partnership that sparked the Bulldogs attack last season. Malloy was particularly prolific in the playoffs, providing decisive goals throughout the playoffs. Second line center Andrea McNeil has graduated but sophomores Lizzie Tassinari, Maria Femia, and Ellie Rae Roberts provided speed and energy during solid rookie seasons.
Defense has been Canton’s best weapon in each of the last two seasons. Although outstanding goalie Colleen Kelleher has graduated, senior Ava Pacitti is earning rave reviews during the preseason and she will have a well-drilled group of defensemen in front of her. Seniors Katie Trerice and Leah McClellan and junior Meg Aldrich and Alexa Maffeo will form a solid top two pairings at the blue line, with McClellan adding the different dimension of also jumping into the attack as often as possible.
“Canton’s staple has always been one of a hard skating, defensively stingy, opportunistic team. This year should be no exception,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich, who is looking forward to the new challenge of defending a Hockomock League title.
2017-2018 Record: 14-4-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 first round. Coach: Margie Burke
Franklin had a very strong 2017-18 season, winning 14 games, including one in the postseason, and will try to build on that momentum to make another run at the postseason and to challenge inaugural league champ Canton at the top of the standings.
There is plenty of experience coming back to power the Panthers up the league standings. Senior Regan Paterson is one of the league’s top skaters and was the league’s top scorer last year with 18 goals and seven assists. Sophomores Victoria Quinn, Amanda Lewandowski, and Libby Carter will also provide offense after combining for 16 goals as freshmen. Junior Jordan Dwyer is also back up top after a 12-point season last year. While this a lot of youth in the forward lines, all saw time last season.
Defense will be one of the team’s strengths this season, with juniors Tina Pisano, Gina Vignone, and Gianna Cameron and senior Cassi Ronan all back to lead a veteran crew. One of the biggest changes for the Panthers will be in goal. Natalie Stott had an impressive freshman campaign but left to attend prep school, so Franklin will turn to sophomore Gabby Colace, who allowed only 0.56 goals against, saved 96 percent of the shots she faced, and had three shutouts as a freshman, and is ready to step into a bigger role. Senior Gianna Cornetta will also see time in net.
Franklin coach Margie Burke, who was honored with the National Ice Hockey Officials Association (NIHOA) Coach of the Year award last March, said, “I expect the hockey [in the league] to be very competitive again this year.”
2017-2018 Record: 11-9-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 first round. Coach: Jack Unger
King Philip finished second in the inaugural season of Hockomock girls hockey and nearly reached the Div. 2 quarterfinal, only losing to Archbishop Williams by single goal, and the Warriors bring back their leading scorers to try and make a run at the Hock title. With a mix of experience and youth, KP could give Canton a run in the league and be poised for a tournament run as well.
The forward line will be very experienced with seniors Meghan Gorman, Alli Meehan, Alli Wilson, and Emily Brawley all back to provide scoring punch. Leading scorer Nicole Connor is also back and the senior defender is one of the most dynamic players in the league, giving KP strong play at the blue line and adding to the attack. Connor will be joined in the defense by seniors Madelyn Kelley and Lilly Worthington.
Goaltending should be a strength for the Warriors this season with senior Lilly Potts and junior Cristina Coleman both capable of shutting down the opposition. The team is also loaded with underclassmen, which bodes well for the program’s future. Freshmen Sydney O’Shea and Morgan Cunningham are a pair of newcomers that could make instant contributions for the Warriors this season.
“Despite being a younger team overall, the players have tremendous potential,” said KP coach Jack Unger. “Typical of all the sports programs within the Hockomock League, each game is against the best inter-league contestants out there. We all have the ability to beat one another each time out.”
2017-2018 Record: 12-7-3 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 first round. Coach: Roy Bain
While Mansfield/Oliver Ames has a new coach, as Roy Bain takes over the program this season, and will be looking to move on without leading scorer Cat Luciano, who is now at Holy Cross, there are 15 players returning from the team that got back into the state tournament last winter and nine freshmen that have added depth to the growing program.
Seniors Isabelle Shanteler (Mansfield) and Mackenzi Fraser (Foxboro) will try to make up some of Luciano’s scoring from last year. The duo will be on the top scoring line along with freshman Kylie O’Keefe (Foxboro) and provide the speed and energy to jumpstart the MOA attack. Unlike past years, the Warriors won’t be counting on one player to dominate the stats but will look to take advantage of its depth. Senior Lindsey Corning (Mansfield) will center the second line between sophomore wingers Ella Waryas (Foxboro) and Emma Garland (Mansfield), while sophomores Alex Ledin (OA) and Lily O’Brien (Mansfield) have shown promise as centers as well.
The defense is led by senior Danae Reager (Foxboro), who has been a varsity player for four years and sets the standard for the blue line group. Sophomores Melissa Shanteler (Mansfield) and Emma Pereira (OA) will be paired together, while Reager will be paired with sophomore Megan O’Hara (Mansfield). Freshman Jess Widdop (OA) has been outstanding in net during the preseason and has built the team’s confidence heading into the opening game.
Bain said of his new goalie, “In the 10 days since we’ve started practicing, she’s been nothing short of impressive. Her athleticism and work ethic will serve the team well as we enter the season.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-17 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Rich Grasso
Last winter, Stoughton had its best season as a program, winning four games, including a three-game win streak early in the schedule. This year, the Black Knights will get a boost from a co-op with Sharon, which should increase the numbers in the program as it tries to add its first win in the Hockomock League to its recent accomplishments.
The loss of leading scorer Julia Russell to an injury, which also kept her out of the field hockey season, will be tough, but the Black Knights have several other experienced players coming back to try and pick up the slack. Senior Katie Widrow is one of the leaders on the forward line and she will be joined up front by sophomore Morgan Lessa and a pair of newcomers to keep an eye on: junior Taylor Kim and sophomore Samantha Sherman.
On defense, senior Jordan Lyons and sophomore Haley Nelson will be the returning players to watch, keeping things organized on the blue line. Behind the defense, junior goalie Brianna Buckley will be between the posts to try and keep the opposition out. Stoughton coach Rich Grasso called Buckley the team’s “show stopper” and she is looking to build off a solid year of experience in goal.
“The team has one goal in mind and that is to make the tournament,” said Grasso. “This is a huge task being in the Hockomock League playing against powerhouse teams…We are small in numbers but talented. Looking forward to proving we belong in that league.”
BOSTON, Mass. – Wellesley and Canton (18-4-3) combined to hold opponents to only 48 goals in 47 games this season, including just three goals apiece during their three tournament games leading into Sunday afternoon’s Div. 2 state championship game at the TD Garden.
It was no surprise then that scoring was at a premium in the final. Jenna Harrison’s goal with only 4.7 seconds remaining in the first period turned out to be enough to lift Wellesley, which was in its fourth trip to the TD Garden in the past five years, to a 1-0 victory and the state title.
“We’ve been riding Colleen for so long that we thought if the shots were even then we’d have a very good chance,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “I don’t think we concentrated enough on getting shots through them. We sometimes would make a little extra move, we felt confident about that, but it wasn’t necessarily the game plan.”
He also praised Wellesley, adding, “They are the best team we’ve faced this year and they are a true champion.”
The Raiders dominated puck possession and created far more scoring opportunities than the Bulldogs, who found their chances limited throughout the game. Senior goalie Colleen Kelleher put in another stellar performance in net, stopping 30 shots in her final game for Canton.
“Another big game by Colleen,” said Aldrich feigning a yawn about his senior goalie who has been consistently strong in helping Canton get to the TD Garden in each of the last two seasons. “I’m trying to red-shirt her by the way. She’s a heck of a player…and she’s the first one to pass it off to her teammates and that’s what makes her special.
Canton was limited to just eight shots in the game. The offense was stymied by the talented Wellesley defense, which blocked a number of shots to protect sophomore goalie Liddy Schultz and kept the Canton attackers to the outside.
Olivia Vernon had the first good chance for Wellesley, forcing Kelleher into a glove save three minutes into the game, and Erin Fleming skated to the right circle to bring out a blocker save. Canton took seven minutes before creating its first scoring chance. Alexa Maffeo’s shot from the point picked out freshman Lizzie Tassinari on the near post but Schultz got down quickly to block.
Wellesley nearly took the lead with three minutes left in the first after Kelleher’s initial save went straight to Lauren Ruggiero but the rebound effort slid just wide. Tassinari drew a save out of Schultz that fellow freshman Maria Femia followed up but also could not beat the Raiders goalie.
A warning shot came with 30 seconds left in the period when Mackenzie O’Neil got free on the right side, but fired her shot just wide. With the clock ticking down in the period, Wellesley finally made its dominance pay with a great individual effort. Harrison dragged the puck through her legs and dangled past three Canton defensemen before lifting a shot past Kelleher.
The rest of the game followed a similar pattern of Wellesley getting a number of shots on Kelleher, while the Bulldogs struggled to get into the transition game that made its offense so potent during the season.
Kelleher made a kick save to deny Isabelle Kressy from the slot and made a pair of quick saves to keep out Catherine Crosier and then the rebound shot from Bliss Vernon. In the third period, she also stuffed O’Neil on the edge of the crease and then seconds later on a one-timer from the right circle.
Canton created few chances but in the second period the Bulldogs nearly pulled even. SeniorKatie Halloran skated down the near boards and picked out freshman Ellie Rae Roberts, who was all alone in front. Roberts struggled to handle the pass and then rushed a backhand effort on goal that Schultz pushed aside. It was the only shot that Canton would put on target in the period.
Despite experiencing the TD Garden ice for the first time, the freshmen on the second and third lines put in impressive shifts for the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“They’ve got a huge upside,” said Aldrich. “Ellie Rae’s speed is terrific. Maria, her compete level, and Lizzie is just one of the smartest players we have. They’re definitely going to be future leaders coming through.”
The other great chance came only a minute later when Maggie Malloy found room on the near boards and sent a near-perfect pass across the crease to Lauren Fitzpatrick, but it went straight through with Schultz stranded.
Malloy came into the game having scored six goals in three playoff games, including all three game-winners, but she struggled to consistently get on the puck in the final. The top line, which includes Kendra Farrelly, Malloy, and Fitzpatrick, had all but one of Canton’s goals in the postseason but managed very few shots on goal in the final. Malloy had one inside the final six minutes but that would be Canton’s last of the game.
“We tried to break into short, two-minute games, play each shift out there like the goalie’s pulled,” Aldrich said of the mentality in the third period. “If we could match that intensity, go a shift at a time, forget about the match-ups, where everything goes to the net. Forget about mistakes, out-compete them in the third period.”
He continued, “I thought we were certainly a little more desperate than they were and we’re hoping we could catch them being a little comfortable and playing not to lose, but they’re a well-coached team and they did a nice job. They’ve been here before and they’ll be here again and hopefully we’ll be joining them.”
Aldrich also praised his group of seniors, including a few who do not see much time on the ice but got the chance to skate at the TD Garden in the final nine seconds after a late penalty on the Bulldogs forced them into a defensive zone face-off.
“These guys were with us when we played our last game at Ponkapoag Rink and the next year the rink went down and we were a road team all over the place,” he said. “These guys were there. They played the first game in our new rink and brought us to the Garden the last two years, so for them I’m just so thrilled.
“It will sting now but they’re going to look back and they’re going to smile.”
BRIGHTON, Mass. – Last winter, Canton was the No. 14 seed, an underdog and an afterthought for many of the people picking favorites to make a run at a state championship. This season, the Bulldogs have been considered Div. 2 title contenders for months and earned the No. 2 seed coming into the tournament. There was no sneaking up on opponents this year, instead Canton has had to deal with the weight of high expectations.
While the journey has been very different from last year to this one, the end result is the same. Canton will be heading to the TD Garden to play for the state title on the final day of the winter season.
The Bulldogs earned their spot in the final with a 1-0 victory over third-seeded Archbishop Williams on Monday night at the Warrior Ice Arena courtesy of 16 saves from senior goalie Colleen Kelleher and a goal from junior Maggie Malloy, her sixth of the postseason.
“Last year was insane,” Kelleher explained. “We had no idea we could even do that, it was a joke. We just kept going, game after game, but this year it was more like, we have to make it back and we have to get our second chance and we have to win. I think we were a little more motivated this time but it still feels just as sweet.
Canton coach Dennis Aldrich said, “Last year we snuck up on a lot of people. We were supposed to lose every game last year. To do what these kids have done with the target on their back all year because people knew where we were last year…this is a bigger accomplishment for this program. They stuck together.”
The Bulldogs got off to a strong start to the state semifinal, suffering no hangover from last week’s win over Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) that avenged last year’s title game defeat. Andrea McNeil set up Maria Femia for a golden scoring opportunity just five minutes in only to be denied the opener by Archies goalie Allison Delmonte.
Two minutes later, Lauren Fitzpatrick drove at the net from the left circle but a last-second poke check by the goalie kept her from getting off a shot. McNeil stole the puck on the forecheck but missed the net from the slot and freshman Lizzie Tassinari managed to get off a shot while falling down and forced a pad stop.
Kendra Farrelly nearly picked the top corner only to have Delmonte get her shoulder to the first try and also block Farrelly’s follow up. Canton finished with six shots in the first, despite controlling most of the play and keeping Archies on its heels.
The Bulldogs kept pressing at the start of the second with the forecheck continuing to cause problems for the Bishops, forcing turnovers and leading to shots on goal. The Canton forwards were also putting in shifts in the defensive zone and one backcheck by Femia allowed her to break out quickly and create an odd-man rush with Tassinari but again Delmonte made the save.
The breakthrough finally came with 8:42 left in the second. Malloy, who also scored the game-winners in each of Canton’s two previous playoff games this season, showed off her speed in the neutral zone after an outlet by Alexa Maffeo and got space in the right circle. As she angled towards goal, she fired an unstoppable shot just under the bar for the 1-0 lead.
“There is no one who works harder,” said Aldrich of Malloy. “She deserves everything she gets because she’s the hardest working player on our team. She’s a gamer and she brings it every night. She may not have the polished skill that some people do but what she has you can’t teach.”
Femia and Tassinari continued to cause fits on the second line with both having good scoring chances in the second and Fitzpatrick got free for a shot after Leah McClellan managed to keep a puck in at the blue line.
Before the game, Aldrich talked about trying to wear Archies down and in the second period he used his third line of Marissa Devane, Ellie Rae Roberts, and Katie Halloran a few times to try and add a little energy and give his other lines a short breather.
Aldrich said, “We don’t normally go strictly two lines but we looked to do that in the first period to maybe get a little quick strike on them. It didn’t work as planned but then we were able to spot the third line out there a couple times and it really got us energized. They only got maybe three, four shifts but they were important shifts for us.”
Canton gave Archies the chance to get back into the game with three penalties in the third period, but the Bulldogs were so aggressive on the kill that the Bishops struggled at times to get the puck out of their defensive zone.
“When you’re tired,” Aldrich explained, “if you’re out-worked by the penalty kill it works against you; you have to work harder. I think we wore them out just enough. We take pride in the third period too, whether we’re even strength or a man down, we try to keep it simple and we actually did a great job of that.”
McNeil and Malloy both had chances to seal the win but Delmonte continued to be stout in the Archies goal. Kelleher was largely untroubled on the other end of the ice with the biggest save of note being a second period stop on Mackenzie Heath after she skated in all alone. With 4:35 remaining in the game, Kelleher was called on again after Hanna Bell spun in the slot and fired a snap shot that the Canton goalie was able to kick aside.
It was a solid stop, especially since Kelleher had been mostly a spectator as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-1 advantage in shots in the third.
“It’s so nerve-wracking,” said Kelleher of not having to be ready after a long time between saves. “Even though in the games I face more shots I may let in more goals but I’m more focused in the game and my legs are warmed up. It’s definitely harder in these types of games.”
Archies finished with a flurry, desperately seeking the tying goal. Heath had the final scoring opportunity as she pinched in from the point on the power play, but her shot was saved by Kelleher.
At the final horn, the Canton players raced to their goalie to celebrate. This tournament run may be different than last year, but in the end that feeling of knowing that you are playing for a state title remains.
“I couldn’t stop smiling,” Kelleher gushed. “My heart just like burst. I don’t even know, it gave me butterflies. I’m so excited still.”
Canton (18-3-3) will face top seed Wellesley in the Div. 2 state championship game on Sunday at the TD Garden, time to be determined.
BRIGHTON, Mass. – When Canton faced off against Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in last year’s Div. 2 state title game at the TD Garden, the 14th seed Bulldogs were the prohibitive favorite against the undefeated defending state champions and the game played out as expected with the Cougars claiming a second straight title.
Fast forward 12 months and the Bulldogs were more experienced, deeper, and full of belief that they could skate with NDA in Tuesday night’s Div. 2 quarterfinal at the Warrior Ice Arena and that was exactly how the game played out.
Junior forward Maggie Malloy continued her hot start to the playoffs with two goals and two assists and Canton’s top line accounted for all but one goal in a 5-2 victory that returned the Bulldogs to the state semifinal and exacted a measure of revenge for last March.
“It feels great,” said Malloy outside the locker room after the game. “We reversed it. We’re calling it the revenge tour.”
Canton coach Dennis Aldrich credited a preseason scrimmage with the Cougars, which finished in a 2-2 tie, for giving the team an extra boost of confidence heading into the season. He was able to remind his team of that performance heading into Tuesday’s rematch.
“It just built a lot of confidence and they came out and just wanted to out-compete them,” he said. “We had the talent level, we had seen enough of them…It was just our time.”
Malloy agreed, adding, “Playing a team like that the first time is going to be shocking but once you play them a couple times we have a better feel for who they are. This year we just said, we’re in great shape, we have great competition, and we’re just working together well.”
When the Bulldogs beat Walpole in the opening round, Aldrich was reminded of how every opponent that Canton beat last year claimed the better team had lost. He should have no concerns about that this season, as the Bulldogs controlled the majority of play right from the opening face-off.
Malloy, who scored a hat trick in the win against Walpole, had an early chance with a backhand that forced NDA goalie Erin Murray into a save. Two minutes later and Malloy put the Bulldogs in front. She stole the puck in the neutral zone, which Canton successfully clogged up all night, and skated in alone on Murray before ripping a shot into the top corner.
“The biggest threat for them that I saw was their transition game and the best way to counter that for us is to get [the puck] behind them and wear them out a little,” Adrich said. “Our defensive reads were better, especially on [Alexa Graziano].”
With 4:39 left in the first, Malloy nearly doubled the lead after Lauren Fitzpatrick’s pass went off the skate of Kendra Farrelly on the edge of the crease and Malloy was able to put the loose puck on net. Just 10 seconds later, NDA had its first good look when Kelly Morrissey got free in the slot but Colleen Kelleher (20 saves) made a smart pad stop.
The Cougars would go into the first intermission level. On the face-off following the game’s first penalty, Canton got mixed up on coverage and gave Kelsey Stewart the time to pick her corner.
NDA seemed to take some momentum from the tying goal into the second period and Kelleher had to be sharp to deny Alexa Graziano has she drove in from the left circle. Canton regained its edge and the lead with 7:36 left in the second. Fitzpatrick centered for Farrelly again and this time the puck found Andrea McNeil on the far post. She took a second and then fired a shot inside the post before leaping in celebration.
“Our second goal came right off what we’re trying to do [on face-offs],” Aldrich explained. “One of their guys is trying to fire out and we just want to set a pick on her coming out and it ended up screwing her up a little bit, puck bounced around and boom it’s 2-1.”
The goal sparked Canton back into action. A Theresa O’Brien shot from the point was stopped by Lizzie Tassinari in the slot but her backhand went narrowly wide. Kelleher then had to make three saves on Graziano, including a nice double save coming off an NDA face-off win.
Aldrich said of Kelleher, “She made some huge saves early on. That Graziano girl, god she’s quite a player. She gave us fits but the only shots that Colleen didn’t save were the ones she didn’t see and that’s our fault.”
As the clock ticked under two minutes left in the period, Malloy struck again (her fifth goal of the postseason). Farrelly’s shot from the left was blocked but not held by Murray and Malloy was quick to dig out the puck from a scrum of sticks and skates and then flick it in for a 3-1 lead.
Malloy deflected praise for her scoring streak onto her teammates. She said, “As a team, everybody’s getting their effort to the net and the fact that I’ve scored them reflects on everyone that is on the ice. You can just tell that everyone in the locker room, on the bench, wants to get the puck in the back of the net.”
The first line has only been playing as a unit for a few games, but it has certainly found a rhythm at the right time of the season. Malloy said, “The first game, I don’t think it went that well but once we decided it doesn’t matter who is putting the puck in the net than things started to go well.”
Fitzpatrick got behind the NDA defense right from the opening face-off of the third period but Murray made a big stop to keep the Cougars in it. NDA then turned on the pressure, out-skating Canton for the first and really only stretch of the contest as it desperately tried to get back into the game. It paid off with a goal a minute into the third, as Merideth Stewart snuck a shot through a crowd in front and past an unsighted Kelleher to make it 3-2.
After a few minutes of NDA pressure, Canton recovered and took back the impetus. Malloy saw a shot glance off the shoulder of Murray and then on the power play Maffeo’s shot from the point and Malloy’s follow-up were both kept out by the NDA goalie.
Murray could only do so much and with 6:25 to play, Fitzpatrick got on the scoresheet when she drove off the right circle and went top shelf at the near post to restore the two-goal advantage. With 1:20 left and NDA putting on some pressure with an extra skater, Farrelly managed to hold off a defenseman and slide into a shot for an empty net goal that sealed the win.
Canton (17-3-3) will await the winner of Archbishop Williams and Natick in the state semifinal on Monday night back at the Warrior Ice Arena.
CANTON, Mass. – The first two periods had been largely dominated by the 18th seed. Walpole held, by one count, a 23-9 edge in shots, including a 14-5 edge in the second period and had Canton on its heels in Sunday afternoon’s Div. 2 opening round game at the Canton Ice House.
It turned out the Bulldogs, and especially junior forward Maggie Malloy, were saving the best for last.
Malloy scored a natural hat trick in the third period to break open a tie game and lift second seed Canton to a 4-1 victory over the Rebels that sends the Bulldogs back to the Div. 2 quarterfinal and sets up a rematch with Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), which Canton faced in last year’s state title game.
“The first couple, we weren’t playing like us,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “I don’t know if it was the week and a half layoff or playing a heck of a team but they kind of took it to us a little bit and we were losing a few more battles than I’m used to us losing.”
He added, “All we talked about is no matter what happened, we can’t control whether we win or lose, but we can beat them on then compete level and I think we definitely did that in the third period, finally.”
Although Walpole had the advantage in shots in the opening period, it was Canton that had the lead. Sophomore Alexa Maffeo set up Kendra Farrelly in the slot for a rare scoring opportunity and the senior made no mistake, going bar down with her shot to beat Walpole goalie Kiera McInerny.
The Rebels came out flying to start the second and almost immediately found an equalizer on the power play. Amanda Janowicz was able to shed a defender behind the Canton goal and caught goalie Colleen Kelleher looking the wrong way when she stepped forward and slid the puck into the open net.
Kelleher (26 saves) was the backbone to the Bulldogs’ run to the TD Garden in last year’s playoffs and their inaugural Hockomock League championship and she came through with a series of big stops to keep the game tied in the second.
Janowicz nearly got her second power play goal only to have Kelleher block it aside and then get down quickly to stop the rebound shot as well. Audra Tosone skated through a couple of Bulldogs before stopping on a dime and firing a wrister that Kelleher gloved.
The best chance for Canton in the second came from junior Lauren Fitzpatrick, who showed off her stick-handling skills to dance through the Walpole defense, but her shot attempt was blocked on the edge of the crease.
Aldrich said, “The talk we had with them [after the second period] was, we haven’t even played our best hockey and I think they’re playing as well as they’re going to play.”
He continued, “[Walpole] had the body language, they had everything, they were ready to go and for us to answer that bell…we talked about, you’re used to this type of game, it’s not new, you know how to come out on top, and I don’t know that they do.
After two periods on the back foot Canton came out flying for the third and snatched back the momentum after just 27 seconds. Malloy skated three-quarters of the ice down the left wing and drove towards the goal. She faked as though she was going to carry the puck across the crease to get McInerny to give up the near post and then just calmly slid it past the goalie’s trailing leg.
“She was shot out of a rocket on the go-ahead goal to start the third and a natural hat trick in the third period,” Aldrich raved. “You can’t beat that.”
Canton went on the power play with 6:06 remaining and on the ensuing face-off Malloy nearly got her second only to have McInerny make the point-blank stop. Twelve seconds later, Malloy scored. This time, she found space inside the left circle and was set up with a perfect pass from Farrelly, took a second, and then placed a shot just inside the far post.
Katie Trerice had a blast from the point tipped on goal by Fitzpatrick, but the Walpole goalie did a good job reading the shot through traffic and was able to get a pad on it.
In the final minute, Malloy took advantage of hesitation by a back-pedaling Walpole defenseman to latch onto a loose puck on the edge of the blue line and she easily dispatched an empty net goal for her hat trick and to clinch the win.
Last year, Canton was the 14th seed and played the role of the plucky underdogs all the way to the final. This year, the Bulldogs are expected to make a run and now have the target on their backs.
“Every team that we played last year said that the better team didn’t win,” Aldrich said. “Every team starting from Shrewsbury on down and that was fine because we were the hunter and this year we’re the hunted.”
Aldrich credited some of the seniors on his bench that do not see much ice time for the leadership and positivity that they bring to the Bulldogs bench. He said, “One of the biggest things that we have is the support of our non-playing seniors. They bring us up when we’re down and we owe a lot of that third period to them.”
Canton (16-3-3) will get another shot at NDA on Tuesday night at the Warrior Arena in Brighton. Aldrich knows that it will be a tough test against one of the best in the state, but he and his players are excited for the challenge.
“If you don’t want that shot, then you don’t belong playing sports,” he said. “Yeah we maybe would want to face them in the final, but you’ve got to beat good teams to get there and it would be another feather in the cap. Last year, we maybe weren’t sure but this year we’re sure, we can skate with them.”
CANTON, Mass. – With two of the top defensive units in Canton and Franklin going head to head, goal scoring chances were going to be at a premium.
Franklin sophomore Jordan Dwyer took advantage of her chance, scoring the only goal of the game a minute into the final period to give the Panthers a 1-0 upset over Canton.
While Dwyer provided the lone tally of the game, it was Franklin freshman goalie Natalie Stott (35 saves) that put the Panthers in position to get the win.
“She made the difference,” said Franklin head coach Margie Burke of Stott. “Anytime its a one-goal game, you have to give it to the goalie. She gave us the opportunity to put one puck in the net. And it wasn’t until the third period. If [Canton] gets a couple goals early on, then we don’t even have that chance. She played great.”
Stott turned away seven Bulldog shots in the first period, blanked Canton on 17 chances in the second period, and completed the shutout with 15 saves in the final frame, including five stops while trying to kill a penalty.
“She’s terrific,” said Canton head coach Dennis Aldrich of Stott. “We had 17 shots in the second period alone. She’s in such control, her body control is so good and her focus…Maybe a couple of times we didn’t get the crowd out in front that we wanted to and if [Stott] can see it, she can stop it.”
After two scoreless periods, Dwyer broke the stalemate 61 seconds into the third. Off an attacking zone face-off, Dwyer slipped in behind after winning the face-off forward and was able to jump on the loose puck and find the back of the net.
“That’s a faceoff that we practiced but very rarely has worked in a game,” Burke said. “The wing got tangled so Jordan was able to slip right in and finish, it was great.”
The Panthers nearly had an ideal start when freshman Victoria Quinn batted in a loose puck 20 seconds into the game, but one of her teammates had been knocked into the crease and put Canton goalie Colleen Kelleher out of position. The ref waved the goal off due to interference.
Canton had its best chance of the first when junior Lauren Fitzpatrick broke out of her own zone and into the attacking end, finding Lizzie Tassinari with a pass, but Franklin defenseman Jillian McLaughlin was perfectly positioned to disrupt the 2-on-1 chance.
“Everyone stepped up and played well tonight, Burke said. Franklin was without Regan Paterson, one of the team’s top scorers. Burke complimented her team for the ability to adjust. “From beginning to end, I would say that was our best effort all year, all areas of the ice.”
The Dogs continued to pressure Stott in the second period, peppering the goal with 17 shots on target but the freshman didn’t flinch. With nine minutes left, Katie Trerice found Kendra Farrelly in front but Stott denied her with a kick save.
Thirty seconds later, Franklin had a bid when Quinn came off the bench for a line change and had a partial breakaway chance, but Kelleher cut the angle down and Quinn’s bid went just wide.
It looked like Canton was going to take the lead at the midway point of the period but once again, Stott came up big. Freshman Maria Femia found senior Andrea McNeil out front but Stott made a stop on her high shot. Just seconds later, the puck popped free in front and McNeil had another bid but Stoff made a tremendous save to rob Canton of the opening goal.
Fitzpatrick danced her way through three Panthers and fired a wrist shot but Stott made the save and prevented the puck from cross underneath with five minutes to go in the second. On the other end, Franklin’s Jackie Connelly forced Kelleher into a tough save, and the senior made an athletic play to cover the loose puck up.
“We’ve done this a lot this year,” Aldrich said of outshooting Franklin 35-10. “We do a lot well but we can’t seem to get it in enough. A lot of the teams we play kind of crowd the front of the net, so you try to spread them out using the defense. And we’ve practiced it a lot. At this point, I don’t know if the scoring is a mental thing because we’re certainly keeping it out of our net.
“It’s hard to talk to the team and tell them they played really well but didn’t come out on top.”
Franklin girls hockey (2-2-2 Hockomock, 11-3-3- overall) is back in action on Saturday when it travels to Gardner Veterans Arena to take on Leominster. Canton (5-1-0, 10-2-3) will try to bounce back on Saturday when it takes on Mansfield/Oliver Ames in a key league contest.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – It was becoming a frustrating night for the visitors. Canton held a 15-1 edge in shots on goal during the second period against Franklin in Wednesday afternoon’s Hockomock League tilt at Pirelli Veterans Arena, but went into the second intermission locked in a scoreless tie.
Buoyed by the experience of having been in tough, close games many times before, the Bulldogs stuck with their game plan. Kendra Farrelly scored with the first shot on goal of the third period and Maggie Malloy added a second with two minutes left to secure a 2-0 victory and a two-point lead in the league standings.
“It really doesn’t bother us that much because we’ve been in so many of those late games,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “All through the playoffs there were late goals and we just never feel like we’re out of it. If we don’t win, we just feel like we ran out of time.
“We feel confident enough in what we do that we’re just going to stick to it.”
Thirty seconds into the third, Leah McClellan fired a shot from the point that was deflected by skates right in front of Franklin freshman goalie Natalie Stott (30 saves) and onto the stick of Farrelly (goal and an assist) at the back post for a tap in.
Canton nearly doubled its lead a few minutes later, but Stott stood tall to stuff fellow freshman Ellie Rae Roberts’ breakaway opportunity.
With just under three minutes to play, Franklin had a chance to tie the game with a shorthanded break by sophomore Jordan Dwyer, but her shot under pressure from Alexa Maffeo was knocked aside by Canton’s senior goalie Colleen Kelleher (19 saves).
The Bulldogs put the game away just 30 seconds later. Malloy (goal and assist) skated free into the slot, opened her body to get a forehand shot off, and put her wrister just under the bar for a 2-0 lead with 2:14 to play.
“They’re more experienced and they’re going to take advantage when we make a little mistake,” said Franklin coach Margi Burke. “We knew this was going to be really tough competition and we hung with them for two periods.”
It took a full period for the Bulldogs to get going, as Franklin came storming out of the locker room and took control of the play in the opening period, finishing with a 13-8 edge in shots. Regan Paterson had the first chance with a couple of shots from close range and had another chance when she stole the puck on the back-check and skated the length of the ice to force Kelleher into a save.
With 50 seconds left in the first, Franklin nearly took the lead. Gianna Cameron had a shot from the point saved by Kelleher, who then recovered quickly to make a pad stop on Jackie Connelly’s rebound effort on the post.
“We expected that,” said Aldrich of Franklin’s strong start. “Colleen had to make a real big, right-pad save or that was a sure goal and who knows where we would’ve been if she doesn’t make that.”
Stott also had to make big stops to keep Canton off the board in the first, particularly a great pad save on freshman Lizzie Tassinari after Malloy teed her up in the slot and a save on Farrelly seconds before the horn.
Those saves were just a prelude to the Stott’s performance in the second period, as she stopped a barrage of shots from the Bulldogs and kept Franklin in the game after 30 minutes.
Lauren Fitzpatrick had an effort cutting in from the left wing stuffed by the rookie netminder, who then stopped a blast from the point by Katie Trerice and the rebound effort by Marissa Devane. Meg Aldrich also had a shot from the point through traffic that forced a blocker save by the unsighted Stott.
“She doesn’t look like a freshman out there,” said Burke of Stott. “She’s a great kid and she’s doing a great job. It could’ve been so much more than 2-0, she kept us in the game especially in the second period.”
Canton grabbed the momentum after the second period and never looked back, which Aldrich explained is part of the game plan for the Bulldogs.
He said, “We pride ourselves on getting stronger as the game goes on and I think that showed. I think we wore them down a little bit, but we fully expected to come in here and have them throw haymakers right away.”
While praising the play of Stott, Aldrich admitted that he is also experimenting with the lines to try and boost the Bulldogs’ offensive output. “We’re still trying to find chemistry,” he said.
Despite the loss, Burke is pleased with the performance of her young team and the strong start that the Panthers have made to the season.
“Their effort was there the whole time and we can’t ask a lot more than that and we talked about simple hockey,’” she said. “The big things we were doing right, but it’s the little things that can make a difference in a game like this.”
Burke added, “We’ve had a great start to the season and they’re working hard. We get another shot at [Canton] too, which we haven’t had before since they weren’t in our league.”
Canton (4-0-2, 2-0-0) will look to continue its unbeaten start to the season when it hosts Mansfield/Oliver Ames on Saturday. Franklin (4-1-2, 0-1-2) will try to bounce back quickly when it travels to Stoughton on Saturday afternoon.
CANTON, Mass. – One of the main reasons for Canton’s run to last year’s Div. 2 state title game at the TD Garden was a stingy defense and the play of goalie Colleen Kelleher. That formula seems to be working again this winter and was on full display against King Philip on Wednesday afternoon in the Bulldogs’ first game at the Canton Ice House and their debut in the newly formed Hockomock League for girls’ hockey.
Behind a second period goal from freshman Lizzie Tassinari and 15 saves from Kelleher, Canton earned a 1-0 shutout and started its new league campaign with a hard-fought two points.
“They did a really nice job,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich of the KP effort. “They took us out of some of our seam passes and we had to make a couple adjustments. Not pretty, but I like to think that good teams win those games and it’s important to come out on top.”
Canton nearly jumped out to the perfect start when Lauren Fitzpatrick raced down the right wing a minute into the game and forced a kick save out of KP goalie Lilly Potts, one of 19 stops for the junior.
The first period was fast-paced and end-to-end, but both defenses were tipping and blocking a number of shots, limiting the teams to a combined eight shots on goal. KP had two of the best chances with Meghan Gorman forcing a save out of Kelleher from the right circle and, with just 10 seconds left on the clock, Nicole Connor had a close-range backhand blocked aside.
Fitzpatrick had the first chance of the second period as well, but just 20 seconds later it appeared as though KP may have taken the lead. Kyleigh Remmes had her first shot saved but followed the rebound and beat Kelleher with a backhand that the junior thought had found the back of the net. As Remmes put her hands up to celebrate, the officials held their whistles and play continued.
Gorman had a shot from the point knocked down by Kelleher, who then shuffled over to stop Remmes on the rebound. Leah McClellan had a shot for Canton from the blue line but Potts stayed down on the bounce to save it.
With only 31 seconds left in the period, Canton broke the deadlock. McClellan picked up the puck in defense and sped forward into the attacking zone. She crossed the puck from the left boards to Maggie Malloy in the slot, but it was deflected into the crease. After a scramble in front, Tassinari managed to squeeze the puck through the crowd and past Potts.
“It was a game of very few mistakes and they just took advantage of one little one,” said KP coach Jack Unger. “An opportunistic rebound, the coverage was there but the girl was still able to get ahold of it and put it in.”
Not only was it important for the Bulldogs to jump into the lead but the timing of the goal provided a shift in momentum heading into the third.
“When I first came in the locker room before the third period, I said you have no idea how huge that was,” Aldrich explained. “If they can go through two periods in our barn and come out with 15 minutes to go tied that’s a big difference. Now they have a little mountain to climb.”
Of McClellan, who spent most of the game carrying the puck out of defense and providing Canton with a forward rush, Aldrich said, “She’s a special kind of player and she’s someone that can be hard to play with because you can’t really contain her; you have to let the stallion run.”
Canton started the third on fire, recording the first five shots of the period and forcing Potts to come through with several difficult saves to keep the Warriors just a goal down.
Ellie Rae Roberts had the first chance with a backhander from the edge of the crease and Katie Holleran followed with a chance from the slot, but Potts saved both. With nine minutes to play, Potts again made the save to stop a Fitzpatrick breakaway and then denied McClellan on another long rush.
“She definitely kept us in the game,” said Unger of Potts. “She had an outstanding performance. They came on a little strong in the third period, but it was nice to hold them off and get a few chances of our own.”
In the final five minutes, KP flipped the momentum and started to press in search of a tying goal. In one sequence Gorman found Olivia McCarthy who then fed it on to Remmes for a great chance from the slot but Kelleher got a piece and the rebound trickled wide of the post.
Thirty seconds later, Kelleher made an even better stop to deny Gorman when a shot from the point angled to the back post and off the forward’s skate at the back post. Somehow, Kelleher (15 saves) managed to quickly get her left pad out to deny the unexpected shot.
“The ice was tilted and it would’ve been nice to sneak one in there and it would’ve been exciting, but they worked hard and it just didn’t get through,” said Unger.
KP opened its first Hockomock League campaign with a win against Stoughton. Unger said of the new league, “I think it’s a boost for girls’ hockey. It’s a great thing for the girls. The more women’s hockey we can get out there, the better.”
Aldrich was excited for his program to be part of the Hock and to get its first ever season in the league started with a win. He said, “For girls’ hockey, this is awesome. It’s so deserving. To see what Jack has done with this program and how they’ve come up…When we first started playing them it was 14-0; those days are done. Now we’re hoping to claw and scratch and get a victory.”
Canton (2-0-1, 1-0-0) will get a week off before hosting Westwood at the Ice House. King Philip (1-2-0, 1-1-0) will look to bounce back on Saturday when it travels to face Dennis-Yarmouth at the Tony Kent Ice Arena.