Canton Ties Franklin to Win Outright League Title

Canton girls hockey
Canton held on for a scoreless tie at Franklin that secured the Bulldogs the outright league title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – In two seasons of Hockomock League play, Canton and Franklin have established themselves as the teams to beat. The Bulldogs won the inaugural league championship and then last season Franklin took the crown for the first time. In year three, the two teams went into the final game of the regular season separated by just two points at the top of the standings.

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As has become the standard when the two teams meet, Wednesday night’s game at Pirelli Veterans Arena was close, defensive, and physical and, in the end, Canton was able to hold out for a 0-0 tie that secured the outright league title.

“It means a lot,” Canton coach Dennis Aldrich said about not sharing the title. “Especially here. When I used to coach the [Canton] boys, anytime we came here or [Franklin] used to come to Ponky, they called it the ‘Dungeon of Doom’, it’s just something about it. The crowd wasn’t the same, but the emotion was.”

With 1:37 remaining and with the Panthers setting up for an offensive zone face-off, Franklin coach Margie Burke called timeout and pulled goalie Gabby Colace (19 saves). There were several surprised reactions from beyond the glass, but it underscored the importance of the title race and how little one point would impact Franklin’s likely seed in the playoffs.

“A win gets us a championship,” said Burke. “I explained it to the kids and they understood why we did it. I had to do it. I’m extremely proud of my girls tonight, they played their heart out.”

The move nearly paid instant dividends, as the Panthers won the draw into the corner and puck was played out in front before being scrambled away. Olivia Maffeo came close to winning the game with 50 seconds left, but the Canton freshman sent a shot from beyond the red line inches wide for icing.

Another face-off led to another good chance for the Panthers, but Lyndsey Atkinson couldn’t keep her shot down from just inside the right circle. Canton pressured to try and get an empty net winner, but the Panthers defense was able to block a couple of shots heading towards goal. The pressure kept the puck in the Franklin defensive zone though and allowed the Bulldogs to run out the clock.

“I have so much respect for her and what she does,” said Aldrich. “It’s a lot of fun for our kids. She’s got a certain style. It’s throw three kids out front, throw the puck there, and see if you can beat them up. We knew that coming in, so we were really stick on stick. We had to commit on that.”

Franklin had more of the attacking play in the first period, outshooting Canton 6-3. Libby Carter had the first good look for the Panthers with a quick shot from the slot that Carolyn Durand (15 saves) was able to stop and then cover before Amanda Lewandowski could pounce on the rebound.

Canton took more than eight minutes to record its first shot, which came off a rush from her own zone by Maffeo. Less than 30 seconds later, the Bulldogs had another good chance when freshman Audrey Koen corralled a loose puck forced a save from Colace.

Atkinson had a near breakaway with six minutes left in the first but the puck was poked away as she tried to pull it onto her backhand and round the goalie.

The visitors started to gain a foothold in the game and ended up with a 10-6 edge in shots in the second. Koen teed up Tess Khoury for an early look right in front but Colace got a pad to the shot. With five minutes left in the second, Maffeo made another long rush into the attacking zone and fired a pass in front by Lizzie Tassinari couldn’t redirect it on net.

Tina Pisano forced a good pad stop from Durand with a wrister from the point and then Canton came inches away from the lead when Maffeo struck the post with a shot from the right circle. Maria Femia followed up the rebound but Colace got across to block the shot.

It remained tense into the third period and it felt like one goal could decide it. Ellie Rae Roberts had a great chance for the Bulldogs, as she collected a deflected puck on the edge of the crease, but Colace again flashed a pad to make the stop.

“It’s so important because we have that confidence that defensively we’re going to do well,” Burke said about the play of her goalie. “It’s putting the puck in the net and we had our opportunities tonight.”

With two minutes to go, Shaw Downing had a shot from the point that was knocked down in front and the Canton defense was able to get it out of the danger area before Lewandowski could get a stick to it. Twenty seconds later, Franklin had a two-on-one rush. Atkinson flipped a pass to Carter on the left wing, but Maffeo came sliding across to block the first chance, and Durand had the angle covered on the second shot.

That set up a frantic finish with the Panthers throwing an extra skater out there in hopes of stealing a share of the title, but the Bulldogs held on to the shutout and both teams got important experience playing in a playoff-like atmosphere.

“We talked about how it was such a good game for us because we should expect that type of game,” Aldrich explained. “It’s going to be that type of punch you in the face, throw the puck to the net. Overall, defensively I thought we did what we wanted to do.”

Burke added, “Franklin and Canton just have that hockey rivalry. They always have and always will.”

Canton (14-1-4) will close out the regular season with a visit from Barnstable on Monday and a trip to Walpole on Wednesday. Franklin (6-8-5) will finish up its regular season when it hosts Leominster next Wednesday.

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Power Play Goal Lifts Canton to Win at KP

Canton Girls Hockey
Canton freshman Olivia Maffeo (16) scored the game-winning goal on a first period power play to lift the Bulldogs over King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – Skating five-on-five, there was very little to separate Canton and King Philip on Saturday night at the Foxboro Sports Center. When given the opportunity to skate 5-on-3, the Bulldogs found the back of the net and the Warriors had a shot come up and inch short of crossing the goal line.

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In a game decided by the finest of margins, Olivia Maffeo’s power play goal in the first period turned out to be the game-winner and Lizzie Tassinari tacked on an empty net goal in the final minute, as Canton won 2-0 and took over first place in the league standings.

“We were way too deep and gave up way too many odd-man rushes and too many bad reads,” Canton coach Dennis Aldrich about his team’s play over the first two periods. “I think we slowed down mentally and just got back to what we usually do, which is get pucks behind them and grinding. We’re not a flashy team. We have a damn good record but we have to work.”

Aldrich was full of praise for the Warriors, calling them one of the top two teams that Canton has faced this season and first-year head coach Ken Assad was happy to hear that assessment of his team’s effort.

“Defensively we skated all three zones hard and we back-checked as best as we could do and took No. 16 (Maffeo) out of the play as much as possible,” Assad said. “I think the girls did a fantastic job with that and did exactly what I asked them to do.”

KP got off a to a good start, instantly putting pressure on the Canton defensive unit. Morgan Cunningham got space on the left wing and saucered a pass into the middle where Makenzie Shandley was able to beat two players to get to it, but couldn’t beat freshman goalie Carolyn Durand.

Three minutes later, Shandley again caused problems for the Bulldogs. She popped up on the left side and fired a shot from a tight angle that slipped underneath Durand but was hooked off the line by forward Maria Femia.

Canton was struggling to get anything consistent going in the attacking zone. That changed with 10 minutes left in the first when the Bulldogs went on the power play and then just 35 seconds later KP sent another player to the box.

Maffeo continued her impressive rookie campaign by taking advantage of the space and time in the left circle and roofing a shot over KP goalie Cristina Coleman (15 saves).

The Bulldogs nearly doubled the lead near the end of the period. Tassinari sparked the breakout from the defensive zone with a pass up the boards to Femia, who sent a pass cross-ice to Tess Khoury on the left wing. Khoury gained the zone and set Tassinari up in front of goal but Coleman made the stop.

There were even fewer chances for either team in the second period, but Tassinari had a good look off a Femia face-off win and Shandley took advantage of a slip by a Canton defenseman to create a scoring opportunity.

As the period wound down into the final three minutes, the Warriors got their own five-on-three chance. Shandley and Sydney O’Shea had a nice give-and-go on the right side and then set up Cunningham at the back post. It appeared that the puck had gone in and the Warriors all raised their arms to celebrate but the officials ruled that the puck hadn’t fully crossed the line and Durand (19 saves) scrambled to cover.

“We know they’re tough defensively and we just wanted to get pucks low and get girls on them,” said Assad. “We’re struggling offensively obviously and we wanted to get pucks to net and crash and I think we did a pretty good job of that. It’s tough to get a goal and that would’ve been a big boost for us but it didn’t happen.”

It was the moment that KP was looking for, but the Bulldogs remained in front. Coming into the third period with the lead, Canton was able to get back to its typical style of getting pucks deep, controlling play in the defensive zone, and putting pressure with the forecheck.

Maffeo continued to be Canton’s main offensive threat, as the freshman time and again carried the puck out of defense to get into shooting range.

While the Bulldogs were clamping down defensively, led by Meg Aldrich, Allie McCabe, and Olivia and Alexa Maffeo, KP did manage to create several chances to tie the game. Nicole Brady had a wrister gloved by Durand, Olivia Donovan spun and put a puck on net, and Gabrielle Trujillo had a shot from the point that caused a scrum in front nearly tipped in by Shandley.

Assad explained, “It’s just about getting the puck in the net. They’re battling and they just need to find that knack, and hopefully it will come soon. There’s a lot to gain from this.”

“Ken is doing a great job,” Aldrich said. “I would put them on par with Westwood. That’s a damn good team and he’s doing a fantastic job with them. The kids believe, they play with confidence, they’ve got an edge to them.”

He added, “I think at times we tried to get a little too pretty but for these kids it doesn’t suck being 7-0 and not playing as well as you want to but beating a very good team.”

Canton (7-0) will have a chance to extend its lead in the league standings when it hosts defending champion Franklin on Wednesday. King Philip (2-4) will try to get back on track when it hosts Shawsheen Tech.

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Strong Second Period Sends Canton Past Mansfield/OA

Canton girls hockey Maria Femia
Canton junior Maria Femia prepares to shoot in the opening period against Mansfield/Oliver Ames at Rodman Arena. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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WALPOLE, Mass. – With just eight games deciding the Hockomock League champion for girls hockey, every point is vital. And even more so when it’s two of the top teams in contention.

Canton girls hockey used a pair of second period goals and its fourth straight shutout of the season to earn an important 2-0 win over Mansfield/Oliver Ames in a good battle between two talented teams.

“That’s a great team, Roy [Bain] always does a fantastic job with them,” said Canton head coach Dennis Aldrich. “To mold three schools together, they always play us tough. I just can’t give him enough credit and his girls battled every single shift. It was a great win for us.”

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After a scoreless back-and-forth first period that saw each team have extended spans of offense, the second period became the defining frame of the game.

It started with defense for the Dogs, who have yet to surrender through 12 periods of play this season. The Warriors killed the final six seconds of a penalty to start the period and junior Alex Ledin came out of the box at the perfect time as MOA broke up ice. Ledin took a feed into the offensive zone and unleashed a wicked slap shot that was turned away from Canton freshman goalie Carolyn Durand (15 saves).

The Warriors had another chance four minutes into the second when junior defenseman Emma Pereira pinched in to win a battle in the corner. After emerging with the puck, Pereira used a nice fake to find her way between two Bulldogs before firing a wrist shot from the right circle, but her hard shot whistled just wide.

The Bulldogs’ defense was under even more pressure after a hooking call put Mansfield/Oliver Ames on the power play with 10:51 to play in the second period. The Warriors’ best chance came when Pereira played a pass through the Canton defense to Ledin, but her backhanded attempt was knocked away by Durand.

“We have a lot of defensemen on this team right now with a lot of experience and a lot of talent, and I honestly believe that you could borderline say all five are all stars,” Aldrich said. “The composure that they show, that’s what we need to calm our freshman goalie down. They’ve allowed her to see shots, and the very few shots she hasn’t seen, she’s worked hard on her angles. And our forwards know who we are, they know they have to help out.”

After killing the penalty off, and thwarting the Warriors’ earlier chances, the Bulldogs picked up the momentum. A high clearance from freshman Olivia Maffeo deflected off the glass at the blue line, eluding an MOA defenseman. That led to an odd-man rush for Canton with junior Maria Femia carrying the puck into the zone with classmate Tess Khoury skating hard to the net.

With the one defenseman shadowing Khoury, Femia decided to take the shot herself and buried it glove side to give Canton a 1-0 lead with 8:30 left in the second.

“What made that play was Tess [Khoury] going hard to the net because the goalie had to respect that,” Aldrich said. “And then there was some space short side high. She didn’t get a point on it but she helped create it. Maria made the right choice too, she’s a smart enough kid to take that. That goalie [Jess Widdop, 24 saves] has improved a lot, she’s worked very hard and she played really well.”

After the goal, the Warriors came back down with a couple of good chances to try the contest. First, Ella Waryas found space and fired a nice shot that was equaled by a nice save from Durand. Two minutes later, Ledin put a shot through traffic that Durand somehow got an eye on and made a glove stop.

And after that, Waryas dropped a pass off for freshman Reese Pereira, but her bid of the short side was kept out by another stop.

With just under two minutes to play in the period, Maffeo picked up possession behind the net and took off up ice. Using her speed, Maffeo raced her way past a pair of Warriors into the attacking zone, skated out wide to her right and rifled a shot upstairs to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead with 1:34 left in the second.

“That second goal was huge for us because, without it, they are just one bounce away,” Aldrich said. “I scouted them before this but they were really quick, they were much quicker on ice level. I was really impressed with their speed. If they get that next one, they have all the momentum so getting that second goal was huge. And Olivia is a special talent, that was big for us.”

Mansfield/Oliver Ames had an early power play chance in the third but couldn’t create a serious scoring chance. Melissa Shanteler connected with Waryas and Pereira for a chance midway through the third but Durand made a pad stop to maintain the lead.

With under two minutes to go, MOA tried to get the puck up ice with the goalie pulled but Maffeo intercepted the pass in the neutral zone and blasted a shot into the empty net to make it 3-0.

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“We played very well,” said MOA head coach Roy Bain. “The lesson learned is that when you make mistakes against a good, well-coached team you pay. We paid for it with a couple of goals. We had to dig out a hole which is tough against that team. We had our chances, both goalies made great saves on both ends of the ice. But one or two talents will cost you against an elite team like Canton.

“I thought we had continuous pressure in the first period and they were able to stave off every chance we had, and that kind of staled our momentum a little bit. It’s tough to come out in the third, against a team like that, and try and build momentum when you’re down.”

Canton girls hockey (2-0 Hockomock, 4-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Medfield at the Canton Ice House. Mansfield/Oliver Ames (1-1, 2-1) returns to Rodman Arena as the road team on Thursday against Walpole.

2019-2020 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Franklin girls hockey
MOA’s Emma Pereira (left) and Franklin’s Gina Vignone battle for possession at the blue line last season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019-2020 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Canton

2018-2019 Record: 12-6-5
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 First Round
Coach: Dennis Aldrich

The Bulldogs will be using a mix of veterans and new faces as they try to get back on top of the Hockomock League. After winning the first league championship in 2018, the Bulldogs finished second last year but will be aiming to take back the title in 2020.

The strength of the team will be along the blue line with senior captains Alexa Maffeo and Meg Aldrich leading the way. Both have a ton of varsity experienced, including playing in a state championship game, and Canton will lean on them heavily for their leadership both on and off the ice. The defense will also feature sophomore Allie McCabe, who picked up valuable experience as a rookie a season ago. The defense will also get a boost from a pair of new faces with freshmen Olivia Maffeo and Maya Battista expected to be big time players for the Bulldogs.

Offensively, head coach Dennis Aldrich said he expects his side to be very quick and opportunistic in the attacking zone. Junior captain Maria Femia (two goals, nine assists), junior Lizzie Tassinari (five goals, 13 assists) and junior Ellie Rae Roberts (four goals, eight assists) are familiar with the system and have high expectations for the season. Sophomore Tess Khoury (six goals, five assists) returns after an impressive freshman senior. Freshman goalie Carolyn Durand has impressed early on with senior Vicky Revanche give the Dogs an experienced option in net.

“The early energy and closeness of this team has been remarkable,” Aldrich said. “I look for us to make some noise both in the Hockomock League and the state tournament this season.”

Franklin

2018-2019 Record: 17-3-2
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 Quarterfinals
Coach: Margie Burke

It’s been back-to-back very successful seasons for the Panthers, and head coach Margie Burke is looking for that success to continue in 2020. Franklin won 14 games two years ago, and then went unbeaten in Hockomock League last year and finished with 17 wins overall.

The defending Hockomock champs have a lot of experience back on the defensive end. Junior goalie Gabby Colace is back between the pipes for Franklin and will be one of the top netminders in the area. She posted a 0.905 save percentage in the regular season a year ago, allowing just 1.77 goals a game while making 242 saves. She will have some familiar faces in front of her with seniors Tina Pisano, Gina Vignone, and Gianna Cameron all back playing defense. Franklin was tough to score against last year and that will likely be the case again this year.

The biggest question mark offensively will be trying to replace the production of Regan Paterson and Cassi Ronan, who were two of the top three point producers in the entire league last year. But Franklin has a good cast of players ready for expanded roles this year. Juniors Libby Carter (five goals, three assists), Amanda Lewandowski (eight goals, 10 assists), Katelyn Brown (five goals, three assists), and Maddy Dolan, give the Panthers plenty of options on the attacking end. The Panthers will be looking to get some production out of the eight underclassmen on the roster as well.

“We are looking forward to building on the successes of last year and to be competitive in a very strong Hockomock League,” Burke said.

King Philip

2018-2019 Record: 4-13-2
2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ken Assad

After helping the Franklin boys team for over a decade, Ken Assad has traded in his Panther blue for the green and gold of King Philip, taking over the helm of the girls’ hockey program. Coming off a four-win season, Assad and his staff are very optimistic about the upcoming season.

The Warriors only have three seniors on the roster, so they will need contributions from every player on the roster to compete for a Hockomock League title and try to get back into the state tournament. Although it’s a small senior class, all three are important pieces to the team and are spread out on the ice. Makenzie Shandley is a newcomer to the program but will be leaned on to guide the offense on the first line. She is joined by returning forwards Avari Maxwell (seven goals, two assists) and sophomore Morgan Cunningham. Assad is hoping to have a deep offense with Jennifer Daniels, Olivia Donovan, Sydney O’Shea, Katarina Precobb, and Meg Sherwood all in the mix to get plenty of ice time.

Defensively, the Warriors are going to lean on senior captain Sami Robison. Fresh off a terrific field hockey season, Robison will be the veteran leader of the blue line unit for the Warriors. Junior Gabriela Trujillo should see an expanded role this year and will be an important part of the defensive unit. Junior Libby Curran, sophomore Ally Donovan, and freshman Maggie Griffin and Brielle Hearon are also apart of the KP defense. In goal, senior captain Cristina Coleman and freshman Mallory Johnston will push one another for time in between the pipes.

“Being a young team is great for the future of this program which is exciting,” Assad said. “We are always optimistic for a good start and to compete at a high level and I know the chemistry we have and the great leadership the girls will come out giving their best.”

Mansfield/Oliver Ames

2018-2019 Record: 9-9-3
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 Preliminary Round
Coach: Roy Bain

The Mansfield/Oliver Ames/Foxboro girls hockey team is relying on a mix of youth and veterans to push for a return to the state tournament in 2020. Although there are just two seniors on the squad, there is still a handful of experienced players that have played in plenty of contests at the varsity level.

Senior Liz Healy, junior Emma Pereira, and junior Melissa Shanteler will lead the way for the Warriors this season. Healy will be a leader on the offensive end while both Pereira and Shanteler will provide MOA with talent and leadership on the blue line. Joining that junior duo on the blue line will be classmate Megan O’Hara and sophomore Julia Muttart. The Warriors added some depth to the defensive unit with the addition of freshmen Brooklynn Levins and Maya Manganaro. Behind that talented group of defensemen will be sophomore goalie Jess Widdop, who had a terrific freshman year and earned team MVP honors.

On the offensive end of the ice, the Warriors return the speedy line of junior Alex Ledin (six goals, three assists), sophomore Sam Ledin (three goals, six assists), and sophomore Kylie O’Keefe, all representing Foxboro. Healy will be joined by Tessa Luciano and Emma Garland on another line while OA freshman Reese Pereira will be working with Foxboro’s Ella Waryas and Mansfield’s Lily O’Brien, giving the Warriors a lot of depth offensively. MOA is also looking for contributions from Elle Weinstein, Pam Nelson, Maeve O’Keefe, Erin DiCenzo, Cataline Kipp, Ciera Doherty, Ava Adams, and Mya Waryas.

“With a team comprised of two seniors, ten juniors, nine sophomores, and four freshmen, the program can look forward to continued consistency and success for the next few seasons,” said MOA head coach Roy Bain. “This team should compete against the talent-rich and always tight Hockomock League race.”

Stoughton

2018-2019 Record: 0-20-0
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Rich Grasso

After a down year, the Black Knights are looking to getting back on track as they team up with Sharon High for the second straight season.

Stoughton boasts skill at each position with junior Morgan Lessa back for her third year with the program, junior Haley Nelson returns to anchor the defense, and senior Brianna Buckley gives the Black Knights plenty of experience between the pipes. Stoughton will need contributions from everyone on the roster with four seniors, four juniors, six sophomores, and four freshmen.

Lessa is among the league’s top players at forward, scoring nine goals and adding three assists last year. Senior Abbey Kashian is one of the team’s three captains and will provide leadership on the offensive end. Look for Sharon junior Sam Sherman, another captain on the team, to fill in both offensively and defensively depending on the team’s needs. Seniors Carly Lader and Hannah Duff will provide depth on the attack this season.

Nelson, who logs a ton of minutes, will be the leader of the defensive unit. Sophomore Zofia Bangs and Sharon junior Jillian Parker are going to be key pieces on both ends of the ice this season for Stoughton. Freshman Ava Buckley has impressed early on this preseason and could give the blue line a big boost.

Canton Knocked Out By Raiders in Title Game Rematch

Canton girls hockey
Canton senior forward Lauren Fitzpatrick chases down a puck in the offensive zone against Wellesley in the D2 opening round. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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.”

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Malloy Scores Four to Lift Canton Over KP

Canton girls hockey
Canton senior Maggie Malloy scored all four of the Bulldogs’ goals in a 4-1 road win at King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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.

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2018-2019 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview
King Philip and Franklin will do battle again this winter in the second season of Hockomock League girls hockey and both will look to unseat inaugural champion Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Canton

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.

Franklin

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.”

King Philip

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.”

Mansfield/Oliver Ames

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.”

Stoughton

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.”

Bulldogs Fall to Top Seed Wellesley in State Title Game

Canton girls hockey
Canton captains Marissa Devine, Colleen Kelleher, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil pose with head coach Dennis Aldrich and the MIAA D2 State Finalist trophy. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


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.”

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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.

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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.”

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Bulldogs Shut Out Archies to Get Back to the Garden

Canton girls hockey
Maggie Malloy (27) scored the only goal of the Div. 2 state semifinal to lift the Bulldogs to a win over Archbishop Williams and seal a return to the state title game. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


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.

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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.

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Bulldogs Avenge Finals Loss and Return to D2 Semis

Canton girls hockey
Maggie Malloy (27) celebrates after scoring the first of her two goals against Notre Dame Academy (her fourth and fifth goals of the playoffs) to help Canton avenge last year’s state final loss and return to the Div. 2 semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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 Canton defensive pairings (Meg Aldrich and Katie Trerice and Alexa Maffeo and Leah McClellan) limited the potent Cougars attack to half-chances and only allowed six shots on goal in the first and 22 for the game.

“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.

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