Tourgee, Blake Net Canton Comeback Win Against KP

Canton boys hockey
Sophomore Brendan Tourgee (13) celebrates the game-tying goal with less than three minutes remaining in the third period, helping Canton to a come from behind win over King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Despite Canton dominating play in the third period and holding King Philip to just two shots in the final 15 minutes, the Warriors went into the final three minutes holding onto a one-goal lead. It would be a rare win for KP in the series, a rare win for any Hockomock League team against the Bulldogs, and a chance to take a big early step towards a second straight league title.

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But, there is a reason that Canton went into Wednesday night’s game at the Metropolis Rink having won 36 straight league games. The Bulldogs scored a pair of goals in 1:39, completed a comeback after being down two goals twice in the game, and pulled out a dramatic 4-3 victory.

“It’s huge for our psyche,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said. “It’s good for our guys to see that they can come from two goals down. Hopefully they’re not in that position too often, but it’s still good to build that mental toughness.”

After the game, KP coach Paul Carlow rued the missed opportunity to grab a lead in the Kelley-Rex division, even if it is just three games into the league campaign.

“They pinned us in in the third,” he explained. “They outshot us and outplayed us in the third period. Instead of continuing to take it to them, it felt like we were more trying to hang on. That never works.”

It was all KP at the start of the game. The Warriors came out flying and needed only 27 seconds to pick up the opening goal. Shaun Fitzpatrick did good work down the right wing, driving at the net and drawing a couple of Canton defensemen. He flipped the puck out in front to Sean Crowther, who sent the puck through a crowd of legs across the crease where James Boldy was standing all alone to tap into the empty net.

Rather than being a wake up call for the home team, the goal seemed to spur the Warriors on for more. Fiztpatrick collected the puck against the right wing boards and turned towards goal. He had a free path right at Canton goalie Aiden French (18 saves) and stuffed the puck under the pads to make it 2-0 less than six minutes in.

Shuman said, “KP does a great job of getting pucks and bodies to the net and you saw that on the first goal. That’s their bread and butter and we struggled with that mightily tonight. We just weren’t tough enough out in front, we were puck watching, and losing guys. They play a tough brand of hockey.”

KP got a chance on the power play midway through the first and Max Robison forced French into a tough save on a shot from the point. Canton cleared the rebound. It was one of a couple chances that the Warriors had to try and extend the lead, but the Bulldogs held on and got the kill.

Only 13 seconds after getting back to even strength, Canton was on the board. AJ Thomas’ pressure on the forecheck caused a turnover in the attacking zone. His first shot from point-blank range was stopped by KP goalie Kyle Abbott (28 saves) but Thomas stuck with it and knocked in the rebound, cutting the lead in half.

The goal seemed to give Canton momentum, as the Bulldogs went into the locker room on the front foot, but it didn’t carry over to the second period. Only nine seconds elapsed before KP added a third. Boldy snapped off a wrsiter just as he was entering the zone on the left wing and French appeared to be unsighted as the puck flew under the bar on the stick side.

“We had some really good chances and then didn’t convert,” said Carlow. “Canton had the momentum off the kill and then I think they scored the very next shift and now it’s a one-goal game. We got a goal to start the second and I think we just kind of ran out of gas.”

Canton needed a spark. Sophomore Brendan Tourgee nearly had a quick response when he sailed into the zone, split a pair of defensemen and got off a backhand shot from a tight angle that Abbott kept out. Sam Carlino had a partial break for the Bulldogs but Robison hustled back to get a piece of the shot from the right face-off dot.

The Bulldogs were able to cut into the lead midway through the second. After a couple of shots from the point by Sean Connolly that Abbott pushed aside, they swung it across the blue line to Ryan Doucette. His shot was heading wide of the post but sophomore Brian Middleton was able to get a telling touch on it to sneak it past Abbott low at the near post.

“To get one there was big and that line of Middleton, (Patrick) Drury, and Blake continue to get it done and I think our other guys can learn a little bit from them because they’re having success and getting big goals just by getting to the tough, dirty areas,” said Shuman.

KP tried to hold on in the third, blocking shots and trying to keep the Bulldogs away from the crease. Eddie Gillis nearly set up Thomas for a tying goal, but Abbott stayed with the tip in front and kept it out. Tourgee then showed off his strength on the puck, holding off two defensemen to allow the Bulldogs to get back onside and then turning into the zone, forcing Abbott into a good save with his shoulder.

Connolly had another shot from the point that forced Abbott into a save. Tommy Phaneuf corralled the rebound in front but was pressured off the puck and couldn’t get a shot on target.

While the chances were piling up, the clock was winding down. Finally, with 2:42 to play. Tourgee found the back of the net. He dragged the puck through a stick check on the left wing boards and then angled towards goal. His backhand shot through the crease somehow snuck through a thicket of legs and found the far corner.

“He’s so gifted on the puck,” Shuman said of Tourgee. “He’s strong on the puck, he’s fast, he’s just got a nose for the net. I think he’s got to trust getting pucks to the net instead of always trying to pick those corners because you can see how offensively gifted he is.”

The pressure continued, as Canton outshot KP 13-3 in the final period. With 1:03 to go, the Bulldogs got the winner. Brennen Pecararo dropped a pass back to sophomore Colin Blake and he pounced on the chance in the slot, slamming the puck into the back of the net.

KP had one last look with the goalie pulled and less than 10 seconds on the clock, but Brad Guden’s shot from the point hit a body to the side of the post and ricocheted into the corner.

“We just got off to a tough start this year with injuries and illness,” Carlow said. “I think we had eight out sick the first week of the season, so we got off to a tough start and we’re just trying to get rolling.”

Canton (4-2-1) will be back home on Saturday afternoon to face Mansfield, which was the last team to hand the Bulldogs a league loss back in February 2017. King Philip (2-4-1) returns to Canton on Saturday night, this time at the IcePlex, to take on Archbishop Williams.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Attleboro

2020-2021 Record: 1-8-0
Coach: Greg Chamberlain
Attleboro had a difficult 2020-21 season, as delays and big breaks early in the season led to three games in three days to close things out. The Bombardiers will be hoping that they can build off that experience and make a push to get back into the postseason mix with several underclassmen stepping in to supplement the returning corps.

The offense has depth to it this season and head coach Greg Chamberlain is expecting a lot of grit and effort in the attacking zone to create scoring chances. Senior Nate Parker will be the leader of the forward line but he will get help from juniors Colin Flynn and Mike Lachance, who have both had two seasons on varsity already. Freshmen Austin Bessette and Nate Conroy have impressed the coaches in the preseason and could be ready to contribute right away.

Defense could be a strong unit this season, as the Bombardiers have decent skaters and decent depth along the blue line. Senior Sean Marshall will be the key to that group, providing on-ice leadership. Sophomore Dane Holske had a good first season on varsity and can help out both in defense and at forward. Senior Nick Piazza is capable of being one of the top netminders in the league and will be back between the pipes for Attleboro this season.

“Biggest thing that is a positive for us is the guys wanna earn some respect and be tough to play against,” said Chamberlain. “We understand what we have but we think our schedule can help us gain some real confidence.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Canton

2020-2021 Record: 11-0-1
Coach: Brian Shuman
The Davenport division has been ruled by Canton, which has won the title every season since the league split. The Bulldogs bring back a lot of returning players to hunt a 12th straight league title and defend the Div. 2 state title that they won back in 2019-20, but for many of the players, this will be their first season with a full slate of games.

Canton is known for its goalscoring, but the Bulldogs typically start from the defensive zone and this year should be no different. Senior Sean Connolly, the reigning league MVP, will be back at the blue line alongside classmate Ryan Doucette. Juniors James Young and Leo Owens should also see plenty of time on the ice with seniors Brennen Pecararo and Jay Kelleher slotting in at defense or at forward. The goalie job is up for grabs coming into the season with a three-way battle going on between senior Aiden French, junior Carson Eagles, and freshman Collin Davis.

As usual, the Bulldogs should be potent in front of the goal this winter. Senior Eamon Kelly, the team’s leading scorer last year, is back for his fourth season on varsity. Seniors Andrew Valkanas, Tommy Phaneuf, Sam Carlino, and Eddie Gillis will all chip in and junior Jeff Chaput could be poised for a big season after scoring 13 points last year.

“Solid team defense is the expectation as always this season, and we ask all positions to be important players all over the ice,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Our forwards need to be able to shut down opponents and our defense must contribute to our offensive production to have a successful year.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Foxboro

2020-2021 Record: 4-6-0
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Just two years removed from one of the best seasons in program history, Foxboro comes into the winter with an experienced squad, featuring nine seniors, to try and make another push for a state tournament berth. Although the Warriors went 4-6 in the shortened 2020-21 season, four of those losses were against Franklin and Canton and the other two were to North Attleboro by a combined three goals, so there is potential for the Warriors to get back to their 2019-20 form.

The forward line should have plenty of firepower this season with the return of seniors Jack Watts, Matt Grace, and Ben Ricketts, who combined for 13 goals in 10 games last year. Fellow forwards Derek Axon and Steven Bridges will give Foxboro good leadership and depth in the forward line. The Warriors also got plenty of scoring from the blue line, with senior Tom Marcucella adding four goals and three assists last winter.

Improvements in the defensive zone (and not playing almost every game against the league’s top-scoring teams) will be expected this season. Marcucella is listed as a defenseman but has the versatility to line up in multiple positions and he will be helped on defense by classmates Dylan Pothier and Brady Callahan. Junior Alex Coviello and sophomore Sully Kenneally are also going to step into bigger roles on the blue line this season.

“I would say all nine of our seniors are going to be major contributors and that’s definitely a first for Foxboro hockey and it’s a good thing!” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “I would say we will be skilled and experienced.”

Franklin

2020-2021 Record: 10-2-1
Coach: Anthony Sarno
This will be a new-look Franklin team that takes the ice this season, looking to win its 11th straight league title and make a deep run in the postseason. The Panthers graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team and only return seven players with significant varsity experience to try and manage a schedule loaded with some of the best teams in the state.

Senior forward Dylan Marchand is the key returning player in the forward line. The team’s leading scorer last year, the speedy center scored eight goals and nine assists in 13 games. Seniors Justin Magazu and Domenic Lampasona and juniors Ben Jarosz and Ryan Sicchio will also return to add more firepower to the attacking end of the ice. With 14 new players on the roster, there could be a lot of new names on the score sheet this winter.

Defensively, the Panthers will lean on experienced players like seniors Aidan Hunt and Jack MacKinnon to guide the younger players, as they take on the high-end talent that Franklin will face right from the start of the season. In goal, sophomore Cole Pouliot-Porter and freshman Jack O’Connor will both get chances between the pipes.

“I am optimistic with the youth we have and excited to watch us grow together,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno. “We will just have to weather the ebbs and flows, try to remain even-keeled, communicate, and trust each other as a team in order for us to grow and move forward as a complete unit.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

King Philip

2020-2021 Record: 9-1-0
Coach: Paul Carlow
Last season, King Philip won a share of its first league title since 2006, picking up a rare win against rival Franklin in the process. With 12 returning players and a roster that has 16 upperclassmen, the Warriors will try to make more history by winning back-to-back titles for the first time in program history and also put together a run in the state tournament.

There are four players coming back this year that averaged a point per game in 2020-21. Three of those players are forwards. Seniors Shaun Fitzpatrick and Sean Crowther and junior James Boldy, who combined for 15 goals and 22 assists in 10 games last season. Senior Nolan Feyler will be a big boost, as the forward had a strong sophomore season but missed all of last year due to an injury. Senior Kevin Birenbaum is another of the nine seniors on the forward line.

Sophomore defenseman Brad Guden is the fourth Warrior who averaged a point per game last year. He broke into the lineup and scored 10 times and had 10 assists in his first varsity season. Seniors Nolan Jackson and Quin Garstka add leadership and experience at the blue line and sophomore Max Robison returns after an impressive rookie season. Senior Kyle Abbott will be back between the pipes for the Warriors.

“We have a tough schedule this season but we are looking to challenge for another Hockomock League title,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. We have great leadership from our seniors and a good mix of skill and speed with the younger players. I’m really looking forward to working with this group and build on last year’s success.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Mansfield

2020-2021 Record: 5-6-0
Coach: Mike Balzarini
With its top six forwards all back from last year, there is optimism that Mansfield will consistently put the puck in the back of the net and in turn, challenge for the Kelley-Rex division title.

And another big positive for the Hornets is junior Chris Hormann back between the pipes with a solid amount of varsity experience now under his belt. That combination of experience in the offensive zone and in the crease is what Mansfield is hoping translates to success. The challenge will be getting a new mix of defensemen working together as the Hornets graduated the majority of that unit.

Leading scorer Mark DeGirolamo returns with a lot of varsity experience under his belt, coming off a season with eight goals and five assists. He’s joined by Dillon Benoit (7 goals, 5 assists), Kyle Oakley (2 goals, 5 assists), Doherty (2 goals, 3 assists), Liam Anastasia (6 goals, 5 assists), and Brayden Purtell (4 goals, 2 assists). As the stats suggest, the Hornets have a very even top two lines which means head coach Mike Balzarini can trust both units to get it done.

Looks for the line of Cullen Egan, Cody Gordon, and Connor Davey to provide energy and some offensive punch throughout the season. Balzarini is looking for some new faces to step up on the blue line. A mix of depth pieces are back, and the Hornets have converted some forwards to defensemen looking to solidify that unit. Patrick Gormley, Brendan Flynn, Will Cameron, Ryan DeGirolamo, and Ty Carroll are all in the mix to get some minutes.

“Last season was difficult for everyone so we’re excited for a more normal year,” Balzarini said. “We’re going to be quick and we have multiple lines that can be a factor for us. We’ve seen some success on offense in our scrimmages so scoring should be a strength, these kids are working well together.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

North Attleboro

2020-2021 Record: 8-6-0
Coach: Kyle Heagney
North Attleboro returns 14 players from last year’s roster, including two of the league’s top three scorers, and the Rocketeers will be looking to use that experience under first-year coach Kyle Heagney (who formerly coached Norton and was a North assistant the past two seasons) to challenge Canton at the top of the Davenport division and to put together a playoff run.

Although the Rocketeers bring back senior forwards Nik Kojoain and Brady Sarro, who combined for 41 points in 14 games last year, North is a team built on hard work and team effort in the offensive zone, rather than on individual stars. Seniors Sam Clarke and Nick Longa and juniors Joe Quinn and Mark Ayvazyan will provide plenty of help in front of goal and all have plenty of experience at the varsity level.

North graduated only one of its defensemen from last year. Senior Austin Comery will be the leader for North at the blue line and he will be assisted by classmate Anthony Westcott. Sophomore Kyle Gruber is back in goal for North after an impressive debut season, where he was thrown in against some of the league’s top teams, including a first appearance against Canton.

“Our strength is that we are not a team of superstars,” said Heagney. “We are a team of hockey players that will win first in the locker room before the ice. We look forward to the season and having fun. These are memories that will live forever with our players.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Oliver Ames

2020-2021 Record: 1-10-0
Coach: Mike Zucarelli
Oliver Ames has been in a rebuilding phase under head coach Mike Zucarelli. The Tigers won just once in the shortened 2020-21 season and head into this winter with a roster loaded with underclassmen. While this may be a difficult season, Zucarelli is excited for the potential on his team and the growth the program is making for the future.

Seniors Cam Tower and Eliot Cohen will be instrumental in shoring things up at the blue line. The two defensemen will need to provide leadership for the younger players and help limit the opposition scoring chances. Junior forwards Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron will hope to improve the team’s scoring punch as well, after OA was held to 10 goals in 11 games last year. Zucarelli is already seeing more confidence and better decision-making in the offensive zone and is hoping the team’s work rate will lead to more chances.

With seven sophomores on the roster, OA will rely on its youth movement to turn things around. After a lot of growth in the offseason (both physically and mentally), Zucarelli thinks that the septet is ready for the challenges of playing varsity hockey day-in, day-out. Winger Andrew Livingstone and center Matt Lawson will add to the team’s production in the offensive zone and defenseman Landon Grothe could be a standout in the defensive end of the ice. Junior Brandon Burke had a solid summer with his club team and will be the starting goalie for the Tigers this winter.

“If we continue to put in the effort I have seen both on and off the ice to start this year, I believe these young men have the opportunity to do something special,” Zuccarelli said.

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Taunton

2020-2021 Record: 0-6-1
Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton had a tough 2020-21 season, as the Tigers were only able to six games, and come into a winter of transition. The roster is going to be very young, with only nine upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) in the program, so there will be a lot of younger players getting their first taste of varsity action and others experiencing a full season for the first time.

The forward line has a lot of speed and the Tigers are going to rely on that energy to try and create scoring chances. Senior Nathan Fernandes is the most experienced forward returning and he will be joined up top by junior Connor McGrath.

Defensively, the Tigers will be an inexperienced group but there is potential and the desire to get better over the course of the season. Senior Ethan Ross will be the leader at the blue line and junior Colton Scheralis can add his experience there as well. Freshman Cameron Tomaszycki will be jumping between the pipes this season to get his first varsity action.

“We are happy to be back for a full year,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “Last season was full of delays, pauses, and feelings of frustrations that made for a very long, short, season. The lessons learned from last season has made the players within the program grateful for a return to a more normal season. We will plan to improve every day and be a better, more complete team by the end of the season.”

Canton and Franklin Skate Away With a Point Apiece

Franklin Boys Hockey
Canton and Franklin boys hockey renewed their rivalry at Metropolis Rink and the rivals battled to a 2-2 tie with all the goals coming in the second period. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Even in the most irregular of seasons, Canton and Franklin’s rivalry on the ice matters.

When the two teams met on Thursday night at the Metropolis Rink, the game had no bearing on either winning yet another league title and neither team was preparing for its typical postseason run. But, regardless of the circumstances, both teams skated a little faster and things were a little more intense because of who was on the opposite bench.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Five days ago, Franklin battled back to tie the game only for Canton to score a late winner. On Thursday, nothing could separate the two teams. Twice Franklin went in front and twice Canton found the tying goal. The teams skated to a 2-2 tie, with all four goals scored in the second period.

“We were on the phone for hours one night figuring out how to do this in a shortened season,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “I know the kids appreciated it immensely on both teams.

“That’s the best team we’ve faced all season and they’re one of the best teams in the state with their skill and their speed. A lot of our guys have never experienced this rivalry before at this level and I’m really proud of them for how they battled.”

Both teams flew out of the gates and the action was end-to-end. Even if the scoring chances were limited in quantity, there were high quality opportunities for both teams to break the deadlock.

“You’ve kind of got to bring yourself back down a little bit because everybody’s amped up tp play,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno.” Our guys have a ton of respect for those guys and those guys have a ton of respect for us, coaches included, and it’s just good hockey all-around.”

He added, “A season without Canton, wouldn’t have been a season.”

The Panthers had a good early chance with a quick breakout. Joe LeBlanc’s outlet pass from the defensive zone hit fellow defender Justin Abely, who redirected it to Dylan Marchand. Canton goalie Liam Polles (23 saves) made the first stop and then was able to get a block on Justin Magazu’s follow up chance on the rebound.

Eddie Gillis forced a pad save from Franklin netminder Gary Mandia (21 saves) with a deflected shot. Sam Carlino nearly created a great opening for Dylan Coyne right in front of goal, but the Franklin defense managed to get a block and then the loose puck slid away from the stick of Leo Owens at the post.

Magazu was able to open a lane for Domenic Lampasono, but Polles stayed strong and was able to stop the close-range chance.

“They’ve got a lot of quick forwards, lot of speed, so we were just trying to step up and play between the dots, take away the bodies and make them dump the puck in,” Sarno explained. “Neutral zone, we weren’t trying to play with it too much, short passes. In this rink, any turnover in the neutral zone and it’s a breakaway and if anyone can exploit that it’s Canton.”

It was a defensive-zone turnover that would lead to the opener. Just 90 seconds after the intermission, a reverse pass caromed off the end boards and right out in front to Aidan Hunt. Polles nearly made a great save. He was able to catch the one-time, but as he was scrambling across goal to get in position he was deep in the crease and he ended up on the wrong side of the goal line.

Momentum from the goal didn’t last long. It only took a minute for the Bulldogs to even things up. Sean Connolly’s shot from the point was parried by Mandia, who somehow saw the puck through the crowd in front. Franklin wasn’t able to clear the rebound, with Andrew Valkanas keeping it alive and getting it back to Connolly at the blue line. The second shot had eyes and snuck through traffic and into the back of the net.

Seconds after Mandia was able to deny Tommy Phaneuf what looked like a sure goal, the visitors regained the lead. Magazu raced down the left wing and flipped a pass across the slot to Marchand at the far circle and his one-timer gave Polles no chance, sneaking inside the post.

This time, the lead lasted seven minutes before Canton again found an equalizer. Valkanas created the chance by teeing up Jeffrey Chaput. Mandia made the blocker save but Valkanas was there for the rebound.

Things tightened up in the third period, as neither team wanted to take a big risk that could lead to a winning goal for their opponents. Mandia was forced into a good save on Phaneuf and Lampasona dug out the rebound, but Canton was noticeably tiring in its second game in as many days.

“We exerted so much energy in the first and second periods and in the third, credit to them, they were flying and still had their legs and we were hanging on,” said Shuman. “Classic Franklin/Canton game. Comes down to the third period and the last minutes and so happy we had a chance to experience it this year.”

Franklin still had its legs and created a couple of chances that could’ve won it. Magazu was a constant thorn in the Canton defense’s side and he somehow split a pair of defensemen at the blue line, drew a third, and laid a pass off to Lampasona, who missed the net from close range.

With five minutes to play, Marchand got free in the zone and fired a shot that Polles stopped at the near post. Marchand stayed with the rebound and set up Magazu right in front, but again the Canton goalie came through with a big save to preserve a point.

“They played hard this year,” Sarno said. “We didn’t know if we were going to have the season, then we were, then we weren’t. Hats off to the boys, they fought through some adversity.”

Canton (9-0-1), which remarkably has lost one game in the past three seasons combined, will close out its league campaign against Oliver Ames and Foxboro. Franklin (10-2-1), which has clinched at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title, closed out its season on Thursday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Chaput Snipe Lifts Canton to Win Against North

Canton boys hockey
Sophomore Jeffrey Chaput celebrates his second period goal that turned out to be the game-winner for Canton against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – North Attleboro got bodies in the way all game long, not letting pucks get through on goal, but sometimes it only takes a sliver of space to find the back of the net.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sophomore Jeffrey Chaput got that one chance in the second period and buried it in the top corner and it turned out to be all that the Bulldogs would need. Canton added an empty net goal in the final minute and skated to a 2-0 victory over North Attleboro that puts the teams in a tie for first in the Davenport division.

“North Attleboro does a great job blocking shots, they always have,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “They sell out, they take away the shooting lanes. Also a failure on our part, too many shots above the knees, which are the easiest shots to block. We have to keep it low, along the ice, and find shooting lanes. Stop trying to go top shelf on their goalie and try to create more rebound opportunities.”

It was an even game, despite Canton’s edge in shots on goal. Both teams came out flying and the Bulldogs showed no rust from having a week off between games.

Shuman explained, “We’ve been fortunate enough to be skating normally, so I think that in itself is keeping us in a good flow and a good rhythm. We’re just lucky to be playing right now because there are a lot of teams that unfortunately aren’t.”

Jack Digirolamo sprung Brendan Tourgee down the left wing for an early chance that was saved by North goalie Kyle Gruber (23 saves). Andrew Valkanas stayed with the puck after his initial shot was blocked and had a good look coming off the right wing boards, but again Gruber stood tall.

The chances kept coming for Canton in the first. Digirolamo had a shot blocked in front and the rebound fell to Tourgee at the post, but the freshman forward was denied by the freshman goalie’s pad. AJ Thomas had another chance between the circles with a quick spin and shot but Gruber, who was making his first varsity start, was again equal to it.

“Why not?” chuckled North coach Ben McManama when asked about having his goalie make his debut against the Bulldogs. “I was a little worried about doing that but you can tell he’s a tough kid mentally and you know what? You’re going to have to learn sometime and we thought it would be good experience for him.”

North started to get more looks in the offensive zone as the first period wore on. Charlie Connolly angled a shot from the right point that was tipped in front by Joe Quinn, but went just wide of the post. In the final seconds of the first, Nik Kojoian pushed towards goal from the left circle but was denied at the post by Canton goalie Liam Polles (15 saves).

Despite starting on the kill, Canton dominated zone time in the second, keeping North pinned back in its defensive zone. Even with all that pressure, it was North that had the edge in shots on goal (6-5) in the period. The Rocketeers defensemen continually got in the way of shots and kept Canton out of the middle.

“It can be a little deceiving sometimes,” said McManama. “There may be a lot of zone time, but are we giving up quality shots? I think we didn’t give up too many except for the goal they scored. They did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and our goalie did a great job and we also helped him out.”

Jake Gruber had a good chance for North when he forced a turnover near his own blue line and then forced a blocker save from Polles on the other end of the ice. Mark Ayvazyan almost had a breakaway for the Rocketeers, but pulled up short of the crease to avoid a defenseman and then fired just wide.

By that point, Canton had gotten its one good chance. After a spell of pressure in the zone that saw a couple of shots blocked in front, the puck kicked out to Chaput just inside the left circle. He barely settled the puck before whipping a shot into the top corner that gave the goalie no chance.

“Jeff had a great shot and a quick shot, quick release that kind of surprised the goalie,” said Shuman. “He worked hard. He had the best game I’ve seen him play in his two years for us and he deserved that.”

The pattern continued in the third period, with Canton using its speed to gain the zone and put pressure on the North defense, but with the visitors holding firm and creating the occasional scoring opportunity on the other end.

“Coach Spillane said it best on the bench, let’s get some breathing room and get that goal early in the period,” Shuman said of Canton’s approach to the third period. (With his assistant coaches unavailable this week, Shuman asked former Franklin coach Chris Spillane to help out on the bench.) “We had a couple good chances, just couldn’t bury it.”

Sam Clarke nearly tied the game inside the first minute of the third. He blocked Jay Kelleher’s shot from the point and raced past the Canton defense before forcing a blocker stop from Polles.

It was a warning for the Bulldogs that the game wasn’t over. The best chance to double the lead came when Dylan Coyne’s shot from the slot was blocked and the rebound fell to Eddie Gillis, but his tip slid just wide of the post.

North came closest to tying the game with 2:30 remaining. Tyler Sarro stretched to tip a clearance in the neutral zone to avoid an icing and, after a battle behind the Canton net, the puck came out to Nick Longa on the edge of the crease. Polles kept his pads on the ice and was able to cover up.

Just a few seconds after North pulled its goalie, Canton wrapped up the win. Sam Carlino blocked a pass on one end, chased the puck down, and flicked into the empty net to make it 2-0 with 40.2 on the clock.

“We’re going to have to look at the film and see how we can generate more offense,” said McManama. “Sometimes they do such good job with our ‘D’ zone coverage that we get stuck down there. We’re going to have to work on ways to get ourselves better entries through the neutral zone.”

Canton (3-0) and North Attleboro (1-2) will meet again on Wednesday at the New England Sports Village.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Monday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 04/15/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Lacrosse
Canton, 19 vs. Pembroke, 7 – FinalLocked in a 4-4 tie after one quarter, Canton dominated the next to periods, outscoring the Titans 13-2 to run away with the win. The Bulldogs won the second 7-0 to create the necessary separation and then put the game away with a strong third. Junior Tommy Vaughan paced the offense, scoring five goals and adding one assist while senior Griffin Roach had three goals and one assist. Junior Andrew Canto and senior Dan Cohen each added three goals, and junior Brendan Clifford netted a pair of goals. Freshmen Eddie Gillis and Sam Carlino (two goals) each scored their first career goals for the Bulldogs.

Girls Lacrosse
Franklin, 18 vs. Bromfield, 10 – FinalJunior Erin Walsh accounted for nine points to lead the Panthers to a win over Bromfield, last year’s D2 State Finalists. Walsh scored five goals and had four assists, junior Kelsey MacCallum added four goals and two assists, and senior Annie Walsh found the back of the net four times and had one helper.

King Philip, 12 @ Dover-Sherborn, 13 – FinalCaroline Watson made 14 saves for the Warriors but it wasn’t enough in a hard-fought loss to D-S. Jess Sullivan led the way offensively with five goals and two assists, while Mackenzie Mazur and Caroline Klim both recorded hat tricks. Victoria Tormey had a goal and two assists in the loss.