TAUNTON, Mass. – When a power play opportunity arises in a close game, it is imperative to take advantage. So, when Taunton went got the extra skater early in the second period of Wednesday night’s divisional clash with Attleboro at Aleixo Arena, the Tigers were focused on making it count.
The puck cycled around the boards and then was sent diagonally across the heart of the Attleboro defense to senior defenseman Andrew Carter, who had floated down the boards to just below the left face-off dot. He wasted no time in smashing a one-timer past Bombardiers goalie Evan Andrews to open the scoring.
Carter’s goal turned out to be the only one of the game, as Sean Bunker made 21 saves in the Taunton goal and the Tigers defense held on for a 1-0 shutout.
“You have to take advantage of every opportunity you get,” Taunton coach Kris Metea said. “If you don’t at least build momentum, then it’s a wasted opportunity. We thought we’d get a few more but we needed to take advantage when it came.”
Scoring chances were at a premium in the first period, as both teams took a few minutes to get their footing. Brady Nichols had a couple shots from the point for the Tigers and Austin Blais had a go just after entering the zone for Attleboro but it took 10 minutes for the game’s first clear-cut chance.
Jack Patneaude, who assisted on Carter’s goal in the second period, had an opportunity on a quick breakout. He got space in the right circle and aimed for the bottom corner but Andrews (19 saves) stuck out his right pad to make the stop.
Attleboro had a two-on-one with a minute left in the period but Ryan Morry’s saucer pass to Cam Littig at the back post couldn’t be turned on goal. In the final second of the first, Sean Marshall got behind the Taunton goal and threw the puck into the slot for Kyle McCabe, who forced a pad stop from Bunker as the horn sounded.
“I thought our zone time was pretty good,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer about the offense. “We had to move some things around because we’ve had a couple injuries. We didn’t do the small things, like protect the puck. You have one guy in the corner and the support wasn’t there. We just needed to create more offensive opportunities and we just didn’t do that.”
That flurry at the end of the first seemed to translate into momentum for the Bombardiers after the intermission. Attleboro came out flying and McCabe flung a puck on net from the point that was kicked over to Littig racing in from the left side. The senior forward connected well with his shot, but Bunker went post to post and smothered it to keep the game scoreless.
Metea said, “Sean’s always great for us when he needs to be. That one in the second period was a huge one, open net and he comes across, sprawls and makes the stop. That kept it scoreless and we scored shortly after. It goes to show that timely goaltending is important.”
Three minutes later, the Tigers got the game’s first power play. Just seconds after Andrews made a big stop when Cam Sneyd, who got the second assist on Carter’s goal, set up Michael Albert in front, Carter pounced to steal the energy from the Bombardiers.
“We can’t be getting stupid penalties,” said Homer, who added that a similar thing happened in the last game against North Attleboro. “I’ve been preaching to these guys that when you have a penalty then you have your top four guys out there and you’re wearing them down. We have a short bench to begin with.”
Jaden Weyant had a good look to double Taunton’s lead, but Andrews stayed big to block his shot from the edge of the crease. With two minutes remaining in the second, Attleboro cleared off a penalty and Morry looked up quickly to catch McCabe coming out of the box behind the Taunton defense. McCabe’s breakaway chance was saved by Bunker with the blocker.
Taunton nearly doubled its lead to start the third period, but Sneyd was denied on the power play by Andrews. With six minute left, Littig got space on his forehand side but Bunker was able to get a glove to the shot and two minutes later Bunker came through again to stop Jaydin Rossi after the freshman stole the puck right in front of goal.
“We were a little slow getting our shots off and they were good at getting sticks in the lanes and clogging the middle in front of the net,” Homer said. “We’ve got to find a way to get through it and we didn’t do it tonight.”
The game was nearly over with three minutes to go, but Nick Vandermeel’s shot caromed off the inside of the far post, behind Andrews, and out. That gave Attleboro a chance in the final minute and the Bombardiers had one good look as Morry fired a pass to Littig who in turn found McCabe in the slot but Bunker was there again with a blocker save.
“That’s hockey,” Metea said. “We had three great chances in the period and their goalie makes two good saves and then gets lucky with one off the post, but you can’t stop fighting when things don’t go your way.”
Metea noted that the Tigers have had a tough schedule to start the season and admitted that this win could be a spark for Taunton as it looks to make a playoff push.
“All of our losses are to playoff teams,” he explained, “so we needed that win just to get the confidence. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it at that point and hopefully they’ll take that momentum to go into Mansfield.”
Taunton (3-4) will host Mansfield on Saturday afternoon, while Attleboro (4-3-1) will host Franklin.
2017-2018 Record: 9-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Homer
After a two year drought of postseason hockey, the Bombardiers made it to the playoffs last year and are aiming to make it two years in a row. The Bombardiers only had three seniors on the roster last season, so the majority of the squad is back, plus a familiar face is back in the fold this season.
One of the three seniors that graduated was Jake Parker, who led the Bombardiers in scoring last season with 26 goals and eight assists. But Attleboro is slated to return its next three scorers in senior Cam Littig (12 goals, 14 assists for 26 points), junior Ryan Morry (11 goals, 15 assists for 26 points) and senior Kyle McCabe (three goals, 10 assists for 13 points).
Another positive is that the Bombardiers have some experience in goal. Both senior Evan Andrews (13.66 games played) and junior Derrik Rivet (6.33 games) are set to return. Having an experienced goalie is a huge positive but having a strong backup helps even more. Andrews had 270 saves last season with a 0.882 save percentage while Rivet turned away 144 shots and had a 0.842 save percentage. In front of goal, McCabe, Sam Flynn, and Matt Viveiros will be joined by Liam McDonough, Kyle Miniati, and Zach Pierce as members of the defensive unit.
While Littig and Morry will try to replicate their success from a season ago, one name that could help bolster the offense is senior Sam Larkin. Larkin played his freshman year and had seven goals and seven assists before switching over to juniors. His experience should give Attleboro a boost during the season.
“We have had some additions to our team this year that has created a little more depth that had been absent in previous years,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We are working on maintaining a better consistency in our play. We are still in our tryout mode and hoping to find the right mix to make us more competitive this season, especially in our league games.”
2017-2018 Record: 17-3-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
Canton comes into every year with high expectations and the Bulldogs will be favorites to bring home a ninth straight Davenport division title and 11th Hockomock League title in the past 12 seasons. While the league campaign is a priority, the Bulldogs will also be comparing themselves to the top teams in Div. 2 and hoping this will be the year to break through in the South sectional and get back to the TD Garden for the first time since 2010.
After a dominant winter, the top scoring line is back in full for Canton. Senior Ryan Nolte, the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and junior Johnny Hagan, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will draw most of the plaudits but junior Timmy Kelleher gives the Bulldogs strong play on the other wing as well. That line combined for 69 points last season (27 apiece for Hagan and Nolte) and will be one of the league’s best going into this year. Canton also has juniors Tommy Ghostlaw and Chris Lavoie back to add scoring punch to the second line.
At the blue line, juniors Owen Lehane and Jack Connolly will both be expected to eat up a lot of minutes after strong sophomore seasons, and the Bulldogs will be looking for other players to step up and fill in defensively. After consistently strong goaltending from Quinn Gibbs over the past few seasons, Canton will turn to senior Mike Staffiere, who has been a backup the past two years and is drawing great reviews for his play during the preseason.
“Overall, we have a lot of experience returning up front at the forward position, but that’s true for a lot of teams in our league and in our division,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “The real question will be how much these players improved from last year, which we won’t know for sure until the games get going.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-9-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro is coming off the best season in program history, as the Warriors won 10 games and qualified for the state tournament without relying on the Sullivan Rule. Now, the Warriors come back this season hoping to build on that season and make another run at the state tournament behind an offense that, according to coach Mark Cedorchuk, is as deep as it has ever been.
Junior Ronnie MacLellan and sophomore Kirk Leach are two of the forwards to keep an eye on this season for the Warriors after the duo combined for 15 goals and 32 points last season. Also up front will be senior Tanner Kennedy and juniors Sebastian Ricketts and Josh Bertumen, who combined for 10 goals last year and are looking to continue their development to add depth to the attack.
Senior Brendan Tully will lead the defensive effort but is also the team’s leading scorer. The blue line standout scored 18 goals and had 19 assists and is going to be a major factor in all three zones as well as a leader on the penalty kill and power play. He will be joined on the blue line by junior Kyle McGinnis, while junior Espen Reager will be between the pipes this year.
“Even though we had a successful season last year, best in team history,” Cedorchuk said, “our players are not satisfied, they are hungry to improve on that.”
2017-2018 Record: 12-6-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Chris Spillane
Franklin started well last winter, reaching the final of the prestigious Mount St. Charles tournament and taking a point off Malden Catholic for the first time, but the Panthers couldn’t carry the momentum throughout the season and were knocked out in the first round of the tournament. As usual, Franklin graduated a lot of players, but also return a strong corps of experienced players to take on arguably the program’s toughest regular season schedule, which is loaded with some of the state’s top teams.
The Panthers return 11 seniors for this season, including eight forwards, but also have a group of eight sophomores that are jumping up from the JV to contribute on varsity this season. The forward line has plenty of experience and should be able to fire in the goals this year. Seniors Joey Lizotte, Zac Falvey, Scott Elliott, Dan Magazu, and C.J. Spillane will all be able to jump into the top scoring lines after playing major roles last year.
Defensively, the top five defensemen will be juniors Tom Tasker (who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last year) and Colin Hedvig and seniors Cam Casella, Matt D’Errico, and Evan Forbes. Three sophomores will also see time on the blue line for the Panthers this season. After graduating three senior goaltenders, the job is open to senior Ryan Cameron and junior Ray Ivers, who are both making the jump from JV.
“Our hope is that team speed will drive the offense and that our returning defense will have the experience to make sound decisions in our end,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The boys are looking forward to the upcoming season. I see the Hockomock as an extremely competitive league this year. We will also challenge our boys with a high-end non-league schedule.”
2017-2018 Record: 8-12-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip brings 11 players back from last year’s squad and is hoping a tough schedule will result in a battle-tested team ready for the D1 South Tournament at the end of February. It starts with the seniors for the Warriors with four of them back, plus a transfer.
There will be a lot of experience in the top line for KP, as well as its first defensive pair and between the pipes. Captain Ryan Fitzpatrick (10 points) had a strong season last year and will be trying to replicate that this year. Fitzpatrick is joined by assistant captain Luke D’Amico (13 points) as wingers while senior transfer Brendan Shandley steps in at center to give the Warriors a formidable line to work with. Juniors Chris Daniels (13 points), Joe Boselli (11 points), and Jack Coulter (10 points) are all back after successful sophomore seasons and should provide KP with good depth.
On the blueline, veteran Garrett Maxwell is the lone senior back from last year so he will be relied on for leadership. He is one of the strongest players in the league and plays in all situations for KP, including the power play plus the penalty kill. There will be some other familiar faces on defense for KP with junior Kyle Gray (seven points) and sophomore Rocco Bianculli (eight points) both back with varsity experience.
Senior James Lewis takes over in the crease as the starting netminder for the Warriors. Lewis saw action in three games last season, including a pair of wins and shutouts. While new to the starting position, Lewis has plenty of experience and that bodes well for the Warriors. Jesper Makudera and Nate Ihley will be pushing for minutes in net as well.
“I expect the team to have some good chemistry and get off to a good start,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “Practice has been good, and we have good leadership this year with a strong core. The Hockomock League is always competitive, the Kelley-Rex is a strong division, and we have a tough non-league schedule too, so we want to challenge ourselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 9-7-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets have a strong core of players back this season, along with the addition of a couple of new faces, and head coach Mike Balzarini is hoping that combination will result in success this season.
Experience will be a strong suit for Mansfield as five of its top six forwards played significant minutes last year. Chris Copponi (12 points) and Matt Copponi (16 points) will be on the wings around center Coleman O’Brien for one line while Jake Lund (eight points) and Kevin Bellanger are returners on another line. The sixth forward will be center Jack Garland, who played juniors last year but is back in the fold for the Hornets this year. Ben Ierardo, Cam Page, and Braedon Copparini will be in the mix for minutes as well.
Defensively, while there are certainly some holes to fill, Balzarini has some talent to rely on the blue line. Two-time HockomockSports.com selections Mike Arnold and Tyler Oakley graduated so there is a little bit of a void, but Austin Ricker has stepped on early on to anchor the Hornet defensive unit. Ricker is joined by Brad Grant, who played for the Hornets previously before switching to juniors. Nick Levine and Joe Troiano gained valuable experience last year, and Jack Gormley and Brian Grant should be in the mix as well.
Mansfield also has experience in the goalie position with junior Sean McCafferty back between the pipes after having a breakout sophomore campaign. McCafferty was one of the top goalies in the league last year, earning HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman honors. He had 377 saves and a 92 save percentage, which bodes well for the Hornets this year.
“We obviously want to pick up where we left off after making the playoffs the last two years,” Balzarini said. “With the returning players plus new additions, I think we’re a little bit deeper and we know what we need to do to be competitive and make sure we’re playing well at the end of the season.”
2017-2018 Record: 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Ben McManama
Defense will be key for the Rocketeers during the 2018-2019 season. With a handful of returners back on the blue line as well as veteran goalie Ryan Warren, North Attleboro boasts a talented defensive unit.
Senior captain Brendan McHugh will anchor the defensive group alongside juniors Jeff Baker and Will Yeomans. All three are very experienced players that put defense first. They can all get involved in the offense as well. Warren has shined between the pipes each of the last three seasons, earning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a freshman and was a HockomockSports Third Team selection last season. Warren is pushed in practice each day as Chris Ulrich and Nick Digiacomo push for time.
Offensively, North Attleboro only lost two forwards from last year’s group, but those two players (Drew Wissler, Jason McNeany) combined for nearly half of the Rocketeers’ 76 goals a season ago. So this year, Big Red will need forwards to step up and contribute. Captain Anthony Zammiello scored 13 goals last year and will look to continue his success this season. Todd Robinson, Justin Moccia, Dennis Morehouse, Jake Ebert, and Jack Connolly are all candidates to have big years for the Rocketeers.
“We are a very big and physical team that works hard,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “We will need to stay out of the box to have success this year. Defense and depth will be the strength of our team. We will also need three lines that can score. I am very optimistic on the season because it is obvious that all our players put a ton of work in during the offseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Speed has been the strength of the Tigers since Sean Bertoni took over the team and Oliver Ames will be relying on that speed and aggressiveness to try and challenge Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and to make a run in the state tournament. With a few players coming back from juniors to join with an experienced group, OA has high hopes of pushing the Panthers for the league title.
Senior forward Brett Williams will be the key player in the attack, coming off a season in which he scored 21 goals and recorded 15 assists and was named to the HockomockSports.com First Team. Williams will have plenty of help up front from senior Colin Bourne, who is one of the fastest skaters in the league and had 13 points last season. Senior forward Cullen Gallagher will also give the offense a boost, as he comes back to the program after a year in juniors.
Senior Matt McCormack was one of the league’s top defensemen last year and his steadying presence on the blue line will be critical to OA improving on that end of the ice, after giving up 54 goals as a team last year. Senior James Beatty is back after a year in juniors and should be a big boost to the blue line. Junior Owen Connor is back in net and looking to build off last season’s efforts.
“We are a team that will rely heavily on our team speed,” Bertoni said. “Our aggressive style of defense will lead to a successful offense. We will have to establish our forecheck to be effective. Our transition game will be a strength for us this year, creating turnovers and getting on the attack.”
2017-2018 Record: 1-20-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Overall, the Stoughton Black Knights will be on the young side but they have a veteran first line that will lead the way.
The Knights will be looking to improve on last year’s record, while possibly trying to surprise some teams along the way. Leading the way offensively will be senior Sean Doherty. Doherty was Stoughton’s second-leading scorer last year behind Brendan Campbell (graduated). Doherty was second on the Black Knights with 12 goals and added 11 assists and will be relied upon to be a key piece of the offense this season. Joining Doherty on the first line will be senior Luke Bainton, who brings a lot of varsity experience to the table. Bainton will look to improve on last year after recording seven points (four goals, three assists).
Senior Josh Hough will anchor the blue line for the Black Knights. In his fourth year on varsity, Hough has logged a lot of minutes on the ice over the past couple of seasons and will be one of the most experienced defensemen in the league. Hough is able to create on the offensive end as well, scoring a pair of goals last year along with seven assists. Senior Thomas McCoy is set to return in goal after getting experience between the pipes a season ago.
2017-2018 Record: 12-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has been a program on the rise for the past few seasons and last year the Tigers took another big step forward by making a push to the Div. 2 South semifinal. That unexpected tournament run as the No. 13 seed, which included wins over No. 4 Old Rochester and No. 5 Nauset, has boosted the team’s confidence heading into a new year in which all but four players are back.
Scoring has not been a problem for the Tigers in recent seasons. Last year, Taunton scored a league-best 98 goals, five more than Davenport champ Canton, and senior forward Cam Sneyd (30 points) and junior Mike Albert (32 points) both eclipsed the 30-point mark. Senior Jack Patneaude added 15 points last year and he is poised for a big year along with classmates Jaden Weyant, Owen Ross, and Nick Vandermeel.
The defense is almost completely returned from last year, led by senior Andrew Carter, who was solid in the defensive zone but also chipped in with 20 points. Senior Brady Nichols and sophomore Dylan Nichols are also back for the Tigers. Junior Sean Bunker returns in net after a solid performance in the tournament run and he will be backed up by classmate Andrew Gomes, who has shown that he is a capable replacement when needed.
“The players have embraced the enjoyment of the journey, the process, and working hard to get better every day,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “They have the potential to continue their accomplishment of new heights. They will be fun to coach, and watch grow throughout the season.”
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Both Oliver Ames and Attleboro skated to wins on Wednesday night, so both were facing the tough task of such a quick turnaround with a matinee matchup on Thursday at the New England Sports Village.
But by the way the Tigers came out, you’d never know they had just been on the ice the night before.
Oliver Ames scored less than a minute into the game, added a second goal in the final minute of the opening period, and then scored three more in the final period, picking up a 5-1 win over the Bombardiers.
“We wanted to get the points sooner than later,” said OA head coach Sean Bertoni. “We came out strong in the first. I wasn’t happy with how we came out in the second, it wasn’t our best period. I think the penalties kind of threw us off a little bit. But we came out strong again in the third, especially right away.
“We have Brockton on Saturday, then a good tournament down the Cape after that. It’s a quick turnaround after today, and we have a tough Westwood team to end the season. So we need the one point, and if we do get in, we’ll be battle-tested. We need our rest now, we need to get healthy and then Saturday is a big one for us.”
The Tigers move within one point of qualifying for the state tournament with four games left. Attleboro is already in the state tournament via the Sullivan Rule after their big win over Weston on Wednesday.
The visitor’s offense came from its defense in the first period. Senior defenseman Michael Nikiciuk stepped into a shot atop the right circle and the puck found its way through traffic and into the back fo the net with 14:11 left in the period.
Attleboro’s best chance of the period came with 3:30 to go when senior Jake Parker had a chance at a partial breakaway but good back pressure from OA’s Matthew McCormack didn’t allow Parker to get a shot off on target.
While it looked like the Tigers would take a 1-0 lead into the break, the offense came back to life. LeBlanc, who was credited with an assist on the opener, had a pair of shots saved and Ross Carroll saw his rebound bid go just wide of Attleboro goalie Evan Andrews (29 saves).
In the same offensive cycle, Rory Madden deflected the puck to the center of the ice, between the circles, and Nikiciuk stepped up once again from the blue line, batting a high shot through traffic and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Attleboro had its best chances in the second period thanks to a pair of power play opportunities. OA was whistled for a cross check at 11:12 and the Bombardiers had a couple of chances over the next two minutes.
Big Blue’s best chance came at the tail end of the man advantage when Sam Flynn had his low shot redirected in front hit the post. Before that, Attleboro had three good chances denied by blocks.
“I think those PKs were huge, especially with our guys battling through some sickness, playing last night, only having four PK guys…going back-to-back was a challenge for us and they did a really good job,” Bertoni said. “I think we gained some momentum from killing those. We talked before the game about how big the o-zone would be. I wanted the defense to play up more, and as you saw with Nikiciuk’s goals he was up in the zone. It was good to see him come down to the circles to get shots off.”
The Bombardiers went on the man advantage a minute later. Junior Cam Littig came flying down the ice and shuffled a pass to sophomore Ryan Morry on a two-on-one bid but OA sophomore goalie Owen Connor made a nice push from right to left and make the save with the blocker.
“When you only get 15 shots in the game, you have to capitalize on the good chances,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We hit the post, had the other chance…the game could have changed in the second. OA needs their points right now and they played like it, they played with urgency tonight. Their three lines deep.”
Oliver Ames cashed on the momentum it gained with the penalty kill in the third period. Attleboro took a penalty just 11 seconds into the third, and though it was able to kill off the man-advantage, OA kept the pressure up and converted shortly after.
With the puck still in the offensive end Madden dropped a pass back to Hunter Costello. Costello got a piece of it, causing a scrum in front. The puck popped free back to Madden, who whipped a low shot while turning to goal to make it 3-0.
After killing another cross check penalty, Oliver Ames junior Colin Bourne took a pass from Madden, raced down the right side fo the ice and found the back of the net with a wrist shot.
OA added a fifth goal in the final minutes when Madden got his second goal of the game, and fourth point, stuffing one in from behind the net.
Attleboro’s lone goal came in the final seconds when Littig batted in a one-timer on nice pass from Flynn.
“That’s a good team over there,” Homer said of OA. “They have three lines and they are deeper than we are. They’re quicker, they are on the puck. Sean is a good coach, he has the kids playing the game they are supposed to be playing, and they are structured. They came out flying in the first period, the second period was a better period for us, we worked harder and took the body a bit more. Then we went into the third period, we made one error and boom, they capitalized on it. You can’t do that, you can’t beat good teams doing that.”
Oliver Ames boys hockey (5-4 Hockomock, 10-7-0 overall) will try to earn the point it needs for the state tournament when it takes on Brockton on Saturday at 6:00. Attleboro (1-7-1, 7-9-1) returns to action on Saturday with a trip to Martha’s Vineyard to take on Old Rochester at 5:00.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – After missing out on Wednesday’s trip to King Philip, Trevor Pietrzyk made an instant impact on his return to the lineup against Attleboro on Sunday afternoon at the New England Sports Village.
The senior forward scored a natural hat trick in the first period, including a penalty shot, on his way to four goals and an assist, as Taunton picked up an important 6-3 win that moves the Tigers closer to sealing a return to the postseason.
“We always tell the players, you want your absence to be felt not known and we definitely feel his absence,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “It was good to have him back. Four goals, four different ways, is pretty cool.”
Pietrzyk, who missed all of last season with an injury, got things started just three minutes into the game when he latched onto a rebound, following a right pad stop by Attleboro goalie Derrik Rivet, and knocked it into the empty net.
Attleboro bounced back on the power play three minutes later. Jake Parker took the face-off and danced through three Tigers in the attacking zone before teeing up Ryan Morry for a one-timer inside the left circle to make it 1-1.
The momentum would not stay with the home side for long. Two minutes after it was tied, Taunton regained the lead with Pietrzyk weaving his way through a pair of defensemen before flipping a pass to Cam Sneyd in front.
In the span of seven seconds, Pietrzyk broke the game wide open. Attleboro went on another power play but the Tigers won the face-off in the defensive zone and broke out quickly. Pietrzyk was brought down on a shorthanded breakaway and given a penalty shot, which he dispatched with a lifted backhand. Off the ensuing face-off, Pietrzyk gained the zone and flicked a wrister from outside the left circle that snuck just under the bar.
“Trevor has got an ‘X’ factor,” said Metea. “He knows how to score goals; he’s got a nose for the net. He works hard and leaves it all on the line.”
Taunton was buzzing with a 4-1 lead, but Attleboro would not go quietly. In the final minute of the first, Parker gained the zone and fired a wrist shot from the left face-off dot that Taunton sophomore goalie Sean Bunker got a piece of but not enough to keep it out of the net.
“I thought we came out pretty good in the first period, the forecheck was going, but they had an opportunity to put a couple in,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “Once we changed it up and got a goal, it gave us a little spark.”
Parker nearly cut the lead to single goal early in the second, but his shot from a bad angle skipped away off the crossbar. Morry also created a series of scoring chances as the Bombardiers racked up a 12-5 edge in shots in the second (after being outshot 14-6 in the first).
Taunton almost added a fifth at several points in the period, but were denied by goalie Evan Andrews, who was injured and could not start but was brought off the bench after the fourth goal. He made a point-blank stop on Will Walsh, who had been set up by Jaden Weyant, and then closed the period with a huge back post stop on Jack Patneaude, after Walsh picked him out with a perfect saucer pass.
“After the fourth goal, I just felt like we had to change something up and Evan was able to go in,” said Homer. “He made some big time stops at big parts of the game and gave us a chance to get back into the game.”
Attleboro did cut the lead to one heading to the third. On the power play, Morry did a good job to block a clearance at the blue line and keep the possession alive. The puck swung to defenseman Kyle McCabe and his shot from the point was deflected right to Cam Littig who made no mistake with a one-timer.
“There seemed to be a little bit of the letdown,” said Metea about the reaction to going 4-1 up. “We kept preaching do the little things right, play our system, get the puck deep, make plays and you’ll be fine. It’s a long game. You’re not going to win the game with one play or one shift.”
The Bombardiers came out for the third period intent on finding the tying goal and had a series of half-chances, including an Aidan Diggin effort at the near post on a loose puck that hit the side of the net and two chances with a man advantage, but after an early flurry Taunton settled down and limited Attleboro to few clear-cut scoring chances.
“We had our chances on the power play, but got outside of our structure a little bit,” said Homer. “Maybe it was the guys getting a little anxious and everyone wanting to individually be the hero and that happens sometimes. I think the kids pressed a little bit too much trying to get that big goal.”
The best chance of the period fell to Taunton’s Jake Roberts off a feed from Sneyd, but Andrews again went post-to-post to deny the forward. There was nothing Andrews could do a minute later, as Pietrzyk capped his night with an empty net goal. Sneyd added a second empty netter with 9.6 on the clock to make it a three-goal margin.
“If you win now, we have three more to make states,” said Metea about his message to the players. “We have a pretty favorable schedule in February once league is done and you put yourself in a much better situation.”
Taunton (6-6-2, 1-4-2) will try to get two points closer to tournament qualification on Wednesday against Davenport leader Canton. Attleboro (5-5-1, 1-3-1) will host Mansfield on Wednesday night.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Heading into the third period of an early season game trailing by three goals, Attleboro could easily have gone through the motions for the final 15 minutes of Thursday night’s non-league Div. 3 game against Weston at the New England Sports Village.
Instead, the Bombardiers came out flying and dominated the third period to create a remarkable ending.
Attleboro came all the way back to tie it thanks to a pair of goals from senior Jake Parker and a shorthanded breakaway goal by junior Cam Littig with just 1:15 remaining, but Weston tacked on a power play goal 30 seconds later to pull out a thrilling 4-3 victory and hand the Bombardiers their second dramatic one-goal loss of the season.
“It was just a matter of winning the third period,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer about the team talk in the second intermission. “I just told the guys, ‘You could’ve lost the game 10-0 but you didn’t. It hurts right now because, for the second time this year, you were a minute away.’ ”
He added, “It was an exciting game and there was no give-up and if they hold that attitude we’re going to be sitting in that locker room on the other side of things.”
The first period was mostly uneventful with both teams held to just five shots on goal apiece. The Bombardiers’ depleted defensive unit, senior Ed Noel, junior Kyle McCabe, and sophomore Sam Flynn, were pushed by the Wildcats, who had plenty of zone time in the period, but clogged shooting lanes and limited the looks on goalie Evan Andrews.
In the second period, Attleboro found its groove on offense, but it was Weston that found the back of the net. The Bombardiers held an 11-4 edge in shots in the second, but the Wildcats scored three times on their four shots.
Thomas Burke had the opening goal with 11:15 left in the period on a one-timer from the slot after a perfect pass by Cooper Griffin, who scored a pair of goals and assisted on Weston’s two other scores. With 5:30 left in the second Griffin got on the board with a power play goal off a Burke assist and then added another with 26.2 on the clock after a defensive mistake allowed him to skate free into the zone down the right wing.
Attleboro had more than its fair share of scoring opportunities in the period. Freshman Aidan Diggin had the first chance with a backhand after beating his marker on the left circle but sophomore Zack Korbin (32 saves) made the stop. Diggin had another chance a few minutes later off a Ryan Morry pass but the one-timer was knocked aside.
Littig also saw a one-timer from the slot, set up by good work around the crease by Liam McDonough, miss just wide of the post.
“They were good shots,” said Homer. “They were good opportunities. Any one of those pop in at a certain time then it’s a different game but they’re creating those opportunities.”
The third period was a continuation of the second, as Attleboro was on the offensive from the start. The Bombardiers would hold a 19-6 advantage in shots in the period and 35-15 for the game.
McDonough hit a one-timer into the chest of Korbin early in the period, but then went to the box for a holding call. Down a skater, Attleboro had a clean breakaway when Diggin jumped the play at the blue line and stole the puck, but Korbin stood tall to deny the chance. Another penalty extended the Weston power play but again Attleboro’s shorthanded unit created offense.
Parker this time stepped up to make the defensive play and get free behind the Weston defensemen. He was hauled down just as he was lining up his shot and was given a penalty shot. The team’s leading scorer faked forehand and roofed his backhand to get Attleboro on the board with 9:04 to play.
The Bombardiers went on the power play a minute later and 20 seconds into the man advantage nearly cut the lead to one. Parker’s shot from the point through traffic was kicked aside at the last second by Korbin, who then managed to get a blocker to Littig’s rebound effort. Two minutes later, Parker struck the post trying to pick the top corner off a face-off win.
As time was winding down and it seemed like the Bombardiers’ effort would get them no closer, Parker went one-on-three against the Weston defense. He dropped his shoulder and managed to split a pair of players and again went top shelf with a backhand to cut the lead to 3-2 with 2:09 left.
“He’s our best player,” Homer said of Parker. “He’s got to do those things; it’s his job really. We’ve got to look to the veterans to do those kind of things, especially early in the season. Jake has to be our goal scorer, he has to be. We’re looking to him for that.”
Parker was called for a controversial penalty with 1:24 left that left the Attleboro bench furious and the Bombardiers without their best player on the ice for the remainder of the game. Again Attleboro did not give up. Weston won the face-off in the attacking zone, but Littig beat the defense to the puck on the blue line and he scored his breakaway chance to tie the game.
Homer explained, “I’ve got some quick guys out there and we work on anticipating, not just on the PK, having that jump ahead of the play and knowing what’s coming next.”
Thirty seconds later and the excitement in the rink was subdued by a Weston winner. Griffin fired a shot from the left circle that Andrews could only parry and Michael Sacco was stationed on the back post to tap the rebound into an empty net. Littig nearly answered back just a few seconds later, but the Wildcats managed to clear the puck and claim the two points.
“We’re so excited,” said Homer of the final goal, “the emotions overtake them and each one of them is out there trying to do their best and you get out of position and leave two guys open. It’s just those little things that make a difference in that situation.”
The coach was proud of the fact that the team found a way back into the game in the third period. He said, “It just shows that the team is willing to face the adversity and battle. These guys will battle.”
Attleboro (3-2) will not play again until Jan. 6 when the Bombardiers are on the road to open Hockomock League play against Foxboro.
BROCKTON, Mass. – Stoughton senior Jon Lessa and sophomore Sean Doherty each recorded a pair of points and sophomore goalie AJ Scott had an impressive performance in net as the Black Knights beat Attleboro, 2-1.
Less than a month after the Bombardiers beat the Black Knights in a league game by the same score, Stoughton flipped the script this time around to get two points in a non-league clash.
Scott made 34 saves, including 16 in the first period, while Lessa and Doherty took turns setting each other up for go-ahead goals for the Black Knights.
“And Attleboro has a great offense, the first time we played them we couldn’t stop their chances,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark on Scott’s play. “They have some good forwards. I thought overall we did a pretty good job. We gave up 35 shots but it went progressively down each period.”
The Bombardiers struck first in the team’s meeting back in January, building a 2-0 lead in the second period.
This time around, Stoughton took the lead, not wasting much time on the game’s first power play. An interference call put the Black Knights on a man advantage opportunity and just over a minute in, Stoughton took the lead.
Lessa, a captain, raced past a defenseman and dropped a shot on target as he wrapped behind the net. The puck popped free right in the middle and Doherty pounced, firing one in from close range to put Stoughton up 1-0.
But less than a minute after taking the lead, the Black Knights took a penalty. Attleboro needed just 10 seconds to tie the contest.
Attleboro won the face off, senior PJ Elliott ripped a shot from the slot that Scott was able to stop but sophomore Cam Littig came flying around the back of the net and tucked the rebound chance in from a tight angle to make it 1-1.
The Bombardiers nearly carried that momentum into the second period with a big chance early on but Scott stood tall for Stoughton. Just over a minute into the middle frame, the Bombardiers won an offensive face off and the puck ended on the stick of Littig for a close range bid but Scott got just enough to turn it aside.
The save turned out to be a big one as the Knights regained the lead just a minute later.
This time Doherty played the role of helper and Lessa took on the role of finisher. The sophomore staked past a defenseman towards the boards behind he net, but slammed on the breaks, turned back and fired a centering pass for a one timer that Lessa roofed to put Stoughton up 2-1.
“They played well today,” Mark said of his first line of Lessa, Doherty and junior Brendan Campbell. “They created a lot of good opportunities. I thought their goalie [Evan Andrews] played really well too. That breakaway save was huge.”
The breakaway Mark was referring to came at the midway point of the second period. After the Bombardiers hit the crossbar on a shot from Jake Parker, the two teams traded penalties.
That gave Attleboro a man advantage opportunity but it was Stoughton that came away with the best scoring chance.
Campbell broke free and was able to go in alone on goal but Andrews stood his ground and denied the bid with a leg save.
Scott had one his best sequences near the end of the middle period. Both Parker (20 goals on the season) and Littig had shots through traffic that somehow Scott was able to get with a piece of his glove (on Littig’s shot) and then blocked the second with his chest.
Neither side found the back of the net in the third period, both Scott and Andrews making big saves in the frame.
First it was Scott, as Parker raced around a defenseman and fired a tight angle shot but the sophomore made the stop with his paddle.
While on a power play, Lessa found Doherty on the doorstep but Andrews was quick to react to deny the sophomore. A minute later, Doherty and Lessa used a quick give and go in the attacking area with the latter releasing a close range shot but it sailed wide.
Attleboro had its best chance to level the game with 30 seconds to play, skating six players with the goalie pulled. Elliott ended up with the puck in the slot for an open shot but Scott made the point blank save to preserve the win.
“We’re not used to being in that position so sometimes the kids get nervous but I thought they kept their composure pretty good there at the end,” Mark said.
Attleboro finished with a 35-20 advantage in shots on goal.
“I thought we played well to the point where we had a lot of offense zone times,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer said. “It’s one of those frustrating games where you feel like you outplayed the other team but the other team’s goalie makes all the stops. Kudos to [Scott]. Similar to the OA game, when it was 1-0, OA didn’t get to the hard parts of the ice in front of the net and we did the same thing tonight. We had chances but we didn’t take advantage of them.”
Stoughton hockey (4-11-2 overall, 1-7 Hockomock) hosts Bellingham on Tuesday while Attleboro (6-11-1, 2-7) will host Shawsheen on Wednesday. The Bombardiers need two points against either Shawsheen or Dighton-Rehoboth to qualify for the state tournament.
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
FRANKLIN, Mass.- In a battle between Eastern and Western Mass. hockey on Tuesday at the Pirelli Veterans Arena in Franklin, the West was victorious as Attleboro fell 5-3 to Ludlow in the first night of the 37th annual Bellingham Christmas Tournament.
“The players were a little bit frustrated, but it’s still early in the season,” said first-year Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “No excuses, but going forward we can take a lot from this game to bring to practices, but we can’t do it all at once. It’s a building process.”
Before the game, both teams hung up their own respective No. 10 and No. 19 jerseys to honor Falmouth hockey’s James Levin and Owen Higgins, who passed away in a tragic car accident last Thursday. The players who wear those numbers for their own teams (P.J. Elliott and Dylan Wallace for Attleboro and Michael Medina and Nicholas Dobek for Ludlow) took on different jerseys for the evening in order to take part.
Attleboro came out of the gates swinging in the first period, finding the back of the net first as Cam Littig set up Wallace for a wrist shot from the point with 13:05 remaining.
The Lions were quick to strike back, as less than two minutes later, Cole Moutinho came down the left wing to snipe a shot into the upper right corner of the Attleboro goal, drawing the sides even with 11:28 left before the first intermission.
Both teams brought the physicality, with Attleboro showing it wasn’t afraid to use the body and Ludlow responding. The Lions drew two penalties in the period, the first a high-sticking call on Ryan Martin and the second cross-checking on Matt Leblanc, but the Bombardiers were unable to capitalize on the opportunities.
While Attleboro looked to have momentum on the second power play, Max Cocchi stole the puck at the Bombardiers blue line and skated away, beating one Bombardiers defenseman before the senior captain put it past goalie Evan Andrews to put the Lions back in the lead.
Going into the second period, both teams continued with much of the same; exchanging shots and checks while play remained fairly even. Both teams had opportunities, but were denied in the end by missed shots or the play of the goaltenders.
Attleboro evened the score again with 8:33 left in the period. Jake Parker broke between two defenseman and pushed forward towards goal under tight coverage, just managing to send a backhander past Ludlow goalie Alex Will to draw the Bombardiers level at 2-2.
The Lions retook the lead with 6:05 left as Leblanc connected with Owen Burke, who with a turn and backhanded shot made it 3-2.
The Bombardiers responded just over a minute and a half later as another backhanded shot, this time from Ryan Morry, found the top shelf of the goal to draw them even at 3-3 with 4:29 remaining in the second.
While Attleboro looked hungry to get the lead back, it was the Lions that scored with 1:30 left in the period as Moutinho’s slap shot was tipped in by a Bombardier defenseman to give the sophomore his second goal of the night as once again, the Lions went into an intermission with a one-goal lead.
The Lions carried their momentum into the third period and were able to make it 5-3 within the first minute of action. Cocchi fed Logan Cognac the puck and the sophomore captain finished the job with 14:06 left to play.
For the remainder of the game, the team size advantage played a significant factor as Ludlow was able to call on players from their bench while Attleboro had more limited options and looked tired on the ice. The team substituted freshman Derek Rivet for Andrews following the fifth goal, and he was able to make a few saves, including on two power play attempts for the Lions, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
“I think sometimes what happens is [the players] get overzealous and they let their emotions overtake them and they get out of position, and they don’t stay within the structure that we’ve been trying to get across to them,” said Homer, adding that was to be expected with a core of younger players and that he was proud to see his team continue to fight when down.
“They’re working hard [but] we just have to find a way to meld it together,” said Homer.
Both teams will close out the tournament on Wednesday night. Attleboro (2-3) will face the host team Bellingham in the consolation game at 6:30, while Ludlow will play Littleton-Bromfield for the tournament title.
2015-16 Record: 7-11-2 (1-8-1) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro narrowly missed out on a playoff spot last season, losing in its final game against a Div. 3 opponent and this year’s team will be motivated to try and get back in the postseason under new head coach Mark Homer, who made the switch from Oliver Ames where he coached the past three years, and with a new home – moving from Aleixo Arena in Taunton to the new England Sports Village just a couple minutes from the school.
In what has become a common issue for the Bombardiers program, Attleboro will not have
a lot of depth to call on this winter with only 15 skaters and two goalies on the varsity roster, but there is some experience coming back. Senior P.J. Elliott is a talented skater and stick handler who will be counted on to provide the scoring punch along with Jake Parker and Dylan Weallac on the first line.
Sam McKenzie emerged last year as a physical presence and senior captain Eddie Noel will partner him on the top defensive pairing. Sophomore Evan Andrews and freshman Derek Rivet will battle it out for the starting goaltender position for the Bombardiers. There are several other underclassmen who could make immediate impacts, including sophomore forward Cam Littig.
“With the new facility in Attleboro the hopes are that in the coming years, the roster will grow to include increasing depth to the program,” said Homer. “The goal of this years team is to stay healthy, work together as one unit on and off the ice, and get better each day. It’s a new day for Attleboro High School Hockey with a promising future.”
2015-16 Record: 18-4-5 (8-0-2) 2015-16 Finish: Won the Div. 1 State Championship Head Coach: Chris Spillane
After being the first Hockomock League team selected for the prestigious Super 8 tournament in 2014-15 and then graduating 21 players, Franklin was supposed to need a year to rebuild, but the Panthers showed just how strong their program is by bringing home the Div. 1 state championship in a dramatic double overtime thriller against St. Mary’s at the TD Garden. It was the program’s first state title at any level since 1983.
The Panthers graduated another large class of 13 seniors from last year’s champions and lost promising freshman defenseman Kevin Mackay who transferred to Dexter. Still, expectations remain as high as ever for the Panthers, who have won four straight league titles. Much of that excitement comes from the potential in the offensive zone with Franklin returning last year’s title game hero Luke Downie, leading goal scorer Jeremy Miller, and Brendan O’Reilly and the top line of seniors Joey Blasie, Adam Assad, and James Kilroe. Sophomores Matt Holmes and Zach Falvey will add depth to the offense.
Defense is where the Panthers will have some new faces, although seniors Tom Sicchio and Stan Carter will add some experience to the back line. Juniors Jack McGrath and Connor Norton will make the jump up from the JV team to add to the defensive lines and freshman Collin Opet will also see playing time on the defense as well. For the third season in a row, Franklin will have a new No. 1 goalie with senior Cam Benhamand junior Owen Ginley will battle it out for the starting spot.
“For the Panthers to be successful this year it will be a result of a team defense concept,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The offense will take care of itself, we will be focusing on strong play in our zone.”
2015-16 Record: 9-8-4 (5-2-3) 2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 South playoffs Head Coach: Paul Carlow
The Warriors made strides last winter under first-year head coach Paul Carlow, including a regular season tie with Franklin and reaching the postseason for the first time since the program was moved back up to Div. 1. This season, Carlow is hopeful for a return to the postseason and to challenge for KP’s first league title since 2007, despite losing 10 seniors from last year’s roster.
The offensive zone should be strong for the Warriors this season with several key returning players that put up solid totals last winter. Junior forward Collin Cooke is the main weapon after putting up 11 goals and 15 assists for a team-high 26 points to be named a league all-star. He is joined up front by senior Ritchie Lucente, who scored 10 goals and had nine assists last year, and senior Jacob Kelly, who finished with 11 goals and nine assists.
KP will also return a few important pieces on the defensive side of the puck, including junior goalie Shane Frommer, who was 3-1-1 in his five starts last year. Frommer’s start to the hockey season will be slightly delayed after helping the football team win its first Super Bowl title. In front of the Frommer will be senior Jeremy Smith, who chipped in with three goals and four assists last season.
“We had some success last season qualifying for the D1 playoffs,” said Carlow. “We have our work cut out for us this season… We are a young team with only five seniors but I expect us to get back to the playoffs.”
2015-16 Record: 5-10-5 (4-4-2) 2015-16 Finish: Missed the playoffs Head Coach: Mike Balzarini
Last winter was atypical for the Hornets, who missed out on the playoffs and finished fourth in the Kelley-Rex division, but Mansfield is hoping for a quick turnaround under new head coach Mike Balzarini, who makes the move from Milford. The Hornets have a number of returning players, including several from club or other school programs to bolster the depth.
One of the returning players is Joe Olsen, who spent last year with a juniors program but will be a significant addition to the Hornets top attacking line alongside fellow seniors Matt Farragher and Chad Piotti, who both had solid years in 2015-16. Junior Cullen Anastasia is another forward to come back to the program and could step right in to make an impact. Freshman Chris Jenkins is going to be the center on the third line and classmate James Bezeau will also see playing time this year.
On defense, the Hornets will be led by senior Cullen Murphy, a physical presence at the back and one of the leaders on the ice. Juniors Tim Arnold, Ryan O’Hara, and Tyler Oakley will also be important pieces on the top defensive pairings. Freshman Joseph Troiano will also be on the defense after he decided against attending Xaverian this year. The defense will be protecting senior goalies Brendan McKenna and Tony Rullo, who will each see time.
“We’re a lot deeper,” said Balzarini, who said that the Hornets would be carrying four lines and four sets of defensemen and is excited about the potential on the team. “It’s been good having two weeks to prepare. They have to get used to our new system and adhering to the structures that we’re putting in place.”
2015-16 Record: 10-10-1 2015-16 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Head Coach: Sean Bertoni
Oliver Ames will be looking to keep its postseason streak alive under new head coach Sean Bertoni – a former standout goalie for Franklin.
If the Tigers want to get back to the state tournament, they’ll need some help from their younger players; Oliver Ames has eight sophomores and four freshman on its roster this year. OA does have seven seniors and a group of experienced juniors that can help lead the way.
“The goals of the team are to progress from Day one to the end of the year,” Bertoni said. “We have to use our team speed and forecheck extremely hard. We will be a disciplined, hard working aggressive team.”
2015-16 Record: 13-10-0 (3-7-0) 2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South playoffs Head Coach: Kris Metea
The Tigers got to experience what the state tournament is like last season for the first time since 2006-07 and only the second time in the past two decades. Taunton had the fourth most wins in a season in the 44-year history of the program and scored a remarkable 106 goals last season, which was the best in the Hock.
This year, Taunton will try to build on its historic season and make a quick return to the postseason. Leading scorer Tyler Pietrzyk has graduated but there is plenty of firepower returning for the Tigers this season, including senior forward Zack Albert who is coming off a 30-point campaign. He will be joined up from by classmate Jordan Hoey, who had 17 points last season and senior Cam Carnes, who had 10 points. Sophomore Cam Sneyd could be poised for a breakout year for the Tigers.
Defensively, Taunton can lean on three-time league all-star Nick Terry, who will man the top defensive pairing. Mike Volkmann may be listed as a defenseman on the roster but he can get forward into the attack with 29 points a season ago. Junior Cam Welby will be a new addition to the defense after playing juniors all of last season. Senior Justin Chappell returns in net.
“This year’s group of seniors are first class kids,” said head coach Kris Metea. “They exemplify leadership across the board…They had a chance to taste the tournament last year, and are focused on acquiring more than just a taste this time around.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – With 8:21 left in the second period, Keagin and Sam Larkin skated to the penalty box for the Bombardiers. Mansfield would have a full 1:30 of two-man advantage to try and extend its 2-0 lead and put Attleboro away.
The Hornets have struggled offensively this season (19 goals in 11 games), but coming off a six-goal performance against Taunton on Wednesday, head coach Rick Anastos thought the team may have broken out of its slump. Unfortunately for Mansfield, offense is still a concern, as the Hornets failed to score on the power play, keeping Attleboro within two.
“It’s been our problem all year long,” said Anastos. “We just can’t score. I thought we were going to have a break out finally and went up 2-0 and thought it was in hand. But [Attleboro] battled…they always battle.”
The missed opportunity quickly came back to bite the Hornets. Attleboro got on the board with 4:22 left in the second and scored again just 1:30 into the third period and managed to come away from Saturday afternoon’s physical game at Aleixo Arena with a 2-2 tie.
“I thought we came out pretty strong again,” said Attleboro coach Mike Cripps, referring to a 7-6 loss to King Philip on Wednesday night.
“If we come out and skate and play hockey then we can skate with anybody. We have limited depth but they’re giving it everything they’ve got.”
The Bombardiers started strongly, controlling the puck in the offensive zone for long periods of the first period and leading at one point 6-1 on shots. Attleboro has been strong at even strength but have been hurt by penalties this season and Saturday was no different.
Mansfield opened the scoring on the power play when Attleboro failed to clear the puck. Max Hoffman found Matt Farragher below the right circle and he flipped a pass right in front of goal to Pat Sunderland and he scored on a one-timer.
“They’re clicking but they need to stay out of the penalty box more,” said Cripps. “They just make it harder on themselves. You just can’t take stupid penalties at any stage of the game.”
The Hornets made it 2-0 with 1:14 left in the first and again it came from an Attleboro error and again came from a special teams unit. This time it was a shorthanded goal from Hoffman on a breakaway off assist from defensemen Matt Chirichiello and Mike Arnold.
Mansfield had plenty of chances to extend the lead. In the opening minutes of the second period, Arnold had a shot from the point that was knocked down by Attleboro goalie Evan Andrews (21 saves) but caused a scramble the crease. Another shot rang the post for Mansfield.
Then came the two-man advantage, but the Hornets only managed a couple of shots from distance. The best chance during the power play was actually for Attleboro forward P.J Elliott who snuck out on a breakaway after blocking a pass near his own blue line, but he got too deep before firing a shot on Mansfield goalie Anthony Visconti (24 saves).
Cripps said, “Thankfully the guys that were not in the box came up big. They have a whole bunch of heart, all 20 kids on the team.”
He joked, “They pick each other up even when they do stupid things.”
Three minutes after clearing off the penalty, Attleboro cut the lead in half. Elliott and Jake Parker fired shots that Visconti was able to knock down but the second rebound popped out to winger Nick Miniati and he fired his shot through traffic and into the back of the net.
The Bombardiers carried that momentum into the third period and stormed back onto the ice to try and tie the game. Just 1:30 into the third, Elliott managed to pick the pocket of a Mansfield defenseman at his own blue line. The puck wound its way to Kyle McCabe, who sent a shot through a screen that bounced past an unsighted Visconti to make it 2-2.
“I can’t repeat much of what I said,” said Cripps with a laugh. “I just kind of laid into them for being selfish and they had to come out and decide whether they were going to come out and play hockey and play a team game or continue to play selfishly.”
“Thankfully they seemed to come out as a team.”
Just seconds after Attleboro tied it, the Bombardiers nearly took the lead. Again it was Elliott that created the chance but his Keagin Larkin was unable to put his shot on target with the net gaping. On the next rush up ice, a shot from the point beat Visconti, but not the post.
Mansfield was on its heels but still managed to create a couple of chances with quick transitions. Sunderland tried to return the favor to Farragher on a two on one, but the pass eluded the forward’s stick. Later, on a three on one, Chad Piotti just missed with Andrews stranded.
“We just keep preaching the same things over and over – rebounds, rebounds, shoot, rebounds rebounds, shoot,” explained Anastos. “It’s not like we’ve been blown out by any team this season…we just can’t score.”
He added, “You don’t score a lot of goals then you start gripping the stick a little harder. I think that was the difference.”
Andrews also came through with several big saves, including a quick kick save on a shot from Shane Doherty in the slot. It was a strong finish for the Hornets but too little too late and for the second time in three seasons, Attleboro was able to earn a point from Mansfield.
Attleboro (5-6-2, 1-4-1) will try to carry that momentum into Wednesday’s meeting with Franklin. Mansfield (2-6-3, 2-2-1) will face North Attleboro on Monday night.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
Today’s games are listed below. Boys Basketball
King Philip. 63 vs. Barrington, 35 – Final – King Philip won the second quarter 21-6 to create the separation. Junior Noah Goodwin had a game-high 17 points, freshman Kyle Layman had 11 points and six rebounds and senior Ben Smith had nine points and four rebounds. Hockey
Attleboro, 3 @ Stoughton, 1 – Final – Mark Sheehan gave the Black Knights the lead just 15 seconds into the game (assisted by Carter Gerome and Sean Doherty), but Attleboro tied it with five minutes remaining on a goal by P.J. Elliott. Will McKenzie scored the eventual game-winner two minutes later shorthanded and Keigan Larkin scored an empty net goal (assisted by Evan Andrews) to wrap up the win. Attleboro held a 51-15 advantage in shots. Stoughton goalie AJ Scott had an “outstanding” game in goal according to head coach Dan Mark.
Foxboro, 1 @ Canton, 7 – Final
Taunton, 8 vs. New Bedford, 0 – Final Swimming Boys
Franklin, 73 @ North Attleboro, 88 – Final
Taunton, 85 @ Mansfield, 85 – Final Girls
Franklin, 93 @ North Attleboro, 71 – Final
Taunton, 96 @ Mansfield, 72 – Final Gymnastics
Sharon, 136.65 @ Attleboro, 136.1 – Final
Mansfield, 138.7 @ North Attleboro, 132.4 – Final Girls Hockey
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 0 vs. Medfield, 3 – Final
Stoughton, 1 @ Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake, 9 – Final