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.
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.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Every game in the Hockomock League is a grind. Games are tight, chances are at a premium, and sometimes it takes the right bounces or the puck ending up on the right stick at the right time to find the back of the net.
Twice in Wednesday night’s game at the Foxboro Sports Center, the puck bounced to the stick of sophomore Lindsay Atkinson and she buried a pair of rebounds to lift Franklin to a 2-1 victory against Mansfield/Oliver Ames in what was another even matchup between these two teams.
Following the game, both coaches talked about how happy they were to be back on the ice. Franklin had not played since Jan. 23 and had been off the ice for a week and was without its assistant coaches due to COVID protocols. MOA was missing four players on Wednesday and hadn’t played since Jan. 18.
“It’s been a very interesting year,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke. “We’re a small league and we all know each other and we’ve all been around for a long time. We can all appreciate everyone’s situation and we all get it.”
MOA coach Roy Bain added, “Everyone in the Hockomock League has been in this boat at one point or another. At the end of the day, we played a hockey game tonight at a time when a lot of people thought they wouldn’t. Everyone that plays wins this season.”
As is usually the case when these teams square off, scoring chances were few an far between at the start of the game.
Five minutes in, freshman Maeve Anastasia fired a pass from behind the net to Reese Pereira out in front but the sophomore wasn’t able to knock it in. Melissa Shanteler had a good look from the right wing circle, but Franklin goalie Gabby Colace (12 saves) made the stop.
Midway through the first, Franklin had its first nice passing exchange in the offensive zone. Katie Leblanc played it ahead to Avery Greco who fed it on to Dana Stott, but MOA goalie Jess Widdop (12 saves) was at her post to make the save.
The best chance of the first period fell to Ciera Doherty, as the Warriors forward pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone and flew towards goal. Her first shot was saved and Sammy Ledin’s rebound effort was blocked in front before Colace covered up.
Stott had an early chance in the second period but Widdop kept the pads down to block the close-range effort. Atkinson nearly got on the board with a shorthanded break, but Emma Pereira chased her down and got a solid stick in the way of the shot.
Molly Hurley drew a save with a wrister from the circle and Shanteler had another try from just inside the blue line, as both teams started to be more aggressive getting pucks to the net. MOA came the closest to sneaking a shot through when Emma Garland wrist shot struck the inside of the post and somehow slid along the goal line but not across it.
The Warriors would get a golden opportunity with 3:19 left in the period when a second Franklin penalty gave them 1:34 of five-on-three. The Panthers held firm, not allowing a shot on target while down two skaters. Two minutes later, they grabbed the lead.
Katelyn Brown got behind the MOA defense for a breakaway, but Widdop stood tall to get a shoulder on the shot. The puck caromed off the goalie’s pads then her glove and kicked out to Atkinson who flicked a backhand shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
The lead lasted six minutes into the third period. Reese Pereira, who was the source of the bulk of MOA’s attacking threat, entered the zone with speed, cut inside the right wing circle and fired a shot off Colace and in at the near post, tying the game at 1-1.
“Reese Pereira set the tone with the first shift and didn’t stop,” Bain said. “She played half of the game with no letdown. That’s the best game I’ve ever seen her play. She busted her butt tonight and did it for her teammates.”
Emma Pereira forced Colace into a save with a shot from the blue line and seconds later Atkinson had a shot blocked aside by Widdop. Reese Pereira set up Doherty for a chance in front that was blocked and the puck bounced right back to Pereira but Colace covered the post to keep the rebound out.
“Sometimes, in some situations, I’m very comfortable with that because I’m very confident we’re going to finish and win,” Burke said about trying to grind out a close win, “but tonight with a team like Mansfield/OA going into the third period up 1-0 and that’s nerve-wracking. Our league is so competitive, you never know.”
With 2:31 to play, Franklin snagged the winner. Good pressure in the zone forced Widdop into a save and a scramble right on the edge of the crease. On the third attempt, the puck bounced to Atkinson and she lifted a shot over the prone goalie, putting the Panthers in front.
There was still time for one more chance and unsurprisingly for MOA it fell to Reese Pereira. On a two-on-one, she got the puck on her forehand in the left circle and fired a shot that looked headed for the back of the net only for Colace to flash a quick glove and preserve the win.
“Huge save,” Burke raved. “Gabby is a great goalie. We all know that, she’s done it for years.”
Bain said, “Any of the games in the Hockomock League can go either way and it didn’t go our way tonight. The girls didn’t quit and we just didn’t get a couple bounces and they did.”
But in Tuesday night’s contest between Attleboro and Franklin, with points more valuable than GameStop’s stock, an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter from the hosts made all the difference.
Attleboro senior Alec Eaton hit back-to-back three-pointers and junior Evan Houle added a jumper as the Bombardiers turned a four-point deficit into a four-point lead in the fourth quarter, an advantage they never relinquished — though it was close — in a 42-40 win over Franklin.
Franklin made it a one-point game, 39-38, with just under a minute to go before Attleboro senior Justin Daniels (10 points, four rebounds) hit a pair of free throws. The Bombardiers’ edge grew by one, 42-38, after Daniels sank another from the line following a Franklin turnover.
Franklin got a second chance after a miss when Zach Harvey grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it to Andrew Byfield (12 points) for a long two (his foot was on the line) to make it 42-40 but there was just 3.4 seconds left.
The Bombardiers tried to kill the clock with a long pass down court but the ball slipped and went out of bounds, giving the Panthers one final chance. Without a timeout, Franklin ran a play for a contested three that was just off the mark and the off-balance putback attempt also missed as Attleboro held on.
“I think the message is that every possession matters in a game like that,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We had a couple of executions of plays and some good finishes we had in the second half and I think that was the difference.
“[The 8-0 run] was the turning point when Alec his those two threes. That gave us the lead that we able to hold onto for the rest of the game.”
A back-and-forth first quarter saw the Bombardiers and Panthers combine for 30 points, the latter holding a slim 16-14 lead through eight minutes. With a total of seven three-pointers, it looked like the table was set for a barn-burner type game.
But instead, it was the total opposite. From the start of the second quarter, it turned into a game of stops instead of runs.
Defense shined in the middle quarters for both teams. A clean look at the basket became harder to come by than predicting the snow total from a New England winter storm. The teams combined for a total of just six points in the second quarter, going a combined 3-for-24 from the floor.
“Extremely frustrating,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “I thought we had a lot of really good looks. To score 40 points and feel like you got a lot of good looks is a weird thing to say but it felt like we had our opportunities to extend our lead or make some shots that could have put us in a good position to win the game but unfortunately, we just didn’t finish. I know our shooting percentage wasn’t pretty. [Attleboro] played hard, they did a good job, they are a physical team that plays really hard. Hopefully we can make more looks on Thursday.”
While each offense found a little bit more rhythm in the third, both sides were limited to single-digit scoring once again. Byfield had half of the Panthers’ eight points, including a breakaway left-handed slam after a steal near midcourt. Attleboro’s Evan Houle (10 points) hit a three with less than a minute to bring his team within one, 26-25, going into the fourth. It was the first made three from either team since the first quarter.
“We know [Franklin] is going to come in here and defend,” Houle said. “That’s a well-coached team and they are going to be tough on defense from start to finish. I thought we matched them on defense for a little while too. I give my guys credits for defending tonight, there were some times we had some lapses on some slips where they got some good looks that we have to work on. But I thought we battled hard on the inside. I thought both Jake Struminski and Chris Holcomb came in and played well for us. Those two guys played hard and made an impact in the game.”
Franklin seemed to grab the momentum to start the fourth, scoring on back-to-back possessions as Jake O’Brien (13 points, 10 rebounds) converted a pass from Ben Harvey, and senior Declan Walmsley (15 points, nine rebounds) knocked down a three. Two plays later, Harvey came up with a steal and O’Brien converted a putback, and the Panthers, who didn’t attempt a free throw in the game, had the momentum and a 33-29 lead.
After a timeout, the Bombardiers came out and hit the most important shot of the game. A skip pass from Houle found Eaton alone in the corner and he buried a three to make it a one-point game. Struminski gobbled up a rebound after a Franklin miss and this time Eaton took a nice pass from Alvin Harrison and drained another three, this from the opposite corner.
The Bombardiers got a stop after the Panthers used up nearly the entire shot clock. On the other end, Houle drove to his left and pulled up for a 10-footer with four seconds on the shot clock to make it 37-33 with three minutes to play.
“It doesn’t seem like much at first but that’s a lot in a game like this,” Neely said of the 8-0 run. “We helped off of a shooter when I didn’t think we needed to and credit to them, they did a good job skipping it over the top finding him and he made them.
“I think the frustration built a little bit inside the guys. Instead of moving on to the next play, it seemed like they were worried about the last miss they had instead of making the next shot. We have to be tougher than that mentally and be better than that.”
Walmsley made his second three of the quarter to make it a one-point game with just under two minutes to go. Daniels hit two from the line but O’Brien drove to the rim to make it 39-38, setting up the frantic finish.
Franklin (4-5 Kelley-Rex, 4-5 overall) will try to snap its current skid when it hosts the Bombardiers (5-2, 7-2) in a rematch on Thursday.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Even with some of its regular starters on the bench cheering on, Franklin started Tuesday night’s game with Attleboro locked in defensively and crashing the glass. The Panthers held Attleboro scoreless in the first and to just six points in the second quarter, allowing their offense time to click into gear.
Once Franklin got going on that end of the floor, knocking down 10-of-12 threes as a team in the second half, there was no way back for the Bombardiers. Franklin rolled to a 64-27 win, extending its win streak to nine games this season and 34 games overall and clinching a third straight Kelley-Rex division title.
“We have something to win,” Franklin coach John Leighton said of his team’s focus. “Beyond Thursday, there’s nothing out there. It’s the abyss. So, this was one tangible thing that they could do and they’ve been very fired up about it.
He added, “It’s a great league. It’s a great league when we play 20 games and a great league when we play 10. There’s great balance in the league, so I’m very proud of the girls for closing that out.”
Celebrating senior night, some of the usual suspects weren’t in the starting lineup, but the Panthers came out intent on controlling the boards and giving Attleboro no good looks.Katelynn Taylor (five rebounds) and Elizabeth Wilson (eight rebounds) set the early tone.
“We tried to limit their first and second looks and make their third or fourth look beat us,” Leighton explained. “The seniors this is their final home game and there was a spark across all 14 kids. I was impressed how they played.”
When junior Olivia Quinn, the team’s leading scorer, came in off the bench, the offense started to get going as well. She scored six of her game-high 15 in the first and Emma Sousa added a bucket for an 11-0 lead after one.
“Defensively in the first quarter I thought we did a good job when the game was still on the line, but then you go eight minutes and don’t score,” said Attleboro coach Marty Crowley. “We haven’t played from behind like that this year, from that kind of deficit so it’s a lesson learned.”
Emma Reilly (eight points) got Attleboro on the board with a pair of jumpers and Narissa Smith (eight points) hit a pull-up for her first points of the night, but Franklin’s depth and its strength in the paint was able to extend the lead to 17 by halftime. Katie Peterson scored all six of her points in the second and Brigid Earley chipped in with four of her six points in the frame.
Leading 23-6, Franklin was in control at halftime, but things still seemed out of sorts on the offensive end. The Panthers were getting good looks, but were making very few of them. Something seemed to click in the three-minute break before the start of the third quarter.
Quinn drove and kicked out to Erin Quaile (six points, five rebounds, and five assists) for a three to start things off. After Earley and Gabby Bosh traded drives, Stefany Padula spotted up in the corner for a three. Then Earley grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked out to Quaile from beyond the arc.
Out of nowhere, the lead was now 24 and Franklin was just getting started. Quinn had a nice lefty finish and then got an easy bucket after Quaile’s rebound and long lead pass. Teagan Collins (10 points) got into the act, burying her first three of the night, followed by one from Quinn, then one from Kaleigh Houlihan (11 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals), then another from Collins.
When the dust had settled, Franklin had knocked down seven threes and scored 29 points in the third and had built a 52-14 advantage.
“We got a lot of good looks, but missed a lot of wide open threes,” said Leighton. “When they started to connect in the second half, we just couldn’t miss. I said in the first half, they’re all good threes, no one is jacking up shots, but we don’t want to live by the three either, just keep playing. Then the roof came off the hoop and away they went.”
To Attleboro’s credit, the Bombardiers didn’t stop and had their best offensive quarter in the fourth. Meghan Gordon, who came into the night as the league’s leading scorer at more than 20 points per game, got a layup off a Smith steal and dish and then added a three. She finished with seven points and seven rebounds. Smith also knocked down a pair of threes in the fourth.
Franklin didn’t stop scoring either. Houlihan showed off her range, hitting a pair of threes including one from a few feet behind the line. Collins added her third three as well.
“In the third quarter, they probably could’ve been in the parking lot and not missed a shot the way things were going,” Crowley joked. “We held them 11 points in the quarter, so defensively you’re doing your job, but offensively we just couldn’t find a rhythm early on. We have great kids who work hard and tonight was just [Franklin’s] night.”