TAUNTON, Mass. – Foxboro went into the first intermission leading by a goal, but as the Warriors came out of the locker room for the third period, they found themselves trailing by three and in need of a reaction. Despite Foxboro dominating the first 10 minutes of the third period, Taunton remained in control of a three-goal advantage and seemed to be skating to a big two points.
Those last five minutes of Saturday afternoon’s game at Aleixo Rink turned into a wild ride.
Foxboro scored three times and Taunton had a breakaway saved by backup goalie Jack Spinney. Ronnie McLellan’s tip with just 37.8 remaining on the clock, his fourth goal of the game, salvaged a 5-5 tie for the Warriors and sent both teams home with a point.
“We definitely showed a lot of character in the third period,” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We just kept coming at them and our guys were hungry. We felt like it was just a matter of time until we got pucks to the net and got them through.”
The third period started with the Warriors on the power play and an early penalty on Taunton added more fuel to Foxboro’s momentum. Eoin Reager danced around three Tigers on the left wing, but was unable to beat Taunton goalie Sean Bunker (21 saves) five-hole. Bunker also had to quickly backpedal and make a blocker save when Sebastian Ricketts got a tip in front that nearly looped into the net.
While Foxboro was dominating the third (outshooting Taunton 13-5 in the period), the hosts still seemed pretty comfortable. That changed with 5:07 to play. Kirk Leach was given loads of time on the puck in the high slot. He waited, looking for a pass, before turning and firing a wrister into the top corner on the stick side.
Suddenly, the Warriors had life. McLellan nearly got his third goal of the day with a shot through the five-hole but Brady Nichols was able to clear the puck off the line. Less than 10 seconds later, McLellan completed his hat trick to bring Foxboro within one.
Nichols was close to scoring his fourth goal and putting the game away only for Matt Grace to clear his shot away from the far post. With 90 seconds to play, Taunton had a golden opportunity to seal the points when Michael Albert got behind the defense. He deked and went to his backhand and tried to slide the puck through the five-hole, but Spinney stayed low and made a huge save.
Taunton coach Kris Metea said, “Mike tried to go five-hole and he had him, which is where you want to go on that big of a goaltender, but it was a big save by the goalie and that was definitely a turning point.”
About a minute later, that save turned out to be even more important. Reager sent the puck on net and McLellan was in the right spot to redirect the shot just inside the far post, stunning the home crowd.
“Ronnie is such a smart player,” said Cedorchuk. “He just works his tail off. His competitiveness is second to none. I knew when that first one got through it was just a matter of time.”
Foxboro took the lead midway through the first period. Leach created the opening with a rush down the right side and his pass into the middle was one-timed by McLellan off a stick in front and past Bunker. The lead lasted less than two minutes, as Taunton responded on the power play. Nathan Fernandes passed the puck out from behind the net to Nichols, who crept in to the left face-off dot and smashed a one-timer past Foxboro starting goalie Espen Reager (14 saves).
Dylan Pothier worked an opening for Ricketts to have a shot on goal but Bunker made the stop. Then Leach thought he had scored and the one official ruled his shot a goal, but after a discussion it was (correctly) ruled to have come back off the post. The Warriors would go into the break with the lead after McLellan tipped in a shot by Jack Watts on the power play with 1:23 left in the first.
The second period was completely dominated by the Tigers, who outshot Foxboro 15-5 in the frame and scored four times without response.
Metea was asked if he had a special team talk before that period and he replied, “You’re right there, just keep doing what you’re doing, let’s create turnovers, get into transition, and when our power play is out there we’ll take advantage. Nothing really special, just stick to our system and we’ll be right back in the game.”
On the power play, Nichols had a shot from the point kicked aside and Camden Faria’s rebound was sent wide. The puck was kept in at the far boards and worked back behind the net again. Jack DeMoura passed it to Nichols, who had moved into the same position as he scored from in the first. This time he took a touch and roofed his shot just under the bar.
“Our power play allows him to slip into that open position,” said Metea. “He knows how to read where he is and our center coming from behind the net finds him pretty well. He deserves the hat trick.”
Albert, who is now only two points shy of 100 for his career, nearly put Taunton in front with a close-range tip only to have Espen Reager make a pad stop. The goalie was helpless to deny Albert’s next scoring chance. Shorthanded, he stole the puck in the neutral zone, shrugged aside a defender against the far boards, and then cut inside across the crease. Albert lifted his backhand to make it 3-2.
Reager, the reigning league MVP, has been outstanding this season, keeping the Warriors in games against some of the best teams in the Hock. Saturday was a struggle and two goals in 12 seconds would be the end of his day. First Nichols completed his hat trick with a wrist shot from a couple feet inside the blue line and then Albert got his second with a quick shot from the slot.
“The second period was one of the worst periods we’ve played all year,” Cedorchuk admitted. “We just weren’t getting to loose pucks. They got in a couple of good shots that normally our goalie makes saves on but he didn’t tonight. It happens. He can’t be great every night. I know it hits home with him, so I know he’ll rebound from it.”
Trailing 5-2 heading into the third was a big hill to climb, which only got higher as the time wore on, but the Warriors managed to stick with the plan and managed to fight their way back into the game. Taunton will rue the missed opportunity to get a win.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do,” said Metea. “You can’t lay off the gas and expect good things to happen when you make mistakes like that.”
Taunton (4-8-2) will be at home for the next four games, starting with a visit from Stoughton on Wednesday. Foxboro (4-4-4) faces an important visit from Attleboro on Wednesday in a game that both teams will need for their playoff hopes.
Taunton, 3 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final – Taunton pulled out a one-goal win over Attleboro to earn its first league victory of the season. Michael Albert had a goal and an assist while Xavier Abel and Connor McGrath each scored once in the win. Jack DeMoura, Brady Nichols, Noah Gravel, and Colton Scheralis each had an assist in the win. Ryan Morry and Nate Parker scored for the Bombardiers while Aidan Diggin, Sam Flynn, and Owen Dryjowicz each had an assist.
Franklin, 1 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – Franklin senior Tom Tasker scored in the third period to help the Panthers overcome Foxboro goalie Espen Reager and earn a point on the road. Tasker scored just under five minutes into the third to bring the Panthers level, the only time Franklin could solve Reager (54 saves). Sophomore Jack Watts put the hosts in front with a goal in the first period.
Canton, 2 @ Waltham, 1 – Final – Canton put more than 30 shots on goal and came away with a win in the battle of unbeaten teams at the Bentley rink. Junior Faith Nelson opened the scoring in the first period and, after Waltham had tied it, freshman Olivia Maffeo scored the eventual game-winner on a second period power play.
Franklin, 2 @ Dedham, 5 – Final
King Philip, 5 vs. Medway, 1 – Final – Makenzie Shandley scored twice to lead the Warriors to a win over visiting Medway. Morgan Cunningham, Sydney O’Shea, and Bridgett Nally each scored once in the win.
Stoughton, 3 @ Cohasset, 10 – Final – Morgan Lessa scored a pair of goals and Jillian Parker found the back of the net once but the Black Knights dropped the contest to Cohasset. Zofia Bangs had two assists for Stoughton.
Peckham Tournament – Four Hockomock teams competed in the annual Peckham Tournament with Sharon having the best team finish, taking second overall. Mansfield was third, Stoughton took sixth, host Canton was eighth overall, and all four schools had at least one individual champion. The Eagles had two first place finishes and 11 total wrestlers place fourth or better in the tournament. Adam Landstein (106) and Amit Levin (120) grappled their way to individual titles while Eric Rabkin (195) finished second overall for the Eagles. Mansfield had six wrestlers go to the finals with Antonios Sevastos (126) and CJ Glaropoulos (170) winning their brackets. Ciaran Connolly (160), Max Farley (132), Noah Jellenik (220), and Will Stratton (145) were second for the Hornets. Stoughton’s John Santos (113) and Canton’s Eddie Marinilli (152) also won individual titles.
Hingham Quad (Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames earned one win on the day but suffered a pair of setbacks to finish 1-2. The Tigers pinned down a win over Sandwich (47-36) but fell to host Hingham (61-18) and Walpole (44-30). Junior captain Remi Creighton (126) and sophomore Giovany Juste (145) each went 3-0 on the day.
Midland Duals (King Philip), 10:00 (@ Quabbin)
Cumberland (RI) Tournament (North Attleboro), 9:00AM
Wilmington Quad (Milford), 9:30AM
Durfee Quad (Taunton) – Taunton picked up a pair of wins at the Durfee meet, pinning down wins over the host Hilltoppers (60-12) and Everett (63-9). Brandon Mendes (113), Tyler Lima (120), Jackson Mandeville (138), Christian Balmain (152), and Jackson Wellman (195) each went 2-0 with two pins on the day for the Tigers.
Attleboro, 54 @ Durfee, 46 – Final – Senior Tim Callahan sank the Bombardiers’ first three-pointer of the game with just over a minute left to push the visitor’s lead to four, helping Attleboro earn a non-league win on the road. Senior Qualeem Charles dominated the paint with 19 points and 14 rebounds, senior Bryant Ciccio added 10 points, and both Callahan and senior Jason Weir chipped in with nine points for Attleboro.
Foxboro, 67 @ Bishop Feehan, 60 – Final – Foxboro senior Brandon Borde scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and classamte Donald Rogers dropped a career-high 20 points to help the Warriors pick up a non-league win on the road at Bishop Feehan. After just one field goal in the opening half, Borde exploded for 10 points in the third and added eight more in the fourth to help the Warriors close the game. Rogers hit a three in each the first and second quarters as the visitors claimed a 30-27 lead by the break. The Warriors scored 18 points in the third, getting buckets from Ryan Hughes (11 points) and Kevin Gallagher (nine points), to extend the lead to 48-38 going into the fourth.
Franklin, 63 @ St. Peter Marian, 53 – Final – The Panthers used a strong first half to go on the road and secure a win over a potential playoff foe in St. Peter Marian on Monday evening. Franklin put up 16 points in the first quarter and then outscored the Guardians 19-8 in the second frame to take a 35-19 advantage into the halftime break. Eight different players scored in the opening half to help the visitors create the double-digit lead with Chris Edgehill (16 points) scored five in the first, Brayden Sullivan (eight points) added four in the first, and both senior Steven Karayan (11 points) and Declan Walmsey (six points) hit a pair of second quarter three-pointers to give Franklin the lead. Andrew Byfield scored eight of his 10 points in the opening half as well. Edgehill sank a pair of fourth quarter triples to help the Panthers keep the lead.
King Philip, 46 @ Plymouth North, 58 – Final – King Philip held Plymouth North to just 10 points in each the third and fourth quarters, owning a double-digit advantage in the second half but the Warriors were unable to overcome a 24-point second quarter by the hosts, falling on the road without leading scorer Alex Fritz. King Philip managed just 15 first half points with senior Andrew McKinney scoring six of his nine points in the opening 16 minutes. Senior Owen Conlin finished with a team-high 12 points while senior Tommy Donahue added 11 points.
Mansfield, 71 @ Lynn English, 79 – Final (OT) – Mansfield junior Matt Boen knocked down a three with 10 seconds left in regulation, and Lynn English missed a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds left to send the game to overtime but the Bulldogs outscored the Hornets 12-4 in the extra period to get the win. The defending state champions led by as much as nine in the second half but Boen, who scored a career-high 32 points, scored eight straight at the end of the third to keep the visitors in the game. The Hornets committed 30 turnovers in the loss. Boen hit on five three-pointers and went 7-for-7 at the free throw line, hauling in eight rebounds. Junior Jason See added 15 points and five rebounds while junior TJ Guy chipped in with 11 points.
Oliver Ames, 75 vs. Barnstable, 22 – Final – The Tigers’ smothering defense didn’t allow the Red Raiders into double-figures in any quarter while the offense combined to score 51 points between the second and third quarters to blow the game open. Oliver Ames held an 11-6 lead after eight minutes before dominating the second, scoring 28 points while surrendering just one field goal and three points total to grab a 39-9 lead at halftime. OA poured in 23 points in the third quarter to take a 62-16 lead into the fourth. Junior Amari Brown scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the second quarter while Solomon Fife, Jay Spillane, Will Whiteside, Kevin Duggan, Owen Friel (10 points), and Evan Craig all added to the 28-point second quarter. Adam Cann drained a third quarter three while Ryan Burkett and Drew Nickla scored to highlight the big third quarter. The Tigers had 13 players score in the win.
Sharon, 69 @ Archbishop Williams, 80 – Final – Sharon erased an early nine-point deficit to get within two at halftime (37-35) and only trained 56-51 heading into the final quarter but the Bishops had their best offensive quarter (24 points) in the fourth to pull away for the win. Senior Andrew Burton scored six points in the second and seven more in the third to keep the Eagles in the game, finishing with a team-high 18 points. Senior Aidan Kane sank three three-pointers to added 16 points while Caleb Gayle had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Eagles.
Stoughton, 82 vs. Fenway, 55 – Final – Stoughton bounced back from a close loss on Friday to Attleboro with a big win at home against visiting Fenway. Senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell paced the Black Knights with 19 points and six assists while classmate Obinna Ugwuakazi finished with 18 points in the win.
Attleboro, 78 vs. Durfee, 42 – Final – Nyah Thomas scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Bombardiers to their first win of the season. Liv McCall added 12 points and Jackie MacDonald had 10 as Attleboro dominated the visiting Hilltoppers.
Franklin, 44 @ Holy Name, 40 – Final – The Panthers trailed by as many as eight at several points but were able to rally in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. Erin Quaile came up with the big defensive play in the final 10 seconds, stealing the ball and making a pair of free throws to seal the win. Ali Brigham scored 24 points to lead Franklin, while Olivia Quinn added 11.
Foxboro, 1 @ Silver Lake, 2 – Final
Mansfield, 5 @ North Attleboro, 2 – Final
Stoughton, 1 @ Bellingham, 3 – Final
Taunton, 5 vs. Durfee, 0 – Final – Five different Tigers found the back of the net as Taunton skated to a dominating 5-0 win over the Hilltoppers. Taunton held a 59-4 advantage in shots on goal while Michael Lucier, Noah Gravel, Colton Scheralis, Loran Corcoran, and Michael Albert each found the back of the net. Jack DeMoura added three assists in the win.
King Philip, 0 vs. Duxbury, 2 – Final
Franklin, 48 @ Ashland, 19 – Final
Applin Team Tournament (King Philip), 10:00 (@ Montachusett Tech)
Franklin, 136.75 @ Norton, 122.6 – Final – Franklin sophomore Kate Rudolph took All-Around honors for the second straight meet, helping the Panthers pick up a non-league win over Norton. Rudolph was the top Panther in each event, earning All-Around score of 35.4.
Results: Floor – Kate Rudolph 8.9, Caroline Woelfel 8.5, Ashley Hammann 8.3, Lexi Lupien 8.15; Beam – K. Rudolph 8.8, A. Hammann 8.4, L. Lupien 8.15, Elizabeth Schirduan 8.2; Bars – K. Rudolph 8.5, Emma Nelson 8.3, A. Hammann 8.3, E. Schirduan; Vault – K. Rudolph 9.2, L. Lupien 9.1, C. Woelfel 8.9, Maia Keohane 8.3.
2018-2019 Record: 10-10-2 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
The Bombardiers will be looking to stretch their postseason streak to three years this season. It showed how deep the Kelley-Rex division was last year that the Bombardiers, who did not fare well in league games, made it to the state tournament.
One reason that Attleboro is hopeful for a spot in the state tournament is the addition of a couple of transfers to the program. Jake Ward joined the program and will apart of the Bombardiers top line alongside senior captain Ryan Morry and junior Aidan Diggin. Both Morry and Diggin have a plethora of experience at the varsity level so expect Attleboro’s top line to be a dangerous one in the offensive zone. Attleboro picked up some needed depth with the addition of junior Owen Dryjowicz and freshman Aidan Dryjowicz, who will join sophomore Nate Parker on the second line.
The third line could see some rotation but will mostly feature junior Austin Blais at the center spot, and senior Liam McDonough, junior Owen Graney, and senior Kyle Miniati on the wings. The Bombardiers will have some experience on the blue line with senior Sam Flynn and junior Zach Pierce holding down two of the top spots, with sophomore Sean Marshall also in the mix. The fourth spot between the top two defensive pairs is still up for grabs in the early going. Sophomores Nick Piazza and Michael Dutremble are battling for minutes in net.
“We hope to improve our record from last year through commitment and hard work collectively, and gain entry to the state tournament,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer.
2018-2019 Record: 25-0-1 2018-2019 Finish: D2 State Champions Coach: Brian Shuman
Having won nine straight Davenport division titles, Canton is used to having a target on its back as the rest of the Hockomock League tries to knock the Bulldogs from the top. But this year, that target is even bigger than before.
Fresh off one of the best seasons in both program and league history that ended with a D2 State Championship, the Bulldogs will be getting everyone’s best game in and game out. And while Canton certainly graduated some key pieces, like two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Ryan Nolte, the Bulldogs enter this season as not only the favorite for a 10th straight division crown but will certainly be in the mix when it comes to the 2020 D2 State title.
While replacing Nolte will be tough, the Bulldogs have several key forwards back from last year’s championship team. It will all start with senior Johnny Hagan, who was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a sophomore and racked up 51 points with 21 goals and 31 assists on the season. Hagan will have a lot of experience to work with in senior Timmy Kelleher (seven goals, seven assists last regular season), senior Tommy Ghostlaw (five goals, six assists), and senior Chris Lavoie (13 goals, 12 assists). Lavoie could be poised for a breakout year, scoring twice in the season-opening win over Franklin.
Canton also brings back top players along the blue line with Jack Connolly and HockomockSports.com Second Team selection Owen Lehane. Both seniors, Connolly and Lehane not only are among the best defensive players in the league but play a big part of the Canton offense with their shooting. Seniors Ronan O’Mahony and Declan Pfeffer are also experienced defensemen that will see increased roles this year. Canton turns to senior Joe Cammarata to start in between the pipes with junior Liam Polles impressing early on and could push for starting minutes.
“We have a lot of experience returning, but that’s true for a lot of teams across the state,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. If our preseason was any indication, there are a lot of outstanding, talented teams this year that improved greatly in the offseason. We will have our work cut out for us in the Hock and with a tough non-league schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-7-3 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South First Round Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro built upon its 10-season win two years ago with its best season in program history last year, picking up 12 wins including one in the postseason. After posting back-to-back successful seasons, the Warriors are hoping that trend continues.
With a good amount of returners back this year, the Warriors will be in good position to compete in the Hockomock League and will be aiming to make a deeper run into the state tournament behind a beefed-up schedule. One strength for Foxboro this year will be its offense with its two top regular season point producers back in junior Kirk Leach (15 goals, 20 assists) and senior Ronnie MacLellan (14 goals, 20 assists). That duo provided the Warriors with a lot of its offense last season and will be one of the top returning duos this season. Senior Sebastian Ricketts brings a vast amount of experience to the offense while sophomore Jack Watts (10 goals, four assists) will be looking to build on an impressive freshman year. Brady Daly, Eoin Reager, Josh Bertuman, Ryan Jacobs and Ben Ricketts will provide needed depth offensively.
Defensively it all starts with senior goalie Espen Reager, the defending Hockomock League MVP back after a strong junior season between the pipes for the Warriors. Reager has the ability to keep his team in teams, and he showed last year that he can help steal a game like he did against Mansfield. In front of Reager, senior Kyle McGinnis is one of the more experienced defensemen in the league and will be the anchor of the blue line group for Foxboro. Freshman Alex Coviello has impressed early on and will be a key piece of the defense.
“Our strength on offense this season will be our depth and overall team speed,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We have more depth on offense than we’ve ever had. We’re looking forward to this season, with a lot of depth up front, excellent team speed and a great goalie we feel we can compete with any team on our schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-10-4 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final Coach: Anthony Sarno
A new chapter begins in Franklin boys hockey with Anthony Sarno taking over on the bench after longtime Panther coach Chris Spillane stepped down following last season. While the Panthers might have a bit of a new look, expectations are still high inside Pirelli for the defending Kelley-Rex champs.
Sarno is hoping that momentum will carry over from the Panthers’ impressive playoff run from a year ago when Franklin upset Mansfield in overtime and knocked off Catholic Memorial in the semifinals. But there won’t be any nights off for Franklin with a loaded schedule that features Malden Catholic, Pope Francis, and a loaded Mt. Hope tournament — and that’s just December.
“It will be a work in progress and we will look to develop a solid team chemistry with a relentless work ethic, staying true to consistency, and discipline in an environment where effort and attitude is paramount, and not up for discussion,” Sarno said.
Up front, the Panthers will be leaning on seniors Shane McCaffrey, Kevin O’Rielly, and Shea Hurley to lead the way. McCaffrey is the team’s top scorer returning from a year ago so it will be vital for new players to step up and contribute. Juniors Conor O’Neil and Declan Lovett are also going to be important pieces to the Panthers’ offense. Senior Ray Ivers returns between the pipes are stepping in last season and playing well. In front of Ivers, Franklin will have two of the best defensemen in the league with senior Tom Tasker, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last year, and junior Joe LeBlanc, who had a breakout sophomore campaign.
2018-2019 Record: 10-11-0 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Paul Carlow
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back seasons, the Warriors have a chance to end that drought in 2020 behind an experienced group of players after losing just five players to graduation.
Head coach Paul Carlow says this is the most experienced group he’s had at his disposal since taking over behind the Warriors’ bench in 2015. There are nine seniors back this year and eight juniors so King Philip certainly boasts a lot of depth, and players that have played plenty of minutes at the varsity level. It starts with senior captain Chris Daniels, senior assistant captain Joe Boselli, and senior assistant captain Jack Coulter. All three have skated plenty of minutes for Carlow over the past couple of years and will be relied upon for their leadership.
Daniels is a crafty forward that scored five goals and had six assists while Coulter is the top returning scorer back this year after scoring six goals and recording nine assists a year ago. Seniors Bryan Lucente and Noah Ray will also be in the mix offensively alongside Daniels, Coulter, and Boselli. The Warriors will also rely on a handful of juniors to chip in offensively including forward Conor Cooke. Cooke had a terrific season with 10 goals and four assists and could be poised for a breakout year.
Defensively, there is a lot of veterans along the blue line for King Philip. Seniors Kyle Gray and Ethan McGuire are joined by junior Rocco Bianculli, a Hockomock League All Star and a HocomockSports.com All Underclassman selection a year ago. Gray is a three-year player that provides physicality while Bianculli is one of the top scoring defensemen in the entire league, scoring seven goals and adding seven assists during his sophomore season. Seniors Nate Ihley and Jesper Makudera will battle for minutes in net.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” Carlow said. “On top of the seniors and juniors, we also have a strong sophomore class competing for spots. We have speed up front, we’re strong on the back end, and we have two good goalies. I’m looking forward to working with this group and fully expect them to make the tournament.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-6-3 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Mike Balzarini
Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini was a little concerned about his team’s depth coming into the season after graduating nine players and losing two top players to prep school. But after tryouts and a strong preseason, Balzarini believes this year’s squad will be just as deep as last year’ 14-win squad.
Losing a talented senior class hurts, and with Matt Copponi (eight goals, 28 assists, 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year) and Brian Grant (HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team) off to prep schools, the Hornets will need new faces to step up and contribute on both ends of the ice. But Balzarini and the Hornets have something that none of the other Hockomock teams have and that’s senior goalie Sean McCafferty. Now in his fourth year starting, McCafferty is a game-changer. Even if the Hornets aren’t having their best games, they’ll still likely have a chance to win because of McCafferty.
In front of McCafferty, the Hornets will turn to senior Joseph Troiano to anchor the defensive unit. He will be joined by Jack Gormley and Conor Benoit, both of whom picked up valuable minutes last season and should help Mansfield be one of the stingiest defensive groups. Offensively, the Hornets do get a boost with the return of senior forward Chris Jenkins. Jenkins was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team in 2017 after he had 11 goals and 10 assists as a freshman. He will join veterans Jake Lund and Kevin Belanger to form a talented first line for the Hornets. Cam Paige, Liam Anastasia, and Ben Ierardo will team up on Mansfield’s second line.
“We have a little bit of a sour taste after how last year ended,” Balzarini said. “We want to get over that hurdle of the first round of the playoffs. This group really plays well together, they play as a team. They’ve gelled nicely since the first day of tryouts.”
2018-2019 Record: 11-9-2 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinals Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro will be leaning on its defense in order to get back to the tournament again this season. With the defending state champs in Canton as well as an improved Foxboro squad, the Rocketeers have their hands full with a difficult three-team Davenport division.
Seniors Jake McNeany, Will Yeomans, Jeff Baker, and junior Charlie Connolly are all back this season to give North Attleboro a veteran defensive group. With a handful of experienced players leading the way defensively, it should make the transition from four-year starting goalie Ryan Warren a bit smoother. Another reason that transition should go smoothly is senior goalie Nick Digiacomo, who has been impressive in the preseason so far this year.
Senior Dennis Morehouse is back after a breakout junior campaign and will be in the mix as one of the top players in the Hockomock League this season. Morehouse was second on the team in points last year with 15 goals and four assists and is the top returning scorer back for the Rocketeers. Senior Jack Connolly is another experienced forward that will be a key piece of the offense while junior Tyler Sarro will look to build upon a solid sophomore season.
“For us to be successful, we need to be discipline and get scoring from our second and third lines,” said North Attleboro coach Ben McManama. “We are not as big as we were in years past so we need to play tough and physical.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9-1 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Mike Zucarelli
There is a new face at the helm of the Tigers this season, but its a familiar one. Mike Zucarelli takes over after serving as an assistant coach and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
Replacing one of the league’s top forwards in Brett Williams won’t be easy, but the Tigers boast experienced returners at every position on the ice. Senior Owen Connor is back for his third year in between the pipes. He took a big jump from his sophomore to junior year and that Zucarelli expects that trend to continue for the 2019-2020 season. In front of Connor, OA returns senior defensemen Ryan Gottwald and Matt Nosalek. Gottwald, one of the team’s two captains, had an impressive junior year and will be the leader of the defensive group this season.
Offensively, there will be some familiar faces including senior captain Hunter Costello. Costello, who scored nine goals and had 15 assists in the regular season a year ago, is joined by fellow returners Jake Gottwald, Duncan Pereira, and Brad Powers. All four of those seniors will be vital in the attack while juniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro should see expanded roles this year.
“We are going to be a gritty, hardworking team this year,” Zucarelli said, citing a preseason scrimmage with Milton. “We held our own during the first as Milton took it to us. We came out flying in the second, tied up the game and took the momentum into the third period with a huge penalty kill. The overall play of the team after one week was great to see.”
The Tigers enter the season with a relatively young squad but the goal is to integrate all of the youth with the returners and make a push for the state tournament by the end of the season.
Junior Mike Albert will be the main guy on the offensive end. Albert, who scored 10 goals and added 19 assists last season, was the leading scorer for the Tigers as a sophomore and is looking to take the next step this year. Junior Steve Roderick and sophomores Jack DeMoura and Michael Lucier are all new to the program and should be in the mix right away to help bolster the Taunton attack.
Head coach Kris Metea is also counting on some of the younger players to have breakout seasons, including sophomores Nathan Fernandes, Loren Corcoran, and Evan Perreira. On the defensive side, junior Brady Nichols will anchor the blue line unit. Although just a junior, Nichols has a wealth of varsity experience and the Tigers will lean on him to guide a young defensive core. Senior Andrew Gomes and junior Sean Bunker will battle for minutes in net.
“We have a group of young players that we will look to continue to develop over the course of the season,” Metea said. “The key to our success will be the meshing of the new players with the development of young players. The sky’s the limit for this group with continued commitment.”