FOXBORO, Mass. – It wasn’t the wide open, free flowing game that some expected, but it was still a hard fought game between rivals Franklin and Mansfield that resulted in a tie that left both sides satisfied with a point.
The Panthers and Hornets were the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division entering the contest, with Franklin holding a one point lead at the midway point of league play. After skating a 2-2 at Foxboro Sports Center, Franklin remains a point ahead in the division with three games left.
Franklin had a pair of one-goal leads in the game but Mansfield was able to respond each time, the game-tying goal coming early in the final period after the Hornets entered the frame facing a one-goal deficit.
“That’s a great point,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini. “We won the third period which is something that’s been a focus of ours all year. We want to win the third period so that’s definitely a great point, we’ll take it because a point is a point. The boys worked hard.”
Long time Franklin head coach Chris Spillane was fine with the point as well, considering the Panthers’ overall record and need of points.
“At this point in this season, points are points and we need points to qualify for the tournament,” Spillane said. “We have to focus on winning the league or getting second place. We circled this one because it’s the start of a tough stretch for us. We really wanted to come out and get two points, didn’t go our way. I thought we played pretty well but bad turnovers in our zone end up in the back of the net. It’s kind of been the story of our season so far. We had some chances, but we struggle scoring goals too. The effort is there but we have to pull it together.”
Both teams created chances in the opening period but only about half were shots on goal, a stat that the Panthers led 9-7 after 15 minutes.
An early Panther power play resulted in just one shot on goal, a wrist shot from junior Shane McCaffrey that was turned aside by Mansfield junior Sean McCafferty (34 saves). Mansfield senior Coleman O’Brien helped kill off the penalty with a head first dive to block a shot.
After the power play, Franklin’s CJ Spillane redirected a shot from Declan Lovett but McCafferty stood tall in net, and repeated that against Joe Lizotte and McCaffrey again in a minute span.
Mansfield nearly cashed in on a home run pass in the final minute when Brad Grant found Jack Garland as he entered the attacking zone but his backhand attempt was gobbled up by Franklin goalie Ryan Cameron (30 saves). Mansfield sophomore Matty Copponi had a partial break in the final seconds but saw his wrist shot go over the bar.
While there were fewer chances in the second period, there were more goals. The teams combined to score three goals inside of a three minute span during the second period.
Before the opening goal, Mansfield had the best chance of the game just minutes into the middle stanza. Grant hooked up with Garland again, this time on a pass off the sideboards, and Garland ripped a wrist shot that clanked off the cross bar and went out of play.
“It’s a big game, there were some nerves,” Balzarini said. “There were some guys probably holding the stick a little too tight, making passes they don’t usually make. But as the game progressed, I thought we got better.
“We knew that they were quick so I think our defense was a little hesitant to give up the neutral zone. I think in the third period, we made the adjustment…we had the forwards coming back hard and I think that was a difference.”
Just over six minutes into the middle period is when the visitors were able to break the scoreless tie. Franklin forced a turnover near the blue line and senior Scott Elliott took possession of the puck and darted toward goal. With the defenseman committed to him, Elliott dished the puck across the crease to classmate Dan Magazu for the one-timer and a 1-0 lead.
The lead lasted less than two minutes as the Hornets took advantage of their second power play of the game. Senior Jake Lund stepped into a hard slap shot just over the blue line and the puck found its way through traffic, with the help of O’Brien screening in front, and into the back of the net.
But before the Hornets could enjoy being level in the game, Franklin senior Joey Lizotte deposited the go-ahead goal just one minute later, with assists going to Zac Falvey and Cam Cassella.
“I don’t think it was as free flowing or as an open game as you’d expect sometimes,” Spillane said. “We don’t want to get into a shootout with anyone so we’re going to rely on our system. I think Mike was doing the same thing with his guys. I think it was both teams didn’t want to let the offensive guys control the game.”
Mansfield scored the tying goal with its first real chance of the third period. Garland forced a Franklin turnover right in front of goal and quickly unleashed a wrist shot under the bar from the slot to make it 2-2.
Both teams had chances over the final 10 minutes but couldn’t convert. Matt D’Errico ripped a shot for Franklin that was redirected by Magazu but McCafferty was in position for the stop. A minute later, Cassella whistled a shot that was tipped but again McCafferty tracked the puck and knocked it down.
The best chance fell to the stick of Lizotte, who used his speed to split a pair of Mansfield defenseman. He was able to get past both Hornets, faked forehand and went to his backhand but McCafferty tracked it the whole way and made a terrific sliding pad to preserve a point for the Hornets.
“Franklin is Franklin, they have their style of play,” Balzarini said. “But they have some fast forwards which I’m not used to seeing them with that much speed. Lizotte was the fastest kid on the ice by far.”
Franklin boys hockey (4-0-2 Hockomock, 5-4-4 overall) returns home for a big showdown with Davenport division leading and undefeated Canton for an 8:00 puck drop. Mansfield boys hockey (4-1-1, 10-2-1) will host King Philip the same night at Foxboro Sports Center at 6:00.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For two periods, the Mansfield Hornets boys hockey team controlled the game, finally solving North Attleboro senior goalie Ryan Warren in the final seconds of the second period.
And after that, Mansfield turned to their own netminder, junior Sean McCafferty, to thwart a furious comeback attempt from the Rocketeers in the third period, resulting in a 2-0 decision for the visiting Hornets.
“That was a great game. North Attleboro is relentless, they really are, in all aspects of the game,” said Mansfield coach Michael Balzarini, who earned his 100th career win with the result. “[North Attleboro] got better period by period, they just kept coming and coming. But this was a team win, we played as a team tonight. And Sean McCafferty played out of his mind. His rebound control was great, he was phenomenal.”
Balzarini previous had successful stints at Dover-Sherborn and Milford before coming to Mansfield two seasons ago.
A dominant first period saw the Hornets skate to an 8-1 advantage on shots on goal, but no advantage on the scoreboard. While North Attleboro asserted itself more in the second frame, the Hornets still had the edge in play and shots (19-8).
Warren denied Mansfield sophomore Matty Copponi in the first period on a nice backhand attempt with a sprawling pad save. The senior goalie kept senior Jack Garland off the board six minutes into the second on a nice chance at the back post, made a terrific stop on a one-timer from senior Chris Copponi with 7:30 to go in the second, and then gobbled up a hard slap shot off the stick of junior Joseph Troiano.
It wasn’t until the 20th shot, with less than 10 seconds to go in the second period, that the Hornets struck.
North Attleboro had its first power play of the game with 2:43 left in the second period but couldn’t generate any serious scoring chances. Mansfield capitalized on the momentum gained from the kill and took the lead with 8.4 seconds left to go in the frame.
Chris Copponi got the play going, forcing a turnover in the attacking zone with a hit along the boards. The puck popped to senior Brad Grant and his blast was knocked over the net by Warren (26 saves). Garland was first to the puck, he connected with Matty Copponi, who quickly fed older brother Chris right in front for the goal.
“I thought we controlled the play for the most part but getting that goal was huge, with only nine seconds or so left, it was huge,” Balzarini said. “It helped put the momentum our way. We knew they would come out hard in the third period.”
For North Attleboro, it was a tough goal to swallow after just having a power play and an improved period over the first.
“The minute, minute and a half after a power play is so important and we have to tighten that up,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “It’s a crucial part of the game. After a power play and the end of a period, one of the most important times in a game. We just have to get better there.”
Despite giving up a late goal int he second, North Attleboro came out flying in the third period, putting 15 shots on frame. Just seconds into the period, the Rocketeers were testing McCafferty, who was clearly up for the challenge.
North senior Anthony Zamiello found senior Justin Moccia in the slot for an open wrist shot but McCafferty turned it away. The Rocketeers earned another power play and had a big chance off the stick of junior Jeff Baker but McCafferty knocked it down and stood tall on a pair of rebound chances.
Just after the power play expired, the Rocketeers had one of their best chances when Zammiello and senior Todd Robinson found themselves alone in front of the net, and a pass from the former to the latter led to a one-timer in close but McCafferty made an amazing stop to keep the puck out.
“He stepped up tonight — he was calm, he wasn’t frantic, he was in the zone the entire game,” Balzarini said of McCafferty. “Coming off of the loss against Canton, I thought he really elevated his game tonight.”
Mansfield couldn’t capitalize on a power play attempt with 9:16 to go, and was whistled for a trip with 5:46 to go to put the hosts back on the man-advantage. The Hornets were whistled for another penalty 44 seconds into the advantage, giving North a 5-on-3 for 1:17.
But one save for McCafferty and a terrific individual defensive play from senior Coleman O’Brien canceled the power play chance for the Rocketeers. With just under three minutes to go, North Attleboro sophomore Tyler Sarro made a nice read on a clearance attempt, intercepting the pass to go in alone on net but whistled his shot wide of frame.
Junior Dennis Morehouse had another big chance with a minute to go on a loose puck at the back post but he couldn’t get the puck past McCafferty (25 saves).
With just under a minute to go, North Attleboro had an attacking zone faceoff but Matty Copponi won it back to Troiano, who alertly flipped the puck out into the neutral zone and Chris Copponi won the foot race and tapped it into the empty net to go up 2-0 with 50.9 to go.
“We’re trying to get better starts,” McManama said. “When our guys are going and we’re forechecking hard, we’re a very good team. But we’re not seeing it for 45 minutes, we’re seeing it spurts. It’s something we know about but we’re working about.
“We have to be tougher in front of the net, we have to bear down. We’re still not going at 100 percent in front of the net, that’s how goals are scored. It doesn’t have to be pretty.”
Mansfield boys hockey (2-1 Hockomock, 8-2 overall) concludes its three-game road trip on Saturday when it travels to Aleixo Arena to take on Taunton at 2:00. North Attleboro (2-1 Hockomock, 4-5 overall) returns to action at the New England Sports Village on Saturday against King Philip at 4:30.
CANTON, Mass. – Every team talks about the importance of cashing in on power play opportunities, but teams don’t typically expect to have as many chances as Canton did on Saturday night. The Bulldogs were given a man advantage 11 times against Mansfield and scored three times, including twice in the first period to take control.
Special teams were the story of the night for Canton, which added a crucial shorthanded goal late in the third period that sealed the win, and the Bulldogs skated away with a 4-0 victory over the Hornets on Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Canton Ice House.
Mansfield started the game with a flurry of chances, using an early power play of its own to spark its offense. Matt Copponi, Jack Garland, and Jake Lund were some of the Hornets who created early scoring opportunities but were denied by Canton senior goalie Mike Staffiere (22 saves).
“We had good looks,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We didn’t give up, even the second period with all those penalties I thought the momentum was going our way. We had our chances but their goalie played well.”
With nine minutes left in the first, Brian Grant stepped up and had a chance driving to the net. Staffiere got a piece and the rebound trickled just wide of the post and seconds later Braedon Copparini had a shot that went narrowly wide as well.
“They’ve got a boatload of talent over there,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said. “They’ve got defensemen who are basically like forwards and we expected some flurries and it was good that we had a good goalie to back us up.”
Three minutes later, Canton took the lead. On the power play, Johnny Hagan weaved his way past several Mansfield defensemen and slipped a backhand shot under Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty, who managed to keep it out but then the rebound was pounced on by Ryan Nolte.
Just three minutes later and the lead was doubled. After a penalty was called, the Bulldogs had a face-off to McCafferty’s left. Hagan was kicked out of the face-off and Nolte stepped in. He won the draw back to Hagan, who was cutting across the circle onto his forehand. The junior forward took the puck in stride and rifled a wrister inside the far post to make it 2-0.
Shuman said, “We had to mix it up a little bit. They knew we were going to run certain plays over and over and finally we just had to keep it simple and get some pucks to the net and get some guys out in front.”
McCafferty (35 saves) stopped a shorthanded breakaway chance by Tommy Ghostlaw before the end of the period and he kept that momentum going in the second, making 19 saves in that period alone. The Hornets were called for six penalties in the second and spent all but about three minutes on special teams in the period.
Hagan nearly got his second assist of the game when he set up Jack Connolly pinching in at the back post only to have McCafferty get across and get a shoulder to it. Hagan also hit the post and had another big chance saved when Connolly found him in space inside the circle.
Chris Lavoie had several chances driving towards the net from the right circle but couldn’t find the angle to beat the goalie. Tommy Vaughn had one of Canton’s best chances when he stole the puck from a Mansfield defenseman right in front of goal but sent his shot over the bar.
“You’re basically using six forwards and four ‘D’ and those guys get tired and credit to their goalie, he made some saves and they made some blocks,” Shuman explained. “It’s kind of ironic that when you’re on all those power plays it can wear you down a little bit, especially when you don’t score.”
Despite playing down a player for much of the period, Mansfield did have a couple of chances. Nick Levine had a shot from the point that was saved and the rebound nearly caromed back in off a Canton defenseman. The best chance of the period fell to Austin Ricker, who got a clean breakaway shorthanded only to be stoned by a great blocker save from Staffiere.
“Mike was probably tested the most he’s seen this year and he played the best he has this year,” said Shuman about his goalie. “He’s an exceptional goalie and he would’ve been a starter on any other team for the past two years if he wasn’t playing behind Quinn [Gibbs].”
Mansfield cleared off 1:16 of a penalty that extended into the third period and the Hornets were still in the game, down just two goals. Canton had the first good chance of the third when Ryan Colby rode a pair of challenges and still managed to slide the puck just wide of the post. Hagan and Nolte combined again on another power play chance but again McCafferty made the stop.
With six minutes to play, the teams traded great chances. Copponi flicked a pass into the slot for Coleman O’Brien but the senior missed the net with his shot and then seconds later Joe Robinson had a breakaway but the puck slid off the toe of his stick when he went to shoot.
““The second period, I think we had two minutes of 5-on-5 hockey,” said Balzarini. “They scored three power play goals and a shorthanded, but I thought when we played 5-on-5 we played well.”
Staffiere came through again to protect the lead when he made the save on a chance for Garland in the slot. That proved to be critical inside a minute when Hagan blocked a shot at the blue line, turned it into a breakaway and then calmly picked his spot to beat the goalie for a three-goal lead.
“That was huge,” said Shuman. “Last year we struggled to get out to the point and block shots and the past two games in particular, Joe Robinson last game and Johnny this game making huge blocks. You have to pay the price in this game.”
John Gormley had a chance for Mansfield that hit the bar and stayed out and with just a minute later, with three minutes left, Canton secured the victory on its 10th power play of the night. Connolly fired a shot from the point and Timmy Kelleher had the deft tip to find the back of the net.
Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Ice House was held in honor of Reo Todesca and Kristin Rocha, who were both connected to the Canton hockey program and both passed away a year ago. Proceeds from the night were donated to the Reo Todesca Memorial Foundation and the Kristin Rocha Memorial Scholarship.
“It was an intense hockey game but it was for a good cause,” said Shuman. “That’s really what the night is all about. We play a silly game and tonight the money raised is going to two good causes, so we’re happy about that.”
Canton (6-0) will travel to face King Philip on Wednesday night, while Mansfield (7-2) will travel to the New England Sports Village to face North Attleboro.
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, 44 vs. Cumberland, 24 – Final – Attleboro bounced back from last night’s loss with a strong defensive performance to earn its first win of the season. Mackenzie Roberts had 11 points to lead the Bombardiers, Liv McCall scored nine, and Jordyn Lako had eight points and 11 rebounds. Attleboro coach Marty Crowley added that senior Dom Garnes gave the Bombardiers great defense off the bench.
Canton, 7 vs. Plymouth South, 2 – Final – Canton senior Ryan Nolte scored a hat trick and junior Chris Lavoie found the back of the net twice as Canton opened its season with a win over Plymouth South. The Bulldogs will play Plymouth North in the final of the Jim Gormley Cup on Saturday at 4:00 at Gallo.
Foxboro, 6 vs. Tri-County, 0 – Final
Mansfield, 4 vs. Walpole, 1 – Final – Mansfield built a 2-0 lead after the first period, extended it to 3-1 in the second, and added an insurance goal in the third to pick up its second win of the season. The Hornets had four different goal scorers with Matt Copponi, Brad Grant, Jack Garland, and Ben Ierardo each lighting the lamp. Copponi, Grant, and Austin Ricker each had assists. The Hornets cashed in twice on the power play and went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Stoughton, 1 vs. Cardinal Spellman, 5 – Final – Carter Gerome scored the lone goal in the Black Knights’ season-opener.
Canton, 4 vs. Plymouth South, 0 – Final – Maggie Malloy scored a pair of goals and added an assist as Canton improved to 2-0 on the season. Ava Pacitti made 11 saves in net to earn the shutout.
Franklin, 4 vs. Medway, 3 – Final – Cassi Ronan scored a pair of goals and Regan Paterson and Libby Carter each tallied once to lift the Panthers to a season-opening win.
King Philip, 1 vs. Walpole, 4 – Final
Stoughton, 2 vs. Scituate, 11 – Final
Canton, 36 @ Oliver Ames, 31 – Final – Remi Creighton, Nick McGovern, Billy Tat, Andrew Fraser, and Dean Pacini all earned wins for Oliver Ames but the Tigers suffered a setback to Canton.
Foxboro, 41 vs. Dedham, 33 – Final
Franklin, 49 vs. Tri-County, 19 – Final
North Attleboro, 27 @ Mansfield, 45 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this match. – Mansfield showed off its strength, experience, and versatility in the middle weights to earn a non-league win against North Attleboro. The Hornets led 33-0 after starting the meet at 120 pounds. Antonios Sevastos earned a 10-3 win to start the Hornets off with four points and Andy Triantafilopoulos followed with a 17-2 win at 126. Steven Chase earned a pin at 132 and Stefan Steyn won 2-0 at 138. Will Stratton won at 145 and CJ and George Glaropoulos each followed with pins. Montrell Jackson got North’s first team points with a pin, coming back from 6-1 down in the first and 8-6 down in the third to make it 33-6. Jayden Curley answered back with a pin at 182, but North won three straight matches to cut into the lead. Liam Rizk won at 195 and then John Kummer (220), Mateusz Kudra (285), and Tanner Ferguson (106) had back-to-back-to-back pins. Max Farley closed the meet for the Hornets with a pin at 113.
Sharon, 69 @ Taunton, 12 – Final – The Eagles had 10 wrestlers win by pinfall to earn a win over Taunton. Adam Landstein (106), Ben Shocket (113), Amit Levin (120), Vinay Chinnam (126), Aaron Cashton (132), Kevin Simons (138), Tyler Cashton (145), Andrew Ableman (160), Jon Wald (182), and Alex Bolt (195) each earned a victory by fall for Sharon. Taunton’s Corey Abelard (220) and Mason Frank (285) each win by pinfall in under a minute.
Canton, 81 @ King Philip, 88 – Final – King Philip captains Tyler Stringfellow and Colby Vieira both had strong performances in the first meet of the season for the Warriors. Stringfellow won the 50 free while Vieira took first in the 100 fly and 10 backstroke. Cameron Stringfellow, John Dionis, and Dean Whyte added first place finishes, while Jackson Klein and Andrew Pham were consistent point scorers as well.
North Attleboro, 69 @ Oliver Ames, 93 – Final
Canton, 89 @ King Philip, 79 – Final – King Philip’s Megan Campbell, Jess Sullivan, Cate Digiacomo, and Morgan Sachleben put forth a strong effort with first places finishes for the Warriors.
Attleboro, 2 vs. Martha’s Vineyard, 1 – Final – Ryan Morry and Sam Larkin each scored once as the Bombardiers skated to a season-opening win over visiting Martha’s Vineyard.
Foxboro, 6 @ Norton, 0 – Final – Foxboro opened its season in style, scoring three goals in the second period en route to a 6-0 win over Norton. Kirk Leach (two goals, assist), Ronnie MacLellan (two goals, two assists), and Brendan Tully (goal, two assists) all had multi-point games for the Warriors while junior Espen Reager played well in goal to record the shutout.
Mansfield, 9 vs. Newton North, 0 – Final – Mansfield scored three goals in the first period and never looked back in a season-opening win over Newton North. The Hornets scored three more in the second period, and added three goals in the final period. Jack Garland and Coleman O’Brien each scored a pair of goals and had an assist to pace the Hornet offense. Jake Lund (goal, two assists), Kevin Belanger (two assists), Matt Copponi (goal, two assists), Ben Ierardo (goal, assist) and Joe Troiano (goal, assist) each had multi-point games for Mansfield.
Oliver Ames, 6 @ Medway, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames outshot the Mustangs 23-9 and opened the season with a 6-1 decision. Seniors Colin Bourne and Cullen Gallagher each scored a pair of goals and had an assist while Max Ward and James Beatty each scored once and added a helper. Owen Connor earned the win in net for the Tigers.
Canton, 4 @ Sandwich, 2 – Final – Canton opened the season with a win on the road at Sandwich. Lauren Fitzpatrick paced the offense with a pair of goals while Maggie Malloy and Ellie Rae Roberts each scored once for the Bulldogs.
King Philip, 1 @ Ursuline Academy, 1 – Final – King Philip freshman Sydney O’Shea scored her first career goal as the Warriors skated to a 1-1 tie with Ursuline Academy.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 4 @ Medfield/Norton, 3 – Final
Xaverian Quad (Canton) – Canton went 0-2-1 on the day at the Xaverian quad. The Bulldogs opened the day with a loss to the hosts (43-27) but bounced back to earn a tie with Burlington. Natalie Keppler earned a pin in her first varsity match to help the Dogs tie, 39-39. In the final match of the day, Canton was edged by Tyngsboro (40-39).
Danvers Quad (Foxboro), 9:30 – Foxboro picked up two wins in a super quad meet at Danvers but also suffered two setbacks to open the season. The Warriors picked up wins over Danvers (57-19) and Lowell (54-24) but lost to Shawsheen (46-25) and Chelmsford (49-28). Tommy Gallagher, Billy McNeil, and Tom Cullen went 4-0 on the day for Foxboro.
Mount Hope Tournament (Franklin, Stoughton) – At the annual Sharon Lombardo Holiday Tournament, Franklin took home the championship and Stoughton was fourth overall. Franklin placed first with 211.5 points with four champions and five finalists. Stoughton had two finalists and had 118.5 points. Franklin’s Jake Carlucci (113, dec. 8-7), Jordan Carlucci (132, pin 0:34), Ken Sauer (138, dec. 5-3), and Dominic Sackley (170, pin 3:09) won individual titles while Drew DiFilippo (106), Adam Colella (160), Caleb MacLean (160), Dylan Nawn (182), and Ben Jacoby (195) each finished second. Stoughton’s Thomas Ratcliff (170) and Carlvin Laguerre (285) each had second place finishes.
St. John’s (Shrewsbury) Quad (King Philip) – King Philip picked up two wins in its first action of the 2018-2018 season. The Warriors beat host St. John’s Shrewsbury (58-17) and Quabbin (48-24) but suffered a setback to Vermont’s Essex (45-27).
Lincoln-Sudbury Quad (Mansfield) – Mansfield opened the season in style, picking up three wins at the LS quad. The Hornets took down Brookline (51-29), Leominster (45-6), and Lincoln-Sudbury (60-23) to move to 3-0. Max Farley, Antonios Sevastos, Stefan Steyn, Will Stratton, CJ Glaropoulos, George Glaropoulos, and Jayden Curley each went undefeated on the day for the Hornets.
Milford Quad (Milford), 9:00
North Attleboro Quad (North Attleboro) – North Attleboro began the 2018-2019 campaign with three wins at its first quad meet of the season. The Rocketeers opened the day with a win over Burrillville (54-24), rolled over Whitman-Hanson (60-12) in the middle match, and closed with a win over East Providence (42-36). Ethan Smith, Montreal Jackson, and John Kummer each had three wins apiece while Mateusz Kudra earned a pair of wins for the Rocketeers.
Devin Ness Tournament (Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames hosted its annual Devin Ness tournament to kick off the season and took ninth place with one champion. The Tigers earned 93.5 points and had a third, fourth, and fifth place wrestler. Dean Pacini was champion of the 195 bracket and earned the tournament’s outstanding wrestler award. Billy Tat took third at 170, Remi Creighton was fourth at 113, and Andrew Fraser earned fifth at 182.
Sharon Quad (Sharon) – Sharon started the season with a pair of wins, knocking off Pembroke and Walpole. The Eagles opened the day with a 54-12 win over the Titans and then grabbed its second win with a 46-27 decision over the Rebels. Sharon freshman Adam Landstein and Aaron Cashton each went 2-0, while Ben Shocket and David Hirshorn each went 1-0 for the Eagles.
Watertown Quad (Taunton) – Taunton opened the season by going 1-2 at the Watertown quad. The Tigers suffered setbacks to the hosts (48-36) and Norwood (60-21) but notched its first win over Carver (39-24). Candido Santos went 3-0 for the Tigers with a pair of pins, Devin Wilson went 2-0 with one pin, and Tyler Lima was 2-1 with a pin. Woudanly Danger was 1-0 with a pin.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
CANTON, Mass. – A year after Mansfield snapped Canton’s lengthy Hockomock League unbeaten streak, the Bulldogs opened this year’s slate of league games with a 3-1 win over the Hornets.
While each team scored in the first period, neither team found the back of the net in the second. It took until the first couple minutes of the final period for Canton to score the winner and until the final seconds for the insurance goal.
“It was an interesting game,” Canton head coach Brian Shuman said. “A lot of penalties which sort of disrupted the flow of the game. Our penalty kill was good. I wouldn’t say that we played undisciplined I just think we were too amped up sometimes and we had some big hits that often times can go either way. We killed the penalties we needed to kill and pulled out a win. I just told the guys it wasn’t our best game but we still pulled out a win. Mansfield is a good team, they had great goaltending, great defense and they had some guys on offense that really can go so it was a good game.”
Canton junior Jackson Maffeo the scoring inside the first five minutes of the game to give the Bulldogs the lead. A defenseman, Maffeo had the puck and a Mansfield forward coming at him. He batted the puck to keep it in the zone and then bodied the forward to the ground. He took a pass a second later, faked a shot to get around another charging forward, stepped to his right and fired a rocket through traffic that found the back of the net to make it 1-0.
“There was a lot of anger in that shot, Jackson’s had a couple of shots blocked this year that he wants to have back, it was a beautiful shot,” Shuman said. “It’s something we’ve been working on with him too, he walked into the middle and saw he didn’t have the shooting lane and walked it back, it was a great goal.”
It looked as though Canton would have an opportunity to add to the lead just over three minutes later when Mansfield was whistled for a hooking call. But for the first of two times in the period, the Bulldogs would erase the man advantage by taking a penalty while on the power play.
Right after Canton’s first penalty expired, Bobby Mullaney and Seamus Pecararo combined to force a turnover in Mansfield’s defensive end and then combined on a neat give and go by Pecararo’s close range bid was stoned by Mansfield goalie Anthony Visconti (33 saves).
“I thought he played phenomenal,” Mansfield coach Rick Anastos said of his goalie. “That first goal, I was right there on the bench, that was a bullet. We’ve been playing some tough teams and we don’t have a win but I think we just showed what we’re made of.”
With just over two minutes left in the first, Canton once again went on the power play when Mansfield was whistled for a cross check. But the power play only lasted 39 seconds because of a hit to the head called against the Bulldogs.
In a four on four situation, Canton head a shot blocked at the blue line by Mansfield’s Matt Farragher. Max Hoffman jumped to the loose puck and raced into the offensive zone and delivered a perfect pass to Farragher on the two on one and the junior buried it to tie it 1-1 with 1:07 left in the first.
The second period belonged to Canton in terms of shots on goal while Mansfield had the two best chances of the entire period but neither team scored.
Canton went shorthanded less than 90 seconds in for an interference penalty but were able to kill it off. Midway through the period, Maffeo ripped a shot that deflected twice by a diving Visconti was able to steer it clear before any big rebound chance.
Mansfield went on the power play with just over five minutes to play but a cross check a minute in made it four on four. Another Hornet penalty made it five on three for 31 seconds but Canton couldn’t cash in. When Mansfield’s latter penalty expired, Jack Garland raced out of the box and took a chipped pass up ice for a breakaway. He fired a shot that beat Canton goalie Justin Slocum but clanked off the post and out.
With less than a minute to play, Canton went on the man advantage but it was Mansfield who came away with a breakaway on goal with less than 10 seconds to play but Slocum was up to the task and made the save.
“It was one of those games, we were playing well and then all of a sudden a guy is out of the box and he’s on a breakaway or they shot blocked and they are on a breakaway,” Shuman said. “It just goes to show you in this game moves too fast to ever get comfortable. You think you’re in control but a strange bounce you can just go the other way and there is a scoring opportunity.”
It didn’t take long for Canton to find the back of the net in the third period. After a clearance by the Hornets hit the net, a face off came to the left of Visconti. There was a tie up but the puck eventually squirted free to the stick of senior Matt Lazaro and he ripped a shot from straight away right between the circles to the top shelf to put Canton up 2-1.
“That’s vintage Matty Lazaro right there,” Shuman said. “He moved his feet right away off the face off and creates some space and gets a nice little shooting lane and throws it where he always does in the top left, it was a great shot.”
Mansfield went on a power play with 1:02 left and with Visconti pulled, the Hornets had a six on four opportunity but Mullaney was able to pick off a pass in the center of the defensive zone and ripped a shot the length of the ice for an empty net goal for the insurance goal.
“It’s frustrating not to win especially when you don’t have one yet but I thought it was a great game, it could have gone either way,” Anastos said. “We had three breakaways and we hit the post once, there’s four opportunities blown right there. It all comes down to opportunities but I thought we played pretty good. They’re a pretty fast team and I thought overall, I don’t think they dominated us, it was was just a great game.”
Canton moves to 4-1-1 overall and 1-0 in Hockomock League play. The Bulldogs will be back in action on Wednesday when they take a trip to Foxboro Sports Center to take on King Philip (3-3, 1-0) at 8:00. Mansfield (0-4-2, 0-1) will look to break into the win column on the same night with when they host Stoughton at 5:40.
“Mansfield plays a tough schedule and they are battle tested,” Shuman said. “I remember last year coming in they had a similar record and they pulled it out. We knew this was going to be a battle because they played good teams tough but it’s good to get off to a good start in the league.”
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.