ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Heading into Wednesday night’s meeting at the New England Sports Village, Attleboro and Oliver Ames had combined to play just five games in the opening four weeks of the season. Even this game was a last-minute addition when OA’s game with Canton had to be postponed because of a rink closure.
It is certainly not the ideal circumstance to be taking over a program, but first-year Attleboro coach Greg Chamberlain had reason to smile after the Bombardiers held off a comeback by the visiting Tigers and picked up a 5-3 victory. It was Chamberlain’s first win as head coach.
“It’s been quite the interesting ride thus far,” Chamberlain said with a laugh. “We’re just happy to get a game in and my first win, it’s nice. With no state tournament, now is the time to teach. You have to have these guys playing and learning from their mistakes.”
After slow starts in both of the first two games, including a three-goal, first period deficit against North Attleboro on Friday, Attleboro made a point of getting off to a good start against OA. The Bombardiers would take control of the game early, scoring three times on their first four shots.
Four minutes into the game, Aidan Diggin got free in the offensive zone and beat OA freshman goalie Nolan Gemmiti to open the scoring. It took another eight minutes for the hosts to double their lead, but then just 12 seconds to tack on a third.
Nate Parker created the second goal with a long rush down the right wing and then a perfect feed across the crease to Diggin camped out at the back post for an easy tap in. Almost right from the face-off, Attleboro had another rush and a shot by Colin Flynn that found the back of the net.
“The first two games we had bad starts and then marched back, so that was the key to the game today to get off to a quick start,” Chamberlain explained. “Knowing their coaches and hearing they’ve been going through the same thing (with Covid-related cancelations), it was like okay boys let’s jump on it, we’ve been practicing all week.”
Despite trailing 3-0 after the first period, OA had created its fair share of chances. Matt Lawson forced a pad save from Attleboro goalie Nick Piazza with a shot from the point, Sean McCarthy raced down the wing and drew a shoulder stop, and Jack Perron teed up Lawson for a shot in the slot only for Piazza to again make the save.
“We’ve had two Covid issues and been shut down, we’ve played three games, we’ve probably had seven practices so far, so we haven’t really had a chance to work on anything,” admitted OA coach Mike Zucarelli. “They played with passion and heart today and that’s all I ask them to do. Just play for each other and play it’s like your last game.”
Attleboro pushed the lead to four less than two minutes into the second period. On the power play, Parker controlled the puck behind the OA goal, faked like he was heading out one side and then ducked back around to stuff it over the line at the near post.
It looked like the game might get out of hand, but then OA answered back.
Freshman Andrew Livingstone capped a good spell of pressure in front of Piazza by forcing a save with a snap shot from the high slot. After being forced to the bench and being treated for a cut on his chin during the first period, Livingstone returned to the ice and buried a rebound from Kevin Tremblay’s shot from the point. It was his first varsity goal.
The Bombardiers were spurred into action after the goal. Diggin fired a pass to Parker right in front only for Gemmiti to stand tall and make the save. With 7:28 left in the period, Attleboro’s pressure paid off with a fifth goal. The puck was sitting on the goal line and Jake Ward was able to knock it across for a 5-1 lead.
After a tough start to the night, Gemmiti settled down and made six saves in the second period. He stopped an Aidan Dryjowicz chance from the right wing right before OA got its second, as McCarthy finished from a tight angle.
“He put the pads on this year so we could have a JV program,” Zucarelli said of Gemmiti. “He got thrown in our second game against KP and earned his stripes that night. I couldn’t be prouder of that young man right now. He played outstanding today. For someone who’s never played net before this year, he played awesome.”
Down three goals heading to the third period, OA came back out on the ice with a purpose. Livingstone had an early chance smack off the crossbar. Gemmiti came up with another big stop on Parker before the Tigers struck for a third. Ross Carroll cut inside from the right wing boards and went top shelf with a wrister that gave Piazza no chance.
The Tigers kept pressing. OA would outshoot the Bombardiers 9-2 in the third (and 26-14 for the game), but couldn’t find a way past the Attleboro netminder. Landon Grothe (one of the eight freshmen on the OA roster) forced the best save with a shot from the point through traffic that Piazza managed to get a toe on.
“He’s the best goalie in the league,” Chamberlain said. “To have what we have with him is an absolute luxury. It’s a new system too that I’m teaching all of them, so it’s good to have a kid with a ton of poise back there because I want to have the ‘D’ be more aggressive.”
Attleboro (1-2) is next scheduled to play at Franklin next Wednesday. Oliver Ames (0-4) is scheduled to play at Canton on Friday.
2019-2020 Record: 5-14-1 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Greg Chamberlain
Attleboro struggled down the stretch last season, losing nine of its final 11 games (five of those losses by two goals or fewer) and narrowly missing out on a postseason berth. Former Canton assistant Greg Chamberlain has taken over this season with the goal of making the Bombardiers competitive in the Kelley-Rex division.
Goalie will be a position of strength this year, as Attleboro has three players that can step in between the pipes. Junior Nick Piazza will be the starter after a breakout sophomore year where he made nearly 500 saves. Junior Michael DuTremble and freshman Julien Horton are the other goalies on the roster. In front of Piazza, Attleboro has three solid pairings. Senior Owen Dryjowicz moved from forward to defense late last season and looked comfortable on the blue line. Junior Sean Marshall and senior Zack Pierce are also returning defenders that the Bombardiers are counting on.
Offensively, the Bombardiers will miss the scoring of Ryan Morry, who led the team with 21 points, but with several returning players Attleboro has the potential to put together solid forward lines. Senior Aidan Dryjowicz is the team’s top returning scorer with nine goals and classmate Jake Ward, junior Nate Parker, and freshman winger Dane Holskie have the potential to contribute to the attack this season.
“I think the key to this season,” said Chamberlain, “is that everyone needs to pull their weight. If you look around the league teams that win have three or four lines that they can roll out every night. That is going to be the name of the game for us. Keeping it simple and do your job.”
2019-2020 Record: 21-1-3 2019-2020 Finish: Div. 2 State Co-Champion Coach: Brian Shuman
Although Canton didn’t get the chance to go to the TD Garden to face Lincoln-Sudbury and try to avenge its only loss of the past two seasons, the Bulldogs brought home a second straight Div. 2 state championship. Even for a program with the sustained success of Canton, last year’s senior class had a uniquely impressive record and that class’ graduation leaves a lot of holes that new faces will need to step into.
Last year’s top scorers, Johnny Hagan and Chris Lavoie, combined for 37 goals and 68 points, so it will be tough to reproduce that output. Senior Dylan Coyne will be hoping to make up some of that scoring punch and the Bulldogs will hope junior Eamon Kelly can return from an injury and get back to the form he showed last year.
While the defense was also hit hard by graduation, Canton returns a pair of defensemen that saw considerable time on the blue line last season. Junior Sean Connolly and sophomore Vincent Sica both jumped right into the lineup and looked comfortable competing at the top level, but this year they will also be experienced veterans and leaders in that group. Senior Liam Polles will get the chance to jump in goal this year.
Canton coach Brian Shuman said, “I can say that after the first two weeks, things are certainly different in many ways, but I am confident that we will adapt and adjust like most teams our league to give our players a much-needed physical outlet and important connection to a team.”
2019-2020 Record: 12-5-5 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Semifinal Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro has grown by leaps and bounds in recent seasons. Each of the past three years have seen the Warriors set a new standard for the best season in program history, culminating in last winter’s 12 wins and run to the Div. 3 South semifinal.
Depth at the forward line will be a strength this season and Foxboro should be capable of scoring plenty of goals. Senior forward Kirk Leach was second in the Hock last year with 20 goals and he leads an experienced group. Junior Jack Watts had 13 goals and 14 assists last year and is another big, physical forward. Senior Brady Daly will look to add to his nine points from last season and junior Eoin Reager can play multiple positions, including forward, and added 14 points as a sophomore.
The Warriors will obviously miss former Hock MVP Espen Raeger, who was one of the league’s top goalies. Senior Jack Spinney was the backup goalie last year and could step in between the pipes after seeing a few minutes of action as a junior. Junior Dylan Pothier and sophomore Alex Coviello are two of the returning defensemen from last year’s team and both played big roles in the team’s strong performance in the postseason. Eoin Reager can also play in the back line.
“We have a lot of forwards returning, so the depth is there,” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We also have a lot of skilled defenseman holding the blue line. Looking forward to the season, even though it will look and feel a lot different, I’m just happy for our guys get to play.”
2019-2020 Record: 11-8-4 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Anthony Sarno
Head coach Anthony Sarno can’t help but wonder what could have been for this season. Franklin had a strong group of returners back from last year’s squad and Sarno had a schedule filled with top teams from around the state ready to see how his Panthers stacked up to the elite talent. But now Franklin will focus on its 10-game Hockomock schedule with a chance to prove it’s the top team in the league.
Franklin will rely on its senior class to lead the way. The Panthers will be very solid in the back, starting with senior goalie Jack Paterson. After serving in a backup capacity previously, Paterson steps into the starting role but is getting pushed in practice by classmate Gary Mandia. Along the blue line, Franklin has plenty of familiar names with the likes of Joe LeBlanc (nine points), Will Sheehan, Justin Abely, and Pat Dolan — all four are seniors with a good amount of varsity experience.
Offensively, the Panthers have a good variety of attacking options led by last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Dylan Marchand (13 points). Sarno is carrying 20 players and plans to use them all, rolling four lines offensively. JT Dwyer and Declan Lovett are both senior centers and have been strong in the face off circle so far. Sophomore Ben Jarosz should see an expanded role after getting some time last year. Franklin will look to expand on its puck possession after making the switch from a dump-and-chase team.
“We were looking forward to playing against some of the best teams in the state but we’re going to make the most of this opportunity,” Sarno said. “We’re going to give it our all each game. We’ve going to practice as hard as we play in games, the energy the kids have brought has been contagious. We’re treating every game like a playoff game, that’s the type of energy we want to bring to each game.”
2019-2020 Record: 10-6-5 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip pushed Franklin to the final week of the regular season in its quest to win a first league title since 2013 (and end the nine-year reign for the Panthers in the Kelley-Rex). The Warriors did get back into the postseason, although again Franklin stood in the way in the preliminary round, and will return 13 players to make another run at that elusive league championship.
Experience on both ends of the ice will be the strength for KP this season, with eight seniors and eight juniors on the roster, including a pair of four-year players. Senior forward Conor Cooke and senior defenseman Rocco Bianculli have been critical players for each of the past three seasons. Bianculli is not only a leader at the blue line, but also one of the league’s top offensive defenders. KP returns three of its top four scorers from last year. In addition to Bianculli, senior Aidan Boulger and junior Nolan Feyler provide the scoring punch on the forward line and are a good mix with Cooke’s physical presence up front. Seniors Paul McDonald and Justin Yatsuhashi add speed and depth.
Defensively, senior David Lawler will join Bianculli on the blue line. More of a defensive-minded player, Lawler adds solidity in his own zone and is counted on to make the right plays under pressure. Seniors Shea Cunningham and Geoff Bowes are also returning defensemen that couple size and experience around their own net. Sophomore Kyle Abbott will take over between the pipes
“As always we are looking to build on last year and compete for the league title,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. “Our team this season has some good experience. We also have some real skill and speed in the younger group.”
2019-2020 Record: 7-8-6 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets aren’t focusing on how many games are on the schedule but focusing on taking it one game at a game instead. Mansfield brings back a lot of players that picked up varsity experience last season during the team’s postseason run.
Replacing three-year starter Sean McCafferty in goal won’t be easy but head coach Mike Balzarini has praised the work of Chris Hormann, who will be taking over in between the pipes. Balzarini said Hormann learned a lot last season in his backup role, is coming off a stellar fall season and has looked strong so far in practice this year. Captain Jake Quirk will anchor the blue line unit for the Hornets and will be joined by some familiar faces. Senior Joseph Gormley will bring a lot of experience to the defensive group and will be joined by sophomore Patrick Gormley as well as Ben Levine and James Hughes.
Senior captain Cam Page will spearhead the attack for the Hornets this season. Mansfield lost most of its point production to graduation so there will be plenty of opportunities for new faces to take advantage of. Mark DiDiralamo, Kyle Oakley, Dillon Benoit, Ryan Doherty, and Liam Anastasia are all in the mix for the top six for Mansfield.
“It’s a shortened season but we have looked good thus far in practice and in our scrimmage,” Balzarini said. “We’re looking to push the pace this year and play a faster-paced game.”
2019-2020 Record: 7-8-6 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Ben McManama
On the ice, it’s been business as usual for the Red Rocketeers, who have a strong returning core ready to make a run at dethroning Canton atop the Davenport division. The biggest challenges for head coach Ben McManama and his squad so far have been adapting to all of the changes off of the ice.
Expectations are high for the Big Red with some familiar names at each position. The most returners come from the offense where the Rocketeers have a handful of forwards back, giving McManama the flexibility to run at least three lines. Senior captain Tyler Sarro will be a leader on and off the ice and will be joined by his brother Brady as the wings on the top line. Nik Kojoian is back after missing almost all of last season and will center the top line. McManama notes his second and third lines are interchangeable, more “2A” and “2B” rather than second and third lines. Juniors Sam Clarke and Nick Longa and sophomores Mark Ayvazyan and Joe Quinn will all be in the mix.
The Rocketeers will have a lot of spots to fill along the blue line after graduating a strong corps of defensemen from last winter. Senior Charlie Connolly and junior Austin Comery are the veterans in the group, entering this season with the most experience. McManama has tabbed junior Anthony Westcott as another option along the blue line while the final spot is up for grabs. Senior James Burtch will take over in net for the Rocketeers while freshman Kyle Gruber is pushing for time.
“The big thing for us this year is being a system team,” McManama said. “We have to be disciplined with our system. We’re really harping on sticking to our system and what we do, and we have to be really disciplined and do our jobs. That’s how we’re going to generate goals and it’s going to be how we stop shots too, it works on both ends. We’ve had great practices, it’s been fun getting the kids back.”
2019-2020 Record: 6-13-2 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Mike Zucarelli
Oliver Ames finished 2019-20 with six wins, but also had four losses by a single goal (all four to teams in the playoffs), so the Tigers were closer to earning a postseason berth under first-year coach Mike Zuccarelli than the final record may indicate. This season, the Tigers return to the Davenport division for the first time since 2016 and with only six returning players there will be opportunities for new faces to step in and contribute right away.
Seniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro will provide leadership in the forward line and much-needed experience for a young group. Sophomores Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron both saw action last year and their development will be important for the Tigers to get consistent production from the forward lines.
Defensively, senior Kevin Tremblay and junior Elliot Cohen both grew into bigger roles last year and will be expected to lead the blue line corps this season. Sophomore Brandon Burke will take over in net after backing up Owen Connor last winter. Zuccarelli is also counting on a strong freshman group to come in and provide an instant impact and is excited about the potential for the program going forward.
“Patience and resilience are going to be two major themes this year as we have already experienced,” said Zucarelli. “Our goal is to grow as a team and tackle each challenge we are presented together both on and off the ice. I am confident with our senior leadership, outstanding assistant coaches, and the support we receive from the OA community that we will have a season to remember.”
2019-2020 Record: 4-16-1 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Dan Mark
After an up-and-down first year in a co-op with Brockton, the Black Knights are aiming for an improved 2021 season. After a year away, Stoughton is back in Hockomock League competition and will be vying for the Davenport title.
With just four players gone to graduation, longtime head coach Dan Mark has a veteran squad at his disposal for the upcoming 10-game schedule plus a small postseason planned. The foundation of the team starts between the pipes as the Black Knights have two goalies back with experience. Sophomore Chris Andrade will compete with senior Ryan Spano for the starting job in net.
In front of goal, Mark is leaning on a trio of juniors plus one senior to get the job done. Senior Kenny Young will be joined along the blue line by Josh Greenspoon, Anthony Hern, and Steven Westerlund — all returners from a season ago. Offensively, the Black Knights will turn three-year starters in junior Colin Alessi and Joe McNulty to anchor the offense. They’ll be joined by seniors Kyle Cruickshank, Cade O’Connell, Mike Andrade, and Ryan Flannery to bolster the attack.
“We have a veteran team blended with some younger players and are looking to improve on last year’s record,” Mark said.
2019-2020 Record: 10-11-3 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton is returning a plethora of players from last year’s varsity squad that had double-digit wins and made a trip to the postseason. Now, the Tigers are just hoping to play a complete — albeit shortened — season.
The Tigers got a couple of days on the ice before the school district paused all athletic activities over the winter break. Head coach Kris Metea and his 18 returning players are hoping to resume practice on Monday and get their season back on track. While the break will certainly be a setback for the Tigers, having such an experienced squad will help when Taunton does get back on the ice. Leading the way will be a pair of defensemen: senior captain and Hockomock League All Star Brady Nichols and junior Jack DeMoura, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team selection.
Having reliable options on the blue line will be key as the Tigers sort out the situation between the pipes. Senior Jason Frates, who only has a handful of years of experience at the position, is set to start in net. Offensively, the challenge will be replacing the production from Michael Albert, one of the most productive players in program history. Metea will look to juniors Nathan Fernandes and Loren Corcoran as well as sophomores Colton Scheralis and Connor McGrath to replicate that production. Senior Camden Faria will be a leader of the offensive group
“2020 has been a challenging time and we are hoping that athletics can provide respite for players and families as we enter 2021,” Metea said. “We will take whatever games guidelines allows us to play and be thankful for the opportunity to skate in the presence of friends!”
King Philip, 4 vs. Milton, 2 – Final – King Philip built a 3-0 lead in the second period and added an important fourth goal in the third period to skate past Milton and into the championship game of the Quincy Youth Arena Holiday Tournament. The Warriors scored first as Jack Coulter lit the lamp with assists from Conor Cooke and Rocco Bianculli for a 1-0 lead through 15 minutes. KP tacked on two more in the second with Joe Boselli scoring unassisted and Coulter netting his second, from Cooke. Milton got on the board to make it 3-1 heading to the third. Aidan Boulger scored on a feed from Noah Ray to give the Warriors a 4-1 lead. The Wildcats scored on a power play with the goalie pulled in the final minute. KP will play North Quincy in the final on Saturday.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Winthrop, 3 – Final – The Tigers took a one-goal deficit late into the game but Winthrop scored on a late penalty and added a third in the final minutes to get the win. Senior goalie Owen Connor played well in net for the Tigers while freshmen Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron had strong games.
Stoughton, 6 vs. Tri-County, 3 – Final – Stoughton/Brockton broke into the win column behind a six-goal outburst against Tri-County in the consolation game of the Bellingham Boosters Tournament. Junior Dante Massaro led the charge offensively, scoring a hat trick while junior Kyle Cruickshank scored twice and junior Ryan Flannery found the back of the net once. Junior goalie Ryan Spanno made 26 saves in net for the win.
Taunton, 2 @ Middleboro, 1 – Final – Taunton scored a pair of goals inside the final five minutes of the game to stun Middleboro with a come-from-behind victory. Camden Faria scored both goals for the Tigers, including the game-winner with just 16 seconds left to give Taunton two points. Brady Nichols recorded a pair of assists while Michael Albert and Connor McGrath each had one. Sean Bunker made 19 saves in net to earn the victory.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 7 vs. Walpole, 5 – Final – Mansfield/Oliver Ames needed less than a minute to open the scoring, eventually skating away with a 7-5 win in a high-scoring affair. Emma Pereira and Alex Ledin each scored a pair of goals to lead the way for the Warriors, who led 3-1 after one and 6-4 heading into the third. Ella Waryas, Tess Luciano, and Melissa Shanteler all scored once in the win while Emma Garland, Sam Ledin, and Reese Pereira each recorded a pair of assists.