FOXBORO, Mass. – During last year’s state tournament, forward Maggie Malloy caught fire and gave Canton the offensive firepower to match its solid play in the defensive zone. Malloy scored six goals and had three game-winners during that tournament run and it appears that momentum has carried right over to this season.
Malloy scored all four of her team’s goals on Wednesday night at the Foxboro Sports Center to help Canton open its Hockomock League title defense with a 4-1 road win against King Philip. She has six goals in three games to start the new year.
“She’s always going to have the offensive stuff but coming into this year we talked about how we needed her to be more complete,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich about Malloy’s play in all three zones. “We have a lot of young kids and her defensive game has really improved a lot and everybody sees that and that’s what they want to do too.”
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to open the scoring. Sophomore Ellie Rae Roberts (two assists) drove down the right side of the ice and sent a puck into the slot where Malloy was camped out. She fired a shot past KP goalie Lilly Potts (12 saves) and handed the visitors a 1-0 lead inside the first two minutes.
“We talked about getting off to a good start,” Aldrich explained. “They always play us really well and we thought it was important to come out quick and really pressure them. They’ve got some really dynamic players…so we had to get on them and not give them any space.”
Canton nearly doubled the lead a couple minutes later with Roberts having a shot from the right circle kicked aside and then Potts was quickly out to smother Malloy’s rebound attempt. KP’s first attempt on target came with four minutes left in the first when freshman Sydney O’Shea forced a save from the right wall.
KP started to get a foothold in the game over the final few minutes of the first period, but again Malloy was there to pounce on a rare scoring chance. On the power play, Alexa Maffeo kept the puck in at the blue line and got the puck to Malloy, who was able to pick an opening past Potts.
“That goal late in the period was kind of deflating at the time because the girls were playing really well at that point,” said KP coach Jack Unger. “Canton is a very, very good team and you can’t afford to make any mistakes and we had times where we couldn’t get the puck out of our zone just due to a couple small errors and they took advantage of it.”
Down 2-0 at the start of the second, the Warriors had a great chance to cut the lead in half. Alli Meehan weaved through the Canton defense onto her backhand, but was denied by Canton goalie Ava Pacitti. It was a big moment for the senior netminder, who is in her first varsity season, taking over after Colleen Kelleher graduated.
Aldrich said, “Ava’s been really making some good saves for us. We’re used to having that, it’s just a different number but she’s really embraced this team and the team has embraced her. It certainly doesn’t look like she hasn’t played before this year.”
The Bulldogs came close to a third midway through the period when freshman Tess Khoury teed up Malloy in the slot, but Potts was there for a big stop. Maria Femia followed that with a shot off that caromed off the post and then Potts made good stops to deny Roberts and Malloy on the edge of the crease. Lauren Fitzpatrick also forced a save with a shot from the right circle.
Malloy completed her hat trick with three minutes left in the second. Khoury set her up alone in the middle of the zone and Malloy showed remarkable patience before firing a shot under the bar.
Meanwhile, on the other end, Canton was holding KP to just eight shots through two periods, combining strong defensive play with aggressive back-checking from the forwards. In particular, Aldrich praised his seniors, Malloy and Fitzpatrick for setting the tone.
“Lauren Fitzpatrick is one of those players who can have a great game without scoring a goal,” he said. “This was one of the best games she’s ever played and I don’t think she got a point.”
KP came out strong in the third period, but Malloy essentially sealed the win inside three minutes. She stole a puck on the edge of the attacking zone, dragged the puck to her left, opened up her body and found the back of the net.
The Warriors didn’t stop skating, despite being down by four goals. Sammy Robison fired a shot from the point that was redirected inches wide by Meghan Gorman. Nicole Connor, who was all over the ice for KP, fired a shot from the point that Pacitti (16 saves) gloved and then was denied by a quick pad on a wraparound attempt.
With 3:49 left to play in the game, KP got on the board. Sophomore Avri Maxwell went five-hole with a shot from outside the right circle for a power play goal. She almost got a second a minute later but Pacitti stopped two efforts on goal.
KP outshot the Bulldogs 9-3 in the third and 17-16 for the game. “We knew we were down by three goals and it’s a young team but we’ve got some veterans who are pretty competitive and they don’t like to lose, so they wanted to go out and at least try to win that third period.”
He added, “They had the effort from start to finish, we just need to put the puck in the net more.”
Canton (3-0) will look to continue its unbeaten start to the season on Saturday with a trip to Whitman-Hanson. King Philip (1-2-1) will take the trip to Dennis-Yarmouth looking to get back to .500 on the season.
2017-2018 Record: 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 state title game. Coach: Dennis Aldrich
For two straight winters, Canton has advanced to the TD Garden to play in the Div. 2 state title game. Two years ago, the Bulldogs shocked everyone by getting to the final, but last season there was an expectation that Canton could make a deep tournament run. Those high expectations are there again this year, as the first-ever Hockomock League champions return two experienced lines of forwards and defensemen that all saw time during the tournament run.
The first line returns the team’s top two scorers with senior forwards Maggie Malloy (10 goals, 13 assists) and Lauren Fitzpatrick (14 goals, nine assists) forming a dynamic partnership that sparked the Bulldogs attack last season. Malloy was particularly prolific in the playoffs, providing decisive goals throughout the playoffs. Second line center Andrea McNeil has graduated but sophomores Lizzie Tassinari, Maria Femia, and Ellie Rae Roberts provided speed and energy during solid rookie seasons.
Defense has been Canton’s best weapon in each of the last two seasons. Although outstanding goalie Colleen Kelleher has graduated, senior Ava Pacitti is earning rave reviews during the preseason and she will have a well-drilled group of defensemen in front of her. Seniors Katie Trerice and Leah McClellan and junior Meg Aldrich and Alexa Maffeo will form a solid top two pairings at the blue line, with McClellan adding the different dimension of also jumping into the attack as often as possible.
“Canton’s staple has always been one of a hard skating, defensively stingy, opportunistic team. This year should be no exception,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich, who is looking forward to the new challenge of defending a Hockomock League title.
2017-2018 Record: 14-4-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 first round. Coach: Margie Burke
Franklin had a very strong 2017-18 season, winning 14 games, including one in the postseason, and will try to build on that momentum to make another run at the postseason and to challenge inaugural league champ Canton at the top of the standings.
There is plenty of experience coming back to power the Panthers up the league standings. Senior Regan Paterson is one of the league’s top skaters and was the league’s top scorer last year with 18 goals and seven assists. Sophomores Victoria Quinn, Amanda Lewandowski, and Libby Carter will also provide offense after combining for 16 goals as freshmen. Junior Jordan Dwyer is also back up top after a 12-point season last year. While this a lot of youth in the forward lines, all saw time last season.
Defense will be one of the team’s strengths this season, with juniors Tina Pisano, Gina Vignone, and Gianna Cameron and senior Cassi Ronan all back to lead a veteran crew. One of the biggest changes for the Panthers will be in goal. Natalie Stott had an impressive freshman campaign but left to attend prep school, so Franklin will turn to sophomore Gabby Colace, who allowed only 0.56 goals against, saved 96 percent of the shots she faced, and had three shutouts as a freshman, and is ready to step into a bigger role. Senior Gianna Cornetta will also see time in net.
Franklin coach Margie Burke, who was honored with the National Ice Hockey Officials Association (NIHOA) Coach of the Year award last March, said, “I expect the hockey [in the league] to be very competitive again this year.”
2017-2018 Record: 11-9-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 first round. Coach: Jack Unger
King Philip finished second in the inaugural season of Hockomock girls hockey and nearly reached the Div. 2 quarterfinal, only losing to Archbishop Williams by single goal, and the Warriors bring back their leading scorers to try and make a run at the Hock title. With a mix of experience and youth, KP could give Canton a run in the league and be poised for a tournament run as well.
The forward line will be very experienced with seniors Meghan Gorman, Alli Meehan, Alli Wilson, and Emily Brawley all back to provide scoring punch. Leading scorer Nicole Connor is also back and the senior defender is one of the most dynamic players in the league, giving KP strong play at the blue line and adding to the attack. Connor will be joined in the defense by seniors Madelyn Kelley and Lilly Worthington.
Goaltending should be a strength for the Warriors this season with senior Lilly Potts and junior Cristina Coleman both capable of shutting down the opposition. The team is also loaded with underclassmen, which bodes well for the program’s future. Freshmen Sydney O’Shea and Morgan Cunningham are a pair of newcomers that could make instant contributions for the Warriors this season.
“Despite being a younger team overall, the players have tremendous potential,” said KP coach Jack Unger. “Typical of all the sports programs within the Hockomock League, each game is against the best inter-league contestants out there. We all have the ability to beat one another each time out.”
2017-2018 Record: 12-7-3 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 first round. Coach: Roy Bain
While Mansfield/Oliver Ames has a new coach, as Roy Bain takes over the program this season, and will be looking to move on without leading scorer Cat Luciano, who is now at Holy Cross, there are 15 players returning from the team that got back into the state tournament last winter and nine freshmen that have added depth to the growing program.
Seniors Isabelle Shanteler (Mansfield) and Mackenzi Fraser (Foxboro) will try to make up some of Luciano’s scoring from last year. The duo will be on the top scoring line along with freshman Kylie O’Keefe (Foxboro) and provide the speed and energy to jumpstart the MOA attack. Unlike past years, the Warriors won’t be counting on one player to dominate the stats but will look to take advantage of its depth. Senior Lindsey Corning (Mansfield) will center the second line between sophomore wingers Ella Waryas (Foxboro) and Emma Garland (Mansfield), while sophomores Alex Ledin (OA) and Lily O’Brien (Mansfield) have shown promise as centers as well.
The defense is led by senior Danae Reager (Foxboro), who has been a varsity player for four years and sets the standard for the blue line group. Sophomores Melissa Shanteler (Mansfield) and Emma Pereira (OA) will be paired together, while Reager will be paired with sophomore Megan O’Hara (Mansfield). Freshman Jess Widdop (OA) has been outstanding in net during the preseason and has built the team’s confidence heading into the opening game.
Bain said of his new goalie, “In the 10 days since we’ve started practicing, she’s been nothing short of impressive. Her athleticism and work ethic will serve the team well as we enter the season.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-17 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Rich Grasso
Last winter, Stoughton had its best season as a program, winning four games, including a three-game win streak early in the schedule. This year, the Black Knights will get a boost from a co-op with Sharon, which should increase the numbers in the program as it tries to add its first win in the Hockomock League to its recent accomplishments.
The loss of leading scorer Julia Russell to an injury, which also kept her out of the field hockey season, will be tough, but the Black Knights have several other experienced players coming back to try and pick up the slack. Senior Katie Widrow is one of the leaders on the forward line and she will be joined up front by sophomore Morgan Lessa and a pair of newcomers to keep an eye on: junior Taylor Kim and sophomore Samantha Sherman.
On defense, senior Jordan Lyons and sophomore Haley Nelson will be the returning players to watch, keeping things organized on the blue line. Behind the defense, junior goalie Brianna Buckley will be between the posts to try and keep the opposition out. Stoughton coach Rich Grasso called Buckley the team’s “show stopper” and she is looking to build off a solid year of experience in goal.
“The team has one goal in mind and that is to make the tournament,” said Grasso. “This is a huge task being in the Hockomock League playing against powerhouse teams…We are small in numbers but talented. Looking forward to proving we belong in that league.”
RANDOLPH, Mass – For the better part of Saturday’s contest between #14 King Philip and #3 Archbishop Williams, the Warriors were the better team on the ice.
Unfortunately, King Philip found itself chasing the game, and despite a strong push to get even, the Warriors fell 3-2 to the Bishops at Zapustas Rink.
“I would agree,” said KP head coach Jack Unger about being the better team over the final two periods. “We’ve had a rough time getting goals over the course of the season. But they keep fighting and that’s all you can ask for.
“After the first period, we possessed the puck a lot more, we had better transition through the neutral zone and better control on the puck in the offensive zone to create chances. It came through puck possession. And they were playing with urgency since we were down.”
Archies scores just under four minutes into the game to take an early lead, but King Philip balanced the play out by the end of 15 minutes, both teams putting six shots on net in the frame.
King Philip even killed a penalty shortly after going down a goal. A nice stick lift from sophomore Sammy Robinson led to a chance in front for Ali Wilson but her bid was cleared away by the defense.
Just a minute later, Meghan Gorman found some space and centered a pass to junior Alli Meehan but Archies goalie Allison Delmonte made a nice pad save to keep the chance out.
The Bishops capitalized again on an early goal, this time just 21 seconds into the second period to take a 2-0 lead. But as the midway point of the second came, the Warriors found themselves with the majority of puck time and chances on goal.
With just under nine minutes to play in the middle period, King Philip registered its first good chance when Katie Crowther connected with Gorman just across the blue line, and Gorman slid a pass towards goal but the defense came away with a clearance before Meehan could get a clean look.
King Philip’s Kyleigh Remmes made a nice hustle play to partially block a clearance from the Bishops and was rewarded with possession in the attacking zone. She tossed her shot towards goal that created a scrum in front of Delmonte but the puck was swept away by the Bishops’ defense.
“The girls could feel the shift in the momentum,” Unger said. “They had much better puck possession and that let us do more things with it and transition into the neutral zone much better than the first half of the game.”
The Warriors continued the pressure with just over two minutes to go when freshman Avari Maxwell skated in but her shot went just high. KP kept the puck in the offensive zone and it eventually popped out to the blue line. Junior Nicole Connor used a nice move to fake around the first defenseman and then sniped her shot top shelf to make it 2-1 with 2:04 left in the second.
After giving up early goals in each the first and second periods, the Warriors came out with purpose in the third and applied the pressure to the home side. The pressure resulted in a power play for KP when Archies was whistled for hooking with 12:43 to go.
KP had the puck in the attacking zone for nearly a minute but couldn’t get anything through to the goal. After a clearance, the Warriors attempted to skate back up ice but Archies’ Marguerite Leonard intercepted a cross ice pass, skated in alone and deposited a shorthanded goal to make it 3-1 with 11:21 to play.
Despite falling behind two goals to the third-seeded Bishops, King Philip continued to battle.
Junior goalie Lilly Potts then came up with her two biggest saves of the game to keep the Warriors alive. First, Leonard jumped on a loose puck and skated in alone on goal but Potts stayed with her and pushed the bid aside.
Seconds later, Bishops junior Mackenzie Heath had a partial breakaway chance but once again Potts away up to the task and made the save.
Those saves allowed the Warriors to come down the other way and capitalize. Connor came flying into the zone along the right side, getting around her defenseman before firing a high shot. The chance forced a save from Delmonte but the rebound fell right in front and Meehan alertly batted the loose puck in to make it 3-2.
“We were getting more pucks to the net,” Unger said. “Once we got into the offensive, they were able to move it around a little bit more.”
KP continued to play on the front foot and had a couple of chances over the final two minutes, but couldn’t convert any before the final buzzer sounded.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – When Franklin and King Philip met in Foxboro back in January, it took almost the full 45 minutes for someone to find a breakthrough, so when the teams met again on Wednesday night at Pirelli Veterans Arena the expectation was for another close, tight, low-scoring game and that was exactly what happened.
Alli Meehan gave the Warriors the lead with 11 minutes remaining but freshman Victoria Quinn answered back for Franklin with a breakaway in the final minute and the teams skated away with a 1-1 tie. The point was enough to seal KP’s place in the state tournament.
“After tonight we have three games left,” KP coach Jack Unger said, “so it was nice to get that point put away now and focus on playing good hockey and getting ready for the tournament.”
It was senior night for the Panthers, who honored their five seniors prior to the puck drop, but it ended up being a pair of freshmen, goalie Natalie Stott (17 saves) and winger Quinn who helped secure the point.
“Freshman goalie saving the day at one end and a freshman stepping up and scoring that goal at the end,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke. “Victoria’s played well all year. The last few games she’s really stepped up.”
Franklin started the game on the front foot and controlled the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of the first period, although the Panthers struggled to get the puck on goal. The first good chance fell to sophomore Jordan Dwyer after good work down the right wing by Quinn but KP goalie Lilly Potts (22 saves) kicked the shot aside.
Quinn was a menace right from the opening face-off and she managed to split a pair of defensemen on a 1-on-2 attack and forced Potts to make a save on a backhand shot. KP had six shots but the only real test for Stott in the first was a late blast from the point by Nicole Connor that was saved in traffic.
There was no break between periods and Franklin seemed to be energized by getting right back on the ice, recording nine shots in the second and creating several good scoring opportunities.
Meghan Gorman had the period’s first shot on a quick break out and forced Stott into a pad save, but three minutes later Regan Paterson nearly knocked in a loose puck but for a scrambling save by Potts who ended up prone on the ice facing her goal.
With nine minutes left in the second, Paterson opened up space for Jackie Connelly to get a shooting lane as she raced down the channel inside the left circle but the shot was kicked away and two rebounds blocked in front. Seconds later the same combo opened up another scoring chance but this time Potts was able to block aside a Connelly shot that looked destined for the corner.
KP forced a save out of Stott in the final minute. Connor skated from left to right outside the blue line and took a hopeful shot that knuckled and bounced right in front of the goal. Stott turned into an infielder as she took a bad hop off her shoulder to keep the game scoreless.
“Their goalie played great, our goalie played great,” said Burke. “Last time we played these guys it was 0-0 right up until the final minute of the game, so we knew it was going to be this kind of a game.”
KP came out of the second intermission stronger and had a few early chances, as Franklin took a few minutes to get back going again.
“That’s why we only cut the ice once now because I feel like we come out a little flat after we take that break,” Burke explained. “I warned them about coming out flat for the third and they didn’t come out flat but they didn’t come out the way they had left the second.”
While the Warriors started well in the third, Franklin very nearly took the lead when Paterson had a shot that was arrowing into the top corner blocked just over the bar by Potts. Mere seconds later, KP took the lead.
Unger said, “Lily Potts played great. That save with about five minutes left, it was an open net and she just stuck her glove out and saved it. That was phenomenal. It was a big turnaround.”
A breakout of the defensive zone got KP a 2-on-1 break. Meehan skated down the right side and was able to saucer a puck over to Gorman on the left, who took only one touch to knock the puck right back across goal to Meehan and the junior tipped it up over Stott and just under the bar for the go-ahead score.
“Unselfish,” said Unger. “Meghan could’ve taken the shot but she chose to pass it back and it was a beautiful tip in. It was great.”
Potts made a big save with four minutes left to deny Libby Carter, following another Quinn set up, but with a minute left to play Franklin got a breakaway. Quinn had a deft touch to tip the puck past an onrushing defenseman in the neutral zone and took her time to bury a wrister into the top corner.
“That was a beautiful goal they got,” Burke said, “and we just kept pressing and even after Victoria tied it up I told them if you get it down there I want you pressing. We weren’t playing for the tie, but we’re happy with the tie.”
The game was typical for the first Hockomock League season in which every game seems to come down to the wire.
“Every game in the league has been [close]. Low scoring games…the league play has been really tight,” said Burke.
Unger added, “The teams that are playing well in the Hock, it’s a one-goal differential. A bounce off a skate here or there, a turnover, makes the difference in the game. One little mistake is all it takes.”
Franklin (12-3-4, 2-2-3) will close out the regular season against Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake next Wednesday. King Philip (9-6-2, 4-2-1) will close out league play on Saturday against Mansfield/Oliver Ames in Foxboro.
CANTON, Mass. – One of the main reasons for Canton’s run to last year’s Div. 2 state title game at the TD Garden was a stingy defense and the play of goalie Colleen Kelleher. That formula seems to be working again this winter and was on full display against King Philip on Wednesday afternoon in the Bulldogs’ first game at the Canton Ice House and their debut in the newly formed Hockomock League for girls’ hockey.
Behind a second period goal from freshman Lizzie Tassinari and 15 saves from Kelleher, Canton earned a 1-0 shutout and started its new league campaign with a hard-fought two points.
“They did a really nice job,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich of the KP effort. “They took us out of some of our seam passes and we had to make a couple adjustments. Not pretty, but I like to think that good teams win those games and it’s important to come out on top.”
Canton nearly jumped out to the perfect start when Lauren Fitzpatrick raced down the right wing a minute into the game and forced a kick save out of KP goalie Lilly Potts, one of 19 stops for the junior.
The first period was fast-paced and end-to-end, but both defenses were tipping and blocking a number of shots, limiting the teams to a combined eight shots on goal. KP had two of the best chances with Meghan Gorman forcing a save out of Kelleher from the right circle and, with just 10 seconds left on the clock, Nicole Connor had a close-range backhand blocked aside.
Fitzpatrick had the first chance of the second period as well, but just 20 seconds later it appeared as though KP may have taken the lead. Kyleigh Remmes had her first shot saved but followed the rebound and beat Kelleher with a backhand that the junior thought had found the back of the net. As Remmes put her hands up to celebrate, the officials held their whistles and play continued.
Gorman had a shot from the point knocked down by Kelleher, who then shuffled over to stop Remmes on the rebound. Leah McClellan had a shot for Canton from the blue line but Potts stayed down on the bounce to save it.
With only 31 seconds left in the period, Canton broke the deadlock. McClellan picked up the puck in defense and sped forward into the attacking zone. She crossed the puck from the left boards to Maggie Malloy in the slot, but it was deflected into the crease. After a scramble in front, Tassinari managed to squeeze the puck through the crowd and past Potts.
“It was a game of very few mistakes and they just took advantage of one little one,” said KP coach Jack Unger. “An opportunistic rebound, the coverage was there but the girl was still able to get ahold of it and put it in.”
Not only was it important for the Bulldogs to jump into the lead but the timing of the goal provided a shift in momentum heading into the third.
“When I first came in the locker room before the third period, I said you have no idea how huge that was,” Aldrich explained. “If they can go through two periods in our barn and come out with 15 minutes to go tied that’s a big difference. Now they have a little mountain to climb.”
Of McClellan, who spent most of the game carrying the puck out of defense and providing Canton with a forward rush, Aldrich said, “She’s a special kind of player and she’s someone that can be hard to play with because you can’t really contain her; you have to let the stallion run.”
Canton started the third on fire, recording the first five shots of the period and forcing Potts to come through with several difficult saves to keep the Warriors just a goal down.
Ellie Rae Roberts had the first chance with a backhander from the edge of the crease and Katie Holleran followed with a chance from the slot, but Potts saved both. With nine minutes to play, Potts again made the save to stop a Fitzpatrick breakaway and then denied McClellan on another long rush.
“She definitely kept us in the game,” said Unger of Potts. “She had an outstanding performance. They came on a little strong in the third period, but it was nice to hold them off and get a few chances of our own.”
In the final five minutes, KP flipped the momentum and started to press in search of a tying goal. In one sequence Gorman found Olivia McCarthy who then fed it on to Remmes for a great chance from the slot but Kelleher got a piece and the rebound trickled wide of the post.
Thirty seconds later, Kelleher made an even better stop to deny Gorman when a shot from the point angled to the back post and off the forward’s skate at the back post. Somehow, Kelleher (15 saves) managed to quickly get her left pad out to deny the unexpected shot.
“The ice was tilted and it would’ve been nice to sneak one in there and it would’ve been exciting, but they worked hard and it just didn’t get through,” said Unger.
KP opened its first Hockomock League campaign with a win against Stoughton. Unger said of the new league, “I think it’s a boost for girls’ hockey. It’s a great thing for the girls. The more women’s hockey we can get out there, the better.”
Aldrich was excited for his program to be part of the Hock and to get its first ever season in the league started with a win. He said, “For girls’ hockey, this is awesome. It’s so deserving. To see what Jack has done with this program and how they’ve come up…When we first started playing them it was 14-0; those days are done. Now we’re hoping to claw and scratch and get a victory.”
Canton (2-0-1, 1-0-0) will get a week off before hosting Westwood at the Ice House. King Philip (1-2-0, 1-1-0) will look to bounce back on Saturday when it travels to face Dennis-Yarmouth at the Tony Kent Ice Arena.
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled in its closing games of 2016-17 and narrowly missed out on a place in the state tournament via the Sullivan rule. This year’s Bombardiers are hoping that a mix of youth and experience will be enough to get the team over the hump and back in the playoff mix.
The main scoring threat for Attleboro this season is senior forward Jake Parker, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection last winter who led the team with 20 goals despite facing regular double teams and playing loads of minutes. Parker will be joined up front by sophomore Ryan Morry, who is coming off a solid rookie campaign and will try to take advantage of the opportunities Parker creates near the net.
Attleboro’s experience is on the defensive side of the ice. Seniors Eddie Noel and Sam MacKenzie and junior Kyle McCabe provide size, physicality, and reading of the game to protect the Bombardiers goal. Attleboro coach Mark Homer, in his second season with the team, is expecting the defensemen to be aggressive in the zone and be more prepared to clear the puck. The Bombardiers are also experienced in goal with junior Evan Andrews and sophomore Derrik Rivet offering a solid one-two between the pipes.
“As a team, we are working on becoming more competitive in our games at all phases of the game, said Homer. “We will strive to be better today than we were yesterday but not as good as we will be tomorrow. Our success will be measured by how hard we work and not by our wins and losses.”
2016-2017 Record: 16-5-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
After another league title in 2016-17 and a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal, Canton has started this season with a win and a draw (that turned into an overtime win in the final of the Gormley Cup) and the expectations remain as high as ever for one of the teams to beat in D2.
Last season, Canton was by far the league’s best defensive team, allowing only 32 goals in 24 games. The next best defense allowed 48 goals. But, the Bulldogs will need to rebuild the blue line this season after the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and Third Team selection C.J. Martin. Defensemen Brad Murphy and Nick Allen have experience and will be counted on to step up to bigger roles this year.
The key for the Canton defense, which has allowed only one goal in two games so far this season, will be junior goalie Quinn Gibbs. He was a HockomockSports.com First Team choice last year with a league-best 0.924 save percentage and there is hope he can get even better with a year of experience. Offensively, the Bulldogs bring back most of the goals from last year with Ryan Nolte, Johnny Hagan, Bubba McNeice, and Jack Goyetch all returning this season and all having scored big goals in big moments for Canton during last season’s tournament run.
“I think the most important determinant of our success will be whether we can find some depth at forward and defense,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Teams need more than two lines and four ‘D’ to make a deep run, so we need some guys to compete for those remaining spots.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 3 First Round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro saw improvement last year, increasing its win total, goals for, and allowed fewer goals than the season before. Head coach Mark Cedarchuk is hoping that trend continues this season as the Warriors look to try and compete for the spot in the postseason.
The Warriors will be relying on a mix of experience as well as youth to try and compete in the Hockomock League this year. Senior captain Aidan Sullivan (two goals, six assists) has been an anchor of the team’s blue line unit over the past couple of seasons and will be relied upon to lead the way again this year. Senior captain Taylor Sharfman is another defenseman that gives the Warriors two capable and reliable options in the back. Junior Tanner Kennedy is also back after a solid sophomore year and Warriors added junior Brendan Tully to the defensive unit.
On offense, Foxboro graduated its top three goal scorers but sophomore Ronnie MacLellan (four goals, seven assists) is back after a strong sophomore year. He will be joined up front by senior Sam Garrabrant and sophomore Sebastian Ricketts, who had four goals and two assists last year.
Foxboro will have to find a replacement for goalie John Cronin, a multi-year starter in between the pipes for the Warriors. Foxboro has three goalies – freshman Jack Spinney, sophomore Espen Reager, and freshman Connor Callahan – listed on the roster.
“With a combination of experienced upperclassman and talented underclassman, we’re looking forward to an exciting and competitive season,” Cedarchuk said.
2016-2017 Record: 14-9-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Chris Spillane
Although last winter was atypical for the Panthers, losing two games in the league for the first time in several years, Franklin won another league title and with 20 players back for this season the expectation is that a seventh straight league crown is a distinct possibility – not to mention making a run in the state tournament.
Experience will be the key for the Panthers. Most of the forwards were members of the team that won the state championship two years ago and know what it takes to get goals against top competition. Leading scorer Brendan O’Rielly is back after scoring 20 goals and recording 11 assists last season. He should have plenty of help up front with classmates Luke Downie, Jeremy Miller, T.J. Durkin, and Ken Demerchant, who are all three-year varsity players for the Panthers.
Defensively, Franklin has lost several talented young defensemen to other programs in recent seasons, but still boasts a strong defensive corps heading into this winter. Jack McGrath, Matt Crane, Connor Norton, Cam Cassella, and sophomore Tom Tasker will all contribute to the defensive pairings this season and that depth will be important over a long season. The goalie position is a battle between three seniors, including returning netminders Owen Ginley and Dan Sheehan, who both saw time last year.
“I will be looking to our leading goal scorer from last year Brendan O’Rielly to once again lead the offensive charge,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “From a small practice sample (one skate) I was impressed with our team speed.”
2016-2017 Record: 4-16-0 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip finished just below .500 in the league last season, and just five points out of second place in the Kelley-Rex division, but struggled in the non-league schedule, losing all 11 games outside of the Hock. The Warriors will look to improve that considerably this year with an experienced roster that wants to challenge for a league title.
KP returns 13 players from last year’s squad and that experience will be vital to allow the Warriors to compete not only in the league but against a schedule that has been bolstered because of the program’s move up to Div. 1 several seasons ago. Offensively, the attention will be on senior forward Collin Cooke, who chipped in with 10 goals and seven assists and has been drawing the focus of opposing defenses for several years. Senior Gavin Maxwell had nine goals and eight assists last season and will again be a solid counterpoint to take some of the pressure off Cooke in the attacking zone.
On the defensive side of the ice, KP continues to be a physical team that likes to be aggressive attacking the puck. Senior defensemen Will Connor will get some help at the back with the return of senior Mike Curtin from juniors, who head coach Paul Carlow said could be an “anchor” on defense. Senior Shane Frommer, fresh off a stellar football season and another Super Bowl title, will quickly transition from the gridiron to be the team’s starting goalie, after posting a 2.66 goals against average in 2016-17.
“Our strength is that we have a total of 13 returning players from last years team,” said Carlow. “We have experience up front and on the back end. We should see some team chemistry with this many returning players.”
2016-2017 Record: 12-8-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round. Coach: Mike Balazarini
In last year’s state tournament, Mansfield held its own against perennial power Xaverian before losing 2-1 in the opening round and that defeat is spurring the Hornets on this season, as the team has built a deep roster that believes it can challenge for the Kelley-Rex crown.
Team speed is going to be a strength for the Hornets this season, even without several key pieces from last winter, including breakout freshman Chris Jenkins, lost to graduation or to juniors. Senior forward Dylan Tivnan and Cullin Anastasia will be back to man the top scoring line along with freshman Coleman Jenkins. The second line will feature a lot of youth with sophomore Jake Lund and freshman Matt Copponi alongside junior Chris Copponi.
Seniors Tyler Oakley and Tim Arnold will be the leaders on the defensive side this year, while senior Ryan O’Hara and juniors Nick Levine and Austin Ricker will give the Hornets depth in the defensive unit. That depth should make things easier for sophomore Sean McCafferty, who will be stepping between the pipes for Mansfield this season.
“I think everyone wants to pick up where he left off last year,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We’ve had a good mindset early on this season. We have some new faces and everyone has gelled so far. We can’t take everyone lightly, we have to play every shift as its out last.”
2016-2017 Record: 14-4-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro is coming off its most successful season in program history, and will be starting a new chapter with new head coach Ben McManama.
The Rocketeers will be tasked with finding replacements for some of the top players in the league from a season ago. Someone will need to step up in order to fill the void left by Zach McGowan (19 goals, 13 assists for 32 points – third most in the Hockomock) as well as Hunter Sarro’s 22 points and Erik Clements’ 20 points.
Senior Jason McNeany is a key piece back for the Rocketeers, fresh off a terrific football season. He scored 13 goals last season and added 13 assists, and has been a big piece of the offense for many years now. He will be counted on to be a leader this season, both in the locker room and on the ice.
2016-2017 Record: 14-7-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Under first-year head coach Sean Bertoni, Oliver Ames proved to be a strong skating team that could cause a number of problems with its dangerous attack. That speed up front will be put to the test again this year, as the Tigers look to jump from second in the Kelley-Rex division to the top of the standings.
The Tigers have a number of talented forwards returning from last season’s team, which reached the Div. 2 South tournament and beat Nauset only to run into state finalist Scituate in the second round. That loss will provide motivation for junior forward Brett Williams, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team with 12 goals and eight assists last year, and the rest of the OA forwards. Williams will be joined up front by seniors Eric LeBlanc and Rory Madden and junior Max Ward.
On defense, junior Matt McCormick returns to be one of the top four along with senior Mike Nikiciuk. Both players will provide leadership for a defensive unit that promises to be aggressive in both zones, as Bertoni continues to implement his system at OA. Sophomore goalie Owen Connor will be the new goalie for the Tigers.
“We will continue to use our team speed and play an aggressive style offensively and defensively,” said Bertoni. “We hope to compete at a high level in all three zones. If we bring an aggressive forecheck we can create turnovers which should result in production.”
2016-2017 Record: 7-12-2 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Numbers are a bit down for the Stoughton High hockey team this season, so the Knights will be relying on their most experienced players to lead the way, especially early on.
On offense, the Knights boast senior Brendan Campbell at center and junior Sean Doherty at wing. Campbell had a team-high in points last season, finishing second with 11 goals while recording a team-best 15 assists for 26 points. Doherty was third on the team, tying for the team lead with 12 goals and finishing with 25 points.
Senior Cam Nelson and junior Josh Hough will be the leaders of the Knights’ defensive unit. Hough is a captain along with Campbell and Doherty and has the most experience on the blue line. Nelson also saw plenty of time last season, recording an assist.
“We are an inexperienced team that will improve as the season goes on,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark.
2016-2017 Record: 12-9-2 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons, setting new program bests for wins and making the state tournament two seasons in a row. This year’s team features only three seniors, so the Tigers will be hoping recent success will continue with a youthful lineup.
Senior forward Will Walsh has returned from junior hockey and will provide a boost to the front line, which head coach Kris Metea has high hopes for this season. Senior Jake Roberts is also back for the Tigers after scoring 18 points last year and junior Cam Sneyd is back after a 16-point season last winter. Metea is counting on high energy from the offensive unit and believes that the roster is capable of creating loads of scoring opportunities.
Sophomore Sean Bunker will be in net for the Tigers and the defensive unit is fairly inexperienced, although the coach believes that by working together Taunton will be able to put together a solid back line. The hope is that defense will become a strength of the Tigers by the end of the season.
“The players enjoy wearing the orange and black and look forward to coming to the rink every day,” said Metea. “The coaching staff has preached about enjoying the journey of a season and the developmental process. These players strive to work hard and get better every day. They will be fun to watch grow throughout the season.”
2016-2017 Record: 14-5-6 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Final Coach: Dennis Aldrich
Canton is coming off a remarkable state tournament run that took the No. 14 seed all the way to the TD Garden and the program’s first state title game appearance since 2006. After years of competing in the SEMGHL Coastal division, the Bulldogs are excited for the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and enter the new season as favorites to bring home the first Hock title.
A number of key players are back from the team that battled Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in the state championship game last March and will be counted on to put together another solid defensive effort that made the Bulldogs so tough to play against during the tournament run. Spearheading that defensive unit is senior goalie Colleen Kelleher, who was stellar throughout the state tournament with clutch saves in key situations.
On offense, Canton returns plenty of firepower. Juniors Maggie Malloy and Lauren Fitzpatrick emerged as big time scorers last year and came through with important goals to help the Bulldogs make a run to the Garden. Senior forwards Melissa Devane, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil give Canton a loaded attacking unit that always seemed to pop up with goals when the team needed it most.
“The strength of the Bulldogs will continue to be a tenacious, smothering team defense, strong goaltending, and balanced, opportunistic scoring,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “We are proud to have our roster filled with 11 Canton team captains amongst our 22 rostered players.”
Franklin enters the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season with a young roster, but one that is expected to compete with the other four teams and have a shot at bringing home the inaugural title.
Junior Regan Paterson and senior Jackie Connelly will be expected to provide leadership and create scoring opportunities for a roster that is loaded with underclassmen. Both players provide speed and playmaking ability in the attacking zone and the Panthers will be counting on their experience to make the difference.
Leadership is going to be critical for this year’s team and head coach Marjorie Burke is looking to her senior class to provide direction for the youthful lineup on both ends of the ice. Among the seniors that Burke is looking to this season are Bella Trask, Caroline Hedvig, Maddie Hinkley, Jillian McGlaughlin, and Connelly.
“We are excited about the upcoming season,” said Burke. “We are young but look to be competitive.”
Three years ago, King Philip was the top seed in Div. 2 and after two more playoff appearance, the Warriors now have the opportunity to bring their recent success into the first ever Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and hope that an experienced lineup could make them the first Hock champs.
Junior Nicole Connor is off to a strong start this season and has the potential, according to KP coach Jack Unger, to be one of the top players in the Hockomock League this year. Connor will play both at forward and along the blue line, crucial versatility that makes her an important piece for KP. The Warriors return five seniors who will be the “backbone” of the squad, said Unger. Kyleigh Remmes, Olivia McCarthy, Jessica Daniels, Katie Crowther, and Talia Quinn give the Warriors depth all over the ice.
Lilly Potts returns for her third year in between the pipes, while sophomore Cristina Coleman will be the backup netminder. Freshmen Avari Maxwell and Jordyn Remmes will be instant contributors on offense, while classmate Marin Cormier will step in on defense. Sophomores Abby Carr and Sammy Robison are also expected to step in at forward this season.
“[The roster is] rounded out by a number of talented juniors who should be able to spread out the scoring amongst the three starting forward lines,” said Unger.
2016-2017 Record: 14-6-1 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round. Coach: Mike Dalton
Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro have joined forces since the 2014-15 season and have reached the postseason each of the past two winters, suffering an overtime loss to Walpole in the first round of the state tournament last year, and have started this season with an impressive win in the opener.
The Warriors will be led by Foxboro’s Catherine Luciano. The senior was the team’s leading scorer last year and scored a hat trick in the season opener to get off to another strong start. Joining Luciano on the top line will be Mackenzie Fraser and Isabelle Shanteller. Other contributors in the offensive zone include senior Kayla Dalton, Kristina O’Connell, and Lindsey Corning.
While the Warriors are expected to create a number of scoring opportunities, defense will be just as important if Mansfield/OA (MOA) is going to make it a third straight playoff appearance. Denea Reager, Ali Delano, and Emily Bubencick will all be critical components of the Warriors defensive unit. Senior Kerren Holmes will be back in goal this year to stifle the opposition, while freshman Cate Gallegher will be the backup netminder.
“A strong freshman class will assist the team with help on both offense and defense,” said MOA coach Mike Dalton. “The team looks to compete for a top position in the Hockomock League and secure a spot in the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-19-1 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Richard Grasso
The newest of the programs in the inaugural season of Hockomock League girls’ hockey, Stoughton is in only its third season of varsity play, but the Black Knights are counting on last year’s experience and the growth in the program to make them a team to watch out for this winter.
Two-time all-star Julia Russell will be one of the key defenders for the Black Knights, but also brings an offensive punch with her speed forcing opponents to worry about her carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Senior Sarah Widrow will join Russell at the blue line and provides consistency in the defensive zone. Both will be expected to provide leadership for the less experienced players on the roster and try to make Stoughton a team that is tough to play against.
The offense will be sparked by a pair of freshmen. Hailey Nelson and Morgan Lesso made an instant impact on their debuts, helping Stoughton start the season with a 6-5 win at Framingham in the season opener. Lesso recorded a hat trick against the Flyers to set a high standard in her first varsity action.
“Stoughton will be a much stronger team this year than last,” said Black Knights coach Richard Grasso. “However, this will be a great challenge for our program. We have a lot of respect for the teams in the Hockomock League. There’s a lot of talent out there and each team is well-coached.”