BOSTON, Mass. – It was a frustrating first 28 minutes for Canton (22-4) in Saturday’s Div. 2 state title game at the TD Garden. The Bulldogs had more than 20 shots on target, including some gilt-edged scoring opportunities, saw pucks hit the side-netting, bounce up on top of the net, shots go over the bar or just wide, and watched Hopkinton goalie Jack Lang come through with several huge saves.
There were moments when Canton could have been forgiven for thinking, it’s just not our night. Head coach Brian Shuman admitted that he was starting to get concerned as the clock ticked on without his team finding the back of the net.
“I was the first person to overreact on the bench when we missed the net,” Shuman said after the game. “Credit to our players, they stayed calm, cool, and collected and didn’t take on the persona of their coach, which was a good thing.”
Shuman shouldn’t have worried. For the second game in a row, the Bulldogs rallied from a goal down, showing the resilience of state champions. With two goals in a little over a minute at the end of the second period and a pair of goals from seniors in the final three minutes of the game, Canton skated away with a 4-1 victory and its third state title in the past five seasons.
“Seeing everyone out there, before we were like we’re not going to let what happened last year happen again and we came together, just had a quick talk,” said senior forward AJ Thomas. “After they scored the first one, we were down a little but we weren’t going to let it go. We came together in the locker room and came out in the second and put it to them. I’m happy to win it for everyone back home.”
Shuman added, “We’ve been in close games all year long. We’re just used to playing in tight games and credit to our guys, they’re saying the same things they were in the last round, ‘We’re fine, stay with it, we’re fine,’ and that’s not coming from the coaches. That’s coming from them.”
Canton was the favorite coming into the final. The No. 8 seed Hillers were playing in only their second state title game (and first in D2), while the Bulldogs are the perennial powers who have reached the final for four straight years (excluding the 2021 season that had no tournament).
It was the underdogs that would take the early advantage. A slap shot from Vasi Zolotarev hit a couple bodies in front of Canton goalie Colin Davis (14 saves). The puck landed at the skates of Hopkinton star Pavit Mehra and he rifled it past the goalie from close range to put the Hillers in front. It was his 40th goal of the season and fifth in the last two rounds.
A few minutes later, the Hillers nearly made it two. Catching Canton in a change, Ryan Teitel got free in the left wing circle and tested Davis, who was able to stay tall and make the save.
Canton grew into the game. Thomas forced Lang into a save from the left wing, Jack Digirolamo weaved through the Hopkinton defense and put a backhand shot on target, James Young got a shot on net from the point, Jeffrey Chaput teed up Thomas for a chance in the slot that went high and wide, then set up Brendan Tourgee in almost the same spot for another shot off target.
The Bulldogs outshot Hopkinton 14-5 in the first. For all that pressure, it was the Hillers that again came closest to finding twine. Drew Morse sent in a shot from the point that Davis knocked down. Mehra was again in the right spot to get to the rebound, but, at full stretch, Davis managed to get a toe to the shot to keep it out.
In the second, Canton kept the chances coming (outshooting Hopkinton 12-2 in the period). Griffin Hughes fed Brian Middleton in front but his tip was kept out by Lang (31 saves) who then made a stunning, diving, glove save to deny Colin Blake, who had steamed in to knock the rebound into what looked like an open net.
Chaput chipped a puck up the boards for Tourgee to test the goalie from the right wing circle. Then it was Travis Thomas with a quick wraparound effort that Lang kept out. Mehra would get Hopkinton’s best chance of the second when he pounced on a mistake in the neutral zone to fire a shot on Davis. Michael Thomas added a chance from the slot, but again Lang was able to get a pad on it.
Finally, with 1:48 left in the second, Canton was able to find the back of the net, letting off a celebration that was at least in part a sigh of relief. Fittingly, after all those great chances, it was a scruffy goal to tie things up. Young’s shot from the left point was saved by Lang. The loose puck landed right on the stick of Tourgee who smashed his shot off the post, back off his skate, and then across the line.
After waiting so long to get the first, the Bulldogs needed only a minute before netting a second. Digirolamo used his big frame to power off the left wing boards towards goal. The puck was poked out to Middleton, who whipped a shot past Lang to put Canton in front.
“I think it was a little relief, definitely felt like there was a little less tension in the locker room, but these guys, the way that they approach every game, every period, is shift-by-shift,” Shuman said. “That’s the approach they took in the third. We don’t want to get too high or too low.”
The third period wasn’t as frenetic as the first two, as Canton tried to limit the stretch passes that Hopkinton looked so dangerous on and the Hillers tried to get Mehra into space to create. Dylan Mansur got the puck in front to Danny White to force a pad stop from Davis and Mehra made a great play to get the puck past the defense to Joe Scardino, but again the Canton goalie was equal to it.
For a defensive unit that graduated some important pieces, Canton’s pairings of Young, Hughes, Matt Anderson, Leo Owens, Jack Lauro, and Teddy Shuman, and with Davis in net, allowed only two goals in five playoff games this year.
“Colin Davis has been fantastic,” Shuman said. “We graduated arguably some of the best defensemen we’ve ever seen in this program, and for these guys to step up, some guys who were watching in the stands [last year] playing huge minutes, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
With less than three minutes to play, Canton doubled its lead. AJ Thomas slipped a pass to Chaput as he raced into the left wing circle and his fellow senior roofed his shot over Lang to make it 3-1. It was Chaput’s fifth goal in five playoff games.
“We just sit back and think about who we’re doing this for,” Thomas said about his team’s resiliency. He noted the inspiration that the Bulldogs have gotten from Kieran Whall, a Canton three-year-old battling leukemia. “For everyone out there, who came tonight, it’s amazing, we’re doing it for them. We just look back and see who we’re doing it for and go out and do it.”
The Hillers pulled Lang and desperately tried to find a goal that would get them back into the game, but with 25.9 on the clock, just as he did against Duxbury in the semifinal, Thomas found the empty netter that sealed the win and the state title.
“It’s crazy,” Young explained. “It feels so good. I’m speechless. Last Canton High game, you got to win.”
Asked about his program’s consistency, Shuman replied, “These guys, they put a lot of pressure on themselves. They’ve been in the stands watching some kids who are older than them on the ice raising the trophy and that’s their dream.”
“I think last year we felt that pressure and played well, just came up short. This year, I thought the players’ mental approach coming into this game was just outstanding. They were really having some fun this week.”
BOSTON, Mass. — As a freshman, Canton’s Jeff Chaput didn’t have the chance to step on the ice at the TD Garden after the season was cut short just before the state championships game.
After a sophomore campaign without playoffs and a loss in the final as a junior last year, Chaput had one final chance to raise the MIAA state championship trophy.
Chaput and the rest of the Bulldogs delivered. After scoring just four goals during the regular season, he lit the lamp for the fifth straight postseason game — after netting just four goals during the regular season — to help Canton secure a 4-1 win over Hopkinton for the program’s third title in the past five years/four seasons.
“Determination,” Chaput said of the postseason turnaround. “I wasn’t going to lose, any of these playoff games could have been my last game so I wanted to give it my all, empty the tank every single game.
“Goals have to come from somewhere. In the regular season, it was my linemates and things just started clicking in the postseason and I came through when we needed it.”
Chaput’s tally came with just under three minutes to go to give Canton a much-needed insurance tally and a 3-1 lead. Fittingly, it was Chaput’s classmate and linemate AJ Thomas that sealed the deal with an empty net goal with 25 seconds to go.
Chaput and Thomas have emerged as the go-to players for the Bulldogs. The former was assisted by the latter in the first-round win over Medford, both players lit the lamp in a 6-0 win over Wilmington, and Chaput’s goal gave Canton a two-goal cushion against Newburyport.
The duo wasn’t done there as Chaput came up with a huge goal early in the third period that leveled the score in the state semifinals against Duxbury, and then Thomas buried the game-winning goal with just under five minutes to go. Similar to Sunday morning, Thomas had the empty net goal in the win over the Dragons to ice the win.
“They were definitely frustrated sometimes during the season with their lack of goal scoring and we just kept saying, ‘Hey, you’ll score when it matters,’” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “Jeff Chaput [scored] four goals in the regular season, five in the playoffs. He’s a guy that’s a four-year player for us and he knows what it takes to win. He stepped up big time. AJ is someone that every person on the other team knows about. They key on him and try to shut him down, but he still finds ways to be productive.”
Hopkinton took the lead just 3:12 into the game, only the second goal the Bulldogs had allowed all postseason. It was also just the second time Canton trailed throughout its tournament run. Juniors Brendan Tourgee and Brian Middleton scored a minute apart at the end of the second period to turn the deficit into a lead.
“We’re all brothers, there’s no way other way to explain it,” Chaput said. “We weren’t going to let what happened last year happen again. We ride for each other, we love each other.”
The Chaput/Thomas duo combined for one final time with Thomas dropping a nice pass to Chaput in stride, setting up a wrist shot top shelf for a 3-1 lead.
“It feels amazing,” Thomas said. “We weren’t going to let what happened last year happen again. After they scored the first one, we were down a little bit but we weren’t going to let it go. We came together in the locker room and came out in the second and put it to them.
“Me and Jeff were put on the same line about midway through the season and ever since then we’ve become so much closer. We’re more than friends, we’re brothers. It’s amazing to do this with him, I’m so proud of him and he’s earned everything.”
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. — Ever since Canton and Newburyport faced off in back-to-back state championship games in 2009 and 2010, the two storied programs have played one another during the regular season.
For the first time since then, the two squads squared off again in the postseason. And similar to how this year’s regular season meeting went, Canton emerged with a shutout win.
Junior Colin Blake and senior Jeff Chaput scored second period goals and the third-seeded Bulldogs notched a 2-0 win over the sixth-seeded Clippers to book a spot in the Division 2 Final Four for the second straight season.
“It felt almost workmanlike,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman about his team’s performance. “We have so much respect for [Newburyport], me and Paul Yameen go way back, we’ve played each other since meeting in the finals. There’s a tremendous amount of respect that these two programs have for each other. I can’t say enough about their program, they play a tough hard-nosed, blue-collar type of hockey and you can’t help but appreciate it as a coach. It was a good hockey game.”
The Bulldogs earned a 2-0 win on the road in mid-January over the Clippers and have had Newburyport’s number lately, going 6-0-2 since the start of the 2015 season.
The familiarity was apparent from the opening faceoff as the Clippers made things difficult for the Bulldogs. Newburyport was clogging both passing and shooting lanes and their forecheck was doing just enough to disrupt Canton’s rhythm working out of their own zone.
Scoring chances were at a premium early with a mix of blocked shots, deflected passes, and a lot of neutral zone battles. As the period went on, the teams worked to find opportunities and the best chance for both sides came inside the final five minutes.
For Canton, it was junior Brian Middleton that unleashed a low shot through some traffic that was turned aside by Newburyport goalie Jameson Brooks with a pad save and the big rebound ended up just outside the reach of the stick of Jack Digirolamo. Seconds later, the Clippers had their best chance when Kane Brennan got an open shot off but Canton goalie Colin Davis gobbled it up.
The Clippers went on the power play for the final 48 seconds of the opening period but a clearance from Chaput followed by good offensive zone pressure from James Young and Blake kept the game scoreless at the horn.
After killing 72 seconds of power play to start the second period, Canton really tilted the ice in its favor with heavy pressure. Newburyport was unable to sustain any offensive zone time and managed just one shot on goal in the frame.
Canton went on its first power play just over three minutes into the period and needed just over a minute to take advantage. Junior Brendan Tourgee gained the zone with a creative self pass off the boards, skated behind the net, and dished a pass out to the blue line to junior Matt Anderson. Anderson stepped into a big shot and Blake, positioned right in front of the goal, got his stick on it with a great redirect to beat Brooks for a 1-0 lead with 10:46 to go in the second period.
Another Canton power play was canceled out with a slash but Newburyport couldn’t muster anything up with their 68 seconds on the man advantage.
The Bulldogs grabbed a second goal before the end of the period as Tourgee teed up senior Leo Owens for a blast from the blue line. Brooks made the initial stop but Chaput was in the right spot and lifted a backhand past the goalie to make it 2-0 with 1:50 left in the second period.
“Strangely enough, I think you try and forget the first meeting,” Shuman said. “That first game was not a 3-0 game, it could have gone either way. In both games, we got a couple of bounces and they didn’t. That’s what always happens when we play them, I don’t think there’s been a game we’ve played them with the winning team more than three goals. It’s always tight checking, a tight defensive game. You can see it on the kid’s faces, they are just working, working, working and when you’re working that hard, it can be hard to have room left for that euphoria, that emotion.”
Canton continued to quell any and every Newburyport foray into the offensive zone. Davis came up with one of the biggest stops of the game with 6:35 left, denying Brennan on a point-blank chance. Beyond that, Canton’s defense did a great job limiting further opportunities.
“The defense was outstanding,” Shuman said. “It’s similar to how we played last game against Wilmington, really limiting shots and getting the puck out of our zone quickly. Sometimes the best defense is to bring the puck up well and we really did that well in the second. We tensed up a little bit in the third and had some turnovers, but Colin was there to back us and bail us out.”
Canton’s three-game shutout streak so far in the playoffs will face a major test in the Division 2 Final Four against #2 Duxbury. The Dragons have outscored opponents 22-0 so far in three playoff games. The time, date, and location for that matchup are still to be announced.
CANTON, Mass. – Sometimes, especially during the early rounds of the tournament, a team needs to find its footing, overcome some postseason jitters, and grind out a result. It may not be the prettiest win, but at this stage of the season all that matters is finding a way to advance to the next round.
On Thursday night at the Metropolis Rink, Canton wasn’t at its free-flowing best, but the Bulldogs had enough to hold off an upset bid from No. 30 seed Medford. Canton got a pair of goals in the second period and tacked on a shorthanded tally in the third to pull out the 3-0 win and reach the Div. 2 Sweet Sixteen.
“A lot of teams, if you look at the past few nights, sort of struggle in these early-round games, especially teams that put pressure on themselves and these guys certainly did,” explained Canton coach Brian Shuman. “I give Medford credit. They’re a good team and they really played us hard and played us well.”
The Bulldogs wasted no time taking the initiative, outshooting the Mustangs 13-5 in the first, but Canton was struggling to create clear-cut chances and get bodies in front of Medford goalie John Nocella (34 saves).
Matt Anderson had a good early shot from the point that was kicked aside and Kevin LaBellee charged down the rebound only to have that gloved. James Young created a scoring chance with a nice outlet pass up the boards to Jeffrey Chaput, but the shot was kicked away and AJ Thomas was unable to connect on the rebound.
Medford nearly sprung a surprise when it got behind the Canton defense, but Griffin Hughes raced back and made a key intervention to prevent a breakaway. Jack Digirolamo came close with a shot from the slot that was blockered over the bar, but the Mustangs had the best chance of the period when Tyler Taddia forced a save out of Colin Davis and Louis Pucillo appeared to hit the post as he sent the rebound back through the crease.
Brendan Tourgee made a nice play with the puck in the defensive zone to get into open ice and then weaved his way through traffic before putting a backhand shot on target from close range with just 25 seconds left in the first.
Canton was in need of a spark and Digirolamo provided a lift with a big hit along the blue line, which seemed to give the bench much-needed energy.
“Digi this year for us, when we needed a goal, needed a big play, or in this game needed a physical presence, he provided it,” Shuman said. “Whatever we needed, he gave us, and this game we needed someone to match their physicality and he sure did.”
While the shot total was just about the same as the first, Canton looked much more fluid offensively in the second and puck movement was a key reason why.
Shuman said, “A lot of times in a playoff game, especially the first one, people are trying to be the hero early and score two goals with one shot. I thought the second period we moved the puck a lot better. Sometimes when the nerves kick in, your first instinct is to throw it at the net, so hopefully we got that nervousness out of the way and be better in the next game.”
Digirolamo teed up Colin Blake right on the edge of the crease, but his tip was saved. Less than a minute later, Canton got its breakthrough. Teddy Shuman’s shot from the point was blocked in front, but Travis Thomas managed to scoop the loose puck up and over the stretching goalie to make it 1-0.
With 6:40 left in the period, AJ Thomas showed great patience against the near side boards, holding the puck and waiting for space to make a pass. Finally, a crease opened up and he was able to pick out Chaput in front for a tip that made it 2-0.
Canton’s passing was creating a lot of good looks. Tourgee set up Thomas for a chance that was saved and the duo combined again with Tourgee having his tip turned aside. Thomas also had a shot that caromed off the end boards right to Young, who was pinching in and forced another save.
It looked like the Bulldogs were going to cruise to victory, but the Mustangs came out for the third intent on getting back into the game. After compiling nine shots through the first two periods, Medford put 12 shots on Davis in the third.
Carsten Mangan took advantage of a turnover and fired a shot from the right wing that Davis fought off, DJ McDonough had a shot that deflected in front and clipped the post, and Devon Page had a bid from the slot that Davis got his pad onto. He finished with 21 saves to record the shutout.
The game was effectively put away with 7:46 to go. On the penalty kill, Brian Middleton made a play at the blue line, broke free, and buried his breakaway opportunity to give the Bulldogs a three-goal cushion.
“Colin played well, made some big saves,” Shuman said. “Sadly that’s been a theme this year, the dreaded two-goal lead. It’s a cliche but sometimes cliches turn into reality. We need to find ways to bear down and get that third, such a crucial goal in a game, especially when you’re on a team and pressuring them.”
Canton (18-4-0) will take on No. 19 Wilmington, which beat No. 14 Masconomet, on Saturday night at the Canton Ice House.
Oliver Ames, 57 @ Abington, 69 – Final
Attleboro, 0 @ Stoughton/Brockton, 6 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – A three-goal outburst in the second period helped Stoughton/Brockton skate to a win over former league rival Attleboro. Junior Colby Strunk scored his first goal of the game in the first to put the hosts up 1-0 after a period, and his second goal of the game came shorthanded to push the lead to 2-0. Seniors Sean Farley and Charlie Caputo also scored in the middle period to extend Stoughton/Brockton’s lead to 4-0 going into the third. Juniors Brendan Twohig and David Monaghan each lit the lamp in the third, and junior Dmytro Yakovenko recorded the shutout in net. Eighth grader Jacob Westwater played well in net for the Bombardiers.
Canton, 5 @ Bishop Feehan, 3 – Final – Five different Bulldogs scored on the road to help Canton shake off a resilient Bishop Feehan squad. Brendan Tourgee put the visitors ahead five minutes into the game and AJ Thomas doubled the advantage later in the opening period. After the Shamrocks cut the deficit in half, senior James Young buried one to restore the two-goal lead. Feehan once again got back within a goal but freshman Michael Thomas and senior Jack Digirolamo scored back-to-back goals just over a minute apart to ice the win.
Taunton, 4 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – Taunton had four players find the back of the net as they avenged a loss to Foxboro from earlier this season and handed head coach Kris Metea his 100th career win. Eighth grader Breighdyn Simmons had a goal and an assist while eighth grader Jamie Valarelli, junior Owen Hathaway, and senior Dylan McCaughey each scored once. Seniors Connor McGrath and Colton Scheralis, along with sophomore Travis Cashman, each recorded a pair of assists, and sophomore Cam Tomaszycki made 25 saves in the win.
Franklin, 3 @ Falmouth, 0 – Final – Franklin took the lead less than five minutes in and then added two more inside the final seven minutes of action to secure a shutout win on the road. Anthony Lampasona lit the lamp off of a feed from Liam O’Rielly at 11:49 of the opening period. After a scoreless second, Dan Daley hooked up with Logan Marchand to double Franklin’s advantage at 6:52 of the third. Ryan Sicchio tacked on an insurance goal with just under two minutes to play. Colby Wagner made 15 saves in net for the shutout.
Mansfield, 5 @ Shrewsbury, 9 – Final – Connor Davey and Thomas Gormley each scored twice for the Hornets but Mansfield suffered a setback on the road against Shrewsbury. Brendan Vokey also had a goal for Mansfield.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Norton, 2 – Final
Canton, 1 @ Sandwich, 1 – Final
Stoughton/Sharon, 1 vs. Cambridge, 6 – Final
Hockomock Stars, 7 vs. Ursuline Academy, 6 – Final
FRANKLIN, Mass. – On paper, it’s just one of eight league games on the schedule, but there’s no hiding the significance of when Canton and Franklin meet on the ice.
The Bulldogs have won the Davenport every single year since the league split into two divisions and the Panthers have had a hand in all but one — a combined 23 division titles over the past 12 seasons.
Both squads are the favorites to win their respective division again this year and are the top two ranked teams in the league, meaning bragging rights were on the line at Pirelli Veteran’s Arena on Saturday night in front of a packed crowd.
Franklin junior goalie Colby Wagner was terrific in net from the opening puck drop, turning in a 38-save shutout performance to lead the Panthers to a 2-0 win.
The Panthers scored once in the first period and added on a key insurance goal late in the third period, with both goals coming in similar fashion thanks in part to Franklin’s speed.
“It’s one of eight [league games] but it’s a good one,” said Franklin head coach Chris Spillane. “It’s just fun to play teams like this, and you know every year it doesn’t matter who’s up or who’s down, when it’s Franklin-Canton, both teams show up to play. And we get to play them again in a non-league game and it will be the same exact thing, the same exact atmosphere in their building.
“It was a gritty win. Our goaltender [Wagner] kept us in this game tonight, he made some key saves. We struggled breaking the puck out, that’s typically our strongest going from defense to offense, we can fly but credit to [Canton], they took time and space away. It was just one of those typical Franklin-Canton games, it was gritty and there’s no space for anyone.”
It didn’t take long for the scoring chances to start as Canton sophomore goalie Colin Davis (31 saves) was forced into making a terrific save just seconds into the contest as senior Aidan Kuykendall found senior Ryan Sicchio streaking into the offensive zone all alone for a chance in close 15 seconds in. And seconds later, Davis denied Anthony Lampasona after a pass from Ben Paterson in a 2-on-1 situation.
Canton got its early chances too as the Bulldogs went on the power play just 63 seconds into the game. Junior Matt Anderson had a blast from the blueline handled by Wagner, and junior Colin Blake had a bid in close that was turned aside.
That set the tone for the next 40-plus minutes as the Panthers and Bulldogs went up-and-done the ice, back and forth with chances on goal. Franklin had four power plays and Canton had two man-advantage chances throughout the contest but neither team cashed in with its special teams.
The first breakout came right at the midway point of the opening period. Paterson won a faceoff in his own defensive zone to junior Logan Marchand, who chipped one up the left boards that eluded the glove of a Canton defenseman at the blue line. Lampasona raced down and got to the puck first in the offensive zone and centered to a wide-open Dan Daley and he roofed his shot just under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead with 7:47 left in the opening stanza.
“Danny Daley, he’s a player to be reckoned with,” Spillane said. “He’s fast and can shoot the puck, his center [Ben Paterson] and [Anthony] Lampasona are both good at getting him the puck. It’s a nice all-junior line to have as our second line.”
Canton nearly responded a minute later when junior Brendan Tourgee dropped a pass out front for Blake, but his deflection on net was denied by Wagner’s shoulder. The Bulldogs had another big chance with just under two minutes to play as junior Brian Middleton won a battle at the blueline and raced in on a breakaway but his backhand bid was turned away by a pad stop from Wagner.
Davis made a nice stop early in the second after Franklin’s Paterson and Daley played a little catch, the former ripping a shot that was turned aside. Canton countered with a nice tip off the stick of sophomore Travis Thomas but Wagner stood tall.
“He’s very comfortable in the net, his rebound control is really good,” Spillane said of Wagner. “They were pressuring the crease and he never got rattled. He’s our number one right now for sure, but we have two other good options too in Jack O’Connor and Joe Torraco.”
Canton did have a powerplay five minutes into the second but Sicchio had a big clear, Ben Jarosz interrupted a pass to clear the zone, and Dylan McEvoy won a key faceoff and cleared the puck himself.
The third featured more of the same with chances from both sides, including an early power play for the Panthers that Canton killed off, including a key clearance from Young.
Jack Digirolamo muscled his way into space for a shot that was tipped by AJ Thomas, only for Wagner to get a stick to it. Tourgee found space shortly after but his bomb of a shot was wide of the net.
“We had a lot of one-and-dones and I think a lot of that was the product of missing the net on some key chances, and that started their break out,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “And I think we were a little intimidated by their speed, guys backing off the line and just not able to win the races to pucks. That was preventing us from getting some good in-zone time.”
Franklin tacked on a key insurance goal with just over three minutes to go in the game. The puck bounced out from behind the Franklin net, and Daley was the first to it. He beat a pinching defenseman, slapping the puck off the boards and up the ice.
Sophomore Carter Balducci raced onto it and centered to his brother, senior Tommy Balducci and he found the back of the net to make it 2-0 with 3:04 to play.
“They have so much speed, they’ll disrupt any team they are playing against,” Shuman said. “That’s the fastest team we’ve seen all year, probably the fastest we will see all year. They can go three lines of speed, and they certainly look a lot faster in person than they do on LiveBarn. They’re a good team and any mistake that we made, they made us pay. Whether it was a bad pinch or a guy slightly out of position…our goaltender played well though and made some big stops.”
Franklin boys hockey (2-0-0 Hockomock, 6-1-0 overall) will head to Foxboro to take on the Warriors on Wednesday at 6:30 while Canton (1-1-0, 6-1-0) returns home to Ponky to take on Oliver Ames.
2021-2022 Record: 0-15-0 2021-2022 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Gary Warren
Last season is not one to remember for Attleboro. The Bombardiers finished winless and had only eight goals in 18 games. New head coach Gary Warren will hope to find more firepower in front of goal and more depth with three forward lines and three defensive pairings as Attleboro tries to get back into the mix for a tournament berth.
Seniors Owen Parker and Colin Flynn will be the leaders on the top line with eighth grader Bryan Capone getting his first taste of varsity hockey. Sophomore Nathan Conroy will center the second line with senior Mike Lachance and junior Nick Fernandes on the wings. Eighth-grader Andrew Bessette will center the third line for the Bombardiers, joining up with sophomores Austin Bessette and Jack Moran.
Defensively, Attleboro will also lean on youth. Sophomores Alex Jarousky and Brody Shaw will partner on one line, eighth graders Beckett Stone and Cam Harrison will be a second partnership, and sophomore Lucas Devonis teaming up with senior Luke Logan. Junior Bradley Lehtonen and freshman Joey Santos will also see time on the blue line this season. After graduating four-year starter Nick Piazza, Attleboro will turn to junior Julien Horton and eighth grader Jacob Westwater between the pipes.
“Our success this season will hinge on good senior leadership, along with our younger players building confidence in their game,” Warren said. “We are a young, inexperienced team that hopefully will get better game after game.”
2021-2022 Record: 22-3-1 (D2 State Finalists) 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Final Coach: Brian Shuman
Only one team has ever won the Davenport division boys hockey title and, despite graduating 14 seniors off last year’s roster, Canton looks well-positioned to extend that run for another winter. After reaching the Div. 2 state title game for the third straight season, the Bulldogs will be incorporating a lot of new faces and young players (five freshmen and three sophomores) into this year’s roster to try and stay among the top teams in the state.
While there are several new players that will be getting time this year, Canton does return its top two scorers from last year. Senior AJ Thomas had a great playoff run to help the Bulldogs get back to the TD Garden and junior Brendan Tourgee was a standout as a sophomore with his combination of stick skills and strength. Juniors Pat Drury, Colin Blake, and Brian Middleton also saw plenty of ice time as sophomores and came through with some big goals during the season, while senior Jack Digirolamo adds some physicality in the attacking zone.
Canton always gets attention for its scoring punch, but its strength on the blue line has been one of the main reasons for its sustained success. Senior Leo Owens will start the season on the sidelines with an injury, so other players are going to need to step in while he gets healthy. Senior James Young and junior Matt Anderson, who scored the overtime winner in the season opener, will get plenty of ice time. Sophomore Colin Davis should provide the defense with plenty of confidence after a stellar rookie campaign between the pipes. He looked unflappable during Canton’s run to the final and senior Carson Eagles is a more than dependable backup in goal.
“As always, strong team defense and the depth to play four lines and six defense pairs will determine whether or not we can make a run for the league title and/or the playoffs this year,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman.
2021-2022 Record: 10-11-0 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 3 Round of 32 Coach: Eric Galanti
Foxboro has a new head coach this season but it’s a familiar face as Eric Galanti steps in after five years on the bench as an assistant coach for the program. After graduating nine seniors from last year that accounted for a lot of production and ice time, the Warriors are looking for some new names to step up.
Albeit young, Foxboro has a strong core of returners from last year’s squad that had 10 wins and scored 70 goals. Senior Henry Diamond, who plays on the right wing, spearheads a relatively young forward group that includes returners Connor Hayers (left wing) and Luigi Muttart (left wing), both juniors, as well as sophomores Ryan Wood, Dan Jacobs — both centers — and, Finlay Campbell. Senior Jake DeMaino and sophomores Brendan LaCroix, Will Groves, and Connor Reardon bolster the offense. Freshman Michael Ruo and Owen McAuliffe are looking to make an impact right away.
Defense and goaltending will be a strength for Galanti and the Warriors this season. Senior Alex Coviello is a seasoned veteran that will anchor the blue line for Foxboro, joined by junior Tommy Devlin and a handful of sophomores who already have varsity experience including Tom Watts, Evan Paluzzi, Leo Campbell, and Connor Reardon. In net, Galanti has some veteran options with senior Peter Souaiden and junior Trevor Marder as options.
“We have a solid defense and great net minding that will allow a sophomore-heavy team to work toward an offense to match,” Galanti said.
2021-2022 Record: 14-9-0 (Kelley-Rex division champions) 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Sweet 16 Coach: Chris Spillane
A very familiar face has made his return to the bench for Franklin this season, as longtime coach Chris Spillane, who stepped away in 2019, is back in charge of the program. The Panthers have won 11 straight league titles and been a fixture in the Div. 1 state tournament and they boast a strong attacking lineup this season that will be looking to continue its control of the Kelley-Rex division.
Up front, Franklin will be boosted by the return of seniors Ben Jarosz and Ryan Sicchio, who combined for 15 goals and 23 assists last year. Classmate Tommy Balducci will join them on the top line. Last year’s sophomore class was prolific in front of goal and, with a year of valuable experience, looks ready to be even more dynamic this season. Juniors Anthony Lampasona (six goals and 13 assists) and Ben Paterson (10 goals and 14 assists) will lead the way along with classmates Dylan McEvoy and Dan Daley. Sophomore Carter Balducci is a newcomer to look out for in attack.
Four players return on the blue line to give Franklin solid experience in the defensive zone. Seniors Liam O’Rielly, Aiden Kuykendall, and Lucas Sheehan will be joined by junior Dylan Marchand, who had an impressive sophomore season in defense. Sophomore Vinnie Pasquarosa should also see time on the back end. Goalie depth will be a strength for the Panthers this year, with sophomore Jack O’Connor returning, sophomore Joe Torraco making the jump from JV, and junior Colby Wagner coming back to the program after playing last year with the Northeast Generals.
“Offensively we will run three lines who all have the ability to score goals,” Spillane said. “The Panthers’ success will depend on our team defense, and how quickly we can understand our defensive systems.”
2021-2022 Record: 10-9-3 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Round of 32 Coach: Toby Carlow
King Philip is two years removed from taking a share of the Kelley-Rex division title (joining only the 2011 Mansfield team to win at least a piece of the division crown) and last year the Warriors showed off their potential by giving eventual state champion St. John’s Prep a battle in the opening round of the playoffs. Former Medfield coach Toby Carlow, who won a state title with those Warriors in 2016, take over this season with the intention of elevating these Warriors into one of the state’s top programs.
Carlow will be introducing new systems on both ends of the ice, relying on team speed and structure in the defensive zone to get back into the tournament. One challenge for KP will be replacing standout Brad Guden, who moved to Tabor Academy this season. In the defensive zone, junior Cam Lehan-Allen along with senior Sam Naggar will need to step up to provide leadership at the blue line. Senior Kyle Abbott will help out at the back, as he returns in goal after allowing fewer than two goals per game as a junior.
In addition to Guden, who had 17 points from defense last year, KP also graduated its three top goal scorers from last season, so the forward line will need new faces to step up and consistently find the back of the net. Senior James Boldy is the team’s top returning scorer with seven goals and 10 assists and junior Max Robison adds speed on the wing. Juniors Nate Gartska and Rowan Boulger also saw time as sophomores and provide depth in the forward lines.
“Our goal this year is to establish ourselves as a good solid team in Division 1,” Carlow said. “It’s time for King Philip to step into the upper level of Massachusetts hockey.”
2021-2022 Record: 7-12-1 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Round of 32 Coach: Mark O’Brien
Mansfield has a lot of turnover to contend with this season, as the Hornets open their first season of Davenport division play. Former assistant Mark O’Brien has taken over as head coach and he takes over a team that will lean on underclassmen to try and find the attacking threat to keep the Hornets in the league title mix and to stay in the tournament mix.
After graduating its top six forwards from last season, Mansfield will be hoping that a host of freshmen and sophomores can step up to the challenge of leading the line this winter. Seniors Cody Gordon, Connor Davey, and Brendan Flynn will provide much-needed leadership in the attacking zone. Sophomores Brendan Vokey, Matthew Tourigney, Matthew Cromack, and Kevin O’Brien and freshmen James Warren, Matt Kelly, Matthew Rabinovich, Liam Wells, and Cody Silva give the Hornets a lot of depth up front but also a lot of untested talent.
The blue line is a very different story. Mansfield’s defense should be a strength this season. Seniors Ryan DeGirolamo and Patrick Gormley return to anchor that end of the ice along with junior Will Cameron and sophomore Declan Foley. Sophomore Thomas Gormley is a newcomer to watch for the Hornets in defense. Freshman Aidan Shea and sophomore Luke McGuire are versatile players who could see time at forward or defense. In goal, Mansfield will have plenty of experience to call upon with senior Chris O’Brien and junior Josh Hussey.
“We have a tremendous group this season and they are committed to the team concept and giving their best effort for each other,” said O’Brien. “We are excited about our talented younger players and confident that our strong nucleus of upperclassmen will lead the way with a focus on team defense.”
2021-2022 Record: 10-11-1 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Sweet 16 Coach: Kyle Heagney
North Attleboro head coach Kyle Heagney begins his second year in charge of the Rocketeers and they are looking to improve on last year’s 10-win season as they join the Kelley-Rex division for the second time in program history.
The Big Red will have to look for some new players to step up as they try to fill the void left by the graduation of a talented senior group, including Nik Kojoian, who led the Hockomock League in scoring with 11 goals and 24 assists last season, and Nick Longa, who was second in the league with 17 goals and tied for fifth overall in points with 26 points. The good news is that Heagney and the Rocketeers have one of the top returning forwards in the league in Mark Ayvazyan, who produced 13 goals and 12 assists in the regular season last year.
North will also look for seniors Brody Gaulin and Jack Dluhy to take on increased roles after netting five goals and two assists last season as well as junior Kaden Burns, who had five goals and one helper last season. Junior Kyle Gruber is back between the pipes after impressing last season.
2021-2022 Record: 6-11-1 2021-2022 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Jimmy Tierney
Oliver Ames begins a new chapter in program history as they welcome a familiar face as new head coach in Jimmy Tierney, a former player and assistant coach. Tierney was the inaugural HockomockSports Goalie of the Year in 2013 and was a two-team First Team selection during his stellar career with the Tigers.
Now Tierney will look to guide this year’s team back to the success they experienced during his playing days when they reached the South sectional semifinals and finals during his sophomore and junior years. The Tigers have nearly their entire roster back from last year after graduating just two seniors, including senior center Sean McCarthy, who was second on the team with 10 goals and nine assists, and junior Andrew Livingstone, who earned HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team honors after leading OA with 12 goals and eight assists. The offense will have plenty of depth with seniors Matt Lawson (15 points), Jack Corey (15 points), Daniel Paul, and Jack Perron, who is a team captain for the second year along with McCarthy.
Sophomore Patrick DeLoughrey and freshman Brenden Teehan will look to make an immediate impact on the offensive end. Along the blue line, junior Sean Kearns (three goals, 11 assists) will look to build upon a solid campaign last year when he earned honorable mention for league all star. He’ll be joined by classmates Landon Grothe and Andy Poulos in the defensive group. The Tigers have experience in the net with senior Brandon Burke back between the pipes after playing in 17 games last year.
“Our biggest strength this season will be the team-first mentality our players have,” Tierney said. “The players care a lot about each other and will do what it takes to put the team first. This along with the hard work they are putting in is what will make us successful.”
2021-2022 Record: 11-11-2 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 3 Round of 32 Coach: Dan Mark
The Stoughton/Brockton co-op team is coming off its most successful season together, and the Black Knights’ best campaign in over a decade after winning 11 games, including a preliminary game in the Division 3 state tournament.
The Black Knights won’t be competing in the Hockomock League again this season as they team up with the Boxers to try and replicate the success from last year. In order to do so, they’ll blend a mix of veteran and younger players as they navigate through their schedule, which will feature games against Hockomock League teams Attleboro, Foxboro, Oliver Ames, and Taunton. Offensively, Stoughton/Brockton returns a strong core led by last year’s leading scorer senior Charlie Caputo, who netted 13 goals along with 14 helpers. Senior Sean Farley added a team-high 16 goals as well as nine assists, while junior Colby Strunk is coming off a 21-point season as a sophomore.
Defensively, longtime head coach Dan Mark will turn to junior Ryan Summers to anchor a relatively inexperienced group. Summers had five goals and seven assists but the Knights lost three defensemen to graduation. In net, juniors Sean McGowan and Dmytro Yakovenko are battling for the starting job.
2021-2022 Record: 7-10-4 2021-2022 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton comes into the new season with definitely the youngest roster in the league and one of the youngest rosters in program history. Head coach Kris Metea has 35 players in the system this season and 26 of them are sophomores or younger. There is plenty of energy on the ice and plenty of potential, but there may be some growing pains for players getting their first taste of varsity action.
There are a few seniors on the team to provide the Tigers with much-needed experience and leadership. One of those seniors is Colton Scheralis, who will move up from the blue line to the attack at the start of the season. He recorded 13 points as a defenseman last year and should be able to bring his creativity and stick skills to the forward line. Senior Connor McGrath will also give Taunton a scoring punch, after his 13-goal, 13-assist junior campaign. Junior Conner Goranson scored 14 points last year as a sophomore and will be on the top line.
Experience is in short supply in the defensive zone, especially with Scheralis moving forward at the start. Sophomores Travis Cashman and Jon McGrath both saw time as freshmen and will look to build on that first season on the blue line. Sophomore Cam Tomaszycki is back in goal for the Tigers. He was a standout as a freshman, allowing a little more than three goals per game and saving nearly 90 percent of the shots he faced.
“We have a great group of players,” Metea said. “They are excited to go to the rink every day. They love each other and are willing to fight for one another. They make going to the rink a pleasure every day for our coaching staff.”
2021 Record: 5-11 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Steve Dunlea
With a good mix of new faces and experienced veterans, Attleboro is aiming to be in the mix of a loaded Kelley-Rex division. For the Bombardiers, it will lean heavily on a deep pitching staff.
It starts with seniors Billy Saltmarsh, who is committed to UMass Dartmouth, and Cian Kelleher, who is committed to Stonehill. They’ll be joined in the rotation by junior lefty Danny Johnson while senior Jamie Bloch and junior Sean O’Hara lend strength to the relief corps. Sophomore Matt Harvie, sophomore Johnny Pagano, and freshman Tyler Dunlea will also be in the mix to see innings on the mound.
Senior captain Owen Taber (UMass Dartmouth) will be an anchor of the Bombardier defense at second base while juniors Peter DelPozzo and Cooper Johnson, along with Pagano, look to fill in at shortstop as senior captain Evan Houle works his way back from an injury from basketball season. Johnson, DelPozzo, and Dunlea are in the mix for the starting job at third while Bloch (committed to UMaine Farmington) and Christian Dame provide depth at first base.
In the outfield, senior Nate George will cover a lot of ground from his spot in centerfield, and the Bombardiers will rotate between Parket Sacket, Hayden Hagerty, Ben Hochwarter, Danny Johnson, Brody McKenna, and Harvie for the other two outfielder spots. Junior Aidan Hochwarter provides a steady presence both at the dish and behind the plate at catcher.
“The strength of this team is its chemistry,” said Attleboro head coach Steve Dunlea. “We have a great group of returning players who have really worked hard to build a team bond through the pandemic. I give a lot of credit to the captains from last year and this year. Despite the challenges they faced with COVID, they were able to rebuild the chemistry of the Attleboro baseball program that was lost when the 2020 season was canceled.”
2021 Record: 8-7 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Ben Shuffain
Canton got off to a great start to the 2021 campaign, winning six of their first seven games but ended up with a first-round exit in the playoffs. With a strong core of returning players plus a couple of promising young players, the Bulldogs are aiming to get back to the postseason again this season.
The Bulldogs certainly have some holes to fill with the loss of a talented senior class and the departure of ace Andrew Middleton. Fourth-year head coach Ben Shuffain will lean on captains Andy Butler and Matt Chafin to lead the charge this season, along with three-year players Nico Bonanno, Matt Quan, and Zach Peters. Chafin was one of the best offensive players in the league last year, finishing second with a 0.442 average.
2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Shuffain has a lot of options for pitching, with at least a dozen choices to fill out the rotation and relief corps. Jay Kelleher, Hayden Rose, and Owen Lane will all be in the mix for innings on the mound. Matty Lesser, James Young, Jack Digirolomo, and freshman Kyle Redquest will work the infield while the catching duties will fall to Sean Sullivan and Matt Hart.
“We are a very experienced team with a lot of guys with a lot of innings pitched from last season and wins under their belt,” Shuffain said. “With a few of last year’s backups moving into starting roles and the addition of a few younger guys and the experienced upperclassmen this team should have a good season as they will continue to work hard on the field and in the weight room.”
2021 Record: 5-10 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round Coach: Derek Suess
Foxboro has some of the top returning talents in the league but will look for some of its younger players to provide the depth needed to compete for a division title this season.
Junior captain Sean O’Leary is one of the top arms in the league and has a lot of varsity experience under his belt already. He will be the ace of the staff that will also feature junior Mathieu Sullivan, who made his varsity debut last season, and freshman Nolan Gordon, who has impressed during the preseason. Pitching depth will come from seniors Andrew Peterson, Tom Marcucella, Liam Mulkern, and junior Alex Stern.
Senior captain Tom Marcucella is one of the most experienced players in the league and his versatility gives head coach Derek Suess a lot of options in the infield. Marcucella can play at any of the four infield spots but will spend the majority of his time at first base. Junior Ryan LeClair is back in the mix at shortstop after a breakout season a year ago, sophomore Tyler Prescott is back for his second year with the squad, and freshman Ryan O’Leary offers a solid bat and glove. Senior Kyle Smith and junior Josh Connolly provide solid depth in the infield.
Senior captain and three-sport star Jack Watts will patrol center field for the Warriors and will be flanked by juniors Kenny Mello and Louis Carangelo, all three looking to make an impact with their bats this season. When not pitching, Gordon will also be in the mix for some innings in the outfield and sophomore Shane Henri gives Suess another solid option. Mulkern is the starting catcher with freshmen Ben Angelini and Mike Marcucella in the mix as well.
“We have great leadership from our captains and upperclassmen which has set the tone for the rest of our guys,” Suess said. “The underclassmen have bought in and can contribute right away. We must embrace the daunting challenge of playing in the Hock, and compete with confidence to give ourselves the best chance to reach our goals.”
2021 Record: 16-2 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final Coach: Zach Brown
Franklin graduated some of the best players in the league after last season, but the Panthers still have a loaded lineup and a deep and talented pitching staff that could result in a very deep playoff run.
Not many teams could lose one of the best hitters in the league (Nate Cooke, 0.429) and one of the best catchers in the league (Jake Fitzgibbons, 0.353) and still boast one of the best lineups in the league but that’s how deep the Panthers are. Jack Marino, Ben Jarosz, and Chris Goode were all among the league leaders offensively a season ago, and Franklin also has sophomore Henry Digiorgio and junior Eisig Chin back after picking up a year of varsity experience. Junior Ryan Gerety, a Northeastern commit, is one of the best fielders in the region and is very dangerous at the plate.
2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
And after surrendering a league-low 40 runs last season, Franklin returns its entire rotation. Jacob Jette had a great junior season and will be one of the best pitchers in the Hock while junior Alfred Mucciarone will look to build upon a solid sophomore campaign. Relievers James Kuczmiec and Ethan Voellmicke dominated last season, coming in time after time and shutting opponents down.
2021 Record: 8-8 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Jeff Plympton, Jr.
It was a good start for head coach Jeff Plympton as the Warriors won eight games last season and went to the playoffs, bowing out to eventual state champions Xaverian.
King Philip has the majority of its lineup back and will be looking to make some noise in a very competitive Kelley-Rex division. After averaging almost five runs a game last year, the Warriors have some key bats back in the lineup this year. Senior Shawn Legere is a returning league all star that starts at shortstop and is coming off a season in which he hit 0.386 and scored a league-best 16 runs. Rudy Gately had a breakout sophomore season and will be a key bat in the lineup again this year.
Gately will also be a go-to option on the mound for Plympton after going 4-0 last season, striking out 33 in 34.1 innings of work with an impressive 1.03 ERA. Tommy Martorano also gained a lot of experience last year as a sophomore and will give the Warriors a solid 1-2 punch for its starting rotation.
“We have a lot of arms to roll out if we need them which is great,” Plympton said. “Shawn Legere provides great leadership to the team and demands hard work at practice and games. Our fielding should be strong this year but I’m looking forward to watching our offense. Last year we struggled at the plate but this year looks promising. Last season we notched our first playoff win in over a decade and we look to keep those strides moving forward this year.”
2021 Record: 8-8 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Chris Hall
With a talented and experienced pitching staff and a list of players eager to make a name for themselves at the dish, Mansfield enters the season with the goal of challenging for the Kelley-Rex division title.
The Hornets were young last spring, and a lot of players earned their first varsity starts on the mound and at-bats. Mansfield has the majority of its team back and will be looking to turn that valuable experience into a successful 2022 campaign. They certainly aren’t shying away from testing that talent with defending state champions Xaverian, Maryland powerhouse Archbishop Spalding, and other top teams on its schedule along with a loaded Hock schedule.
2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Seniors Anthony Sacchetti, Aaron Blinn, Jimmy Gilleran, and Colby Geddis highlight a deep and talented pitching staff for the Hornets. All of those arms got their feet wet during last year’s season and now give head coach Chris Hall a lot of flexibility with his rotation. There won’t be a drop off as the games go on with four solid options.
The big challenge for the Hornets a season ago was offense, scoring a division low 57 runs. With a strong offseason under their belts, there are a lot of names eager to step up and improve that number. Sacchetti, Gilleran, Geddis, and classmates Andrew Slaney and Jared Fraone will try to lead the way while juniors Conner Zukowski, Sam Martin, Caden Colby, Aidan Jones, and Rocco Scarpellini are all in the mix. Sophomores Connor Curtis and Jake Maydak both played varsity last year and could be impact players right away. Behind the dish, Aidan Jones and Wyatt Bolduc are battling for the starting spot at catcher after the Hornets lost senior Liam Anastasia to an injury.
“The keys to success this season rely heavily on every player doing their job,” Hall said. “The Hornets bring a well-rounded roster to the table and expect to compete all season long. Pitching and defense continue to be a strength for the Hornets. Offensively, the Hornets look to use a variety of talent to score runs and win baseball games.”
2021 Record: 5-9 2021 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Alex Dion
There were some growing pains for the Hawks a season ago with a young squad, but with just five players graduated from a year ago, the Hawks are hoping to be a contender in a deep Kelley-Rex division.
Head coach Alex Dion plans to get contributions from all four classes this season, starting with a strong group of seniors that cover the field. Tyler Lane and Grant Scudo will see time in the outfield, Justin Luchini mans first base, Alex McColl can play in a number of spots in the infield, Cole Forrest is a versatile weapon, and John Denegris is an option on the mound.
The rotation will be anchored by junior Evan Cornelius, junior Tyler Caldon, and sophomore Anthony LaPierre. Cornelius started every game for the Hawks last season and will play at first when he’s not on the mound. Caldon and LaPierre, both right-handed pitchers, are up from the JV squad and have impressed in the early going.
2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Offensively, sophomore Keith Lee picked up valuable experience after starting nine games as a freshman last season. He will start behind the dish and be one of the most important bats in the lineup. Sophomores Damien Carter and Sean McGee also started last season and will make up Milford’s middle infield.
“I am excited about the potential that this group has,” Dion said. “With strong senior leadership and varsity players in all four grades we have an opportunity to compete this year and for years to come. This is a great league and I have a lot of respect for the other teams in it. It starts on the mound and if we can get quality pitching out of the arms that we have here we have a chance to compete. We will have to win games in a variety of ways and I believe that we have the athletes to do that.”
2021 Record: 12-5 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal Coach: Mike Hart
After splitting the division title a season ago, the Rocketeers enter the 2022 campaign with a chance at winning back-to-back division titles for the first time in 30 years.
Replacing ace Dennis Colleran won’t be easy but North Attleboro has some solid arms on the mound including senior Danny Curran and senior David Floyd, who missed last season. Curran went 2-0 last year and struck out 22 in 23 innings of work with a 3.65 ERA. Head coach Mike Hart also has pitching options in senior Anthony Wescott, and juniors Jordan Paradis, Derek Maceda, and Ayden Delaney.
One of the big reasons the Rocketeers had such success last season was their offense, which scored a Davenport division 110 runs. Maceda was one of the best bats in the league and will patrol the outfield for the Big Red along with Curran, Paradis, and senior Christian Bates. In the infield, Floyd will be joined by classmates Brody Rosenberg, Gavin Wells, and Nik Kojoian, and senior Tyler Bannon will patrol shortstop. Junior Aidan Conrad had a breakout season starting behind the dish a year ago.
2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
“We’re going to look to put a lot of pressure on other teams offensively,” Hart said. “We have many capable pitchers who can provide quality innings. We feel our defense will limit mistakes and not give many runs away. If we want to have a successful season we will need contributions from everybody on the roster on a daily basis. We will rely on our senior leadership and experience to guide us through the season. We need guys to excel in their role and focus on the job at hand.”
2021 Record: 9-6 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Joe Abarr
After earning a share of the Davenport title last season, the Tigers have the pieces in place to make another run at the division crown this year.
A combination of veterans and new faces eager to make an impression gives head coach Joe Abarr a nice mix to work with. Offensively, the Tigers will look for their senior captains to lead the way. Jake Waxman will play first base and potentially some outfield and is one of the best bats in the Hockomock League while Joe Cicchetti could also see time at first as well as the outfield, and is a strong two-way player. Patrick Finnerty is back in the mix after a strong junior season.
2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
On the mound, OA has a pair of lefties at the top of the rotation. Nick Clark (3-0, 2.78, 32K) and Jack Richardson (2-2, 2.07, 21K) are both coming off great junior seasons and will give the Tigers a solid 1-2 punch on the mound this year. Richardson will also see time in the outfield and will be a key piece of the lineup offensively.
“We have a good mix of returners and young talented players looking for opportunities to help our team win,” Abarr said. “We are excited for a full ‘normal’ season back in the Hock.”
2021 Record: 3-12 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Andrew Poliferno
Sharon enters the season with a roster eager to compete among the Hockomock League’s top teams, but the Eagles will have to do so all on the road this season. With the construction of the new high school currently underway where Sharon’s field was, it will be all road trips for the Eagles this season.
It will start with the 10 seniors on the team, including captains Dan Okstein and Dylan Labbe. Okstein is back after an injury limited his time a year ago and will be a key piece in the lineup offensively. He will be the anchor of the outfield, playing mostly in left but could also see time in center. Labbe has a ton of varsity experience and will be the ace of the pitching staff this year. Also on the mound returns sophomore Luke Meixel, one of the league’s breakout players last year as a freshman. junior Alex Coughlin, Ryan Baker, Zach Loomis, Jack Broughton, and Okstein will also be in the mix for innings on the mound.
Offensively, Nate Yaffe is back after a great year at the dish a year ago and will take over at shortstop. Not only is Yaffe consistent with the bat, but he’s also very dangerous on the base paths. Another speedy option at the dish will be Palash Raina and the Eagles are hoping to get key contributions at the plate from Okstein and varsity newcomer Connor Blaney. Liam Conway takes over behind the dish and Will Hippler, Owen Kevorkian, Eli Greenfield, Josh Tolentino, and Jake Loomis are all in the mix for spots in the lineup as well.
2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
“As a second-year varsity coach, I couldn’t be prouder to see how ready our players are to play their 2022 season,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Poliferno. “It is evident our players worked hard during the off-season to prepare to compete in the Hockomock. Our players are gritty, determined, and not afraid to put in the hard work that it takes to improve. In addition to their drive to succeed, the team vibe is positive and players go out of their way to encourage one another. I believe we have the makings of a very talented and passionate group of players ready to make noise for their 2022 season.”
2021 Record: 4-10 2021 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Kevin Carty
There will be a lot of new faces in the Stoughton lineup this season, and that goes for the dugout too as Kevin Carty takes over for Mike Armour, who was the longest-tenured coach in the Hockomock League.
Carty is going to lean heavily on his seniors, who make up over half of the Knights’ roster. There is a lot of versatility among the senior class as well with players like Joe McNulty and Jonah Ly, who could see time in the outfield, the infield, on the mound, and in McNulty’s case, even behind the dish. Brad Franey, Anthony Girolamo, Anthony Tilton, James Price, and Owen Wiesnberger are all seniors that are in the mix for infield spots.
Girolamo, Ly, and Price will be joined by sophomore Will Worsley, junior Jeriel Cuello, junior Sean Farley, junior Joe Rush, and sophomore Hunter Malkin as options on the mound for Carty.
“We have a deep group of seniors that will carry us this year,” Carty said. “These seniors are very athletic and can play anywhere on the field. They have the ability to be great leaders for the younger players. We will go as far as they carry us.”
2021 Record: 13-5 2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Blair Bourque
Replacing a league MVP is never an easy task as the Tigers have to do with Danny MacDougall, but Taunton has a lot of depth and a lot of new faces looking to make a name for themselves as they help Taunton challenge for the Kelley-Rex title.
The strength of the 2022 Tigers will be offense and defense. Taunton has already lost some pitchers to injury so it will be a group effort on the mound this season. Coming off a season in which they scored 119 runs (nearly 7 runs a game), the offense will once again be a key component. Dawson Bryce had a breakout year after hitting 0.341 and driving in 12 runs a season ago, and junior Ryan MacDougall is one of the best power hitters in the league.
Seniors Evan Cali, Colby DeCouta, Colin Botelho, and junior Braden Sullivan are all very experienced at the varsity level and head coach Blair Bourque will lean on their leadership this season.
“Unlike in years past, we don’t have any true pitchers; our pitching staff consists of position players who will need to step up and give us an opportunity to compete,” Bourque said.”Offensively, we’ll look to have productive at-bats, be patient, and take advantage of mistakes. We should have one of the more productive offenses Taunton has had in some time. Although we’ll continue to play fundamental baseball, we hope to be able to capitalize when opportunity presents itself.”
CANTON, Mass. – It took a few minutes for Canton to find its footing in Wednesday night’s Div. 2 Sweet Sixteen matchup with No. 14 seed Plymouth North at the Canton Ice House. The Bulldogs found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 power play and their play didn’t have its typical sharpness.
But, the Bulldogs still found the breakthrough midway through the first and then took full control of the game with a two-goal burst in the final minute of the period, including a goal from AJ Thomas with no time on the clock. That surge turned out to be decisive, as the two-time defending state champs would hold off the Eagles for a 4-1 victory.
Canton extended its win streak this season to 20 games and its playoff win streak to 11 games, going back to the D2 South semifinal in 2018.
“It started off well and then some penalties and stuff that kind of took us out of our rhythm, but they’re a good team,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “They worked hard from start to finish and they played with more of a sense of urgency when they were down but we had our chances. We had plenty of chances and their goalie played very well.”
The game got off to a sluggish start in part because, before either team had gotten into a flow, there were three penalties called in the opening four minutes. Canton was spent almost 90 seconds down two players, but managed to kill off the Plymouth North power play and keep the game scoreless. It was a big early boost.
“Credit to our guys killing off that 5-on-3, that was huge,” said Shuman. “You still see some nervous energy out there with some of our younger guys and we just have to battle through it and not find ourselves in the penalty box early in the game. Credit to our PK team, they did a great job killing those early ones off.”
Patrick Drury had one of the few good chances early in the game for Canton when his shot from the right wing circle forced a pad save out of Kaden Bono. About two minutes later, Canton had the lead. Eddie Gillis blocked a clearance in the slot, spun quickly and snapped off a shot that went inches wide. The Bulldogs kept battling to keep the puck in deep and Gillis wound up in the right spot to jam in a shot at the near post.
Things started to click into gear as time went on in the first. James Young made a nice pass up the far boards into the path of Andrew Valkanas, who raced down the left wing and forced another good pad save from Bono.
Canton’s best passing move of the night led to the second goal. Brendan Tourgee drove forward through the neutral zone and flipped a pass out to the left to Eamon Kelly, who in turn dropped a pass into the path of defenseman Brennen Pecararo. The senior, who played juniors for his first three seasons and started the season as a forward, smashed his one-timer past Bono.
“As soon as we moved him back to D, the third or fourth game, things have really settled down back there,” Shuman said of Pecararo. “He’s just a really strong defender but he sees the ice really well, can move the puck, and he’s been a real offensive and defensive strength for us this year.”
The Bulldogs beat the buzzer to add to the lead. Brian Middleton took a perfect outlet pass right down the middle but his breakaway opportunity was denied by Bono. Thomas was hustling to follow up the play and he was able to collect the rebound and snipe the top far corner just before the horn sounded.
Leading 3-0, Canton could’ve relaxed but the Bulldogs came out aggressive to start the second. Jay Kelleher held a puck in at the blue line and set up Thomas going to the net only for Bono to make a good stop.
Three minutes into the second, Thomas had another chance saved. The loose puck popped out to Pecararo pinching in but his shot just missed the open net. Thomas continued to fight for the puck on the side of the net and roofed a shot for his second and the team’s fourth.
Valkanas teed up Tourgee for a quick release shot that forced a pad stop from Bono and Pecararo later kept a puck in the zone to set up Thomas for a chance at a hat trick but the Eagles’ goalie made another good save.
The visitors would be outshot 32-19 for the game but weren’t without chances of their own. Evan Hallissey and Kevin Norwood both gave the Canton defense some issues with their speed but freshman Colin Davis continued to be a rock in goal, denying the Eagles from close range on several chances over the final two periods.
Plymouth North did get some momentum before the end of the second. Josh Bates had a steal at the blue line and raced forward for a shorthanded breakaway and he ripped it high to the glove side to make it 4-1.
Rather than let the Eagles build on that momentum in the third, Davis and the Canton defense were able to largely keep things tight in the defensive zone and the attackers were able to keep pressure down the other end of the ice.
There weren’t a lot of great chances for Canton, Valkanas had one shot saved and nearly connected with Tourgee right in front and Kelly forced a nice blocker save after a steal, but the Bulldogs remained in control throughout.
Shuman explained, “Those games are often tough, when you get up early on a team, desperation kicks in on their side, they really elevate their game, and that’s what happened to Plymouth North. They really elevated their game in the second and third period, in particular, and I thought our guys did a good job of still controlling the play and getting some chances.”
Canton (20-2-1) will face No. 6 seed Walpole in the D2 quarterfinal at a date, time, and location to be determined.
2020-2021 Record: 1-8-0 Coach: Greg Chamberlain
Attleboro had a difficult 2020-21 season, as delays and big breaks early in the season led to three games in three days to close things out. The Bombardiers will be hoping that they can build off that experience and make a push to get back into the postseason mix with several underclassmen stepping in to supplement the returning corps.
The offense has depth to it this season and head coach Greg Chamberlain is expecting a lot of grit and effort in the attacking zone to create scoring chances. Senior Nate Parker will be the leader of the forward line but he will get help from juniors Colin Flynn and Mike Lachance, who have both had two seasons on varsity already. Freshmen Austin Bessette and Nate Conroy have impressed the coaches in the preseason and could be ready to contribute right away.
Defense could be a strong unit this season, as the Bombardiers have decent skaters and decent depth along the blue line. Senior Sean Marshall will be the key to that group, providing on-ice leadership. Sophomore Dane Holske had a good first season on varsity and can help out both in defense and at forward. Senior Nick Piazza is capable of being one of the top netminders in the league and will be back between the pipes for Attleboro this season.
“Biggest thing that is a positive for us is the guys wanna earn some respect and be tough to play against,” said Chamberlain. “We understand what we have but we think our schedule can help us gain some real confidence.”
2020-2021 Record: 11-0-1 Coach: Brian Shuman
The Davenport division has been ruled by Canton, which has won the title every season since the league split. The Bulldogs bring back a lot of returning players to hunt a 12th straight league title and defend the Div. 2 state title that they won back in 2019-20, but for many of the players, this will be their first season with a full slate of games.
Canton is known for its goalscoring, but the Bulldogs typically start from the defensive zone and this year should be no different. Senior Sean Connolly, the reigning league MVP, will be back at the blue line alongside classmate Ryan Doucette. Juniors James Young and Leo Owens should also see plenty of time on the ice with seniors Brennen Pecararo and Jay Kelleher slotting in at defense or at forward. The goalie job is up for grabs coming into the season with a three-way battle going on between senior Aiden French, junior Carson Eagles, and freshman Collin Davis.
As usual, the Bulldogs should be potent in front of the goal this winter. Senior Eamon Kelly, the team’s leading scorer last year, is back for his fourth season on varsity. Seniors Andrew Valkanas, Tommy Phaneuf, Sam Carlino, and Eddie Gillis will all chip in and junior Jeff Chaput could be poised for a big season after scoring 13 points last year.
“Solid team defense is the expectation as always this season, and we ask all positions to be important players all over the ice,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Our forwards need to be able to shut down opponents and our defense must contribute to our offensive production to have a successful year.”
2020-2021 Record: 4-6-0 Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Just two years removed from one of the best seasons in program history, Foxboro comes into the winter with an experienced squad, featuring nine seniors, to try and make another push for a state tournament berth. Although the Warriors went 4-6 in the shortened 2020-21 season, four of those losses were against Franklin and Canton and the other two were to North Attleboro by a combined three goals, so there is potential for the Warriors to get back to their 2019-20 form.
The forward line should have plenty of firepower this season with the return of seniors Jack Watts, Matt Grace, and Ben Ricketts, who combined for 13 goals in 10 games last year. Fellow forwards Derek Axon and Steven Bridges will give Foxboro good leadership and depth in the forward line. The Warriors also got plenty of scoring from the blue line, with senior Tom Marcucella adding four goals and three assists last winter.
Improvements in the defensive zone (and not playing almost every game against the league’s top-scoring teams) will be expected this season. Marcucella is listed as a defenseman but has the versatility to line up in multiple positions and he will be helped on defense by classmates Dylan Pothier and Brady Callahan. Junior Alex Coviello and sophomore Sully Kenneally are also going to step into bigger roles on the blue line this season.
“I would say all nine of our seniors are going to be major contributors and that’s definitely a first for Foxboro hockey and it’s a good thing!” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “I would say we will be skilled and experienced.”
2020-2021 Record: 10-2-1 Coach: Anthony Sarno
This will be a new-look Franklin team that takes the ice this season, looking to win its 11th straight league title and make a deep run in the postseason. The Panthers graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team and only return seven players with significant varsity experience to try and manage a schedule loaded with some of the best teams in the state.
Senior forward Dylan Marchand is the key returning player in the forward line. The team’s leading scorer last year, the speedy center scored eight goals and nine assists in 13 games. Seniors Justin Magazu and Domenic Lampasona and juniors Ben Jarosz and Ryan Sicchio will also return to add more firepower to the attacking end of the ice. With 14 new players on the roster, there could be a lot of new names on the score sheet this winter.
Defensively, the Panthers will lean on experienced players like seniors Aidan Hunt and Jack MacKinnon to guide the younger players, as they take on the high-end talent that Franklin will face right from the start of the season. In goal, sophomore Cole Pouliot-Porter and freshman Jack O’Connor will both get chances between the pipes.
“I am optimistic with the youth we have and excited to watch us grow together,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno. “We will just have to weather the ebbs and flows, try to remain even-keeled, communicate, and trust each other as a team in order for us to grow and move forward as a complete unit.”
2020-2021 Record: 9-1-0 Coach: Paul Carlow
Last season, King Philip won a share of its first league title since 2006, picking up a rare win against rival Franklin in the process. With 12 returning players and a roster that has 16 upperclassmen, the Warriors will try to make more history by winning back-to-back titles for the first time in program history and also put together a run in the state tournament.
There are four players coming back this year that averaged a point per game in 2020-21. Three of those players are forwards. Seniors Shaun Fitzpatrick and Sean Crowther and junior James Boldy, who combined for 15 goals and 22 assists in 10 games last season. Senior Nolan Feyler will be a big boost, as the forward had a strong sophomore season but missed all of last year due to an injury. Senior Kevin Birenbaum is another of the nine seniors on the forward line.
Sophomore defenseman Brad Guden is the fourth Warrior who averaged a point per game last year. He broke into the lineup and scored 10 times and had 10 assists in his first varsity season. Seniors Nolan Jackson and Quin Garstka add leadership and experience at the blue line and sophomore Max Robison returns after an impressive rookie season. Senior Kyle Abbott will be back between the pipes for the Warriors.
“We have a tough schedule this season but we are looking to challenge for another Hockomock League title,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. We have great leadership from our seniors and a good mix of skill and speed with the younger players. I’m really looking forward to working with this group and build on last year’s success.”
2020-2021 Record: 5-6-0 Coach: Mike Balzarini
With its top six forwards all back from last year, there is optimism that Mansfield will consistently put the puck in the back of the net and in turn, challenge for the Kelley-Rex division title.
And another big positive for the Hornets is junior Chris Hormann back between the pipes with a solid amount of varsity experience now under his belt. That combination of experience in the offensive zone and in the crease is what Mansfield is hoping translates to success. The challenge will be getting a new mix of defensemen working together as the Hornets graduated the majority of that unit.
Leading scorer Mark DeGirolamo returns with a lot of varsity experience under his belt, coming off a season with eight goals and five assists. He’s joined by Dillon Benoit (7 goals, 5 assists), Kyle Oakley (2 goals, 5 assists), Doherty (2 goals, 3 assists), Liam Anastasia (6 goals, 5 assists), and Brayden Purtell (4 goals, 2 assists). As the stats suggest, the Hornets have a very even top two lines which means head coach Mike Balzarini can trust both units to get it done.
Looks for the line of Cullen Egan, Cody Gordon, and Connor Davey to provide energy and some offensive punch throughout the season. Balzarini is looking for some new faces to step up on the blue line. A mix of depth pieces are back, and the Hornets have converted some forwards to defensemen looking to solidify that unit. Patrick Gormley, Brendan Flynn, Will Cameron, Ryan DeGirolamo, and Ty Carroll are all in the mix to get some minutes.
“Last season was difficult for everyone so we’re excited for a more normal year,” Balzarini said. “We’re going to be quick and we have multiple lines that can be a factor for us. We’ve seen some success on offense in our scrimmages so scoring should be a strength, these kids are working well together.”
2020-2021 Record: 8-6-0 Coach: Kyle Heagney
North Attleboro returns 14 players from last year’s roster, including two of the league’s top three scorers, and the Rocketeers will be looking to use that experience under first-year coach Kyle Heagney (who formerly coached Norton and was a North assistant the past two seasons) to challenge Canton at the top of the Davenport division and to put together a playoff run.
Although the Rocketeers bring back senior forwards Nik Kojoain and Brady Sarro, who combined for 41 points in 14 games last year, North is a team built on hard work and team effort in the offensive zone, rather than on individual stars. Seniors Sam Clarke and Nick Longa and juniors Joe Quinn and Mark Ayvazyan will provide plenty of help in front of goal and all have plenty of experience at the varsity level.
North graduated only one of its defensemen from last year. Senior Austin Comery will be the leader for North at the blue line and he will be assisted by classmate Anthony Westcott. Sophomore Kyle Gruber is back in goal for North after an impressive debut season, where he was thrown in against some of the league’s top teams, including a first appearance against Canton.
“Our strength is that we are not a team of superstars,” said Heagney. “We are a team of hockey players that will win first in the locker room before the ice. We look forward to the season and having fun. These are memories that will live forever with our players.”
2020-2021 Record: 1-10-0 Coach: Mike Zucarelli
Oliver Ames has been in a rebuilding phase under head coach Mike Zucarelli. The Tigers won just once in the shortened 2020-21 season and head into this winter with a roster loaded with underclassmen. While this may be a difficult season, Zucarelli is excited for the potential on his team and the growth the program is making for the future.
Seniors Cam Tower and Eliot Cohen will be instrumental in shoring things up at the blue line. The two defensemen will need to provide leadership for the younger players and help limit the opposition scoring chances. Junior forwards Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron will hope to improve the team’s scoring punch as well, after OA was held to 10 goals in 11 games last year. Zucarelli is already seeing more confidence and better decision-making in the offensive zone and is hoping the team’s work rate will lead to more chances.
With seven sophomores on the roster, OA will rely on its youth movement to turn things around. After a lot of growth in the offseason (both physically and mentally), Zucarelli thinks that the septet is ready for the challenges of playing varsity hockey day-in, day-out. Winger Andrew Livingstone and center Matt Lawson will add to the team’s production in the offensive zone and defenseman Landon Grothe could be a standout in the defensive end of the ice. Junior Brandon Burke had a solid summer with his club team and will be the starting goalie for the Tigers this winter.
“If we continue to put in the effort I have seen both on and off the ice to start this year, I believe these young men have the opportunity to do something special,” Zuccarelli said.
2020-2021 Record: 0-6-1 Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton had a tough 2020-21 season, as the Tigers were only able to six games, and come into a winter of transition. The roster is going to be very young, with only nine upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) in the program, so there will be a lot of younger players getting their first taste of varsity action and others experiencing a full season for the first time.
The forward line has a lot of speed and the Tigers are going to rely on that energy to try and create scoring chances. Senior Nathan Fernandes is the most experienced forward returning and he will be joined up top by junior Connor McGrath.
Defensively, the Tigers will be an inexperienced group but there is potential and the desire to get better over the course of the season. Senior Ethan Ross will be the leader at the blue line and junior Colton Scheralis can add his experience there as well. Freshman Cameron Tomaszycki will be jumping between the pipes this season to get his first varsity action.
“We are happy to be back for a full year,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “Last season was full of delays, pauses, and feelings of frustrations that made for a very long, short, season. The lessons learned from last season has made the players within the program grateful for a return to a more normal season. We will plan to improve every day and be a better, more complete team by the end of the season.”