Canton Edges Defensive League Title Clash at Foxboro

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Canton goalie Dylan Coyne makes one of his eight saves, helping the Bulldogs to a 7-6 win at Foxboro in a league title showdown. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – Midway through the second quarter, it looked like Canton could be running away with Wednesday evening’s showdown against fellow Davenport division leader Foxboro at Sam Berns Community Field, but with both defenses and both goalies on top of their games, the Warriors were able to creep back into the game.

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Dylan Coyne came up with a pair of big saves in the final two minutes and was able to run nearly all of the final 40 seconds off the clock on a clear to preserve a 7-6 win for the visitors and gave the Bulldogs the upper hand on winning the league title. Canton was able to pull out the win despite scoring only two goals over the game’s final 30 minutes.

“It was a really good start for our guys,” said Canton coach Ryan Quinn. “I think we got a little bit lost in the middle of the game. Foxboro is a hell of a team. We expected a close game. Fortunately for us, like we’ve talked about all year, timely goals for our offense, really good job by our goalie not only making the saves but making the clears, and our defense doing what they always do.”

The Warriors had a great chance within the opening minute of the game, as midfielder Max Beigel broke free and had a good look at goal only to slam it off Coyne’s mask and out. Canton dominated the rest of the quarter, controlling the ball for long stretches at a time. Foxboro only had one other chance late in the first when Conor Noone spiked a shot on the edge of the crease that bounced wide.

It took eight minutes for the breakthrough goal. Freshman Brendan Tourgee got his hands free to the left side of the goal and went with a low-angle rip for a man-up goal. A minute later, Tourgee nearly added an assist when he picked out Jeffrey Chaput at the post only for Foxboro freshman goalie Adam Addeche to make a big stop.

Canton doubled its lead with another man-up chance. This time it was a sidearm effort through traffic by Jeff Fitzpatrick. Inside the final minute, the Bulldogs tacked on a third. Freshman Patrick Drury was able to beat Addeche (five saves) with a shot on the run.

“It was a lot to overcome with the heat,” said Foxboro coach Matt Noone. “I’m telling you, my team didn’t come ready to play today and that was a very tough Canton team.”

After the rough start, Foxboro settled down to start the second and got on the board when Jack Avery fired a pass across the crease to Noone, who managed to jump, catch, and fire a behind-the-back shot all in one motion to beat Coyne.

The momentum was short-lived, as Canton restored its lead just 30 seconds later after Jack Albert made a great defensive play and a great clear up the sideline in front of the benches. Albert got the ball to Sam Carlino, who spun and fired a shot inside the post. A turnover was converted into a fifth goal, as Tourgee got the ball ahead to Chaput for a free run on goal.

With the game slipping away, Foxboro again came up with a big response, as Noone went with a low-angle shot to make it 5-2 heading into halftime. The Warriors had a little bit extra energy and seemed to be getting control on the defensive end.

Early in the third, Foxboro got one closer. Tom Sharkey used a turnover in the defensive zone to get a free run at Coyne and was able to score from close range.

Carlino had a good look at goal stopped by Addeche midway through the quarter, but the Bulldogs were suddenly struggling to maintain possession and creating very few chances.

Quinn explained, “We weren’t running to the ball, our offense was kind of taking for granted the possessions we had, but I got to tell you Foxboro’s defense is a hell of a defense. They put a lot of pressure on our guys and threw a couple different mixes in.”

Freshman Lincoln Moore almost got Foxboro back within one but his point-blank leaping shot was denied by Coyne (eight saves). The Warriors would get closer when Sharkey added his second of the quarter, beating his marker with a quick dodge and scoring at the near post to make it 5-4.

Noone noted, “My kids battled. We’re young. I only have two seniors on this team.”

After going scoreless in the third, Canton was able to finally find the back of the net 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. Carlino showed his strength to ride several checks and hits from multiple defenders to get to the crease and he grabbed his second of the night.

One minute later, Foxboro was right back in the game. After a Canton turnover on the sideline, Nick Penders cut in from the right, took a hit, and managed to squeeze his shot past Coyne while falling to the ground. This time, Canton needed only a minute to respond. Out of a timeout, Chaput was able to draw defenders at the ‘X’ and find a cutting Carlino, who made a nice catch on the high pass and finished, completing his hat trick and making it 7-5.

The score stayed the same for almost five minutes, but the young Warriors weren’t done yet. Moore was able to beat his man on the left side of goal and fired a high shot past Coyne to bring the hosts back within one with 3:30 to play.

Foxboro had its chances to try and force overtime. Sharkey got free with two minutes to go but Coyne made the stop and then it was Sharkey again getting the run on his marker, this time from behind the goal, but Coyne was again equal to it. The Canton goalie raced upfield on the clear and used up almost all of the remaining time.

“I don’t know if I’ll make it through the year,” Quinn joked. “I’m going to have a heart attack. These games are so good. We’ll have a big practice tomorrow and then hopefully take care of business on Friday.”

At the final whistle there was plenty of back-and-forth between the two teams, as Canton (11-0, 10-0) took a lead in the title race. Nothing has been decided yet though. Foxboro (10-3, 8-1) will have its chance to answer back when the teams meet again at WWII Vets Memorial Field on Friday afternoon. If the Warriors win the rematch, then they will clinch at least a share of the title and Canton will need to win its final game against Oliver Ames to match.

“My team is going to feed off that. You believe me, my team is going to show up to play,” said Noone. “We’re going to get to work tomorrow and I’m telling you we’re going to be ready to play on Friday. If we lose, power to them because they’re going to have to play their best game to beat us.”

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Chaput, Coyne Lead Canton in Defensive Battle at North

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Jeffrey Chaput (17) celebrates after scoring his fourth goal of the game, during Canton’s win at North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Davenport division title race is lining up to be a three-way race that could come right down to the final games of the season. On Wednesday night at Beaupre Field, two of those teams squared off trying to stay unbeaten in league play and keep pace at the top of the standings.

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Jeffrey Chaput scored four times and Dylan Coyne made nine saves to lead Canton to an 8-5 win at North Attleboro in a game highlighted by strong defensive play by both sides.

“It was a big win,” said first-year Canton coach Ryan Quinn. “Our seniors really stepped up and held us together. I’m proud of the way they responded. It was a tough game, physical game, but I thought we were better today.”

North got off to a good start, with Connor Ruppert hitting the post just 90 seconds in. JT Gallagher (seven saves) made a good stop on a long-range shot by Canton’s Jeff Fitzpatrick and then a great check on the edge of the crease by Sam Gugliotta dislodged the ball from Colin Albert and led to a quick North break. Ruppert fed Clayton Billingkoff but his shot went just wide of the cage.

With 5:33 left in the first, the hosts snagged the lead. Billingkoff went to the bounce to beat Coyne and make it 1-0. Brendan Tourgee hit the post for Canton seconds later, but North settled down and doubled its lead with just under two minutes left in the first. Matt Antonetti was able to turn the corner and went up top with his effort for a 2-0 advantage.

The Bulldogs had been struggling to get any rhythm on the offensive end, but used a man-up situation to cut the lead to one before the first break. Chaput fired a shot at Gallagher’s feet, finding the corner and giving Canton momentum.

Tourgee struck the post early in the second and Canton started to get a foothold in the attack. Eamon Kelly turned a steal on one end into a great transition, carrying the ball the length of the field and flipping a pass to Sam Carlino for a low-angle rip that tied the game. Two minutes later, Carlino added his second with a bounced shot on the spin and the Bulldogs took their first lead.

Coyne made a nice stop on a chance by Ruppert and then he was able to deny Will Copley from point-blank range after a turnover on the clear. Gallagher added a nice save before halftime, reading the bounce to deny Carlino a hat trick.

North coach Kevin Young praised his team’s defensive effort. He said, “I know we have good defensemen and today they stepped up. It’s a very inexperienced group and the kids who went in there really filled their role. They played well, they never overextended. Whenever you get a game with two teams under 10 [goals], that’s as good as you can ask for in lacrosse.”

After scoring the final three goals of the first half, Canton added the first two of the third quarter as well. Fitzpatrick got his hands free and fired a man-up goal and then Chaput intercepted a clearance and was able to beat Gallagher with a leaping shot from straightaway.

Just seconds after Coyne made a great kick save, North was able to cut the lead back to two. Antonetti assisted on a man-up rip by Ruppert to make it 5-3. The teams then traded goals in the span of 16 seconds. Tourgee fed Chaput right in front but Jared Vacher won the face-off and Antonetti was able to convert on the other end.

Down by two, North had a great opportunity to get back into the game. Coyne was penalized for a hit with 2:21 left in the third. Defender Sean Connolly stepped into the cage for the rest of the quarter, but the Rocketeers managed only one shot off target in that period and the Bulldogs maintained their lead into the fourth.

“I saw the momentum swing a few different times and frankly I thought it was going to go their way a little more,” Young said. “I thought they were solid moving the ball up and down, in the clear and the ride. I’ve got guys who’ve never seen varsity before and it shows at times, but the guys stepped up and played like old pros.”

Ruppert completed his hat trick with a spin and low shot 90 seconds into the quarter, but Fitzpatrick won the draw and Canton turned it into a quick response. Fitzpatrick got the ball ahead to Carlino who moved it along to Chaput and he fired a quick-release shot into the top corner just 12 seconds after North cut the deficit to one.

“Our attack has a knack for the big goal and the big moment,” Quinn said. “When we need it, they always give it to us.”

Canton sealed the win with 1:58 to play. Tourgee made an interception and the ball ended up in the stick of AJ Thomas for the finish. Coyne made the goals stand up, saving chances from Ruppert and Antonetti and then adding a ninth save just before the minute mark on another low rip by Ruppert.

Quinn said, “Today was all about our goalie and our ‘D’. I’m pumped about our attack, but our goalie and ‘D’ really held it down for us. He’s really the heartbeat of our team. he does a great job communicating for our defense, our defense listens well, and then our attack just finished when we needed it.”

Canton (8-0, 5-0) remained in a tie for first with Foxboro. North Attleboro (5-3, 4-1) dropped one game back in third place. The two teams will meet again on Friday afternoon.

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Canton and Franklin Skate Away With a Point Apiece

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Canton and Franklin boys hockey renewed their rivalry at Metropolis Rink and the rivals battled to a 2-2 tie with all the goals coming in the second period. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Even in the most irregular of seasons, Canton and Franklin’s rivalry on the ice matters.

When the two teams met on Thursday night at the Metropolis Rink, the game had no bearing on either winning yet another league title and neither team was preparing for its typical postseason run. But, regardless of the circumstances, both teams skated a little faster and things were a little more intense because of who was on the opposite bench.

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Five days ago, Franklin battled back to tie the game only for Canton to score a late winner. On Thursday, nothing could separate the two teams. Twice Franklin went in front and twice Canton found the tying goal. The teams skated to a 2-2 tie, with all four goals scored in the second period.

“We were on the phone for hours one night figuring out how to do this in a shortened season,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “I know the kids appreciated it immensely on both teams.

“That’s the best team we’ve faced all season and they’re one of the best teams in the state with their skill and their speed. A lot of our guys have never experienced this rivalry before at this level and I’m really proud of them for how they battled.”

Both teams flew out of the gates and the action was end-to-end. Even if the scoring chances were limited in quantity, there were high quality opportunities for both teams to break the deadlock.

“You’ve kind of got to bring yourself back down a little bit because everybody’s amped up tp play,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno.” Our guys have a ton of respect for those guys and those guys have a ton of respect for us, coaches included, and it’s just good hockey all-around.”

He added, “A season without Canton, wouldn’t have been a season.”

The Panthers had a good early chance with a quick breakout. Joe LeBlanc’s outlet pass from the defensive zone hit fellow defender Justin Abely, who redirected it to Dylan Marchand. Canton goalie Liam Polles (23 saves) made the first stop and then was able to get a block on Justin Magazu’s follow up chance on the rebound.

Eddie Gillis forced a pad save from Franklin netminder Gary Mandia (21 saves) with a deflected shot. Sam Carlino nearly created a great opening for Dylan Coyne right in front of goal, but the Franklin defense managed to get a block and then the loose puck slid away from the stick of Leo Owens at the post.

Magazu was able to open a lane for Domenic Lampasono, but Polles stayed strong and was able to stop the close-range chance.

“They’ve got a lot of quick forwards, lot of speed, so we were just trying to step up and play between the dots, take away the bodies and make them dump the puck in,” Sarno explained. “Neutral zone, we weren’t trying to play with it too much, short passes. In this rink, any turnover in the neutral zone and it’s a breakaway and if anyone can exploit that it’s Canton.”

It was a defensive-zone turnover that would lead to the opener. Just 90 seconds after the intermission, a reverse pass caromed off the end boards and right out in front to Aidan Hunt. Polles nearly made a great save. He was able to catch the one-time, but as he was scrambling across goal to get in position he was deep in the crease and he ended up on the wrong side of the goal line.

Momentum from the goal didn’t last long. It only took a minute for the Bulldogs to even things up. Sean Connolly’s shot from the point was parried by Mandia, who somehow saw the puck through the crowd in front. Franklin wasn’t able to clear the rebound, with Andrew Valkanas keeping it alive and getting it back to Connolly at the blue line. The second shot had eyes and snuck through traffic and into the back of the net.

Seconds after Mandia was able to deny Tommy Phaneuf what looked like a sure goal, the visitors regained the lead. Magazu raced down the left wing and flipped a pass across the slot to Marchand at the far circle and his one-timer gave Polles no chance, sneaking inside the post.

This time, the lead lasted seven minutes before Canton again found an equalizer. Valkanas created the chance by teeing up Jeffrey Chaput. Mandia made the blocker save but Valkanas was there for the rebound.

Things tightened up in the third period, as neither team wanted to take a big risk that could lead to a winning goal for their opponents. Mandia was forced into a good save on Phaneuf and Lampasona dug out the rebound, but Canton was noticeably tiring in its second game in as many days.

“We exerted so much energy in the first and second periods and in the third, credit to them, they were flying and still had their legs and we were hanging on,” said Shuman. “Classic Franklin/Canton game. Comes down to the third period and the last minutes and so happy we had a chance to experience it this year.”

Franklin still had its legs and created a couple of chances that could’ve won it. Magazu was a constant thorn in the Canton defense’s side and he somehow split a pair of defensemen at the blue line, drew a third, and laid a pass off to Lampasona, who missed the net from close range.

With five minutes to play, Marchand got free in the zone and fired a shot that Polles stopped at the near post. Marchand stayed with the rebound and set up Magazu right in front, but again the Canton goalie came through with a big save to preserve a point.

“They played hard this year,” Sarno said. “We didn’t know if we were going to have the season, then we were, then we weren’t. Hats off to the boys, they fought through some adversity.”

Canton (9-0-1), which remarkably has lost one game in the past three seasons combined, will close out its league campaign against Oliver Ames and Foxboro. Franklin (10-2-1), which has clinched at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title, closed out its season on Thursday.

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Chaput Snipe Lifts Canton to Win Against North

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Sophomore Jeffrey Chaput celebrates his second period goal that turned out to be the game-winner for Canton against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – North Attleboro got bodies in the way all game long, not letting pucks get through on goal, but sometimes it only takes a sliver of space to find the back of the net.

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Sophomore Jeffrey Chaput got that one chance in the second period and buried it in the top corner and it turned out to be all that the Bulldogs would need. Canton added an empty net goal in the final minute and skated to a 2-0 victory over North Attleboro that puts the teams in a tie for first in the Davenport division.

“North Attleboro does a great job blocking shots, they always have,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “They sell out, they take away the shooting lanes. Also a failure on our part, too many shots above the knees, which are the easiest shots to block. We have to keep it low, along the ice, and find shooting lanes. Stop trying to go top shelf on their goalie and try to create more rebound opportunities.”

It was an even game, despite Canton’s edge in shots on goal. Both teams came out flying and the Bulldogs showed no rust from having a week off between games.

Shuman explained, “We’ve been fortunate enough to be skating normally, so I think that in itself is keeping us in a good flow and a good rhythm. We’re just lucky to be playing right now because there are a lot of teams that unfortunately aren’t.”

Jack Digirolamo sprung Brendan Tourgee down the left wing for an early chance that was saved by North goalie Kyle Gruber (23 saves). Andrew Valkanas stayed with the puck after his initial shot was blocked and had a good look coming off the right wing boards, but again Gruber stood tall.

The chances kept coming for Canton in the first. Digirolamo had a shot blocked in front and the rebound fell to Tourgee at the post, but the freshman forward was denied by the freshman goalie’s pad. AJ Thomas had another chance between the circles with a quick spin and shot but Gruber, who was making his first varsity start, was again equal to it.

“Why not?” chuckled North coach Ben McManama when asked about having his goalie make his debut against the Bulldogs. “I was a little worried about doing that but you can tell he’s a tough kid mentally and you know what? You’re going to have to learn sometime and we thought it would be good experience for him.”

North started to get more looks in the offensive zone as the first period wore on. Charlie Connolly angled a shot from the right point that was tipped in front by Joe Quinn, but went just wide of the post. In the final seconds of the first, Nik Kojoian pushed towards goal from the left circle but was denied at the post by Canton goalie Liam Polles (15 saves).

Despite starting on the kill, Canton dominated zone time in the second, keeping North pinned back in its defensive zone. Even with all that pressure, it was North that had the edge in shots on goal (6-5) in the period. The Rocketeers defensemen continually got in the way of shots and kept Canton out of the middle.

“It can be a little deceiving sometimes,” said McManama. “There may be a lot of zone time, but are we giving up quality shots? I think we didn’t give up too many except for the goal they scored. They did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and our goalie did a great job and we also helped him out.”

Jake Gruber had a good chance for North when he forced a turnover near his own blue line and then forced a blocker save from Polles on the other end of the ice. Mark Ayvazyan almost had a breakaway for the Rocketeers, but pulled up short of the crease to avoid a defenseman and then fired just wide.

By that point, Canton had gotten its one good chance. After a spell of pressure in the zone that saw a couple of shots blocked in front, the puck kicked out to Chaput just inside the left circle. He barely settled the puck before whipping a shot into the top corner that gave the goalie no chance.

“Jeff had a great shot and a quick shot, quick release that kind of surprised the goalie,” said Shuman. “He worked hard. He had the best game I’ve seen him play in his two years for us and he deserved that.”

The pattern continued in the third period, with Canton using its speed to gain the zone and put pressure on the North defense, but with the visitors holding firm and creating the occasional scoring opportunity on the other end.

“Coach Spillane said it best on the bench, let’s get some breathing room and get that goal early in the period,” Shuman said of Canton’s approach to the third period. (With his assistant coaches unavailable this week, Shuman asked former Franklin coach Chris Spillane to help out on the bench.) “We had a couple good chances, just couldn’t bury it.”

Sam Clarke nearly tied the game inside the first minute of the third. He blocked Jay Kelleher’s shot from the point and raced past the Canton defense before forcing a blocker stop from Polles.

It was a warning for the Bulldogs that the game wasn’t over. The best chance to double the lead came when Dylan Coyne’s shot from the slot was blocked and the rebound fell to Eddie Gillis, but his tip slid just wide of the post.

North came closest to tying the game with 2:30 remaining. Tyler Sarro stretched to tip a clearance in the neutral zone to avoid an icing and, after a battle behind the Canton net, the puck came out to Nick Longa on the edge of the crease. Polles kept his pads on the ice and was able to cover up.

Just a few seconds after North pulled its goalie, Canton wrapped up the win. Sam Carlino blocked a pass on one end, chased the puck down, and flicked into the empty net to make it 2-0 with 40.2 on the clock.

“We’re going to have to look at the film and see how we can generate more offense,” said McManama. “Sometimes they do such good job with our ‘D’ zone coverage that we get stuck down there. We’re going to have to work on ways to get ourselves better entries through the neutral zone.”

Canton (3-0) and North Attleboro (1-2) will meet again on Wednesday at the New England Sports Village.

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