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.
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.”
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.
King Philip, 73 @ Taunton, 38 – Final – Five players scored in double digits and KP made 10 three-pointers as a team, as the Warriors bounced back from a tough weekend with a big win. Liv Lafond was the top scorer with 12 points. Emily Sawyer scored 11 points and Emma Glaser, Caroline Aaron, and Jackie Bonner all scored 10 points apiece.
Attleboro, 2 @ Franklin, 6 – Final – Franklin erased a pair of one-goal deficits in the first half and then pulled away from Attleboro for the win. The Bombardiers struck first but Franklin’s Dom Lampasona (from Dylan Marchand and Nolan Norton) equalized for the hosts. After Attleboro scored again, Declan Lovett tied the game with assists coming from Joe LeBlanc and Sean Connelly. Justin Abely added two more goals while Will Sheehan and Sean Connelly each scored once.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Stoughton, 4 – Final – Stoughton sophomore Charlie Caputo scored a pair of goals for the second straight game, helping the Black Knights knock off Oliver Ames. Steve Westerlund and Kyle Cruickshank also scored for the Knight-Boxers. Ryan Spano played well in net and earned the win for Stoughton. Kevin Tremblay scored for OA.
King Philip, 9 @ Taunton, 1 – Final – King Philip scored a pair of power play goals and adde two more shorthanded tallies in a win over Taunton. Seniors Conor Cooke (from Aidan Boulger and John Campbell) and Justin Yatsuhashi (from Ian Hill and Campbell) scored on the man advantage while Boulger (from Max Robison) and Brad Guden (from Kevin Birenbaum and Robison) scored shorthanded. Sean Crowther scored a pair of goals for KP.
King Philip, 4 vs. St. Joseph’s, 0 – Final
Canton, 7 vs. Boston Latin, 1 – Final – Canton junior Payton McDonough scored a pair of goals for the Bulldogs, who pushed their unbeaten streak to 18 games.
Milford, 39 @ Taunton, 73 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Taunton opened with a 22-point first quarter and started the second quarter on a 15-0 run to create plenty of separation in a win over visiting Milford. Junior Trent Santos scored all nine of his points in the opening quarter as the Tigers staked a 22-14 lead after one. Both Josh Lopes (16 points, five rebounds, five assists) and Isiah Seldon (nine points, five rebounds) scored five points as Taunton pulled away with a 15-0 spurt over the first six minutes of the second. Nigel Choate added 12 points off the bench for the hosts while Tyler Stewart finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Darling led the Hawks with nine points.
Mansfield, 51 @ Franklin, 44 – Final – Mansfield set the tone defensively in the first quarter and then held off a late surge from Franklin to earn a season sweep over the Panthers. The Hornets limited the hosts to four points in the first quarter and carried a 25-14 lead into halftime. Mansfield’s advantage grew to 37-25 going into the final frame before the Panthers got going and clawed back into it, cutting the lead down to 47-42 with under two minutes to go but Mansfield held on for the win. Senior Matt Boen had a team-high 16 points, seven rebounds, and four steals, Jack Colby added 11 points and nine rebounds, Matt Hyland had nine points and six boards, and Brendan Foley chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Foxboro, 42 @ North Attleboro, 31 – Final – After being held to just 25 points through three quarters, Foxboro exploded for 17 in the fourth to pull out the road win. Both teams played tough defense through three quarters, with the Warriors holding a slim 25-24 lead, but Foxboro found the range and secured the season sweep. Katelyn Mollica and Erin Foley both scored a dozen points for the Warriors. Lydia Santos topped North’s scorers with nine points, while Ava McKeon and Siobhan Weir each scored seven.
Franklin, 63 @ Mansfield, 47 – Final – Franklin jumped out to a 15-3 lead after one quarter and never allowed the Hornets to climb back into the game to stay perfect on the season. Olivia Quinn was the leading scorer for the Panthers for the eighth time in eight games, finishing with 20 points. Elizabeth Wilson had a season-high 16 in the win. Ashley Santos (14 points) and Kayla Vine (11) both hit double digits for the Hornets.
Taunton, 30 @ Milford, 38 – Final – The Hawks used a good defensive performance and strong third quarter to earn a second straight win against the Tigers. The game was tied at 8-8 after the first quarter, but Milford pulled ahead by three heading into halftime. Milford outscored the Tigers 12-5 in the third (with all 12 points coming from the three-point line) to stretch the lead to double digits. Taunton won the fourth, 11-9, but it wasn’t enough to make a comeback. Emma Lawrence knocked down four of Milford’s nine threes and finished with a game-high 12 points. Brooke Ferreira added 10 points and Jillian Michelson had nine. Sonya Fernandez paced the Tigers with nine points.
Mansfield, 1 @ Franklin, 7 – Final – Franklin exploded for six goals in the second half to skate away with a big win over Mansfield. The Hornets opened the scoring but Justin Abely leveled the scoring on a power play chance with Dylan Marchand and Declan Lovett recording assists. In the second half, Dom Lampasona scored a pair of goals while JT Dwyer, Ben Jarosz, Adam Quinn, and Marchand scored once. Lovett, Marchand, Ryan Sicchio, and Joe LeBlanc all finished with two assists in the win while Gary Mandia made 15 saves in net.
King Philip has plans for trying to topple Franklin’s reign at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and Bianculli, a four-year varsity player, is one of the reasons for optimism. A quintessential attack-minded defenseman, Bianculli is always looking to push the puck up the ice and has the quickness to turn a standard breakout into an odd-man rush. His strength in possession and his stickhandling ability make him tough to stop in open ice and he has the vision to find scoring chances for himself or for teammates. He led the Warriors in assists and tied for the team lead with 24 points last season. Bianculli isn’t afraid to take risks moving forward and more often than not that leads to a shot on the offensive end. He’s also a physical presence in the defensive one and reads plays well to cut the danger. His energy is a key to KP’s success on both ends of the ice and a critical component to the Warriors making a league title challenge.
During its run to back-to-back state championships, Canton was known for a team that could score goals in bunches, overwhelming teams with its ability to put the puck in the net. The Bulldogs were also a dominant defensive team, allowing opponents only the rare open look at goal. Connolly has emerged from the pack as one of the top blueliners for the Bulldogs after an impressive sophomore season. He combines the speed, stickhandling, passing, and willingness to be physical in the corners that make Canton defensemen difficult to play against. He can also jump into the attack himself, scoring two goals and recording six assists last season, and showing the knack for finding the right breakout pass to get the Bulldogs transitioning up the ice. With a couple of years of experience at the varsity level, Connolly will have to be a leader on the ice this season and help the various new faces on the roster acclimate quickly and keep the Bulldogs at the top of the Davenport division.
After back-to-back D2 state championships (with a combined one loss over two seasons), Canton has established itself as one of the top programs in the state. There will be a lot of new faces for the Bulldogs this winter and a lot of layers taking on bigger roles to try and maintain the team’s dominance of the Davenport division. Kelly is battling back from an injury for the second season in a row but will be one of the main attacking threats for Canton this year. The crafty forward scored five goals and had 12 assists last winter, despite missing games at the start of the season. A solid forechecker and a player willing to get to the front of the net, Kelly has popped up with big goals in big games, and his willingness to battle in the corners and fight for the puck open up scoring opportunities for his linemates. With graduations taking their toll on the roster, Kelly is Canton’s top returning scorer and will be counted on to make the jump up to the top lines and produce. Canton reloads rather than rebuilds and Kelly will be leading the cause this winter, as the Bulldogs seek an 11th straight league title.
Each of the past three years, Foxboro has set a new program best for wins and points in a season and last winter added a run to the D3 South semifinal as well. The shortened season means the Warriors won’t be able to keep that trend going but there is still a lot to play for and a lot of attacking firepower to make Foxboro a tough team to beat. Leach is one of the main offensive threats for the Warriors this season. Fresh off a 20-goal, 14-assist junior year, Leach enters the winter as one of the top scoring threats in the league. A creative forward with good speed and the size and strength to keep hold of the puck under pressure, Leach consistently find space for himself and his teammates. He can burst through the neutral zone to create odd-man rushes or go down into the corner and battle for pucks to maintain possession. Leach was the third-leading scorer in the Hock last year and will be hoping to keep Foxboro on the front foot again this winter.
Year in and year out, Franklin is one of the toughest teams to break down defensively. They are one of the most disciplined groups that clog shooting lanes and work tirelessly to interrupt passes. And the Panthers usually have one defenseman they can rely on most and this year it’s the experience of senior Joe LeBlanc. In this third year on varsity, LeBlanc plays in virtually every situation for the Panthers – five-on-five, penalty kill, and power play. Not only is he a reliable option anchoring the blue line unit in the defensive end of the ice, LeBlanc is a weapon when the Panthers push forward. Franklin is aiming to be a puck-possession type team this year and LeBlanc’s skill with the puck will help in the attacking end. Last year as a junior, LeBlanc scored one goal and had eight assists.
Franklin junior Dylan Marchand burst onto the scene last year, emerging as one of the most dangerous attacking players in the Hockomock League. His speed is the first thing that jumps out, racing away from defensemen into the attacking area. Even if it seems like he is out of the play, his speed gets him right back in the mix. Not only can is he able to use his speed to work his way around and past defensemen, but he also has strong stick handling skills and does a nice job finishing around the net. He was a catalyst for the Panthers’ offense last year, scoring four goals along with registering nine assists. Look for Marchand to take a big step forward this year with an expanded role in the offense.
If the Tigers get on the ice again this season — and we certainly hope that’s the case — the strength of the squad will be in its blue line group. Taunton has two of the top defensemen in the league in senior Brady Nichols, a Hockomock League All Star selection last year, and junior Jack DeMoura, a HockomockSports.com All Underclassman Team selection. Nichols is one of the most experienced players in the league, part of the varsity squad since he was an eighth-grader. Not only will he relied upon to lead the way defensively during his fifth season with the Tigers, but Nichols is also a catalyst on the offensive end too. His speed allows him to attack from the blue line and he has a strong shot as well. During his junior year, Nichols was among the top scorers in the Hock with 14 goals and 17 assists.
Mansfield relied on its top line for the majority of its offense last season but graduated all three players that combined for nearly 70% of the team’s goals. That means head coach Mike Balzarini will need some new players to step up and produce offensively. One candidate to step up and lead the charge will be senior captain Cam Page. In his third year on varsity, Page will see an expanded role this season. He will provide a lot of leadership both on and off the ice for the Hornets, who have a relatively inexperienced group of players. Page is a hard-worker that does a nice job back-checking and setting an example for others to follow. Offensively, he isn’t a flashy player but makes a lot of good decisions and is an unselfish player, always willing to make a pass to turn a good chance into a great chance.
New Attleboro coach Greg Chamberlain considers goalie to be a position of strength this season and Piazza’s return between the pipes is one of the main reasons for that. The junior netminder had a breakout season in 2019-20, earning All-Underclassman Team honors after an impressive debut as the starter. He made 489 saves in 19 games, recording a 0.911 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. In back-to-back games, Piazza held Mansfield and Canton to just one goal apiece, keeping Attleboro in games against two perennial league powers. He showed remarkable poise for a young goalie, not getting flustered as teams crashed the net, staying with and clearing pucks from the crease, and pulling off big stops against some of the league’s top forwards. His composure in net was a confidence boost for the guys playing in front of him, knowing that they could count on him to make the stops. As Attleboro learns a new system under a new coaching staff, the Bombardiers know they can rely on Piazza to make the stops to give them a chance at grabbing results.
North Attleboro is starting a new goalie and has a lot of new faces on the blue line so the Rocketeers will be leaning on its experience on the offensive end of the ice, especially early in the season. One of the most experienced players is senior forward Tyler Sarro, who is in his fourth year on the varsity squad. Sarro is a reliable player that is going to provide a lot of leadership both on and off the ice. He sets the tone with his hard work, a two-way type player that works hard on the backcheck. On offense, he does a lot of the little things right and his work ethic is contagious. He’ll be joined on North’s top line with his brother Brady, another experienced Rocketeer forward on the other wing, and center Nik Kojoian. Sarro, a captain, will look to build on his production last season when he scored once and had 10 assists.
2019-2020 Record: 5-14-1 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Greg Chamberlain
Attleboro struggled down the stretch last season, losing nine of its final 11 games (five of those losses by two goals or fewer) and narrowly missing out on a postseason berth. Former Canton assistant Greg Chamberlain has taken over this season with the goal of making the Bombardiers competitive in the Kelley-Rex division.
Goalie will be a position of strength this year, as Attleboro has three players that can step in between the pipes. Junior Nick Piazza will be the starter after a breakout sophomore year where he made nearly 500 saves. Junior Michael DuTremble and freshman Julien Horton are the other goalies on the roster. In front of Piazza, Attleboro has three solid pairings. Senior Owen Dryjowicz moved from forward to defense late last season and looked comfortable on the blue line. Junior Sean Marshall and senior Zack Pierce are also returning defenders that the Bombardiers are counting on.
Offensively, the Bombardiers will miss the scoring of Ryan Morry, who led the team with 21 points, but with several returning players Attleboro has the potential to put together solid forward lines. Senior Aidan Dryjowicz is the team’s top returning scorer with nine goals and classmate Jake Ward, junior Nate Parker, and freshman winger Dane Holskie have the potential to contribute to the attack this season.
“I think the key to this season,” said Chamberlain, “is that everyone needs to pull their weight. If you look around the league teams that win have three or four lines that they can roll out every night. That is going to be the name of the game for us. Keeping it simple and do your job.”
2019-2020 Record: 21-1-3 2019-2020 Finish: Div. 2 State Co-Champion Coach: Brian Shuman
Although Canton didn’t get the chance to go to the TD Garden to face Lincoln-Sudbury and try to avenge its only loss of the past two seasons, the Bulldogs brought home a second straight Div. 2 state championship. Even for a program with the sustained success of Canton, last year’s senior class had a uniquely impressive record and that class’ graduation leaves a lot of holes that new faces will need to step into.
Last year’s top scorers, Johnny Hagan and Chris Lavoie, combined for 37 goals and 68 points, so it will be tough to reproduce that output. Senior Dylan Coyne will be hoping to make up some of that scoring punch and the Bulldogs will hope junior Eamon Kelly can return from an injury and get back to the form he showed last year.
While the defense was also hit hard by graduation, Canton returns a pair of defensemen that saw considerable time on the blue line last season. Junior Sean Connolly and sophomore Vincent Sica both jumped right into the lineup and looked comfortable competing at the top level, but this year they will also be experienced veterans and leaders in that group. Senior Liam Polles will get the chance to jump in goal this year.
Canton coach Brian Shuman said, “I can say that after the first two weeks, things are certainly different in many ways, but I am confident that we will adapt and adjust like most teams our league to give our players a much-needed physical outlet and important connection to a team.”
2019-2020 Record: 12-5-5 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Semifinal Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro has grown by leaps and bounds in recent seasons. Each of the past three years have seen the Warriors set a new standard for the best season in program history, culminating in last winter’s 12 wins and run to the Div. 3 South semifinal.
Depth at the forward line will be a strength this season and Foxboro should be capable of scoring plenty of goals. Senior forward Kirk Leach was second in the Hock last year with 20 goals and he leads an experienced group. Junior Jack Watts had 13 goals and 14 assists last year and is another big, physical forward. Senior Brady Daly will look to add to his nine points from last season and junior Eoin Reager can play multiple positions, including forward, and added 14 points as a sophomore.
The Warriors will obviously miss former Hock MVP Espen Raeger, who was one of the league’s top goalies. Senior Jack Spinney was the backup goalie last year and could step in between the pipes after seeing a few minutes of action as a junior. Junior Dylan Pothier and sophomore Alex Coviello are two of the returning defensemen from last year’s team and both played big roles in the team’s strong performance in the postseason. Eoin Reager can also play in the back line.
“We have a lot of forwards returning, so the depth is there,” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We also have a lot of skilled defenseman holding the blue line. Looking forward to the season, even though it will look and feel a lot different, I’m just happy for our guys get to play.”
2019-2020 Record: 11-8-4 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Anthony Sarno
Head coach Anthony Sarno can’t help but wonder what could have been for this season. Franklin had a strong group of returners back from last year’s squad and Sarno had a schedule filled with top teams from around the state ready to see how his Panthers stacked up to the elite talent. But now Franklin will focus on its 10-game Hockomock schedule with a chance to prove it’s the top team in the league.
Franklin will rely on its senior class to lead the way. The Panthers will be very solid in the back, starting with senior goalie Jack Paterson. After serving in a backup capacity previously, Paterson steps into the starting role but is getting pushed in practice by classmate Gary Mandia. Along the blue line, Franklin has plenty of familiar names with the likes of Joe LeBlanc (nine points), Will Sheehan, Justin Abely, and Pat Dolan — all four are seniors with a good amount of varsity experience.
Offensively, the Panthers have a good variety of attacking options led by last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Dylan Marchand (13 points). Sarno is carrying 20 players and plans to use them all, rolling four lines offensively. JT Dwyer and Declan Lovett are both senior centers and have been strong in the face off circle so far. Sophomore Ben Jarosz should see an expanded role after getting some time last year. Franklin will look to expand on its puck possession after making the switch from a dump-and-chase team.
“We were looking forward to playing against some of the best teams in the state but we’re going to make the most of this opportunity,” Sarno said. “We’re going to give it our all each game. We’ve going to practice as hard as we play in games, the energy the kids have brought has been contagious. We’re treating every game like a playoff game, that’s the type of energy we want to bring to each game.”
2019-2020 Record: 10-6-5 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip pushed Franklin to the final week of the regular season in its quest to win a first league title since 2013 (and end the nine-year reign for the Panthers in the Kelley-Rex). The Warriors did get back into the postseason, although again Franklin stood in the way in the preliminary round, and will return 13 players to make another run at that elusive league championship.
Experience on both ends of the ice will be the strength for KP this season, with eight seniors and eight juniors on the roster, including a pair of four-year players. Senior forward Conor Cooke and senior defenseman Rocco Bianculli have been critical players for each of the past three seasons. Bianculli is not only a leader at the blue line, but also one of the league’s top offensive defenders. KP returns three of its top four scorers from last year. In addition to Bianculli, senior Aidan Boulger and junior Nolan Feyler provide the scoring punch on the forward line and are a good mix with Cooke’s physical presence up front. Seniors Paul McDonald and Justin Yatsuhashi add speed and depth.
Defensively, senior David Lawler will join Bianculli on the blue line. More of a defensive-minded player, Lawler adds solidity in his own zone and is counted on to make the right plays under pressure. Seniors Shea Cunningham and Geoff Bowes are also returning defensemen that couple size and experience around their own net. Sophomore Kyle Abbott will take over between the pipes
“As always we are looking to build on last year and compete for the league title,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. “Our team this season has some good experience. We also have some real skill and speed in the younger group.”
2019-2020 Record: 7-8-6 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets aren’t focusing on how many games are on the schedule but focusing on taking it one game at a game instead. Mansfield brings back a lot of players that picked up varsity experience last season during the team’s postseason run.
Replacing three-year starter Sean McCafferty in goal won’t be easy but head coach Mike Balzarini has praised the work of Chris Hormann, who will be taking over in between the pipes. Balzarini said Hormann learned a lot last season in his backup role, is coming off a stellar fall season and has looked strong so far in practice this year. Captain Jake Quirk will anchor the blue line unit for the Hornets and will be joined by some familiar faces. Senior Joseph Gormley will bring a lot of experience to the defensive group and will be joined by sophomore Patrick Gormley as well as Ben Levine and James Hughes.
Senior captain Cam Page will spearhead the attack for the Hornets this season. Mansfield lost most of its point production to graduation so there will be plenty of opportunities for new faces to take advantage of. Mark DiDiralamo, Kyle Oakley, Dillon Benoit, Ryan Doherty, and Liam Anastasia are all in the mix for the top six for Mansfield.
“It’s a shortened season but we have looked good thus far in practice and in our scrimmage,” Balzarini said. “We’re looking to push the pace this year and play a faster-paced game.”
2019-2020 Record: 7-8-6 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Ben McManama
On the ice, it’s been business as usual for the Red Rocketeers, who have a strong returning core ready to make a run at dethroning Canton atop the Davenport division. The biggest challenges for head coach Ben McManama and his squad so far have been adapting to all of the changes off of the ice.
Expectations are high for the Big Red with some familiar names at each position. The most returners come from the offense where the Rocketeers have a handful of forwards back, giving McManama the flexibility to run at least three lines. Senior captain Tyler Sarro will be a leader on and off the ice and will be joined by his brother Brady as the wings on the top line. Nik Kojoian is back after missing almost all of last season and will center the top line. McManama notes his second and third lines are interchangeable, more “2A” and “2B” rather than second and third lines. Juniors Sam Clarke and Nick Longa and sophomores Mark Ayvazyan and Joe Quinn will all be in the mix.
The Rocketeers will have a lot of spots to fill along the blue line after graduating a strong corps of defensemen from last winter. Senior Charlie Connolly and junior Austin Comery are the veterans in the group, entering this season with the most experience. McManama has tabbed junior Anthony Westcott as another option along the blue line while the final spot is up for grabs. Senior James Burtch will take over in net for the Rocketeers while freshman Kyle Gruber is pushing for time.
“The big thing for us this year is being a system team,” McManama said. “We have to be disciplined with our system. We’re really harping on sticking to our system and what we do, and we have to be really disciplined and do our jobs. That’s how we’re going to generate goals and it’s going to be how we stop shots too, it works on both ends. We’ve had great practices, it’s been fun getting the kids back.”
2019-2020 Record: 6-13-2 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Mike Zucarelli
Oliver Ames finished 2019-20 with six wins, but also had four losses by a single goal (all four to teams in the playoffs), so the Tigers were closer to earning a postseason berth under first-year coach Mike Zuccarelli than the final record may indicate. This season, the Tigers return to the Davenport division for the first time since 2016 and with only six returning players there will be opportunities for new faces to step in and contribute right away.
Seniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro will provide leadership in the forward line and much-needed experience for a young group. Sophomores Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron both saw action last year and their development will be important for the Tigers to get consistent production from the forward lines.
Defensively, senior Kevin Tremblay and junior Elliot Cohen both grew into bigger roles last year and will be expected to lead the blue line corps this season. Sophomore Brandon Burke will take over in net after backing up Owen Connor last winter. Zuccarelli is also counting on a strong freshman group to come in and provide an instant impact and is excited about the potential for the program going forward.
“Patience and resilience are going to be two major themes this year as we have already experienced,” said Zucarelli. “Our goal is to grow as a team and tackle each challenge we are presented together both on and off the ice. I am confident with our senior leadership, outstanding assistant coaches, and the support we receive from the OA community that we will have a season to remember.”
2019-2020 Record: 4-16-1 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Dan Mark
After an up-and-down first year in a co-op with Brockton, the Black Knights are aiming for an improved 2021 season. After a year away, Stoughton is back in Hockomock League competition and will be vying for the Davenport title.
With just four players gone to graduation, longtime head coach Dan Mark has a veteran squad at his disposal for the upcoming 10-game schedule plus a small postseason planned. The foundation of the team starts between the pipes as the Black Knights have two goalies back with experience. Sophomore Chris Andrade will compete with senior Ryan Spano for the starting job in net.
In front of goal, Mark is leaning on a trio of juniors plus one senior to get the job done. Senior Kenny Young will be joined along the blue line by Josh Greenspoon, Anthony Hern, and Steven Westerlund — all returners from a season ago. Offensively, the Black Knights will turn three-year starters in junior Colin Alessi and Joe McNulty to anchor the offense. They’ll be joined by seniors Kyle Cruickshank, Cade O’Connell, Mike Andrade, and Ryan Flannery to bolster the attack.
“We have a veteran team blended with some younger players and are looking to improve on last year’s record,” Mark said.
2019-2020 Record: 10-11-3 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton is returning a plethora of players from last year’s varsity squad that had double-digit wins and made a trip to the postseason. Now, the Tigers are just hoping to play a complete — albeit shortened — season.
The Tigers got a couple of days on the ice before the school district paused all athletic activities over the winter break. Head coach Kris Metea and his 18 returning players are hoping to resume practice on Monday and get their season back on track. While the break will certainly be a setback for the Tigers, having such an experienced squad will help when Taunton does get back on the ice. Leading the way will be a pair of defensemen: senior captain and Hockomock League All Star Brady Nichols and junior Jack DeMoura, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team selection.
Having reliable options on the blue line will be key as the Tigers sort out the situation between the pipes. Senior Jason Frates, who only has a handful of years of experience at the position, is set to start in net. Offensively, the challenge will be replacing the production from Michael Albert, one of the most productive players in program history. Metea will look to juniors Nathan Fernandes and Loren Corcoran as well as sophomores Colton Scheralis and Connor McGrath to replicate that production. Senior Camden Faria will be a leader of the offensive group
“2020 has been a challenging time and we are hoping that athletics can provide respite for players and families as we enter 2021,” Metea said. “We will take whatever games guidelines allows us to play and be thankful for the opportunity to skate in the presence of friends!”
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – The Franklin boys hockey team might have had a little luck on its first goal, but the second two tallies were certainly earned.
After #2 Natick tied the game early in the third period and stole momentum, the 10th-seeded Panthers battled back to strike twice in the last five minutes to earn a 3-1 upset over the Redhawks.
With a little help from a deflection, Franklin picked up a 1-0 lead in the first period and it lasted until the third. Natick lit the lamp just over a minute into the final period to take control of the game but the Panthers weathered the wave on momentum.
Instead of the Redhawks capitalizing, the Panthers went back ahead with just under five minutes to play and added an insurance goal with just over a minute to go to secure the win.
“They kept their composure, we knew [Natick] was going to come out with everything they have,” said first-year Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “They are a physical team, a strong team, and they weren’t going to give up…they weren’t seeded No. 2 for nothing. We fought through the adversity, we kept our composure, and we believed in each other and we played for each other. I couldn’t be more proud of them, I couldn’t be more happy for them…this group has earned it from day one.”
A clearance attempt took a deflection and ended up bouncing in the left circle. Natick’s Matthew Haskell was the first to it and timed his shot perfectly on the bouncing puck, smashing a shot into the back of the net, leaving Franklin goalie Ray Ivers (19 saves) little chance.
Natick didn’t have any chances right after the goal, instead having to race back to break up a potential breakaway bid from Dylan Marchand, and a minute later, Franklin’s Kevin O’Rielly had a hard wrist shot knocked away with a blocker save.
The Redhawks did test Ivers just before the midway point of the period when a shot from Nick Haswell tossed a shot from the blue line that hit Ivers’ mask, but the Franklin goalie was quick to cover up the loose puck in front.
As the clock ticked under five minutes, Franklin junior defenseman Will Sheehan pinched up to deny a clearance attempt, keeping the puck in the Panthers’ offensive zone. Sheehan eventually got the puck back and fired a shot that was knocked down.
With both Shea Hurley and Shane McCaffrey digging at the puck down low, Natick goalie Luc Gagnon was forced to go low. The puck popped back into the slot and Colin Hedvig blasted into the back of the net to make it 2-1 with 4:53 to go.
“Will was out for a while with an injury but his confidence, his patience, his poise, and most important his instincts, his instincts are spot on,” Sarno said of Sheehan making the right read to pinch. “For a kid that age to be that composed and that poised to step up and make that play at the right time…that’s how this team is playing right now.
“Right now everyone is pulling in the right direction right now. I have a great coaching staff too that helps so much. This is what we hoped for, this is why our schedule is as tough as it was. Hopefully we can continue it.”
Franklin kept the pressure up, denying Natick a chance at the tying goal. Instead, the Panthers added an insurance tally. Junior Sean Connelly used a slick move to split a pair of defensemen in the attacking zone, feeding the puck back in front and classmate Conor O’Neil buried it for a 3-1 lead with 1:25 to go.
Chances were hard to come by through the first two periods of play. The Redhawks went on the power play with 8:44 to go in the first but a pair of clearances from Sheehan, plus a strong forecheck from Hedvig helped the Panthers limit Natick to just one shot on goal during the man advantage.
After killing the penalty, the Panthers found the back of the net. Junior Joe LeBlanc went to blast a shot from the blue line but a Natick player was able to get his stick on it right away. The puck popped high into the air and eluded Gagnon, dropping into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 5:34 left in the first.
“We got a little puck luck but to make those plays to make your own breaks,” Sarno said. “You have to create those opportunities, you have to get into the position. We’ll take it, you need the bounces too. The difference between a good team and a great team is good teams do just enough to get by, great teams do all the little things to make a difference at the end and that’s what we’ve got right now.”
Ivers came up with a nice glove save on a wrist shot from the circle from Natick’s Andrew Christileb. The Redhawks finished the period with 1:20 of a power play but a clearance from junior Paddy Dolan helped kill most of the man advantage.
Natick did have a shot off of Ivers back that caused a scrum in front but the Panther collapsed as a defense to prevent anything.
Franklin killed the remaining 39 seconds of the power play to start the second and then had to kill another just past the midway point. This time, O’Neil hustled to block a shot, Tom Tasker intercepted a pass and took the puck into the attacking zone and both JT Dwyer and Hedvig came up with clearances.
“We tried to forecheck them and cut off the middle of the ice. We knew they loved to clog the middle of the ice so we figured if we could step up at the blue line and force the dump in, our speed would prevail. They are working for it, and they got what they deserved, they earned this win.
The Panthers had their lone power play in the second with 3:28 to play but couldn’t muster up many chances. Hedvig had the best bid, skating past a defenseman but his backhand bid from in tight was denied.
Franklin boys hockey (11-7-4) will take on #14 Archbishop Williams in the D1 South Semifinals on Wednesday at Gallo at 5:30 Archies knocked off #3 Bridgewater-Raynham (2-1) and #11 Wellesley (2-1) to reach the semis.
CANTON, Mass. – One team looked like it was hitting its stride at the right time of the year and looked like it was as comfortable playing on the playoff stage as it was at any point during the regular season. The other team looked like it was making its first playoff appearance in five seasons.
Franklin scored twice in the opening four minutes of Thursday night’s Div. 1 South first round contest at the Canton Ice House, including one just 36 seconds in, and never looked back, rolling to a 7-1 victory over King Philip in a battle of the top two finishers in the Kelley-Rex division.
“I thought we would’ve had more,” said KP coach Paul Carlow, admitting that Franklin played like a playoff-tested team on Thursday. “We were on our heels from the get-go and we never got out of the starting blocks really. I was worried all week about the game being too big for them and it was.”
The Panthers wasted no time grabbing the lead. Tom Tasker fired a wrist shot from the point and through a screen in front that slipped past KP goalie Jesper Makudera, after just 46 seconds.
Three minutes later, Franklin doubled its advantage on the power play. Kyle Hedvig sent a pass across the zone to Tasker at the point and the big defenseman blasted a shot that Makudera did well to get a pad to, but the rebound fell right to Colin Hedvig and he lifted a backhand past the sprawling goalie.
“He could stop a freight train with that shot,” Franklin coach Anthony Sarno said. “We showed up to play. The forecheck 5-on-5, we just took it to them. We started to create some space for ourselves cycling it down low.”
He added, “That team is a good team and the hardest thing to do is beat the same team twice. Paul is a great coach and they’ve got some really great players and we didn’t take them for granted. We knew they would come in with all the fight they had. We had to do all the little things, the intangibles you need to win.”
It took a while for the Warriors to get their legs under them. Nolan Feyler set up Rocco Bianculli for a shot from the left circle that Ray Ivers saved and Conor Cooke had a tip from in front knocked aside by the goalie as well. Ivers was forced to made a smart pad save on Chris Daniels from close range.
Despite those chances, KP was struggling to get anything consistent in the offensive zone. Franklin held a 13-9 edge in shots after one.
The Warriors did have a golden opportunity to try and get back into the game in the second period when they started with 1:28 of two-man advantage. KP didn’t manage a shot on goal during the power play.
“We came out in the second with the 5-on-3 and we still didn’t settle down,” said Carlow. “Our power play has been really good all year and it just looked like we were nervous. We had trouble controlling the puck and getting set up in the zone and as soon as they killed that off I felt like momentum swung back.”
Franklin continued to have good luck getting offense from its blue line corps. Tasker blocked a clearance against the far boards and then skated towards goal only for Makudera to stay square and make the stop. Justin Abely caused havoc with a shot from the point that was saved but that produced a rebound that sat untouched on the post with the goal gaping.
A third goal came with 5:20 left in the second. JT Dwyer sent a puck out in front that deflected off a KP skate and right to the stick of Sean Connelly in the slot. He took a touch to control and then ripped a shot over the goalie’s shoulder.
Declan Lovett came close to making it four with a steal in the offensive zone, but it was Colin Hedvig that would extend the lead. He was set up by Kevin O’Rielly and Kyle Hedvig, knocking in a pass through the crease at the back post.
The four-goal lead only lasted 30 seconds. Aidan Boulger finally was able to get behind the Franklin defense and he managed to squeeze his breakaway underneath Ivers to make it 4-1.
Joe LeBlanc nearly restored the lead near the end of the second but his shot from the point struck the post and stayed out. Dylan Marchand nearly got it back just 13 seconds into the third when Kyle Hedvig hit him with a perfect pass from the left to right circle but Makudera made the glove save.
“We told them to keep forcing the forecheck down their throat and keep playing the right way, sticks in the passing lane, bodies in the shooting lane, and make sure it stops,” Sarno said of the message before the third period.
Three minutes into the third, Franklin got the crucial fifth goal and in back-breaking fashion. Tasker hit Dwyer with a perfect tape-to-tape diagonal outlet pass from his own zone. Dwyer teed up a slap shot that went off the goalie’s blocker, straight up into the air, and then landed behind the goalie in the net.
Carlow said, “I thought the next goal was big. I thought if we could cut it to 4-2 then we could make a run at them there but that goal was obviously a big goal at that point.”
Marchand added a sixth a little more than a minute later. Going from left to right across the zone, Marchand roofed it over backup goalie Nate Ihley. Andrew Demerchant added a seventh in the final three minutes.
Sarno said, “It’s one win, four more to go, but we’ve just got to keep out composure and keep bringing it every night. We can’t take shifts off.”
Franklin (10-7-4) will travel to Loring Arena on Saturday night to take on No. 2 seed Natick. King Philip finishes the season at 10-6-5.
North Attleboro, 50 @ Attleboro, 62 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. The game remained tight until the closing minutes, as North stayed within three at the half and trailed by only six heading into the fourth quarter, but the Bombardiers scored 22 points in the final eight minutes to earn their 16th win of the season. Bryant Ciccio scored 11 of his game-high 21 in the fourth, including three shots from beyond the arc, to lift Attleboro to the win. Qualeem Charles added 14 points and 12 rebounds and Tim Callahan had 11 points in the win. George Ladd matched Ciccio with 21 points, 15 of them in the first half, to lead North. Edan Kelley added 12 on four three-pointers and Ethan Friberg had nine on a trio of shots from deep.
King Philip, 59 vs. Hanover, 51 – Final – King Philip outscored Hanover in three of the four quarters, and were even in the other, building an early lead and riding that to a win in the Blue Raider Classic final at Somerset Berkley. KP took a 12-9 lead at the end of the first and kept a three-point lead (28-25) going into halftime. The Warriors extended the lead by two (40-35) going into the fourth and finished strong to get the win. Senior Alex Fritz scored nine of his team-high 17 points in the second half, classmate Tommy Donahue added 15 points, and Andrew McKinney chipped in with 12 points in the win. Held to just one three-pointer through three quarters, both Fritz and Chris Roy connected from deep in the fourth to help ice the win.
Oliver Ames, 81 vs. Southeastern, 27 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Oliver Ames’ offense poured in 23 points in the first quarter and 25 more points in the second, seizing a 48-14 lead at halftime and never looked back, rolling to a win that qualified the Tigers for the state tournament. Senior Jay Spillane connected on eight three-pointers and went for a career-high 32 points along with five assists, four rebounds, and four steals. Adam Cann hit four three-pointers and finished with a career-high 16 points and senior Amari Brown had 13 points and four assists in the win.
Mansfield, 59 vs. Whitman-Hanson, 72 – Final – After falling behind by 20 points through three quarters of play, the Hornets rallied to get within eight points late but ran out of time in a loss to Whitman-Hanson in the Roundball Classic finals. Mansfield had a 10-9 lead but the Panthers had a strong second and took a 27-23 lead into the halftime break. That momentum carried into the second as Whitman-Hanson used a 13-4 surge to start to pull away. Senior Sam Stevens scored a team-high 24 points while TJ Guy added nine points for Mansfield.
Milford, 49 vs. Wellesley, 45 – Final – With the game tied 45-45, Milford senior Colby Pires connected on a turn around jumper with 3.5 seconds left to give the Scarlet Hawks the lead for good. The Raiders missed on the front end of a one-and-one on the other end and Tyler Wetherbee sank two free throws to ice the win, denying Wellesley a spot in the state tournament. Pires scored six of his 11 points in the final quarter for the Hawks while junior Jordan Darling had a team-high 15 points.
Taunton, 66 vs. New Bedford, 44 – Final – Taunton finished the regular season on a high-note, running away with a big win over New Bedford. The Tigers built a 33-19 lead at halftime before pushing the advantage to 60-32 at the end of the third quarter. Sophomore Trent Santos scored 19 of his team-high 21 points after the break to help the Tigers pull away with the win. Junior Tyler Stewart added 15 points, junior Josh Lopes added 11 points, and sophomore Tristan Herry sank a pair of threes, finishing with eight points.
Mansfield, 37 vs. Natick, 68 – Final – Natick won the Roundball Classic title with a strong defensive performance. Ashley Santos scored seven points and Becca Hottleman scored six points, dished out five assists, and had three steals for Mansfield. Santos and Hottleman were both named to the all-tournament team.
Oliver Ames, 51 @ Norwell, 63 – Final – Oliver Ames took a 44-42 lead into the final quarter but the Clippers clamped down defensively, holding the Tigers to just seven fourth quarter points, pulling away to get the win. The teams were tied 15-15 after one, and Norwell had a 28-23 lead at halftime before the Tigers surged ahead with a 21-point third quarter. Caroline Peper led OA with 16 points, Caroline Flynn added 10 points, and Tori Harney chipped in with nine points.
Franklin, 4 vs. Weymouth, 0 – Final – Franklin scored twice in the first period and then once in each of the next two to skate to a 4-0 win over Weymouth in the first round of the Coach Melchiono Showdown. Tom Tasker got the Panthers on the board with a power play goal (assisted by Kyle Hedvig and Declan Lovett), while Kyle Hedvig (from Colin Hedvig and Joe LeBlanc) doubled the lead in the first. LeBlanc picked up his second assist, setting up Justin Abely in the second to make it 3-0. Ben Jarosz scored his first career goal, unassisted, in the third period to cap the scoring. “[Ben] made the most of [his opportunity],” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno, noting Jarosz’s hard work to earn a varsity spot after starting the year on JV. “Perfect example of a JV player never giving up and working hard no matter what.” Franklin will take on Marshfield in the tournament final on Thursday at 5:00.
Mansfield, 6 vs. Barrington (R.I.), 2 – Final
Oliver Ames, 5 vs. Stoughton, 2 – Final – Senior Cam Perron scored twice and classmate Brad Powers registered three assisted to help Oliver Ames skate to a win over Stoughton/Brockton in a battle of teams that call Asiaf Arena home. Senior Matt Nosalek scored his first career goal in the win while classmates Jake Gottwald and Hunter Costello each scored once. Sophomore Wes Towers recorded his first varsity assist in the win for OA. Senior Owen Connor posted a first period shutout while freshman Brandon Burke took over for the second and third to earn his first career win. Joe McNulty and Colin Alessi each lit the lamp once for Stoughton/Brockton.
Taunton, 3 @ Somerset-Berkley, 1 – Final – Taunton picked up a win in the final game of the regular season to earn a trip to the state tournament, marking their fourth postseason appearance in the past five years. Nathan Fernandes scored a pair of goals while Michael Albert scored once to lead the offensive charge for the Tigers. Jack DeMoura and Brady Nichols each had two helpers while Cam Faria, Loran Corcoran, and Ethan Ross each finished with one assist. Sean Bunker made 19 saves in net to get the win.
Canton, 4 @ Walpole, 0 – Final – Olivia Maffeo scored a hat trick and Meg Aldrich added one, as the Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season. Carolyn Durand made 23 saves to earn her 13th shutout of the season. Canton heads into the playoffs with just one loss.
Franklin, 7 vs. Leominster, 2 – Final
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 2 @ LaSalle Academy, 4 – Final – A day after taking down one of the top teams in Massachusetts in Westwood, the MOA Warriors came up just short against LaSalle Academy, the top team in Rhode Island. MOA got within one goal, down 3-2, in the third period but the Rams scored less than a minute later to regain a two-goal lead, one it held until the final buzzer. Lily O’Brien (from Emma Pereira and Reese Pereira) put the Warriors up 1-0 in the first period but LaSalle Academy tied the game before the end of the period, and scored twice in the second to seize a 3-1 lead. Melissa Shanteler (from Kylie O’Keefe and Emma Pereira) fired a wrist shot in to make it 3-2. MOA needs one point from its final game against Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake on Thursday.
CANTON, Mass. – It was a championship theme inside the Canton Ice House on Saturday afternoon.
It started with a pregame ceremony honoring the 10th anniversary of Canton’s 2010 D2 State Championship squad and it ended with the 2020 Bulldogs clinching the program’s 10th straight Davenport division title with a 3-1 win over rival Franklin.
The Canton boys hockey team is the only program in the entire Hockomock League in any sport to win ten 10 straight division championships. The Bulldogs are the only team to win a Davenport title for boys hockey, winning every year of the decade since the league split into two divisions.
“It’s a great thing, we’re very lucky to be apart of something like this here in Canton,” said Bulldogs coach Brian Shuman, who quickly went from one rink to the other inside the Ice House, coaching a 6th/7th grade Canton youth team immediately following the Bulldogs’ win over Franklin. “All of these guys were watching our game before coming over here for their game, and all of our guys watched the teams before them.”
Canton erased a one-goal deficit after a period of play, scoring twice in a two-minute window in the second period and tacked on an insurance goal in the third period to secure the win. The Bulldogs went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
A pair of those kills came in the first period, including one just under three minutes into the contest. A tripping call put Canton down a man but an aggressive kill prevented the visiting Panthers from registering a serious chance on goal.
After Canton had a power play go without a goal shortly after, the Panthers once again had a man-advantage chance just past the midway point of the period. Again, the Bulldogs applied plenty of pressure, not allowing Franklin a good look in the offensive zone.
Instead, the best chance of that two-minute span fell to the Bulldogs. Senior Johnny Hagan pounced on a loose puck, slammed on the brakes as he crossed the blue line to shake a defenseman, dropped a pass to senior Chris Lavoie, who dished it back across to Hagan in front but the senior center couldn’t get his stick on the puck in time as the bid went just wide.
The Bulldogs knocked on the door against as the clock ticked under two minutes as Dylan Coyne connected with Donny McNeice but Franklin goalie Ray Ivers (18 saves) came up with the save and covered the rebound.
Although it was Canton who had the best chances for the majority of the period, it was Franklin that found the back of the net first. Junior Conor O’Neil connected with classmate Sean Connelly as the pair entered the offensive zone. Connelly worked his way past a defenseman and tossed the puck back in front and O’Neil completed a hard crash on net with the final touch into the back of the net.
Canton came out strong to start the second period, with Lavoie smashing a shot off the crossbar in the opening minute. The equalizer came just under four minutes into the period as sophomore Eamon Kelly drove hard behind the net, dishing the puck in front just before circling around. Hagan found the puck in the middle and dished it off to senior defenseman Jack Connolly, who deposited a shot into the top corner to make it 1-1 with 11:13 left in the second period.
The Bulldogs went on the power play shortly after and needed just seven seconds on the man advantage to go ahead. Lavoie dished it back to senior defenseman Owen Lehane after an offensive zone faceoff win and, after skating towards the center of the blue line, Lehane unleashed a wrist shot. With both Kelly and Hagan in front screening, Ivers had no chance as the puck found the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
“Just a huge goal…when you think too much on the power play, you get in trouble,” Shuman said. “Our guys tonight, they really did a phenomenal job moving the puck. And when they had the opportunity, just rip it. If you wait a half second longer or think too much, you miss the chance. We want Owen to shoot more at the top and he just fired it, it was a huge goal.”
Franklin had a golden chance with five minutes left in the second as Connelly came up with a turnover in the attacking zone, firing a pass over to Shane McCaffrey in front but the senior forward couldn’t get all of it on his shot and it went just wide.
The Panthers went on a power play in the final minutes of the second but were unable to convert. Dylan Marchand had a shot denied by Canton goalie Joe Cammarata on one try, and Cammarata made a stop on a tip from Connelly on a shot from Joe LeBlanc.
“We gave them too much space,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “We didn’t take good care of the puck…we have to be better in every facet of the game. We have to be committed to our game, stick to our game, we have to forecheck hard. We can’t give them that much space on the blue line…instead of forcing a dump in we were giving them 20 feet of room to maneuver. Against a good team like that, you have to minimize your mistakes.
“Special teams is going to make or break you in a game like that. They brought it and we didn’t. The first period was fine but after that, they wanted it more than we did.”
Coyne delivered the insurance goal for the Bulldogs. The junior forward whipped a low shot on goal as he crossed the blue line and the puck eluded Ivers and bounced into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead.
Franklin had a final power play chance to cut into the deficit but again without a goal. Tommy Tasker blasted a low shot but Cammarata read it the entire way without traffic in front. The Bulldogs went on to block two more shots and deflect another pair out of play to kill the penalty.
“We spend a lot of time on it, at least once a practice,” Shuman said. “And I think that was the best game we’ve had so far on the penalty kill. They were aggressive, and you have to be aggressive against [Franklin] because they are aggressive on their power play. You look at a kid like TJ McCabe, filling in for one of our best penalty killers in Tommy Ghostlaw, and he had a great game.
“It’s about being smart in those situations. You have to recognize what’s around you when you have the puck and make the right decisions, and we had some chances tonight. They put some forwards on the point [on the power play] so they aren’t used to playing defense so you can kind of take advantage of that.”
Canton boys hockey (6-0-0 Hockomock, 11-0-2 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it hosts North Attleboro. Franklin (3-1-2, 5-4-3) will host King Philip on Wednesday in a battle of the top two teams tied atop the Kelley-Rex division.