Canton Emerges Victorious Against Gritty Oliver Ames

Canton boys hockey
Canton senior Ryan Nolte tries to keep the puck from Oliver Ames’ Matt McCormack (right) in the third period. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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CANTON, Mass. – The top-seeded Canton boys hockey team is headed back to the Division 2 South Semifinals after earning their second straight shutout.

But it was far from easy.

The unbeaten Bulldogs were put to the test by ninth-seeded and league rival Oliver Ames, with the Tigers consistently applying pressure over the course of 45 minutes. In the end, a patient Canton team cashed in twice inside a one-minute span and, more importantly, didn’t allow Oliver Ames to do the same in a 3-0 victory.

“[Oliver Ames] is a team that always plays us hard, they’ve done so for years,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “And they played us hard tonight, they came out flying. They pinned us, they hit us, and I was proud of our guys for battling through that. Every playoff game is like a rollercoaster ride and you have to survive the onslaughts and punch back like we did.”

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The Tigers were strong from the opening puck drop, flying all over the ice and coming up with a couple of good goal scoring chances. Just minutes in, senior Matt McCormack made a leaping stop to prevent a Canton clear resulting in a good chance from Cullen Gallagher, but Canton goalie Mike Staffiere (17 saves) made the stop.

Just minutes later, the Tigers had a chance at a two-on-one, but Bulldog defenseman Ryan Sullivan thwarted the chance before a pass or shot could happen. A Canton error in the neutral zone led to a chance for OA senior Brett Williams, but the puck wouldn’t lie flat, and his shot was gobbled up by Staffiere.

As the period went on, Canton started to get more of the play, and Timmy Kelleher’s tough angle shot from the left circle forced a paddle save from OA junior goalie Owen Connor (27 saves), and a rebound chance from Johnny Hagan was denied as well.

With just a minute left in the first, Kelleher won a foot race to get in on goal but his close shot was denied by Connor, bringing a physical, back-and-forth, well-played first period to a close.

“I don’t think we could have played a better game,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “We preached effort, effort, effort, and it’s such a simple term, but I’m not sure many teams could do it for three periods like we did against one of the best teams in the state. They did everything I asked so it’s a little frustrating they weren’t rewarded for it, but that’s sports. The effort was there through the whole game, and we had some chances.

“Their effort is what got them here. That was our recipe for success all year. No matter what there are going to be lulls, and you’ll make hockey mistakes, but the effort was always there. I couldn’t be more proud of their effort.”

OA had another bright start to the second period with freshman Bryan Kearns forcing a turnover, and Williams linking up with Gallagher in front for a backhand shot that was just over the bar. Five minutes later, Duncan Pereira blasted a shot that was saved by Staffiere into the air, bounced off his back, and just wide of the post.

Similar to the first, Canton was able to handle the strong push from the Tigers early and take control as the period went on. This time, senior Joe Robinson linked up with classmate Ryan Colby to force an odd-man rush, and Oliver Ames was forced to take a penalty.

The first power play of the game resulted in the first goal of the game as well. Just over 30 seconds into the man-advantage, junior Jack Connolly ripped a low shot/pass through traffic that found Canton senior Ryan Nolte positioned perfectly for a tip-in from right in close, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead with 6:57 to go in the second period.

With momentum on their side, the Bulldogs struck again before a minute elapsed. This time, it was senior Matt Martin delivering a shot from the blue line through traffic with junior Chris Lavoie providing the redirect right in front, making it 2-0 with 6:09 left in the second period.

“The second one was huge,” Shuman said. “Both goals came from point shots too. Jack Connolly with a great shot to find Ryan on the back door and then Matty Martin just getting the puck through, which is what we try to do. [OA] does a good job of collapsing in their zone and protecting the middle of the zone so our defense was going to have to get shots through for us to have some offense.”

Oliver Ames nearly cut the deficit in half on a chance with just over a minute to go in the second. Williams skated into the offensive zone, drawing the defenseman but slid a pass across to an open Kearns, but his wrist shot clanked off the crossbar and stayed out.

“You would think it would hurt, but our two themes this year were effort and resiliency,” Bertoni said of the back-to-back goals. “You have to push back after a goal, and I thought we did after the second one. Obviously, it’s a little deflating but the guys didn’t show it, didn’t change how they played. Power plays are going to happen, the puck had eyes and it found one of the best players. Tough to give up the two goals but it didn’t change how we played which was great to see.

“We hit the crossbar late in the second, we had a couple of other chances…we were still buzzing despite not scoring. That was one of our best games all year for three full periods. We didn’t give them much time, we did a good job of taking it away. They did everything we wanted, they were aggressive, they were physical, we just came up short.”

Connor came up with a big stop early in the third, denying Lavoie in front after a nice feed from junior Shane Marshall. Staffiere answered on the other end, stopping a shot from Ryan Gottwald that was set up by a block from Gallagher.

The Tigers got their first power play of the game with 9:55 left in the third, but Lavoie, Connolly, and Nolte all came up with clearances to limit OA’s chances. The lone chance came off the stick of Max Ward, who beat a pair of Canton players as he entered the offensive zone and snapped a wrist shot that was gloved by Staffiere.

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Hagan created a turnover for Canton in the offensive zone but was denied by the post, and minutes later, OA’s Williams was turned away when his shot went off of Staffiere’s mask.

In the final seconds, Hagan connected with Kelleher for the empty net goal, the assist giving Hagan his 100th career point.

Oliver Ames finishes the season 14-9-1. Canton boys hockey (22-0-1) will take on #5 Norwood (13-3-6) on Tuesday at 7:30 at Gallo Ice Arena.

Strong Start Carries Canton Over Oliver Ames

Canton boys hockey
Canton’s Chris Lavoie tries to skate past Oliver Ames’ James Beatty in the first period at Asiaf Arena. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BROCKTON, Mass. – Every team aims to get off to a good start, but few accomplish it as well as the Canton boys hockey team did on Saturday evening.

The Bulldogs scored twice inside the first minute of the game and had a third goal before the midway point of the first period, eventually skating away with a 5-2 decision over Oliver Ames.

Canton needed just 12 seconds to find the back of the net, doubled the lead in similar fashion at the 58 second mark, and again won a battle down low with 9:51 to go in the first to build a 3-0 lead.

“That’s as a good as I’ve seen coaching Canton High,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “It was a good start, we came out flying, but you knew it was going to settle down at some point and [Oliver Ames] was going to play better. And it did and it was an even hockey game. When you play like a team like OA, and you know each other as well as we do, it’s going to tighten up eventually and it did. They are a good team, they run three good lines, four good [defensemen] and a good goalie. It was a good hockey game.”

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After quickly getting possession in the attacking zone, Canton senior Matt Martin fired a low shot that was turned aside by OA junior goalie Owen Connor (18 saves) with a pad stop but the rebound was won by junior Timmy Kelleher and he quickly lifted the puck into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 14:48 left.

Canton continued to apply pressure and doubled its advantage with a similar play. Junior Chris Lavoie came streaking down the left side along the boards before rifling a low shot that was once again denied by Connor. But once again, Canton had plenty of help in front with senior Ryan Nolte providing a screen in front and junior Shane Marshall there to clean up the loose puck to make it 2-0 just 58 seconds into the game.

“We’d like to have the first minute back, yeah,” said OA head coach Sean Bertoni. “We knew what we were in for and it’s kind of ironic because we worked on a lot of 3-on-3 down low all week and that’s how they scored the first three goals. They came out hard, they wanted it more…that’s how Canton plays. They were hungry out front and we weren’t. We just didn’t take sticks, we were in position, but we just didn’t take sticks, and Canton wanted it more.”

The Bulldogs didn’t relent after building a 2-0 goal, pushing forward and finding the back of the net just over five minutes into the game. This time the set up came from junior Ronan O’Mahoney, who sent the puck towards the net from a step inside the blue line. The puck didn’t make it through, blocked down by a body in front and Canton senior Joe Robinson was the first to react, batting in the loose put for a 3-0 lead, all before Oliver Ames was able to register a shot on goal.

The Tigers’ first shot on goal came with 6:45 left in the first and Oliver Ames made the most of it. Senior Brett Williams connected with classmate Max Ward in front and he directed the puck into the back of the net to get the Tigers on the board, down 3-1.

Oliver Ames started the second period with a power play, but it was quickly erased by a tripping call to make it 4-on-4. Canton had over a minute and a half of power play time when the 4-on-4 elapsed, but good forechecking from Williams and freshman Bryan Kearns prevented Canton from creating any real chances.

Junior Johnny Hagan nearly extended Canton’s lead with 9:50 left in the second period when Kelleher set him up in the slot but Connor made a terrific save to keep the puck out and the deficit at two.

But just over a minute later, Connor had no chance when Lavoie was left all alone in front. Marshall did the dirty work, pinning the puck in behind the net and drew the attention of three OA players. Marshall delivered a perfectly weighted pass in front to Lavoie and he one-timed it in to make it 4-1.

OA had a power play in the final minutes of the period and had a couple of looks but couldn’t solve Canton goalie Michael Staffiere for a second time. First, Kearns centered a pass to junior Jake Gottwald but he was tied up by a pair of Bulldogs defensemen and couldn’t get a stick on it. Moments later, senior Julian Krowski fed sophomore Ross Carroll but his bid from in close was denied.

The third period belonged to the defenses as neither side could generate much offense. Ward had one of the best chances just over five minutes into the period but saw his shot go just over the bar. It wasn’t until 3:17 left in the game that the pace picked up again.

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Ward was on the receiving end of assists from Williams and Kearns, finishing off a chance in front to bring the Tigers within two late in the game. OA had another good look on the stick of Williams, but Staffiere came up with a big save.

Kelleher scored an empty net goal on an assist from Hagan with less than a minute to go to ice the game.

Canton boys hockey (4-0-0 Hockomock, 8-0-0 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it travels to Foxboro to take on the Warriors at 5:20. Oliver Ames (2-2, 7-4) will try to bounce back on Wednesday when it hosts North Attleboro at 5:00.

Power Play Goals Lift Canton to Win Over Mansfield

Canton boys hockey
Canton junior Johnny Hagan scored twice and assisted on another goal to help the Bulldogs beat Mansfield 4-0 on Hockey Fights Cancer Night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Every team talks about the importance of cashing in on power play opportunities, but teams don’t typically expect to have as many chances as Canton did on Saturday night. The Bulldogs were given a man advantage 11 times against Mansfield and scored three times, including twice in the first period to take control.

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Special teams were the story of the night for Canton, which added a crucial shorthanded goal late in the third period that sealed the win, and the Bulldogs skated away with a 4-0 victory over the Hornets on Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Canton Ice House.

Mansfield started the game with a flurry of chances, using an early power play of its own to spark its offense. Matt Copponi, Jack Garland, and Jake Lund were some of the Hornets who created early scoring opportunities but were denied by Canton senior goalie Mike Staffiere (22 saves).

“We had good looks,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We didn’t give up, even the second period with all those penalties I thought the momentum was going our way. We had our chances but their goalie played well.”

With nine minutes left in the first, Brian Grant stepped up and had a chance driving to the net. Staffiere got a piece and the rebound trickled just wide of the post and seconds later Braedon Copparini had a shot that went narrowly wide as well.

“They’ve got a boatload of talent over there,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said. “They’ve got defensemen who are basically like forwards and we expected some flurries and it was good that we had a good goalie to back us up.”

Three minutes later, Canton took the lead. On the power play, Johnny Hagan weaved his way past several Mansfield defensemen and slipped a backhand shot under Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty, who managed to keep it out but then the rebound was pounced on by Ryan Nolte.

Just three minutes later and the lead was doubled. After a penalty was called, the Bulldogs had a face-off to McCafferty’s left. Hagan was kicked out of the face-off and Nolte stepped in. He won the draw back to Hagan, who was cutting across the circle onto his forehand. The junior forward took the puck in stride and rifled a wrister inside the far post to make it 2-0.

Shuman said, “We had to mix it up a little bit. They knew we were going to run certain plays over and over and finally we just had to keep it simple and get some pucks to the net and get some guys out in front.”

McCafferty (35 saves) stopped a shorthanded breakaway chance by Tommy Ghostlaw before the end of the period and he kept that momentum going in the second, making 19 saves in that period alone. The Hornets were called for six penalties in the second and spent all but about three minutes on special teams in the period.

Hagan nearly got his second assist of the game when he set up Jack Connolly pinching in at the back post only to have McCafferty get across and get a shoulder to it. Hagan also hit the post and had another big chance saved when Connolly found him in space inside the circle.

Chris Lavoie had several chances driving towards the net from the right circle but couldn’t find the angle to beat the goalie. Tommy Vaughn had one of Canton’s best chances when he stole the puck from a Mansfield defenseman right in front of goal but sent his shot over the bar.

“You’re basically using six forwards and four ‘D’ and those guys get tired and credit to their goalie, he made some saves and they made some blocks,” Shuman explained. “It’s kind of ironic that when you’re on all those power plays it can wear you down a little bit, especially when you don’t score.”

Despite playing down a player for much of the period, Mansfield did have a couple of chances. Nick Levine had a shot from the point that was saved and the rebound nearly caromed back in off a Canton defenseman. The best chance of the period fell to Austin Ricker, who got a clean breakaway shorthanded only to be stoned by a great blocker save from Staffiere.

“Mike was probably tested the most he’s seen this year and he played the best he has this year,” said Shuman about his goalie. “He’s an exceptional goalie and he would’ve been a starter on any other team for the past two years if he wasn’t playing behind Quinn [Gibbs].”

Mansfield cleared off 1:16 of a penalty that extended into the third period and the Hornets were still in the game, down just two goals. Canton had the first good chance of the third when Ryan Colby rode a pair of challenges and still managed to slide the puck just wide of the post. Hagan and Nolte combined again on another power play chance but again McCafferty made the stop.

With six minutes to play, the teams traded great chances. Copponi flicked a pass into the slot for Coleman O’Brien but the senior missed the net with his shot and then seconds later Joe Robinson had a breakaway but the puck slid off the toe of his stick when he went to shoot.

““The second period, I think we had two minutes of 5-on-5 hockey,” said Balzarini. “They scored three power play goals and a shorthanded, but I thought when we played 5-on-5 we played well.”

Staffiere came through again to protect the lead when he made the save on a chance for Garland in the slot. That proved to be critical inside a minute when Hagan blocked a shot at the blue line, turned it into a breakaway and then calmly picked his spot to beat the goalie for a three-goal lead.

“That was huge,” said Shuman. “Last year we struggled to get out to the point and block shots and the past two games in particular, Joe Robinson last game and Johnny this game making huge blocks. You have to pay the price in this game.”

John Gormley had a chance for Mansfield that hit the bar and stayed out and with just a minute later, with three minutes left, Canton secured the victory on its 10th power play of the night. Connolly fired a shot from the point and Timmy Kelleher had the deft tip to find the back of the net.

Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Ice House was held in honor of Reo Todesca and Kristin Rocha, who were both connected to the Canton hockey program and both passed away a year ago. Proceeds from the night were donated to the Reo Todesca Memorial Foundation and the Kristin Rocha Memorial Scholarship.

“It was an intense hockey game but it was for a good cause,” said Shuman. “That’s really what the night is all about. We play a silly game and tonight the money raised is going to two good causes, so we’re happy about that.”

Canton (6-0) will travel to face King Philip on Wednesday night, while Mansfield (7-2) will travel to the New England Sports Village to face North Attleboro.

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Dogs Drop Heartbreaker After Improbable Comeback

Canton boys hockey
Canton senior Jack Goyetch fires a shot in the first period against Plymouth South. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BOURNE, Mass. – A punch in the gut.

That’s what it felt like for the Canton High boys hockey team on Thursday evening. The Bulldogs had just scored their third straight goal, erasing an early three-goal deficit to tie the game with just 1:53 left to in the third period.

But just 14 seconds after Canton completed its comeback, Plymouth South senior Joey Van Winkle saw his slap shot somehow find its way through a crowd in front and into the back of the net. The Panthers added an empty-net goal in the final minute to notch a 5-3 victory in the D2 South Semifinals.

“That’s what it felt like,” Shuman said. “We were bad off of the faceoff on two goals…off that center ice faceoff, they got two goals against us. It’s tough, we played hard, I’m proud of the guys for battling back like they did. That’s this team. We haven’t been down three goals all year and they fight back and made it 3-3… but [Plymouth South] just found a way to get a shot through at the end.”

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The game couldn’t have started worse for the Bulldogs or any better for the third-seeded Panthers. Plymouth South scored on its first shot of the game, just 13 seconds into the game when defenseman Jack Worrick fired a shot that found its way between a defenseman’s legs and right into the top corner.

The momentum stayed with the Panthers as they doubled the lead before a minute had expired on the game clock. A turnover in the neutral zone allowed South’s Sean Colbert to skate into the zone and his low wrist shot found its way in at the far post to make it 2-0.

It looked as though Canton might be able to get one back quickly when Plymouth South was whistled for too many men on the ice, but even the power play couldn’t help the Bulldogs.

Forty seconds into the man advantage, a miscommunication on a pass allowed South to skate out of its zone, coming down on a 2-on-1. Panthers senior Daniel Lincoln elected to shoot, hitting the crossbar and in for a 3-0 advantage.

Though down 3-0 midway through the first period, the Bulldogs started to get their legs underneath them and started to plant the seeds of the comeback.

The best chance in the first came with four minutes to play when Bubba McNeice tossed a pass in front that was deflected into the air. Senior Jack Goyetch got a good chunk of it by batting it out of the air but somehow South goalie Cam McPhee kept it out. The rebound found its way around before Mike Dadasis sent it in front again but McPhee covered the puck as Goyetch tried to bury it.

The second period was completely different than the first as the Bulldogs dominated from the opening faceoff. Canton outshot South 16-1 in the fame, scoring a pair of goals to right back into the game.

Despite having to kill a pair of power plays, the Dogs were on the front foot throughout. Shortly after a 21-second power play of their own, Canton finally got on the board.

Junior Joe Robinson read a clearance attempt from the Panthers, knocking it down with his glove. He skated towards goal, and despite having his stick lifted, his was able to slide a pass over to sophomore Chris Lavoie who buried his chance from in close with 5:13 left in the second.

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Constant pressure in the offensive zone led to a tripping call on the Panthers, and Canton made sure to cash in. Junior Ryan Nolte picked up a loose puck after a face-off, skated towards behind the goal but dropped the puck off to sophomore Johnny Hagan. Hagan tossed the puck on goal, and despite having a tough angle, the puck hit off the post and in to bring Canton within one with 1:03 to go in the second.

The third period was a bit more even with the early edge to South. But Canton continued to push to tie the game. Hagan had another tough angle shot bang off the crossbar just over three minutes into the frame.

As the clock ticked under six minutes to play, Canton amped up its pressure. McNeice came flying into the zone only for his shot to whistle just wide of the post. And then with 1:53 to play, the Dogs scored their third.

Sophomore Owen Lehane alertly pinched on a clearance attempt and then skated behind the goal to draw the attention of the defense. With all eyes on Lehane, he slid the puck through the crease to the waiting stick of Hagan, who roofed his shot to tie the game.

“This group was special, they really were,” Shuman said. “They showed all kinds of resiliency all year long. I think that’s a credit to the seniors, all 14 of them. They embraced every role we asked of them and they couldn’t be better teammates. The guys on the bench were rooting them on all the way and the guys on the ice fought like hell. It’s just a testament to this team, they were a really great team. It’s always tough to lose at the end of the year like that but I’m still proud of them nonetheless.”

Unfortunately, Plymouth South stole all of the momentum back just 14 seconds later. South gained possession down low, and as Canton’s defense collapse, the puck was sent back out to the defense and Van Winkle somehow got the puck to find its way through traffic.

Canton finished with a 36-19 advantage in shots on goal but it could have been much higher. South’s defense blocked at least a dozen more attempts in front of McPhee.

“I think blocking shots was the key to that game,” Shuman said. “They blocked a lot of our shots, and blocking shots is an art form. I give all the credit in the world to Plymouth South, they wanted that game. And a lot of times you can tell how badly you want to game by how well you block shots. They blocked more of them and a couple of their shots from the points snuck through and that was the difference”

Canton boys hockey finishes the season 17-3-4.

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Canton With Dominant Performance to Reach Semifinal

Canton boys hockey
Canton celebrates the fifth goal with its fans in a big win over Westwood at the Canton Ice House in the D2 South quarterfinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – The fans were jammed into the Canton Ice House on Saturday night, not surprising since both Canton and Westwood call it home, with lines stretching out into the parking lot at game time and people filling not only the rink’s lot but the parking lots of businesses down the street.

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The massive crowd was expecting to see a close game between two contenders for the Div. 2 South title, a game that would go down to the wire. What the crowd got was a second straight dominating performance by the Bulldogs.

Canton outshot the Wolverines 38-13, controlled play the full length of the ice, and were relentless in a 5-0 victory that moves the Bulldogs into the sectional semifinal. Canton has now scored 16 goals without reply in two playoff games and gave head coach Brian Shuman some bragging rights when he returns to his classroom at Westwood High on Monday morning.

“This time of the year, you have to play every shift like it’s 0-0,” Shuman said. “It can’t just be a saying, you can’t be just talking, you have to play every shift like it’s 0-0 and I thought they did a good job of that.”

Special teams were critical for the Bulldogs on Saturday. Canton went 3-for-6 with the man advantage, including a pair of goals in the first period, and also killed off all four Westwood power play opportunities, while limiting the Wolverines to half-chances and long-range shots.

“They had maybe just a couple of shots on the power play,” said Shuman, praising his defensive corps for keeping senior goalie Quinn Gibbs (13 saves) largely untroubled. “Our neutral zone play on the penalty kill in particular was very good. They didn’t give them a chance to possess the puck in the neutral zone to get any possession coming into the zone.”

The dominance began right from the opening face-off, as Canton came out skating hard and creating chances. Ryan Nolte had the first good look on goal skating across the slot onto his forehand but the shot was saved by Westwood goalie Justin Anderson (34 saves).

With 7:26 remaining in the first, Canton broke the deadlock on the power play. Nolte was the first to a loose puck in the crease and he was able to knock it in for a 1-0 lead, Johnny Hagan and Timmy Kelleher picking up assists. Two minutes later, the lead was doubled as Bubba McNeice picked the top corner to Anderson’s blocker side.

Westwood had one good scoring chance in the first when Tim Dalton drove hard at the net from the left side, but Gibbs kept his pad and stick in place to block the shot at the near post and it was cleared. Kelleher and Hagan both had good chances soon after but both narrowly missed the net.

The Bulldogs went up a man with 21 seconds left in the first and quickly made the opportunity count. Nolte set up Hagan in the slot for a one-timer that gave Anderson no chance and gave Canton a 3-0 lead.

“Those power play goals in the first period were huge,” said Shuman. “I think we really moved the puck well and for those guys to get that one right before the end of the period was big.”

Nolte, a junior forward, had a goal and an assist in the first, hit the crossbar in the second and he continues to put together strong playoff performances on both ends of the ice. “Ryan is laid back but he’s had a different look about him the first couple playoff games,” Shuman said. “He’s really stepped up and been consistent for us every game this season and he had another good game tonight.”

The Bulldogs did not take their foot off the gas in the second period, although Anderson did his best to tap the brakes. The Westwood goalie made 12 saves in the second alone, denying Canton on a number of golden scoring chances.

Mike Dadasis was fed in front by Jack Goyetch but Anderson made the point-blank save and he also stopped Hagan after the sophomore danced around several Westwood defensemen to get free for a shot. He then denied Nolte with a scrambling pad save on a shot from the edge of the crease and stopped Joe Robinson right in front.

“He made some incredible saves in the second period,” said Shuman of Anderson. “He kept the score where it was making some incredible post-to-post saves. It was big to get some early because if you let him get hot then it’s a game from start to finish.”

The Bulldogs finally ended any doubt on the power play with five minutes gone in the third period. Anderson stopped the first two shots but the puck squirted loose to McNeice on the far post and he took his time to roof the rebound for a 4-0 lead.

“Bubba’s goal in the third period was huge,” Shuman explained. “That’s the kind of goal you need to score this time of the year, especially against a good goalie who makes those initial stops. For him to finally put that one in was big, not only for the game but also for our goal-scoring psyche as well.”

With 3:29 left, Hagan slid in an empty net goal for his second of the night and third point. The goal wrapped up another convincing win for the second-seeded Bulldogs.

Shuman was not getting carried away after the win. He said, “It’s a good start but as you know this side of the bracket is tough and the next opponent up, whether it’s Medway or Plymouth South, is going to be just as good so we need to continue that.”

Canton (17-2-4) will face either Medway or Plymouth South on Wednesday at Gallo Arena.

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Dogs Deliver Drubbing In D2 South Opener

Canton boys hockey
Canton’s Charlie O’Connor tries to get his stick on a loose puck in front of the Somerset-Berkley goal. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – When the end of February rolls around, and March on the horizon, expectations in Canton are sky high.

The Bulldogs have been the most successful team in the Division 2 South bracket over the past decade, reaching the semifinals nine times and the finals four times. Only one team made the finals more (Franklin) in that span but no one has been as consistent as the Bulldogs.

With another playoff season upon us, the Bulldogs made a statement that they plan on making another deep run.

#2 Canton dominated from start to finish, skating past D2 newcomer #15 Somerset-Berkley with an 11-0 decision.

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“A lot of these guys have been here before, they want it,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “They know there are expectations and pressure. As much as we like to say there aren’t seeds and everyone is 0-0, they expect a lot of themselves so it was good to see them work through those first 10 minutes when they weren’t playing up to their potential and comeback and have a good second period.”

Canton scored a pair of goals in the first period but delivered the knockout blow with seven goals in the second period. The Bulldogs scored the first two goals of the period just 22 seconds in and then buried three goals in a period of 92 seconds later in the frame.

“I thought the first 10 minutes or so we played very nervous,” Shuman admitted. “You could feel it on the bench, they weren’t talking on the bench, they weren’t talking on the ice.”

But after those 10 minutes, Canton went on cruise control.

Sophomore Owen Lehane finally broke the statement just over 10 minutes into the game. He took possession behind his own goal, skated the length of the ice and past the defense but had his bid in close denied.

While the puck bounced around in front of goal, Lehane alertly got back into position at the blue line. The puck popped free onto the stick of the sophomore and he ripped a low shot through traffic to give Canton a 1-0 lead.

The Dogs capitalized on the momentum, adding a second tally with under a minute to play. Off of an offensive zone faceoff, junior Ryan Nolte was the draw clean right back to sophomore Johnny Hagan. Hagan skated between the circles and fired a wicked wrister top shelf to make it 2-0.

“I think goal scoring is equally as mental as physical,” Shuman said when asked how scoring the first goal changes his team. “All it takes is to squeeze the stick a fraction of a second too long or squeeze the stick half a pressure too tight and that makes all the difference. When you get the first one, and then the second, guys start to relax a little more and make some more plays.”

It didn’t take nearly as long for Canton to find the back of the net in the second period. Nolte won the opening draw back to Hagan who skated along the boards on the left side. He tossed a pass back in front to Nolte and the junior played the puck off of his skate and onto his backhand and flipped in his shot to make it 3-0.

Nolte gained possession of the puck himself on the ensuing faceoff. After losing it briefly, he picked the puck back up again, circled into the center of the ice and rifled a wrist shot in for a 4-0 lead just 22 seconds into the second.

Canton continued its offensive pressure with a fifth goal less than five minutes into the second. Sophomore Jack Connolly dumped a puck in, senior Jack Goyetch did well to keep possession, eventually getting it back to Connolly. The sophomore delivered a shot through traffic that senior Bubba McNeice got a tip on, making it 5-0 with 10:05 to play.

The Bulldogs went on the power play for the first time in the game shortly after their fifth tally and cashed in late with the man advantage. After a lengthy possession in the offense zone, senior Matt Casamento to across the blue line to junior Brad Murphy. Murphy took his time, allowing the forwards to get possession in front of goal. Murphy then released his shot and Joe Robinson redirected it off the post and in to make it 6-0.

The offense continued to dominate for Canton, especially its top line of Hagan, Nolte and Timmy Kelleher. Just a minute over Robinson’s tally, Nick Allen dumped the puck in deep, Hagan touched it along to Nolte, Nolte lifted a pass in the air in front of goal and Kelleher batted it out of the air and into the net to make it 7-0.

“That was a good start, that’s the line that’s getting that’s sort of getting a lot of the production this year,” Shuman said of the Hagan-Nolte-Kelleher line. “Ryan Nolte had the two goals and Johnny Hagan threw that nice pass to Timmy Kelleher for one. That line seems to get the big goals for us when we need it, to get us going. They like to be the go-to line.”

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Off the ensuing face-off, Tommy Ghostlaw won it back to Murphy, who connected up ice to Chris Lavoie. Lavoie skated to his left and fired a wrist shot to make it 8-0.

Less than two minutes later, Goyetch found the back of the net himself to make it 9-0 with 4:42 left in the period.

In the third period, Charlie O’Connor and Ryan Colby set up Kevin Murphy on the right side, and the senior drilled his shot off the post and in. The Dogs added a final goal when Colby tipped in a shot off the stick of senior Brian Ghostlaw.

Bulldog senior Quinn Gibbs made one save in two periods of play while senior Niko Donovan turned away two chances in the third period.

Canton boys hockey advance to the D2 South Quarterfinals and will take on either #7 Westwood or #10 Oliver Ames. The Dogs are familiar with both teams, sharing a home rink with the Wolverines while splitting the season series with the Tigers. The game is scheduled for Saturday with the time and location to be determined.

“Our side of the bracket is brutal, anybody can beat anybody,” Shuman said. “OA has proved that, Westwood has proved that. The difference among these teams is razor thing. Whoever plays well on any given night can get the win. From now on in there are going to be some tough games.”

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Bulldogs Skate Past Oliver Ames In Hock Opener

Canton boys hockey
Canton’s Ryan Nolte unleashes a shot in the second period against OA. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – After scoring just four goals through its first five games, Canton boys hockey team seems to have found its groove.

For the second straight contest, the Bulldogs lit the lamp five times, this time skating to a 5-0 win over Oliver Ames in both teams’ league opener at the Canton Ice House.

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Canton opened the season with a 2-0 win over Medway, but scored just once against Hanover and Shrewsbury and was shutout by Franklin and Needham. However, the lack of goal scoring wasn’t from a lack of chances, but rather just finishing.

That made Canton’s first-period goal that much more important. After Oliver Ames registered the first four shots of the game, the Bulldogs’ offense finally broke through just over the midway point. With its third line on the ice, senior Mike Dadasis provided the pressure on the forecheck, forcing a turnover behind the net before centering a pass right in front. Sophomore Timmy Kelleher was in the perfect spot, tapping in the puck with a one-timer.

“That first goal is so important,” said Canton assistant coach Scott Connolly. “We were pressing a lot the first couple of games. We broke out a little bit last game against Pembroke. But what was great about tonight was it was a team effort. We had four different goal scorers, a couple guys getting their first goal, that’s what it’s all about.”

Canton nearly added to its lead on a couple of occasions but Oliver Ames sophomore goalie Owen Connor (18 saves) came up big for the Tigers. Just over a minute after the opener, Kelleher had a breakaway bid turned aside by Connor, and with just under three minutes to go in the period, Connor blanked a one-timer from Joe Robinson.

Oliver Ames had just over a minute of power play time to begin the second period but couldn’t muster up a shot thanks to Canton’s pressure. Shortly after killing the penalty, the Bulldogs went on the man advantage and cashed in.

Senior defenseman ripped a low pass wide of the net off the boards that bounced perfectly to the other side of the net to a waiting Ryan Nolte for an easy tap-in and a 2-0 lead.

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The Tigers had another power play later in the period but once again went without a shot on frame.

“To be honest, we were just overpowered on the puck,” said OA head coach Sean Bertoni. “We’re still going the process of supporting each other. We really only have one center, we have two guys trying to learn the position. But Canton was just stronger than us. They wanted it more. We lost a 3-on-1 battle on the power play, that just sums it up right there.

“We were exhausted by having to play defense so much. We were running around way too much in the defensive zone. I don’t mind the time of possession, especially against Canton. We made too many passive mistakes. If you’re going to get beat, do it being aggressive.”

Leading 2-0 heading into the final period, the Bulldogs wasted little time in adding to the lead. Inside the first minute, Robinson extended the lead to three with a goal from in close.

Just over a minute later, Nolte and sophomore Johnny Hagan moved up the ice with a nice passing sequence, resulting in Nolte in along on goal and he finished to make it 4-0.

“In between the second and third period, I just told them that this was their game,” Connolly said. “To see them to show the grit to come through and win the period 3-0, to me that shows what this team is capable of doing. Oliver Ames is a great team, they were all over us in the first period. They were pressuring us but the kids stuck with it in the second and third.”

Canton capped the scoring with 9:14 left in the game. Sophomore Tommy Ghostlaw collected the puck in the corner of his own defensive end, carrying it up to the blue line before finding Kelleher. Kelleher connected with Dadasis, who dumped it back to Ghostlaw who finished for his first goal.

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“I think the biggest thing for us is getting that first guy on the forecheck,” Connolly added. “You saw it with the first goal, Michael Dadasis went in and pinned the guy and the puck popped loose, made a great play…it all started with that pressure. When our first guy is forechecking and the next two guys are doing their jobs, that’s when we’re firing on all cylinders.”

Canton boys hockey (1-0 Hockomock, 3-1-3 overall) is scheduled to be back in action on Saturday when it travels to King Philip at 5:20. Oliver Ames (0-1, 2-3-0) is off until next Wednesday when it takes on Stoughton at Asiaf at 7:30.

Franklin Shuts Out Canton in Non-League Matchup

Franklin hockey
Franklin senior forward Brendan O’Rielly celebrates the second goal of the game in the Panthers 2-0 victory over Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Two good bounces turned into two goals for Franklin, one for Dan Magazu in the second period and one for Brendan O’Rielly in third, and senior netminder Owen Ginley made 27 saves to make those goals stand up, as the Panthers pulled out a 2-0 victory over rival Canton in a non-league meeting on Friday night at Pirelli Veterans Arena.

“We had a really bad practice yesterday after a big win Wednesday (4-3 against defending Div. 1 state champion St. Mary’s of Lynn) and I just didn’t know what to expect,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane.

“Canton did a great job taking a lot of space away. When we’re playing our best hockey is when we’re using our team speed and they didn’t allow us to do that tonight. We just had to grind it out.”

The Bulldogs came out of the gates flying, outshooting Franklin 11-4 in the opening period and creating a number of scoring opportunities only to be denied by Ginley.

Sophomore Chris Lavoie had the first good chance of the game nearly three minutes in when he was fed in front by junior winger Joe Robinson, but Ginley got his blocker on the shot. The puck deflected up off the post and out with several Bulldogs fans arguing that it had actually gone in. Five minutes later, Lavoie had another chance when he corralled a loose puck in the slot but it was saved and Robinson’s rebound was gloved.

“He was solid for us last year,” said Spillane of Ginley, “and it’s going to be hard for those other two senior goaltenders to take his spot away. It really is because when he’s focused and he’s mentally into the game then he’s a really good goaltender.”

Franklin had its best chance of the period when Zac Falvey managed to knock the puck into the zone with his hand, barely staying onside in the process. He slipped a pass to senior Jeremy Miller alone in front but his shot slammed off the post. A couple minutes later, Miller found Falvey with a drop pass but again the Panthers were denied by the post.

In between those chances, Canton junior Ryan Nolte found the perfect pass to spring senior Bubba McNeice behind the defense, but he was denied on the breakaway by Ginley. McNeice was stuffed a few minutes later with Jack McGrath clearing the rebound off the line and in the final seconds of the period Robinson had another chance but again the goalie was up to the task.

“To come out with no goals in a Franklin/Canton game is always disappointing,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We couldn’t get any momentum at all. It’s one thing to have a shot on net and get a rebound and have an opportunity and it’s another thing to put one home.”

Franklin came out much stronger in the second period and started to take control of the game. Within two minutes, the Panthers nearly created the opening goal when Miller forced a turnover with an important back-check in the defensive zone. He hit Falvey on the outlet, who then found Joe Lizzotte flying past the defense only for Canton goalie Quinn Gibbs (22 saves) to make the stick save.

“Our second line is carrying a lot of weight right now,” said Spillane of the combination of Miller, Falvey, and Lizzotte. “Jeremy is just a strong, strong kid and he makes good hockey plays and he’s got two speedsters on his line that are small but they’re fast and they’re good with their hands. They seem to pick up the pace when we need it.”

The deadlock was finally broken with 9:13 left in the second. O’Rielly carried the puck into the offensive zone and was met just outside the left circle by two Canton defensemen. The puck squirted free and Magazu skated onto it all alone. He cut across the crease and lifted a backhand over Gibbs’ pad for a 1-0 lead.

Spillane said, “The first goal is huge and it definitely gave us a boost of energy. You could see the kids get into it. After the first period, I just knew it was going to be one of those games and we were going to have to grind it out and we were fortunate to get a couple bounces in the end.”

Franklin doubled its lead early in the third period thanks to another friendly deflection. Luke Downie battled along the nearside boards to sweep the puck back to the point and retain possession. Tom Trasker lined up a slapshot that kicked off the skate of a defenseman right to O’Rielly, who took a second before wristing a shot past Gibbs.

“We went down 1-0 and our bench felt like we went down 5-0 with two minutes to play and that was disappointing,” said Shuman. “We did fight back and had some chances, but it’s hard to climb back from 2-0 hole with eight minutes left against these guys because they have good goaltending and play defense better than most.”

Canton stepped up its intensity in the closing minutes, desperately searching a goal that would get the Bulldogs back in the game. Nolte had the best chance on a power play with five minutes left. He tipped a shot from the point right in front of Ginley, who made the first stop, and then had the rebound come right back to his stick only for Ginley to throw out a pad and stuff the chance on the post.

It was the first loss of the season for the Bulldogs, who won their third straight Gormley Cup last week. Shuman explained, “I just thought they outplayed us. They looked like a seasoned, veteran team out there that was ready to play, won more battles than us, and I think intimidated us in many aspects.”

Franklin is unbeaten through its opening two games of a very difficult stretch to start the season. Spillane remarked, “Pope Francis next and then Newburyport and then Mount St. Charles (Holiday Tournament) is just crazy and it’s back-to-back days. It’s going to tell us where we are and where we need to get to so that in league play we’ll be firing on all cylinders.”

Franklin (2-0) will travel to the Olympia Center in Springfield to face perennial Super 8 contender Pope Francis on Thursday. Canton (1-1-1) will host defending Div. 3 state champion Shrewsbury on Wednesday.

Franklin Edges Canton In Non-League Clash

Franklin hockey
Franklin’s Brendan O’Rielly and Canton’s Jack Goyetch battle for possession. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – Head coaches Chris Spillane and Brian Shuman shared a similar sentiment following Saturday night’s game at the brand new Canton Ice House: more offense.

While the Panthers came away a 2-1 non-league win over the Bulldogs, Spillane has a handful of experienced forwards that were only able to register 15 shots in the game.

For Shuman, his Bulldogs created plenty of scoring chances, putting 23 shots on net but an inexperienced offensive unit was only able to convert once.

The bright side for both teams is that it’s just the first week and both Spillane and Shuman expect their respective teams – and one another’s – to improve in the coming weeks.

“We had it in little bits and spurts but nothing sustained at all,” Spillane said. “That was not one of our better hockey games, from the back end to the front end. I think we had only like 13 shots total which is insane for us. We have most of our returning offensive players back, we should be scoring four goals a game. It just wasn’t offensive game, nor a good defense game.”

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Franklin scored the game-winning goal less than a minute into the final period. The Panthers started the final period tied 1-1 and on the penalty kill, but junior Brendan O’Rielly powered through into a breakaway, forcing a tripping penalty by Canton.

“We got ourselves in trouble sometimes,” Shuman said. “A little bit too much angst and energy, especially there in the third period. We didn’t know the clock and we had a guy pinch and cause on four on one – just didn’t make smart decisions. I think the guys were just too amped up at times and there were some unfortunate penalties. But overall, we had our chances. We made maybe a few mistakes and they capitalized but we had a boatload of chances and I know their goalie was looking back several times we just couldn’t tap it in.”

After playing four on four for a short time, Franklin went on the power play. O’Rielly had his wrist shot ring off the post but the puck eventually found its way to the blue line. Junior Jack McGrath ripped a shot through traffic and found the back of the net to put the Panthers up 2-1.

“We’ll take that. In games like that, you’ll take any goals you can get,” Spillane said. “That was a nice shot from Jack McGrath. But overall we missed the net a lot. We hit the glass, we were shooting right into players. Their one goal we shot it right into the guy blocking the shot – beautiful job by him but you have to have some hockey awareness and find the lanes.”

It was a back and forth opening period with neither side grabbing the majority of play. Franklin had the pressure early on but couldn’t sustain any attacking zone time. Canton picked up the play in the second half of the period, with Tommy Kilduff forcing a turnover and finding Joe Robinson but Franklin goalie Cam Benham (22 saves) made the kick save.

The Bulldogs kept the pressure up as two minutes later, Bubba McNeice carried possession into the attacking zone but his shot whistled wide. With a power play for the final 1:22 of the period, the Bulldogs nearly cashed in but McNeice’s shot through traffic was pushed aside.

Canton had to overcome an early penalty in the second period but the Bulldogs were able to carry over some momentum from the end of the first. Junior Matt Casamento blocked a Franklin shot at the blue line and raced his way past the defense. He went in alone on goal and potted his wrist shot in with 12:30 to play in the second to put Canton up 1-0.

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“Matt Casamento was like a ninth defensemen for us last year and we moved him up to forward this year and he’s probably been one of the most pleasant surprises of the preseason and he played a hell of a game in his first varsity action,” Shuman said.

“We need guys like that to step up. We had guys in the top six that got a lot of playing time tonight that didn’t have as many chances as some of the guys that had just a few opportunities. We really have to figure some things out and get the guys in there that earned some more time.”

Canton couldn’t tack onto its lead even with power plays with 7:38 to play and again with 4:48 to go in the second period. The second power play was cut short for a holding call on the Bulldogs.

Franklin nearly tied the game when Colin Oppelt tossed a shot and Joey Blasie had a chance on the rebound but his shot slid just wide. Benham kept Canton from doubling its lead with an impressive kick save on a shot through traffic from Michael Pigeon.

The Panthers cashed in 30 seconds later when Matt Crane unleashed a shot from the blue line and the rebound fell to O’Rielly for the tap in with 1:15 to go in the period.

Canton, on another power play, had a chance in the final seconds but freshman John Hagan saw his shot clank off the crossbar and stay out.

“I thought Canton played very well, they had a good jump in their step and I think they just had the yips, they missed about three or four open nets,” Spillane admitted. “If they convert there, we would have been down. Even on the last shift they had a lot of opportunities. It’s early in the season, I know both teams will get better as the season goes on we just need to make some big steps.”

“It’s just the first game though. Franklin had a lot of guys back, a lot of guys with experience from a state championship team,” Shuman said. “We had a lot of guys in our locker room playing their first varsity game, let alone their first game against Franklin. It was a good game, good hockey game with a lot of chances. We just have to move on and get ready for Westwood.”

Canton (0-1) will try to earn its first win when they play Westwood at the Canton Ice House.

“Two wins is what you want,” Spillane said. “We have a tough stretch coming up with Pope Francis on Thursday, Newburyport on Friday and then we go to Mount – so we have five games against really good teams. So we need to get better fast if we want to compete in those games.”

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