Canton Opens League Play With Win Over Mansfield

Canton's Bobby Mullaney looks to shoot in the third period against Mansfield on Saturday evening. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Canton’s Bobby Mullaney looks to shoot in the third period against Mansfield on Saturday evening. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
CANTON, Mass. – A year after Mansfield snapped Canton’s lengthy Hockomock League unbeaten streak, the Bulldogs opened this year’s slate of league games with a 3-1 win over the Hornets.
While each team scored in the first period, neither team found the back of the net in the second. It took until the first couple minutes of the final period for Canton to score the winner and until the final seconds for the insurance goal.
“It was an interesting game,” Canton head coach Brian Shuman said. “A lot of penalties which sort of disrupted the flow of the game. Our penalty kill was good. I wouldn’t say that we played undisciplined I just think we were too amped up sometimes and we had some big hits that often times can go either way. We killed the penalties we needed to kill and pulled out a win. I just told the guys it wasn’t our best game but we still pulled out a win. Mansfield is a good team, they had great goaltending, great defense and they had some guys on offense that really can go so it was a good game.”
Canton junior Jackson Maffeo the scoring inside the first five minutes of the game to give the Bulldogs the lead. A defenseman, Maffeo had the puck and a Mansfield forward coming at him. He batted the puck to keep it in the zone and then bodied the forward to the ground. He took a pass a second later, faked a shot to get around another charging forward, stepped to his right and fired a rocket through traffic that found the back of the net to make it 1-0.
“There was a lot of anger in that shot, Jackson’s had a couple of shots blocked this year that he wants to have back, it was a beautiful shot,” Shuman said. “It’s something we’ve been working on with him too, he walked into the middle and saw he didn’t have the shooting lane and walked it back, it was a great goal.”
It looked as though Canton would have an opportunity to add to the lead just over three minutes later when Mansfield was whistled for a hooking call. But for the first of two times in the period, the Bulldogs would erase the man advantage by taking a penalty while on the power play.
Right after Canton’s first penalty expired, Bobby Mullaney and Seamus Pecararo combined to force a turnover in Mansfield’s defensive end and then combined on a neat give and go by Pecararo’s close range bid was stoned by Mansfield goalie Anthony Visconti (33 saves).
“I thought he played phenomenal,” Mansfield coach Rick Anastos said of his goalie. “That first goal, I was right there on the bench, that was a bullet. We’ve been playing some tough teams and we don’t have a win but I think we just showed what we’re made of.”
With just over two minutes left in the first, Canton once again went on the power play when Mansfield was whistled for a cross check. But the power play only lasted 39 seconds because of a hit to the head called against the Bulldogs.
In a four on four situation, Canton head a shot blocked at the blue line by Mansfield’s Matt Farragher. Max Hoffman jumped to the loose puck and raced into the offensive zone and delivered a perfect pass to Farragher on the two on one and the junior buried it to tie it 1-1 with 1:07 left in the first.
The second period belonged to Canton in terms of shots on goal while Mansfield had the two best chances of the entire period but neither team scored.
Canton went shorthanded less than 90 seconds in for an interference penalty but were able to kill it off. Midway through the period, Maffeo ripped a shot that deflected twice by a diving Visconti was able to steer it clear before any big rebound chance.
Mansfield went on the power play with just over five minutes to play but a cross check a minute in made it four on four. Another Hornet penalty made it five on three for 31 seconds but Canton couldn’t cash in. When Mansfield’s latter penalty expired, Jack Garland raced out of the box and took a chipped pass up ice for a breakaway. He fired a shot that beat Canton goalie Justin Slocum but clanked off the post and out.
With less than a minute to play, Canton went on the man advantage but it was Mansfield who came away with a breakaway on goal with less than 10 seconds to play but Slocum was up to the task and made the save.
“It was one of those games, we were playing well and then all of a sudden a guy is out of the box and he’s on a breakaway or they shot blocked and they are on a breakaway,” Shuman said. “It just goes to show you in this game moves too fast to ever get comfortable. You think you’re in control but a strange bounce you can just go the other way and there is a scoring opportunity.”
It didn’t take long for Canton to find the back of the net in the third period. After a clearance by the Hornets hit the net, a face off came to the left of Visconti. There was a tie up but the puck eventually squirted free to the stick of senior Matt Lazaro and he ripped a shot from straight away right between the circles to the top shelf to put Canton up 2-1.
“That’s vintage Matty Lazaro right there,” Shuman said. “He moved his feet right away off the face off and creates some space and gets a nice little shooting lane and throws it where he always does in the top left, it was a great shot.”
Mansfield went on a power play with 1:02 left and with Visconti pulled, the Hornets had a six on four opportunity but Mullaney was able to pick off a pass in the center of the defensive zone and ripped a shot the length of the ice for an empty net goal for the insurance goal.
“It’s frustrating not to win especially when you don’t have one yet but I thought it was a great game, it could have gone either way,” Anastos said. “We had three breakaways and we hit the post once, there’s four opportunities blown right there. It all comes down to opportunities but I thought we played pretty good. They’re a pretty fast team and I thought overall, I don’t think they dominated us, it was was just a great game.”
Canton moves to 4-1-1 overall and 1-0 in Hockomock League play. The Bulldogs will be back in action on Wednesday when they take a trip to Foxboro Sports Center to take on King Philip (3-3, 1-0) at 8:00. Mansfield (0-4-2, 0-1) will look to break into the win column on the same night with when they host Stoughton at 5:40.
“Mansfield plays a tough schedule and they are battle tested,” Shuman said. “I remember last year coming in they had a similar record and they pulled it out. We knew this was going to be a battle because they played good teams tough but it’s good to get off to a good start in the league.”
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Canton Ties Westwood in Sectional Final Rematch

Canton Hockey
Canton celebrates Bobby Mullaney’s opening goal in the first period against Westwood. The game finished in a 1-1 tie. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

CANTON, Mass. – Canton coach Brian Shuman teaches at Westwood High and he admitted that he told the official that he gets a little more fired up for the Wolverines than he does for most games. He wants the bragging rights when he heads back to the classroom.

On Wednesday afternoon, the teams met for the first time since last year’s Div. 2 South final, which Westwood won on its way to the state championship. It was also the first meeting for the two programs at the Canton SportsPlex rather than their old home at the Metropolis Rink.

There would be no bragging rights this time around as Canton and Westwood tied 1-1, despite a 30-14 advantage for Canton in shots on goal (25-5 over the final two periods).

Both goals came against the run of play. Bobby Mullaney took advantage of a bouncing puck off the stick of Shaun Kirby to get a breakaway on Westwood goalie Ed Murphy and the senior finished the opportunity.

It was Canton’s only significant chance of the period in which Westwood held a 9-5 advantage in shots. That only told part of the story, as the Wolverines kept the puck in the Bulldogs defensive zone for minutes at a time. Although Canton held Westwood to the perimeter, the Bulldogs were forced time and again just to ice the puck in order to get a breather.

“That was the worst period of the year and for us to be up 1-0 at the end of the first was…just luck,” said Shuman. “We got a bounce, an odd-man rush, and that was that, but they were all over us.”

Shuman praised senior goalie Justin Slocum, a three-year starter, for keeping the game scoreless. He added, “Justin played great in the first period. He made all the saves he should but he quieted up all the rebounds and got us whistles when we needed them.”

Canton would dominate the second period to the tune of 13 shots to Westwood’s three, but the Wolverines had several good chances on the break. Slocum was forced to save an early shot by Ben Lewis and then with 7:32 left in the second Nick Conway blocked a clearance by Ryan Lodge and squeezed the puck past Slocum to tie it.

“When the two teams are playing each other that tight, sometimes one team will be all over the other and one bounce and you could be down 1-0 or tied 1-1,” said Shuman.

Canton continued to press for the remainder of the second period with Seamus Pecararo having the best chance off a feed from Mullaney but his shot was gloved by Murphy.

The pressure continued into the third, which was played almost entirely Canton’s attacking zone. Westwood only managed two shots on goal in the final period. Murphy made 12 saves in the third for the Wolverines, many of them off of shots coming in from the point by defensemen Jackson Maffeo, C.J. Martin, and Brad Murphy.

“We couldn’t have a performance in the third period like we did against Lincoln-Sudbury on Monday,” said Shuman, referring to the three goals allowed in the final five minutes against the Warriors. “It was a much better effort and we did everything but actually put the puck in the net.”

One shot from Maffeo wih 4:36 remaining was blocked in front and fell to the stick of Jim Jenkins, but his shot with Murphy diving across was wide of the post.

“Our defense just needs to make more plays,” said Shuman. “We just have to get the shots through and we had some clearing passes that we need to make.”

On the other end of the ice, the defense proved to be in midseason form. Maffeo shut down a Westwood odd-man rush, blocking the passing lane and then smothering a shot before it could get to Slocum. Martin also showed off his speed to get back on another break to block aside a good Westwood chance.

Shuman said, “They’ve got some great skill players and a great team, so for them to make those two big plays was very important.”

At the final whistle, Canton (3-1-1) seemed the more frustrated of the two teams knowing that it had the chances to win. But both teams skated off knowing that they have the potential to meet again before this season is over.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Kirby Inspires Canton Comeback Win Against Franklin

Shaun Kirby
Shaun Kirby (18) scored a pair of goals (and had two disallowed) to help the Bulldogs bounce back twice and edge league rival Franklin at Schneider Arena. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The top rivalry in Hockomock hockey was showcased on a new stage Friday night,, as Canton and Franklin met in their annual non-league matchup at Schneider Arena on the campus of defending national champion Providence College.

Bulldogs junior Shaun Kirby transferred into the rivalry from Catholic Memorial last season, but suffered a pair of one-goal losses to the Panthers. The third time was the charm for the forward, who scored two goals, hit the post, and had two other goals taken off the board by whistles to inspire Canton to a 4-2, come from behind win.

“I think Shaun Kirby played the best all-around game I’ve seen him play in his two years here,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “He was the best player on the ice and he was a difference maker.”

Kirby scored twice in the opening period, both times bringing Canton back from one-goal deficits. His first tally came on the power play just a minute after he had a goal ruled out when the official lost sight of a loose puck and blew the play dead. Rather than hang his head, he came right back down the ice and received a perfect pass from Matt Lazaro for a one-timer in the slot.

After another Franklin goal, Kirby and the Bulldogs responded quickly. Just 30 seconds after falling behind, an odd-man rush by the second line led to another Kirby one-timer with Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski (22 saves) stranded at his near post.

“They were all over us to start the game,” said Shuman, “and until we got a couple of power plays they were outshooting us 8-1, but we battled back.”

Kirby nearly gave Canton the lead in the second period but he had two point-blank chances blocked by Franklin’s senior netminder. With 4:03 left in the second, Kirby appeared to have his hat trick on a breakaway. The puck disappeared, the red light came on and the Canton fans started celebrating, only to have the officials rule that it landed in Jasinski’s jersey and stayed out.

The Bulldogs got off to a quick start to the third period and Lazaro pounced on a deflected shot by sophomore defenseman Brad Murphy that landed right on the senior’s stick at the far post. He buried his shot to give Canton its first lead at 3-2 with 13:51 left to play.

Shuman said of Lazaro, “Everyone on the other team knows who our best player is and it’s going to be a matter of him keeping his head on straight and being mentally tough when things aren’t going his way.”

Not even two minutes later the Bulldogs’ lead was doubled. The puck stayed loose in the crease in front of Jasinski and senior forward Jim Jenkins took a couple swings at it and the puck dribbled slowly inside the far post for a 4-2 lead.

The Panthers come into the season on the back of a historic run to the Super 8 (becoming the first Hockomock team to ever qualify for the prestigious tournament) but also trying to replace 21 seniors who graduated off that team.

In the opening minutes of the first period, Franklin looked like the experienced team and jumped into the lead when junior Adam Assad took an outlet pass from defenseman Thomas Sicchio and finished to make it 1-0. After Kirby tied it, Franklin took the lead with 1:28 left in the first when Matt Pleshaw’s shot from the point was redirected by sophomore Jeremy Miller.

Franklin coach Chris Spillane said, “We came out with a little fire in our belly and then in third period we just didn’t do it. Every time we scored, we let them right back in the game.”

In the third period, trailing by two goals, Franklin had an opportunity to get back into the game when Canton had Jenkins and Murphy sent to the box. The Panthers struggled to get any clear-cut chances, despite the two-man advantage, and at times in the third looked like a team that was still figuring things out.

“There was a lot of unsure plays, not sure what to do with the puck, making bad turnovers,” said Spillane. He added, “We didn’t really have too many quality shots and we had ample opportunities on power plays…and you need to have that killer instinct to put it away and we didn’t do that.”

There is plenty of season remaining for the Panthers and Shuman was confident that at the end of the year Franklin would be right back in its usual perch atop the league. Spillane noted, “It’s a tough way to start the season, but we’ve got some young kids who are happy to be playing hockey and we’ll make it right.”

Canton players rushed onto the ice at the final whistle celebrating with senior goalie Justin Slocum (24 saves). The Bulldogs have not beaten Franklin in a couple seasons and, as one assistant remarked, it was going to be a much happier ride back up I-95 after this win.

Shuman said simply, “It’s been a couple years, so it was a good W.”

Both teams will be right back on the ice on Saturday. Canton travels to Gallo Arena in Bourne to face Sandwich, while Franklin gets a test from fellow Div. 1 tournament contender Bridgewater-Raynham.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Hockey: Davenport Division Preview – 2015-2016

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By HockomockSports.com Staff

CANTON

2014-2015 Record: 16-6-1
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Final
Coach: Brian Shuman
The Bulldogs will look to write a new chapter in their jam-packed history book as they will play their home games at the Canton SportsPlex this season after a roof collapse at Metropolis last season.
That isn’t the only change for Canton this season as they will have to overcome the graduation of many seniors, including Brian Hagan, and the transfers of John Femia and Jerry Harding. The good news is that Brian Shuman returns a bulk of talent including Matt Lazaro, the team’s leading goal scorer the past two seasons.
Also back is last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Jackson Maffeo to power the blue line, goalie Justin Slocum, entering his third year as Canton’s starting goalie, junior forward Shaun Kirby (28 points last season) and senior Jim Jenkins, who has impressed so far in the preseason according to Shuman.
“We have a lot of new faces in the program, so getting the new players acclimated to the varsity level pace of play will be the challenge early on,” Shuman said. “We need to find some balanced scoring this year, as well as get our forwards to play in all three zones – not just the O-zone. Defensively, it starts with Justin Slocum. We’re hoping for a big year out of him. We also need some guys to step up and round out the top five defensively.”   

FOXBORO

2014-2015 Record: 3-12-3
2014-2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jim Genovese
The Warriors only graduated five skaters (and one backup goalie) from last year’s team and will be looking to make big strides this season.
Leading scorer Peter Smith is back and head coach Jim Genovese is looking for a big offensive season out of the junior after his 11 goal season as a sophomore. Mike Carresi, another player who impressed last year as a sophomore, is back and is looking to improve on his seven goal campaign.
Junior John Cronin, who has been the starter since midway through his freshman year, is back for another year between the pipes after 333 saves last year. Defensively the Warriors are going to rely on youth with sophomore Aidan Sullivan, junior John Brolin and three freshmen joining in.
“We look good up front with the top two lines of returning players,” Genovese said. “This league is tough and for us, we have to come to the rink every night and play mistake free hockey. We don’t have the numbers in our program like some of the other schools so we need to be ready and bring the same intensity every night. I’m excited to get started.”

MILFORD

2014-2015 Record: 13-8-1
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Balzarini
Anytime you are coming off the best season in program history, there is a lot of pressure to follow up. That challenge is going to be a lot harder for head coach Mike Balzarini as he only has 11 total players, two of which are goalies.
After limiting eventual D2 State Champion Westwood for the majority of the game in the D2 South Quarterfinal at Asiaf last season, it looked like it was just the beginning for the Scarlet Hawks. Instead, a mix of transfers, players going to juniors and a handful of players not returning leaves Milford in a tough spot.
The good news is that Milford has senior goalie Brian Ireland back for his third year as starter and he is one of the best netminders in the league. Senior forward Jonathan Chase will be one of the top offensive options, RJ Stansbury is back after an impressive freshman campaign, senior Spencer Lathrop will be another player that will be relied on heavily for the Scarlet Hawks and sophomore Jacob Balzarini – who has a high hockey IQ – will be a good two way player for Milford.
“We’re going to have to be patient,” head coach Mike Balzarini said. “The kids have really put in a lot of effort and we’re going have to stay positive throughout the whole season.”

OLIVER AMES

2014-2015 Record: 9-9-3
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Mark Homer
If there was one (Davenport) team that had the most to replace, it would be Oliver Ames. Besides Franklin graduating over 20 seniors from its Super 8 team, the Tigers have to somehow fill the void left by former HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Tyler Provost, 30-point player Tim Doherty and three time HockomockSports.com Goalie of the Year Jimmy Tierney. And on top of that, 13 other seniors were lost to graduation.
Yet there is a lot of optimism around this year’s Tigers hockey team. Matt Mancini (six points last year) will move up to the first line along with former Stoughton player Ben Litwack (three points). Oliver Ames will rely on a pair of sophomores – Eric LeBlanc and Owen Gallagher – to pair up with freshman Cullen Gallagher to provide an attacking punch. Jared Costello is back for his third year and will be a leader on defender after the Tigers lost five defensemen to graduation.
“We will take one practice and one game at a time and will continue to improve as a team moving forward in the season,” OA head coach Mark Homer said. “We need to get better each day and work on things that will develop us to becoming a competitive program in the Hock.”

STOUGHTON

2014-2015 Record: 1-18-3
2014-2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dan Mark
It might have taken until the last game to get the first win last season but the Black Knights already have three points in two games this season and there is a lot of promise in this years squad.
Mark Sheehan is lacing his skates up for the Black Knights for the fourth year and will be a big part as Stoughton makes a push for the playoffs. As a Hockomock League All Star last season, Sheehan will be a vital part in getting a young Stoughton team going. Eoin Doherty is another player that is entering his fourth year on varsity for the Black Knights and should anchor the defense. Junior Jon Lessa has shown flashes over the past two years and could be a strong contributor for Stoughton.
“We are still a young team, skating eight freshmen and sophomores, but we are returning many veteran players,” head coach Dan Mark said. “Our strength should be several returning players who have played varsity for three or more years.”