2020-2021 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

2020-2021 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview
Canton held on for a scoreless tie at Franklin that secured the Bulldogs the outright league title last season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
2020-2021 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2020-2021 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Canton

2019-2020 Record: 19-1-4
2019-2020 Finish: Division 2 State Co-Champion
Coach: Dennis Aldrich

The pandemic has cost Canton an opportunity to defend its first D2 state championship, but the Bulldogs have an experienced squad that will be looking to claim a second straight league title. Although dynamic defenseman Olivia Maffeo has transferred, Canton can count on 13 returning players, including nine forwards, so there is plenty of continuity as the program makes its move to the rebuilt Metropolis Skating Rink.

Maffeo’s goals will certainly be missed, but the Bulldogs will expect the forward lines to pick up the slack. Seniors Maria Femia, Lizzie Tassinari, and Ellie Rae Roberts all have four years of experience at the varsity level and each is capable of putting the puck in the net on a consistent basis. The forwards will also be the first line of defense, as their forechecking ability puts pressure on the opponents in all three zones.

Defense has been a strength for Canton throughout this impressive run of success. This year, there will be a few new faces on the blue line but junior Allie McCabe and sophomore Maya Battista will lead the defensive unit and both stood out last year for their strength, skating, and passing out of the zone. Backstopping the Canton defense is sophomore goalie Carolyn Durand, who recorded 14 shutouts as a freshman.

“I look for our team defense to be a strength as usual and am looking for our experienced forwards to find the back of the net more often with the confidence gained by capturing the first state title for Canton High School Girls Ice Hockey,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich.

Franklin

2019-2020 Record: 7-9-5
2019-2020 Finish: Reached D1 Preliminary Round
Coach: Margie Burke

2020-2021 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Last winter, Franklin pushed its league title defense right to the final game of the regular season and this year the Panthers will be hoping to reclaim the crown in what should be a typically competitive league campaign. Franklin will hope that a young defensive group can get up to speed right away to complement the experience that the Panthers have in attack.

The forward line should be a strength for Franklin this season. Senior Amanda Lewandowski is back to be the focal point after recording 21 points as a junior. Fellow seniors Libby Carter and Katelyn Brown will add experience and energy to the forward line, providing not only scoring punch but also helping out in the defensive zone as well. Sophomore Lyndsey Atkinson is coming off an impressive rookie season in which she led the team with 10 goals.

Defensively, Franklin graduated a group of players that had several years of varsity experience so it will be new faces that will have to step in this year. Junior Katie LeBlanc and sophomore Shaw Downing are two of the defenders back from last year’s squad. If teams get through the Franklin defense, senior goalie Gabby Colace is back to keep things difficult for opposing forwards. Colace was one of the league’s top shot stoppers last year, allowing fewer than two goals per game.
“We are very grateful to have the opportunity to get on the ice and compete,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke. “This year we expect to have a balanced squad. The Hock should be very competitive as always. ‘Play every game like it’s the last’ will be our motto.”




King Philip

2019-2020 Record: 10-11-1
2019-2020 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ken Assad

After coming up just one point shy of the state tournament last season, the Warriors are entering the 2020-2021 campaign with a lot of determination, ready to make a run at the Hockomock League title.

The Warriors have a large amount of returning players back for this season and all now have a year of experience under their belts playing for head coach Ken Assad, who enters the season with plenty of optimism and excitement. Assad will look to role three to four lines throughout the season, giving the Warriors a lot of flexibility with their offensive looks. In senior captain Averi Maxwell (18 points) and juniors Moran Cunningham (24) and Sydney O’Shea (20 points), King Philip has one of the most dangerous attacking units in the league. Not only will the Warriors get a lot of production from that line, but it should also open things up for everyone else on the ice.

Junior Jen Daniels (16 points) is back after a breakout sophomore campaign, sophomore Katarina Precobb will look to follow up a strong freshman season, and seniors Nicole Brady, captain Olivia Donovan, Kara McWhinnie, and sophomore Bridgette Nally will all be in the mix offensively for the Warriors. There will be a lot of familiar faces on the defensive end for the Warriors as well with senior assistant captains Gabriela Trujillo and Libby Curran anchoring the blue line unit. Juniors Meg Sherwood and Alison Donovan bring key experience from last year while sophomores Brielle Hearon and Emma Sullivan will factor in defensively as well.

Mallory Johnston picked up some valuable experience between the pipes last season filling in for an injury and will now take over the starting job in net for KP. The Warriors also have a strong freshmen class ready to contribute right away with Kelly Holmes (forward) and Mara Boldy (defense) in the mix.

“With the experience we have this year and always being very optimistic for a good start, I expect them to work hard in all three zones and be a top contender for a Hockomock title this year,” Assad said. “There is great team chemistry on this team and with our captains’ leadership, they will definitely give it 110%. The girls accept the fact there is not going to be a tournament and are very excited to get on the ice no matter what the season will look like and for that, I continue to be very proud of them and what they have gone through.”

Mansfield/Oliver Ames

2019-2020 Record: 10-10-1
2019-2020 Finish: Reached D1 Preliminary Round
Coach: Roy Bain

Coming off a strong 2020 campaign and with a group of veteran players on the roster, MOA head coach Roy Bain has a positive outlook on the upcoming season for his Warriors.

MOA recorded double-digit wins last season and nearly pulled off a gigantic upset in the opening round of the state tournament (5-4 loss to #8 seed Boston Latin). The Warriors have 11 seniors on this year’s roster and that, plus a strong mix of experienced underclassmen, should mean good things for the season. The defensive unit for the team remains intact with senior Emma Pereira, the team’s MVP from a season ago, back to anchor that unit. She’ll reunite with junior Julia Muttart for one pairing while seniors Melissa Shanteler and Megan O’Hara are back together on the blue line again this year.

Not only will there be familiar faces along the blueline, junior Jess Widdop returns for her third season between the pipes for MOA. Widdop had a strong season in goal for MOA a year ago and with so much familiarity among the defensemen, the Warriors will be one of the toughest teams to score against. Freshman Kata Callanan will push for time in net as well.

On the other end of the ice, Bain has compiled four lines that could all see time on the ice. Senior Alex Ledin (16 points), senior Ella Waryas (15 points) and sophomore Reese Pereira (17 points) accounted for the majority of the Warriors’ scoring last year and will be among the most dangerous lines in the league. The line of Sam Ledin, Kylie O’Keefe, and Emma Garland will provide a change of pace, using their speed on both ends of the ice; the trio of seniors Lily O’Brien and Tess Luciano centered by junior Cierra Doherty will provide veteran leadership; and sophomore Mya Waryas will be surrounded by freshmen Maeve Anastasia and Cam Shanteler for a youthful option.

“This team only graduated two players, it has essentially the same personnel from last year, but with a renewed sense of the possibilities of what they can build for this program,” Bain said. “Some of the seniors were cheated out of their seasons in other sports and know what’s at stake for girls hockey. I’m impressed by the focus they’ve shown this far. The rules they play under may have changed, but their mindset and their love of the game has not.”

Stoughton

2019-2020 Record: 3-15-1
2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Rich Grasso

2020-2021 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

The Black Knights took a step in the right direction last season, picking up points in four contests including three wins. Stoughton will look to build on that this year in a very competitive Hockomock League.

Morgan Lessa was one of the best forwards in the Hockomock League last season, second in the entire league with 21 goals scored and tied for second-most in points with 31. Haley Nelson also had a strong junior campaign and was a big reason for Stoughton seeing an improvement on the ice from the season before. Nelson accounted for nine goals and six assists.

Zofia Bangs made an immediate impact for the Black Knights last season and is coming off a strong field hockey season. Both Bangs and Jillian Parker played key roles in the attack for the Black Knights. Stoughton will have to replace goalie Brianna Buckley (graduation). Buckley recorded over 350 saves last season and was a key piece in the Stoughton defense.

Power Play Goal Lifts Canton to Win at KP

Canton Girls Hockey
Canton freshman Olivia Maffeo (16) scored the game-winning goal on a first period power play to lift the Bulldogs over King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


FOXBORO, Mass. – Skating five-on-five, there was very little to separate Canton and King Philip on Saturday night at the Foxboro Sports Center. When given the opportunity to skate 5-on-3, the Bulldogs found the back of the net and the Warriors had a shot come up and inch short of crossing the goal line.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In a game decided by the finest of margins, Olivia Maffeo’s power play goal in the first period turned out to be the game-winner and Lizzie Tassinari tacked on an empty net goal in the final minute, as Canton won 2-0 and took over first place in the league standings.

“We were way too deep and gave up way too many odd-man rushes and too many bad reads,” Canton coach Dennis Aldrich about his team’s play over the first two periods. “I think we slowed down mentally and just got back to what we usually do, which is get pucks behind them and grinding. We’re not a flashy team. We have a damn good record but we have to work.”

Aldrich was full of praise for the Warriors, calling them one of the top two teams that Canton has faced this season and first-year head coach Ken Assad was happy to hear that assessment of his team’s effort.

“Defensively we skated all three zones hard and we back-checked as best as we could do and took No. 16 (Maffeo) out of the play as much as possible,” Assad said. “I think the girls did a fantastic job with that and did exactly what I asked them to do.”

KP got off a to a good start, instantly putting pressure on the Canton defensive unit. Morgan Cunningham got space on the left wing and saucered a pass into the middle where Makenzie Shandley was able to beat two players to get to it, but couldn’t beat freshman goalie Carolyn Durand.

Three minutes later, Shandley again caused problems for the Bulldogs. She popped up on the left side and fired a shot from a tight angle that slipped underneath Durand but was hooked off the line by forward Maria Femia.

Canton was struggling to get anything consistent going in the attacking zone. That changed with 10 minutes left in the first when the Bulldogs went on the power play and then just 35 seconds later KP sent another player to the box.

Maffeo continued her impressive rookie campaign by taking advantage of the space and time in the left circle and roofing a shot over KP goalie Cristina Coleman (15 saves).

The Bulldogs nearly doubled the lead near the end of the period. Tassinari sparked the breakout from the defensive zone with a pass up the boards to Femia, who sent a pass cross-ice to Tess Khoury on the left wing. Khoury gained the zone and set Tassinari up in front of goal but Coleman made the stop.

There were even fewer chances for either team in the second period, but Tassinari had a good look off a Femia face-off win and Shandley took advantage of a slip by a Canton defenseman to create a scoring opportunity.

As the period wound down into the final three minutes, the Warriors got their own five-on-three chance. Shandley and Sydney O’Shea had a nice give-and-go on the right side and then set up Cunningham at the back post. It appeared that the puck had gone in and the Warriors all raised their arms to celebrate but the officials ruled that the puck hadn’t fully crossed the line and Durand (19 saves) scrambled to cover.

“We know they’re tough defensively and we just wanted to get pucks low and get girls on them,” said Assad. “We’re struggling offensively obviously and we wanted to get pucks to net and crash and I think we did a pretty good job of that. It’s tough to get a goal and that would’ve been a big boost for us but it didn’t happen.”

It was the moment that KP was looking for, but the Bulldogs remained in front. Coming into the third period with the lead, Canton was able to get back to its typical style of getting pucks deep, controlling play in the defensive zone, and putting pressure with the forecheck.

Maffeo continued to be Canton’s main offensive threat, as the freshman time and again carried the puck out of defense to get into shooting range.

While the Bulldogs were clamping down defensively, led by Meg Aldrich, Allie McCabe, and Olivia and Alexa Maffeo, KP did manage to create several chances to tie the game. Nicole Brady had a wrister gloved by Durand, Olivia Donovan spun and put a puck on net, and Gabrielle Trujillo had a shot from the point that caused a scrum in front nearly tipped in by Shandley.

Assad explained, “It’s just about getting the puck in the net. They’re battling and they just need to find that knack, and hopefully it will come soon. There’s a lot to gain from this.”

“Ken is doing a great job,” Aldrich said. “I would put them on par with Westwood. That’s a damn good team and he’s doing a fantastic job with them. The kids believe, they play with confidence, they’ve got an edge to them.”

He added, “I think at times we tried to get a little too pretty but for these kids it doesn’t suck being 7-0 and not playing as well as you want to but beating a very good team.”

Canton (7-0) will have a chance to extend its lead in the league standings when it hosts defending champion Franklin on Wednesday. King Philip (2-4) will try to get back on track when it hosts Shawsheen Tech.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Shandley, Coleman Help King Philip Skate Past Franklin

King Philip girls hockey Jen Daniels
King Philip’s Jen Daniels watches after releasing a wrist shot in the second period against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Ken Assad has plenty of good memories inside on the ice inside of Pirelli Veterans Arena just next to the campus of Franklin High.

Now he can add his first career win as a high school hockey coach to that list.

A state champion as a player in 1983 and a state champion as an assistant coach in 2016 with the Franklin boys hockey team, Assad traded in his Panther baby blue for the King Philip green and gold this season, taking over the helm of the Warriors girls hockey program.

In the second game of the season, Assad guided the Warriors to a 2-1 win over the Panthers for his first career victory.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“The girls earned it, they came in and played above our expectations today coming off a tough loss to Mansfield,” Assad said, adding he couldn’t have asked for anything better than getting his first win at Pirelli. “We didn’t come out flying in that game, and they got three goals on us in the second period. So to see them play the way they played today, it was fantastic.”

“That’s what we’re looking for. They’re always practicing hard, they are listening to the coaches, and that showed out there. We want them to go hard the entire game and that’s what they did tonight.”

King Philip took the lead just a couple of minutes into the game only for the Panthers to find the equalizer late in the first period. Franklin had a big chance to break the game open with a five-minute power play, but the Warriors killed it and changed the game.

KP senior Makenzie Shandley opened the scoring just three minutes into the contest for her first goal. After winning possession at the blue line, Shandley fired a shot that was originally saved but the rebound came right back and she fired a shot past the goalie.

While it looked like a goal, and the players’ reactions dictated the same, there was no whistle and the game carried on. After nearly 30 seconds of play, the refs got together on the next stoppage to confer. The decision ended up being a goal for Shandley and a 1-0 lead with just under 12 minutes to play in the first.

Despite taking the lead, the ice tilted in favor of Franklin for the rest of the period. The Panthers peppered the net with 11 shots, including a nice chance set up by freshman Lyndsey Aktinson, finding classmate Molly Hurley for a one-timer but her shot was denied by a stick save from KP senior Cristina Coleman (26 saves).

The Panthers couldn’t take advantage of a power play just before the midway point of the period, and then had a pair of chances inside a minute denied. Gina Vignone fired a shot that was loose in front with both Libby Carter and Ryan Sullivan digging in before Coleman covered. Less than a minute later, Coleman came up with a nice save on a strong shot from Franklin senior Gianna Cameron.

Franklin’s pressure finally paid off with just over four minutes to go in the frame. Senior Tina Pisano skated through a pair of stick checks, briefly losing control before settling the puck back on her stick and she roofed a shot from straight away to make it 1-1.

The first chance of the second period fell to the stick of KP junior Jen Daniels. After blocking a shot in the defensive zone, Daniels skated the puck across both blue lines before firing a wrist shot that was turned away by Franklin junior Gabby Colace (20 saves).

The Panthers went on the man-advantage for five minutes after a major with 8:37 to go in the period. Franklin put a handful of shots on net, including a big chance on a pass across the crease but Coleman denied the chance. King Philip’s Sydney O’Shea came up with a nice play on a stick check to thwart a breakaway chance as well.

A minute after killing the penalty, the Warriors went on the power play themselves after an interference call on the Panthers. KP didn’t waste much time to cash in with O’Shea firing a shot from the slot that was blocked wide. Shandley was first to the loose puck, and after calmly collecting it, buried a tight angle chance into the open net for a 2-1 lead.

“It took three lines to kill that penalty, and that third line (Nicole Brady, Olivia Donovan, Katarina Precobb) was unbelievable during it,” Assad said. “They just go out there, they hunt the puck down, and they clear it out and you can’t ask for anything more than that. To be able to kill that major was huge for us. And then we’ve been practicing our power play, and the girls are like sponges because they pick it right up. We got that shot in the slot that we wanted.”

King Philip nearly put the game away early in the third period when O’Shea and Shandley nearly linked up but Vignone stepped in to deny the connection. Seconds later, the Warriors had a big clank off the crossbar and stay out.

Atkinson found junior Amanda Lewandowski but her deflection was gobbled up in front by Coleman. Donovan had a breakaway chance for KP but again Vignone intervened.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin was on the verge of a good chance with just over three minutes to go with Lewandowski and Atkinson skating in the offensive zone but Daniels made a nice hustle play to prevent a chance on goal.

“Coming off the Mansfield/Oliver Ames games, we really wanted to take away loose pucks in front of the crease,” Assad said. “We really focused on that and they did a great job with it tonight. [Mansfield] scored three of their four goals on scrums in front so we really worked hard getting our sticks on the puck and it really showed today. And [Coleman] was just fantastic. She made some key saves for us, she had a huge one during that power play.”

Franklin (1-1, 1-1) will try to bounce back on the same day when it hosts Austin Prep.

2019-2020 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Franklin girls hockey
MOA’s Emma Pereira (left) and Franklin’s Gina Vignone battle for possession at the blue line last season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019-2020 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Canton

2018-2019 Record: 12-6-5
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 First Round
Coach: Dennis Aldrich

The Bulldogs will be using a mix of veterans and new faces as they try to get back on top of the Hockomock League. After winning the first league championship in 2018, the Bulldogs finished second last year but will be aiming to take back the title in 2020.

The strength of the team will be along the blue line with senior captains Alexa Maffeo and Meg Aldrich leading the way. Both have a ton of varsity experienced, including playing in a state championship game, and Canton will lean on them heavily for their leadership both on and off the ice. The defense will also feature sophomore Allie McCabe, who picked up valuable experience as a rookie a season ago. The defense will also get a boost from a pair of new faces with freshmen Olivia Maffeo and Maya Battista expected to be big time players for the Bulldogs.

Offensively, head coach Dennis Aldrich said he expects his side to be very quick and opportunistic in the attacking zone. Junior captain Maria Femia (two goals, nine assists), junior Lizzie Tassinari (five goals, 13 assists) and junior Ellie Rae Roberts (four goals, eight assists) are familiar with the system and have high expectations for the season. Sophomore Tess Khoury (six goals, five assists) returns after an impressive freshman senior. Freshman goalie Carolyn Durand has impressed early on with senior Vicky Revanche give the Dogs an experienced option in net.

“The early energy and closeness of this team has been remarkable,” Aldrich said. “I look for us to make some noise both in the Hockomock League and the state tournament this season.”

Franklin

2018-2019 Record: 17-3-2
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 Quarterfinals
Coach: Margie Burke

It’s been back-to-back very successful seasons for the Panthers, and head coach Margie Burke is looking for that success to continue in 2020. Franklin won 14 games two years ago, and then went unbeaten in Hockomock League last year and finished with 17 wins overall.

The defending Hockomock champs have a lot of experience back on the defensive end. Junior goalie Gabby Colace is back between the pipes for Franklin and will be one of the top netminders in the area. She posted a 0.905 save percentage in the regular season a year ago, allowing just 1.77 goals a game while making 242 saves. She will have some familiar faces in front of her with seniors Tina Pisano, Gina Vignone, and Gianna Cameron all back playing defense. Franklin was tough to score against last year and that will likely be the case again this year.

The biggest question mark offensively will be trying to replace the production of Regan Paterson and Cassi Ronan, who were two of the top three point producers in the entire league last year. But Franklin has a good cast of players ready for expanded roles this year. Juniors Libby Carter (five goals, three assists), Amanda Lewandowski (eight goals, 10 assists), Katelyn Brown (five goals, three assists), and Maddy Dolan, give the Panthers plenty of options on the attacking end. The Panthers will be looking to get some production out of the eight underclassmen on the roster as well.

“We are looking forward to building on the successes of last year and to be competitive in a very strong Hockomock League,” Burke said.

King Philip

2018-2019 Record: 4-13-2
2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ken Assad

After helping the Franklin boys team for over a decade, Ken Assad has traded in his Panther blue for the green and gold of King Philip, taking over the helm of the girls’ hockey program. Coming off a four-win season, Assad and his staff are very optimistic about the upcoming season.

The Warriors only have three seniors on the roster, so they will need contributions from every player on the roster to compete for a Hockomock League title and try to get back into the state tournament. Although it’s a small senior class, all three are important pieces to the team and are spread out on the ice. Makenzie Shandley is a newcomer to the program but will be leaned on to guide the offense on the first line. She is joined by returning forwards Avari Maxwell (seven goals, two assists) and sophomore Morgan Cunningham. Assad is hoping to have a deep offense with Jennifer Daniels, Olivia Donovan, Sydney O’Shea, Katarina Precobb, and Meg Sherwood all in the mix to get plenty of ice time.

Defensively, the Warriors are going to lean on senior captain Sami Robison. Fresh off a terrific field hockey season, Robison will be the veteran leader of the blue line unit for the Warriors. Junior Gabriela Trujillo should see an expanded role this year and will be an important part of the defensive unit. Junior Libby Curran, sophomore Ally Donovan, and freshman Maggie Griffin and Brielle Hearon are also apart of the KP defense. In goal, senior captain Cristina Coleman and freshman Mallory Johnston will push one another for time in between the pipes.

“Being a young team is great for the future of this program which is exciting,” Assad said. “We are always optimistic for a good start and to compete at a high level and I know the chemistry we have and the great leadership the girls will come out giving their best.”

Mansfield/Oliver Ames

2018-2019 Record: 9-9-3
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 Preliminary Round
Coach: Roy Bain

The Mansfield/Oliver Ames/Foxboro girls hockey team is relying on a mix of youth and veterans to push for a return to the state tournament in 2020. Although there are just two seniors on the squad, there is still a handful of experienced players that have played in plenty of contests at the varsity level.

Senior Liz Healy, junior Emma Pereira, and junior Melissa Shanteler will lead the way for the Warriors this season. Healy will be a leader on the offensive end while both Pereira and Shanteler will provide MOA with talent and leadership on the blue line. Joining that junior duo on the blue line will be classmate Megan O’Hara and sophomore Julia Muttart. The Warriors added some depth to the defensive unit with the addition of freshmen Brooklynn Levins and Maya Manganaro. Behind that talented group of defensemen will be sophomore goalie Jess Widdop, who had a terrific freshman year and earned team MVP honors.

On the offensive end of the ice, the Warriors return the speedy line of junior Alex Ledin (six goals, three assists), sophomore Sam Ledin (three goals, six assists), and sophomore Kylie O’Keefe, all representing Foxboro. Healy will be joined by Tessa Luciano and Emma Garland on another line while OA freshman Reese Pereira will be working with Foxboro’s Ella Waryas and Mansfield’s Lily O’Brien, giving the Warriors a lot of depth offensively. MOA is also looking for contributions from Elle Weinstein, Pam Nelson, Maeve O’Keefe, Erin DiCenzo, Cataline Kipp, Ciera Doherty, Ava Adams, and Mya Waryas.

“With a team comprised of two seniors, ten juniors, nine sophomores, and four freshmen, the program can look forward to continued consistency and success for the next few seasons,” said MOA head coach Roy Bain. “This team should compete against the talent-rich and always tight Hockomock League race.”

Stoughton

2018-2019 Record: 0-20-0
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Rich Grasso

After a down year, the Black Knights are looking to getting back on track as they team up with Sharon High for the second straight season.

Stoughton boasts skill at each position with junior Morgan Lessa back for her third year with the program, junior Haley Nelson returns to anchor the defense, and senior Brianna Buckley gives the Black Knights plenty of experience between the pipes. Stoughton will need contributions from everyone on the roster with four seniors, four juniors, six sophomores, and four freshmen.

Lessa is among the league’s top players at forward, scoring nine goals and adding three assists last year. Senior Abbey Kashian is one of the team’s three captains and will provide leadership on the offensive end. Look for Sharon junior Sam Sherman, another captain on the team, to fill in both offensively and defensively depending on the team’s needs. Seniors Carly Lader and Hannah Duff will provide depth on the attack this season.

Nelson, who logs a ton of minutes, will be the leader of the defensive unit. Sophomore Zofia Bangs and Sharon junior Jillian Parker are going to be key pieces on both ends of the ice this season for Stoughton. Freshman Ava Buckley has impressed early on this preseason and could give the blue line a big boost.

Family Connection Leads to Franklin Title

Luke Downie
Cousins Luke (left) and Jake combined on the state title game winning goal. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry

BOSTON, Mass. – In 1983, Franklin went into overtime in the Div. 2 state championship game against Falmouth at the old Boston Garden. Ken Assad, now an assistant coach for the Panthers, broke free on a 2-on-1. He passed to his brother Brian, whose shot was spilled back into the path of Ken for the game-winning, and title-winning, goal.

On Sunday night, the Panthers went into double overtime at the TD Garden against St. Mary’s (Lynn) in search of a second state title and first since that magical night 32 years ago. Once again, it was a family connection that secured the trophy.

Senior Jake Downie received a cross-ice pass from Tyler Oakes and gained the zone. As he skated towards the lefthand circle, he spotted his sophomore cousin Luke racing up behind him and dropped a pass into his path.

“I came down and saw Luke coming up behind me, dropped it back and I just saw him rip it and I knew it was going in,” said Jake in the press room after the game.

Luke added, “He dropped it to me and I looked at the net and I slid it five-hole.” The puck took a slight deflection and beat the St. Mary’s goalie to the blocker side, squeezing between the pad and his stick.

The shot clinched a 4-3 victory in an instant classic and won the program its second state championship and first in Div. 3. This was especially impressive considering the Panthers have only spent three years in the top division and graduated 21 players from last year’s Super 8 qualifiers.

The team had played with a chip on its shoulder all year, living up the program’s high standards while most observers called it a rebuilding season.

“We had a lot more to work for since no one expected us to be doing this,” Jake explained. “So it was really nice to be proving people wrong and working towards that.”

Midway through the season, head coach Chris Spillane (a member of the 1983 team along with Luke’s and Jake’s uncle Jamie Downie) made changes to the lines to try and find more scoring. He moved Jake onto the line with Luke and Joe Blasie, who had been paired together last season on JV. The move paid instant dividends.

“We played one game on the same line and we scored three goals,” Luke said. “The three of us had instant chemistry. [Jake] always works well on the wall and gets it to me.”

Jake added, “It’s really cool, especially being on the same line. It’s just fun being out there with my cousin, growing up together and then now playing together on the same line.”

“He’s two years younger than me so this is actually the first year we’ve played a real league together.”

As the season progressed, the second line started to click and as the playoffs began Luke was one of the Panthers top scorers and a player that seemed to be coming through with important goals every game. It was no surprise to Spillane that Luke popped up as the hero on Sunday.

He explained, “We said tonight in the locker room…someone in this room is going to be a hero, who wants to be that hero tonight? Midseason [Luke] just turned it on and it’s great to see him be that hero.”

Following the goal, the players began a raucous celebration with Luke, who was also celebrating his 16th birthday, flying into the near side boards right in front of the Franklin faithful.

He explained, “I tried to make a celebration but one of my teammates got in my way, so I couldn’t really pull it off, but I jumped right on the glass and was very excited about that goal.”

“Best birthday present you could ask for,” Luke added, already thinking about the learner’s permit test he was scheduled to take on Monday.

Luke promised that he would be holding that goal over his cousin for a long time and over his brother Nick, who graduated last season.

When Jake was asked about how excited he was to see his cousin become the hero, he replied with a laugh and a smile, “It’s good…wish it was me.”

Ken and Brian Assad have gone down in the folklore of Franklin hockey for the championship they won and they will now be joined by another pair of relatives, as Luke and Jake Downie turned a second family connection into a second state title.

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