Franklin Edges Walpole To Advance To D1 South Semis

Franklin hockey
(Ryan Lanigan/Photo)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The biggest difference between Franklin and Walpole might not have even been something that happened on the ice on Saturday night.
Instead, one extra day of rest might have been enough to push Franklin to a 1-0 win over the Rebels and into the D1 South Semifinal. Franklin beat Wellesley on Wednesday night and Walpole picked up a shootout win over Archies on Thursday to meet one another in the quarterfinals.
“It was a good physical game and from here on out that’s what you’re going to get,” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane said. “Walpole just came off a really physical, exhausting game on Thursday night. I think us having that extra day of rest, being able to go watch them play, and have two practices and sort of going easy in them knowing this would be a tough game, I think that was a little bit of a benefit for us. They were sort of gassing out there, the schedule definitely worked to our benefit.”
To be fair to the Panthers, they were dominant in almost every area of the game except for the scoreboard. Sophomore Luke Downie scored the lone goal on a power play in the second period and Nick Jasinski made 17 saves for the shutout.
The Rebels had the better start to the game with a couple of early shots, even going up a man less than three minutes in because of a tripping call. Yet Walpole was unable to muster up a serious scoring chance in the period. The best chance of the first period fell to the stick of senior Jake Downie. Downie blocked an attempted clearance and skated in alone on goal. He fired a low wrist shot but Walpole goalie James Corcoran was able to get his glove in the way for a huge save.
The play was just the start of the momentum swing as the Panthers slowly took control of the game. At nearly the same exact time in the second period, another penalty was whistle but this one a hooking call that put the Panthers on the power play. 40 seconds in, Luke Downie was able to corral a loose puck off a rebound that forced Corcoran out of his crease and wrap it around the other end, bouncing it off the goalie and just over the line.
“It was a power play opportunity and it was sort of a busted play,” Spillane said. “Luke Downie sort of wrapped it around and bounced it off their goaltender. It doesn’t matter how it goes in, it goes in and it’s still one on the board. I’ve said Luke has to be one of our better players for us to have success. He’s playing through an injury and he played very well for us.”
Shortly after the goal, the Rebels went on the man advantage but once again, Franklin’s defense stood tall and didn’t allow a serious chance against Jasinski. In the period, Franklin only allowed four shots on goal for Walpole.
“This was a good one to be in,” Spillane said of it being close throughout. “I don’t think at anytime I was saying we’re not playing good hockey. We played really sound forechecking and we eliminated all of their opportunities. I think the shots were two to one [ratio]. We threw a lot of pucks at [their goalie], he had a lot of work. But our goal was to forecheck and sort of eliminate the up and down hockey and I think we did a really nice job of that for three periods.”
The Panthers continued to roll three lines all game and it proved to be a big help in the third period. Franklin dominated the final frame with a 14-5 advantage in shots.
“We realized we wouldn’t be able to run two [lines] as much as we wanted to but that third line played great,” Spillane said. “They came out, forechecked, worked hard and were in the offensive zone. If you’re putting a third line out there and they are in the offensive zone, they’re doing something right. It was a good team effort. I think that was our best game for 45 minutes this year. The scoreboard doesn’t indicate it but I thought we played 45 minutes of hockey and we really didn’t give them too many quality opportunities.”
Just after an early power play concluded, Franklin nearly doubled its lead with 12 minutes to play in the third. Adam Assad saw his backhand attempt go just wide after a rebound off a good shot from senior Joe Corsi fell to his stick. The Panthers nearly put in a second with just two minutes to play when James Kilroe tipped a shot from Jack Chaffee but Corcoran was able to get a piece. 30 seconds after that, Assad had another chance kicked aside.
On the other end, Walpole’s best chances came in the final minute. Charles Harrington picked off a pass at the blue line and ripped a shot but Jasinski made the glove save. After a timeout and with the goalie pulled, Owen Hunter found himself in some space and fired a backhand that Jasinski just got a piece of. The puck trickled on the ice with an open goal but Franklin freshman Kevin McKay got to it first and clear it away, taking a hit into the post right after.
“Kevin overcompensated for his mistake, he was sort of creeping up into the high slot and that guy was wide open behind him,” Spillane said. “I’d rather the two defensemen be the last guys out of the zone but he’s a good skater and he was able to get back and make a great play for us.”
Franklin (14-3-5) advances to the D1 South Semifinals against Newton North at Gallo Arena in Bourne. At the time this article was published, the time and date are still to be determined.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Canton and Franklin Finish Scoreless in Rematch

Nick Jasinski
Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski (31) denies Canton forward Matt Lazaro (9) in the second period on Saturday. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – The top two teams in the Hockomock have been struggling to score goals consistently this season and on Saturday afternoon at Pirelli Veterans Memorial Rink Canton and Franklin continued to find offense hard to come by in a scoreless tie that provided plenty of excitement despite the puck never finding the back of the net.

“I joked with Coach Spillane in the line, if that doesn’t sum up both of our seasons right there then I don’t know what does,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We’re both struggling to put the puck in the net.”

“Ironically that was one of the most wide open Franklin-Canton games. We both had plenty of chances.”

Franklin coach Chris Spillane agreed with those sentiments. All season he has talked about the need for players to step up on the offensive side and that continued against the Bulldogs.

“Canton has the same disease as Franklin, can’t put the puck in the net,” he laughed. “Both teams had really good opportunities and maybe credit the goaltenders, they stepped up and made stops when they had to but yeah it was a game with very few quality, wow that should’ve been a goal.”

Franklin had the first chance of the game just two minutes in. Alex Bissanti and Luke Downie combined to create an opening to slide a pass across the crease to Adam Assad charging in at the back post but the junior was not able to put the puck on net under pressure from the defenseman.

With 7:44 left in the first, Jeremy Miller had a chance after intercepting a poor clearance but his shot from the slot was wristed wide.

Canton held a 5-4 edge in shots after the first but the Panthers dominated territorially in the second, controlling the puck in the Bulldogs’ zone for the opening four minutes of the period and managing five shots on goal. Despite Franklin’s domination of possession, it was Canton that had the best chances.

Midway through the period, Jim Jenkins redirected a shot from the point but was denied by a quick kick save by Nick Jasinski (15 saves). Nearly two minutes later, Canton had two great chances, both created by Matt Lazaro. He set up Bobby Mullaney for a shot from the slot with a behind the back pass but it went wide and then 30 seconds later he had another chance on an odd-man rush and was stoned at the near post by Jasinski.

“Any time that their first line was on the ice they seemed to have a little edge,” said Spillane. “Lazaro creates opportunities and other than that it was equal. He’s always finding those second and third trailers and giving them good opportunities.”

With 4:23 left in the second Miller had another shot on a rebound in the slot but Justin Slocum (25 saves) stood tall and denied the close-range chance.

“You can’t discount what the goaltenders did,” said Shuman. “They made some big saves on both ends.”

The third period was a replica of the second. Franklin outshot Canton 21-10 in the final two periods and had almost constant pressure on the Bulldogs back line, but defensemen Jackson Maffeo, C.J. Martin, D.J. Trerice, and Ryan Lodge helped Slocum keep the Panthers off the board.

Shuman explained, “They were all over us for very long stretches of time. I thought they outplayed us for long part of that game, but we still had chances to win it. It was an exciting game.”

Canton also had the two  best scoring chances of the third, despite only recording four shots in the period. Brad Murphy created the first with a charge up the far boards and a pass right across the crease that Bubba McNeice directed towards goal but Jaskinski snatched it. With 1:01 remaining, Lazaro had a clear look from the slot but again the Franklin goalie stood tall to save.

“That’s what you get with us,” said Spillane about the rivalry. “There was very little flow, it was back and forth, hard forechecking, hard hits…it’s good hockey, good to watch.”

He also credited his defensemen for keeping shots from getting all the way to the goaltender. Joe Corsi made a diving intervention to block a 2-on-1 in the first period and he and fellow seniors Matt Pleshaw and Tyler Oakes and freshman Kevin McKay were regularly in the way.

“Sometimes, I think it was more out of panic, sliding around, but today I think that we did line up with them well and play good, positional defensive hockey,” said Spillane.

It was a game that had the potential to break open, but both teams came in struggling to create offense and that continued, although both will go home with an important point and still unbeaten in the league this season.

“We just couldn’t put it away and sometimes that happens,” said Shuman. “Two good teams, good defenses and a couple guys holding the stick a little tight and throwing it at the pads.”

Franklin (7-3-3, 5-0-2) will travel to Asiaf Arena to face Stoughton on Wednesday, while Canton (10-2-1, 7-0-1) will travel to Aleixo Arena to face Attleboro on Monday.

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

Taking Stock of the Hock: Ice Hockey 2015-16

Jackson Maffeo
Junior defenseman Jackson Maffeo (7) has been one of the key cogs for a Canton defense that has been one of the stingiest in the league. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Who is the midseason hockey Player of the Year?

Josh Perry – Canton hasn’t gotten its offense to click into gear quite yet, but the Bulldogs have only allowed 13 goals in 13 games through Monday and one of the main reasons for that stinginess is the continued development of junior defenseman Jackson Maffeo. The three-year starter is a beast on the blue line for Canton and has become one of the team’s leaders on the ice.

Maffeo reads plays well and has turned into a much more physical defender capable of battling in the boards when needed. He is quick and decisive and continues to add more offensive play to his game as well. With Maffeo, and transfer C.J. Martin, Canton has the defensive corps to compete with the top teams in the always competitive Div. 2 South bracket.

Ryan Lanigan – At the midway point, this is certainly one of the most competitive races for the top player in the Hockomock. I think Canton goalie Justin Slocum has really put together a nice season so far but historically our Player of the Year has been a skater (not that that won’t change). Taunton’s Tyler Pietrzyk has also put together a strong season this year and anytime you have nearly 40 points at the midway mark, that’s impressive.
But right now I’d say my pick is Canton senior forward Bobby Mullaney. He’s not an overly flashy player but he does a lot of things right and does them well. He’s emerged as a leader and a constant for Brian Shuman and Canton. He’s the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 15 points (8G, 7A) and has helped Canton to a perfect league record so far.

Who is the midseason hockey Underclassman of the Year?

Perry – Once again there are a number of young players that are making instant contributions at the varsity level. Jeremy Miller and Kevin McKay have been solid for Franklin, Colin Cooke continues to emerge as a potential star at KP, and OA has several freshmen that are keeping the Tigers in the thick of the league title race, but right now my pick would be freshman goalie Ryan Warren of North Attleboro.

Warren has stepped right in between the pipes and helped North stay within a point of first place in the division. North has only allowed 19 goals in its first nine games this season and Warren had a goals against average of 2.36. He has already made 189 saves and has a save percentage just a hair under 90 percent while recording two shutouts. Goalie is a tough position and Warren has stepped right in and been solid.

Lanigan – Just like the Player of the Year race, there are a handful of real strong candidates for the top freshman or sophomore this season. Franklin’s Jeremy Miller, Stoughton’s Sean Doherty, KP’s Collin Cooke and Attleboro’s Jake Parker have all been impressive so far this year but my choice at the midway point is Oliver Ames’ Owen Gallagher.
Gallagher, just a sophomore, has been one of the Tigers’ best players this season while playing on the top line and has six goals and 10 assists. He’s a very unselfish player that can create a lot of things for teammates, and when he wants, he can create opportunities for himself. He seems to be in the right place at all the right times too. He showed he has no problem setting teammates up with a three assist game against KP and then showed he can score too by potting a hat trick the very next game against Taunton.

Midseason First Team

Perry
G – Justin Slocum, Canton
D – Jackson Maffeo, Canton
D  – Tyler Oakes, Franklin
F – Mark Sheehan, Stoughton
F – Tyler Pietrzyk, Taunton
F – Bobby Mullaney, Canton

Lanigan
G – Justin Slocum, Canton
D – Jackson Maffeo, Canton
D – Clay Geuss, King Philip
F – Owen Gallagher, Oliver Ames
F – Tyler Pietrzyk, Taunton
F – Bobby Mullaney, Canton

What has been the biggest surprise this season?

Perry The biggest surprise is that when looking at the league standings last week Mansfield was on the bottom of the Kelley-Rex. The Hornets, who have jumped up to fourth in the division, have consistently been among the top two in the league for years and have played several strong games this season including a 3-1 loss to Canton and a 2-2 tie with North Attleboro, but there was also a narrow 2-1 win over a much-improved Stoughton team and a 2-2 tie with Attleboro that raised some eyebrows and highlighted the Hornets’ struggles to score goals.

Mansfield needs to make a strong run in the final nine games of the season because second place in the league, which has been a way of getting into the playoffs in past seasons, is slipping away. Make no mistake, the Hornets have played a very difficult schedule that has included the likes of Franklin, Canton, Coyle, and Peabody and has not been blown out once, but it is still a shock to see Mansfield not among the Kelley-Rex leaders at this stage of the season.

Lanigan – I’d say the biggest surprise so far has been Taunton. I think everyone expected the Tigers to continue to head in the right direction, but so far this season they have taken a giant step forward and are closing in on a playoff berth. After narrowly missing out on the state tournament last season, the Tigers have meant business from Day 1 of this season. Tyler Pietrzyk has been on a tear offensively and the whole team is averaging just a shade under five goals a game. Although they haven’t been overly strong in Hockomock League play, the Tigers can still pick up some key league wins in a tight Kelley-Rex race.

At this point, which team will be going furthest in the tournament?

Perry Right now, this sort of feels like a no brainer. Canton has the pedigree, having made it to the Div. 2 South final each of the last two years and at least the semifinal for the past three seasons, and also has the defensive strength to make a run and challenge the TVL trio of Westwood, Medfield, and Medway. The Bulldogs are among the favorites to win the South title and make a trip to the Garden and although playoff match-ups will determine a lot of who goes how far, the Bulldogs will be confident that they can compete with any of the teams that they may come up against.

Lanigan – It’s really tough to pick against Canton, so I won’t. I know coach Brian Shuman wants to see a more consistent offense and the Bulldogs will need it if they want to challenge the TVL for D2 South supremacy. Oliver Ames is another team I could see hitting a hot streak and if Zach Walsh plays like he did against Canton in the postseason, we could see a strong run for the Tigers. Don’t count North Attleboro in D2 South as well and of course, if Franklin can develop a consistent scoring threat, they will be a tough out in D1 South.

Downie and Miller Spark Panthers Against OA

Nick Downie Jeremy Miller
Jake Downie (9) and Jeremy Miller (5) each scored a pair of goals for the Panthers in a 5-0 victory over OA. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – Heading into their first Hockomock game of the season, the Panthers seem to have solidified the blue line, but there are still question marks about who will provide the goals for the defending league champs.

On Wednesday night at Pirelli Veterans Arena, senior Jake Downie and sophomore Jeremy Miller provided the offensive punch. The second line forwards contributed four goals and two assists to propel the Panthers to a 5-0 victory over visiting Oliver Ames.

“Those two guys have been pretty consistent for us,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane about Downie and Miller, who have been the team’s top scorers this season.

While he praised his second line for its production, he also added, “We need to rely on our first line a little more. If you’re going to have success then you need to have three lines contributing and right now we sort of have one going for us.”

The first line of Adam Assad, Alec Gilliatt, and Alex Bissanti started the game well, despite not having played in a full week due to a postponement on Saturday. Just four minutes in, Assad was robbed by a Zach Walsh kick save and just about three minutes later Gillatt set up Bissanti but Walsh went post to post to deny the point-blank chance.

The Panthers dominated the first period, but could not find a way past Walsh. The sophomore made 11 of his 30 saves in the first and kept the Tigers in the game. But, in the second, Franklin finally found the breakthrough.

A shot from the point by Stanley Carter was knocked down by Walsh and the puck sat in the crease for a second before Miller smartly tapped it to the left to a wide open Downie to finish into the open net.

“The defense threw it at the net,” said Miller, “and I was just kind of in front battling and he was where he was supposed to be on the back door.”

Downie added, “I was in the right spot and it just happened to pop out to me.”

Although the Tigers only managed five shots in all three periods and spent long stretches in the defensive zone, OA had several scoring chances. Senior Ben Litwack was left alone in the slot with four minutes left in the first but his shot was right into the pads of Nick Jasinski and early in the second Jared Costello sped forward and forced the goalie into another good kick save.

“At 1-0, they had some great chances and it easily could’ve been a 2-1 game for them,” said Spillane. “Nick’s been in there all year for us, he’s battle-tested, and he’s been making save after save for us.”

OA coach Mark Homer said, “I thought we were in survival mode too much during the game and maybe that comes with the inexperience we have, but I told the guys I don’t care if you’re a freshman or a senior if you’re on this team then we need to perform to their capabilities.”

Assad nearly doubled Franklin’s lead less than two minutes after Downie’s opener, but his great move to get past the defense ended with a shot ringing off the inside of the post.

Just 17 seconds into the third period, OA went on the power play, but the Tigers could not take advantage and did not get a shot on goal. Fifteen seconds after the penalty expired and with OA still pressed forward, a loose puck bounced onto the stick of Downie and he finished his breakaway to make it 2-0.

“It’s unfortunate because that was a good opportunity and we didn’t capitalize,” said Homer of the power play chance.

“The whole night we seemed to be playing too much in our own end. You’re facing a team that’s got fresh legs every shift with three or four lines…you get that energy that gets taken away.”

With 6:11 remaining the floodgates opened for the Panthers and it was another heads up play by Miller that broke it open. Freshman defenseman Kevin McKay fired a shot from the point that was blocked in front and Miller was first to react and flicked a shot past Walsh.

Brendan O’Reilly managed to make it 4-0 on a fluky goal after Walsh had saved the original chance. The puck was cleared off the Franklin player’s leg and looped over the stranded goalie. With just 42.5 left, Downie picked out Miller with a perfect pass on an odd-man rush and the sophomore tapped it in to complete the scoring.

Homer insisted this was a learning experience for the Tigers (3-2, 1-1) early in the season, including for his sophomore netminder, who is trying to fill the pads of graduated goalie Jimmy Tierney.

“He made some good stops early and kept us in the game,” said Homer of Walsh. “We need to work with him on controlling his rebounds because they got a lot off second or third opportunities…and that’s not entirely his fault.”

The Panthers (3-3-1, 1-0) are back to .500 after the win, but Franklin has also played a very difficult schedule that has included perennial powers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. According to Miller, the early competition has forced Franklin to improve quickly.

“It’s been a huge change,” he explained, “because we came in here and didn’t really know what to expect. We lost a lot of guys last year and so it’s definitely more than anyone expected.”

Spillane agreed there has been progress, but still expects more for Franklin to compete on the level it has come to expect. He said, “I knew we were going to be offensively challenged at the beginning of the year but we just need those guys to step up and finish some goals.”

OA will host Attleboro on Saturday, while Franklin will travel to Foxboro.

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