BOURNE, Mass. – The Franklin boys hockey team had a sizable advantage in shots on goal, chances in the offensive end, and time in the attacking zone, but the Panthers walked away from Gallo Ice Arena with nothing to show for it.
Despite outplaying the 14th-seeded Bishops of Archbishop Williams for most of the game, the Panthers came up empty-handed. Archies scored a pair of power play goals and added a shorthanded one to skate to a 3-0 decision over the 10th-seeded Panthers.
“The seedings, you can throw them away,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. The D1 South Semifinals featured 9, 10, 12, and 14 seeds. “It’s about who comes to play, who wants it more. You’ve got to be on the right side of the puck and tonight, we had our chances we just couldn’t put it away. I thought we carried a lot of the play in the first and second periods, we just couldn’t put on behind the goalie.
“You can’t put your finger on one single thing, but it just wasn’t our night. I told the seniors, don’t hang your heads. We tried to do the best we could tonight, we just didn’t have it tonight. But it’s a great group of boys and they worked hard from start to finish.”
Franklin peppered the Bishops’ net with 30 shots, plus a handful of good bids that went just wide or high, and at least a dozen chances blocked down by the Archies defense, but couldn’t solve sophomore goalie Nick Buccella.
What looked like a good opportunity to start the game ended up being a big boost for the Bishops. Franklin went on the power play just 1:09 into the game on a cross-checking call. The Panthers kept the puck in the offensive zone for the first 30 seconds before a shot from the blue line was blocked.
Archies junior John Riley quickly pounced on the puck that he just blocked and raced into the attacking zone with Franklin’s Declan Lovett going stride for stride with him. Riley unleashed a shot that was turned aside by Ray Ivers but Riley batted in the rebound to give the Bishops a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
“In all honesty, I felt like we were on our heels the whole first period,” said Archbishop Williams head coach Derackk Curtis. “We got that lucky bounce and John Riley worked his ass off on that first goal, we’ve been working on that banging in the rebounds. Franklin had the momentum, they were on us a lot and we weathered the storm. I thought it kind of evened out after that. [Franklin] is a good team, they are a hard-working group but my team worked hard too.”
“We knew they were aggressive on their penalty kill,” Sarno said. “From that point on, we were chasing them. You have to tip your hat to Archies, they played hard. They kept picking up our sticks, they were playing through our sticks, they were pesky. And we didn’t make the most of our power plays either. We weren’t moving it quick enough knowing they’d be aggressive. “
The Panthers still had time left with the man advantage and nearly tied the game when Kyle Hedvig redirected a shot from Will Sheehan but Buccella squeezed the pads to prevent the puck from going five-hole.
Franklin spent the majority of the period in the offensive zone but didn’t have a ton of quality chances to show for it. Archies nearly doubled its advantage late in the period in a similar fashion to its first goal as Christian Koylion blocked a shot at the blue line and raced into the offensive zone but Franklin defenseman Paddy Dolan recovered well and swept the puck clear.
Dylan Marchand’s battle in front helped draw a penalty on Archies with 10:39 left in the second period, giving Franklin its second man-advantage chance of the game. But Franklin had just one quality bid when Colin Hedvig blasted a shot that was saved and Kyle Hedvig’s rebound chance was stuffed.
The chances continued throughout the second, as Kevin O’Rielly settled a puck for a shot from Justin Abely that was saved. Minutes later, Domenic Lampasona connected with CJ Jette, but his shot from close was misfired. And the best opportunity came with just under five minutes to go as Colin Hedvig intercepted a clearance and rifled a shot that was off the iron and stayed out.
“We were just snakebitten, it seemed like everything we threw at the net he was there,” Sarno said. “We had plenty of chances, it just wasn’t our night. You can have 30 or 40 shots on net and sometimes it’s just not your net.”
Archies went on the power play with 2:08 in the period on a trip call, and a second tripping penalty 1:15 later gave the Bishops a 5-on-3 chance for 45 seconds. The Bishops made the most of the chance as Ivers denied a pair of shots in close but Archies sophomore Jackson Sylvester lifted the third chance over the sprawled out goalie to make it 2-0 with 28.2 seconds left in the middle period.
Starting the third period with the power play, Archies needed just eight seconds to tack on an important insurance goal. Thomas Page rifled a shot after striding over the blue line that went under the bar for a 3-0 lead.
Franklin pushed to get on the board but was unable to find the back of the net. Marchand and Colin Hedvig linked up but the latter couldn’t lift his backhand past Buccella. With nine minutes to go, Conor O’Neil blasted a high shot that Buccella had to fight off, and seconds later, Sean Connelly blasted a shot with O’Neil screening in front but it was saved.
Even with just under two minutes to go, the Panthers had a perfect play with Connelly finding Lovett in front for a one-timer but Buccella was in the perfect position and made the pad stop to preserve the shutout.
Franklin boys hockey finishes the season at 11-8-4.
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – The Franklin boys hockey team might have had a little luck on its first goal, but the second two tallies were certainly earned.
After #2 Natick tied the game early in the third period and stole momentum, the 10th-seeded Panthers battled back to strike twice in the last five minutes to earn a 3-1 upset over the Redhawks.
With a little help from a deflection, Franklin picked up a 1-0 lead in the first period and it lasted until the third. Natick lit the lamp just over a minute into the final period to take control of the game but the Panthers weathered the wave on momentum.
Instead of the Redhawks capitalizing, the Panthers went back ahead with just under five minutes to play and added an insurance goal with just over a minute to go to secure the win.
“They kept their composure, we knew [Natick] was going to come out with everything they have,” said first-year Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “They are a physical team, a strong team, and they weren’t going to give up…they weren’t seeded No. 2 for nothing. We fought through the adversity, we kept our composure, and we believed in each other and we played for each other. I couldn’t be more proud of them, I couldn’t be more happy for them…this group has earned it from day one.”
A clearance attempt took a deflection and ended up bouncing in the left circle. Natick’s Matthew Haskell was the first to it and timed his shot perfectly on the bouncing puck, smashing a shot into the back of the net, leaving Franklin goalie Ray Ivers (19 saves) little chance.
Natick didn’t have any chances right after the goal, instead having to race back to break up a potential breakaway bid from Dylan Marchand, and a minute later, Franklin’s Kevin O’Rielly had a hard wrist shot knocked away with a blocker save.
The Redhawks did test Ivers just before the midway point of the period when a shot from Nick Haswell tossed a shot from the blue line that hit Ivers’ mask, but the Franklin goalie was quick to cover up the loose puck in front.
As the clock ticked under five minutes, Franklin junior defenseman Will Sheehan pinched up to deny a clearance attempt, keeping the puck in the Panthers’ offensive zone. Sheehan eventually got the puck back and fired a shot that was knocked down.
With both Shea Hurley and Shane McCaffrey digging at the puck down low, Natick goalie Luc Gagnon was forced to go low. The puck popped back into the slot and Colin Hedvig blasted into the back of the net to make it 2-1 with 4:53 to go.
“Will was out for a while with an injury but his confidence, his patience, his poise, and most important his instincts, his instincts are spot on,” Sarno said of Sheehan making the right read to pinch. “For a kid that age to be that composed and that poised to step up and make that play at the right time…that’s how this team is playing right now.
“Right now everyone is pulling in the right direction right now. I have a great coaching staff too that helps so much. This is what we hoped for, this is why our schedule is as tough as it was. Hopefully we can continue it.”
Franklin kept the pressure up, denying Natick a chance at the tying goal. Instead, the Panthers added an insurance tally. Junior Sean Connelly used a slick move to split a pair of defensemen in the attacking zone, feeding the puck back in front and classmate Conor O’Neil buried it for a 3-1 lead with 1:25 to go.
Chances were hard to come by through the first two periods of play. The Redhawks went on the power play with 8:44 to go in the first but a pair of clearances from Sheehan, plus a strong forecheck from Hedvig helped the Panthers limit Natick to just one shot on goal during the man advantage.
After killing the penalty, the Panthers found the back of the net. Junior Joe LeBlanc went to blast a shot from the blue line but a Natick player was able to get his stick on it right away. The puck popped high into the air and eluded Gagnon, dropping into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 5:34 left in the first.
“We got a little puck luck but to make those plays to make your own breaks,” Sarno said. “You have to create those opportunities, you have to get into the position. We’ll take it, you need the bounces too. The difference between a good team and a great team is good teams do just enough to get by, great teams do all the little things to make a difference at the end and that’s what we’ve got right now.”
Ivers came up with a nice glove save on a wrist shot from the circle from Natick’s Andrew Christileb. The Redhawks finished the period with 1:20 of a power play but a clearance from junior Paddy Dolan helped kill most of the man advantage.
Natick did have a shot off of Ivers back that caused a scrum in front but the Panther collapsed as a defense to prevent anything.
Franklin killed the remaining 39 seconds of the power play to start the second and then had to kill another just past the midway point. This time, O’Neil hustled to block a shot, Tom Tasker intercepted a pass and took the puck into the attacking zone and both JT Dwyer and Hedvig came up with clearances.
“We tried to forecheck them and cut off the middle of the ice. We knew they loved to clog the middle of the ice so we figured if we could step up at the blue line and force the dump in, our speed would prevail. They are working for it, and they got what they deserved, they earned this win.
The Panthers had their lone power play in the second with 3:28 to play but couldn’t muster up many chances. Hedvig had the best bid, skating past a defenseman but his backhand bid from in tight was denied.
Franklin boys hockey (11-7-4) will take on #14 Archbishop Williams in the D1 South Semifinals on Wednesday at Gallo at 5:30 Archies knocked off #3 Bridgewater-Raynham (2-1) and #11 Wellesley (2-1) to reach the semis.
CANTON, Mass. – One team looked like it was hitting its stride at the right time of the year and looked like it was as comfortable playing on the playoff stage as it was at any point during the regular season. The other team looked like it was making its first playoff appearance in five seasons.
Franklin scored twice in the opening four minutes of Thursday night’s Div. 1 South first round contest at the Canton Ice House, including one just 36 seconds in, and never looked back, rolling to a 7-1 victory over King Philip in a battle of the top two finishers in the Kelley-Rex division.
“I thought we would’ve had more,” said KP coach Paul Carlow, admitting that Franklin played like a playoff-tested team on Thursday. “We were on our heels from the get-go and we never got out of the starting blocks really. I was worried all week about the game being too big for them and it was.”
The Panthers wasted no time grabbing the lead. Tom Tasker fired a wrist shot from the point and through a screen in front that slipped past KP goalie Jesper Makudera, after just 46 seconds.
Three minutes later, Franklin doubled its advantage on the power play. Kyle Hedvig sent a pass across the zone to Tasker at the point and the big defenseman blasted a shot that Makudera did well to get a pad to, but the rebound fell right to Colin Hedvig and he lifted a backhand past the sprawling goalie.
“He could stop a freight train with that shot,” Franklin coach Anthony Sarno said. “We showed up to play. The forecheck 5-on-5, we just took it to them. We started to create some space for ourselves cycling it down low.”
He added, “That team is a good team and the hardest thing to do is beat the same team twice. Paul is a great coach and they’ve got some really great players and we didn’t take them for granted. We knew they would come in with all the fight they had. We had to do all the little things, the intangibles you need to win.”
It took a while for the Warriors to get their legs under them. Nolan Feyler set up Rocco Bianculli for a shot from the left circle that Ray Ivers saved and Conor Cooke had a tip from in front knocked aside by the goalie as well. Ivers was forced to made a smart pad save on Chris Daniels from close range.
Despite those chances, KP was struggling to get anything consistent in the offensive zone. Franklin held a 13-9 edge in shots after one.
The Warriors did have a golden opportunity to try and get back into the game in the second period when they started with 1:28 of two-man advantage. KP didn’t manage a shot on goal during the power play.
“We came out in the second with the 5-on-3 and we still didn’t settle down,” said Carlow. “Our power play has been really good all year and it just looked like we were nervous. We had trouble controlling the puck and getting set up in the zone and as soon as they killed that off I felt like momentum swung back.”
Franklin continued to have good luck getting offense from its blue line corps. Tasker blocked a clearance against the far boards and then skated towards goal only for Makudera to stay square and make the stop. Justin Abely caused havoc with a shot from the point that was saved but that produced a rebound that sat untouched on the post with the goal gaping.
A third goal came with 5:20 left in the second. JT Dwyer sent a puck out in front that deflected off a KP skate and right to the stick of Sean Connelly in the slot. He took a touch to control and then ripped a shot over the goalie’s shoulder.
Declan Lovett came close to making it four with a steal in the offensive zone, but it was Colin Hedvig that would extend the lead. He was set up by Kevin O’Rielly and Kyle Hedvig, knocking in a pass through the crease at the back post.
The four-goal lead only lasted 30 seconds. Aidan Boulger finally was able to get behind the Franklin defense and he managed to squeeze his breakaway underneath Ivers to make it 4-1.
Joe LeBlanc nearly restored the lead near the end of the second but his shot from the point struck the post and stayed out. Dylan Marchand nearly got it back just 13 seconds into the third when Kyle Hedvig hit him with a perfect pass from the left to right circle but Makudera made the glove save.
“We told them to keep forcing the forecheck down their throat and keep playing the right way, sticks in the passing lane, bodies in the shooting lane, and make sure it stops,” Sarno said of the message before the third period.
Three minutes into the third, Franklin got the crucial fifth goal and in back-breaking fashion. Tasker hit Dwyer with a perfect tape-to-tape diagonal outlet pass from his own zone. Dwyer teed up a slap shot that went off the goalie’s blocker, straight up into the air, and then landed behind the goalie in the net.
Carlow said, “I thought the next goal was big. I thought if we could cut it to 4-2 then we could make a run at them there but that goal was obviously a big goal at that point.”
Marchand added a sixth a little more than a minute later. Going from left to right across the zone, Marchand roofed it over backup goalie Nate Ihley. Andrew Demerchant added a seventh in the final three minutes.
Sarno said, “It’s one win, four more to go, but we’ve just got to keep out composure and keep bringing it every night. We can’t take shifts off.”
Franklin (10-7-4) will travel to Loring Arena on Saturday night to take on No. 2 seed Natick. King Philip finishes the season at 10-6-5.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Coming off a tie to Mansfield and a loss to Canton, and now trailing by a goal to King Philip with just a period left, the Franklin boys hockey was on the verge of letting its grasp of the Kelley-Rex division slip away.
But first-year Panther coach Anthony Sarno challenged his squad to rise to the occasion over the final 15 minutes, and the team delivered.
Franklin scored three goals in the third period, erasing a one-goal deficit and landing a 4-2 win over King Philip. With the win, the Panthers move into sole possession of first place in the division with 10 points with one game to go. The win also secures a playoff spot because Franklin can’t finish worse than second place in the Kelley-Rex.
“‘How bad do you want it?’” Sarno asked his players between the second and third periods. “It’s not the X’s and O’s, it’s the will to win, how bad do you want to push back? We’re tired of being slapped in mouth late in the games with all these ties. And against Canton last game, they the best team in the league no doubt, but we didn’t really challenge them the way we should have or could have.
“We have to take care of the puck and do all the little things, we have to do what we did in the third period tonight and we came out with the will to win.”
Franklin took the first lead of the game midway through the opening period but King Philip answered inside the final minute and took the lead with the only goal of the second period.
Despite not converting on a very early power play chance in the third period, the Panthers pounced on a chance just over four minutes in to level the scoring. Senior forward Kyle Hedvig fired a tough angle shot on goal that was knocked down by KP senior goalie Jesper Makudera (40 saves) but senior defenseman Colin Hedvig had pinched down in and lifted the rebound into the back of the net to make it 2-2.
King Philip nearly regained the lead past the midway point of the period but the play ended giving the Panthers the go-ahead strike. KP senior Joe Boselli intercepted a clearance attempt and skated into the slot before unleashing a hard wrist shot. Franklin senior goalie Ray Ivers (26 saves) got just enough of it with his shoulder to keep it out, the puck deflecting over the net and up the sideboards.
From there, Franklin raced into a 2-on-1 situation as Kyle Hedvig snuck a pass under the KP defenseman to an open Declan Lovett in front, and he buried his chance from in close to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead with 4:11 to play.
The momentum stayed with the Panthers for the remainder of the game, and Kyle Hedvig and Declan Lovett combined to set up the insurance goal for the hosts, finding Colin Hedvig wide open in the slot in front of goal and his one-timer made it 4-2 with 1:49 to play.
“It was nice to see the kids make the push to come back,” Sarno said. “I give them a lot of credit. Like I said from the beginning of the year I love these kids, they’ve been resilient and really fought through a lot of adversity, even if we created some of it on our own. But it takes a hell of a team to come back from that, now we just have to stop putting ourselves in those positions and start using our assets like our speed, moving the puck quickly, stick to stick, and I think if we do that, we’ll be a much more deadly team in these last seven games.”
King Philip had one other good chance in the third period, coming on the penalty kill. Boselli jumped onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated it towards goal before firing a shot that was denied by Ivers. The Warriors had 10 total shots in the third but didn’t threaten with a serious chance after falling behind.
The Warriors were also without their top defenseman in Kyle Gray (sick), who is also third on the team in points, but head coach Paul Carlow said that wasn’t an excuse.
”Kyle’s our anchor back there so we had a built-in excuse with him out but the boys didn’t take it, they rallied around each other,” Carlow said. “I felt like we gave everything we had, just ran out of gas. I felt like we needed some momentum so that first goal in the third was going to be huge. They got it and I think that kind of turned the tide. We played mostly two lines, four or five defensemen, I just think we ran out of legs.
“We had some breakdowns at the end and I think it was fatigue more than anything else. I don’t think it was their will, we just ran out of gas and [Franklin] is a good team.”
Both teams scored in a first period that was fast-paced and full of hard hits as both teams came out flying. The Panthers jumped ahead just moments after Makudera robbed them of the opening tally. Shane McCaffrey intercepted a clearance pass and made a nice move to find space to unleash a shot that Makudera saved, the rebound falling to Shea Hurley but a diving stop from the goalie kept it scoreless.
But on the ensuing faceoff from the right circle, the puck squirmed towards the slot with multiple sticks batting at it. The puck eventually found the stick of junior JT Dwyer and he turned and whipped a shot on target that found the back fo the net for a 1-0 lead with 6:11 to go in the first.
King Philip responded in the final minute. Senior defenseman Ethan McGuire ripped a low shot through traffic that hit the back of the net and came out, quick enough that the ref signaled for no goal. But the second official called the play dead, got together with the other ref, and ruled it had gone in making it 1-1 with 37 seconds left in the first.
The Warriors’ lone power play chance came early in the second period but Ivers denied chances from junior Conor Cooke and sophomore Nolan Feyler to keep the game tied.
Just over the midway point, the Warriors broke through to take their first lead of the game. A quick break from Chris Daniels led to a two-on-one opportunity and Daniels made the right decision, sliding a pass over to Aidan Bougler and the junior smashed his one-timer into the back of the net to make I 2-1 with 5:22 left in the third.
Franklin came close on a handful of chances in the final couple of minutes but Makudera made some terrific stops to keep the Warriors ahead. Senior Tom Tasker had a blast denied, Will Sheehan linked up with Kyle Hedvig right in front but Makudera made the point-blank stop, and then denied Lovett on the rebound.
KP nearly added to its lead on a break as Rocco Bianculli sent a chipped pass into the zone for Jack Coulter, but Ivers was up to the task.
On the other end, Sheehan tossed a shot on goal that was redirected by Sean Dunbar just over the net, and in the final seconds Colin Hedvig sent a cross-ice pass to McCaffrey who quickly delivered a pass in front to Dylan Marchand but his one-timer was blocked by Makudera and Hurley had his rebound bid stopped.
Franklin boys hockey (4-1-2 Hockomock, 6-4-3 overall). can clinch the Kelley-Rex division outright with a win over North Attleboro when they meet on Saturday at 7:30. A point can also clinch depending on the outcome of the Mansfield and Foxboro game. King Philip (3-2-2, 8-4-2) falls into third in the division but is still in contention for a division title, but would need help from Foxboro and North Attleboro, and would have to take care of Oliver Ames on Saturday at 6:10.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Last season, the Kelley-Rex division title wasn’t decided until the final game of the league campaign and this season is shaping up to be just as close. Coming into Thursday night’s showdown with Mansfield, Franklin was in a first place tie with King Philip, both sitting on seven points in the league, with the Hornets just two points back.
After a thrilling 5-5 shootout at Pirelli Veterans Arena, in which it twice battled back from two goals down, Franklin moved back into first place by itself, but by only the slimmest of margins. The tie sets up another exciting finish to decide the league champ, as all three teams have three games remaining.
“I’m proud of the fact that they came back and battled through adversity,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno. “They didn’t quit. To lead up to that point, we didn’t really help ourselves, but it takes a hell of a team to fight through adversity two or three times in a game and pull even.”
Mansfield missed an opportunity on Thursday to create a three-way tie atop the division, after twice leading by two goals, including a 5-3 lead with 8:02 remaining in the game.
The Panthers celebrated senior night before the game and came out flying once the puck dropped. Franklin held a 14-4 advantage in shots on goal at the end of the first and had a series of scoring opportunities denied by Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty (33 saves).
Liam Anastasia had the game’s first good chance when he intercepted a pass in the Franklin zone, but the defense recovered on the back-check and Ray Ivers (17 saves) was able to make the pad stop. Just seconds later, Dylan Marchand forced a glove save out of McCafferty on the other end.
Defenseman Joe LeBlanc put another shot on target, sneaking his effort through a crowd and forcing a pad stop. On the power play, Declan Lovett had two great chances to put the hosts in front. He cut across the crease and had a chance at the post, but McCafferty went post-to-post to make the kick save and then scrambled to get big and stop Lovett’s rebound effort.
The game remained scoreless until the final three minutes of the period. Tom Tasker showed patience on the puck at the blue line, hesitating to find a shooting lane and firing a wrister inside the post.
Franklin went into the locker room with confidence, but it was the Hornets that were buzzing when they came back onto the ice. In just 1:24, Mansfield turned a one-goal deficit into a 3-1 lead.
“Starting is something we continue to battle, but we kept our composure in between periods,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We knew they were a quick team and we knew that we had to jump on them early. We knew that we had to get pucks to the net and just crash the net and that’s what we did.”
Chris Jenkins set up the first goal when he forced a pad save from the right circle. Jake Lund crashed the far post and smashed the rebound in to tie it after 28 seconds. Just 22 seconds later and the Hornets grabbed the lead when Jenkins had a shot from the near boards go off Ivers’ stick and glove and into the back of the net.
The momentum was with the visitors and they took advantage on the power play to extend the lead to two. A mishit shot from the right face-off dot slid wide of the net and Cam Page was in the right place to knock it home.
“We didn’t help ourselves at all,” Sarno admitted. “We didn’t take care of the puck, especially in our own zone, and we turned it over in our zone at crucial times and it cost us goals. We were fighting it and instead of playing disciplined we were chasing it.”
It only took two minutes and a power play opportunity to get Franklin back into the game. Seniors Colin and Kyle Hedvig nearly combined on a great passing play only to have McCafferty make the stop. The duo stuck with the play and Kyle Hedvig got free in the left circle, going top shelf to make it 3-2.
Franklin nearly tied it right after the goal when a shot rang off the bar and Marchand and Kevin O’Rielly both had good looks that were saved. Mansfield went close after a great passing move from Jenkins to Page to Kevin Belanger, but Ivers was in the way. Kyle Hedvig had a shorthanded effort go over the bar and then Lovett got behind the defense only for Ryan Doherty’s back-check and McCafferty’s save to keep the Hornets in front heading into the second intermission.
As wild, fast-paced, and end-to-end the first two periods were, things went to another level in the third.
The Panthers wasted no time getting level, as Shea Hurley got on the end of Marchand’s pass at the back post just 18 seconds into the period. Twenty-two seconds later, the Hornets regained the lead. Lund was left alone in the slot and fired in a one-timer.
“My guys knew it,” said Balzarini about Franklin coming out hard to start the third. “A two-goal lead is probably the hardest thing to keep in hockey and we knew that they might try to stretch us early and we had to be prepared for it.”
Franklin kept pushing and had several good looks. JT Dwyer had an effort from the high slot snagged by McCafferty, LeBlanc smacked the post with a shot from the point, and then LeBlanc forced a pad stop that was followed up by Hedvig only for the rebound to slide wide of the post.
As the hosts pushed forward, Mansfield hit them on the break. Jenkins snuck behind the defense and made no mistake on the breakaway, rifling a shot in off the post and seemingly sealing a victory for the Hornets.
It only seemed like the game was over. Franklin came storming right back with O’Rielly knocking in a rebound from the edge of the crease to give the Panthers a lifeline with 6:33 to play. Less than two minutes later, it was 5-5. Pat Dolan’s pass out of defense found Shane McCaffrey streaking down the middle and he lifted his backhand to beat the goalie.
“I think we were a little more complacent when we had a 5-3 lead,” said Balzarini. “It was late and I think we did take a couple of shifts off. We didn’t win a couple of puck battles, but I thought we continued to play well in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone.”
There was even time for one more chance for the Panthers, as Sean Connelly teed up Conor O’Neil, but McCafferty made the stop to preserve a point apiece.
“We need them,” Sarno said about getting a point. “We need them all. We’ve got a tough stretch. There are no easy nights. Everyone is going to bring their best game against us, so we need to have our best game and even if we do we have to limit our mistakes.”
Franklin (5-3-3, 3-0-2) leads the Kelley-Rex by a point heading into a difficult closing stretch of games that begins with a trip to Canton on Saturday. Mansfield (4-4-3, 2-2-1) will travel to second place King Philip on Saturday for another critical divisional game.
2018-2019 Record: 10-10-2 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
The Bombardiers will be looking to stretch their postseason streak to three years this season. It showed how deep the Kelley-Rex division was last year that the Bombardiers, who did not fare well in league games, made it to the state tournament.
One reason that Attleboro is hopeful for a spot in the state tournament is the addition of a couple of transfers to the program. Jake Ward joined the program and will apart of the Bombardiers top line alongside senior captain Ryan Morry and junior Aidan Diggin. Both Morry and Diggin have a plethora of experience at the varsity level so expect Attleboro’s top line to be a dangerous one in the offensive zone. Attleboro picked up some needed depth with the addition of junior Owen Dryjowicz and freshman Aidan Dryjowicz, who will join sophomore Nate Parker on the second line.
The third line could see some rotation but will mostly feature junior Austin Blais at the center spot, and senior Liam McDonough, junior Owen Graney, and senior Kyle Miniati on the wings. The Bombardiers will have some experience on the blue line with senior Sam Flynn and junior Zach Pierce holding down two of the top spots, with sophomore Sean Marshall also in the mix. The fourth spot between the top two defensive pairs is still up for grabs in the early going. Sophomores Nick Piazza and Michael Dutremble are battling for minutes in net.
“We hope to improve our record from last year through commitment and hard work collectively, and gain entry to the state tournament,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer.
2018-2019 Record: 25-0-1 2018-2019 Finish: D2 State Champions Coach: Brian Shuman
Having won nine straight Davenport division titles, Canton is used to having a target on its back as the rest of the Hockomock League tries to knock the Bulldogs from the top. But this year, that target is even bigger than before.
Fresh off one of the best seasons in both program and league history that ended with a D2 State Championship, the Bulldogs will be getting everyone’s best game in and game out. And while Canton certainly graduated some key pieces, like two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Ryan Nolte, the Bulldogs enter this season as not only the favorite for a 10th straight division crown but will certainly be in the mix when it comes to the 2020 D2 State title.
While replacing Nolte will be tough, the Bulldogs have several key forwards back from last year’s championship team. It will all start with senior Johnny Hagan, who was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a sophomore and racked up 51 points with 21 goals and 31 assists on the season. Hagan will have a lot of experience to work with in senior Timmy Kelleher (seven goals, seven assists last regular season), senior Tommy Ghostlaw (five goals, six assists), and senior Chris Lavoie (13 goals, 12 assists). Lavoie could be poised for a breakout year, scoring twice in the season-opening win over Franklin.
Canton also brings back top players along the blue line with Jack Connolly and HockomockSports.com Second Team selection Owen Lehane. Both seniors, Connolly and Lehane not only are among the best defensive players in the league but play a big part of the Canton offense with their shooting. Seniors Ronan O’Mahony and Declan Pfeffer are also experienced defensemen that will see increased roles this year. Canton turns to senior Joe Cammarata to start in between the pipes with junior Liam Polles impressing early on and could push for starting minutes.
“We have a lot of experience returning, but that’s true for a lot of teams across the state,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. If our preseason was any indication, there are a lot of outstanding, talented teams this year that improved greatly in the offseason. We will have our work cut out for us in the Hock and with a tough non-league schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-7-3 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South First Round Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro built upon its 10-season win two years ago with its best season in program history last year, picking up 12 wins including one in the postseason. After posting back-to-back successful seasons, the Warriors are hoping that trend continues.
With a good amount of returners back this year, the Warriors will be in good position to compete in the Hockomock League and will be aiming to make a deeper run into the state tournament behind a beefed-up schedule. One strength for Foxboro this year will be its offense with its two top regular season point producers back in junior Kirk Leach (15 goals, 20 assists) and senior Ronnie MacLellan (14 goals, 20 assists). That duo provided the Warriors with a lot of its offense last season and will be one of the top returning duos this season. Senior Sebastian Ricketts brings a vast amount of experience to the offense while sophomore Jack Watts (10 goals, four assists) will be looking to build on an impressive freshman year. Brady Daly, Eoin Reager, Josh Bertuman, Ryan Jacobs and Ben Ricketts will provide needed depth offensively.
Defensively it all starts with senior goalie Espen Reager, the defending Hockomock League MVP back after a strong junior season between the pipes for the Warriors. Reager has the ability to keep his team in teams, and he showed last year that he can help steal a game like he did against Mansfield. In front of Reager, senior Kyle McGinnis is one of the more experienced defensemen in the league and will be the anchor of the blue line group for Foxboro. Freshman Alex Coviello has impressed early on and will be a key piece of the defense.
“Our strength on offense this season will be our depth and overall team speed,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We have more depth on offense than we’ve ever had. We’re looking forward to this season, with a lot of depth up front, excellent team speed and a great goalie we feel we can compete with any team on our schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-10-4 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final Coach: Anthony Sarno
A new chapter begins in Franklin boys hockey with Anthony Sarno taking over on the bench after longtime Panther coach Chris Spillane stepped down following last season. While the Panthers might have a bit of a new look, expectations are still high inside Pirelli for the defending Kelley-Rex champs.
Sarno is hoping that momentum will carry over from the Panthers’ impressive playoff run from a year ago when Franklin upset Mansfield in overtime and knocked off Catholic Memorial in the semifinals. But there won’t be any nights off for Franklin with a loaded schedule that features Malden Catholic, Pope Francis, and a loaded Mt. Hope tournament — and that’s just December.
“It will be a work in progress and we will look to develop a solid team chemistry with a relentless work ethic, staying true to consistency, and discipline in an environment where effort and attitude is paramount, and not up for discussion,” Sarno said.
Up front, the Panthers will be leaning on seniors Shane McCaffrey, Kevin O’Rielly, and Shea Hurley to lead the way. McCaffrey is the team’s top scorer returning from a year ago so it will be vital for new players to step up and contribute. Juniors Conor O’Neil and Declan Lovett are also going to be important pieces to the Panthers’ offense. Senior Ray Ivers returns between the pipes are stepping in last season and playing well. In front of Ivers, Franklin will have two of the best defensemen in the league with senior Tom Tasker, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last year, and junior Joe LeBlanc, who had a breakout sophomore campaign.
2018-2019 Record: 10-11-0 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Paul Carlow
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back seasons, the Warriors have a chance to end that drought in 2020 behind an experienced group of players after losing just five players to graduation.
Head coach Paul Carlow says this is the most experienced group he’s had at his disposal since taking over behind the Warriors’ bench in 2015. There are nine seniors back this year and eight juniors so King Philip certainly boasts a lot of depth, and players that have played plenty of minutes at the varsity level. It starts with senior captain Chris Daniels, senior assistant captain Joe Boselli, and senior assistant captain Jack Coulter. All three have skated plenty of minutes for Carlow over the past couple of years and will be relied upon for their leadership.
Daniels is a crafty forward that scored five goals and had six assists while Coulter is the top returning scorer back this year after scoring six goals and recording nine assists a year ago. Seniors Bryan Lucente and Noah Ray will also be in the mix offensively alongside Daniels, Coulter, and Boselli. The Warriors will also rely on a handful of juniors to chip in offensively including forward Conor Cooke. Cooke had a terrific season with 10 goals and four assists and could be poised for a breakout year.
Defensively, there is a lot of veterans along the blue line for King Philip. Seniors Kyle Gray and Ethan McGuire are joined by junior Rocco Bianculli, a Hockomock League All Star and a HocomockSports.com All Underclassman selection a year ago. Gray is a three-year player that provides physicality while Bianculli is one of the top scoring defensemen in the entire league, scoring seven goals and adding seven assists during his sophomore season. Seniors Nate Ihley and Jesper Makudera will battle for minutes in net.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” Carlow said. “On top of the seniors and juniors, we also have a strong sophomore class competing for spots. We have speed up front, we’re strong on the back end, and we have two good goalies. I’m looking forward to working with this group and fully expect them to make the tournament.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-6-3 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Mike Balzarini
Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini was a little concerned about his team’s depth coming into the season after graduating nine players and losing two top players to prep school. But after tryouts and a strong preseason, Balzarini believes this year’s squad will be just as deep as last year’ 14-win squad.
Losing a talented senior class hurts, and with Matt Copponi (eight goals, 28 assists, 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year) and Brian Grant (HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team) off to prep schools, the Hornets will need new faces to step up and contribute on both ends of the ice. But Balzarini and the Hornets have something that none of the other Hockomock teams have and that’s senior goalie Sean McCafferty. Now in his fourth year starting, McCafferty is a game-changer. Even if the Hornets aren’t having their best games, they’ll still likely have a chance to win because of McCafferty.
In front of McCafferty, the Hornets will turn to senior Joseph Troiano to anchor the defensive unit. He will be joined by Jack Gormley and Conor Benoit, both of whom picked up valuable minutes last season and should help Mansfield be one of the stingiest defensive groups. Offensively, the Hornets do get a boost with the return of senior forward Chris Jenkins. Jenkins was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team in 2017 after he had 11 goals and 10 assists as a freshman. He will join veterans Jake Lund and Kevin Belanger to form a talented first line for the Hornets. Cam Paige, Liam Anastasia, and Ben Ierardo will team up on Mansfield’s second line.
“We have a little bit of a sour taste after how last year ended,” Balzarini said. “We want to get over that hurdle of the first round of the playoffs. This group really plays well together, they play as a team. They’ve gelled nicely since the first day of tryouts.”
2018-2019 Record: 11-9-2 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinals Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro will be leaning on its defense in order to get back to the tournament again this season. With the defending state champs in Canton as well as an improved Foxboro squad, the Rocketeers have their hands full with a difficult three-team Davenport division.
Seniors Jake McNeany, Will Yeomans, Jeff Baker, and junior Charlie Connolly are all back this season to give North Attleboro a veteran defensive group. With a handful of experienced players leading the way defensively, it should make the transition from four-year starting goalie Ryan Warren a bit smoother. Another reason that transition should go smoothly is senior goalie Nick Digiacomo, who has been impressive in the preseason so far this year.
Senior Dennis Morehouse is back after a breakout junior campaign and will be in the mix as one of the top players in the Hockomock League this season. Morehouse was second on the team in points last year with 15 goals and four assists and is the top returning scorer back for the Rocketeers. Senior Jack Connolly is another experienced forward that will be a key piece of the offense while junior Tyler Sarro will look to build upon a solid sophomore season.
“For us to be successful, we need to be discipline and get scoring from our second and third lines,” said North Attleboro coach Ben McManama. “We are not as big as we were in years past so we need to play tough and physical.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9-1 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Mike Zucarelli
There is a new face at the helm of the Tigers this season, but its a familiar one. Mike Zucarelli takes over after serving as an assistant coach and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
Replacing one of the league’s top forwards in Brett Williams won’t be easy, but the Tigers boast experienced returners at every position on the ice. Senior Owen Connor is back for his third year in between the pipes. He took a big jump from his sophomore to junior year and that Zucarelli expects that trend to continue for the 2019-2020 season. In front of Connor, OA returns senior defensemen Ryan Gottwald and Matt Nosalek. Gottwald, one of the team’s two captains, had an impressive junior year and will be the leader of the defensive group this season.
Offensively, there will be some familiar faces including senior captain Hunter Costello. Costello, who scored nine goals and had 15 assists in the regular season a year ago, is joined by fellow returners Jake Gottwald, Duncan Pereira, and Brad Powers. All four of those seniors will be vital in the attack while juniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro should see expanded roles this year.
“We are going to be a gritty, hardworking team this year,” Zucarelli said, citing a preseason scrimmage with Milton. “We held our own during the first as Milton took it to us. We came out flying in the second, tied up the game and took the momentum into the third period with a huge penalty kill. The overall play of the team after one week was great to see.”
The Tigers enter the season with a relatively young squad but the goal is to integrate all of the youth with the returners and make a push for the state tournament by the end of the season.
Junior Mike Albert will be the main guy on the offensive end. Albert, who scored 10 goals and added 19 assists last season, was the leading scorer for the Tigers as a sophomore and is looking to take the next step this year. Junior Steve Roderick and sophomores Jack DeMoura and Michael Lucier are all new to the program and should be in the mix right away to help bolster the Taunton attack.
Head coach Kris Metea is also counting on some of the younger players to have breakout seasons, including sophomores Nathan Fernandes, Loren Corcoran, and Evan Perreira. On the defensive side, junior Brady Nichols will anchor the blue line unit. Although just a junior, Nichols has a wealth of varsity experience and the Tigers will lean on him to guide a young defensive core. Senior Andrew Gomes and junior Sean Bunker will battle for minutes in net.
“We have a group of young players that we will look to continue to develop over the course of the season,” Metea said. “The key to our success will be the meshing of the new players with the development of young players. The sky’s the limit for this group with continued commitment.”