Attleboro Clamps Down in Fourth Quarter to Beat KP

Attleboro girls basketball
Jordyn Lako (12) scored all 14 of her points in the second half and added nine rebounds to help the Bombardiers pull away in the fourth quarter and beat King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro was clinging to a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game against King Philip, but the Bombardiers shut down the Warriors over the final eight minutes, allowing only six points and two made field goals from the visitors to pull away for a 52-41 victory.

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“I think this is our most complete effort, front to back, all year,” said first-year Attleboro coach Marty Crowley, who was facing KP for the first time since leaving the Warriors during the off-season.

He added, “I think we played 32 minutes tonight. We had a great win against Durfee, down by 13 in the third quarter and we came back to win by 12 last game, and the light kind of came on for us. I kind of put us in a hole early with my defensive scheme, but we switched and the kids really dug in.”

Attleboro scored the first five points of the fourth on drives to the basket by MacKenzie Roberts (her only basket of the game) and sophomore Nyah Thomas (seven points, six rebounds). Faith Roy scored on a drive and Shannon O’Connor hit a free throw to cut the lead to 41-38, but Abby Struminski added a pair at the line and Sam Pierce (14 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) scored in the paint to extend the advantage back to seven points.

“Sam obviously is a phenomenal player, she’s one of the best players in our league,” Crowley said about getting the senior forward involved offensively. “We’re working on recognition when to give Sam the ball and when not to and I thought we move the ball pretty well tonight.”

Pierce followed with a kick-out pass to junior Jordyn Lako for a three-pointer that pushed the lead to 11. Lako scored all 14 of her points in the second half and the point guard also chipped in with nine rebounds. After O’Connor knocked down a late three for KP, Thomas scored in transition and Lako got a steal and layup to seal the win.

First-year KP coach Amy Siggens said, “We don’t go very far in our bench and we’re very guard heavy. The guards we have are very good, so I think it comes down to is trying to get people subs and rest where we can. We just runs out of steam, but that’s something that can be fixed.”

O’Connor, the Boston University-commit, started the game on fire, scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, including nine in the first quarter. Crowley admitted that the Bombardiers had to change things up defensively to slow down the junior guard, who he had coached for the past two seasons.

“Shannon is such a special player,” said Crowley of using Lako, Thomas, and Pierce to guard O’Connor. “The three of them did a nice job on her and we just tried to take her out of the equation and for the most part it worked in the second half. First half, they ran some good stuff for her but we made some adjustments at halftime.”

Pierce kept Attleboro in the game in the first quarter with seven points and Liv McCall gave Attleboro a much-needed perimeter threat with all nine of her points coming in the first half (on three shot from beyond the arc).

The Warriors were also forced to play without starting forward Faye Veilleux for the majority of the game after the sophomore twisted an ankle in the first quarter.

“It really hurt us,” said Siggens. “She’s really been fighting hard to work on her positioning and getting better as a player. She was really starting to get it and to go down like that is too bad.”

The teams went into halftime tied at 25 apiece and the third quarter was back-and-forth. Julia Leroux (nine points, six rebounds) gave KP a brief lead and O’Connor scored four points in the quarter to tie the game at 31-31. Leroux added a pair from the line to give the Warriors a lead at 33-32.

“She never stops playing,” said Siggens of Leroux. “She’s fun to watch and she really wants to go get it. I couldn’t ask anything more of her tonight.”

Christina Hathaway scored inside to put KP ahead by three points, but the Bombardiers rallied behind Lako, who scored eight of the team’s 11 points in the third. She buried a three off a Rory Hopkins pass to tie the gam and added a free throw to give Attleboro a slim edge heading to the fourth quarter.

KP was also hamstrung heading into the fourth after O’Connor picked up her fourth foul in the closing seconds of the third. “Foul trouble seems to be what we’re getting into but I’ll take it because it means they’re playing hard,” Siggens said. “We’ll figure out all the little things and controlling it better later.”

For almost seven minutes of the fourth quarter, Attleboro held KP to just three points, pushing the lead and securing a third league win in four games this season.

Crowley said, “We really clamped down in the fourth quarter when we had to, but we put ourselves in position where we didn’t have to scramble from behind and once we kind of took off there in the beginning of the fourth quarter that was the difference in the game.”

Attleboro (5-3, 3-1) will travel to Mansfield on Wednesday just one back in the win column of the Hornets in the Kelley-Rex standings. King Philip (2-4, 1-3) will host Oliver Ames looking to get back on track.

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Canton Holds Off King Philip in Hockomock Debut

Canton girls hockey
Leah McClellan (24) plays the puck behind the Canton net during the Bulldogs’ 1-0 win against King Philip in the team’s first ever Hockomock League game. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – One of the main reasons for Canton’s run to last year’s Div. 2 state title game at the TD Garden was a stingy defense and the play of goalie Colleen Kelleher. That formula seems to be working again this winter and was on full display against King Philip on Wednesday afternoon in the Bulldogs’ first game at the Canton Ice House and their debut in the newly formed Hockomock League for girls’ hockey.

Behind a second period goal from freshman Lizzie Tassinari and 15 saves from Kelleher, Canton earned a 1-0 shutout and started its new league campaign with a hard-fought two points.

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“They did a really nice job,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich of the KP effort. “They took us out of some of our seam passes and we had to make a couple adjustments. Not pretty, but I like to think that good teams win those games and it’s important to come out on top.”

Canton nearly jumped out to the perfect start when Lauren Fitzpatrick raced down the right wing a minute into the game and forced a kick save out of KP goalie Lilly Potts, one of 19 stops for the junior.

The first period was fast-paced and end-to-end, but both defenses were tipping and blocking a number of shots, limiting the teams to a combined eight shots on goal. KP had two of the best chances with Meghan Gorman forcing a save out of Kelleher from the right circle and, with just 10 seconds left on the clock, Nicole Connor had a close-range backhand blocked aside.

Fitzpatrick had the first chance of the second period as well, but just 20 seconds later it appeared as though KP may have taken the lead. Kyleigh Remmes had her first shot saved but followed the rebound and beat Kelleher with a backhand that the junior thought had found the back of the net. As Remmes put her hands up to celebrate, the officials held their whistles and play continued.

Gorman had a shot from the point knocked down by Kelleher, who then shuffled over to stop Remmes on the rebound. Leah McClellan had a shot for Canton from the blue line but Potts stayed down on the bounce to save it.

With only 31 seconds left in the period, Canton broke the deadlock. McClellan picked up the puck in defense and sped forward into the attacking zone. She crossed the puck from the left boards to Maggie Malloy in the slot, but it was deflected into the crease. After a scramble in front, Tassinari managed to squeeze the puck through the crowd and past Potts.

“It was a game of very few mistakes and they just took advantage of one little one,” said KP coach Jack Unger. “An opportunistic rebound, the coverage was there but the girl was still able to get ahold of it and put it in.”

Not only was it important for the Bulldogs to jump into the lead but the timing of the goal provided a shift in momentum heading into the third.

“When I first came in the locker room before the third period, I said you have no idea how huge that was,” Aldrich explained. “If they can go through two periods in our barn and come out with 15 minutes to go tied that’s a big difference. Now they have a little mountain to climb.”

Of McClellan, who spent most of the game carrying the puck out of defense and providing Canton with a forward rush, Aldrich said, “She’s a special kind of player and she’s someone that can be hard to play with because you can’t really contain her; you have to let the stallion run.”

Canton started the third on fire, recording the first five shots of the period and forcing Potts to come through with several difficult saves to keep the Warriors just a goal down.

Ellie Rae Roberts had the first chance with a backhander from the edge of the crease and Katie Holleran followed with a chance from the slot, but Potts saved both. With nine minutes to play, Potts again made the save to stop a Fitzpatrick breakaway and then denied McClellan on another long rush.

“She definitely kept us in the game,” said Unger of Potts. “She had an outstanding performance. They came on a little strong in the third period, but it was nice to hold them off and get a few chances of our own.”

In the final five minutes, KP flipped the momentum and started to press in search of a tying goal. In one sequence Gorman found Olivia McCarthy who then fed it on to Remmes for a great chance from the slot but Kelleher got a piece and the rebound trickled wide of the post.

Thirty seconds later, Kelleher made an even better stop to deny Gorman when a shot from the point angled to the back post and off the forward’s skate at the back post. Somehow, Kelleher (15 saves) managed to quickly get her left pad out to deny the unexpected shot.

“The ice was tilted and it would’ve been nice to sneak one in there and it would’ve been exciting, but they worked hard and it just didn’t get through,” said Unger.

KP opened its first Hockomock League campaign with a win against Stoughton. Unger said of the new league, “I think it’s a boost for girls’ hockey. It’s a great thing for the girls. The more women’s hockey we can get out there, the better.”

Aldrich was excited for his program to be part of the Hock and to get its first ever season in the league started with a win. He said, “For girls’ hockey, this is awesome. It’s so deserving. To see what Jack has done with this program and how they’ve come up…When we first started playing them it was 14-0; those days are done. Now we’re hoping to claw and scratch and get a victory.”

Canton (2-0-1, 1-0-0) will get a week off before hosting Westwood at the Ice House. King Philip (1-2-0, 1-1-0) will look to bounce back on Saturday when it travels to face Dennis-Yarmouth at the Tony Kent Ice Arena.

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Foster’s Big Night Leads Canton Past King Philip

Canton boys basketball
Canton’s Devin Foster (4) drives to the basket in the first half against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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CANTON, Mass. – Canton head coach Ryan Gordy was clear on what helped his Bulldogs beat visiting King Philip on Tuesday night.

Devin Foster,” Gordy said without hesitation.

And the answer wasn’t much of a surprise as Foster poured in 27 points, hauled in six rebounds and dished out six assists to help Canton survive with a 66-57 win over the Warriors.

“Devin was the difference between King Philip and Canton tonight,” Gordy said. “It wasn’t X’s and O’s, it wasn’t anything that we did special. Devin played a high-level basketball game tonight and just put us on his back. We kind of grinded and got some stops in that third quarter to get on a run.”

Canton led by as much as 19 in the second half, but struggles from the free throw line (9-for-22) kept the door open for a comeback, and King Philip nearly orchestrated just that in the fourth quarter.

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Foster had 15 of his points in the first half, forcing KP head coach Mark Champagne to switch up his defense and put junior Kyle Layman on Foster defensively. Layman kept Foster scoreless over the first five minutes of the third.

But off of an inbounds play, Foster found space against KP’s zone and drained a corner three. That basket sparked an 11-3 run over the final two minutes of the third. Kyle Fitzgerald finished a layup to make it 47-31 Canton.

King Philip answered when sophomore Robert Jarest drained a three but Foster came back and hit a big three of his own after a nice screen from Tony Harris (14 points, seven rebounds). After getting a stop, Foster drove to the basket to draw the defense in and kicked it to Austin Maffie for a triple and a 53-34 lead late in the third.

“Devin has the ability to make adjustments in-game,” Gordy said. “He has an incredibly high IQ for the game and works very hard on his craft. He’s going to find multiple ways to either score or get others involved, he’s just that good of a player.”

It looked as though a three from Harris would be enough when he made it 60-46. But King Philip had other plans. Behind the strong play of sophomore Andrew McKinney (13 points) and Layman (13 of his 18 points in the second half), KP rattled off an 11-1 run.

“It’s been trending, we’ve had difficult fourth quarters so far this season,” Gordy said. Canton had to hold off a late rally from Attleboro in the opener and lost a lead in the final frame against Mansfield. “It’s something we’re working on getting better at, closing games out. In all aspects of the game in the fourth quarter too, we had to make free throws when it matters. It’s still early in the season and we’re growing.”

McKinney hit back-to-back layups, Layman hit two free throws and McKinney drove to the basket for two more to cut the deficit to six. Canton’s Matt Warburton converted down low off a nice feed from Foster with two minutes left to get it back to eight, but another Layman free throw followed by a McKinney mid-range jumper made it 62-57 with just over a minute left.

KP even forced another stop but turned it over without getting a shot off. Foster went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 30 seconds to ice the game.

“I thought our shot selection was better and we made some stops on defense,” Champagne said of getting back into the game. To their credit, Foster really was on balance. Ryan [Gordy] does a really good job coaching them to their strengths. Similar to Foxboro with [Joe] Morrison and [Brandon] Borde, Canton knows who their scorers are. And we weren’t disciplined on defense at times and [Maffie] got a couple of shots, and we knew he could shoot it.

“We’re still not there yet. We have five guys who haven’t played as much, even though they were their tails off, their discipline on rules struggles. It’s getting better though. But Canton is the most improved team from last year.”

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King Philip led 16-15 after the first quarter with five different players scoring but Canton outscored the Warriors 20-9 in the second quarter, taking a 10-point lead (35-25) into the halftime break. Senior Jake Verille scored nine of his 11 points in the first half while Maffie hit a three in each half.

“When we have other guys making shots we become a difficult team to defend,” Gordy said. “But credit KP, they stuck with it and hung around and made a game of it.”

Tom Madden added six points and a game-high 14 rebounds for KP while Pharoah Davis added seven points. Champagne is encouraged with the progress his team is making after five players — all who play valuable minutes — got off to a delayed start because of the football season.

“From a year ago, it’s much better,” Champagne said. “The record is the same but we’re better than where we were last year. We just have to run our stuff with better discipline and then we’ll have better possessions. We’re still mixing more and more guys in. I thought McKinney had a very good game, I thought Jarest played well. You just can’t dig holes. Are we good enough to get back in the game? Yeah. But are we good enough to get back and then take the lead? We just can’t dig those holes.”

Canton boys basketball (2-1 Hockomock, 2-1 overall) will resume Hockomock League play in the new year, but will host Boston Latin on December 28th to close the calendar year. King Philip (1-2, 1-2) heads to the Bridgewater-Raynham tournament to take on Dorchester on December 27th.

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2017-2018 Hockomock Boys and Girls Hockey Preview

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys and Girls Hockey Preview
Canton and North Attleboro will once again battle for the Davenport division crown this winter, as Hockomock League hockey kicks off a new season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Mark Homer

Attleboro struggled in its closing games of 2016-17 and narrowly missed out on a place in the state tournament via the Sullivan rule. This year’s Bombardiers are hoping that a mix of youth and experience will be enough to get the team over the hump and back in the playoff mix.

The main scoring threat for Attleboro this season is senior forward Jake Parker, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection last winter who led the team with 20 goals despite facing regular double teams and playing loads of minutes. Parker will be joined up front by sophomore Ryan Morry, who is coming off a solid rookie campaign and will try to take advantage of the opportunities Parker creates near the net.

Attleboro’s experience is on the defensive side of the ice. Seniors Eddie Noel and Sam MacKenzie and junior Kyle McCabe provide size, physicality, and reading of the game to protect the Bombardiers goal. Attleboro coach Mark Homer, in his second season with the team, is expecting the defensemen to be aggressive in the zone and be more prepared to clear the puck. The Bombardiers are also experienced in goal with junior Evan Andrews and sophomore Derrik Rivet offering a solid one-two between the pipes.

“As a team, we are working on becoming more competitive in our games at all phases of the game, said Homer. “We will strive to be better today than we were yesterday but not as good as we will be tomorrow. Our success will be measured by how hard we work and not by our wins and losses.”

Canton

2016-2017 Record: 16-5-3
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Brian Shuman

After another league title in 2016-17 and a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal, Canton has started this season with a win and a draw (that turned into an overtime win in the final of the Gormley Cup) and the expectations remain as high as ever for one of the teams to beat in D2.

Last season, Canton was by far the league’s best defensive team, allowing only 32 goals in 24 games. The next best defense allowed 48 goals. But, the Bulldogs will need to rebuild the blue line this season after the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and Third Team selection C.J. Martin. Defensemen Brad Murphy and Nick Allen have experience and will be counted on to step up to bigger roles this year.

The key for the Canton defense, which has allowed only one goal in two games so far this season, will be junior goalie Quinn Gibbs. He was a HockomockSports.com First Team choice last year with a league-best 0.924 save percentage and there is hope he can get even better with a year of experience. Offensively, the Bulldogs bring back most of the goals from last year with Ryan Nolte, Johnny Hagan, Bubba McNeice, and Jack Goyetch all returning this season and all having scored big goals in big moments for Canton during last season’s tournament run.

“I think the most important determinant of our success will be whether we can find some depth at forward and defense,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Teams need more than two lines and four ‘D’ to make a deep run, so we need some guys to compete for those remaining spots.”

Foxboro

2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 3 First Round.
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk

Foxboro saw improvement last year, increasing its win total, goals for, and allowed fewer goals than the season before. Head coach Mark Cedarchuk is hoping that trend continues this season as the Warriors look to try and compete for the spot in the postseason.

The Warriors will be relying on a mix of experience as well as youth to try and compete in the Hockomock League this year. Senior captain Aidan Sullivan (two goals, six assists) has been an anchor of the team’s blue line unit over the past couple of seasons and will be relied upon to lead the way again this year. Senior captain Taylor Sharfman is another defenseman that gives the Warriors two capable and reliable options in the back. Junior Tanner Kennedy is also back after a solid sophomore year and Warriors added junior Brendan Tully to the defensive unit.

On offense, Foxboro graduated its top three goal scorers but sophomore Ronnie MacLellan (four goals, seven assists) is back after a strong sophomore year. He will be joined up front by senior Sam Garrabrant and sophomore Sebastian Ricketts, who had four goals and two assists last year.

Foxboro will have to find a replacement for goalie John Cronin, a multi-year starter in between the pipes for the Warriors. Foxboro has three goalies – freshman Jack Spinney, sophomore Espen Reager, and freshman Connor Callahan – listed on the roster.

“With a combination of experienced upperclassman and talented underclassman, we’re looking forward to an exciting and competitive season,” Cedarchuk said.

Franklin

2016-2017 Record: 14-9-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Chris Spillane

Although last winter was atypical for the Panthers, losing two games in the league for the first time in several years, Franklin won another league title and with 20 players back for this season the expectation is that a seventh straight league crown is a distinct possibility – not to mention making a run in the state tournament.

Experience will be the key for the Panthers. Most of the forwards were members of the team that won the state championship two years ago and know what it takes to get goals against top competition. Leading scorer Brendan O’Rielly is back after scoring 20 goals and recording 11 assists last season. He should have plenty of help up front with classmates Luke Downie, Jeremy Miller, T.J. Durkin, and Ken Demerchant, who are all three-year varsity players for the Panthers.

Defensively, Franklin has lost several talented young defensemen to other programs in recent seasons, but still boasts a strong defensive corps heading into this winter. Jack McGrath, Matt Crane, Connor Norton, Cam Cassella, and sophomore Tom Tasker will all contribute to the defensive pairings this season and that depth will be important over a long season. The goalie position is a battle between three seniors, including returning netminders Owen Ginley and Dan Sheehan, who both saw time last year.

“I will be looking to our leading goal scorer from last year Brendan O’Rielly to once again lead the offensive charge,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “From a small practice sample (one skate) I was impressed with our team speed.”

King Philip

2016-2017 Record: 4-16-0
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Paul Carlow

King Philip finished just below .500 in the league last season, and just five points out of second place in the Kelley-Rex division, but struggled in the non-league schedule, losing all 11 games outside of the Hock. The Warriors will look to improve that considerably this year with an experienced roster that wants to challenge for a league title.

KP returns 13 players from last year’s squad and that experience will be vital to allow the Warriors to compete not only in the league but against a schedule that has been bolstered because of the program’s move up to Div. 1 several seasons ago. Offensively, the attention will be on senior forward Collin Cooke, who chipped in with 10 goals and seven assists and has been drawing the focus of opposing defenses for several years. Senior Gavin Maxwell had nine goals and eight assists last season and will again be a solid counterpoint to take some of the pressure off Cooke in the attacking zone.

On the defensive side of the ice, KP continues to be a physical team that likes to be aggressive attacking the puck. Senior defensemen Will Connor will get some help at the back with the return of senior Mike Curtin from juniors, who head coach Paul Carlow said could be an “anchor” on defense. Senior Shane Frommer, fresh off a stellar football season and another Super Bowl title, will quickly transition from the gridiron to be the team’s starting goalie, after posting a 2.66 goals against average in 2016-17.

“Our strength is that we have a total of 13 returning players from last years team,” said Carlow. “We have experience up front and on the back end. We should see some team chemistry with this many returning players.”

Mansfield

2016-2017 Record: 12-8-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round.
Coach: Mike Balazarini

In last year’s state tournament, Mansfield held its own against perennial power Xaverian before losing 2-1 in the opening round and that defeat is spurring the Hornets on this season, as the team has built a deep roster that believes it can challenge for the Kelley-Rex crown.

Team speed is going to be a strength for the Hornets this season, even without several key pieces from last winter, including breakout freshman Chris Jenkins, lost to graduation or to juniors. Senior forward Dylan Tivnan and Cullin Anastasia will be back to man the top scoring line along with freshman Coleman Jenkins. The second line will feature a lot of youth with sophomore Jake Lund and freshman Matt Copponi alongside junior Chris Copponi.

Seniors Tyler Oakley and Tim Arnold will be the leaders on the defensive side this year, while senior Ryan O’Hara and juniors Nick Levine and Austin Ricker will give the Hornets depth in the defensive unit. That depth should make things easier for sophomore Sean McCafferty, who will be stepping between the pipes for Mansfield this season.

“I think everyone wants to pick up where he left off last year,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We’ve had a good mindset early on this season. We have some new faces and everyone has gelled so far. We can’t take everyone lightly, we have to play every shift as its out last.”

North Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 14-4-4
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Ben McManama

North Attleboro is coming off its most successful season in program history, and will be starting a new chapter with new head coach Ben McManama.

The Rocketeers will be tasked with finding replacements for some of the top players in the league from a season ago. Someone will need to step up in order to fill the void left by Zach McGowan (19 goals, 13 assists for 32 points – third most in the Hockomock) as well as Hunter Sarro’s 22 points and Erik Clements’ 20 points.

Senior Jason McNeany is a key piece back for the Rocketeers, fresh off a terrific football season. He scored 13 goals last season and added 13 assists, and has been a big piece of the offense for many years now. He will be counted on to be a leader this season, both in the locker room and on the ice.

Oliver Ames

2016-2017 Record: 14-7-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Sean Bertoni

Under first-year head coach Sean Bertoni, Oliver Ames proved to be a strong skating team that could cause a number of problems with its dangerous attack. That speed up front will be put to the test again this year, as the Tigers look to jump from second in the Kelley-Rex division to the top of the standings.

The Tigers have a number of talented forwards returning from last season’s team, which reached the Div. 2 South tournament and beat Nauset only to run into state finalist Scituate in the second round. That loss will provide motivation for junior forward Brett Williams, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team with 12 goals and eight assists last year, and the rest of the OA forwards. Williams will be joined up front by seniors Eric LeBlanc and Rory Madden and junior Max Ward.

On defense, junior Matt McCormick returns to be one of the top four along with senior Mike Nikiciuk. Both players will provide leadership for a defensive unit that promises to be aggressive in both zones, as Bertoni continues to implement his system at OA. Sophomore goalie Owen Connor will be the new goalie for the Tigers.

“We will continue to use our team speed and play an aggressive style offensively and defensively,” said Bertoni. “We hope to compete at a high level in all three zones. If we bring an aggressive forecheck we can create turnovers which should result in production.”

Stoughton

2016-2017 Record: 7-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Dan Mark

Numbers are a bit down for the Stoughton High hockey team this season, so the Knights will be relying on their most experienced players to lead the way, especially early on.

On offense, the Knights boast senior Brendan Campbell at center and junior Sean Doherty at wing. Campbell had a team-high in points last season, finishing second with 11 goals while recording a team-best 15 assists for 26 points. Doherty was third on the team, tying for the team lead with 12 goals and finishing with 25 points.

Senior Cam Nelson and junior Josh Hough will be the leaders of the Knights’ defensive unit. Hough is a captain along with Campbell and Doherty and has the most experience on the blue line. Nelson also saw plenty of time last season, recording an assist.

“We are an inexperienced team that will improve as the season goes on,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark.

Taunton

2016-2017 Record: 12-9-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round.
Coach: Kris Metea

Taunton has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons, setting new program bests for wins and making the state tournament two seasons in a row. This year’s team features only three seniors, so the Tigers will be hoping recent success will continue with a youthful lineup.

Senior forward Will Walsh has returned from junior hockey and will provide a boost to the front line, which head coach Kris Metea has high hopes for this season. Senior Jake Roberts is also back for the Tigers after scoring 18 points last year and junior Cam Sneyd is back after a 16-point season last winter. Metea is counting on high energy from the offensive unit and believes that the roster is capable of creating loads of scoring opportunities.

Sophomore Sean Bunker will be in net for the Tigers and the defensive unit is fairly inexperienced, although the coach believes that by working together Taunton will be able to put together a solid back line. The hope is that defense will become a strength of the Tigers by the end of the season.

“The players enjoy wearing the orange and black and look forward to coming to the rink every day,” said Metea. “The coaching staff has preached about enjoying the journey of a season and the developmental process. These players strive to work hard and get better every day. They will be fun to watch grow throughout the season.”

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview
Colleen Kelleher and Canton will be one of the favorites to win the inaugural Hockomock League girls’ hockey season, which begins this winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Canton

2016-2017 Record: 14-5-6
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Final
Coach: Dennis Aldrich

Canton is coming off a remarkable state tournament run that took the No. 14 seed all the way to the TD Garden and the program’s first state title game appearance since 2006. After years of competing in the SEMGHL Coastal division, the Bulldogs are excited for the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and enter the new season as favorites to bring home the first Hock title.

A number of key players are back from the team that battled Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in the state championship game last March and will be counted on to put together another solid defensive effort that made the Bulldogs so tough to play against during the tournament run. Spearheading that defensive unit is senior goalie Colleen Kelleher, who was stellar throughout the state tournament with clutch saves in key situations.

On offense, Canton returns plenty of firepower. Juniors Maggie Malloy and Lauren Fitzpatrick emerged as big time scorers last year and came through with important goals to help the Bulldogs make a run to the Garden. Senior forwards Melissa Devane, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil give Canton a loaded attacking unit that always seemed to pop up with goals when the team needed it most.

“The strength of the Bulldogs will continue to be a tenacious, smothering team defense, strong goaltending, and balanced, opportunistic scoring,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “We are proud to have our roster filled with 11 Canton team captains amongst our 22 rostered players.”

Franklin

2016-2017 Record: 4-15-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Marjorie Burke

Franklin enters the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season with a young roster, but one that is expected to compete with the other four teams and have a shot at bringing home the inaugural title.

Junior Regan Paterson and senior Jackie Connelly will be expected to provide leadership and create scoring opportunities for a roster that is loaded with underclassmen. Both players provide speed and playmaking ability in the attacking zone and the Panthers will be counting on their experience to make the difference.

Leadership is going to be critical for this year’s team and head coach Marjorie Burke is looking to her senior class to provide direction for the youthful lineup on both ends of the ice. Among the seniors that Burke is looking to this season are Bella Trask, Caroline Hedvig, Maddie Hinkley, Jillian McGlaughlin, and Connelly.

“We are excited about the upcoming season,” said Burke. “We are young but look to be competitive.”

King Philip

2016-2017 Record: 11-10-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Coach:

Three years ago, King Philip was the top seed in Div. 2 and after two more playoff appearance, the Warriors now have the opportunity to bring their recent success into the first ever Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and hope that an experienced lineup could make them the first Hock champs.

Junior Nicole Connor is off to a strong start this season and has the potential, according to KP coach Jack Unger, to be one of the top players in the Hockomock League this year. Connor will play both at forward and along the blue line, crucial versatility that makes her an important piece for KP. The Warriors return five seniors who will be the “backbone” of the squad, said Unger. Kyleigh Remmes, Olivia McCarthy, Jessica Daniels, Katie Crowther, and Talia Quinn give the Warriors depth all over the ice.

Lilly Potts returns for her third year in between the pipes, while sophomore Cristina Coleman will be the backup netminder. Freshmen Avari Maxwell and Jordyn Remmes will be instant contributors on offense, while classmate Marin Cormier will step in on defense. Sophomores Abby Carr and Sammy Robison are also expected to step in at forward this season.

“[The roster is] rounded out by a number of talented juniors who should be able to spread out the scoring amongst the three starting forward lines,” said Unger.

Mansfield/Oliver Ames

2016-2017 Record: 14-6-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Coach: Mike Dalton

Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro have joined forces since the 2014-15 season and have reached the postseason each of the past two winters, suffering an overtime loss to Walpole in the first round of the state tournament last year, and have started this season with an impressive win in the opener.

The Warriors will be led by Foxboro’s Catherine Luciano. The senior was the team’s leading scorer last year and scored a hat trick in the season opener to get off to another strong start. Joining Luciano on the top line will be Mackenzie Fraser and Isabelle Shanteller. Other contributors in the offensive zone include senior Kayla Dalton, Kristina O’Connell, and Lindsey Corning.

While the Warriors are expected to create a number of scoring opportunities, defense will be just as important if Mansfield/OA (MOA) is going to make it a third straight playoff appearance. Denea Reager, Ali Delano, and Emily Bubencick will all be critical components of the Warriors defensive unit. Senior Kerren Holmes will be back in goal this year to stifle the opposition, while freshman Cate Gallegher will be the backup netminder.

“A strong freshman class will assist the team with help on both offense and defense,” said MOA coach Mike Dalton. “The team looks to compete for a top position in the Hockomock League and secure a spot in the tournament.”

Stoughton

2016-2017 Record: 1-19-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Richard Grasso

The newest of the programs in the inaugural season of Hockomock League girls’ hockey, Stoughton is in only its third season of varsity play, but the Black Knights are counting on last year’s experience and the growth in the program to make them a team to watch out for this winter.

Two-time all-star Julia Russell will be one of the key defenders for the Black Knights, but also brings an offensive punch with her speed forcing opponents to worry about her carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Senior Sarah Widrow will join Russell at the blue line and provides consistency in the defensive zone. Both will be expected to provide leadership for the less experienced players on the roster and try to make Stoughton a team that is tough to play against.

The offense will be sparked by a pair of freshmen. Hailey Nelson and Morgan Lesso made an instant impact on their debuts, helping Stoughton start the season with a 6-5 win at Framingham in the season opener. Lesso recorded a hat trick against the Flyers to set a high standard in her first varsity action.

“Stoughton will be a much stronger team this year than last,” said Black Knights coach Richard Grasso. “However, this will be a great challenge for our program. We have a lot of respect for the teams in the Hockomock League. There’s a lot of talent out there and each team is well-coached.”