Unfortunately, King Philip found itself chasing the game, and despite a strong push to get even, the Warriors fell 3-2 to the Bishops at Zapustas Rink.
“I would agree,” said KP head coach Jack Unger about being the better team over the final two periods. “We’ve had a rough time getting goals over the course of the season. But they keep fighting and that’s all you can ask for.
“After the first period, we possessed the puck a lot more, we had better transition through the neutral zone and better control on the puck in the offensive zone to create chances. It came through puck possession. And they were playing with urgency since we were down.”
Archies scores just under four minutes into the game to take an early lead, but King Philip balanced the play out by the end of 15 minutes, both teams putting six shots on net in the frame.
The Bishops capitalized again on an early goal, this time just 21 seconds into the second period to take a 2-0 lead. But as the midway point of the second came, the Warriors found themselves with the majority of puck time and chances on goal.
With just under nine minutes to play in the middle period, King Philip registered its first good chance when Katie Crowther connected with Gorman just across the blue line, and Gorman slid a pass towards goal but the defense came away with a clearance before Meehan could get a clean look.
King Philip’s Kyleigh Remmes made a nice hustle play to partially block a clearance from the Bishops and was rewarded with possession in the attacking zone. She tossed her shot towards goal that created a scrum in front of Delmonte but the puck was swept away by the Bishops’ defense.
“The girls could feel the shift in the momentum,” Unger said. “They had much better puck possession and that let us do more things with it and transition into the neutral zone much better than the first half of the game.”
The Warriors continued the pressure with just over two minutes to go when freshman Avari Maxwell skated in but her shot went just high. KP kept the puck in the offensive zone and it eventually popped out to the blue line. Junior Nicole Connor used a nice move to fake around the first defenseman and then sniped her shot top shelf to make it 2-1 with 2:04 left in the second.
After giving up early goals in each the first and second periods, the Warriors came out with purpose in the third and applied the pressure to the home side. The pressure resulted in a power play for KP when Archies was whistled for hooking with 12:43 to go.
KP had the puck in the attacking zone for nearly a minute but couldn’t get anything through to the goal. After a clearance, the Warriors attempted to skate back up ice but Archies’ Marguerite Leonard intercepted a cross ice pass, skated in alone and deposited a shorthanded goal to make it 3-1 with 11:21 to play.
Despite falling behind two goals to the third-seeded Bishops, King Philip continued to battle.
Junior goalie Lilly Potts then came up with her two biggest saves of the game to keep the Warriors alive. First, Leonard jumped on a loose puck and skated in alone on goal but Potts stayed with her and pushed the bid aside.
Seconds later, Bishops junior Mackenzie Heath had a partial breakaway chance but once again Potts away up to the task and made the save.
Those saves allowed the Warriors to come down the other way and capitalize. Connor came flying into the zone along the right side, getting around her defenseman before firing a high shot. The chance forced a save from Delmonte but the rebound fell right in front and Meehan alertly batted the loose puck in to make it 3-2.
“We were getting more pucks to the net,” Unger said. “Once we got into the offensive, they were able to move it around a little bit more.”
KP continued to play on the front foot and had a couple of chances over the final two minutes, but couldn’t convert any before the final buzzer sounded.
King Philip girls hockey finishes the season 11-9-2.
So it was no surprise that Wednesday night’s tilt between Mansfield and King Philip felt like a playoff game.
The teams skated to a 1-1 tie, exchanging goals in the final four minutes of the second period. With the point, King Philip is still alive for a playoff berth. The Warriors need to win their final two games of the season to join the Hornets in the tournament.
“We can’t lose,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow of the remaining games. “We were up 1-0 but our Achille’s Heel, penalties. If we can play even strength, I like our chances. But we had to kill a couple more extra penalties than I would have liked to. But the kids responded, they played a strong third, they killed that penalty off to start. We had our chances.”
After a relatively even first period, Mansfield began to gain control of the game, having long stretches of possession in the attacking zone. The Hornets had a 16-5 edge in shots on goal in the frame, peppering King Philip senior goalie Shane Frommer (29 saves).
“Shane played maybe his best game of the year tonight,” Carlow said. “[Mansfield] is a good team, they are very well coached. They are already going to the Division 1 tournament so it was a tall task for our guys to stay alive. They put it on us pretty good earlier in the year.”
When Mansfield went on the power play at the midway point of the game, senior defenseman Tyler Oakley had his wrist shot redirected by sophomore Jake Lund but Frommer was able to get his glove on top of the dribbling puck.
Two minutes later, the Hornets had another chance when Tim Arnold kept the puck in the offensive zone and the puck landed at the feet of Chris Copponi, but Frommer made a point-blank save.
But despite the Hornets having the edge in play in the period, it was the Warriors that struck first. Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty (23 saves) turned away a bid from Gavin Maxwell, but the puck found its way back in front and sophomore Joe Boselli lifted his shot into the back of the net. Luke D’Amico was credited with the assist while Maxwell provided the screen in front.
“Their goal was at the end of a long shift, our guys were out there for over two minutes so it cost us,” Balzarini said. “They tried their damnedest to get back but they just couldn’t. I don’t think Sean got a good look at it. But I thought we responded well. I thought the second period was much better for us.”
Less than 90 seconds after the Warriors took the lead, they took a penalty to put the Hornets on the man advantage again. This time, Mansfield cashed in.
Matt Copponi tossed a puck towards net from the blue line, where Oakley ripped a shot in close. The puck squirted free onto the other side and Chris Copponi batted in the rebound to tie the game with 1:09 left in the period.
“It was [like a playoff game],” Balzarini said. “I thought we started off slow, which is one thing we struggle with….They did a good job of putting sticks in the passing lanes and the shooting lanes. They had a handful of blocked shots, we just had trouble getting pucks to the net.”
KP had an 11-3 advantage in shots in the first period, but the teams split attacking zone possession. The best chance for King Philip came with just under three minutes to go when Maxwell saw his shot go wide and D’Amico had his rebound bid denied by McCafferty’s paddle on a diving save.
“Their goalie played well,” Carlow said. “We definitely had our chances, we had an odd-man rush late, we had a breakaway early on a shorthanded bid…both goalies played well. It was a good game, it was pretty evenly matched all night.”
Both teams had chances at the winner in the third period but couldn’t find the back of the net. D’Amico took a feed from Jack Coulter but McCafferty made the save right in front. D’Amico set up Boselli with just under six minutes to go, but again McCafferty was there for the save.
Right after the save, Mansfield went down the other end only for Matt Copponi’s shot to ring off the crossbar.
King Philip boys hockey (4-4 Hockomock, 8-10-1 overall) will try to keep its postseason hopes alive when it hosts Norwood on Monday at 5:20. Mansfield (5-2-2, 8-5-5) is on the road on Saturday, traveling to Larsen Arena to take on Winthrop.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – When Franklin and King Philip met in Foxboro back in January, it took almost the full 45 minutes for someone to find a breakthrough, so when the teams met again on Wednesday night at Pirelli Veterans Arena the expectation was for another close, tight, low-scoring game and that was exactly what happened.
Alli Meehan gave the Warriors the lead with 11 minutes remaining but freshman Victoria Quinn answered back for Franklin with a breakaway in the final minute and the teams skated away with a 1-1 tie. The point was enough to seal KP’s place in the state tournament.
“After tonight we have three games left,” KP coach Jack Unger said, “so it was nice to get that point put away now and focus on playing good hockey and getting ready for the tournament.”
It was senior night for the Panthers, who honored their five seniors prior to the puck drop, but it ended up being a pair of freshmen, goalie Natalie Stott (17 saves) and winger Quinn who helped secure the point.
“Freshman goalie saving the day at one end and a freshman stepping up and scoring that goal at the end,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke. “Victoria’s played well all year. The last few games she’s really stepped up.”
Franklin started the game on the front foot and controlled the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of the first period, although the Panthers struggled to get the puck on goal. The first good chance fell to sophomore Jordan Dwyer after good work down the right wing by Quinn but KP goalie Lilly Potts (22 saves) kicked the shot aside.
Quinn was a menace right from the opening face-off and she managed to split a pair of defensemen on a 1-on-2 attack and forced Potts to make a save on a backhand shot. KP had six shots but the only real test for Stott in the first was a late blast from the point by Nicole Connor that was saved in traffic.
There was no break between periods and Franklin seemed to be energized by getting right back on the ice, recording nine shots in the second and creating several good scoring opportunities.
Meghan Gorman had the period’s first shot on a quick break out and forced Stott into a pad save, but three minutes later Regan Paterson nearly knocked in a loose puck but for a scrambling save by Potts who ended up prone on the ice facing her goal.
With nine minutes left in the second, Paterson opened up space for Jackie Connelly to get a shooting lane as she raced down the channel inside the left circle but the shot was kicked away and two rebounds blocked in front. Seconds later the same combo opened up another scoring chance but this time Potts was able to block aside a Connelly shot that looked destined for the corner.
KP forced a save out of Stott in the final minute. Connor skated from left to right outside the blue line and took a hopeful shot that knuckled and bounced right in front of the goal. Stott turned into an infielder as she took a bad hop off her shoulder to keep the game scoreless.
“Their goalie played great, our goalie played great,” said Burke. “Last time we played these guys it was 0-0 right up until the final minute of the game, so we knew it was going to be this kind of a game.”
KP came out of the second intermission stronger and had a few early chances, as Franklin took a few minutes to get back going again.
“That’s why we only cut the ice once now because I feel like we come out a little flat after we take that break,” Burke explained. “I warned them about coming out flat for the third and they didn’t come out flat but they didn’t come out the way they had left the second.”
While the Warriors started well in the third, Franklin very nearly took the lead when Paterson had a shot that was arrowing into the top corner blocked just over the bar by Potts. Mere seconds later, KP took the lead.
Unger said, “Lily Potts played great. That save with about five minutes left, it was an open net and she just stuck her glove out and saved it. That was phenomenal. It was a big turnaround.”
A breakout of the defensive zone got KP a 2-on-1 break. Meehan skated down the right side and was able to saucer a puck over to Gorman on the left, who took only one touch to knock the puck right back across goal to Meehan and the junior tipped it up over Stott and just under the bar for the go-ahead score.
“Unselfish,” said Unger. “Meghan could’ve taken the shot but she chose to pass it back and it was a beautiful tip in. It was great.”
Potts made a big save with four minutes left to deny Libby Carter, following another Quinn set up, but with a minute left to play Franklin got a breakaway. Quinn had a deft touch to tip the puck past an onrushing defenseman in the neutral zone and took her time to bury a wrister into the top corner.
“That was a beautiful goal they got,” Burke said, “and we just kept pressing and even after Victoria tied it up I told them if you get it down there I want you pressing. We weren’t playing for the tie, but we’re happy with the tie.”
The game was typical for the first Hockomock League season in which every game seems to come down to the wire.
“Every game in the league has been [close]. Low scoring games…the league play has been really tight,” said Burke.
Unger added, “The teams that are playing well in the Hock, it’s a one-goal differential. A bounce off a skate here or there, a turnover, makes the difference in the game. One little mistake is all it takes.”
Franklin (12-3-4, 2-2-3) will close out the regular season against Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake next Wednesday. King Philip (9-6-2, 4-2-1) will close out league play on Saturday against Mansfield/Oliver Ames in Foxboro.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Exactly a month ago, Stoughton earned its first league win of the season on the road at North Attleboro. Following the game, Black Knights coach Charmaine Steele Jordan said that she was looking forward to a strong second half of the season from her team. She turned out to be right.
On Monday night, behind strong performances from freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe and sophomore Aliyah Wright, the Black Knights beat King Philip 61-49, making it eight wins in the last nine games. After starting the season 1-7, Stoughton is now just one win from clinching a spot in the state tournament.
“It’s exciting to see how the program has evolved,” said Steele Jordan about the progress of the youth on the roster. “We have young guards, but that makes for promise for the future. We’ve got a lot of youth coming up and I’m excited where the program is going. I feel like we’re a fun group to watch and when we’re on, then we’re on.”
The game got off to an even start. Wright got a steal and layup off the Stoughton press and Lindsay McDonald (eight points) knocked down a jumper after an offensive rebound for an early lead. Faith Roy (nine points) completed a three-point play to tie the game at 5-5, but Hyacinthe (15 points) knocked down the first of her five three-pointers and Wright (17 points) got one of her eight steals and turned it into a layup for a 12-8 lead after one.
KP was playing without leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, who was injured in the last game against Taunton, and the Warriors offense stalled a little at the start of the second quarter.
“It’s an adjustment for the team, for the coaches, for everybody,” said KP coach Amy Siggens. “We did alright and I think someone needs to step up into that role and I don’t think they know who that is yet. Everyone had to contribute and we started off a little slow but then we started to figure it out as the game went along.”
The Black Knights ran off the first eight points of the second with sophomore Mariah Harris (10 points) knocking down a pair of jumpers and senior Val Whalen (11 points and 15 rebounds) adding four as well. Roy tried to bring KP back with a pair of threes that cut the lead back to five. Hyacinthe answered with a three but, after free throws from Stoughton, Julia LeRoux (nine points) hit a three to keep KP within nine at the half.
In the third quarter, Stoughton continued its hot shooting to break the game open. Hyacinthe was particularly accurate from downtown, nailing three from beyond the arc in the third, while McDonald also buried a pair of deep jumpers, as the Black Knights scored 22 as a team in the quarter.
“It’s great to see those girls knocking down shots,” said Steele Jordan. “They’ve been working on their games all season and it’s nice when it finally rolls over into a game and they’re being consistent and shooting with confidence.”
While the offense was clicking, Steele Jordan was also pleased with the defensive effort. The Stoughton press was forcing turnovers that led to baskets for Harris and Wright in the quarter.
“We’re fueled off our defense,” she explained. “When we’re moving our feet, we have active hands, and we’re anticipating, we have several girls who can be a step ahead of the pass and see where it’s going. It’s nice to see them use their athleticism and get those deflections.”
Stoughton continued to tack on to its lead, eventually extending it to as many as 23 points after a jumper by Wright and a three from Harris.
“We work a ton on our help and doubling down because we knew how good their bigs were and…you’ve got to give up one or the other and we just weren’t able to close out,” said Siggens. “I can’t take anything away from how well they shoot and how quick they are.”
KP continued to battle in the final minutes and would cut into the lead behind six points from Cummings, who knocked down a pair of jumpers and finished an offensive rebound. Freshman Emma Glaser also added three points for the Warriors.
“She’s worked really hard all season to work on those moves,” said Siggens of Cummings. “She’s due for a monster game, so it’s nice to see those going in for her.”
Stoughton (9-8, 8-6) will try to clinch its state tournament berth on Tuesday night when it hosts Sharon. King Philip (4-12, 3-11) will be right back in action on Tuesday with the visit of league champ Mansfield.