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.”
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.”
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – All season long, King Philip (12-9) has been a team of runs, turning one basket into two or three or four, grabbing momentum, and being able to turn a deficit into a lead in the blink of an eye. On Wednesday night in the opening round of the Div. 1 playoffs, Bishop Feehan never blinked.
Feehan demonstrated its familiarity with the Warriors press, took advantage of a tough shooting night, and made sure that KP never went on one of its runs, pulling out a 58-46 victory that gave the Shamrocks a place in the sectional quarterfinal and a win in the season series.
“Our biggest thing tonight was that even when we could get a make, we could never string two together or get a stop and then another basket,” said KP coach Dan Nagle. “We could never gain ground. We’d get it to nine and then we’d give up a layup or we’d miss a layup and instead of cutting it to seven they hit a three on the other end.
“The ability to string things together and connect the dots a little bit was missing tonight. “
It felt like the Warriors were running uphill right from the opening tip. Two weeks ago, when the teams last met, KP made 11 threes as a team. On Wednesday, KP made 11 shots total.
Faye Veilleux (game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds) scored four points in the first, but all at the line. Emma Glaser (five points) drilled a three for KP’s first made basket of the night and cut the Feehan lead down to 9-7. After the Shamrocks scored four straight, Faith Roy (10 points) got the basket for two but an Amanda Folan three made it 16-9 after one.
Things didn’t get any better offensively for KP in the second. Roy drove and set up Taylor Butler for a layup that cut the lead to 18-11 and then Roy got a bucket of her own off a nice pass from Brianna James.
Feehan responded with a 7-1 run to extend the lead out to double digits. KP managed to cut the lead down to eight after free throws from James and Veilleux. It was 25-17 at the break and it was hard not to feel that KP was fortunate to be still in the game and that the Warriors would have to improve in the second half.
Roy drilled a three from the corner that made it 27-21 and got the KP bench and fan section fired up and James followed a Feehan basket by grabbing an offensive rebound and turning it into two at the line. It was only a six-point game and it felt like maybe the Warriors were poised to click into gear.
Lydia Moradarski (16 points) had other ideas. She got a steal and layup and then buried a big three that pushed the hosts back in front by 12. Veilleux knocked down a pull-up jumper (her first made field goal in the game) but Feehan was able to beat the press and get a layup for Kyla Cunningham at the buzzer and went into the fourth quarter ahead 39-26.
“They’ve got good, young guards and they handled the pressure well,” Nagle explained. “They were ready. I mean, this is the third time they’ve seen us. They knew what was coming. We don’t really sneak up on anyone with what we do.”
With its high-octane style of play, even a 13-point deficit is not insurmountable for KP and the Warriors had opportunities in the final eight minutes to make it a much closer game, but still the shots just wouldn’t fall.
The Warriors scored 20 points in the fourth, but allowed Feehan to score 19 and never got closer than nine.
“I thought our kids played really hard,” said Nagle, “it just wasn’t our night shooting the ball. It was tough sledding.”
Roy again started the quarter with a big three that gave the Warriors a lift, but the Shamrocks always seemed to have an answer. Veilleux drove and made a tough layup and, after Feehan scored on the other end, freshman Claire Keswick hit a corner three to cut the lead down to 47-38 with 4:21 to go.
The teams were trading points. Veilleux, who scored 10 in the fourth quarter, got a put-back for two but Feehan got two at the line and went on a 9-3 run that essentially killed off the game. Veilleux added a long three in the closing seconds to win the quarter for KP and make the final deficit 12 points.
Nagle said, “We were just kind of waiting for the run to happen because that’s who we’ve been all year but tonight it just didn’t happen. It doesn’t take away what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. I’m really proud of everyone on the team and I’m really looking forward to this team’s future.”
When he initially signed up for track in the spring of his freshman year at King Philip, Jack Allan was looking for something to fill time and to keep him in shape for the fall soccer season and swim in the winter. By his own admission, he wasn’t particularly great that first season on the track.
Eight years later and Allan is now a standout for Brandeis University, captain of the track team, and setting new program records in the heptathlon, decathlon, and most recently in the 60-meter hurdles. His heptathlon score is currently 10th best in the nation in Div. III and he is on pace to qualify for nationals.
“I was really bad at baseball so I naturally started doing track to keep me busy,” he joked. “My freshman year I was no good, but my sophomore year I started to find some success. I grew into my body and I really started to love it and the personal achievement you can find.
“There is a competitive aspect to it but when you can really work hard at something and compete against yourself and get that personal achievement it really drove me.”
His senior year at KP, Allan took third in both the 110-meter hurdles and the triple jump and fifth in the long jump at the Hockomock Outdoor Track Championships. He was drawn to those events because, as he put it, “running is pretty boring on a base level.” He added, “Throw some hurdles on a track and run over those is a lot more exciting than just running in circles for however long you do it.”
When he got to Brandeis, he expected those would be the events that he would be competing in. As it turned out, new assistant coach Jason Sliwoski saw the potential for more. He noticed Allan’s height and his athleticism and had Allan start training for the heptathlon and the decathlon. It turned out to be a record-breaking fit.
“I didn’t know it at the moment but he was so right,” Allan explained, “and I’m so glad that he knew right away that this was something that would work out for me and something that I’d find success in.”
Success in those events was nearly taken away from Allan during the indoor track season as a sophomore. He suffered a significant injury to his labrum while pole vaulting at the New England meet. While he finished that heptathlon in a top five place, he was limited to hurdles and jumps during the outdoor season.
He had surgery to fix his shoulder over that summer, but there was concern that he wouldn’t be able to take part in those events any more because of the strain that something like pole vaulting would cause. Allan took advantage of his recuperation period to study abroad in Amsterdam, clear his head, and regain his focus to come back even stronger for his junior season.
“It kind of allowed me to get away from track because it’s so much in college. It’s practice everyday, multiple hours, and lifts in the morning,” he said. “It made me really want to compete, to really get back into it, I hated being away from it, I hated being injured, and it drove me so much to get back at it.”
When asked about the new perspective that he gained while out injured and how that has impacted his performance, Allan replied, “It kind of felt like it could be taken away from so easily. This will be the end of my track career after college, so it made me focus everything I have on it and give everything I got.”
That attitude has certainly paid dividends for the Judges on the track.
Last spring, Allan set a new Brandeis mark with a 5,998 in the decathlon at the DIII New England Championship meet, eclipsing a record that had stood since 1980. A week later, he became the first athlete in program history to eclipse the 6,000-point mark, finishing with a 6,121 at the All-New England Championships. He set new PRs in the 1,500-meter run (the event that pushed him past 6,000), the javelin, and the pole vault.
“It was like a weight lifted off my shoulder that I finally got over 6,000 points and I felt like I could look beyond it now and set my goals higher,” he said.
At the Branwen Smith-King Invitational at Tufts University in early February, Allan broke his own school record in the heptathlon (for the second time this season). He finished with 4,782 points and demonstrated his range of talents by finishing first or second in five of the seven events, including PRs in long jump and hurdles.
With a few meets remaining, including the conference meet in New York City at the end of the month, Allan is in position to fulfill his goal of reaching nationals for the first time in his career. He was only 300 points shy of qualifying in the decathlon last spring.
“That’s the biggest goal that I’ve been thinking about for the past three years at Brandeis,” he said. “Seeing my older teammates go, it’s always been a goal of mine and I really hope that the score I have would make it.” He noted that for the past five seasons, his current score would have been good enough to make the trip.
Just last week, Allan added to his impressive resume by finishing the 60-meter hurdles in a time of 8.46 seconds, breaking a decade-old record by a tenth of a second.
“I think it really validates that what I’ve been working on and putting in these hours with my coach down on the track that it’s all paying off,” he said. “Once you break something, you get that confidence that things are possible and it’s not just an unachievable number in a record book somewhere, but something I can break and something I think I can keep getting better at.
“It’s really crazy. I didn’t expect to be in this position. It really just puts into perspective that I’m doing something Brandeis hasn’t seen before.”
Allan still has unfinished business with goals like reaching nationals and then finishing in the top eight to achieve All-American status, but he also recognizes that his track career is rapidly coming to a close and he is trying to enjoy the time that he gets to spend competing with his teammates.
“Just competing and practicing with my team everyday makes me so happy,” Allan reflected, “and I’m just living in the moment and appreciating it all before it comes to an end. I know it’s going to fly by so I’m just appreciating the little moments with my team.”
The UAA Championships will start on February 29 at NYU and the NCAA Championships start on March 13 at JDL Fast Track in North Carolina.
The Rocketeers erased a two-goal deficit over the final 22 minutes of play to secure a 3-3 tie with Hockomock rival King Philip, and with the point, North Attleboro punches its ticket to the state tournament.
“They were outstanding,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama after his Rocketeers controlled the third period from start to finish. “We knew we needed our best period of hockey and they delivered. I think it was obvious how hard we worked, how well we worked together and how we stuck to our systems. It was fun to watch.”
The Big Red comeback started, surprisingly enough, on the heels of King Philip’s second goal of the second period. The Warriors had leveled the scoring in the first period, tying the game through 15 minutes, and went on to tack on two goals in the first eight minutes of the second period.
Sophomore Nolan Feyler put KP ahead just 1:18 into the second and scored his second with 6:59 left in the period as the Warriors looked poised to skate away with the game, up 3-1 with three straight goals.
But North Attleboro responded in a timely manner, using a smart hustle play that gave the hosts life. Senior Dennis Morehouse found classmate Jack Connolly entering the zone on the left side and Connolly unleashed a low shot. King Philip goalie Jesper Makudera (25 saves) made the pad stop but North sophomore Nik Kojoian made a great read and won the race to the loose puck, batting the rebound in to make it 3-2.
The goal came just 43 seconds after the Warriors built their two-goal advantage.
“That’s the type of play we needed,” McManama said. “It’s just the little things we talk about. That’s getting the puck to the net, shooting it low and someone else driving hard. That’s hockey, it’s basic and something we preach all the time but we get away from it. Now we’re getting some goals off it so they are seeing it works.
“That’s a very good team we played and I thought we played.”
Makudera came up with a big stick save to stop a five-hole shot from Morehouse with 15 seconds left and North Attleboro goalie Nick Digiacomo (15 saves) was equal to the task on a shot from KP’s Conor Cooke with less than a second to go.
Trailing by just a goal with the postseason a point away, the Rocketeers put together a terrific third period. And it didn’t take long for the hosts to pull even. Just under five minutes into the period, Jeff Baker had his bid knocked away but Morehouse was quick to pounce on the loose puck and blasted it into the back of the net to make it 3-3 with 10:48 to go.
North had a couple of looks at the winner but couldn’t get another put back Makudera. Connolly came flying down the left side and rifled a shot that was covered up. Minutes later, North’s Tyler Sarro and Jake McNeany were inches from a loose puck in front of goal but Makudera dove on top.
Connolly had another chance after a faceoff bounced in front of goal but he couldn’t lift his backhand bid over the goalie.
King Philip had just two shots on goal in the entire third, spending most of the period playing defense. But with under a minute to go, the Warriors had a surge into the zone and Jack Coulter unleashed a blast but it hit off the crossbar and stayed out.
“We haven’t been able to close teams out,” said King Philip coach Paul Carlow. “We played a great second period. I’m not sure if we’re satisfied when we get the lead, or if we’re satisfied with the tie. I’d like to see us put some teams away, especially this time of year. [North Attleboro] is a good team but I felt like we could have won today.”
North Attleboro got off to a strong start early on as Digiacomo came up with a terrific positional save, denying a point-blank chance from Cooke after a great feed from Coulter.
And minutes later, Morehouse skated in uncontested down the right side and flicked his shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with less than three minutes expired.
King Philip answered at the midway point of the period, and in similar fashion to the bid that was denied early on. Coulter forced a turnover behind the net and linked up with Cooke, who initially looked at goal but instead dished a pass in front and Aidan Boulger buried the one-timer to make it 1-1 with 7:31 left in the first.
Rocco Bianculli was the catalyst of KP’s second goal, taking control of a loose puck in the neutral zone and speeding into the offensive zone. He laid a pass off to Chris Daniels, and he quickly fed the puck across to Feyler for the finish plus a 2-1 lead with 13:42 left in the second.
The Warriors went on the power play shortly before the midway point of the game and took full advantage of their chance. Joe Bosellii, who just had a shot saved, let another rip go that was blocked down, the puck eventually finding Feyler for the finish in close.
“I didn’t think we came out that strong in the beginning, we always seem to give up the first goal,” Carlow said. “But after that, we got the goal back, we seemed to get stronger. Then we got the power play goal, which always helps. In the third, we had a broken skate blade and we ended up running around a little bit, couldn’t get the puck out of our zone and it ends up in the back of the net.
“[North Attleboro] needed a point [to qualify], they definitely had a little more 1-2 in the third than we did.”
Both teams have time to prepare for the postseason. King Philip (4-2-2 Hockomock, 10-4-4 overall) has two games left, including a trip to Rodman Arena on Saturday to take on Walpole, and a home game on Monday afternoon against a good Norwood team.
“We haven’t lost in the last four or five games, we’ve won or tied, but I’d like to see us play a complete game going into the playoffs,” Carlow said. “From the drop of the puck to the final whistle. Overall, I like the way they are playing. They are playing strong defensively for the most part, we aren’t giving up a bunch of goals. I’d like to see us put a few more in.”
North Attleboro boys hockey (2-3-3, 7-6-6) will wrap up its regular season on Friday night when it takes on rival Bishop Feehan in what will likely be a playoff atmosphere.
“It’s more about how you’re playing when the playoffs come [instead of record] and when we look at it, especially that third period, we feel like we can do some work in the playoffs if we play like that. We have a big game on Friday against a rival, but I like where we’re at, I really do, but we just have to keep working.”
King Philip senior Mike Griffin was today named the state’s Gatorade Runner of the Year for Cross-Country. It is the first time that a KP athlete has received this honor in any sport. Griffin is also a finalist for the national runner of the year award, which will be announced this month.
He is the third Hockomock runner to receive this honor, following Mansfield Patrick McGowan (2010) and Oliver Ames’ Mike Moverman (2009). Griffin is the 19th Hock athlete to be named a Gatorade Player of the Year in any sport and the first since North Attleboro’s Meg Colleran won for softball in 2014.
Per the press release from Gatorade, “The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Griffin as Massachusetts’ best high school boys cross country runner.
Griffin won the Hockomock League Championship meet at the Wrentham Development Center for the second year in a row, winning the race by 18 seconds ahead of Franklin’s Tyler Brogan. The University of Tennessee-commit concluded his impressive four-year cross-country career by winning the Div. 1 state meet in a time of 16:06, which was seven seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
He also finished eighth at the Foot Locker East Regional meet and then 36th in the national championships.
KP boys cross-country coach Chris Elgar said, “Mike’s Gatorade AOY recognition to me reflects the culmination of hard work and persistent determination since day one in August of 2016. What may be over looked in all of this is how humble and selfless he is.
“He is loved by his teammates and respected by his opponents. He is so deserving of every accolade that he has earned. Personally it has been an absolute honor working with him.”
In addition to his success in cross-country, Griffin also won the 1,000 meters at this past weekend’s league indoor track championships and ran the final leg for KP’s first place 4×800 relay team.
As part of the Gatorade award, Griffin will be able to donate $1,000 to a local or national youth sports organization of his choice.