ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming into Sunday afternoon’s Div. 2 South preliminary round game, Taunton had never beaten North Attleboro. The Tigers had a couple of ties against the Rocketeers prior to joining the Hockomock League, but no wins. They found the perfect time to change that record.
Behind a strong performance from senior goalie Sean Bunker (36 saves) and a pair of breakaway goals, Taunton came from behind for 2-1 victory at the New England Sports Village, overcoming North’s 37-14 edge in shots on goals.
“He played awesome,” Taunton coach Kris Metea said. “He has big game experience. He knows that no rebounds means no goals, and he controlled everything, he smothered everything, and got us whistles. He did everything we needed him to do.”
Bunker made 17 saves in the first period alone and had several memorable stops, including a diving glove save to rob Jack Connolly in the opening period, a big pad stop on a Dennis Morehouse breakaway with three minutes to play, and a flash of his glove to stop Will Yeomans in the final minute.
“There were a lot of pucks lying around that we’ve got put it in,” North coach Ben McManama said. “We’ve got to bear down, but that’s been us all year. We want the easy goals but we’ve got to work harder to get those dirty, greasy goals. I thought we played pretty well.”
North came out flying to start the game, putting 18 shots on goal in the first and using its size and physicality to keep the Tigers pinned back in the defensive zone. Matt McSweeney had a chance at the post after a puck rebounded off the back boards, but Bunker got his pad down to make the stop and to block the ensuing scrum.
After five minutes, the pressure paid off with the opening goal. Tyler Sarro drove down the right wing and got below the goal line before firing a pass to the edge of the crease where Brady Sarro was on hand to redirect the pass through the five-hole from point-blank range.
Taunton had a couple of chances in the first. Michael Albert had a shot from the right circle on a quick transition and Colton Scheralis had a pair of chances at the post that Nick Digiacomo (12 saves) was able to smother.
The Rocketeers thought they had doubled their lead with three minutes left in the period. Morehouse gained the zone and fired a shot towards goal that took a deflection to Connolly at the far post. The forward knocked the loose puck towards what appeared to be an empty net, only to have Bunker dive across and make the stop.
In the second period, North managed eight shots, but struggled at times to gain the zone. The Taunton defense looked more comfortable than in the first, although Metea said there were no significant changes between periods.
“We knew that in the first period we were going to have to weather the storm,” Metea explained. “We said, you’re in the game, just keep doing what you have to do, box it up, stay tight, wait for your opportunities. They stayed with it and it was awesome.”
With 11:32 left in the second, Taunton used its lone scoring chance of the period to tie the game. Connor McGrath flipped a puck out of the zone and the North defense struggled to control the bounce. Albert pounced and got a free skate at goal. Taunton’s leading scorer planted a shot just under the bar on the glove save to make it 1-1.
North had a flurry late in the period. Jeff Baker picked out Nick Longa right in front of goal, but Bunker made the pad stop. Jake McNeany was allowed to skate right down the slot but his chance went just wide and then McSweeney collected the loose puck and forced another big save from the Taunton netminder.
“They give us fits because they block shots, they do the right things, and they’re tougher in front of the net then we are,” said McManama. “That’s it. They were tougher in the dirty areas and my hat’s off to them. We’ve got to play through that better.”
Both teams had chances early in the third to try and grab the lead. North used the defensemen and threw bodies in front to try and cause problems for Bunker. On the other end, Digiacomo had to be quick with the blocker to stop a shot through a screen.
Connolly had a pair of chances for the Rocketeers. He drove behind the net and faked Bunker out to open space at the post, but the puck rolled off his stick as he went to score. Sam Clarke then set Connolly up inside the right face-off dot but he sent his shot just past the top corner.
“We missed the net a ton tonight,” said McManama. “We had a lot of shots on goal but we had even more shot attempts, a ton more. We’ve got to hit the net.”
The missed chances came back to haunt North. Scheralis slipped a puck through a pair of defensemen at the blue line and into the path of fellow freshman McGrath. The forward raced in alone on goal and showed great composure to fire a shot into the top corner for a shock lead.
Metea said, “We knew that they come in so hard that one pass through the ‘D’ will probably allow us to flip it out to center and allow our wings to go to work. I felt confident we could beat them in a footrace and we got the chances off that and I’m thankful that they stepped in.”
North was increasingly desperate for an equalizer as time wore down, but Bunker continued to be unbeatable. He stuffed Morehouse on a break down the right wing and then showed quick hands to deny Yeomans after Nik Kojoian teed him up right in front of goal.
“North played great, but Sean was equal to the test,” said Metea. “Goaltenders are the greatest equalizer and if you have a good one then you’re going to be in games.”
Taunton (10-9-3) will try to get some more strong play from Bunker and upset another league opponent when it travels to top seed Canton on Wednesday night.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Foxboro went into the first intermission leading by a goal, but as the Warriors came out of the locker room for the third period, they found themselves trailing by three and in need of a reaction. Despite Foxboro dominating the first 10 minutes of the third period, Taunton remained in control of a three-goal advantage and seemed to be skating to a big two points.
Those last five minutes of Saturday afternoon’s game at Aleixo Rink turned into a wild ride.
Foxboro scored three times and Taunton had a breakaway saved by backup goalie Jack Spinney. Ronnie McLellan’s tip with just 37.8 remaining on the clock, his fourth goal of the game, salvaged a 5-5 tie for the Warriors and sent both teams home with a point.
“We definitely showed a lot of character in the third period,” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We just kept coming at them and our guys were hungry. We felt like it was just a matter of time until we got pucks to the net and got them through.”
The third period started with the Warriors on the power play and an early penalty on Taunton added more fuel to Foxboro’s momentum. Eoin Reager danced around three Tigers on the left wing, but was unable to beat Taunton goalie Sean Bunker (21 saves) five-hole. Bunker also had to quickly backpedal and make a blocker save when Sebastian Ricketts got a tip in front that nearly looped into the net.
While Foxboro was dominating the third (outshooting Taunton 13-5 in the period), the hosts still seemed pretty comfortable. That changed with 5:07 to play. Kirk Leach was given loads of time on the puck in the high slot. He waited, looking for a pass, before turning and firing a wrister into the top corner on the stick side.
Suddenly, the Warriors had life. McLellan nearly got his third goal of the day with a shot through the five-hole but Brady Nichols was able to clear the puck off the line. Less than 10 seconds later, McLellan completed his hat trick to bring Foxboro within one.
Nichols was close to scoring his fourth goal and putting the game away only for Matt Grace to clear his shot away from the far post. With 90 seconds to play, Taunton had a golden opportunity to seal the points when Michael Albert got behind the defense. He deked and went to his backhand and tried to slide the puck through the five-hole, but Spinney stayed low and made a huge save.
Taunton coach Kris Metea said, “Mike tried to go five-hole and he had him, which is where you want to go on that big of a goaltender, but it was a big save by the goalie and that was definitely a turning point.”
About a minute later, that save turned out to be even more important. Reager sent the puck on net and McLellan was in the right spot to redirect the shot just inside the far post, stunning the home crowd.
“Ronnie is such a smart player,” said Cedorchuk. “He just works his tail off. His competitiveness is second to none. I knew when that first one got through it was just a matter of time.”
Foxboro took the lead midway through the first period. Leach created the opening with a rush down the right side and his pass into the middle was one-timed by McLellan off a stick in front and past Bunker. The lead lasted less than two minutes, as Taunton responded on the power play. Nathan Fernandes passed the puck out from behind the net to Nichols, who crept in to the left face-off dot and smashed a one-timer past Foxboro starting goalie Espen Reager (14 saves).
Dylan Pothier worked an opening for Ricketts to have a shot on goal but Bunker made the stop. Then Leach thought he had scored and the one official ruled his shot a goal, but after a discussion it was (correctly) ruled to have come back off the post. The Warriors would go into the break with the lead after McLellan tipped in a shot by Jack Watts on the power play with 1:23 left in the first.
The second period was completely dominated by the Tigers, who outshot Foxboro 15-5 in the frame and scored four times without response.
Metea was asked if he had a special team talk before that period and he replied, “You’re right there, just keep doing what you’re doing, let’s create turnovers, get into transition, and when our power play is out there we’ll take advantage. Nothing really special, just stick to our system and we’ll be right back in the game.”
On the power play, Nichols had a shot from the point kicked aside and Camden Faria’s rebound was sent wide. The puck was kept in at the far boards and worked back behind the net again. Jack DeMoura passed it to Nichols, who had moved into the same position as he scored from in the first. This time he took a touch and roofed his shot just under the bar.
“Our power play allows him to slip into that open position,” said Metea. “He knows how to read where he is and our center coming from behind the net finds him pretty well. He deserves the hat trick.”
Albert, who is now only two points shy of 100 for his career, nearly put Taunton in front with a close-range tip only to have Espen Reager make a pad stop. The goalie was helpless to deny Albert’s next scoring chance. Shorthanded, he stole the puck in the neutral zone, shrugged aside a defender against the far boards, and then cut inside across the crease. Albert lifted his backhand to make it 3-2.
Reager, the reigning league MVP, has been outstanding this season, keeping the Warriors in games against some of the best teams in the Hock. Saturday was a struggle and two goals in 12 seconds would be the end of his day. First Nichols completed his hat trick with a wrist shot from a couple feet inside the blue line and then Albert got his second with a quick shot from the slot.
“The second period was one of the worst periods we’ve played all year,” Cedorchuk admitted. “We just weren’t getting to loose pucks. They got in a couple of good shots that normally our goalie makes saves on but he didn’t tonight. It happens. He can’t be great every night. I know it hits home with him, so I know he’ll rebound from it.”
Trailing 5-2 heading into the third was a big hill to climb, which only got higher as the time wore on, but the Warriors managed to stick with the plan and managed to fight their way back into the game. Taunton will rue the missed opportunity to get a win.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do,” said Metea. “You can’t lay off the gas and expect good things to happen when you make mistakes like that.”
Taunton (4-8-2) will be at home for the next four games, starting with a visit from Stoughton on Wednesday. Foxboro (4-4-4) faces an important visit from Attleboro on Wednesday in a game that both teams will need for their playoff hopes.
TAUNTON, Mass. – When a power play opportunity arises in a close game, it is imperative to take advantage. So, when Taunton went got the extra skater early in the second period of Wednesday night’s divisional clash with Attleboro at Aleixo Arena, the Tigers were focused on making it count.
The puck cycled around the boards and then was sent diagonally across the heart of the Attleboro defense to senior defenseman Andrew Carter, who had floated down the boards to just below the left face-off dot. He wasted no time in smashing a one-timer past Bombardiers goalie Evan Andrews to open the scoring.
Carter’s goal turned out to be the only one of the game, as Sean Bunker made 21 saves in the Taunton goal and the Tigers defense held on for a 1-0 shutout.
“You have to take advantage of every opportunity you get,” Taunton coach Kris Metea said. “If you don’t at least build momentum, then it’s a wasted opportunity. We thought we’d get a few more but we needed to take advantage when it came.”
Scoring chances were at a premium in the first period, as both teams took a few minutes to get their footing. Brady Nichols had a couple shots from the point for the Tigers and Austin Blais had a go just after entering the zone for Attleboro but it took 10 minutes for the game’s first clear-cut chance.
Jack Patneaude, who assisted on Carter’s goal in the second period, had an opportunity on a quick breakout. He got space in the right circle and aimed for the bottom corner but Andrews (19 saves) stuck out his right pad to make the stop.
Attleboro had a two-on-one with a minute left in the period but Ryan Morry’s saucer pass to Cam Littig at the back post couldn’t be turned on goal. In the final second of the first, Sean Marshall got behind the Taunton goal and threw the puck into the slot for Kyle McCabe, who forced a pad stop from Bunker as the horn sounded.
“I thought our zone time was pretty good,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer about the offense. “We had to move some things around because we’ve had a couple injuries. We didn’t do the small things, like protect the puck. You have one guy in the corner and the support wasn’t there. We just needed to create more offensive opportunities and we just didn’t do that.”
That flurry at the end of the first seemed to translate into momentum for the Bombardiers after the intermission. Attleboro came out flying and McCabe flung a puck on net from the point that was kicked over to Littig racing in from the left side. The senior forward connected well with his shot, but Bunker went post to post and smothered it to keep the game scoreless.
Metea said, “Sean’s always great for us when he needs to be. That one in the second period was a huge one, open net and he comes across, sprawls and makes the stop. That kept it scoreless and we scored shortly after. It goes to show that timely goaltending is important.”
Three minutes later, the Tigers got the game’s first power play. Just seconds after Andrews made a big stop when Cam Sneyd, who got the second assist on Carter’s goal, set up Michael Albert in front, Carter pounced to steal the energy from the Bombardiers.
“We can’t be getting stupid penalties,” said Homer, who added that a similar thing happened in the last game against North Attleboro. “I’ve been preaching to these guys that when you have a penalty then you have your top four guys out there and you’re wearing them down. We have a short bench to begin with.”
Jaden Weyant had a good look to double Taunton’s lead, but Andrews stayed big to block his shot from the edge of the crease. With two minutes remaining in the second, Attleboro cleared off a penalty and Morry looked up quickly to catch McCabe coming out of the box behind the Taunton defense. McCabe’s breakaway chance was saved by Bunker with the blocker.
Taunton nearly doubled its lead to start the third period, but Sneyd was denied on the power play by Andrews. With six minute left, Littig got space on his forehand side but Bunker was able to get a glove to the shot and two minutes later Bunker came through again to stop Jaydin Rossi after the freshman stole the puck right in front of goal.
“We were a little slow getting our shots off and they were good at getting sticks in the lanes and clogging the middle in front of the net,” Homer said. “We’ve got to find a way to get through it and we didn’t do it tonight.”
The game was nearly over with three minutes to go, but Nick Vandermeel’s shot caromed off the inside of the far post, behind Andrews, and out. That gave Attleboro a chance in the final minute and the Bombardiers had one good look as Morry fired a pass to Littig who in turn found McCabe in the slot but Bunker was there again with a blocker save.
“That’s hockey,” Metea said. “We had three great chances in the period and their goalie makes two good saves and then gets lucky with one off the post, but you can’t stop fighting when things don’t go your way.”
Metea noted that the Tigers have had a tough schedule to start the season and admitted that this win could be a spark for Taunton as it looks to make a playoff push.
“All of our losses are to playoff teams,” he explained, “so we needed that win just to get the confidence. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it at that point and hopefully they’ll take that momentum to go into Mansfield.”
Taunton (3-4) will host Mansfield on Saturday afternoon, while Attleboro (4-3-1) will host Franklin.
2017-2018 Record: 9-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Homer
After a two year drought of postseason hockey, the Bombardiers made it to the playoffs last year and are aiming to make it two years in a row. The Bombardiers only had three seniors on the roster last season, so the majority of the squad is back, plus a familiar face is back in the fold this season.
One of the three seniors that graduated was Jake Parker, who led the Bombardiers in scoring last season with 26 goals and eight assists. But Attleboro is slated to return its next three scorers in senior Cam Littig (12 goals, 14 assists for 26 points), junior Ryan Morry (11 goals, 15 assists for 26 points) and senior Kyle McCabe (three goals, 10 assists for 13 points).
Another positive is that the Bombardiers have some experience in goal. Both senior Evan Andrews (13.66 games played) and junior Derrik Rivet (6.33 games) are set to return. Having an experienced goalie is a huge positive but having a strong backup helps even more. Andrews had 270 saves last season with a 0.882 save percentage while Rivet turned away 144 shots and had a 0.842 save percentage. In front of goal, McCabe, Sam Flynn, and Matt Viveiros will be joined by Liam McDonough, Kyle Miniati, and Zach Pierce as members of the defensive unit.
While Littig and Morry will try to replicate their success from a season ago, one name that could help bolster the offense is senior Sam Larkin. Larkin played his freshman year and had seven goals and seven assists before switching over to juniors. His experience should give Attleboro a boost during the season.
“We have had some additions to our team this year that has created a little more depth that had been absent in previous years,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We are working on maintaining a better consistency in our play. We are still in our tryout mode and hoping to find the right mix to make us more competitive this season, especially in our league games.”
2017-2018 Record: 17-3-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
Canton comes into every year with high expectations and the Bulldogs will be favorites to bring home a ninth straight Davenport division title and 11th Hockomock League title in the past 12 seasons. While the league campaign is a priority, the Bulldogs will also be comparing themselves to the top teams in Div. 2 and hoping this will be the year to break through in the South sectional and get back to the TD Garden for the first time since 2010.
After a dominant winter, the top scoring line is back in full for Canton. Senior Ryan Nolte, the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and junior Johnny Hagan, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will draw most of the plaudits but junior Timmy Kelleher gives the Bulldogs strong play on the other wing as well. That line combined for 69 points last season (27 apiece for Hagan and Nolte) and will be one of the league’s best going into this year. Canton also has juniors Tommy Ghostlaw and Chris Lavoie back to add scoring punch to the second line.
At the blue line, juniors Owen Lehane and Jack Connolly will both be expected to eat up a lot of minutes after strong sophomore seasons, and the Bulldogs will be looking for other players to step up and fill in defensively. After consistently strong goaltending from Quinn Gibbs over the past few seasons, Canton will turn to senior Mike Staffiere, who has been a backup the past two years and is drawing great reviews for his play during the preseason.
“Overall, we have a lot of experience returning up front at the forward position, but that’s true for a lot of teams in our league and in our division,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “The real question will be how much these players improved from last year, which we won’t know for sure until the games get going.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-9-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro is coming off the best season in program history, as the Warriors won 10 games and qualified for the state tournament without relying on the Sullivan Rule. Now, the Warriors come back this season hoping to build on that season and make another run at the state tournament behind an offense that, according to coach Mark Cedorchuk, is as deep as it has ever been.
Junior Ronnie MacLellan and sophomore Kirk Leach are two of the forwards to keep an eye on this season for the Warriors after the duo combined for 15 goals and 32 points last season. Also up front will be senior Tanner Kennedy and juniors Sebastian Ricketts and Josh Bertumen, who combined for 10 goals last year and are looking to continue their development to add depth to the attack.
Senior Brendan Tully will lead the defensive effort but is also the team’s leading scorer. The blue line standout scored 18 goals and had 19 assists and is going to be a major factor in all three zones as well as a leader on the penalty kill and power play. He will be joined on the blue line by junior Kyle McGinnis, while junior Espen Reager will be between the pipes this year.
“Even though we had a successful season last year, best in team history,” Cedorchuk said, “our players are not satisfied, they are hungry to improve on that.”
2017-2018 Record: 12-6-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Chris Spillane
Franklin started well last winter, reaching the final of the prestigious Mount St. Charles tournament and taking a point off Malden Catholic for the first time, but the Panthers couldn’t carry the momentum throughout the season and were knocked out in the first round of the tournament. As usual, Franklin graduated a lot of players, but also return a strong corps of experienced players to take on arguably the program’s toughest regular season schedule, which is loaded with some of the state’s top teams.
The Panthers return 11 seniors for this season, including eight forwards, but also have a group of eight sophomores that are jumping up from the JV to contribute on varsity this season. The forward line has plenty of experience and should be able to fire in the goals this year. Seniors Joey Lizotte, Zac Falvey, Scott Elliott, Dan Magazu, and C.J. Spillane will all be able to jump into the top scoring lines after playing major roles last year.
Defensively, the top five defensemen will be juniors Tom Tasker (who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last year) and Colin Hedvig and seniors Cam Casella, Matt D’Errico, and Evan Forbes. Three sophomores will also see time on the blue line for the Panthers this season. After graduating three senior goaltenders, the job is open to senior Ryan Cameron and junior Ray Ivers, who are both making the jump from JV.
“Our hope is that team speed will drive the offense and that our returning defense will have the experience to make sound decisions in our end,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The boys are looking forward to the upcoming season. I see the Hockomock as an extremely competitive league this year. We will also challenge our boys with a high-end non-league schedule.”
2017-2018 Record: 8-12-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip brings 11 players back from last year’s squad and is hoping a tough schedule will result in a battle-tested team ready for the D1 South Tournament at the end of February. It starts with the seniors for the Warriors with four of them back, plus a transfer.
There will be a lot of experience in the top line for KP, as well as its first defensive pair and between the pipes. Captain Ryan Fitzpatrick (10 points) had a strong season last year and will be trying to replicate that this year. Fitzpatrick is joined by assistant captain Luke D’Amico (13 points) as wingers while senior transfer Brendan Shandley steps in at center to give the Warriors a formidable line to work with. Juniors Chris Daniels (13 points), Joe Boselli (11 points), and Jack Coulter (10 points) are all back after successful sophomore seasons and should provide KP with good depth.
On the blueline, veteran Garrett Maxwell is the lone senior back from last year so he will be relied on for leadership. He is one of the strongest players in the league and plays in all situations for KP, including the power play plus the penalty kill. There will be some other familiar faces on defense for KP with junior Kyle Gray (seven points) and sophomore Rocco Bianculli (eight points) both back with varsity experience.
Senior James Lewis takes over in the crease as the starting netminder for the Warriors. Lewis saw action in three games last season, including a pair of wins and shutouts. While new to the starting position, Lewis has plenty of experience and that bodes well for the Warriors. Jesper Makudera and Nate Ihley will be pushing for minutes in net as well.
“I expect the team to have some good chemistry and get off to a good start,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “Practice has been good, and we have good leadership this year with a strong core. The Hockomock League is always competitive, the Kelley-Rex is a strong division, and we have a tough non-league schedule too, so we want to challenge ourselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 9-7-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets have a strong core of players back this season, along with the addition of a couple of new faces, and head coach Mike Balzarini is hoping that combination will result in success this season.
Experience will be a strong suit for Mansfield as five of its top six forwards played significant minutes last year. Chris Copponi (12 points) and Matt Copponi (16 points) will be on the wings around center Coleman O’Brien for one line while Jake Lund (eight points) and Kevin Bellanger are returners on another line. The sixth forward will be center Jack Garland, who played juniors last year but is back in the fold for the Hornets this year. Ben Ierardo, Cam Page, and Braedon Copparini will be in the mix for minutes as well.
Defensively, while there are certainly some holes to fill, Balzarini has some talent to rely on the blue line. Two-time HockomockSports.com selections Mike Arnold and Tyler Oakley graduated so there is a little bit of a void, but Austin Ricker has stepped on early on to anchor the Hornet defensive unit. Ricker is joined by Brad Grant, who played for the Hornets previously before switching to juniors. Nick Levine and Joe Troiano gained valuable experience last year, and Jack Gormley and Brian Grant should be in the mix as well.
Mansfield also has experience in the goalie position with junior Sean McCafferty back between the pipes after having a breakout sophomore campaign. McCafferty was one of the top goalies in the league last year, earning HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman honors. He had 377 saves and a 92 save percentage, which bodes well for the Hornets this year.
“We obviously want to pick up where we left off after making the playoffs the last two years,” Balzarini said. “With the returning players plus new additions, I think we’re a little bit deeper and we know what we need to do to be competitive and make sure we’re playing well at the end of the season.”
2017-2018 Record: 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Ben McManama
Defense will be key for the Rocketeers during the 2018-2019 season. With a handful of returners back on the blue line as well as veteran goalie Ryan Warren, North Attleboro boasts a talented defensive unit.
Senior captain Brendan McHugh will anchor the defensive group alongside juniors Jeff Baker and Will Yeomans. All three are very experienced players that put defense first. They can all get involved in the offense as well. Warren has shined between the pipes each of the last three seasons, earning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a freshman and was a HockomockSports Third Team selection last season. Warren is pushed in practice each day as Chris Ulrich and Nick Digiacomo push for time.
Offensively, North Attleboro only lost two forwards from last year’s group, but those two players (Drew Wissler, Jason McNeany) combined for nearly half of the Rocketeers’ 76 goals a season ago. So this year, Big Red will need forwards to step up and contribute. Captain Anthony Zammiello scored 13 goals last year and will look to continue his success this season. Todd Robinson, Justin Moccia, Dennis Morehouse, Jake Ebert, and Jack Connolly are all candidates to have big years for the Rocketeers.
“We are a very big and physical team that works hard,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “We will need to stay out of the box to have success this year. Defense and depth will be the strength of our team. We will also need three lines that can score. I am very optimistic on the season because it is obvious that all our players put a ton of work in during the offseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Speed has been the strength of the Tigers since Sean Bertoni took over the team and Oliver Ames will be relying on that speed and aggressiveness to try and challenge Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and to make a run in the state tournament. With a few players coming back from juniors to join with an experienced group, OA has high hopes of pushing the Panthers for the league title.
Senior forward Brett Williams will be the key player in the attack, coming off a season in which he scored 21 goals and recorded 15 assists and was named to the HockomockSports.com First Team. Williams will have plenty of help up front from senior Colin Bourne, who is one of the fastest skaters in the league and had 13 points last season. Senior forward Cullen Gallagher will also give the offense a boost, as he comes back to the program after a year in juniors.
Senior Matt McCormack was one of the league’s top defensemen last year and his steadying presence on the blue line will be critical to OA improving on that end of the ice, after giving up 54 goals as a team last year. Senior James Beatty is back after a year in juniors and should be a big boost to the blue line. Junior Owen Connor is back in net and looking to build off last season’s efforts.
“We are a team that will rely heavily on our team speed,” Bertoni said. “Our aggressive style of defense will lead to a successful offense. We will have to establish our forecheck to be effective. Our transition game will be a strength for us this year, creating turnovers and getting on the attack.”
2017-2018 Record: 1-20-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Overall, the Stoughton Black Knights will be on the young side but they have a veteran first line that will lead the way.
The Knights will be looking to improve on last year’s record, while possibly trying to surprise some teams along the way. Leading the way offensively will be senior Sean Doherty. Doherty was Stoughton’s second-leading scorer last year behind Brendan Campbell (graduated). Doherty was second on the Black Knights with 12 goals and added 11 assists and will be relied upon to be a key piece of the offense this season. Joining Doherty on the first line will be senior Luke Bainton, who brings a lot of varsity experience to the table. Bainton will look to improve on last year after recording seven points (four goals, three assists).
Senior Josh Hough will anchor the blue line for the Black Knights. In his fourth year on varsity, Hough has logged a lot of minutes on the ice over the past couple of seasons and will be one of the most experienced defensemen in the league. Hough is able to create on the offensive end as well, scoring a pair of goals last year along with seven assists. Senior Thomas McCoy is set to return in goal after getting experience between the pipes a season ago.
2017-2018 Record: 12-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has been a program on the rise for the past few seasons and last year the Tigers took another big step forward by making a push to the Div. 2 South semifinal. That unexpected tournament run as the No. 13 seed, which included wins over No. 4 Old Rochester and No. 5 Nauset, has boosted the team’s confidence heading into a new year in which all but four players are back.
Scoring has not been a problem for the Tigers in recent seasons. Last year, Taunton scored a league-best 98 goals, five more than Davenport champ Canton, and senior forward Cam Sneyd (30 points) and junior Mike Albert (32 points) both eclipsed the 30-point mark. Senior Jack Patneaude added 15 points last year and he is poised for a big year along with classmates Jaden Weyant, Owen Ross, and Nick Vandermeel.
The defense is almost completely returned from last year, led by senior Andrew Carter, who was solid in the defensive zone but also chipped in with 20 points. Senior Brady Nichols and sophomore Dylan Nichols are also back for the Tigers. Junior Sean Bunker returns in net after a solid performance in the tournament run and he will be backed up by classmate Andrew Gomes, who has shown that he is a capable replacement when needed.
“The players have embraced the enjoyment of the journey, the process, and working hard to get better every day,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “They have the potential to continue their accomplishment of new heights. They will be fun to coach, and watch grow throughout the season.”
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – After missing out on Wednesday’s trip to King Philip, Trevor Pietrzyk made an instant impact on his return to the lineup against Attleboro on Sunday afternoon at the New England Sports Village.
The senior forward scored a natural hat trick in the first period, including a penalty shot, on his way to four goals and an assist, as Taunton picked up an important 6-3 win that moves the Tigers closer to sealing a return to the postseason.
“We always tell the players, you want your absence to be felt not known and we definitely feel his absence,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “It was good to have him back. Four goals, four different ways, is pretty cool.”
Pietrzyk, who missed all of last season with an injury, got things started just three minutes into the game when he latched onto a rebound, following a right pad stop by Attleboro goalie Derrik Rivet, and knocked it into the empty net.
Attleboro bounced back on the power play three minutes later. Jake Parker took the face-off and danced through three Tigers in the attacking zone before teeing up Ryan Morry for a one-timer inside the left circle to make it 1-1.
The momentum would not stay with the home side for long. Two minutes after it was tied, Taunton regained the lead with Pietrzyk weaving his way through a pair of defensemen before flipping a pass to Cam Sneyd in front.
In the span of seven seconds, Pietrzyk broke the game wide open. Attleboro went on another power play but the Tigers won the face-off in the defensive zone and broke out quickly. Pietrzyk was brought down on a shorthanded breakaway and given a penalty shot, which he dispatched with a lifted backhand. Off the ensuing face-off, Pietrzyk gained the zone and flicked a wrister from outside the left circle that snuck just under the bar.
“Trevor has got an ‘X’ factor,” said Metea. “He knows how to score goals; he’s got a nose for the net. He works hard and leaves it all on the line.”
Taunton was buzzing with a 4-1 lead, but Attleboro would not go quietly. In the final minute of the first, Parker gained the zone and fired a wrist shot from the left face-off dot that Taunton sophomore goalie Sean Bunker got a piece of but not enough to keep it out of the net.
“I thought we came out pretty good in the first period, the forecheck was going, but they had an opportunity to put a couple in,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “Once we changed it up and got a goal, it gave us a little spark.”
Parker nearly cut the lead to single goal early in the second, but his shot from a bad angle skipped away off the crossbar. Morry also created a series of scoring chances as the Bombardiers racked up a 12-5 edge in shots in the second (after being outshot 14-6 in the first).
Taunton almost added a fifth at several points in the period, but were denied by goalie Evan Andrews, who was injured and could not start but was brought off the bench after the fourth goal. He made a point-blank stop on Will Walsh, who had been set up by Jaden Weyant, and then closed the period with a huge back post stop on Jack Patneaude, after Walsh picked him out with a perfect saucer pass.
“After the fourth goal, I just felt like we had to change something up and Evan was able to go in,” said Homer. “He made some big time stops at big parts of the game and gave us a chance to get back into the game.”
Attleboro did cut the lead to one heading to the third. On the power play, Morry did a good job to block a clearance at the blue line and keep the possession alive. The puck swung to defenseman Kyle McCabe and his shot from the point was deflected right to Cam Littig who made no mistake with a one-timer.
“There seemed to be a little bit of the letdown,” said Metea about the reaction to going 4-1 up. “We kept preaching do the little things right, play our system, get the puck deep, make plays and you’ll be fine. It’s a long game. You’re not going to win the game with one play or one shift.”
The Bombardiers came out for the third period intent on finding the tying goal and had a series of half-chances, including an Aidan Diggin effort at the near post on a loose puck that hit the side of the net and two chances with a man advantage, but after an early flurry Taunton settled down and limited Attleboro to few clear-cut scoring chances.
“We had our chances on the power play, but got outside of our structure a little bit,” said Homer. “Maybe it was the guys getting a little anxious and everyone wanting to individually be the hero and that happens sometimes. I think the kids pressed a little bit too much trying to get that big goal.”
The best chance of the period fell to Taunton’s Jake Roberts off a feed from Sneyd, but Andrews again went post-to-post to deny the forward. There was nothing Andrews could do a minute later, as Pietrzyk capped his night with an empty net goal. Sneyd added a second empty netter with 9.6 on the clock to make it a three-goal margin.
“If you win now, we have three more to make states,” said Metea about his message to the players. “We have a pretty favorable schedule in February once league is done and you put yourself in a much better situation.”
Taunton (6-6-2, 1-4-2) will try to get two points closer to tournament qualification on Wednesday against Davenport leader Canton. Attleboro (5-5-1, 1-3-1) will host Mansfield on Wednesday night.
TAUNTON, Mass. – In a game with giant momentum swings, plenty of lead changes, and a dramatic finish, Taunton and Foxboro boys hockey finished level.
Taunton scored with just 10.4 seconds left in the game, erasing Foxboro’s incredible third-period comeback to earn a point in a 5-5 tie.
“It’s our season in a nutshell,” sighed Taunton head coach Kris Metea. “We come out good and score, then commit penalties and allow power play goals that break our back. It happened [last week] against North Attleboro and it happened again tonight.”
The Tigers led 1-0 after the first period but Foxboro stormed back for a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the second period to seize a 2-1 lead. But before the period could end, Taunton knotted the score at 2-2 with just seconds to play.
Taunton capitalized on that late goal in the second by carrying the momentum into the third period, taking the lead just 31 seconds into the final frame, and making it 4-2 before a minute had elapsed in the third.
Foxboro refused to go away though, cutting the deficit to one with just over nine minutes to play. And then the Warriors took advantage of a pair of power play opportunities, tying the game just over the midway point, and taking the lead just five seconds into its next man-advantage situation.
With 1:39 to go, Taunton called a timeout after a Foxboro icing. Metea elected to keep sophomore Sean Bunker in the net for the time being, and the decision paid off. Foxboro’s Ronnie MacLellan, who had both of Foxboro’s power play goals, had a partial breakaway chance with just over a minute but Bunker (22 saves) denied the bid, keeping the deficit at one.
Back up ice, Foxboro sophomore goalie Espn Reager was equal to the task when Will Walsh’s shot was tipped by Trevor Pietrzyk, but Reager made the save with his mask. The Warriors were whistled for a penalty out in front on the play, however, and with Bunker pulled, Taunton had a 6-on-4 chance.
Walsh was the catalyst of the play, skating into the zone, weaving past a pair of defenders. He looped behind the goal before dropping the puck back to junior defenseman Andrew Carter, who quickly deposited a shot on goal. Reager blocked down the original bid through traffic but Pietrzyk was in the right spot for the rebound, netting the tying goal with just 10.4 seconds to go.
“Over the development of the program over the last couple of years, we’ve either given a whooping or got a whooping, and there was no in-between for the longest time,” Metea said. “Now with the JV ranks being competitive, they’ve learned not to get upset when they get down a goal. That’s the biggest thing about our team right now is that even if we get down a goal or two, the kids are still plugging away, they aren’t giving up.”
“We kind of came out flat in the third period but our guys fought back and were resilient, and it was good to see that, it showed a lot of character,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “I’m really proud of the way we fought back. It could have easily have been 6-2 but battled back, tied it up and even took the lead. It was a tough penalty at the end, nothing we can do about it. I’m just proud of the way they hung in there and stayed with the game plan.”
It looked as though Taunton was going to skate away with a win with three goals in the time span of a minute of game play. Pietrzyk set up Jakob Roberts right in front of the net to steal the momentum at the end of the second.
Walsh quickly gave Taunton its second lead of the game with a wrist shot just inside the zone just 29 seconds in. The Tigers continued to put their foot down on the gas pedal as Roberts potted a rebound chance when Pietrzyk had his close bid denied by Reager.
But trailing 4-2 just a minute into the third period didn’t phase the Warriors. Senior defenseman Aidan Sullivan stepped into a slap shot and found the back of the net with 9:06 to play to make it a one-goal game.
On the power play, junior Brendan Tully drew the attention of the Tigers’ defense before rifling a pass right in front to MacLellan for a one-timer, and a 4-4 tie.
Foxboro went on the man advantage with 4:48 to play, and after winning the face-off, MacLellan gave the Warriors the lead just five seconds into the power play.
“Sully and Tully create a lot of offense for us,” Cedorchuk said of his two defensemen. “They create a lot of chances and when they have the opportunities to get the puck to the net, they will. And our forwards know that so they get to the net as much as possible to get there for any rebounds. Even though Sully and Tully are offensive minded, they are also very good defensively.”
Walsh gave the Tigers the lead in the first period, taking a perfect one-time pass from Pietrzyk in stride into the attacking zone and finding the back of the net with a wrist shot.
Tully tied the game for Foxboro with 1:25 left in the second period. The junior defenseman jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone, took a couple of strides into the attacking zone and unleashed a wicked wrister to make it 1-1.
Just 40 seconds later, MacLellan avoided a defenseman with a nifty spin move, dishing the puck to Sebastian Ricketts all in one move, and the sophomore buried it for a brief 2-1 lead. Roberts tied the game up just 35 seconds later for Taunton.
“We made some changes to our lines and decided to break some people up and it ended up working out for us, and I think that change is probably going to stay,” Metea said. “But the offense is all well and good but only if you keep the puck out of the net. We’ve had a lot of high scoring affairs this year. I don’t know if I should be happy about that, scoring all the goals, or upset by giving up as many as we have. I know we have a young defense, no seniors back there, so I know we’ll have some growing pains, we just have to be patient.”
Taunton boys hockey (0-1-1 Hockomock, 4-3-1 overall) is back in action on Saturday when it hosts Mansfield at 2:00. Foxboro boys hockey (0-0-2, 3-2-2) will hit the ice again on Wednesday when they travel to face Mansfield at 5:40.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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 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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – Prior to the game, Taunton honored its 10 seniors for helping to turn the program around and for being, as head coach Kris Metea announced, the winningest senior class in the 20-year history of the program.
On Saturday afternoon against Attleboro, those seniors provided another victory for the Tigers, contributing a combined two goals and three assists while senior goalie Justin Chappell made 26 saves in a 3-2 victory that moves Taunton to .500 in Hockomock play.
“This class means a lot,” said Metea outside the locker room after the game. “They’ve really had the ideals of commitment and it translated to success. The direction the program has gone is in large part due to them and the success we’ve had over the last six years is a big testament to them.”
The Bombardiers looked determined to ruin the day for the Taunton seniors, storming out of the blocks and dominating play in the first period. But, despite leading 11-6 in shots and creating a host of chances, Attleboro went into the first intermission trailing by two goals.
Chappell came up big right from the opening face-off. Just three minutes in he spread himself to stop Liam McDonough’s rebound effort after making the initial save on P.J. Elliott. Three minutes later, Cam Carnes teed up junior Jakob Roberts for Taunton’s first shot on goal from inside the blue line and he wristed it into the corner.
Attleboro continued to attack and Kyle McCabe thought he had a tying goal with a breakaway effort that Chappell was able to block and control the rebound as it squirted loose. Two minutes later and it was 2-0, as senior Jordan Hoey tossed a puck towards goal that went off the stick of classmate Zack Albert and trickled inside the far post.
Sam McKenzie rang the bar just before the end of the period, but Attleboro went into the dressing room playing well, but staring at a two-goal deficit.
“I know we outshot them in the first period, had better opportunities, but the score is 2-0,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We’ve been preaching to these guys all year not to play to the scoreboard; we just need to play a good period.”
The Bombardiers finally got one past Chappell four minutes into the second. Cam Littig saw his close-range effort blocked but the puck bounced to Jake Parker and he knocked it home. With four minutes left in the period, Littig set up McCabe in front and he thought he had the game tied but for a sprawling save by Chappell.
“He makes the saves he needs to make,” said Metea. “He’s big and he takes up a lot of space, so as long as he moves he’ll make those saves. He’s come up big for us.”
Attleboro held a 20-12 lead in shots after two periods, but many of those chances were from the outside, as the Taunton defense continued to absorb the pressure. Seniors Mike Volkmann and Svein Ormseth and junior Cam Welby also pushed forward and created shots on Attleboro freshman goalie Derrik Rivet.
“A lot of our kids are quietly confident,” said Metea about the defense, “so they know to play percentages and do your job and they’ll be okay.”
Taunton thought it had wrapped up the points six minutes into the third when Hoey fed the puck in front to Josh Denham but Rivet (15 saves) came through with a stellar stop to keep Attleboro within one. Just two minutes later, the save loomed even larger when Elliott was able to beat Chappell stick side from the right circle to tie the game.
“He’s only a freshman, this is probably only his fifth or sixth game on varsity and he gave up some goals in the first period, but that just shows the resiliency he has to play a better second period and then a better third,” said Homer of Rivet. “If not for those saves he makes, we might not be in position to tie the game.”
With 4:47 left to play, Taunton went on the power play and 30 seconds later the Tigers had the game-winner. Welby threw the puck at net from beyond the right circle, it deflected off a stick in front and fell to Hoey with an open net and he made no mistake for his second and the game’s decisive point (senior Nick Terry also had an assist on the play).
“Games likes this are good…you need the adversity, you need the battles,” said Metea. “If they’re going to play well in the tournament, they’re going to need these. You’re going to face adversity; it’s not easy.”
He took another moment to reflect on his seniors and how far they and the program have come in the past few seasons.
“They’re a bunch of great kids,” said Metea, “their teammates love them, they fight to the end, they’ve had to learn on the fly, and they’ve meant a lot to me, the other coaches, and ultimately to the program.”
Taunton (9-3-2, 3-3-0) will get a very tough test against Davenport leader Canton on Wednesday, attempting to make it two-for-two against the current league leaders. Attleboro (5-7-1, 1-4-0) will have a quick turnaround to play Foxboro on Sunday in a big Div. 3 game for the Bombardiers as they try to guarantee tournament play through the Sullivan Rule.
2015-16 Record: 7-11-2 (1-8-1) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro narrowly missed out on a playoff spot last season, losing in its final game against a Div. 3 opponent and this year’s team will be motivated to try and get back in the postseason under new head coach Mark Homer, who made the switch from Oliver Ames where he coached the past three years, and with a new home – moving from Aleixo Arena in Taunton to the new England Sports Village just a couple minutes from the school.
In what has become a common issue for the Bombardiers program, Attleboro will not have
a lot of depth to call on this winter with only 15 skaters and two goalies on the varsity roster, but there is some experience coming back. Senior P.J. Elliott is a talented skater and stick handler who will be counted on to provide the scoring punch along with Jake Parker and Dylan Weallac on the first line.
Sam McKenzie emerged last year as a physical presence and senior captain Eddie Noel will partner him on the top defensive pairing. Sophomore Evan Andrews and freshman Derek Rivet will battle it out for the starting goaltender position for the Bombardiers. There are several other underclassmen who could make immediate impacts, including sophomore forward Cam Littig.
“With the new facility in Attleboro the hopes are that in the coming years, the roster will grow to include increasing depth to the program,” said Homer. “The goal of this years team is to stay healthy, work together as one unit on and off the ice, and get better each day. It’s a new day for Attleboro High School Hockey with a promising future.”
2015-16 Record: 18-4-5 (8-0-2) 2015-16 Finish: Won the Div. 1 State Championship Head Coach: Chris Spillane
After being the first Hockomock League team selected for the prestigious Super 8 tournament in 2014-15 and then graduating 21 players, Franklin was supposed to need a year to rebuild, but the Panthers showed just how strong their program is by bringing home the Div. 1 state championship in a dramatic double overtime thriller against St. Mary’s at the TD Garden. It was the program’s first state title at any level since 1983.
The Panthers graduated another large class of 13 seniors from last year’s champions and lost promising freshman defenseman Kevin Mackay who transferred to Dexter. Still, expectations remain as high as ever for the Panthers, who have won four straight league titles. Much of that excitement comes from the potential in the offensive zone with Franklin returning last year’s title game hero Luke Downie, leading goal scorer Jeremy Miller, and Brendan O’Reilly and the top line of seniors Joey Blasie, Adam Assad, and James Kilroe. Sophomores Matt Holmes and Zach Falvey will add depth to the offense.
Defense is where the Panthers will have some new faces, although seniors Tom Sicchio and Stan Carter will add some experience to the back line. Juniors Jack McGrath and Connor Norton will make the jump up from the JV team to add to the defensive lines and freshman Collin Opet will also see playing time on the defense as well. For the third season in a row, Franklin will have a new No. 1 goalie with senior Cam Benhamand junior Owen Ginley will battle it out for the starting spot.
“For the Panthers to be successful this year it will be a result of a team defense concept,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The offense will take care of itself, we will be focusing on strong play in our zone.”
2015-16 Record: 9-8-4 (5-2-3) 2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 South playoffs Head Coach: Paul Carlow
The Warriors made strides last winter under first-year head coach Paul Carlow, including a regular season tie with Franklin and reaching the postseason for the first time since the program was moved back up to Div. 1. This season, Carlow is hopeful for a return to the postseason and to challenge for KP’s first league title since 2007, despite losing 10 seniors from last year’s roster.
The offensive zone should be strong for the Warriors this season with several key returning players that put up solid totals last winter. Junior forward Collin Cooke is the main weapon after putting up 11 goals and 15 assists for a team-high 26 points to be named a league all-star. He is joined up front by senior Ritchie Lucente, who scored 10 goals and had nine assists last year, and senior Jacob Kelly, who finished with 11 goals and nine assists.
KP will also return a few important pieces on the defensive side of the puck, including junior goalie Shane Frommer, who was 3-1-1 in his five starts last year. Frommer’s start to the hockey season will be slightly delayed after helping the football team win its first Super Bowl title. In front of the Frommer will be senior Jeremy Smith, who chipped in with three goals and four assists last season.
“We had some success last season qualifying for the D1 playoffs,” said Carlow. “We have our work cut out for us this season… We are a young team with only five seniors but I expect us to get back to the playoffs.”
2015-16 Record: 5-10-5 (4-4-2) 2015-16 Finish: Missed the playoffs Head Coach: Mike Balzarini
Last winter was atypical for the Hornets, who missed out on the playoffs and finished fourth in the Kelley-Rex division, but Mansfield is hoping for a quick turnaround under new head coach Mike Balzarini, who makes the move from Milford. The Hornets have a number of returning players, including several from club or other school programs to bolster the depth.
One of the returning players is Joe Olsen, who spent last year with a juniors program but will be a significant addition to the Hornets top attacking line alongside fellow seniors Matt Farragher and Chad Piotti, who both had solid years in 2015-16. Junior Cullen Anastasia is another forward to come back to the program and could step right in to make an impact. Freshman Chris Jenkins is going to be the center on the third line and classmate James Bezeau will also see playing time this year.
On defense, the Hornets will be led by senior Cullen Murphy, a physical presence at the back and one of the leaders on the ice. Juniors Tim Arnold, Ryan O’Hara, and Tyler Oakley will also be important pieces on the top defensive pairings. Freshman Joseph Troiano will also be on the defense after he decided against attending Xaverian this year. The defense will be protecting senior goalies Brendan McKenna and Tony Rullo, who will each see time.
“We’re a lot deeper,” said Balzarini, who said that the Hornets would be carrying four lines and four sets of defensemen and is excited about the potential on the team. “It’s been good having two weeks to prepare. They have to get used to our new system and adhering to the structures that we’re putting in place.”
2015-16 Record: 10-10-1 2015-16 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Head Coach: Sean Bertoni
Oliver Ames will be looking to keep its postseason streak alive under new head coach Sean Bertoni – a former standout goalie for Franklin.
If the Tigers want to get back to the state tournament, they’ll need some help from their younger players; Oliver Ames has eight sophomores and four freshman on its roster this year. OA does have seven seniors and a group of experienced juniors that can help lead the way.
“The goals of the team are to progress from Day one to the end of the year,” Bertoni said. “We have to use our team speed and forecheck extremely hard. We will be a disciplined, hard working aggressive team.”
2015-16 Record: 13-10-0 (3-7-0) 2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South playoffs Head Coach: Kris Metea
The Tigers got to experience what the state tournament is like last season for the first time since 2006-07 and only the second time in the past two decades. Taunton had the fourth most wins in a season in the 44-year history of the program and scored a remarkable 106 goals last season, which was the best in the Hock.
This year, Taunton will try to build on its historic season and make a quick return to the postseason. Leading scorer Tyler Pietrzyk has graduated but there is plenty of firepower returning for the Tigers this season, including senior forward Zack Albert who is coming off a 30-point campaign. He will be joined up from by classmate Jordan Hoey, who had 17 points last season and senior Cam Carnes, who had 10 points. Sophomore Cam Sneyd could be poised for a breakout year for the Tigers.
Defensively, Taunton can lean on three-time league all-star Nick Terry, who will man the top defensive pairing. Mike Volkmann may be listed as a defenseman on the roster but he can get forward into the attack with 29 points a season ago. Junior Cam Welby will be a new addition to the defense after playing juniors all of last season. Senior Justin Chappell returns in net.
“This year’s group of seniors are first class kids,” said head coach Kris Metea. “They exemplify leadership across the board…They had a chance to taste the tournament last year, and are focused on acquiring more than just a taste this time around.”
By Jarett Leonard, HockomockSports.com Contributor
TAUNTON, Mass. – For the second straight year, a late season win for Mark Sheehan and the Stoughton Black Knights denied Taunton a postseason berth.
Sheehan scored both of Stoughton’s goals while AJ Scott backstopped a 2-1 win for the Black Knights on Saturday night.
“None of the kids knew about it,” Stoughton head coach Dan Mark said, revealing his team was not aware of Taunton’s situation. “Last year we didn’t say it, this year we didn’t say it. They came to play tonight.”
Down 1-0 in the second, Sheehan made his way to the left circle and buried a wrist shot to tie the game. Midway through the third, Sheehan anticipated a cross-ice pass from Taunton, intercepted it and finished a breakaway for the game winner.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Mark said of Sheehan. “If you put him on one of the top teams, people would really notice him. Individually I don’t think there’s a more talented kid in the league.”
Taunton took an early lead in the contest when Jake Roberts netted a backhander from the slot off a faceoff, but that would be all the offense for the Tigers. AJ Scott made 31 saves to earn Stoughton the win.
“[Scott’s] been great all year,” Mark said of. “He’s a freshman too, so that’s great, as long as I keep him for four years.”
Last year, Stoughton picked up its first win of the season and eliminated Taunton from postseason contention with a 4-2 victory in the final contest of the year.
“We’re not used to being in that situation, but it’s good for the program for kids to be able to grow,” Taunton head coach Kris Metea said. “You need to play in pressure games and they’ve never really had that. For them to learn how to play in pressure games and learn how to win in those types of situations will only be beneficial down the line.”
The situation is different this year for Taunton, though, as still opportunities remain to reach the postseason.
“It’s a loss,” Metea said. “You win or you lose and you move on. The difference between winning and losing is how you’re perceived.”
Stoughton improves to 5-9-3 overall and 3-5 in the Hockomock League and will host Franklin on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Taunton, now 10-6 overall but just 2-5 in the league, will travel to Fall River in search of a postseason berth against Durfee on Wednesday.