BOSTON, Mass. – It was a frustrating first 28 minutes for Canton (22-4) in Saturday’s Div. 2 state title game at the TD Garden. The Bulldogs had more than 20 shots on target, including some gilt-edged scoring opportunities, saw pucks hit the side-netting, bounce up on top of the net, shots go over the bar or just wide, and watched Hopkinton goalie Jack Lang come through with several huge saves.
There were moments when Canton could have been forgiven for thinking, it’s just not our night. Head coach Brian Shuman admitted that he was starting to get concerned as the clock ticked on without his team finding the back of the net.
“I was the first person to overreact on the bench when we missed the net,” Shuman said after the game. “Credit to our players, they stayed calm, cool, and collected and didn’t take on the persona of their coach, which was a good thing.”
Shuman shouldn’t have worried. For the second game in a row, the Bulldogs rallied from a goal down, showing the resilience of state champions. With two goals in a little over a minute at the end of the second period and a pair of goals from seniors in the final three minutes of the game, Canton skated away with a 4-1 victory and its third state title in the past five seasons.
“Seeing everyone out there, before we were like we’re not going to let what happened last year happen again and we came together, just had a quick talk,” said senior forward AJ Thomas. “After they scored the first one, we were down a little but we weren’t going to let it go. We came together in the locker room and came out in the second and put it to them. I’m happy to win it for everyone back home.”
Shuman added, “We’ve been in close games all year long. We’re just used to playing in tight games and credit to our guys, they’re saying the same things they were in the last round, ‘We’re fine, stay with it, we’re fine,’ and that’s not coming from the coaches. That’s coming from them.”
Canton was the favorite coming into the final. The No. 8 seed Hillers were playing in only their second state title game (and first in D2), while the Bulldogs are the perennial powers who have reached the final for four straight years (excluding the 2021 season that had no tournament).
It was the underdogs that would take the early advantage. A slap shot from Vasi Zolotarev hit a couple bodies in front of Canton goalie Colin Davis (14 saves). The puck landed at the skates of Hopkinton star Pavit Mehra and he rifled it past the goalie from close range to put the Hillers in front. It was his 40th goal of the season and fifth in the last two rounds.
A few minutes later, the Hillers nearly made it two. Catching Canton in a change, Ryan Teitel got free in the left wing circle and tested Davis, who was able to stay tall and make the save.
Canton grew into the game. Thomas forced Lang into a save from the left wing, Jack Digirolamo weaved through the Hopkinton defense and put a backhand shot on target, James Young got a shot on net from the point, Jeffrey Chaput teed up Thomas for a chance in the slot that went high and wide, then set up Brendan Tourgee in almost the same spot for another shot off target.
The Bulldogs outshot Hopkinton 14-5 in the first. For all that pressure, it was the Hillers that again came closest to finding twine. Drew Morse sent in a shot from the point that Davis knocked down. Mehra was again in the right spot to get to the rebound, but, at full stretch, Davis managed to get a toe to the shot to keep it out.
In the second, Canton kept the chances coming (outshooting Hopkinton 12-2 in the period). Griffin Hughes fed Brian Middleton in front but his tip was kept out by Lang (31 saves) who then made a stunning, diving, glove save to deny Colin Blake, who had steamed in to knock the rebound into what looked like an open net.
Chaput chipped a puck up the boards for Tourgee to test the goalie from the right wing circle. Then it was Travis Thomas with a quick wraparound effort that Lang kept out. Mehra would get Hopkinton’s best chance of the second when he pounced on a mistake in the neutral zone to fire a shot on Davis. Michael Thomas added a chance from the slot, but again Lang was able to get a pad on it.
Finally, with 1:48 left in the second, Canton was able to find the back of the net, letting off a celebration that was at least in part a sigh of relief. Fittingly, after all those great chances, it was a scruffy goal to tie things up. Young’s shot from the left point was saved by Lang. The loose puck landed right on the stick of Tourgee who smashed his shot off the post, back off his skate, and then across the line.
After waiting so long to get the first, the Bulldogs needed only a minute before netting a second. Digirolamo used his big frame to power off the left wing boards towards goal. The puck was poked out to Middleton, who whipped a shot past Lang to put Canton in front.
“I think it was a little relief, definitely felt like there was a little less tension in the locker room, but these guys, the way that they approach every game, every period, is shift-by-shift,” Shuman said. “That’s the approach they took in the third. We don’t want to get too high or too low.”
The third period wasn’t as frenetic as the first two, as Canton tried to limit the stretch passes that Hopkinton looked so dangerous on and the Hillers tried to get Mehra into space to create. Dylan Mansur got the puck in front to Danny White to force a pad stop from Davis and Mehra made a great play to get the puck past the defense to Joe Scardino, but again the Canton goalie was equal to it.
For a defensive unit that graduated some important pieces, Canton’s pairings of Young, Hughes, Matt Anderson, Leo Owens, Jack Lauro, and Teddy Shuman, and with Davis in net, allowed only two goals in five playoff games this year.
“Colin Davis has been fantastic,” Shuman said. “We graduated arguably some of the best defensemen we’ve ever seen in this program, and for these guys to step up, some guys who were watching in the stands [last year] playing huge minutes, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
With less than three minutes to play, Canton doubled its lead. AJ Thomas slipped a pass to Chaput as he raced into the left wing circle and his fellow senior roofed his shot over Lang to make it 3-1. It was Chaput’s fifth goal in five playoff games.
“We just sit back and think about who we’re doing this for,” Thomas said about his team’s resiliency. He noted the inspiration that the Bulldogs have gotten from Kieran Whall, a Canton three-year-old battling leukemia. “For everyone out there, who came tonight, it’s amazing, we’re doing it for them. We just look back and see who we’re doing it for and go out and do it.”
The Hillers pulled Lang and desperately tried to find a goal that would get them back into the game, but with 25.9 on the clock, just as he did against Duxbury in the semifinal, Thomas found the empty netter that sealed the win and the state title.
“It’s crazy,” Young explained. “It feels so good. I’m speechless. Last Canton High game, you got to win.”
Asked about his program’s consistency, Shuman replied, “These guys, they put a lot of pressure on themselves. They’ve been in the stands watching some kids who are older than them on the ice raising the trophy and that’s their dream.”
“I think last year we felt that pressure and played well, just came up short. This year, I thought the players’ mental approach coming into this game was just outstanding. They were really having some fun this week.”
BOSTON, Mass. — As a freshman, Canton’s Jeff Chaput didn’t have the chance to step on the ice at the TD Garden after the season was cut short just before the state championships game.
After a sophomore campaign without playoffs and a loss in the final as a junior last year, Chaput had one final chance to raise the MIAA state championship trophy.
Chaput and the rest of the Bulldogs delivered. After scoring just four goals during the regular season, he lit the lamp for the fifth straight postseason game — after netting just four goals during the regular season — to help Canton secure a 4-1 win over Hopkinton for the program’s third title in the past five years/four seasons.
“Determination,” Chaput said of the postseason turnaround. “I wasn’t going to lose, any of these playoff games could have been my last game so I wanted to give it my all, empty the tank every single game.
“Goals have to come from somewhere. In the regular season, it was my linemates and things just started clicking in the postseason and I came through when we needed it.”
Chaput’s tally came with just under three minutes to go to give Canton a much-needed insurance tally and a 3-1 lead. Fittingly, it was Chaput’s classmate and linemate AJ Thomas that sealed the deal with an empty net goal with 25 seconds to go.
Chaput and Thomas have emerged as the go-to players for the Bulldogs. The former was assisted by the latter in the first-round win over Medford, both players lit the lamp in a 6-0 win over Wilmington, and Chaput’s goal gave Canton a two-goal cushion against Newburyport.
The duo wasn’t done there as Chaput came up with a huge goal early in the third period that leveled the score in the state semifinals against Duxbury, and then Thomas buried the game-winning goal with just under five minutes to go. Similar to Sunday morning, Thomas had the empty net goal in the win over the Dragons to ice the win.
“They were definitely frustrated sometimes during the season with their lack of goal scoring and we just kept saying, ‘Hey, you’ll score when it matters,’” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “Jeff Chaput [scored] four goals in the regular season, five in the playoffs. He’s a guy that’s a four-year player for us and he knows what it takes to win. He stepped up big time. AJ is someone that every person on the other team knows about. They key on him and try to shut him down, but he still finds ways to be productive.”
Hopkinton took the lead just 3:12 into the game, only the second goal the Bulldogs had allowed all postseason. It was also just the second time Canton trailed throughout its tournament run. Juniors Brendan Tourgee and Brian Middleton scored a minute apart at the end of the second period to turn the deficit into a lead.
“We’re all brothers, there’s no way other way to explain it,” Chaput said. “We weren’t going to let what happened last year happen again. We ride for each other, we love each other.”
The Chaput/Thomas duo combined for one final time with Thomas dropping a nice pass to Chaput in stride, setting up a wrist shot top shelf for a 3-1 lead.
“It feels amazing,” Thomas said. “We weren’t going to let what happened last year happen again. After they scored the first one, we were down a little bit but we weren’t going to let it go. We came together in the locker room and came out in the second and put it to them.
“Me and Jeff were put on the same line about midway through the season and ever since then we’ve become so much closer. We’re more than friends, we’re brothers. It’s amazing to do this with him, I’m so proud of him and he’s earned everything.”
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – With the clock running down under a minute to play in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal at the Gallo Ice Arena, Duxbury was pressing hard to try and find the tying goal. The puck bounced out to the blue line and Canton senior forward AJ Thomas was able to get a stick on it, use his body to shield it from a couple of Duxbury players, and break forward into the neutral zone.
Under pressure, Thomas veered towards the near boards and then flicked a shot towards an empty Duxbury goal. When the puck crossed the line, the Canton bench exploded in both relief and joy. Thomas had just sealed a come-from-behind 3-1 victory and booked Canton’s fourth straight appearance at the TD Garden to play for the Div. 2 state title.
“It doesn’t get old,” said senior forward Jeffrey Chaput after the game. With the Canton girls getting ready to take the ice as he was speaking, Chaput added, “It’s really tradition. It’s just Canton hockey, we’re used to being at the Garden. As you see the girls going on right now, this is a town of hockey.”
Canton coach Brian Shuman said, “It’s all about this group. They’re playing their best hockey at the right time and I can’t even begin to say how proud I am of them. We have a tremendous amount of respect for [Duxbury] and knew we had to come out and play well and I’m just so happy for our guys because they really earned this opportunity.”
Scoring chances were limited in a first period that felt like both teams were probing to see how the other was going to attack. Connor O’Connell had a shot from the left wing circle that forced Canton goalie Colin Davis (15 saves) into an early stop and Brendan Tourgee quickly tested Duxbury goalie Sam Mazanec (31 saves) on the other end.
Davis was called on to make a tough blocker save on Tucker O’Neill’s shot through traffic from the right point and then again he came up with a nice pad stop on Aiden Harrington, after the forward picked off an outlet pass in the slot.
Canton defenseman Matt Anderson fired a shot from the right point that Thomas got a stick to on the edge of the crease, but it went just over the bar. Chaput had one final chance in the closing seconds of the first and his shot from a tough angle was covered up at the near post.
Things picked up considerably for Canton in the second. The Bulldogs would outshoot Duxbury 14-3 in the period.
Chaput got things started with a perfect cross-ice pass to Anderson racing down the right wing, but the shot from the face-off dot went high. A couple minutes later, Chaput again started the play in his own zone, chipping it up the boards to Tourgee, who fed it to Thomas for a backhand effort that Mazanec saved.
Five minutes into the period, Jack Digirolamo thought he had put Canton in front. A flurry of chances, including a shot from the point by Leo Owens, had the Dragons on their heels and Digirolamo pounced on a loose puck on the edge of the crease, but the refs judged Mazanec to have gloved the shot before it crossed the line.
Colin Blake teed up Digirolamo for another chance a few minutes later and Mazanec again stayed with the play to make a point-blank stop.
All that dominance didn’t end with the opening goal and Duxbury stunned the Bulldogs by grabbing the lead with 4:53 left in the period. Wick Ross pinched in from the point and fired a wrister that went off the top of Davis’ glove and snuck over the line.
“I think this is a tribute to the players on the bench,” Shuman said, “as soon as the goal went in they said, ‘We’re fine, we’re fine, we’re fine.’ That wasn’t the coaches, that was all them, and that just goes to show you how much this team has grown over the course of the year.”
Duxbury had two players go to the box with 13 seconds left in the second, which meant that Canton had a perfect opportunity to try and get back into the game in the third. The Bulldogs wouldn’t waste that chance.
A minute into the third, with Canton camped out in the Duxbury zone, Thomas collected the puck on the left wing side of the goal and slipped a perfect pass across the crease to Chaput, who buried the chance, before racing down to the other end of the ice to celebrate with the Canton fans.
Chaput explained, “I was just thinking between periods, ‘We need one, we need one, we need one.’ After I saw the puck go in, I thought of all the hard work this whole team, not just me, the freshmen, the kids who don’t play, the managers, the coaches, everyone does a tremendous amount of work.”
The game stayed tied at 1-1 for more than nine minutes and the tension grew, as every shot on either goal was cheered like it could be the winner. With 4:36 to play, Tourgee took a hit in the neutral zone. The puck skipped free and Thomas sped between a pair of Duxbury players to get in all alone on Mazanec. He patiently picked his spot and put the Bulldogs in front.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am for him,” Shuman said of Thomas. “He’s someone that takes pride in the little things, wants to do the little things well, and for him to make that play at the end was fitting because I feel like he’s had an unheralded season so far. For everyone to see what he does for us is just great.”
Canton tried to add a third with James Young setting up Thomas for a shot through a crowd that was gloved. On the other end, Duxbury was sending everyone at goal in an effort to keep its title hopes alive. Sean Hanniffy had a good tip in front that went inches wide of the post and Davis stuck out a right pad to keep another chance out.
Thomas stepped up again in the final minute to secure the two-goal cushion, letting the Bulldogs breathe a little easier and get ready to once again skate on the biggest stage.
Asked about a fourth consecutive trip to the final, Shuman said, “We’re so lucky to have a group of players that when new guys come in they feel an obligation and a responsibility to carry on this tradition. I feel like the luckiest coach in the world getting to coach all these guys.”
Canton (21-4) will face the winner of No. 4 Walpole and No. 8 Hopkinton at the TD Garden next Sunday, at a time to be determined.
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. — Ever since Canton and Newburyport faced off in back-to-back state championship games in 2009 and 2010, the two storied programs have played one another during the regular season.
For the first time since then, the two squads squared off again in the postseason. And similar to how this year’s regular season meeting went, Canton emerged with a shutout win.
Junior Colin Blake and senior Jeff Chaput scored second period goals and the third-seeded Bulldogs notched a 2-0 win over the sixth-seeded Clippers to book a spot in the Division 2 Final Four for the second straight season.
“It felt almost workmanlike,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman about his team’s performance. “We have so much respect for [Newburyport], me and Paul Yameen go way back, we’ve played each other since meeting in the finals. There’s a tremendous amount of respect that these two programs have for each other. I can’t say enough about their program, they play a tough hard-nosed, blue-collar type of hockey and you can’t help but appreciate it as a coach. It was a good hockey game.”
The Bulldogs earned a 2-0 win on the road in mid-January over the Clippers and have had Newburyport’s number lately, going 6-0-2 since the start of the 2015 season.
The familiarity was apparent from the opening faceoff as the Clippers made things difficult for the Bulldogs. Newburyport was clogging both passing and shooting lanes and their forecheck was doing just enough to disrupt Canton’s rhythm working out of their own zone.
Scoring chances were at a premium early with a mix of blocked shots, deflected passes, and a lot of neutral zone battles. As the period went on, the teams worked to find opportunities and the best chance for both sides came inside the final five minutes.
For Canton, it was junior Brian Middleton that unleashed a low shot through some traffic that was turned aside by Newburyport goalie Jameson Brooks with a pad save and the big rebound ended up just outside the reach of the stick of Jack Digirolamo. Seconds later, the Clippers had their best chance when Kane Brennan got an open shot off but Canton goalie Colin Davis gobbled it up.
The Clippers went on the power play for the final 48 seconds of the opening period but a clearance from Chaput followed by good offensive zone pressure from James Young and Blake kept the game scoreless at the horn.
After killing 72 seconds of power play to start the second period, Canton really tilted the ice in its favor with heavy pressure. Newburyport was unable to sustain any offensive zone time and managed just one shot on goal in the frame.
Canton went on its first power play just over three minutes into the period and needed just over a minute to take advantage. Junior Brendan Tourgee gained the zone with a creative self pass off the boards, skated behind the net, and dished a pass out to the blue line to junior Matt Anderson. Anderson stepped into a big shot and Blake, positioned right in front of the goal, got his stick on it with a great redirect to beat Brooks for a 1-0 lead with 10:46 to go in the second period.
Another Canton power play was canceled out with a slash but Newburyport couldn’t muster anything up with their 68 seconds on the man advantage.
The Bulldogs grabbed a second goal before the end of the period as Tourgee teed up senior Leo Owens for a blast from the blue line. Brooks made the initial stop but Chaput was in the right spot and lifted a backhand past the goalie to make it 2-0 with 1:50 left in the second period.
“Strangely enough, I think you try and forget the first meeting,” Shuman said. “That first game was not a 3-0 game, it could have gone either way. In both games, we got a couple of bounces and they didn’t. That’s what always happens when we play them, I don’t think there’s been a game we’ve played them with the winning team more than three goals. It’s always tight checking, a tight defensive game. You can see it on the kid’s faces, they are just working, working, working and when you’re working that hard, it can be hard to have room left for that euphoria, that emotion.”
Canton continued to quell any and every Newburyport foray into the offensive zone. Davis came up with one of the biggest stops of the game with 6:35 left, denying Brennan on a point-blank chance. Beyond that, Canton’s defense did a great job limiting further opportunities.
“The defense was outstanding,” Shuman said. “It’s similar to how we played last game against Wilmington, really limiting shots and getting the puck out of our zone quickly. Sometimes the best defense is to bring the puck up well and we really did that well in the second. We tensed up a little bit in the third and had some turnovers, but Colin was there to back us and bail us out.”
Canton’s three-game shutout streak so far in the playoffs will face a major test in the Division 2 Final Four against #2 Duxbury. The Dragons have outscored opponents 22-0 so far in three playoff games. The time, date, and location for that matchup are still to be announced.
2021-2022 Record: 0-15-0 2021-2022 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Gary Warren
Last season is not one to remember for Attleboro. The Bombardiers finished winless and had only eight goals in 18 games. New head coach Gary Warren will hope to find more firepower in front of goal and more depth with three forward lines and three defensive pairings as Attleboro tries to get back into the mix for a tournament berth.
Seniors Owen Parker and Colin Flynn will be the leaders on the top line with eighth grader Bryan Capone getting his first taste of varsity hockey. Sophomore Nathan Conroy will center the second line with senior Mike Lachance and junior Nick Fernandes on the wings. Eighth-grader Andrew Bessette will center the third line for the Bombardiers, joining up with sophomores Austin Bessette and Jack Moran.
Defensively, Attleboro will also lean on youth. Sophomores Alex Jarousky and Brody Shaw will partner on one line, eighth graders Beckett Stone and Cam Harrison will be a second partnership, and sophomore Lucas Devonis teaming up with senior Luke Logan. Junior Bradley Lehtonen and freshman Joey Santos will also see time on the blue line this season. After graduating four-year starter Nick Piazza, Attleboro will turn to junior Julien Horton and eighth grader Jacob Westwater between the pipes.
“Our success this season will hinge on good senior leadership, along with our younger players building confidence in their game,” Warren said. “We are a young, inexperienced team that hopefully will get better game after game.”
2021-2022 Record: 22-3-1 (D2 State Finalists) 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Final Coach: Brian Shuman
Only one team has ever won the Davenport division boys hockey title and, despite graduating 14 seniors off last year’s roster, Canton looks well-positioned to extend that run for another winter. After reaching the Div. 2 state title game for the third straight season, the Bulldogs will be incorporating a lot of new faces and young players (five freshmen and three sophomores) into this year’s roster to try and stay among the top teams in the state.
While there are several new players that will be getting time this year, Canton does return its top two scorers from last year. Senior AJ Thomas had a great playoff run to help the Bulldogs get back to the TD Garden and junior Brendan Tourgee was a standout as a sophomore with his combination of stick skills and strength. Juniors Pat Drury, Colin Blake, and Brian Middleton also saw plenty of ice time as sophomores and came through with some big goals during the season, while senior Jack Digirolamo adds some physicality in the attacking zone.
Canton always gets attention for its scoring punch, but its strength on the blue line has been one of the main reasons for its sustained success. Senior Leo Owens will start the season on the sidelines with an injury, so other players are going to need to step in while he gets healthy. Senior James Young and junior Matt Anderson, who scored the overtime winner in the season opener, will get plenty of ice time. Sophomore Colin Davis should provide the defense with plenty of confidence after a stellar rookie campaign between the pipes. He looked unflappable during Canton’s run to the final and senior Carson Eagles is a more than dependable backup in goal.
“As always, strong team defense and the depth to play four lines and six defense pairs will determine whether or not we can make a run for the league title and/or the playoffs this year,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman.
2021-2022 Record: 10-11-0 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 3 Round of 32 Coach: Eric Galanti
Foxboro has a new head coach this season but it’s a familiar face as Eric Galanti steps in after five years on the bench as an assistant coach for the program. After graduating nine seniors from last year that accounted for a lot of production and ice time, the Warriors are looking for some new names to step up.
Albeit young, Foxboro has a strong core of returners from last year’s squad that had 10 wins and scored 70 goals. Senior Henry Diamond, who plays on the right wing, spearheads a relatively young forward group that includes returners Connor Hayers (left wing) and Luigi Muttart (left wing), both juniors, as well as sophomores Ryan Wood, Dan Jacobs — both centers — and, Finlay Campbell. Senior Jake DeMaino and sophomores Brendan LaCroix, Will Groves, and Connor Reardon bolster the offense. Freshman Michael Ruo and Owen McAuliffe are looking to make an impact right away.
Defense and goaltending will be a strength for Galanti and the Warriors this season. Senior Alex Coviello is a seasoned veteran that will anchor the blue line for Foxboro, joined by junior Tommy Devlin and a handful of sophomores who already have varsity experience including Tom Watts, Evan Paluzzi, Leo Campbell, and Connor Reardon. In net, Galanti has some veteran options with senior Peter Souaiden and junior Trevor Marder as options.
“We have a solid defense and great net minding that will allow a sophomore-heavy team to work toward an offense to match,” Galanti said.
2021-2022 Record: 14-9-0 (Kelley-Rex division champions) 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Sweet 16 Coach: Chris Spillane
A very familiar face has made his return to the bench for Franklin this season, as longtime coach Chris Spillane, who stepped away in 2019, is back in charge of the program. The Panthers have won 11 straight league titles and been a fixture in the Div. 1 state tournament and they boast a strong attacking lineup this season that will be looking to continue its control of the Kelley-Rex division.
Up front, Franklin will be boosted by the return of seniors Ben Jarosz and Ryan Sicchio, who combined for 15 goals and 23 assists last year. Classmate Tommy Balducci will join them on the top line. Last year’s sophomore class was prolific in front of goal and, with a year of valuable experience, looks ready to be even more dynamic this season. Juniors Anthony Lampasona (six goals and 13 assists) and Ben Paterson (10 goals and 14 assists) will lead the way along with classmates Dylan McEvoy and Dan Daley. Sophomore Carter Balducci is a newcomer to look out for in attack.
Four players return on the blue line to give Franklin solid experience in the defensive zone. Seniors Liam O’Rielly, Aiden Kuykendall, and Lucas Sheehan will be joined by junior Dylan Marchand, who had an impressive sophomore season in defense. Sophomore Vinnie Pasquarosa should also see time on the back end. Goalie depth will be a strength for the Panthers this year, with sophomore Jack O’Connor returning, sophomore Joe Torraco making the jump from JV, and junior Colby Wagner coming back to the program after playing last year with the Northeast Generals.
“Offensively we will run three lines who all have the ability to score goals,” Spillane said. “The Panthers’ success will depend on our team defense, and how quickly we can understand our defensive systems.”
2021-2022 Record: 10-9-3 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Round of 32 Coach: Toby Carlow
King Philip is two years removed from taking a share of the Kelley-Rex division title (joining only the 2011 Mansfield team to win at least a piece of the division crown) and last year the Warriors showed off their potential by giving eventual state champion St. John’s Prep a battle in the opening round of the playoffs. Former Medfield coach Toby Carlow, who won a state title with those Warriors in 2016, take over this season with the intention of elevating these Warriors into one of the state’s top programs.
Carlow will be introducing new systems on both ends of the ice, relying on team speed and structure in the defensive zone to get back into the tournament. One challenge for KP will be replacing standout Brad Guden, who moved to Tabor Academy this season. In the defensive zone, junior Cam Lehan-Allen along with senior Sam Naggar will need to step up to provide leadership at the blue line. Senior Kyle Abbott will help out at the back, as he returns in goal after allowing fewer than two goals per game as a junior.
In addition to Guden, who had 17 points from defense last year, KP also graduated its three top goal scorers from last season, so the forward line will need new faces to step up and consistently find the back of the net. Senior James Boldy is the team’s top returning scorer with seven goals and 10 assists and junior Max Robison adds speed on the wing. Juniors Nate Gartska and Rowan Boulger also saw time as sophomores and provide depth in the forward lines.
“Our goal this year is to establish ourselves as a good solid team in Division 1,” Carlow said. “It’s time for King Philip to step into the upper level of Massachusetts hockey.”
2021-2022 Record: 7-12-1 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Round of 32 Coach: Mark O’Brien
Mansfield has a lot of turnover to contend with this season, as the Hornets open their first season of Davenport division play. Former assistant Mark O’Brien has taken over as head coach and he takes over a team that will lean on underclassmen to try and find the attacking threat to keep the Hornets in the league title mix and to stay in the tournament mix.
After graduating its top six forwards from last season, Mansfield will be hoping that a host of freshmen and sophomores can step up to the challenge of leading the line this winter. Seniors Cody Gordon, Connor Davey, and Brendan Flynn will provide much-needed leadership in the attacking zone. Sophomores Brendan Vokey, Matthew Tourigney, Matthew Cromack, and Kevin O’Brien and freshmen James Warren, Matt Kelly, Matthew Rabinovich, Liam Wells, and Cody Silva give the Hornets a lot of depth up front but also a lot of untested talent.
The blue line is a very different story. Mansfield’s defense should be a strength this season. Seniors Ryan DeGirolamo and Patrick Gormley return to anchor that end of the ice along with junior Will Cameron and sophomore Declan Foley. Sophomore Thomas Gormley is a newcomer to watch for the Hornets in defense. Freshman Aidan Shea and sophomore Luke McGuire are versatile players who could see time at forward or defense. In goal, Mansfield will have plenty of experience to call upon with senior Chris O’Brien and junior Josh Hussey.
“We have a tremendous group this season and they are committed to the team concept and giving their best effort for each other,” said O’Brien. “We are excited about our talented younger players and confident that our strong nucleus of upperclassmen will lead the way with a focus on team defense.”
2021-2022 Record: 10-11-1 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Sweet 16 Coach: Kyle Heagney
North Attleboro head coach Kyle Heagney begins his second year in charge of the Rocketeers and they are looking to improve on last year’s 10-win season as they join the Kelley-Rex division for the second time in program history.
The Big Red will have to look for some new players to step up as they try to fill the void left by the graduation of a talented senior group, including Nik Kojoian, who led the Hockomock League in scoring with 11 goals and 24 assists last season, and Nick Longa, who was second in the league with 17 goals and tied for fifth overall in points with 26 points. The good news is that Heagney and the Rocketeers have one of the top returning forwards in the league in Mark Ayvazyan, who produced 13 goals and 12 assists in the regular season last year.
North will also look for seniors Brody Gaulin and Jack Dluhy to take on increased roles after netting five goals and two assists last season as well as junior Kaden Burns, who had five goals and one helper last season. Junior Kyle Gruber is back between the pipes after impressing last season.
2021-2022 Record: 6-11-1 2021-2022 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Jimmy Tierney
Oliver Ames begins a new chapter in program history as they welcome a familiar face as new head coach in Jimmy Tierney, a former player and assistant coach. Tierney was the inaugural HockomockSports Goalie of the Year in 2013 and was a two-team First Team selection during his stellar career with the Tigers.
Now Tierney will look to guide this year’s team back to the success they experienced during his playing days when they reached the South sectional semifinals and finals during his sophomore and junior years. The Tigers have nearly their entire roster back from last year after graduating just two seniors, including senior center Sean McCarthy, who was second on the team with 10 goals and nine assists, and junior Andrew Livingstone, who earned HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team honors after leading OA with 12 goals and eight assists. The offense will have plenty of depth with seniors Matt Lawson (15 points), Jack Corey (15 points), Daniel Paul, and Jack Perron, who is a team captain for the second year along with McCarthy.
Sophomore Patrick DeLoughrey and freshman Brenden Teehan will look to make an immediate impact on the offensive end. Along the blue line, junior Sean Kearns (three goals, 11 assists) will look to build upon a solid campaign last year when he earned honorable mention for league all star. He’ll be joined by classmates Landon Grothe and Andy Poulos in the defensive group. The Tigers have experience in the net with senior Brandon Burke back between the pipes after playing in 17 games last year.
“Our biggest strength this season will be the team-first mentality our players have,” Tierney said. “The players care a lot about each other and will do what it takes to put the team first. This along with the hard work they are putting in is what will make us successful.”
2021-2022 Record: 11-11-2 2021-2022 Finish: Reached Div. 3 Round of 32 Coach: Dan Mark
The Stoughton/Brockton co-op team is coming off its most successful season together, and the Black Knights’ best campaign in over a decade after winning 11 games, including a preliminary game in the Division 3 state tournament.
The Black Knights won’t be competing in the Hockomock League again this season as they team up with the Boxers to try and replicate the success from last year. In order to do so, they’ll blend a mix of veteran and younger players as they navigate through their schedule, which will feature games against Hockomock League teams Attleboro, Foxboro, Oliver Ames, and Taunton. Offensively, Stoughton/Brockton returns a strong core led by last year’s leading scorer senior Charlie Caputo, who netted 13 goals along with 14 helpers. Senior Sean Farley added a team-high 16 goals as well as nine assists, while junior Colby Strunk is coming off a 21-point season as a sophomore.
Defensively, longtime head coach Dan Mark will turn to junior Ryan Summers to anchor a relatively inexperienced group. Summers had five goals and seven assists but the Knights lost three defensemen to graduation. In net, juniors Sean McGowan and Dmytro Yakovenko are battling for the starting job.
2021-2022 Record: 7-10-4 2021-2022 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton comes into the new season with definitely the youngest roster in the league and one of the youngest rosters in program history. Head coach Kris Metea has 35 players in the system this season and 26 of them are sophomores or younger. There is plenty of energy on the ice and plenty of potential, but there may be some growing pains for players getting their first taste of varsity action.
There are a few seniors on the team to provide the Tigers with much-needed experience and leadership. One of those seniors is Colton Scheralis, who will move up from the blue line to the attack at the start of the season. He recorded 13 points as a defenseman last year and should be able to bring his creativity and stick skills to the forward line. Senior Connor McGrath will also give Taunton a scoring punch, after his 13-goal, 13-assist junior campaign. Junior Conner Goranson scored 14 points last year as a sophomore and will be on the top line.
Experience is in short supply in the defensive zone, especially with Scheralis moving forward at the start. Sophomores Travis Cashman and Jon McGrath both saw time as freshmen and will look to build on that first season on the blue line. Sophomore Cam Tomaszycki is back in goal for the Tigers. He was a standout as a freshman, allowing a little more than three goals per game and saving nearly 90 percent of the shots he faced.
“We have a great group of players,” Metea said. “They are excited to go to the rink every day. They love each other and are willing to fight for one another. They make going to the rink a pleasure every day for our coaching staff.”
2020-2021 Record: 1-8-0 Coach: Greg Chamberlain
Attleboro had a difficult 2020-21 season, as delays and big breaks early in the season led to three games in three days to close things out. The Bombardiers will be hoping that they can build off that experience and make a push to get back into the postseason mix with several underclassmen stepping in to supplement the returning corps.
The offense has depth to it this season and head coach Greg Chamberlain is expecting a lot of grit and effort in the attacking zone to create scoring chances. Senior Nate Parker will be the leader of the forward line but he will get help from juniors Colin Flynn and Mike Lachance, who have both had two seasons on varsity already. Freshmen Austin Bessette and Nate Conroy have impressed the coaches in the preseason and could be ready to contribute right away.
Defense could be a strong unit this season, as the Bombardiers have decent skaters and decent depth along the blue line. Senior Sean Marshall will be the key to that group, providing on-ice leadership. Sophomore Dane Holske had a good first season on varsity and can help out both in defense and at forward. Senior Nick Piazza is capable of being one of the top netminders in the league and will be back between the pipes for Attleboro this season.
“Biggest thing that is a positive for us is the guys wanna earn some respect and be tough to play against,” said Chamberlain. “We understand what we have but we think our schedule can help us gain some real confidence.”
2020-2021 Record: 11-0-1 Coach: Brian Shuman
The Davenport division has been ruled by Canton, which has won the title every season since the league split. The Bulldogs bring back a lot of returning players to hunt a 12th straight league title and defend the Div. 2 state title that they won back in 2019-20, but for many of the players, this will be their first season with a full slate of games.
Canton is known for its goalscoring, but the Bulldogs typically start from the defensive zone and this year should be no different. Senior Sean Connolly, the reigning league MVP, will be back at the blue line alongside classmate Ryan Doucette. Juniors James Young and Leo Owens should also see plenty of time on the ice with seniors Brennen Pecararo and Jay Kelleher slotting in at defense or at forward. The goalie job is up for grabs coming into the season with a three-way battle going on between senior Aiden French, junior Carson Eagles, and freshman Collin Davis.
As usual, the Bulldogs should be potent in front of the goal this winter. Senior Eamon Kelly, the team’s leading scorer last year, is back for his fourth season on varsity. Seniors Andrew Valkanas, Tommy Phaneuf, Sam Carlino, and Eddie Gillis will all chip in and junior Jeff Chaput could be poised for a big season after scoring 13 points last year.
“Solid team defense is the expectation as always this season, and we ask all positions to be important players all over the ice,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Our forwards need to be able to shut down opponents and our defense must contribute to our offensive production to have a successful year.”
2020-2021 Record: 4-6-0 Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Just two years removed from one of the best seasons in program history, Foxboro comes into the winter with an experienced squad, featuring nine seniors, to try and make another push for a state tournament berth. Although the Warriors went 4-6 in the shortened 2020-21 season, four of those losses were against Franklin and Canton and the other two were to North Attleboro by a combined three goals, so there is potential for the Warriors to get back to their 2019-20 form.
The forward line should have plenty of firepower this season with the return of seniors Jack Watts, Matt Grace, and Ben Ricketts, who combined for 13 goals in 10 games last year. Fellow forwards Derek Axon and Steven Bridges will give Foxboro good leadership and depth in the forward line. The Warriors also got plenty of scoring from the blue line, with senior Tom Marcucella adding four goals and three assists last winter.
Improvements in the defensive zone (and not playing almost every game against the league’s top-scoring teams) will be expected this season. Marcucella is listed as a defenseman but has the versatility to line up in multiple positions and he will be helped on defense by classmates Dylan Pothier and Brady Callahan. Junior Alex Coviello and sophomore Sully Kenneally are also going to step into bigger roles on the blue line this season.
“I would say all nine of our seniors are going to be major contributors and that’s definitely a first for Foxboro hockey and it’s a good thing!” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “I would say we will be skilled and experienced.”
2020-2021 Record: 10-2-1 Coach: Anthony Sarno
This will be a new-look Franklin team that takes the ice this season, looking to win its 11th straight league title and make a deep run in the postseason. The Panthers graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team and only return seven players with significant varsity experience to try and manage a schedule loaded with some of the best teams in the state.
Senior forward Dylan Marchand is the key returning player in the forward line. The team’s leading scorer last year, the speedy center scored eight goals and nine assists in 13 games. Seniors Justin Magazu and Domenic Lampasona and juniors Ben Jarosz and Ryan Sicchio will also return to add more firepower to the attacking end of the ice. With 14 new players on the roster, there could be a lot of new names on the score sheet this winter.
Defensively, the Panthers will lean on experienced players like seniors Aidan Hunt and Jack MacKinnon to guide the younger players, as they take on the high-end talent that Franklin will face right from the start of the season. In goal, sophomore Cole Pouliot-Porter and freshman Jack O’Connor will both get chances between the pipes.
“I am optimistic with the youth we have and excited to watch us grow together,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno. “We will just have to weather the ebbs and flows, try to remain even-keeled, communicate, and trust each other as a team in order for us to grow and move forward as a complete unit.”
2020-2021 Record: 9-1-0 Coach: Paul Carlow
Last season, King Philip won a share of its first league title since 2006, picking up a rare win against rival Franklin in the process. With 12 returning players and a roster that has 16 upperclassmen, the Warriors will try to make more history by winning back-to-back titles for the first time in program history and also put together a run in the state tournament.
There are four players coming back this year that averaged a point per game in 2020-21. Three of those players are forwards. Seniors Shaun Fitzpatrick and Sean Crowther and junior James Boldy, who combined for 15 goals and 22 assists in 10 games last season. Senior Nolan Feyler will be a big boost, as the forward had a strong sophomore season but missed all of last year due to an injury. Senior Kevin Birenbaum is another of the nine seniors on the forward line.
Sophomore defenseman Brad Guden is the fourth Warrior who averaged a point per game last year. He broke into the lineup and scored 10 times and had 10 assists in his first varsity season. Seniors Nolan Jackson and Quin Garstka add leadership and experience at the blue line and sophomore Max Robison returns after an impressive rookie season. Senior Kyle Abbott will be back between the pipes for the Warriors.
“We have a tough schedule this season but we are looking to challenge for another Hockomock League title,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. We have great leadership from our seniors and a good mix of skill and speed with the younger players. I’m really looking forward to working with this group and build on last year’s success.”
2020-2021 Record: 5-6-0 Coach: Mike Balzarini
With its top six forwards all back from last year, there is optimism that Mansfield will consistently put the puck in the back of the net and in turn, challenge for the Kelley-Rex division title.
And another big positive for the Hornets is junior Chris Hormann back between the pipes with a solid amount of varsity experience now under his belt. That combination of experience in the offensive zone and in the crease is what Mansfield is hoping translates to success. The challenge will be getting a new mix of defensemen working together as the Hornets graduated the majority of that unit.
Leading scorer Mark DeGirolamo returns with a lot of varsity experience under his belt, coming off a season with eight goals and five assists. He’s joined by Dillon Benoit (7 goals, 5 assists), Kyle Oakley (2 goals, 5 assists), Doherty (2 goals, 3 assists), Liam Anastasia (6 goals, 5 assists), and Brayden Purtell (4 goals, 2 assists). As the stats suggest, the Hornets have a very even top two lines which means head coach Mike Balzarini can trust both units to get it done.
Looks for the line of Cullen Egan, Cody Gordon, and Connor Davey to provide energy and some offensive punch throughout the season. Balzarini is looking for some new faces to step up on the blue line. A mix of depth pieces are back, and the Hornets have converted some forwards to defensemen looking to solidify that unit. Patrick Gormley, Brendan Flynn, Will Cameron, Ryan DeGirolamo, and Ty Carroll are all in the mix to get some minutes.
“Last season was difficult for everyone so we’re excited for a more normal year,” Balzarini said. “We’re going to be quick and we have multiple lines that can be a factor for us. We’ve seen some success on offense in our scrimmages so scoring should be a strength, these kids are working well together.”
2020-2021 Record: 8-6-0 Coach: Kyle Heagney
North Attleboro returns 14 players from last year’s roster, including two of the league’s top three scorers, and the Rocketeers will be looking to use that experience under first-year coach Kyle Heagney (who formerly coached Norton and was a North assistant the past two seasons) to challenge Canton at the top of the Davenport division and to put together a playoff run.
Although the Rocketeers bring back senior forwards Nik Kojoain and Brady Sarro, who combined for 41 points in 14 games last year, North is a team built on hard work and team effort in the offensive zone, rather than on individual stars. Seniors Sam Clarke and Nick Longa and juniors Joe Quinn and Mark Ayvazyan will provide plenty of help in front of goal and all have plenty of experience at the varsity level.
North graduated only one of its defensemen from last year. Senior Austin Comery will be the leader for North at the blue line and he will be assisted by classmate Anthony Westcott. Sophomore Kyle Gruber is back in goal for North after an impressive debut season, where he was thrown in against some of the league’s top teams, including a first appearance against Canton.
“Our strength is that we are not a team of superstars,” said Heagney. “We are a team of hockey players that will win first in the locker room before the ice. We look forward to the season and having fun. These are memories that will live forever with our players.”
2020-2021 Record: 1-10-0 Coach: Mike Zucarelli
Oliver Ames has been in a rebuilding phase under head coach Mike Zucarelli. The Tigers won just once in the shortened 2020-21 season and head into this winter with a roster loaded with underclassmen. While this may be a difficult season, Zucarelli is excited for the potential on his team and the growth the program is making for the future.
Seniors Cam Tower and Eliot Cohen will be instrumental in shoring things up at the blue line. The two defensemen will need to provide leadership for the younger players and help limit the opposition scoring chances. Junior forwards Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron will hope to improve the team’s scoring punch as well, after OA was held to 10 goals in 11 games last year. Zucarelli is already seeing more confidence and better decision-making in the offensive zone and is hoping the team’s work rate will lead to more chances.
With seven sophomores on the roster, OA will rely on its youth movement to turn things around. After a lot of growth in the offseason (both physically and mentally), Zucarelli thinks that the septet is ready for the challenges of playing varsity hockey day-in, day-out. Winger Andrew Livingstone and center Matt Lawson will add to the team’s production in the offensive zone and defenseman Landon Grothe could be a standout in the defensive end of the ice. Junior Brandon Burke had a solid summer with his club team and will be the starting goalie for the Tigers this winter.
“If we continue to put in the effort I have seen both on and off the ice to start this year, I believe these young men have the opportunity to do something special,” Zuccarelli said.
2020-2021 Record: 0-6-1 Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton had a tough 2020-21 season, as the Tigers were only able to six games, and come into a winter of transition. The roster is going to be very young, with only nine upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) in the program, so there will be a lot of younger players getting their first taste of varsity action and others experiencing a full season for the first time.
The forward line has a lot of speed and the Tigers are going to rely on that energy to try and create scoring chances. Senior Nathan Fernandes is the most experienced forward returning and he will be joined up top by junior Connor McGrath.
Defensively, the Tigers will be an inexperienced group but there is potential and the desire to get better over the course of the season. Senior Ethan Ross will be the leader at the blue line and junior Colton Scheralis can add his experience there as well. Freshman Cameron Tomaszycki will be jumping between the pipes this season to get his first varsity action.
“We are happy to be back for a full year,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “Last season was full of delays, pauses, and feelings of frustrations that made for a very long, short, season. The lessons learned from last season has made the players within the program grateful for a return to a more normal season. We will plan to improve every day and be a better, more complete team by the end of the season.”
Canton, 4 @ Lincoln-Sudbury, 5 – Final (OT) – Canton built a 3-1 lead early in the second period but needed a goal in the final minutes to force overtime at 4-4. Jack Digirolamo and Brendan Tourgee put the Bulldogs ahead 2-0 in the first period and a goal from Colin Blake made it 3-1 early in the second. L-S responded with two goals to make it 3-3 after two periods and then took a lead with just over five minutes left. With the goalie pulled, Leo Owens knotted it at 4-4 with 1:21 to play. L-S scored the winner in overtime with just over a minute to play.
Franklin, 2 @ Weymouth, 4 – Final
North Attleboro, 0 @ Bishop Feehan, 3 – Final
Canton, 1 vs. Natick, 4 – Final
King Philip, 4 @ Milton, 1 – Final
Stoughton/Sharon, 0 @ Cambridge, 4 – Final – Janelle Murphy played well in net for the Knights with 44 saves.
Westford Academy Quad (Foxboro), 9:00
Mt. Hope (R.I.) Quad Meet (Franklin) – Franklin split for the day, picking up a pair of wins in four matches. The Panthers earned wins over Barnstable (39-18) and Pilgrim (46-6) but dropped two tight contests to Hope (39-38) and Lowell (42-38).
Sharon Quad (Sharon, Mansfield) – Sharon went a perfect 4-0 on the day, rolling to four big wins in the first quad meet of the season. The Eagles had wins over Brookline (54-24), Mansfield (66-12), Leominster (72-4), and Lincoln-Sudbury (82-6). Ashmith Yeruva (106), Vehnil Rangaraman (113), Ben Grabie (160), Gabe Korn (170) and Ron Loebl (285) all earned their first varsity wins on the day for the Eagles.
Milford Quad (Milford) – Milford opened its season in style, picking up convincing wins in all three of its matches on the day. The Hawks knocked off Tewksbury (62-15), Marblehead/Swampscott (69-12), and Wayland (66-16). Aidan Baum, Mikey Boulanger, Robbie Lyons, Joey Testa, Danny Alves, Ryan Donovan, Jack Cruz, Cam Phillips, and Hampton Kaye-Kuter all went 3-0 on the day for Milford.
Devin Ness Memorial Tournament (Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames took fourth overall in the Devin Ness tournament after sending five wrestlers to the finals. Elyor Ruzmatov (113) had three wins all by pinfall to win his bracket while Giovany Juste won three of his four matches by fall to win at 170. Deric Lipski, Jr. (160), Kyle Hardie (138), and Nathan Lipski (132) each finished second overall for the Tigers.
Watertown Quad (Taunton) – Taunton won all three of its matches to kick off the 2021-2022 season with a bang. The Tigers were victorious over Bristol Aggie (66-15), Watertown (78-6), and Carver (69-12). Brandon Mendes (120), Anthony Viera (126), Xavier Sandoval (132), Luke Fraga (138), Ben Mandeville (145), Christian Balmain (160), Elijah Prophete (170), Ethan Harris (182), Peter Ye (195), and Logan Frank (220) each had three wins for the Tigers.
Ashland Tournament (North Attleboro) – The Rocketeers sent five wrestlers to the finals of the Ashland Early Bird Invitational and earned second place overall. Keysun Wise (285) was the lone champion on the day for the Big Red while Austin Dean (195), Christopher Galligan (138), Jaad Ismail (170), and Tanner Ferguson (120) all earned second overall.