FOXBORO, Mass. – Every game in the Hockomock League is a grind. Games are tight, chances are at a premium, and sometimes it takes the right bounces or the puck ending up on the right stick at the right time to find the back of the net.
Twice in Wednesday night’s game at the Foxboro Sports Center, the puck bounced to the stick of sophomore Lindsay Atkinson and she buried a pair of rebounds to lift Franklin to a 2-1 victory against Mansfield/Oliver Ames in what was another even matchup between these two teams.
Following the game, both coaches talked about how happy they were to be back on the ice. Franklin had not played since Jan. 23 and had been off the ice for a week and was without its assistant coaches due to COVID protocols. MOA was missing four players on Wednesday and hadn’t played since Jan. 18.
“It’s been a very interesting year,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke. “We’re a small league and we all know each other and we’ve all been around for a long time. We can all appreciate everyone’s situation and we all get it.”
MOA coach Roy Bain added, “Everyone in the Hockomock League has been in this boat at one point or another. At the end of the day, we played a hockey game tonight at a time when a lot of people thought they wouldn’t. Everyone that plays wins this season.”
As is usually the case when these teams square off, scoring chances were few an far between at the start of the game.
Five minutes in, freshman Maeve Anastasia fired a pass from behind the net to Reese Pereira out in front but the sophomore wasn’t able to knock it in. Melissa Shanteler had a good look from the right wing circle, but Franklin goalie Gabby Colace (12 saves) made the stop.
Midway through the first, Franklin had its first nice passing exchange in the offensive zone. Katie Leblanc played it ahead to Avery Greco who fed it on to Dana Stott, but MOA goalie Jess Widdop (12 saves) was at her post to make the save.
The best chance of the first period fell to Ciera Doherty, as the Warriors forward pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone and flew towards goal. Her first shot was saved and Sammy Ledin’s rebound effort was blocked in front before Colace covered up.
Stott had an early chance in the second period but Widdop kept the pads down to block the close-range effort. Atkinson nearly got on the board with a shorthanded break, but Emma Pereira chased her down and got a solid stick in the way of the shot.
Molly Hurley drew a save with a wrister from the circle and Shanteler had another try from just inside the blue line, as both teams started to be more aggressive getting pucks to the net. MOA came the closest to sneaking a shot through when Emma Garland wrist shot struck the inside of the post and somehow slid along the goal line but not across it.
The Warriors would get a golden opportunity with 3:19 left in the period when a second Franklin penalty gave them 1:34 of five-on-three. The Panthers held firm, not allowing a shot on target while down two skaters. Two minutes later, they grabbed the lead.
Katelyn Brown got behind the MOA defense for a breakaway, but Widdop stood tall to get a shoulder on the shot. The puck caromed off the goalie’s pads then her glove and kicked out to Atkinson who flicked a backhand shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
The lead lasted six minutes into the third period. Reese Pereira, who was the source of the bulk of MOA’s attacking threat, entered the zone with speed, cut inside the right wing circle and fired a shot off Colace and in at the near post, tying the game at 1-1.
“Reese Pereira set the tone with the first shift and didn’t stop,” Bain said. “She played half of the game with no letdown. That’s the best game I’ve ever seen her play. She busted her butt tonight and did it for her teammates.”
Emma Pereira forced Colace into a save with a shot from the blue line and seconds later Atkinson had a shot blocked aside by Widdop. Reese Pereira set up Doherty for a chance in front that was blocked and the puck bounced right back to Pereira but Colace covered the post to keep the rebound out.
“Sometimes, in some situations, I’m very comfortable with that because I’m very confident we’re going to finish and win,” Burke said about trying to grind out a close win, “but tonight with a team like Mansfield/OA going into the third period up 1-0 and that’s nerve-wracking. Our league is so competitive, you never know.”
With 2:31 to play, Franklin snagged the winner. Good pressure in the zone forced Widdop into a save and a scramble right on the edge of the crease. On the third attempt, the puck bounced to Atkinson and she lifted a shot over the prone goalie, putting the Panthers in front.
There was still time for one more chance and unsurprisingly for MOA it fell to Reese Pereira. On a two-on-one, she got the puck on her forehand in the left circle and fired a shot that looked headed for the back of the net only for Colace to flash a quick glove and preserve the win.
“Huge save,” Burke raved. “Gabby is a great goalie. We all know that, she’s done it for years.”
Bain said, “Any of the games in the Hockomock League can go either way and it didn’t go our way tonight. The girls didn’t quit and we just didn’t get a couple bounces and they did.”
Mansfield/Oliver Ames rallied from one goal down in the third period, taking the lead with just 1:41 left, but King Philip answered back only 43 seconds later with the goalie pulled and the two teams skated off with a point apiece following an exciting 2-2 tie. It was the season opener for both teams, who will meet again on the same ice less than 24 hours from when this game finished.
“I didn’t expect anything different,” said King Philip coach Ken Assad about the matchup with MOA. “I knew they were going to be tough beat. Our girls were picking things up day-by-day and I didn’t know how today would go. We still need to pick some things up speed-wise but they did a pretty good job today.”
King Philip had the game’s first good chance when Libby Curran fired a shot through a crowd that had to be knocked aside by MOA goalie Jess Widdop. The visitors came right back with chances of their own. Emma Pereira circled all the way around the zone, behind the net, and back in front where she picked out Julia Muttart for a chance that was saved by Mallory Johnston.
Ella Waryas showed off her stick-handling when she weaved through traffic starting at her own blue line, but her backhand shot was saved. Meg Sherwood set up Kelly Holmes for a chance right in front but Widdop made the stop and then the rebound was flicked just over the bar.
After a scoreless first period, MOA started the second brightly. Reese Pereira had two tries at the near post but Johnston kept her pad on the ice and blocked both efforts.
Just when it looked like MOA was starting to assert control, KP opened the scoring on the other end. Nicole Brady touched the puck past a defender and into the right circle before sending a low pass to the edge of the crease. Kara McWhinnie was in front and got the deflection under the pads of Widdop to make it 1-0.
Almost immediately after going in front, Sydney O’Shea had a chance to double the lead with a wrister from the slot, but Widdop saved. Reese Pereira then had a shot gloved by Johnston and Waryas was denied on the rebound.
KP finished the second with nearly four minutes of power play time and could have gone into the intermission with a bigger lead if not for the MOA goalie. Holmes fired a pass across goal to Avari Maxwell at the post but Widdop got the pad down to make a point-blank save. With less than 30 seconds left in the period, Katarina Precobb slipped a pass to Morgan Cunningham on the back post but Widdop’s blocker was in the way.
“In the first half of that game, she was the game for us,” said MOA coach Roy Bain. “She was the team. She had a blocker save that was huge, a leg save on a rebound. She kept us in it, kept us in striking distance.”
Assad added, “We need to take our opportunities that we created. She’s a great goalie and we’ve just got to be able to pounce on those rebounds. We practiced the power play a lot the last couple days and I’ll give the girls credit they ran it to perfection but we just have to put it in the net.”
It stayed a one-goal game heading to the third and MOA came flying out of the break in search of the tying goal. Emma Pereira had a blast from the point that Johnston parried. KP nearly snuck a second on the break when O’Shea’s pass sprung Jenn Daniels only for Widdop to stand tall again.
With 10:57 on the clock, MOA was level. Megan O’Hara got free at the left point and sent a shot through traffic that somehow found a little seam to get to the net and then ricocheted off the post and in. It was all MOA from that point on. After recording 10 shots on goal through the first period, the Warriors had 12 in the third period alone.
Emma Pereira continued to be the driving force for MOA. The senior defenseman raced down the left side and then turned towards goal, forcing Johnston (20 saves) into a good stop. Then, with 1:41 to play, Pereira cut across the high slot and forced a glove save out of Johnston. The rebound dropped right at the stick of Waryas, who made no mistake and slammed it into the empty net.
“We were able regroup,” Bain said about the strong third period from his team. “It took some time. They didn’t like where they found themselves but they came back like they always do. Kudos to KP, there was no quit in them either.”
MOA thought it had the come from behind victory, but there was still drama left in the game.
KP pulled Johnston for the extra skater. As the clock ticked down under one minute to play, Holmes made her first varsity goal a memorable one. The freshman got loose in the slot and sniped the space above Widdop’s shoulder to salvage a point.
“We’ve got some talented forwards on our team,” Assad said, “and we know we can score when we want to. When we pulled the goalie and put Kelly out there and she got the puck on her stick and she went end-to-end and got a great shot off.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Sometimes goal-scoring is about being in the right place at the right time and for the second time this season Franklin’s Amanda Lewandowski found herself in the right spot to score a game-winning goal against Mansfield/Oliver Ames.
Lewandowski was left alone on the far post to tap in the game-winning, power play goal with just under six minutes remaining in Saturday evening’s league encounter at Pirelli Veterans Arena. Franklin added an empty net goal in the final minute to beat the Warriors 3-1, sweeping the season series, and in the process clinching at least second place in the league and a postseason berth.
“She’s that player that’s always on,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke about Lewandowski. “Every game this season has been tough and always against this team. They always come to play.”
Both meetings between the Warriors and Panthers have been tight, low-scoring, and evenly-matched. In games like that, one lapse can prove decisive and that is what happened to the Warriors on Saturday.
MOA coach Roy Bain said, “To have the game fall on a third period power play when it was 1-1 kind of stinks, but you go on the power play then it’s our job to defend the net and they were able to put it away.”
He added, “When you play Hockomock foes, it’s going to be a tight game, only a goal or two is going to separate the teams, but when you leave Lewandowski unattended…you can’t do that.”
Franklin came out in the first and was the aggressor. The Panthers dominated zone time and the shot total for the majority of the period. Lewandowski had the game’s first good look and many in the rink thought she had the first goal. She split a pair of defenders and fired a wrist shot that MOA goalie Jess Widdop was able to get a piece of and keep it out.
Maggie McCaffrey had the next good chance when she got space in the left circle on a two-on-one and forced a save out of Widdop. The MOA goalie had to come up big 90 seconds later when Lewandowski collected a pass from Lyndsey Atkinson and put a backhand shot on net. McCaffrey then teed up Atkinson but Widdop stopped the first show and Lewandowski’s rebound.
The Warriors picked up the pace as the period wore on and had a couple of chances in the closing minutes. The best chance came with two minutes left when Emma Pereira fired a diagonal pass to Emma Garland at the far post but Gabby Colace was in the right place to make the stop.
After Franklin held the 9-4 lead in shots in the first, MOA came out stronger in the second. Atkinson nearly got the breakthrough when she split a pair of defenders but the puck slid just wide of the net and Pereira had a good scoring chance at the other end, forcing a pad save from from Colace.
Lewandowski opened the scoring with seven minutes left in the second. She crossed the zone from right to left and showed great patience before lifting a backhand shot over the glove hand. However, the lead lasted less than a minute. Melissa Shanteler answered right back for the Warriors on a shot that rang in off the bar.
Franklin continued to put the puck on net, something that Burke said was a priority after the first meeting. Molly Hurley got free of the defense and then deked past Widdop but was unable to put a shot on the open net. After Gianna Cameron kept the puck in at the blue line, McCaffrey got a shot off from the slot and then Lewandowski set up Libby Carter for a one-timer that drew a save out of Widdop.
The game remained tied well into the third period when the Panthers were given their first power play chance. Franklin needed only 14 seconds to make the advantage count. Tina Pisano fired a shot from the point that was deflected in front of goal and fell right to the stick of Lewandowski on the post and she was able to stuff in what turned out to be the game-winner.
“Get the puck on net and get the traffic in front of the net,” said Burke about the message after the first game against MOA. “That’s one thing that I feel we need to remind them every game. It’s the traffic. They don’t have to be pretty, it all counts the same.”
MOA sprung into life almost immediately after falling behind. Kylie O’Keefe fired a shot from the left circle that snuck through Colace’s armpit but trickled wide of the post. Pereira got free in the slot for a golden opportunity but was denied by a sliding block from Gina Vignone. With 3:40 left Pereira drove down the right side and nearly set up O’Keefe at the back post but her tip went just wide.
“No one was going to quit and they all knew what was at stake,” said Bain. “We know that we’re going to get their best for 45 minutes, no doubt about it. We knew we had to bring 45 minutes of continuous checking and we brought, I don’t know, 43? They played their hearts out, they did exactly what we wanted them to do.”
After scoring twice to put Franklin in front, Lewandowski missed a chance to wrap up the points when she sent it wide of the empty net, but the Panthers would finally seal the win when Jordan Dwyer picked out Atkinson in front to make it 3-1 inside the final minute.
“We’ve been in every game even against the big teams,” said Burke. “We could go into tournament and win a couple games and do alright, you know? Even though we’re squeaking in there, we’ll see.”
Franklin (6-8-4, 5-1-1) will have a shot at sharing the league title when it hosts Canton on Wednesday night. Mansfield/Oliver Ames (6-8-1, 3-4-0) will start its final playoff push when it travels to Stoughton.
WALPOLE, Mass. – Goals are at a premium in league games this season and that remained the case when Mansfield/Oliver Ames hosted defending Hockomock champion Franklin at Rodman Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Amanda Lewandowski scored against the run of play in the second period and Gabby Colace made 25 stops to preserve a 1-0 victory for the Panthers in a game in which they were kept on the back foot for the first 30 minutes.
“Definitely a slow start, but we know that every Hockomock League game is going to be like this,” said Frankin coach Margie Burke. “We’re not going to put a lot of pucks on the net this year. We’re going to have to count on good defense and a few lucky breaks.”
The Warriors came flying out of the gates, taking advantage of their team speed to put Franklin on its heels and force the Panthers to defend for long stretches. After Maggie McCaffrey got an early chance on goal for Franklin, MOA started to step on the gas. Tess Luciano started it with a shot from the right circle and Alex Ledin let fly with a slap shot from the high slot that Colace stopped.
With four minutes remaining in the first Reese Pereira managed to get to the front of the net and get a tip from close range. The puck came back around to Ledin and she sent her shot from the slot just wide of the post.
Franklin had been forced back into a shell for much of the period, but did manage a late flurry of chances on the other end. Lewandowski was the catalyst as he forced Jessica Widdop (17 saves) into a stick save from a tight angle and after Gina Vignone threw one at net she forced a blocker stop while falling down.
The hosts were relying on their defensemen to create offensive chances, with Emma Pereira, Julia Muttart, Megan O’Hara, and Melissa Shanteler all getting looks from the point. Vignone and Gianna Cameron led the Franklin defense in trying to clear out any rebounds from the crease.
“They really played well, they blocked shots, they kept their heads up, they didn’t panic against the boards when they were pressured by two players,” MOA coach Roy Bain said about his blue line corps. “I can’t be upset with the way that anyone in that locker room played.”
MOA held an 11-6 edge in shots after the first and the momentum continued following the short breather between periods. Ledin again got a good look at net that went off Colace’s blocker and straight into the air. Cameron cleared before Reese Pereira could get a stick on the loose puck.
“We had a lot of the zone time, we were breaking out as we want to, and their game plan became obvious early, which was to crash the ‘D’ and pinch on the wings,” said Bain. “The goaltender gave up a lot of rebounds but their defense is very responsible in front of their net and stopped us from getting a lot of follow-up chances.”
Libby Carter sent a warning to the Warriors when she got free on a defensive zone turnover only to have Widdop make a big pad save. The breakthrough came three minutes into the second. Vignone flipped a high pass towards goal. Lewandowski managed to bring it down right on the edge of the crease, kicking it to her stick and sliding it past Widdop’s pad for a 1-0 lead.
“That goal tonight, it was a kick, a drop, and a reach,” said Burke. “It was like a soccer or field hockey goal but not an ice hockey goal. I tell them all the time that ugly goals count the same as pretty goals and ugly wins count the same as pretty wins.”
There were more chances for the Warriors to try and even things up in the second, as MOA outshot the Panthers 10-4 in the period and had a four-minute power play, but Lily O’Brien’s shot from the right circle was an example of how Franklin kept the middle of the ice clear.
It was clear that Burke spent the second intermission emphasizing the need to get on the attack, as the third period was by far the best that Franklin played in the offensive zone.
Burke said, “Absolutely, we talked about how everything in the first two periods was a reach and a poke but no body. You have to reach in with your stick and then with your body. They got more physical for sure.”
Lewandowski continued to be a thorn in MOA’s side. She skated behind the net and fired a pass all the way out to Vignone at the point for a shot through traffic that Widdop saved, and then stopped the rebound effort as well. Freshman Shaw Downing had an effort from the blue line that Lewandowski managed to tip in front but Widdop again stayed tall to stop.
The Warriors kept pushing for an equalizing goal, but Franklin continued to hold them at bay. Colace came up with a huge glove save on a blast by Emma Pereira from the edge of the left circle. It was the last good look for the home team.
“It’s tough when you lose by a goal but you can’t be upset that you lost by a goal because every single person played their heart out,” Bain said. “We played great, they were just one goal better.”
Franklin (2-2-1) will face a battle against the first league champion, Canton, on Wednesday. Mansfield/Oliver Ames (3-4-1) will have a short turnaround to try and end its three-game losing streak when it hosts Stoughton on Sunday.
Canton girls hockey used a pair of second period goals and its fourth straight shutout of the season to earn an important 2-0 win over Mansfield/Oliver Ames in a good battle between two talented teams.
“That’s a great team, Roy [Bain] always does a fantastic job with them,” said Canton head coach Dennis Aldrich. “To mold three schools together, they always play us tough. I just can’t give him enough credit and his girls battled every single shift. It was a great win for us.”
After a scoreless back-and-forth first period that saw each team have extended spans of offense, the second period became the defining frame of the game.
It started with defense for the Dogs, who have yet to surrender through 12 periods of play this season. The Warriors killed the final six seconds of a penalty to start the period and junior Alex Ledin came out of the box at the perfect time as MOA broke up ice. Ledin took a feed into the offensive zone and unleashed a wicked slap shot that was turned away from Canton freshman goalie Carolyn Durand (15 saves).
The Warriors had another chance four minutes into the second when junior defenseman Emma Pereira pinched in to win a battle in the corner. After emerging with the puck, Pereira used a nice fake to find her way between two Bulldogs before firing a wrist shot from the right circle, but her hard shot whistled just wide.
The Bulldogs’ defense was under even more pressure after a hooking call put Mansfield/Oliver Ames on the power play with 10:51 to play in the second period. The Warriors’ best chance came when Pereira played a pass through the Canton defense to Ledin, but her backhanded attempt was knocked away by Durand.
“We have a lot of defensemen on this team right now with a lot of experience and a lot of talent, and I honestly believe that you could borderline say all five are all stars,” Aldrich said. “The composure that they show, that’s what we need to calm our freshman goalie down. They’ve allowed her to see shots, and the very few shots she hasn’t seen, she’s worked hard on her angles. And our forwards know who we are, they know they have to help out.”
After killing the penalty off, and thwarting the Warriors’ earlier chances, the Bulldogs picked up the momentum. A high clearance from freshman Olivia Maffeo deflected off the glass at the blue line, eluding an MOA defenseman. That led to an odd-man rush for Canton with junior Maria Femia carrying the puck into the zone with classmate Tess Khoury skating hard to the net.
With the one defenseman shadowing Khoury, Femia decided to take the shot herself and buried it glove side to give Canton a 1-0 lead with 8:30 left in the second.
“What made that play was Tess [Khoury] going hard to the net because the goalie had to respect that,” Aldrich said. “And then there was some space short side high. She didn’t get a point on it but she helped create it. Maria made the right choice too, she’s a smart enough kid to take that. That goalie [Jess Widdop, 24 saves] has improved a lot, she’s worked very hard and she played really well.”
After the goal, the Warriors came back down with a couple of good chances to try the contest. First, Ella Waryas found space and fired a nice shot that was equaled by a nice save from Durand. Two minutes later, Ledin put a shot through traffic that Durand somehow got an eye on and made a glove stop.
And after that, Waryas dropped a pass off for freshman Reese Pereira, but her bid of the short side was kept out by another stop.
With just under two minutes to play in the period, Maffeo picked up possession behind the net and took off up ice. Using her speed, Maffeo raced her way past a pair of Warriors into the attacking zone, skated out wide to her right and rifled a shot upstairs to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead with 1:34 left in the second.
“That second goal was huge for us because, without it, they are just one bounce away,” Aldrich said. “I scouted them before this but they were really quick, they were much quicker on ice level. I was really impressed with their speed. If they get that next one, they have all the momentum so getting that second goal was huge. And Olivia is a special talent, that was big for us.”
Mansfield/Oliver Ames had an early power play chance in the third but couldn’t create a serious scoring chance. Melissa Shanteler connected with Waryas and Pereira for a chance midway through the third but Durand made a pad stop to maintain the lead.
With under two minutes to go, MOA tried to get the puck up ice with the goalie pulled but Maffeo intercepted the pass in the neutral zone and blasted a shot into the empty net to make it 3-0.
“We played very well,” said MOA head coach Roy Bain. “The lesson learned is that when you make mistakes against a good, well-coached team you pay. We paid for it with a couple of goals. We had to dig out a hole which is tough against that team. We had our chances, both goalies made great saves on both ends of the ice. But one or two talents will cost you against an elite team like Canton.
“I thought we had continuous pressure in the first period and they were able to stave off every chance we had, and that kind of staled our momentum a little bit. It’s tough to come out in the third, against a team like that, and try and build momentum when you’re down.”
Canton girls hockey (2-0 Hockomock, 4-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Medfield at the Canton Ice House. Mansfield/Oliver Ames (1-1, 2-1) returns to Rodman Arena as the road team on Thursday against Walpole.