All of the momentum seemed to be with the Warriors.
Then the Indians used their patented quick breakout, and with four Warriors caught up in the offensive zone, Hanover had a 2-on-1 shorthanded breakaway.
Senior Ethan Davis drew the defenseman before delivering a perfectly weighted pass, finding Manning Morris all alone in front and the Hanover junior buried his bid with less than five minutes to go and the third-seeded Indians skated to a 2-1 win over #7 Foxboro in D3 South Semifinal action.
“We were right there though, we were so close getting to the next level,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “I told the guys coming back to use this as motivation. I wouldn’t be surprised if [Hanover] goes all the way which shows how close we were.”
Hanover took the lead with a goal late in the second period but the Warriors spent the third period working hard, creating chances in search of an equalizer.
As the clock ticked past the midway point of the third, it looked like Foxboro’s best chance had come and gone as senior Ronnie MacLellan drew the attention of a pair of defensemen, allowing junior Kirk Leach to latch onto the puck and fire a shot from in close only for Hanover goalie Matt Rowe to make his best stop of the game.
But Foxboro, who was making its first appearance in a sectional semifinal, didn’t dwell and the pressure continued. Another rush was knocked aside but only as far as sophomore defenseman Eoin Reager, who had pinched down into the play. He took his time gaining possession before sniping a shot into the top corner from the left circle, knotting the score at 1-1 with 5:48 to play.
“Eoin’s vision and hands are phenomenal, he just sees the ice so well and knows how to anticipate,” Cedorchuk said. “He ripped off a great shot.”
Less than a minute later, sophomore Matt Grace was brought down as he entered the offensive zone and just like that, Foxboro was staring at a 5-on-4 opportunity for the next two minutes. But it was the Indians, using the shorthanded breakaway, that found the back of the goal next.
“They transition pretty quick, our defense caught got in too low and it created an odd-man rush and that was the difference.
“But I’m just really proud of these guys, this is the most successful season we’ve had. This senior class, the character they have is fantastic, they helped lay down the foundation of where we are at today. We’ve never gone this far, and we know we can go further but it didn’t work out today. They’ve given everything we’ve asked. Espen Reager is a big reason we’re here too, he’s going to be missed.”
Espen Reager and the Foxboro defense was a big reason that the team had an opportunity to tie the game in the third period. He turned away 11 shots in the opening frame and had 13 more saves in the second period.
And in the third, Reager did his best to make sure it stayed a one-goal deficit. Just two minutes into the frame, Morris intercepted a pass and was wide open in the slot in front of goalie but was denied by Reager’s pad stop.
And the Warriors defense did its part too. The Indians had a 2-on-1 chance with 11 minutes to go but freshman Alex Coviello made a decisive sweep of his stick and prevented a shot on goal.
Foxboro still had 1:45 of its power play left after going down 2-1 and came close to tying the game again. Eoin Reager connected with classmate Jack Watts but the redirection was just wide. Senior defenseman Kyle McGinnis rifled a shot from the blue line that Rowe turned aside.
And on a one-timer off the stick of Leach clanked off the post and stayed out.
“They did a good job on the blue line,” Cedorchuk said. “We wanted to get the pucks in deeper. We were creating offense once we got it in and we got some pucks to the net but that bounce or the shot we needed didn’t happen for us.”
After an even scoreless first period, Hanover cashed in with 3:27 to go in the second period. After being denied by Reager and the Foxboro defense on a handful of bids before, the Warriors had some bad luck as a clearance attempt up the boards appeared to hit the ref and stay in.
Hanover was first to the puck and whipped it across ice to Morris, who was all alone in the left circle. He centered the puck back to Nate Delprete, who was streaking towards goal, and his redirect found the back of the net.
Foxboro had a couple of good looks through the first two periods but couldn’t get the puck across the line. Sebastian Ricketts won a battle down low and found Brady Daky in front for a one-timer that was saved early in the first period. And Watts had a pair of chances during a late power play chance but Rowe was up to the task.
And to start the second, Foxboro broke into the attacking zone with a 2-on-1 as Watts found the stick of Leach, but his bid on net was just wide.
Foxboro boys hockey finishes its best season in program history at 12-5-5.
CANTON, Mass. – Scoring against Foxboro is challenging enough with senior goalie Espen Reager between the pipes.
The Lions, entering Sunday afternoon’s contest averaging over five goals a game and fresh off a dominating win over Greater New Bedford that featured 11 goals, were limited to very few goal-scoring opportunities throughout the 45 minutes of the D3 South Quarterfinal matchup with the Warriors.
That was because of the pairing of McGinnis and Pothier made sure to keep every John Paul II attack to the outside. And Eoin Reager and Coviello were quick to clear the path to the goal, if any shot did get through, Espen Reager had no problem seeing it.
The result was a 3-0 upset for the Warriors, scoring once late in the first period and tacking on two more in the final minutes of the third period. With the win, Foxboro advances to the sectional semifinals for the first time in program history.
“It means a lot for the program, it’s huge for our confidence,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “It’s the first time we’ve reached this far in the tournament so we’re looking forward to the opportunity to challenge whoever we play next.
“We didn’t give [John Paul II] much. They were dumping and chasing for the most part, and the shots they had, they were from the outside and Espen is going to stop those 99.9% of the time unless it gets deflected. They didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the scoring zones, maybe a couple of scrambles, but we really kept them to the outside.”
Perhaps nothing summed the game up better than a three-minute span in the third period. With Foxboro holding a 1-0 lead and less than half of the period left, the Lions broke out of their own zone and into the offensive zone.
But only a few strides in, Eoin Reager stepped up and swept the puck free to the boards and went on to finish his check, and the Lions’ possession came up empty.
A minute later, as John Paul II tried to enter the zone again the Warriors’ backcheck broke the play up as sophomore Matt Grace hustled to get back into the play and broke the play up from behind. Once again, the Lions were without a shot at a crucial point in the game.
“They’re keeping a lot of shots to the outside which is making it a lot easier for me to put rebounds into the corner and only face one shot,” said Espen Reager. “The defense is really helping out right now and I’m really liking it. For the most part I was able to see everything, being able to see the puck obviously helps when you’re trying to stop it. The defense was clearing everyone out in front.”
The defensive work paid off as junior forward Kirk Leach used his speed to race into the offensive zone a minute later, getting past a defenseman before lifting a shot on net. JPII goalie Gunnar Stevens got enough of the puck to stop it from going in but the puck sat on the goal line and Foxboro sophomore Jack Watts crashed the net and buried it for a 2-0 lead with 4:53 to play.
“And on top of the defense, the thing we’ve been working on is our backcheck,” Cedorchuk said. “We don’t want to get caught with three guys down low. We had a certain forecheck going to make sure that wasn’t going to happen. We were backchecking the middle of the ice, staying with them. I’m happy with how the guys played, they played hard. All the guys that were in there really contributed for us.”
The Lions only managed one scrum in front that resulted in a shot that went wide, and one final shot from the neutral zone that Reager easily gloved down, after going down 2-0.
Foxboro senior Ronnie MacLellan lifted the puck out of the defensive zone, Leach carried into the attacking zone and laid it off to Watts for the empty net goal with 32 seconds left.
“Our schedule definitely helped prepare us for this,” Espen Reager said. “And we can look and compare the schedule and see who they’ve played. We’ve played some really good competition and we’ve shown we can stay in games with top teams. And that’s been a great confidence booster for us in the tournament.”
The Warriors wasted little time applying pressure on the 17-win Lions. Just a couple minutes in, Stevens was forced to make a big save when Foxboro sophomore Ben Ricketts found junior Ryan Jacobs right in front for a one-timer.
Minutes later, Leach set up MacLellan and his blast beat Stevens but was denied by the inside of the post, the rebound falling right underneath the goalie.
John Paul II went on the power play on a too many men call on the Warriors but only managed one clean look, turned aside by Reager. Sebastian Ricketts won a battle and got a big clearance to help kill the penalty.
Foxboro’s first line of Leach, Watts, and MacLellan had a pair of bids go begging but the Warriors’ second line came up clutch in the final minutes.
Sophomore Matt Grace won a battle in the neutral zone and carried the puck over the blue line. With an open look at goal, Grace ripped a wrist shot that beat Stevens to give Foxboro a 1-0 lead with 1:05 left in the first period.
“It’s huge, it gives us a big lift,” Cedorchuk said of getting scoring from beyond the first line. “Getting that first goal from our second line, from Matt Grace, it just gives us a lot of confidence. And from there, it’s just a matter of time until our powerhouse line gives us something too. We had some really good chances, hit a couple of posts too. We’re happy with how we’re creating offense, we just have to tighten some things up.
“We felt like we were wearing them down, putting pressure on their defense with multiple lines.”
Reager’s biggest test of the second period came five minutes in on a wrist shot from the circle but the goalie reacted well to deny the bid. He came up with another strong save after PJII’s two-on-one failed, instead a strong shot from the blue line through traffic was gobbled up.
Foxboro boys hockey (12-4-5) will take on #3 Hanover (18-3-1) on Thursday at Gallo Arena with the time still to be announced.
The Warriors closed the regular season out in impressive fashion, skating to a dominant 4-1 win over Abington, a team Foxboro could potentially see in the Division 3 South tournament next week.
“I like the way we’re playing right now,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We’re playing well offensive, we’re moving the puck, we’re getting hungry toward the net and we’re finishing our opportunities. And we’re playing well defensively too, keeping guys to the outside so Espen [Reager] can see the puck, picking guys up in front of the net and we’re starting to backcheck better too.
“We’re playing with the team speed we know we have, we’re using it to our advantage. All of our lines are playing well on both ends of the ice. We needed to work on picking guys up in transition coming back, and we’re doing a much better job with that back check.”
After an up-and-down 1-3-1 start to the season, the Warriors have suffered just one loss in the last 14 games (2-0 to Canton), and are undefeated in their last 10 contests (7-0-3). The win over Abington, who entered the contest with the same amount of points as Foxboro, will likely give Foxboro a home game in the tournament without playing in a preliminary game.
While controlling the first period, the Warriors didn’t have anything to show for it, despite a 15-6 edge on shots on goal through the first 15 minutes. Junior Ryan Sullivan had a chance in the opening minutes, batting at a loose puck after Kyle McGinnis had a shot from the blue line saved.
But the biggest moments for the Warriors came shorthanded as Foxboro had to kill a pair of man-advantage chances for the Green Wave. Going on the power play just under five minutes in, Abington had just two saves, both handled by Espen Reager (18 saves). McInnis came up with a big clearance and senior Sebastian Ricketts was a menace on the forecheck, hampering Abington’s efforts to break out.
The Green Wave went back on the power play with 4:13 to play in the first but it was more of the same from the Warriors’ defense. Reager made a strong reactionary stop on a shot from Michael Pineau before Foxboro pushed up ice, Ricketts again setting the tone by applying pressure and drawing a penalty to make it 4-on-4.
It didn’t take long for Foxboro to find the back of the net in the second period. The Warriors went on the power play 12 seconds into the frame and cashed in with just seconds left on the man-advantage. Sophomore Eoin Reager tried to center the puck but it was blocked right back to him and this time he took it himself, tucking it just inside the post for a 1-0 lead with 12:57 left in the period.
“We knew once we got that first goal, it just gave us the momentum and confidence,” Cedorchuk said. “We were outplaying them and the time of possession was in our favor so we just needed to get the first goal. We’re definitely happy with how we’re playing going into the playoffs.”
The lead last just over two minutes as Abington’s Dave McAruther used a nice move to get the puck on his backhand in front and lifted in the tying puck with 10:45 to go in the period.
But the Warriors were quickly back on the attack and took the lead before the end of the period with another power play goal. With sophomore Jack Watts battling in the corner, Leach skated over and picked up puck free, skating towards net and firing a shot into the top corner for a 2-1 lead with 3;48 to play in the second.
“We had a lot of shots yesterday [against East Bridgewater] so we’re creating a lot of offense,” Cedorchuk said. “I like the way the guys are finishing, we’re really playing well behind their defensemen.”
Foxboro nearly tacked on another tally before the end of the period but sophomore Ben Ricketts had a pair of chances denied by Abington’s goalie, and then another chance after a scrum knocked down by a defenseman in front of net.
Leach was the catalyst for the next goal, helping Foxboro take its first two-goal advantage in the game. He pounced on a loose puck and skated behind net, abruptly stopping and changing back to the direction he came from. He picked out Ronnie MacLellan in front, who squeezed his shot five-hole for a 3-1 lead with 11:04 left in the third.
Abington once again went on the power play but the Warriors were up to the task, getting their third kill of the game. Sophomore Matt Grace interrupted a pair of passes, leading to a clearance from McGinnis. The Warriors even had the best scoring chance during the stretch as Leach had a wrist shot denied after a nice clearance from Eoin Reager.
Foxboro tacked on another insurance goal with 4:35 to play as Alex Coviello fired a shot on net that deflected off the goalie and an Abington defenseman, eventually popping free in the slot and Leach was first to it, blasting a shot into the back of the net with the goalie turned around from the scrum.
“We didn’t let them get back into it, didn’t let them get any confidence,” Cedorchuk said. “It was a good third period to see, we definitely keep the pedal to the metal so to speak, just kept coming and put a lot of pressure on them until the end of the game.”
Foxboro boys hockey finished at 10-4-5 and awaits tournament seeding, which will be released on Friday morning.
FOXBORO, Mass. – In the last few weeks, Mansfield has allowed several third period leads to slip away and went home with a point rather than two. On Saturday night at the Foxboro Sports Center, in a game that the Hornets couldn’t afford to lose, they showed the capability to come back from a late deficit too.
Jack Watts twice put Foxboro in front, but both times the lead was wiped out by a goal from Jake Lund, including one with just 3:31 to play, as the teams skated away with a 2-2 tie. The point was enough to secure the Hornets a second-place tie in the Kelley-Rex division and a postseason berth, while the Warriors finished at .500 in league play for the first time.
“We got it done,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “The way we’re playing, it was inevitable that we were going to get a tie. One thing that I’m extremely proud of is the way we battled back. We’ve been on the other end of that, so for us to come back twice was huge, especially in the third period.”
The game was end-to-end right from the opening face-off, with both teams stretching the opposition defense and testing the goaltenders. Mansfield had a 10-5 lead in shots after one, but both teams had their share of good scoring chances.
Foxboro had success with its diagonal outlet passes through the neutral zone, springing its forwards behind the Mansfield defense. Ronnie McLellan got it started just three minutes in with a pass to Kirk Leach, who got a look on the right wing that was saved by Sean McCafferty.
“We got a lot more pucks to the net against a team like this than we have in the past,” explained Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We were happy with our offensive effort tonight. Our defense was moving the puck really quickly tonight and creating chances off that.”
Lund and Chris Jenkins had a nice give-and-go sequence on the other end but the final touch sent the puck wide of the net. Just seconds later, Lund got the puck in the slot, spun quickly and forced a good pad save from Foxboro goalie Espen Reager.
Leach had another go from the right circle that McCafferty blockered aside and then Ben Ierardo set up Jake Quirk for a one-timer that was mishit but nearly looped into the net and trickled just wide of the post with Reager wrong-footed.
The second period was even more action-packed, as the teams combined for 25 shots. Watts would put the Warriors in front with 11:35 left in the period. McLellan flipped a pass to Watts, who saw the puck bounce off his stick and flick into the top corner.
Mansfield kept coming back. Patrick Gormley had his shot from the point saved and then Reager dove to poke the rebound away from Cam Page. Watts nearly connected with Leach on the far post and then Jenkins had a backhander pushed aside.
McCafferty stood tall to deny Watts and Lund thought he tied the game only to have a goal waived off because the net was unmoored. McLellan was set up by Watts for a shot right in front that McCafferty had to be quick to stick out a pad and keep it 1-0.
Down by a goal entering the third period, Mansfield needed a response. The Hornets came out of the second intermission and had the first six shots of the period, peppering Reager in search of an equalizer. It finally came after four minutes when Lund got himself on the edge of the crease and knocked in a rebound that fell to him.
“I think we were playing a little nervous in the first period, guys holding their sticks too tight,” said Balzarini, “but we settled down and not once did we lose focus, even being down twice.”
Cedorchuk noted, “In front of our net, we just didn’t get underneath sticks and lift up sticks, particularly on that first goal.” He did praise his team’s overall defensive effort, adding, “We had a modified trap going, so we’d send one guy in and have our F1 and F2 stay with their wings and they had a hard time breaking it out and find outlets. We were just trying to slow them down.”
The goal seemed to spur the Warriors into action. Leach got free on a breakaway and had to be dragged down at the last second, with Watts getting stoned by McCafferty on a one-timer from the slot. Eoin Reager twice forced saves out of the Mansfield goalie and McLellan had a tip in front go just wide. McCafferty (25 saves) was called on again for a big stop when Leach got another breakaway with seven minutes to play.
“Sean’s been unbelievable,” said Balzarini. “If it wasn’t for him these past few games, I don’t know, I’d be nervous without him. He’s been great.”
With 4:21 to play, Eoin Reager fired a shot from the point that Watts managed to redirect past the goalie to regain the lead. This time, it only took 50 seconds for the Hornets to get back even. After Espen Reager (34 saves) stopped the first two chances, the puck fell to Lund in space and he fired a shot into the back of the net.
Balzarini joked, “He played great, but he’s been struggling in front of net, so I called him out at practice the other day. He actually got the hard hat and he dedicated it to me because I told him he was terrible in front of net. He did a great job.”
Mansfield (5-6-6, 3-1-4) has a week off before facing two games in two days, when they host Shrewsbury and Franklin at the New England Sports Village. Foxboro (7-4-5, 2-2-4) will look to build on its playoff positioning when it hosts Wayland on Wednesday.
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.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro and Foxboro boys hockey teams each exited the New England Sports Village with a point after their division clash on Wednesday night, but understandably, each left wanting more.
For Foxboro, it was 3-1 third period lead that slipped away and a last minute power play that saw the potential game-winning goal clank off the post and stay out that prevented the full two points.
And for North Attleboro, it was a dominating stretch during the second period that saw everything but a goal, as well as a two-goal flurry in the third period that tied the game and swung momentum in their favor but came up short of a game-winner.
Nonetheless, it was a point apiece as the Rocketeers and Warriors finished deadlocked in a 3-3 draw.
“We should be going into that game knowing we can win the game,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “If they won that game, I felt like they would have stolen it from us. Our Achilles heel tonight was they scored two power play goals. We had our chances…but our penalty kill hurt us tonight. Overall I thought our defense played well overall, I thought all five guys played well and moved the puck up ice. And our forwards played well too.”
Foxboro never trailed in the contest, taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, jumping back ahead 2-1 in the second after the Rocketeers tied the game, and pushing the advantage to 3-1early in the third period.
North Attleboro, who was a bit unlucky to go down a goal in the opening period, knotted the score less than a minute into the second and then scored a pair of goals in less than a minute span in the third to tie the game.
Trailing by a goal going into the third, the message from head coach Ben McManama was clear.
“Very simple, it’s no secret…’This will be the most important 15 minutes of our season,’” McManama said. “It’s pretty obvious why, looking at the standings and who we have left on the schedule. I thought they worked hard all game but they brought it to another level in the third period.”
But before North could rally, it faced even more adversity as the Warriors scored less than a minute into the third. Junior Kirk Leach netted a highlight-reel goal, splitting a pair of Rocketeer defenseman and shielding one as curled back in front and popped a shot top shelf to give Foxboro a 3-1 lead with 14:16 to play.
North Attleboro got some life with a power play chance with 11:11 to play and cashed in less than a minute into the man-advantage chance. Tyler Sarro and Dennis Morehouse connected with senior Jack Connolly along the boards in the corner. Connolly curled back to the right circle and fired a wrist shot into the top corner with a screen in front to make it 3-2 on North’s second power play goal of the night.
“The two power play goals were great but the reason they were great is because he didn’t see either shot,” McManama said. “That’s something that we’ve been working on…we’re not just trying to get to the net, we’re trying to take the goalies’ eyes away. So it was refreshing to see it happen.”
With momentum on its side, North Attleboro cashed in less than a minute later. Senior Matt McSweeney drove hard to the net but lost possession. However, the puck popped free right in the middle and senior defenseman Jeff Baker stepped up and blasted a shot through traffic into the back of the net to make it 3-3.
The Rocketeers had a chance to make it three straight with another power play chance at the midway point of the third period but Foxboro goalie Espen Reager came up with a double save on Morehouse and another on a shot from Will Yeomans through traffic.
Leach broke free in the final minute and went on a breakaway that drew a slash and a power play chance for the Warriors with 38 seconds to play. After winning an offensive zone faceoff, Foxboro sophomore Jack Watts bounced on the loose puck, maneuvered past a defenseman and backhanded a shot five-hole but North goalie Nick Digiacomo got just enough of it and it hit off the post and stayed out.
“We tried to keep everything in front of [Reager] but tonight our Achilles heel was our penalty kill,” Cedorchuk said. “I thought we skated with them, we transitioned well with them, and we kept them to the outside for the most part. I really thought we were going to have that one.
“Knowing where we are now and the level of talent we have, we know that we can compete with anyone on our schedule.”
Foxboro opened the scoring just under three minutes into the game with a bit of an unlucky bounce for the Rocketeers. The Warriors were in the midst of a line change and North looked to counter up ice but the puck was inadvertently blocked by the ref and stayed in North’s zone.
Foxboro’s Kyle McGinnis quickly jumped on the puck and connected with Leach, who found some space and blasted a shot into the back of the net.
North had the edge with eight shots on goal in period but Reager was up to the task each time. He first blocked away a chance from Brady Sarro, gloved a shot from McSweeney, and kicked away a rush from Sam Clarke.
The Warriors’ best chance to double its lead came when Watts gloved down a loose puck and found Ronnie MacLellan but his shot was denied by Digiacomo.
The Rocketeers came out flying in the second period and were rewarded with the tying goal less than a minute in. A flurry of chances resulted in a big scrum in front of the net and eventually, it was Connolly that found the puck and the back of the net, Tyler Sarro and Yeomans assisting, to make it 1-1.
But North was whistled for a penalty after Foxboro’s Ryan Jacobs and Josh Bertumen applied pressure. Less than 20 seconds into the man advantage, Leach skated to the right circle and fired a low shot that Watts redirected right in front to regain a 2-1 advantage.
North dominated a solid six-minute stretch in the second period but couldn’t find the back of the net. Clarke, Longa, Connolly, and McSweeney all had good chances come up short. But the Rocketeers were able to ride that momentum into the third and score a pair of goals to tie the game.
“There’s a lot of little things going on this year so you have to look at the positives,” McManama said. “We battled back, we probably played one of our better periods energy wise of the year, and we just have to keep doing that. Every day at practice, we have to keep showing up and getting better. If we compete and work hard, we’re going to be fine.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2019-2020 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview
2018-2019 Record: 10-10-2
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Mark Homer
The Bombardiers will be looking to stretch their postseason streak to three years this season. It showed how deep the Kelley-Rex division was last year that the Bombardiers, who did not fare well in league games, made it to the state tournament.
One reason that Attleboro is hopeful for a spot in the state tournament is the addition of a couple of transfers to the program. Jake Ward joined the program and will apart of the Bombardiers top line alongside senior captain Ryan Morry and junior Aidan Diggin. Both Morry and Diggin have a plethora of experience at the varsity level so expect Attleboro’s top line to be a dangerous one in the offensive zone. Attleboro picked up some needed depth with the addition of junior Owen Dryjowicz and freshman Aidan Dryjowicz, who will join sophomore Nate Parker on the second line.
The third line could see some rotation but will mostly feature junior Austin Blais at the center spot, and senior Liam McDonough, junior Owen Graney, and senior Kyle Miniati on the wings. The Bombardiers will have some experience on the blue line with senior Sam Flynn and junior Zach Pierce holding down two of the top spots, with sophomore Sean Marshall also in the mix. The fourth spot between the top two defensive pairs is still up for grabs in the early going. Sophomores Nick Piazza and Michael Dutremble are battling for minutes in net.
“We hope to improve our record from last year through commitment and hard work collectively, and gain entry to the state tournament,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer.
2018-2019 Record: 25-0-1
2018-2019 Finish: D2 State Champions
Coach: Brian Shuman
Having won nine straight Davenport division titles, Canton is used to having a target on its back as the rest of the Hockomock League tries to knock the Bulldogs from the top. But this year, that target is even bigger than before.
Fresh off one of the best seasons in both program and league history that ended with a D2 State Championship, the Bulldogs will be getting everyone’s best game in and game out. And while Canton certainly graduated some key pieces, like two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Ryan Nolte, the Bulldogs enter this season as not only the favorite for a 10th straight division crown but will certainly be in the mix when it comes to the 2020 D2 State title.
While replacing Nolte will be tough, the Bulldogs have several key forwards back from last year’s championship team. It will all start with senior Johnny Hagan, who was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a sophomore and racked up 51 points with 21 goals and 31 assists on the season. Hagan will have a lot of experience to work with in senior Timmy Kelleher (seven goals, seven assists last regular season), senior Tommy Ghostlaw (five goals, six assists), and senior Chris Lavoie (13 goals, 12 assists). Lavoie could be poised for a breakout year, scoring twice in the season-opening win over Franklin.
Canton also brings back top players along the blue line with Jack Connolly and HockomockSports.com Second Team selection Owen Lehane. Both seniors, Connolly and Lehane not only are among the best defensive players in the league but play a big part of the Canton offense with their shooting. Seniors Ronan O’Mahony and Declan Pfeffer are also experienced defensemen that will see increased roles this year. Canton turns to senior Joe Cammarata to start in between the pipes with junior Liam Polles impressing early on and could push for starting minutes.
“We have a lot of experience returning, but that’s true for a lot of teams across the state,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. If our preseason was any indication, there are a lot of outstanding, talented teams this year that improved greatly in the offseason. We will have our work cut out for us in the Hock and with a tough non-league schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-7-3
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South First Round
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro built upon its 10-season win two years ago with its best season in program history last year, picking up 12 wins including one in the postseason. After posting back-to-back successful seasons, the Warriors are hoping that trend continues.
With a good amount of returners back this year, the Warriors will be in good position to compete in the Hockomock League and will be aiming to make a deeper run into the state tournament behind a beefed-up schedule. One strength for Foxboro this year will be its offense with its two top regular season point producers back in junior Kirk Leach (15 goals, 20 assists) and senior Ronnie MacLellan (14 goals, 20 assists). That duo provided the Warriors with a lot of its offense last season and will be one of the top returning duos this season. Senior Sebastian Ricketts brings a vast amount of experience to the offense while sophomore Jack Watts (10 goals, four assists) will be looking to build on an impressive freshman year. Brady Daly, Eoin Reager, Josh Bertuman, Ryan Jacobs and Ben Ricketts will provide needed depth offensively.
Defensively it all starts with senior goalie Espen Reager, the defending Hockomock League MVP back after a strong junior season between the pipes for the Warriors. Reager has the ability to keep his team in teams, and he showed last year that he can help steal a game like he did against Mansfield. In front of Reager, senior Kyle McGinnis is one of the more experienced defensemen in the league and will be the anchor of the blue line group for Foxboro. Freshman Alex Coviello has impressed early on and will be a key piece of the defense.
“Our strength on offense this season will be our depth and overall team speed,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We have more depth on offense than we’ve ever had. We’re looking forward to this season, with a lot of depth up front, excellent team speed and a great goalie we feel we can compete with any team on our schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-10-4
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final
Coach: Anthony Sarno
A new chapter begins in Franklin boys hockey with Anthony Sarno taking over on the bench after longtime Panther coach Chris Spillane stepped down following last season. While the Panthers might have a bit of a new look, expectations are still high inside Pirelli for the defending Kelley-Rex champs.
Sarno is hoping that momentum will carry over from the Panthers’ impressive playoff run from a year ago when Franklin upset Mansfield in overtime and knocked off Catholic Memorial in the semifinals. But there won’t be any nights off for Franklin with a loaded schedule that features Malden Catholic, Pope Francis, and a loaded Mt. Hope tournament — and that’s just December.
“It will be a work in progress and we will look to develop a solid team chemistry with a relentless work ethic, staying true to consistency, and discipline in an environment where effort and attitude is paramount, and not up for discussion,” Sarno said.
Up front, the Panthers will be leaning on seniors Shane McCaffrey, Kevin O’Rielly, and Shea Hurley to lead the way. McCaffrey is the team’s top scorer returning from a year ago so it will be vital for new players to step up and contribute. Juniors Conor O’Neil and Declan Lovett are also going to be important pieces to the Panthers’ offense. Senior Ray Ivers returns between the pipes are stepping in last season and playing well. In front of Ivers, Franklin will have two of the best defensemen in the league with senior Tom Tasker, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last year, and junior Joe LeBlanc, who had a breakout sophomore campaign.
2018-2019 Record: 10-11-0
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Paul Carlow
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back seasons, the Warriors have a chance to end that drought in 2020 behind an experienced group of players after losing just five players to graduation.
Head coach Paul Carlow says this is the most experienced group he’s had at his disposal since taking over behind the Warriors’ bench in 2015. There are nine seniors back this year and eight juniors so King Philip certainly boasts a lot of depth, and players that have played plenty of minutes at the varsity level. It starts with senior captain Chris Daniels, senior assistant captain Joe Boselli, and senior assistant captain Jack Coulter. All three have skated plenty of minutes for Carlow over the past couple of years and will be relied upon for their leadership.
Daniels is a crafty forward that scored five goals and had six assists while Coulter is the top returning scorer back this year after scoring six goals and recording nine assists a year ago. Seniors Bryan Lucente and Noah Ray will also be in the mix offensively alongside Daniels, Coulter, and Boselli. The Warriors will also rely on a handful of juniors to chip in offensively including forward Conor Cooke. Cooke had a terrific season with 10 goals and four assists and could be poised for a breakout year.
Defensively, there is a lot of veterans along the blue line for King Philip. Seniors Kyle Gray and Ethan McGuire are joined by junior Rocco Bianculli, a Hockomock League All Star and a HocomockSports.com All Underclassman selection a year ago. Gray is a three-year player that provides physicality while Bianculli is one of the top scoring defensemen in the entire league, scoring seven goals and adding seven assists during his sophomore season. Seniors Nate Ihley and Jesper Makudera will battle for minutes in net.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” Carlow said. “On top of the seniors and juniors, we also have a strong sophomore class competing for spots. We have speed up front, we’re strong on the back end, and we have two good goalies. I’m looking forward to working with this group and fully expect them to make the tournament.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-6-3
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Mike Balzarini
Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini was a little concerned about his team’s depth coming into the season after graduating nine players and losing two top players to prep school. But after tryouts and a strong preseason, Balzarini believes this year’s squad will be just as deep as last year’ 14-win squad.
Losing a talented senior class hurts, and with Matt Copponi (eight goals, 28 assists, 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year) and Brian Grant (HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team) off to prep schools, the Hornets will need new faces to step up and contribute on both ends of the ice. But Balzarini and the Hornets have something that none of the other Hockomock teams have and that’s senior goalie Sean McCafferty. Now in his fourth year starting, McCafferty is a game-changer. Even if the Hornets aren’t having their best games, they’ll still likely have a chance to win because of McCafferty.
In front of McCafferty, the Hornets will turn to senior Joseph Troiano to anchor the defensive unit. He will be joined by Jack Gormley and Conor Benoit, both of whom picked up valuable minutes last season and should help Mansfield be one of the stingiest defensive groups. Offensively, the Hornets do get a boost with the return of senior forward Chris Jenkins. Jenkins was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team in 2017 after he had 11 goals and 10 assists as a freshman. He will join veterans Jake Lund and Kevin Belanger to form a talented first line for the Hornets. Cam Paige, Liam Anastasia, and Ben Ierardo will team up on Mansfield’s second line.
“We have a little bit of a sour taste after how last year ended,” Balzarini said. “We want to get over that hurdle of the first round of the playoffs. This group really plays well together, they play as a team. They’ve gelled nicely since the first day of tryouts.”
2018-2019 Record: 11-9-2
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro will be leaning on its defense in order to get back to the tournament again this season. With the defending state champs in Canton as well as an improved Foxboro squad, the Rocketeers have their hands full with a difficult three-team Davenport division.
Seniors Jake McNeany, Will Yeomans, Jeff Baker, and junior Charlie Connolly are all back this season to give North Attleboro a veteran defensive group. With a handful of experienced players leading the way defensively, it should make the transition from four-year starting goalie Ryan Warren a bit smoother. Another reason that transition should go smoothly is senior goalie Nick Digiacomo, who has been impressive in the preseason so far this year.
Senior Dennis Morehouse is back after a breakout junior campaign and will be in the mix as one of the top players in the Hockomock League this season. Morehouse was second on the team in points last year with 15 goals and four assists and is the top returning scorer back for the Rocketeers. Senior Jack Connolly is another experienced forward that will be a key piece of the offense while junior Tyler Sarro will look to build upon a solid sophomore season.
“For us to be successful, we need to be discipline and get scoring from our second and third lines,” said North Attleboro coach Ben McManama. “We are not as big as we were in years past so we need to play tough and physical.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9-1
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Zucarelli
There is a new face at the helm of the Tigers this season, but its a familiar one. Mike Zucarelli takes over after serving as an assistant coach and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
Replacing one of the league’s top forwards in Brett Williams won’t be easy, but the Tigers boast experienced returners at every position on the ice. Senior Owen Connor is back for his third year in between the pipes. He took a big jump from his sophomore to junior year and that Zucarelli expects that trend to continue for the 2019-2020 season. In front of Connor, OA returns senior defensemen Ryan Gottwald and Matt Nosalek. Gottwald, one of the team’s two captains, had an impressive junior year and will be the leader of the defensive group this season.
Offensively, there will be some familiar faces including senior captain Hunter Costello. Costello, who scored nine goals and had 15 assists in the regular season a year ago, is joined by fellow returners Jake Gottwald, Duncan Pereira, and Brad Powers. All four of those seniors will be vital in the attack while juniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro should see expanded roles this year.
“We are going to be a gritty, hardworking team this year,” Zucarelli said, citing a preseason scrimmage with Milton. “We held our own during the first as Milton took it to us. We came out flying in the second, tied up the game and took the momentum into the third period with a huge penalty kill. The overall play of the team after one week was great to see.”
2018-2019 Record: 8-12-1
2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kris Metea
The Tigers enter the season with a relatively young squad but the goal is to integrate all of the youth with the returners and make a push for the state tournament by the end of the season.
Junior Mike Albert will be the main guy on the offensive end. Albert, who scored 10 goals and added 19 assists last season, was the leading scorer for the Tigers as a sophomore and is looking to take the next step this year. Junior Steve Roderick and sophomores Jack DeMoura and Michael Lucier are all new to the program and should be in the mix right away to help bolster the Taunton attack.
Head coach Kris Metea is also counting on some of the younger players to have breakout seasons, including sophomores Nathan Fernandes, Loren Corcoran, and Evan Perreira. On the defensive side, junior Brady Nichols will anchor the blue line unit. Although just a junior, Nichols has a wealth of varsity experience and the Tigers will lean on him to guide a young defensive core. Senior Andrew Gomes and junior Sean Bunker will battle for minutes in net.
“We have a group of young players that we will look to continue to develop over the course of the season,” Metea said. “The key to our success will be the meshing of the new players with the development of young players. The sky’s the limit for this group with continued commitment.”
The Warriors had a big advantage in attacking zone time, won the majority of the puck battles, and owned a 16-1 lead in shots on goal. But Foxboro was only able to cash in once, and an unlucky deflection allowed the Monarchs to score on their lone shot.
“It was a little frustrating and a little nerve-wracking,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “[The Mashpee/Monomoy goal] was a tough bounce, hit off the defenseman’s stick, a tough break. But we felt like it was just a matter of time until we tilted the ice.”
In fact, it look less than a minute for the Warriors to tilt the ice. The 13th-seeded Warriors scored 56 seconds into the second period, added a second midway through the period, and scored two more in the final period to collect a 5-1 decision over the 20th-seeded Monarchs.
Foxboro finished with a 54-7 in shots on goal, advancing to the D3 South First Round to take on #4 Bourne.
The Warriors took their first lead less than five minutes into the game, its top line cashing in on one of its first shifts of the game. Senior Brendan Tully dropped the puck off for junior Ronnie MacLellan, who then slid a puck across the ice from left to right, finding sophomore Kirk Leach for an easy tap in for a 1-0 lead.
At first, it looked like Foxboro was poised to skate away with a big win but the Warriors weren’t able to solve Mashpee/Monomoy goalie Jack Daigneault for the rest of the period, despite a couple of good chances.
It took the Monarchs nearly 10 minutes to register their first shot on goal, but were able to tie the game. Lucas Tambolleo fired a wrist shot from the right circle, but it deflected off a Foxboro defenseman’s stick and up into the roof of the goal to make it 1-1.
“We had opportunities to finish more in the first period,” Cedorchuk said. “We needed to get more hungry around the net. We were getting pucks to the net, sticks were on the ice. It was a good offensive performance that we needed, that we were looking for going into this game.
“We just had to finish, and that’s what we did in the second and third periods.”
Foxboro repeated its dominance in the second period but found of the back of the net twice. The Warriors scored on their second trip into the offensive zone. Tully was the catalyst once again, this time weaving between a pair of Monarch defensemen before firing a low wrist shot. Daigneault got his right pad to the puck, kicking it back out but the juicy rebound went right to the stick of Leach and he buried his chance with a one-timer to make it 2-0.
“We knew we needed to get that next goal and we needed to get it quickly,” Cedorchuk said. “Obviously we wanted the next goal but we needed to get it in the first couple of minutes just to get some confidence, to know we can put the puck in the net. The opportunities were going to be there but we needed to finish, and we needed to do it quickly.”
The Warriors nearly added to their lead just a minute later when Sebastian Ricketts drilled the crossbar with a shot, but the puck stayed out. While Foxboro couldn’t convert on its power play, the Warriors scored just seconds after the extra man opportunity expired.
Leach carried the puck into the offensive zone along the left side, dropping it behind for freshman Jack Watts. Watts blasted a shot that was tipped by MacLellan, redirecting the puck through the five-hole. Leach came flying around the goal and pounced on the loose puck, batting it in to complete his hat trick to make it 3-1.
“He had a heck of a game,” Cedorchuk said of Leach. “We talked about him getting his stick on the ice and finishing off shots, finishing off rebounds and that’s what he did. We were forechecking hard, we were pressuring their defense. They had a hard time getting it out of the zone, I was happy with the way we played. Now we just have to step up the intensity more for the next one.”
Leach nearly had a fourth late in the second period. Tully thwarted a two-on-one chance for the Monarchs on the defensive end, and Leach won a battle at the blue line to get a partial breakaway but Daigneault stood tall to keep it 3-1.
Similar to the second period, Foxboro got off to an ideal start in the third period. It took just 12 seconds for the Warriors to add to their lead.
Freshman Matt Tully found MacLellan streaking into the offensive zone, and the junior blasted a slap shot from the left circle that beat Daigneault glove side upstairs for a 4-1 lead.
Mashpee/Monomoy had their best chance of the game just over five minutes into the third period when Noah Tambolleo capitalized on a Foxboro turnover at the blue line and went in alone. Foxboro goalie Espen Reager read it the entire way and made a glove save to keep the 4-1 advantage.
Watts got his second point of the game, this time firing a wrist shot from the right circle for a goal to make it 5-1 with six minutes left in the game.
Foxboro boys hockey (12-6-3) will take on Bourne (14-5-1) on Friday, March 1st at Gallo Ice Arena at 8:00PM.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview
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 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.”