It wasn’t enough in the playoffs either.
After finishing level in their Hockomock League showdown back in January, the Panthers and Hornets were deadlocked at 2-2 through 45 minutes in their D1 South Quarterfinal clash.
Franklin senior Scott Elliott emerged as the hero, scoring the game-winning goal with just 1:24 to go in the four-on-four overtime period, giving the 11th-seeded Panthers a 3-2 win over third-seeded Mansfield.
“There was a battle behind the net and I was able to get their guy off of me,” Elliott said. “I saw the goalie go the other so I just tried to spin around the other way and go five-hole it worked.
Defensemen Cam Cassella and Tom Tasker had low shots denied by Mansfield junior goalie Sean McCafferty (25 saves) just seconds apart. Then McCafferty prolonged the game with back-to-back stops, denying Shane McCaffrey with a point-blank pad stop, and then turning away a bid from Colin Hedvig.
The Panthers finally solved McCafferty in the overtime period when Elliott took a feed from CJ Spillane and was able to shake off a defenseman behind the net. Elliott faked to wrap around to the left but instead went back to his right, stuffing a backhand attempt in for the winner.
“Our guys had an extra gear in that overtime,” said Franklin head coach Chris Spillane. “Shane McCaffrey played a great game, Scotty Elliott was outstanding as well. It was a great hockey move to win a game, he’s played like that all year long for us so it was good for him to get that.
“We had a really slow start [to the season], we didn’t have any confidence and we were inconsistent. About midway through the season, they started believing in themselves. I think playing our strength of schedule from start to finish really helps us when we get here for sure.”
After a back-and-forth start to the game, the anthers were able to grab the lead just over the midway point of the first. Tasker whipped a clearance up the right side of the ice, and the puck eluded the Hornet defenseman at the blue line, leading to a two-on-one chance for the Panthers.
McCaffrey jumped on the puck and carried it into the offensive zone, tossing a pass to senior Joey Lizotte. The past was a little behind Lizotte, forcing him to pivot to gain possession, but it didn’t stop him from returning the pass back to McCaffrey, using a nifty backward pass. McCaffrey hit a one-timer from in close to put Franklin up 1-0.
Mansfield responded less than four minutes into the second period to tie the game. Freshman Brian Grant made a nice play at the blue line to prevent a Panther clearance and batted it down the walls to Garland. Garland turned a whipped a low shot towards that that found its way in to make it 1-1 with 11:15 left in the second.
After a clean first period, the Panthers were plagued by penalties in the second period and the ice tilted in favor of the Hornets.
Mansfield didn’t convert on their first power play chance when the Hornets were whistled for a hook with 10:10 to go in the middle period, but the Hornets did cash on when given a second opportunity five minutes later.
Jake Lund had a chance right on front that was denied but the Hornets continued to apply pressure. Grant fired two straight shots from the blue line that were over the net, but his third chance about a foot off the ice and sophomore Matt Copponi redirected the puck as he skated across the middle, giving Mansfield a 2-1 lead with 4:10 to go in the second.
The Hornets went on the power play for the third time in the period with 2:40 left but couldn’t increase their lead.
Franklin knotted the score at 2-2 with its first real chance of the final period. Kyle Hedvig carried the puck behind the goal before dropping the puck in front for a one-timer from Lizotte to tie the game with 9:41 to play in the third.
“It was a hell of a game, it really was,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini. “We were tired there in overtime, maybe too long of a shift. We tried a couple of different looks but with that long change, it was tough. But I thought we played well, we killed off that late penalty, we had a couple of chances shorthanded, and we seemed to have the momentum, but in the end we just didn’t have enough.
“I thought we responded well after they tied it. We’ve been in those situations before, both ahead and behind. It was a back and forth game and when it came down to it, whoever capitalized first was going to win.”
McCaffrey nearly put the Panthers ahead at the midway point of the third. On two occasions, the junior took the puck the length of the ice, beating a pair of Hornet defensemen on the first trip but his wrist shot was turned away.
Mansfield took its first penalty of the game with 3:03 left on an interference call, but the Hornets were able to prevent Franklin from going ahead in regulation.
Brad Grant blocked a shot early, leading to a clearance from Lund. McCafferty came up with three straight saves, including one on a blast from Tasker. After a shot from Cassella, Kevin Belanger came up with back-to-back clearances to kill time.
The Hornets earned an offensive zone faceoff with four seconds left in the game but Spillane won it straight back, and regulation came to a close.
In overtime, the Panthers had the edge on experience after playing in similar situations twice during its holiday tournament at Mount St. Charles. Along with the experience from in-season, Franklin has practiced for overtime since the beginning of the tournament, including getting the defense involved in the offense.
“That was part of practice, we’ve worked on it the last couple of practices, engaging our defensemen,” Spillane said. “Forget about the five-on-five hockey, it’s an open ice mentality…there are no defensemen, there are no forwards. As long as you have coverage and space, take it. We don’t practice it a lot but we know when you get to the tournament there’s a chance of 4-on-4 or 3-on-3, so it paid off.”
Today’s games are listed below.
Attleboro, 1 vs. Bishop Feehan, 5 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game.
Canton, 8 vs. Smithfield (R.I.), 1 – Final
Foxboro, 8 @ Tri-County, 2 – Final – Foxboro senior Brendan Tully recorded five points and Ronnie MacLellan added four points in a win on the road. Tully scored a hat trick and added two assists, MacLellan had three assists and a goal, and Brady Daly, Matt Tully, Tanner Kennedy, and John Watts each scored once for the Warriors.
Mansfield, 9 vs. Brockton, 3 – Final – Mansfield scored three goals in the second period to go ahead 5-2 and added four goals in the third period to secure the win over the visiting Boxers. Sophomore Matt Copponi had a pair of goals and three assists, senior Chris Copponi scored once and had three assists, senior Jack Garland scored twice and had one helper, and junior Kevin Belanger finished with a goal and assist for the Hornets.
Stoughton, 1 @ Taunton, 5 – Final – Taunton skated to its second win of the season over the Black Knights behind multi-point games from Mike Albert, Dylan Nichols, Cam Sneyd, and Nathan Fernandes. Albert had a goal and two assists, Nichols and Sneyd each scored once and added an assist, and Fernandes finished with two helpers. Seniors Jack Patneaude and Nick Vandermeel each had assists in the win and freshman Ethan Ross added a goal.
Canton, 0 @ Franklin, 0 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – The top two teams in the Hockomock skated to a scoreless tie, but not for a lack of chances. Both defenses played strong and each team had just one power play: Franklin late in the third period and Canton for the final 30 seconds of the game. Franklin goalie Gabby Colace made 16 saves for the shutout. “She played outstanding tonight, she made a couple of saves that really kept us in the game,” said Franklin coach Margie Burke. Canton netminder Ava Pacitti earned the shutout with 14 saves. “Ava has come so far, she barely saw any time last year and she’s just playing incredible hockey,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “The girls rally around her. That was the best high school hockey game I’ve been involved this year.”
King Philip, 1 @ Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 2 – Final – MOA’s Skyler Sharfman took the puck the length of the ice before depositing her a shot into the back of the net early in the third period to give the Warriors a win at home. MOA went up 1-0 on a power play goal in the second period when Kenzi Fraser converted a chance with assists going to Isabelle Shanteler and Emma Pereira. KP responded with a power play goal off the stick of Alli Meehan. Sharfman scored the game-winner with 11:17 left in the third period.
North Attleboro, 30 @ Franklin, 34 – Final
Taunton, 25 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 42 – Final – James Collins (106), Christina Balmain (152), Candido Santos (170), Jackson Wellman (182), and Avery Justa (220) picked up wins for Taunton but the Tigers suffered a setback to Coyle/Bristol Plymouth.
Oliver Ames, 135.6 @ Franklin, 133.8 – Final
Today’s games are listed below.
Franklin, 1 vs. Hingham, 3 – Final – Sophomore Joe LeBlanc gave the Panthers the lead in the first period but Hingham scored three unanswered goals to secure the win. The Harbormen scored with 16 seconds left in the first to tie the game 1-1, then added two more tallies in the second period. Ray Ivers made 20 saves in net for Franklin.
King Philip, 1 @ Norwood, 4 – Final – King Philip scored the equalizer in the second period to knot the score at 1-1 but Norwood grabbed the lead back minutes later and added two more in the third period to get the two points. Joe Boselli scored with 10 minutes left in the second period on an assist from Jack Coulter. James Lewis had 17 saves in goal.
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Mansfield, 3 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. – The teams traded goals back-and-forth but Oliver Ames netted two goals in the final 10 minutes of play to get the win. Brett Williams gave OA the lead but less than a minute later, Mansfield’s Brad Grant tied the game. In the second period, Brian Grant put the Hornets ahead on a feed from Brad Grant but OA responded in two minutes as freshman Bryan Kearns buried a rebound off Max Ward’s shot. Williams put the Tigers up 3-2 with a power play goal late in the second but Mansfield sophomore Matty Copponi made it 3-3 with a goal early in the third. Colin Bourne scored the game-winning goal with 8:58 left in the game after Sean McCafferty stopped Jake Gottwald’s chance. Kearns added an empty net goal with just over a minute left. Owen Connor had 22 saves for the Tigers.
Sharon @ King Philip, 8:00
Mansfield @ North Attleboro, 8:00
Today’s games are listed below.
Attleboro, 14 @ East Boston, 0 – Final
Canton, 6 vs. Bishop Feehan, 0 – Final
Franklin, 3 vs. St. Mary’s (Lynn), 1 – Final – Franklin junior goalie Ray Ivers made 29 saves to lead the Panthers to a huge win over highly ranked St. Mary’s of Lynn, who is considered to be a top 10 team in the state by most rankings. Franklin took a 1-0 lead in the first on a goal midway through the period from Kyle Hedvig. Brendan Sicchio made it 2-0 on a redirect of Cam Cassella’s shot with under five minutes in the second period. Cassella then scored himself, blasting in a shot early in the third period to make it 3-0.
Mansfield, 6 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip raced out to a 3-0 lead less than five minutes into the game but Mansfield scored six unanswered over the final 40 minutes of the game to shock the Warriors. Brendan Shandley, Conor Cooke (from Ryan Fitzpatrick), and Rocco Bianculli (from Aidan Boulger) scored each scored within a four minute span to open the game to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead. But Mansfield scored three goals in a matter of two mintues to tie the game before the end of the first period. Matty Copponi (from Brian Grant and Brad Grant), Kevin Belanger (from Brian and Brad Grant), and Chris Copponi (from Matty Copponi) scored first period goals to level the scoring. After a scoreless second, Mansfield broke the tie with just over two minutes left in the third period. Jake Lund made it 4-3 on the power play, assisted by Matty Copponi and Brad Grant. Coleman O’Brien (from Belanger) increased the lead with a goal with 1:27 left before Chris Copponi (from O’Brien) iced it with an empty net goal in the final seconds.
North Attleboro, 5 vs. Beverly, 2 – Final
Stoughton, 0 vs. Old Rochester, 5 – Final
Taunton, 6 @ Cardinal Spellman, 2 – Final – Taunton senior Jack Patneaude scored a hat trick and junior Mike Albert recorded four points as the Tigers scored a win on the road. Albert had a pair of goals and a pair of assists for Taunton while Cam Sneyd added a goal and two assists, Andrew Carter had three helpers, and Dylan Nichols finished with two assists. Andrew Gomes made 14 saves in net for the win.
King Philip, 0 @ Canton, 5 – Final – After a scoreless first period, Canton senior Maggie Malloy scored two of her three goals in the second period to give the Bulldogs a lead it never relinquished. Canton scored three goals in the final period, including a goal and assist from Malloy.
Stoughton, 0 @ Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 8 – Final
D1 State Dual Meet (Franklin, Mansfield) – Franklin and Mansfield each won their first matches of the day but lost in the second round. The Panthers took down Needham (55-13) and the Hornets pinned down BC High (53-18) to advance to the quarterfinals. Mansfield lost to top-seeded St. John’s Prep 42-27 and Franklin bowed out with a 30-25 setback to West Springfield. In the fifth place match, Franklin beat Mansfield (36-26) with pins from Jordan Carlucci (132), Dylan Nawn (195), and Matt Leofanti (220). Mansfield’s CJ Glaropoulos (152) had a pin in the loss to the Panthers.
D2 State Dual Meet (North Attleboro, Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames scored a pair of upset wins to advance to the semifinals and finished third overall, the program’s best showing at the state dual meet. The Tigers upset #11 North Andover (38-35) in the opening round and then shocked #3 Masconomet (11th in the state) with a 33-33 (tiebreaker, coach misconduct on Masco). OA’s Max Anderson (220) and Stavros Constantinous (113) had big wins to help the Tigers knock off Masco. The Tigers lost to #2 Plymouth South (45-27) in the semifinals. North Attleboro pinned down wins over Arlington (52-15) and Dracut (43-20) but lost to top-seeded Central Catholic in the semifinal (44-27). OA beat North Attleboro (1-0) in the consolation match. For OA, Nick McGovern, Joey Savino, and Dean Pacino each went 3-0.
D3 State Dual Meet (Foxboro)
Canton Quad (Canton) – Canton went 1-2 on the day, opening with a win over Scituate (42-27) but dropped its second two matches, falling to New Bedford (42-18) and Hingham (43-24).
Franklin County Tech Tournament (King Philip), 10:00
Bridgewater-Raynham Super Quad (Sharon, Stoughton) – Sharon shined at the B-R super quad, going 4-0 and picking up the program’s 350th win overall. The Eagles had wins over the hosts (61-13), Silver Lake (61-16), Duxbury (54-15), and Southeastern (27-12). Max Pozner and Tyler Freedman both went 4-0 for Sharon while Tyler Chaston, Jon Wald, and Alex Bolt each posted 3-0 records for the day.
Braintree Quad (Taunton) – Taunton first year wrestler James Collins (106) earned a first round pin to help the Tigers clinch a win over Nauset, giving Taunton its second win of the day. The Tigers went 1-2, losing to Braintree (52-0) but bounced back to record wins over Cambridge (33-0) and Nauset (45-34). Other winners for Taunton included Ben Mandeville (113, pin), Tyler Lima (120, pin), Wansly Perceval (126, pin), Jackson Mandeville (138, pin), Christian Balmain (152, two pins), Joseph Kazlauskas (160, pin), Jackson Wellman (182), Nico Sallaway (195, pin), and Mason Frank (285, pin).
Hockomock Girls Swim Championships – Click here for a recap and photo gallery from this meet.
Attleboro, 165.8 vs. Lowell, 137.7 – Final – Attleboro sophomore Andrae Butler set a new school record by scoring a 9.5 on the floor in the Bombardiers’ win.
Such was the case on Wednesday evening, as King Philip scored just over two minutes into the game but the Mansfield boys hockey team responded in impressive fashion, eventually skating away with a 6-3 decision on the back of four power play goals.
King Philip capitalized on a soft turnover early on to take the lead but the goal only seemed to spark Mansfield as the Hornets tacked on three goals over the final eight minutes of the period to seize a 3-1 lead, an advantage it never surrendered.
“I thought the first goal woke us up, absolutely,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini said. “We’ve been in that situation before against Taunton and responded well. It’s been taking us a little bit to get going in the first but I’m proud of the way we battled back.
“We started off a little flat footed but I thought we battled back and had a tremendous finish to the first period. The second period was not conducive of how we want to play. We won the third period but the penalties kind of took away from the win, not enough discipline.”
KP sophomore Paul McDonald ended up with the puck on his stick after the turnover, carried towards goal and slid a pass across where sophomore Conor Cooke just beat the defenseman’s stick to one-time it into the goal for a 1-0 Warrior lead 2:08 into the game.
From there, the period belonged to the Hornets. On the second power play chance of the frame, the Hornets cashed in. Sophomore Matty Copponi did the majority of the work down low before his shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and stayed out. However, senior Coleman O’Brien was right there to bang the loose puck in to tie it 1-1.
The momentum stayed with Mansfield and the home team cashed in just a minute later. This time, senior Jack Garland won possession behind the net and tossed the puck in front to a wide open Jake Lund, and the senior bored it for a 2-1 advantage.
The teams traded genuine scoring chances over the next two minutes with Mansfield senior Chris Copponi being turned away from KP goalie James Lewis (28 saves) and KP junior Ethan McGuire taking a pass from Luke D’Amico, but the shot was just over the net.
Mansfield added to its advantage with 3:40 left in the period as Brad Grant drew a defenseman to the sideboards, took a hit while finding Garland in the slot for a one-timer and a 3-1 lead.
KP had two good chances in the final minute on a power play but both Rocco Bianculli (slap shot) and Brendan Shandley (wrist shot) were turned away by Mansfield junior goalie Sean McCafferty (24 saves).
After killing an early Hornet power play in the second, King Philip went on a 5-on-4 for five minutes. While having a couple of chances with the man-advantage, mainly Shandley’s low shot hitting off the post, the Warriors really took control when the Hornets were whistled for another penalty.
On the 5-on-3, Bianculli delivered a perfectly weighted pass as he stepped in from the point across the ice to an open Ryan Fitzpatrick for a one-timer, bringing KP within a goal at 3-2.
But the Warriors were done in by another penalty, this time an interference call while in possession in the attacking end. Mansfield needed just 20 seconds to cash in for its second power play goal, as Matty Copponi worked his way from the corner to in front of goal and got just enough on his backhand for the puck to cross and Mansfield took a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
“It’s one of the things we’ve struggled with but we’ve been working on [the power play] lately in practice,” Balzarini said. “The guys are keeping it simple which is good. The results are there. If we just stick to what the game plan is, we’ll get what we want. We were four for six on the power play so that was good, and our penalty kill was pretty good too.”
A penalty-filled third period saw three goals, the first two adding onto Mansfield’s lead. After KP couldn’t convert on a man-advantage opportunity early on, the Warriors were whistled for a cross check with 5:53 to go. A minute into the power play. KP was hit with another penalty, and the Hornets went on a 5-on-3 power play.
Mansfield quick cashed in with Grant firing a hard wrist shot from a tight angle into the back of the net. Just before his shot, KP was hit with another penalty so Mansfield’s two-man advantage continued after the goal. Just before one penalty expired, Garland took a feed from Kevin Belanger to make it 6-2.
“We can’t stay out of the penalty box, no discipline,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “The same thing happened against North too. Playing at full strength, I thought we were every bit as good as [Mansfield]. At the end of the day, playing down a man, playing 5-on-3, you can’t win hockey games like that. Until we get it figured out, and play five-on-five….the league is too tough. If you take too many penalties, you won’t win.
“I thought the first half of the first period was good hockey for both teams. Then it just turned into a mess, no one wants to play that type of hockey.”
Mansfield was hit with three penalties in the final five minutes, and the Warriors cashed in on a 5-on-3 chance with under a minute to go. Fitzpatrick connected with junior Joe Boselli with a nice pass, and Boselli hammered it in with a one-timer.
Mansfield boys hockey (5-1-1 Hockomock, 11-2-1 overall) move into first place in the Kelley-Rex with the win, holding a one-point lead over Franklin with two games to go. The Hornets travel to Asiaf Arena on Saturday for a big clash with Oliver Ames, who is just two points out of first place. King Philip (3-3-0, 7-6-0) is home with a 7:20 tilt against the Panthers.
FOXBORO, Mass. – It wasn’t the wide open, free flowing game that some expected, but it was still a hard fought game between rivals Franklin and Mansfield that resulted in a tie that left both sides satisfied with a point.
The Panthers and Hornets were the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division entering the contest, with Franklin holding a one point lead at the midway point of league play. After skating a 2-2 at Foxboro Sports Center, Franklin remains a point ahead in the division with three games left.
Franklin had a pair of one-goal leads in the game but Mansfield was able to respond each time, the game-tying goal coming early in the final period after the Hornets entered the frame facing a one-goal deficit.
“That’s a great point,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini. “We won the third period which is something that’s been a focus of ours all year. We want to win the third period so that’s definitely a great point, we’ll take it because a point is a point. The boys worked hard.”
Long time Franklin head coach Chris Spillane was fine with the point as well, considering the Panthers’ overall record and need of points.
“At this point in this season, points are points and we need points to qualify for the tournament,” Spillane said. “We have to focus on winning the league or getting second place. We circled this one because it’s the start of a tough stretch for us. We really wanted to come out and get two points, didn’t go our way. I thought we played pretty well but bad turnovers in our zone end up in the back of the net. It’s kind of been the story of our season so far. We had some chances, but we struggle scoring goals too. The effort is there but we have to pull it together.”
Both teams created chances in the opening period but only about half were shots on goal, a stat that the Panthers led 9-7 after 15 minutes.
An early Panther power play resulted in just one shot on goal, a wrist shot from junior Shane McCaffrey that was turned aside by Mansfield junior Sean McCafferty (34 saves). Mansfield senior Coleman O’Brien helped kill off the penalty with a head first dive to block a shot.
After the power play, Franklin’s CJ Spillane redirected a shot from Declan Lovett but McCafferty stood tall in net, and repeated that against Joe Lizotte and McCaffrey again in a minute span.
Mansfield nearly cashed in on a home run pass in the final minute when Brad Grant found Jack Garland as he entered the attacking zone but his backhand attempt was gobbled up by Franklin goalie Ryan Cameron (30 saves). Mansfield sophomore Matty Copponi had a partial break in the final seconds but saw his wrist shot go over the bar.
While there were fewer chances in the second period, there were more goals. The teams combined to score three goals inside of a three minute span during the second period.
Before the opening goal, Mansfield had the best chance of the game just minutes into the middle stanza. Grant hooked up with Garland again, this time on a pass off the sideboards, and Garland ripped a wrist shot that clanked off the cross bar and went out of play.
“It’s a big game, there were some nerves,” Balzarini said. “There were some guys probably holding the stick a little too tight, making passes they don’t usually make. But as the game progressed, I thought we got better.
“We knew that they were quick so I think our defense was a little hesitant to give up the neutral zone. I think in the third period, we made the adjustment…we had the forwards coming back hard and I think that was a difference.”
Just over six minutes into the middle period is when the visitors were able to break the scoreless tie. Franklin forced a turnover near the blue line and senior Scott Elliott took possession of the puck and darted toward goal. With the defenseman committed to him, Elliott dished the puck across the crease to classmate Dan Magazu for the one-timer and a 1-0 lead.
The lead lasted less than two minutes as the Hornets took advantage of their second power play of the game. Senior Jake Lund stepped into a hard slap shot just over the blue line and the puck found its way through traffic, with the help of O’Brien screening in front, and into the back of the net.
“I don’t think it was as free flowing or as an open game as you’d expect sometimes,” Spillane said. “We don’t want to get into a shootout with anyone so we’re going to rely on our system. I think Mike was doing the same thing with his guys. I think it was both teams didn’t want to let the offensive guys control the game.”
Mansfield scored the tying goal with its first real chance of the third period. Garland forced a Franklin turnover right in front of goal and quickly unleashed a wrist shot under the bar from the slot to make it 2-2.
Both teams had chances over the final 10 minutes but couldn’t convert. Matt D’Errico ripped a shot for Franklin that was redirected by Magazu but McCafferty was in position for the stop. A minute later, Cassella whistled a shot that was tipped but again McCafferty tracked the puck and knocked it down.
The best chance fell to the stick of Lizotte, who used his speed to split a pair of Mansfield defenseman. He was able to get past both Hornets, faked forehand and went to his backhand but McCafferty tracked it the whole way and made a terrific sliding pad to preserve a point for the Hornets.
“Franklin is Franklin, they have their style of play,” Balzarini said. “But they have some fast forwards which I’m not used to seeing them with that much speed. Lizotte was the fastest kid on the ice by far.”
Franklin boys hockey (4-0-2 Hockomock, 5-4-4 overall) returns home for a big showdown with Davenport division leading and undefeated Canton for an 8:00 puck drop. Mansfield boys hockey (4-1-1, 10-2-1) will host King Philip the same night at Foxboro Sports Center at 6:00.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For two periods, the Mansfield Hornets boys hockey team controlled the game, finally solving North Attleboro senior goalie Ryan Warren in the final seconds of the second period.
And after that, Mansfield turned to their own netminder, junior Sean McCafferty, to thwart a furious comeback attempt from the Rocketeers in the third period, resulting in a 2-0 decision for the visiting Hornets.
“That was a great game. North Attleboro is relentless, they really are, in all aspects of the game,” said Mansfield coach Michael Balzarini, who earned his 100th career win with the result. “[North Attleboro] got better period by period, they just kept coming and coming. But this was a team win, we played as a team tonight. And Sean McCafferty played out of his mind. His rebound control was great, he was phenomenal.”
Balzarini previous had successful stints at Dover-Sherborn and Milford before coming to Mansfield two seasons ago.
A dominant first period saw the Hornets skate to an 8-1 advantage on shots on goal, but no advantage on the scoreboard. While North Attleboro asserted itself more in the second frame, the Hornets still had the edge in play and shots (19-8).
Warren denied Mansfield sophomore Matty Copponi in the first period on a nice backhand attempt with a sprawling pad save. The senior goalie kept senior Jack Garland off the board six minutes into the second on a nice chance at the back post, made a terrific stop on a one-timer from senior Chris Copponi with 7:30 to go in the second, and then gobbled up a hard slap shot off the stick of junior Joseph Troiano.
It wasn’t until the 20th shot, with less than 10 seconds to go in the second period, that the Hornets struck.
North Attleboro had its first power play of the game with 2:43 left in the second period but couldn’t generate any serious scoring chances. Mansfield capitalized on the momentum gained from the kill and took the lead with 8.4 seconds left to go in the frame.
Chris Copponi got the play going, forcing a turnover in the attacking zone with a hit along the boards. The puck popped to senior Brad Grant and his blast was knocked over the net by Warren (26 saves). Garland was first to the puck, he connected with Matty Copponi, who quickly fed older brother Chris right in front for the goal.
“I thought we controlled the play for the most part but getting that goal was huge, with only nine seconds or so left, it was huge,” Balzarini said. “It helped put the momentum our way. We knew they would come out hard in the third period.”
For North Attleboro, it was a tough goal to swallow after just having a power play and an improved period over the first.
“The minute, minute and a half after a power play is so important and we have to tighten that up,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “It’s a crucial part of the game. After a power play and the end of a period, one of the most important times in a game. We just have to get better there.”
Despite giving up a late goal int he second, North Attleboro came out flying in the third period, putting 15 shots on frame. Just seconds into the period, the Rocketeers were testing McCafferty, who was clearly up for the challenge.
North senior Anthony Zamiello found senior Justin Moccia in the slot for an open wrist shot but McCafferty turned it away. The Rocketeers earned another power play and had a big chance off the stick of junior Jeff Baker but McCafferty knocked it down and stood tall on a pair of rebound chances.
Just after the power play expired, the Rocketeers had one of their best chances when Zammiello and senior Todd Robinson found themselves alone in front of the net, and a pass from the former to the latter led to a one-timer in close but McCafferty made an amazing stop to keep the puck out.
“He stepped up tonight — he was calm, he wasn’t frantic, he was in the zone the entire game,” Balzarini said of McCafferty. “Coming off of the loss against Canton, I thought he really elevated his game tonight.”
Mansfield couldn’t capitalize on a power play attempt with 9:16 to go, and was whistled for a trip with 5:46 to go to put the hosts back on the man-advantage. The Hornets were whistled for another penalty 44 seconds into the advantage, giving North a 5-on-3 for 1:17.
But one save for McCafferty and a terrific individual defensive play from senior Coleman O’Brien canceled the power play chance for the Rocketeers. With just under three minutes to go, North Attleboro sophomore Tyler Sarro made a nice read on a clearance attempt, intercepting the pass to go in alone on net but whistled his shot wide of frame.
Junior Dennis Morehouse had another big chance with a minute to go on a loose puck at the back post but he couldn’t get the puck past McCafferty (25 saves).
With just under a minute to go, North Attleboro had an attacking zone faceoff but Matty Copponi won it back to Troiano, who alertly flipped the puck out into the neutral zone and Chris Copponi won the foot race and tapped it into the empty net to go up 2-0 with 50.9 to go.
“We’re trying to get better starts,” McManama said. “When our guys are going and we’re forechecking hard, we’re a very good team. But we’re not seeing it for 45 minutes, we’re seeing it spurts. It’s something we know about but we’re working about.
“We have to be tougher in front of the net, we have to bear down. We’re still not going at 100 percent in front of the net, that’s how goals are scored. It doesn’t have to be pretty.”
Mansfield boys hockey (2-1 Hockomock, 8-2 overall) concludes its three-game road trip on Saturday when it travels to Aleixo Arena to take on Taunton at 2:00. North Attleboro (2-1 Hockomock, 4-5 overall) returns to action at the New England Sports Village on Saturday against King Philip at 4:30.
CANTON, Mass. – Every team talks about the importance of cashing in on power play opportunities, but teams don’t typically expect to have as many chances as Canton did on Saturday night. The Bulldogs were given a man advantage 11 times against Mansfield and scored three times, including twice in the first period to take control.
Special teams were the story of the night for Canton, which added a crucial shorthanded goal late in the third period that sealed the win, and the Bulldogs skated away with a 4-0 victory over the Hornets on Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Canton Ice House.
Mansfield started the game with a flurry of chances, using an early power play of its own to spark its offense. Matt Copponi, Jack Garland, and Jake Lund were some of the Hornets who created early scoring opportunities but were denied by Canton senior goalie Mike Staffiere (22 saves).
“We had good looks,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We didn’t give up, even the second period with all those penalties I thought the momentum was going our way. We had our chances but their goalie played well.”
With nine minutes left in the first, Brian Grant stepped up and had a chance driving to the net. Staffiere got a piece and the rebound trickled just wide of the post and seconds later Braedon Copparini had a shot that went narrowly wide as well.
“They’ve got a boatload of talent over there,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said. “They’ve got defensemen who are basically like forwards and we expected some flurries and it was good that we had a good goalie to back us up.”
Three minutes later, Canton took the lead. On the power play, Johnny Hagan weaved his way past several Mansfield defensemen and slipped a backhand shot under Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty, who managed to keep it out but then the rebound was pounced on by Ryan Nolte.
Just three minutes later and the lead was doubled. After a penalty was called, the Bulldogs had a face-off to McCafferty’s left. Hagan was kicked out of the face-off and Nolte stepped in. He won the draw back to Hagan, who was cutting across the circle onto his forehand. The junior forward took the puck in stride and rifled a wrister inside the far post to make it 2-0.
Shuman said, “We had to mix it up a little bit. They knew we were going to run certain plays over and over and finally we just had to keep it simple and get some pucks to the net and get some guys out in front.”
McCafferty (35 saves) stopped a shorthanded breakaway chance by Tommy Ghostlaw before the end of the period and he kept that momentum going in the second, making 19 saves in that period alone. The Hornets were called for six penalties in the second and spent all but about three minutes on special teams in the period.
Hagan nearly got his second assist of the game when he set up Jack Connolly pinching in at the back post only to have McCafferty get across and get a shoulder to it. Hagan also hit the post and had another big chance saved when Connolly found him in space inside the circle.
Chris Lavoie had several chances driving towards the net from the right circle but couldn’t find the angle to beat the goalie. Tommy Vaughn had one of Canton’s best chances when he stole the puck from a Mansfield defenseman right in front of goal but sent his shot over the bar.
“You’re basically using six forwards and four ‘D’ and those guys get tired and credit to their goalie, he made some saves and they made some blocks,” Shuman explained. “It’s kind of ironic that when you’re on all those power plays it can wear you down a little bit, especially when you don’t score.”
Despite playing down a player for much of the period, Mansfield did have a couple of chances. Nick Levine had a shot from the point that was saved and the rebound nearly caromed back in off a Canton defenseman. The best chance of the period fell to Austin Ricker, who got a clean breakaway shorthanded only to be stoned by a great blocker save from Staffiere.
“Mike was probably tested the most he’s seen this year and he played the best he has this year,” said Shuman about his goalie. “He’s an exceptional goalie and he would’ve been a starter on any other team for the past two years if he wasn’t playing behind Quinn [Gibbs].”
Mansfield cleared off 1:16 of a penalty that extended into the third period and the Hornets were still in the game, down just two goals. Canton had the first good chance of the third when Ryan Colby rode a pair of challenges and still managed to slide the puck just wide of the post. Hagan and Nolte combined again on another power play chance but again McCafferty made the stop.
With six minutes to play, the teams traded great chances. Copponi flicked a pass into the slot for Coleman O’Brien but the senior missed the net with his shot and then seconds later Joe Robinson had a breakaway but the puck slid off the toe of his stick when he went to shoot.
““The second period, I think we had two minutes of 5-on-5 hockey,” said Balzarini. “They scored three power play goals and a shorthanded, but I thought when we played 5-on-5 we played well.”
Staffiere came through again to protect the lead when he made the save on a chance for Garland in the slot. That proved to be critical inside a minute when Hagan blocked a shot at the blue line, turned it into a breakaway and then calmly picked his spot to beat the goalie for a three-goal lead.
“That was huge,” said Shuman. “Last year we struggled to get out to the point and block shots and the past two games in particular, Joe Robinson last game and Johnny this game making huge blocks. You have to pay the price in this game.”
John Gormley had a chance for Mansfield that hit the bar and stayed out and with just a minute later, with three minutes left, Canton secured the victory on its 10th power play of the night. Connolly fired a shot from the point and Timmy Kelleher had the deft tip to find the back of the net.
Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Ice House was held in honor of Reo Todesca and Kristin Rocha, who were both connected to the Canton hockey program and both passed away a year ago. Proceeds from the night were donated to the Reo Todesca Memorial Foundation and the Kristin Rocha Memorial Scholarship.
“It was an intense hockey game but it was for a good cause,” said Shuman. “That’s really what the night is all about. We play a silly game and tonight the money raised is going to two good causes, so we’re happy about that.”
Today’s games are listed below.
Mansfield, 2 vs. Shrewsbury, 3 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Mansfield outshot the Colonials 29-19 but the two-time defending D3 state champs (who moved to D1 this season) pulled out a one-goal victory at Rodman Arena. Jake Lund scored the game-tying goal in the first period, assisted by Austin Ricker and Brad Grant, but the Colonials scored twice in the second, including the eventual game-winner with a two-man advantage. With the goalie pulled and less than two minutes on the clock, Mansfield got back into the game when freshman Mark DeGirolamo knocked in a rebound of a shot by Matt Copponi, but Shrewsbury held on.
King Philip, 3 vs. Milton, 2 – Final – King Philip’s Conor Cooke scored the game-winning goal with 6:28 left in the third period to lift the Warriors to a win over the Wildcats. Paul McDonald had the assist on the game-winner. KP took a 1-0 lead in the first period off a power play goal from Ryan Fitzpatrick, assisted by Brendan Shandley. Kyle Gray scored unassisted in the second but Milton scored twice to make it a 2-2 game. James Lewis made 15 saves in net for KP.
Stoughton, 0 vs. Littleton, 12 – Final
Franklin, 3 @ Algonquin, 2 – Final – Amanda Lewandowski, Cassi Ronan, and Regan Paterson (game-winner) each scored goals for the unbeaten Panthers and Gabby Colace (14 saves) picked up the win in goal.
Stoughton vs. Cohasset, 4:00