Oliver Ames, 7 @ Foxboro, 5 – Final (13 inn.) – For the second straight game, Foxboro rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning to force extras but saw the visiting team earn the win. With the win, OA keeps its postseason hopes alive with one game to go. OA plated five runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 5-2 lead before the Warriors rallied to score three runs in the seventh to send the game to extras for the second straight day. After five scoreless innings, OA tacked on two runs in the top of the 13th. Freshman Jack Richardson, who earned the win in relief, led off the inning with a single and Matt McCormack followed with a base hit of his own. Cam Perron brought the go-ahead run in with a sac fly and the second run scored on a wild pitch. McCormack (two runs) and Jake Erlich (RBI) each had two hits for OA while Kyle O’Connor had two RBI. Michael Devlin (RBI, run), Joe Cavaleri (RBI), and Sean Yoest (run) each had two hits for Foxboro while Cam Prescott was strong in relief, tossing 7.1 innings with six strikeouts, allowing one run on five hits.
Mansfield, 1 @ Walpole, 2 – Final – Mansfield took a lead in the third inning but Walpole used a pair of doubles in the sixth inning to jump in front and beat the Hornets. Kyle Moran was strong on the mound, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out five. He also had one Mansfield’s two hits.
North Attleboro, 8 vs. Bishop Feehan, 3 – Final – North Attleboro jumped ahead in the first inning and senior Todd Robinson (3-for-3, two stolen bases, two runs, four RBI) belted his third home run of the season as the Rocketeers ran away with a win over Feehan. The Rocketeers took a 3-1 lead after an inning of play when Robinson drove in Brendan McHugh (HBP), Nick Raneri scored on a double steal, and Shawn Watters singled Robinson home. In the second inning, Robinson increased the Rocketeers’ lead with a two-out, two-run home to to make it 5-1. With the bases loaded in the fourth, Robinson was hit by a pitch to bring McHugh in and sophomore Jared Penta scored on a fielder’s choice from Jake Palmer. Robinson added another run by stealing home. Matt Seavey pitched a complete game, striking out six with three walks.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Foxboro, 2 – Final – Foxboro took a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning but the Rocketeers rallied to score five runs in the sixth inning, including four with two-outs, to upend the Warriors. Mandi Hanewich and Olivia Capobianco had back-to-back hits for the Rocketeers, and Abby Gallagher (double, two hits) drove in Hanewich to tie the game. With two outs, Katie Daby, Emily Nardelli and Alex Moulson (two hits, stolen base) strung together three consecutive singles to bring in four runs. Junior Bella Erti allowed just one earned run on two hits, striking out eight.
Franklin, 0 vs. Bridgewater-Raynham, 1 – Final
King Philip, 5 vs. Walpole, 4 – Final
Taunton, 6 @ Mansfield, 1 – Final – Taunton eighth-grader Ava Venturelli blasted a grand slam, her first career home run, in the sixth inning to spark a six-run frame that helped the Tigers beat the Hornets. Mansfield took a lead in the third when Megan Letendre put the ball in play and Sydney Woods came in to score. In the sixth, Peyton Ceglarski walked and Paige Silvia and Tayah DaCosta followed with base hits to load the bases for the Tigers. Venturelli then put one over the left field fence to put Taunton ahead. Hanna Aldrich drove in Jaime Brown with a double and scored on a squeeze from McKenzie McAloon to make it 6-1. Kelsey White earned the win, limiting Mansfield to six hits while striking out 13. Woods, Kara Bendanillo, and Mady Bendanillo (triple) each had two hits for the Hornets.
Canton, 8 @ Dartmouth, 7 – Final – Canton’s David Allen had one of his best games of the season and Dan Cohen made several key plays throughout to help the Bulldogs get a win on the road. Canton peppered the Dartmouth cage but Charles Gamache thwarted plenty of Bulldog chances. Allen had three goals, Andrew Canto added three goals and an assist, Griffin Roach scored once and had three helpers, and Tommy Vaughan chipped in with a goal and an assist.
Attleboro @ North Attleboro, 5:15
Foxboro, 5 vs. Xaverian, 9 – Final
Sharon, 11 vs. Pembroke, 10 – Final
North Attleboro, 18 @ Attleboro, 13 – Final
Mansfield, 22 vs. Milton, 12 – Final – Katy Garvin scored seven goals while Hayleigh Crawford and Olivia Murray each found the back of the net four times to lead the Hornets to a win over Milton. Lauren Whitman added three goals for Mansfield.
Taunton, 21 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 0 – Final – Taunton sophomore Alana Tavares scored nine goals as the Tigers earned a big win over Coyle. Emma Sheehan added a hat trick while Mabel Smith, Tasia Lajoie, and Rosemary McGrath each scored twice for Taunton. Kamryn Li, Jade Holmes, and Kristen Hearrold each scored once while Emily Gannon made six saves in the shutout.
Franklin, 4 @ Bishop Feehan, 1 – Final – Franklin won three matches in straight sets and one more in a super tiebreaker to take care of Feehan. Rohan Herur won 6-1, 6-2 at second singles while Lucas Gulick picked up a 6-2, 6-0 win at second singles. The team of Saketh Saripalli and Vayshnav Malhotra earned a 6-1, 6-4, and the second doubles team of Saket Gandham and Shoyaib Shaik rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 10-8 win.
King Philip, 4 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – King Philip swept both doubles matches and earned two wins in straight sets in singles action to knock off North Attleboro in a non-league clash. Nate Ihley and Jack Cannon won 6-2, 4-1 (retired) at first doubles while the team of Jake Mager and Zak Ryan picked up a 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 10-3 win at second doubles. Marco DiStefano won 6-2, 6-1 at first singles and Nick Putney won 6-1, 6-0 at second singles. North Attleboro’s Sam Gallagher didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at third singles.
Taunton, 0 @ Mansfield, 5 – Final – In a match continued from earlier in the week, Mansfield knocked off visiting Taunton. Luke Nickerson won 6-0, 6-1 at first singles, Luke Devine picked up a 6-3, 6-2 win at second singles, and Sam Donellan earned a 6-3, 6-3 win at third singles. The team of Max Bank and Sethu Odayappan prevailed 6-0, 6-1 at first doubles while Sam Shirmacher and Ben Newcomb won 6-3, 6-1 at second doubles.
King Philip, 5 vs. Walpole, 0 – Final
Franklin vs. Bishop Feehan, 4:00
Taunton, 5 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 0 – Final
Taunton, 3 vs. Durfee, 2 – Final – Taunton earned a win over Durfee in five sets (26-28, 25-23, 18-25, 25-19, 15-11) to finish the season 11-9. Fabio Goncalves had a game to remember with a career-high 25 kills, sophomore Tyler Stewart added 12 kills, and Alex Tavares (nine blocks) chipped in with 10. Gage Kingman anchored the defense with 22 digs.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Entering Monday’s showdown with King Philip, the Oliver Ames baseball team needed a win to keep its postseason hopes alive.
The Tigers had senior ace Reid Latham on the mound but the weather didn’t cooperate, forcing the cancellation of the game and the teams had to restart on Tuesday. While it would have been a wasted start for most starters, it wasn’t for Latham.
Despite pitching three innings on Monday, the senior right-hander was back on the mound on Tuesday and delivered a stellar performance. Latham held the visiting Warriors to just one hit through six scoreless innings, helping Oliver Ames pull out a 4-0 win in a must-win game.
Latham held the Warriors without a hit into the sixth inning before KP junior Chris Sawyer got a single to fall in shallow left field with two outs. But two pitches later, Latham got a ground ball and completed a strong six inning performance.
“He’s been pretty bionic for us,” said Oliver Ames head coach Joe Abarr. “He had a no-hitter going for us into the sixth inning. It was exactly what we needed. He was getting ahead of guys, he only had a couple of walks. He told me he wasn’t tired. We know these games are high stakes, we had a lot of adrenaline yesterday and then came out today and pitched even better so I have to give him a lot of credit.”
After Latham worked around a one-out walk in the top of the first, the Tigers struck for a pair of two unearned runs in the bottom half to put the home team ahead early.
With out one, junior Kyle O’Connor singled up the middle and senior Jake Erlcih followed with a single through the left side. KP starter Robbie Jarest (6IP, 3H, 0BB 2HBO, 4R, 2ER, 4K) got a ground ball that could have turned into a double play but the original throw was off the mark, allowing O’Connor to score.
Junior Jacob Levine followed up with a grounder to short, scoring Erlich from third to make it 2-0.
“That’s something, as a team, we’ve been fighting all year,” Abarr said. “We’ve been coming from behind for the most part. We have some wins to show for it but it’s nice to just jump out there and put a couple runs up early. Even yesterday, we were chasing. We put the ball in play, they made a couple of mistakes, and we were in the right spot at the right time.”
Latham retired the side in order in both the second and third innings before running into some trouble in the fourth. Tim Crowley and Sawyer drew back-to-back walks with one out, and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners. A stolen base from Tom Weir put two in scoring position but Latham got a grounder to first for the final out.
Jarest also settled in for the Warriors, setting the Tigers down in order in the second and third innings, and canceling out the leadoff hitter that was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning.
Oliver Ames added two more runs in the fifth inning to give Latham even more breathing room. Sophomore pinch hitter Jadon Ricci was hit by a pitch to lead off and moved to second on a single from Matt McCormack. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and Ricci came racing home and slid under the tag on a fielder’s choice up the first base line.
Oliver Ames baseball (6-9 Hockomock, 7-11 overall) can qualify for the state tournament if it wins its next three games against Dighton-Rehoboth, Foxboro, and New Bedford. Both games against Brockton this season are exclusion games. King Philip (5-9, 5-11) hosts Bishop Feehan on Tuesday.
Foxboro, 12 vs. Blue Hills, 0 – Final (4 inn.) – Foxboro’s offense exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the first inning, helping the Warriors win big in a mercy-rule shortened contest. The Warriors totaled 12 hits in the contest with senior Brian Duncan leading the way with three hits (one double) and two runs scored. Junior Kyle McGinnis added two doubles and two runs scored and junior James Kaeser had two hits, a run, and two RBI for the Warriors. Michael Develin and Joe Cavaleri each had a double and knocked in a pair of runs in the win. Sophomore Cam Prescott earned the win, allowing just one hit in four innings of work while striking out two. Foxboro will take on Milton in the championship game of the third annual Steven J. Sullivan tournament on Thursday at 2:00.
Franklin, 12 @ Catholic Memorial, 1 – Final – Franklin’s offense plated six runs in the top of the fifth inning, turning a 6-1 lead into a 12-1 win on the road at Catholic Memorial. Senior Scott Elliott blasted a three-run home run to pace the offense while senior Alex Haba went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Joe Lizotte (three RBI, run), Shane O’Neil (run, RBI), JB Floris (double, two runs, two RBI), and Jack Nally (run, RBI) each had a pair of hits for the Panthers. Junior Brennan Rivera tossed a complete game, allowing just one unearned run on two hits and two walks while striking out six to get the win.
North Attleboro, 10 vs. Somerset Berkley, 1 – Final – North Attleboro burst into the win column behind a strong team offensive performance and a stellar showing on the mound from sophomore Dennis Colleran. The Rocketeers, who trailed 1-0 early, tied the game with a run in the second, plated five runs in the third (all with two outs), tacked on one run in the fourth, and put the game out of reach with three more in the sixth. Colleran allowed just two hits in a complete game effort, striking out seven with no earned runs allowed. Russell Dunlap (four RBI) had a bases-clearing triple with two outs in the third to help the Rocketeers create separation. Jake Palmer led off the fourth with a single and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-1. Jake Carroll added an RBI single in a three-run sixth. Sophomore Jared Penta added two hits in the win.
Oliver Ames, 5 vs. Dighton-Rehoboth, 3 – Final – With the game tied at 3-3, Oliver Ames senior Matt McCormick delivered a two-run single to put the Tigers ahead for good. Senior Reid Latham earned his third win of the season, striking out eight and walking in two with two earned runs allowed in six innings of work. Senior Tyler Avery recorded the save, pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning to secure the win. Jake Erlich went 2-for-3 while Cam Perron and CJ Deveau each had a hit and an RBI. Chris Pearsons added three hits, two runs scored, an RBI and was strong in the field defensively, including turning a key double play.
Sharon, 0 vs. Hingham, 4 – Final
Stoughton, 7 @ Brockton, 6 – Final – For the second time this season, Stoughton junior Jacob Kaplan has delivered a big hit with the bases loaded. After helping the Black Knights beat North in the season opener with a big hit, Kaplan was at it again on Tuesday. This time, with Stoughton holding a 2-1 lead, Kaplan cleared the bases with a two-out double in the top of the fifth and later scored himself to give the visitors a 6-1 advantage. Brockton cut the deficit to one with a four-run fifth, and the teams traded runs in the sixth to make it 7-6. Sophomore Brady Conlin earned the two-inning save with no hits allowed and one strikeout. Senior Evan Jackman picked up the win, scattering seven hits and three walks in five innings of work, striking out two.
Taunton, 8 vs. Durfee, 4 – Final – Durfee cut Taunton’s lead to just one with a run in the top of the fourth inning but the Tigers scored once in the bottom half and added three runs in the fifth inning to conquer the Hilltoppers. Jack Moynihan earned the win on the mound, scattering six hits over six innings of work, striking out five with three earned runs allowed. Logan Lawrence had a hit and two RBI and Colby Lariviere added two hits and two RBI for the Tigers.
Mansfield, 12 vs. Duxbury, 5 – Final – Mansfield pounded out 14 hits in total and scored four runs in each the fourth and sixth innings to earn a win over visiting Duxbury. Mady Bendanillo got the offense started with a home run in the bottom of the first and was a part of the Hornets’ two-out three-run rally in the third. Megan Letendre singled, Mady Bendanillo (two hits) walked, and Mary Muldoon, Caty DeMassi (two hits), and Ella Verheggen (two hits) each had RBI singles. Kara Bendanillo, Casey Mousette, and Sydney Woods also had two hits for Mansfield. Sarah Cahill allowed five hits while striking out seven.
North Attleboro, 7 vs. Dartmouth, 3 – Final – North Attleboro prevailed in a battle of unbeatens, handing Dartmouth its first loss with a 7-3 verdict. Junior Bella Erti struck out eight without issuing a walk, scattering six hits in a complete game. Erti did not allow any earned runs in the win. Sophomore Emily Nardelli had two hits, a sacrifice fly, and a walk, junior Ashley Cangiano added a triple, and freshman Mandi Hanewich had a single and a run scored. Junior Annabelle Hebard, junior Abby Gallagher, and sophomore Belle Clarkin each had two walks and a run scored.
Stoughton, 5 vs. Brockton, 4 – Final – Stoughton sophomore Nicole Baker hit a walkoff solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to cap the Black Knights’ comeback against Brockton. The Boxers held a 4-3 lead entering the bottom of the sixth but senior Karly Estremera (two hits) delivered a two-out double to score Sarah McGrath to tie it 4-4. After Baker shut the Boxers down in the top of the seventh from the circle, she gave Stoughton the win with her home run. Senior Brianna Ferrandiz went 2-for-3, junior Lexi Baptista added a double, and freshmen Melody Casna and Sydney Menz each had a hit. Baker earned the win in the circle, striking out 12.
King Philip, 1 vs. Bishop Feehan, 18 – Final
Attleboro, 2 @ Sharon, 13 – Final
Foxboro, 13 vs. Hanover, 7 – Final – Foxboro held a three-goal advantage at half and entering the final period but the Warriors were able to pull away to get the win over Hanover in Chowda Cup competition. The Warriors led 6-3 at the break, and 9-6 going into the fourth. Foxboro outscored the Indians, 4-1 in the final frame. Brendan Tully had four goals and one assist, Bobby Yerardi added four goals, and Shayne Kerrigan netted a hat trick and added one helper. Pete Conley and Charlie Baughan each scored once for the Warriors, who will take on Marshfield on Thursday at 12:00 at Westwood High.
Mansfield, 3 @ Marshfield, 16 – Final – Mansfield trailed by just two after the first quarter and at half but couldn’t keep pace with the Rams in the second half. Connor Quirk and Jake Quirk each scored in the second quarter, helping the Hornets stay within two at half (down 4-2). Jake Quirk added a second goal in the second half for Mansfield, who will play Hanover on Thursday at 10:00AM at Westwood High.
Milford @ Dighton-Rehoboth – Postponed to a date and time to be announced.
North Attleboro @ Silver Lake – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/17 at 4:00.
Oliver Ames, 19 vs. Norton, 4 – Final – Seven different Tigers found the back of the net as Oliver Ames improved to 5-0 with a win over visiting Norton. Junior Frankie Ireland had two goals and five assists, sophomore Remi Creighton added two goals and three assists, and sophomore Ross Carroll recorded a hat trick in his varsity game.
Stoughton, 2 @ Milton, 9 – Final
Canton, 11 @ Milton, 14 – Final
Foxboro, 11 vs. Natick, 15 – Final
North Attleboro @ Walpole, 11:30
Oliver Ames, 9 @ Pembroke, 10 – Final
Sharon, 14 vs. Cardinal Spellman, 3 – Final – Sharon senior Emma Eberhardt and sophomore Jenna Goldstein combined for nine goals as the Eagles rolled to a win over visiting Cardinal Spellman. Goldstein netted a team-high five goals while Eberhardt finished with four tallies. Mia Lappen and Cass Barbera each had two goals, and Bridget McManus scored once.
King Philip, 3 @ Dighton-Rehoboth, 0 – Final – King Philip went on the road and earned its sixth straight win, sweeping D-R (25-18, 25-12, 25-23). Senior Billy Hughes and senior Max Armour both had strong games for KP, with Hughes recording five digs, three kills, and two blocks while Armour added seven kills and six digs. Junior Kyle Desrochers anchored the defense with nine digs while senior Eric Altobello finished with eight kills.
Below are the official 2019 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Espen Reager, Foxboro
Hockomock League All Stars
Ryan Morry, Attleboro
Sam Larkin, Attleboro
Ryan Nolte, Canton
Michael Staffiere, Canton
John Hagan, Canton
Owen Lehane, Canton
Espen Reager, Foxboro
Brendan Tully, Foxboro
Joseph Lizotte, Franklin
Thomas Tasker, Franklin
Shane McCaffrey, Franklin
Brendan Shandley, King Philip
Rocco Bianculli, King Philip
Jack Garland, Mansfield
Brad Grant, Mansfield
Ryan Warren, North Attleboro
Anthony Zammiello, North Attleboro
Brendan McHugh, North Attleboro
Max Ward, Oliver Ames
Brett Williams, Oliver Ames
Matthew McCormack, Oliver Ames
Sean Doherty, Stoughton
Andrew Carter, Taunton
Kyle McCabe, Attleboro
Jack Connolly, Canton
Ronnie MacLellan, Foxboro
Cam Cassella, Franklin
Ryan Fitzpatrick, King Philip
Chris Copponi, Mansfield
Dennis Morehouse, North Attleboro
Bryan Kearns, Oliver Ames
Carter Gerome, Stoughton
Cameron Sneyd, Taunton
CANTON, Mass. – The top-seeded Canton boys hockey team is headed back to the Division 2 South Semifinals after earning their second straight shutout.
But it was far from easy.
The unbeaten Bulldogs were put to the test by ninth-seeded and league rival Oliver Ames, with the Tigers consistently applying pressure over the course of 45 minutes. In the end, a patient Canton team cashed in twice inside a one-minute span and, more importantly, didn’t allow Oliver Ames to do the same in a 3-0 victory.
“[Oliver Ames] is a team that always plays us hard, they’ve done so for years,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “And they played us hard tonight, they came out flying. They pinned us, they hit us, and I was proud of our guys for battling through that. Every playoff game is like a rollercoaster ride and you have to survive the onslaughts and punch back like we did.”
The Tigers were strong from the opening puck drop, flying all over the ice and coming up with a couple of good goal scoring chances. Just minutes in, senior Matt McCormack made a leaping stop to prevent a Canton clear resulting in a good chance from Cullen Gallagher, but Canton goalie Mike Staffiere (17 saves) made the stop.
Just minutes later, the Tigers had a chance at a two-on-one, but Bulldog defenseman Ryan Sullivan thwarted the chance before a pass or shot could happen. A Canton error in the neutral zone led to a chance for OA senior Brett Williams, but the puck wouldn’t lie flat, and his shot was gobbled up by Staffiere.
As the period went on, Canton started to get more of the play, and Timmy Kelleher’s tough angle shot from the left circle forced a paddle save from OA junior goalie Owen Connor (27 saves), and a rebound chance from Johnny Hagan was denied as well.
With just a minute left in the first, Kelleher won a foot race to get in on goal but his close shot was denied by Connor, bringing a physical, back-and-forth, well-played first period to a close.
“I don’t think we could have played a better game,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “We preached effort, effort, effort, and it’s such a simple term, but I’m not sure many teams could do it for three periods like we did against one of the best teams in the state. They did everything I asked so it’s a little frustrating they weren’t rewarded for it, but that’s sports. The effort was there through the whole game, and we had some chances.
“Their effort is what got them here. That was our recipe for success all year. No matter what there are going to be lulls, and you’ll make hockey mistakes, but the effort was always there. I couldn’t be more proud of their effort.”
OA had another bright start to the second period with freshman Bryan Kearns forcing a turnover, and Williams linking up with Gallagher in front for a backhand shot that was just over the bar. Five minutes later, Duncan Pereira blasted a shot that was saved by Staffiere into the air, bounced off his back, and just wide of the post.
Similar to the first, Canton was able to handle the strong push from the Tigers early and take control as the period went on. This time, senior Joe Robinson linked up with classmate Ryan Colby to force an odd-man rush, and Oliver Ames was forced to take a penalty.
The first power play of the game resulted in the first goal of the game as well. Just over 30 seconds into the man-advantage, junior Jack Connolly ripped a low shot/pass through traffic that found Canton senior Ryan Nolte positioned perfectly for a tip-in from right in close, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead with 6:57 to go in the second period.
With momentum on their side, the Bulldogs struck again before a minute elapsed. This time, it was senior Matt Martin delivering a shot from the blue line through traffic with junior Chris Lavoie providing the redirect right in front, making it 2-0 with 6:09 left in the second period.
“The second one was huge,” Shuman said. “Both goals came from point shots too. Jack Connolly with a great shot to find Ryan on the back door and then Matty Martin just getting the puck through, which is what we try to do. [OA] does a good job of collapsing in their zone and protecting the middle of the zone so our defense was going to have to get shots through for us to have some offense.”
Oliver Ames nearly cut the deficit in half on a chance with just over a minute to go in the second. Williams skated into the offensive zone, drawing the defenseman but slid a pass across to an open Kearns, but his wrist shot clanked off the crossbar and stayed out.
“You would think it would hurt, but our two themes this year were effort and resiliency,” Bertoni said of the back-to-back goals. “You have to push back after a goal, and I thought we did after the second one. Obviously, it’s a little deflating but the guys didn’t show it, didn’t change how they played. Power plays are going to happen, the puck had eyes and it found one of the best players. Tough to give up the two goals but it didn’t change how we played which was great to see.
“We hit the crossbar late in the second, we had a couple of other chances…we were still buzzing despite not scoring. That was one of our best games all year for three full periods. We didn’t give them much time, we did a good job of taking it away. They did everything we wanted, they were aggressive, they were physical, we just came up short.”
Connor came up with a big stop early in the third, denying Lavoie in front after a nice feed from junior Shane Marshall. Staffiere answered on the other end, stopping a shot from Ryan Gottwald that was set up by a block from Gallagher.
The Tigers got their first power play of the game with 9:55 left in the third, but Lavoie, Connolly, and Nolte all came up with clearances to limit OA’s chances. The lone chance came off the stick of Max Ward, who beat a pair of Canton players as he entered the offensive zone and snapped a wrist shot that was gloved by Staffiere.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – When you are struggling to get into a rhythm offensively and everyone is grabbing the stick a little tighter, it takes players grinding in the corners and making the effort to get to the front of the net to turn things around.
After watching Oliver Ames tie the game early in the third period of Wednesday night’s league opener at Pirelli Veterans Arena, Franklin needed a little inspiration to avoid extending its winless streak to six games (0-3-2 after opening the season with an exclusion win against Malden Catholic). Up stepped senior forward Joe Lizotte.
Despite being the only Panther in the offensive zone, Lizotte managed to hold possession in the corner against three OA defensemen. He squeezed the puck out to the right boards where it kicked to Tom Tasker, who sent a puck across the crease. The puck was deflected by C.J. Spillane, and several bodies in front of goal, to the far post and Zac Falvey popped up to knock the loose puck into the back of the net.
It was the spark that the Panthers needed. Franklin scored again three minutes later to seal a 4-2 victory and kick off its league title defense with a much-needed two points.
“He’s by himself and we get help off the bench and next thing you know it’s in the back of the net,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane about the game-winner. “A dead play, with a little effort, turned into a positive play. It’s just hard work. He’s a good player and we love having him on our team.”
Franklin came out strong in the first period, holding a 9-3 edge in shots after the first, despite giving up a power play only 50 seconds into the game.
Sophomore Declan Lovett had a good look from the dot that he sent just wide and the puck bounced out to Cam Cassella at the point, who forced a save from OA goalie Owen Connor (26 saves). Lizotte forced a save from the left circle and then Spillane and Tasker put shots on goal only to be denied.
“He kept us in it,” OA coach Sean Bertoni said of his goaltender. “It was his best game of the year. We just didn’t take sticks out on those last two goals. He played excellent.”
OA’s best chance of the opening period came with just under six minutes left. Jake Gottwald slipped a pass into the slot where Ross Carroll put a shot on net only to have Panthers goalie Ryan Cameron (10 saves) kicked it aside. The hosts nearly took the lead with just seconds left in the first but Tasker’s shot came back off the post.
“Our forecheck non-existent to be honest,” Bertoni admitted. “The first period was one of our weakest of the year, which was kind of disappointing. They know if we don’t establish our forecheck, then we’re not going to win anything. We rely on our speed.”
The Tigers started the second on the power play and needed only 19 seconds to make it count. Following a Connor save, Brett Williams broke down the right side and was able to play the puck across the crease into defenseman Matt McCormack, who forced a save from Cameron, and Cullen Gallagher was on hand to tap in the rebound.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Gallagher was injured not long after the goal and forced to leave the game, one of two OA forwards to get injured on Wednesday.
Lizotte had a decent chance at an instant response only for Connor to make the save and then the OA goalie kept out Kyle Hedvig on a tip of a Cassella slap shot. Brendan Sicchio came close too with a shot off the post.
Finally, with 7:33 left in the second, Franklin’s pressure paid off. Lizotte got behind the OA defense in the left circle and cut across goal onto his backhand before sliding it under Connor.
Just seconds after Williams and Carroll had chances on the other end, the Panthers took their first lead of the night. Again it was Lizotte that created the opportunity by riding a challenge and keeping hold of the puck. It skipped behind the net to Matt Holmes, who flung a pass out to the point where Cassella fired a wrister through traffic and into the top corner.
“We worked on chipping the puck into space and every time you have No. 11 (Lizotte) on the ice you’re going to win those races and we had a couple of other kids pick up pucks too,” said Spillane. “It’s not the prettiest brand of hockey but it’s effective.”
Franklin almost doubled the lead in the third when Falvey made it three posts for the Panthers, but OA answered back to tie it. Off a face-off in the attacking zone, Gottwald had a chance from the slot that Cameron saved, but the rebound was knocked out of mid-air by Colin Bourne and slammed into the back of the net.
Bertoni said, “Their energy was there to start the period, their effort was there, and they didn’t get down on themselves when two guys went down and that’s all you can ask for.”
Williams almost gave the Tigers the lead but Cameron made a sprawling save. It was one of the few times that OA managed to get in behind the Franklin defensemen.
Spillane explained, “I thought we did very well defensively with our gap control, slowing them down as they came in the zone and not giving them space to move around.”
With 8:49 left, after Lizotte’s effort in the corner, Falvey put Franklin in the lead. Three minutes later, the Panthers sealed the win. Dan Magazu threw a puck in front from the right boards and Shane McCaffery managed to squeeze the tip under Connor’s pads for a 4-2 lead.
“We have nine forwards and when you lose two of them it’s hard,” said Bertoni. “I threw a guy out there on the ice cold and they scored the goal to make it 3-2. That’s on me but it’s hard when you’re short-benched against a team with so much depth.”
Freshman Bryan Kearns had one more good chance for the Tigers but his shot was kicked out by Cameron and the Panthers got their first two points (for MIAA purposes) of the season.
Spillane said, “We just need to find an offensive flow. We had plenty of shots, we missed the net way too much, so we need to clean things up offensively.”
Franklin (2-3-2) will travel to Taunton on Saturday, while Oliver Ames (5-3) will look to bounce back when it hosts Foxboro.
Attleboro, 54 @ Bishop Feehan, 57 – Final – Attleboro took a 45-40 late in the third quarter but a 6-0 burst from the hosts had the Shamrocks ahead entering the final quarter and Bishop Feehan held on for the win. Senior Mason Houle scored a career-high 20 points for the Bombardiers, Kevin Velazquez added 11 points, and both Bryant Ciccio and Qualeem Charles finished with 10 points.
Foxboro, 52 vs. LaSalle Academy (R.I.), 31 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Foxboro’s defense had a strong outing, limiting visiting La Salle Academy to just 11 points in the first half. The Warriors led 29-11 at the break, but La Salle outscored the hosts 15-9 in the third quarter to inch back into the game. Foxboro erased any idea of a comeback with a quick 7-0 run to begin the fourth quarter, expanding the advantage it 46-26. Sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored a career-high 19 points, hitting five three-pointers. Junior Brandon Borde added 12 points and seven rebounds while junior Will Morrison chipped in with nine points.
King Philip, 71 @ Auburn, 53 – Final – King Philip used a terrific start to build a double-digit lead by halftime and never looked back with a win on the road at Auburn. Six players combined to score 25 points in the opening quarter for the Warriors, including seven from junior Alex Fritz (nine points) and six from Andrew McKinney (14 points). Senior Bruce Saintilus finished with a team-high 21 points, including 12 points in the third quarter.
North Attleboro, 48 vs. Lincoln-Sudbury, 36 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Lincoln-Sudbury closed the third quarter on a 13-2 run, erasing an eight-point deficit to take a 31-28 lead into the final period. North Attleboro responded with its best quarter on both ends of the floor, outscoring the Warriors 20-5 in the frame to earn the double-digit win. Josh Montague (nine points) got North within one before Ethan Friberg (12 points, seven rebounds) hit back-to-back triples and then a pair of free throws. L-S cut it to three with a triple but Friberg found Matt Seavey with a quick two and Nate Gonsalves (11 points, seven rebounds) scored four straight points to extend the advantage to 42-34. A late triple put North up by double-digits. North Attleboro had a terrific defensive performance, limiting L-S to single digits in three of the four quarters.
Sharon, 49 vs. Hingham, 73 – Final
Stoughton, 58 vs. Natick, 61 – Final – Stoughton junior Ajahn Rue scored a team-high 20 points but the Black Knights fell by three to Natick in the first round of the Blue Devil Holiday Classic at Randolph High.
Taunton, 57 @ Durfee, 73 – Final – Taunton trailed by just two at the end of one quarter but Durfee pushed the lead to eight by half (31-23) and then blew the game open with a 23-point third quarter. Junior Dante Law had a team-high 18 points while Wesner Charles added 10 points.
Mansfield, 37 @ Newtown (Conn.), 43 – Final – Playing under Conn. rules hurt the Hornets on Friday. With no shot clock, Newtown was able to sit on its lead for the entire fourth quarter and pull out the victory in the end. Mady Bendanillo led Mansfield with 13 points and Maggie Danehy had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
Milford, 24 vs. Hopedale, 48 – Final
Oliver Ames, 54 vs. Brockton, 50 – Final – Oliver Ames overcame a 10-point deficit at halftime, putting up 38 points in the second half to earn a win over Brockton. Freshman Caroline Peper led the Tigers with 15 points, senior Alex Sheldon added 13 points and sophomore Caroline Flynn finished with eight points and 16 rebounds.
Sharon, 45 vs. Plymouth South, 37 – Final – Telishya Herbert paced the Eagles with 15 points and Evanjuline Elisma added 11 to help Sharon win the consolation game at the Cardinal Spellman tournament.
Stoughton, 35 vs. @ Newton South, 56 – Final – The Black Knights lost for the second in two days to a highly-ranked Div. 1 team. Sydnee Hyacinthe scored 15 points and Aliyah Wright added 12 for Stoughton. Wright was named to the all-tournament team.
Foxboro, 6 @ Cohasset, 1 – Final
Franklin, 3 vs. Bishop Guertin (NH), 2 – Final (OT)
Mansfield, 3 vs. Lowell Catholic, 2 – Final
Oliver Ames, 4 vs. Hanover, 6 – Final – Cullen Gallagher and Matt McCormack each scored a goal and assisted on another, but it wasn’t enough for the Tigers, who out shot Hanover 40-30 in the loss. Owen Connor made 24 saves in goal, while Max Ward and Colin Bourne also scored for OA. Bryan Kearns had a pair of assists for the Tigers.
Wrestling Lowell Tournament – Canton’s Eddie Marinilli became the first wrestling in program history to win an individual title at the George Bossi Lowell Holiday Tournament. Marinilli took first in the 145 bracket, which featured 60 wrestlers. Marinilli knocked off the fifth seeded wrestler in the quarterfinals to earn his 100th career win and then took down the top-seeded grappler Jacob Cardozo of Southington in the semifinals. In the finals, Marinilli used takedowns in the first and second periods, plus an escape in the third, to pick up a 5-3 win. Franklin had the top finish as a team, taking 17th overall with 89 points. Foxboro was 21st with 80 points, Canton totaled 72 points, Stoughton had 35 points and Taunton finished with 27 points. Franklin’s Jordan Carlucci (132) was the top Panther, taking third overall while Jake Carlucci (113) and Dominic Sackley (170) each took eighth. For Foxboro, William Ogebebor battled his way to a third place finish at 220 and Adam Lanctot (120) had a sixth place finish. Taunton’s Woudanly Danger (285) was seventh overall.
Framingham Tournament – King Philip and Milford both finished inside the top 10 at the 24-team Framingham Holiday Tournament. The Warriors were sixth overall with one individual champion and 133.5 points while the Hawks picked up 126 points with two champions. KP’s Shawn Conniff (195) won an individual title, earning a second round pin over Methuen’s Erick Lucas. Trailing 3-2 after a round, and 5-2 early in the second, Conniff used an escape, a takedown, and a near fall to go up 8-5 before getting the pin. Mohammad Lotfi (145) took second for the Warriors while Michael Gorman (113) and Jackson Kelley (138) each had fourth place finishes. Milford’s Carlos Terrinha (120) and Nick Marcolini (152) each won their brackets, with Marcolini picking up his 100th career win on the day. Ryan Hazard (170) added a third place finish for the Hawks.
Marshfield Tournament – Four Hockomock teams placed in the top 13 teams at the annual Marshfield Holiday Tournament, which featured 37 teams. Mansfield had the best finish among Hock teams, taking third with 181 points, including two individual champions. North Attleboro was right behind, taking fourth with 157 and one champion. Oliver Ames had its best finish in program history, taking 12th with 98 points and one champion while Sharon finished 13th with 97 points. Mansfield’s Jayden Curley won the 170 bracket and earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award. George Glaropoulos won the 160 bracket while Antonios Sevastos (120), CJ Glaropoulos (152), and Ethan Nirenberg (182) each had third place finishes. North Attleboro senior Mateusz Kudra remained unbeaten on the year, winning the 285 bracket with an 8-0 major decision in the final. Liam Rizk (182) was second while Michael Burns (138) took third and John Kummer (220) was fourth overall. Oliver Ames senior Dean Pacini didn’t give up a single point all tournament on his way to being champion at 195, pinning all four of his opponents. Billy Tat (170) had a second place finish for the Tigers. Sharon had seven grapplers place in the top 10, highlighted by seventh place finishes from Alex Bolt (195) and Aaron Cashton (132).
Foxboro, 43 @ Stoughton, 27 – Final – Foxboro’s Spencer SanBento won a pair of individual races and was a member of two winning relay teams in the Warriors’ win over Stoughton. SanBento touched first in each the 50 free (30.97) and the 100 free (1:13). He joined Dimitri Davis, Thomas VanDell, and Ben Dorman to win the 200 relay (2:07), and then teamed up with Jared Roke, Kris Anderson, and Joseph St. Pierre to win the 400 relay (5:21).
Stoughton @ Sharon, 3:00 (@ Randolph)
Foxboro, 57 @ Stoughton, 33 – Final – Foxboro swept the three relay events to highlight a win over the Black Knights. In the 200 medley, Sarah Egan, Lindsey Nelson, Gina Ouellette, and Pam Nelson clocked in a 2:14 to get the win. That same group took first in the 200 relay (2:01) while Shannon Egan, Kendall Milender, Madison Feldman, and Ouellette touched first in the 400 relay (4:53).
2017-2018 Record: 9-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Homer
After a two year drought of postseason hockey, the Bombardiers made it to the playoffs last year and are aiming to make it two years in a row. The Bombardiers only had three seniors on the roster last season, so the majority of the squad is back, plus a familiar face is back in the fold this season.
One of the three seniors that graduated was Jake Parker, who led the Bombardiers in scoring last season with 26 goals and eight assists. But Attleboro is slated to return its next three scorers in senior Cam Littig (12 goals, 14 assists for 26 points), junior Ryan Morry (11 goals, 15 assists for 26 points) and senior Kyle McCabe (three goals, 10 assists for 13 points).
Another positive is that the Bombardiers have some experience in goal. Both senior Evan Andrews (13.66 games played) and junior Derrik Rivet (6.33 games) are set to return. Having an experienced goalie is a huge positive but having a strong backup helps even more. Andrews had 270 saves last season with a 0.882 save percentage while Rivet turned away 144 shots and had a 0.842 save percentage. In front of goal, McCabe, Sam Flynn, and Matt Viveiros will be joined by Liam McDonough, Kyle Miniati, and Zach Pierce as members of the defensive unit.
While Littig and Morry will try to replicate their success from a season ago, one name that could help bolster the offense is senior Sam Larkin. Larkin played his freshman year and had seven goals and seven assists before switching over to juniors. His experience should give Attleboro a boost during the season.
“We have had some additions to our team this year that has created a little more depth that had been absent in previous years,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We are working on maintaining a better consistency in our play. We are still in our tryout mode and hoping to find the right mix to make us more competitive this season, especially in our league games.”
2017-2018 Record: 17-3-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
Canton comes into every year with high expectations and the Bulldogs will be favorites to bring home a ninth straight Davenport division title and 11th Hockomock League title in the past 12 seasons. While the league campaign is a priority, the Bulldogs will also be comparing themselves to the top teams in Div. 2 and hoping this will be the year to break through in the South sectional and get back to the TD Garden for the first time since 2010.
After a dominant winter, the top scoring line is back in full for Canton. Senior Ryan Nolte, the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and junior Johnny Hagan, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will draw most of the plaudits but junior Timmy Kelleher gives the Bulldogs strong play on the other wing as well. That line combined for 69 points last season (27 apiece for Hagan and Nolte) and will be one of the league’s best going into this year. Canton also has juniors Tommy Ghostlaw and Chris Lavoie back to add scoring punch to the second line.
At the blue line, juniors Owen Lehane and Jack Connolly will both be expected to eat up a lot of minutes after strong sophomore seasons, and the Bulldogs will be looking for other players to step up and fill in defensively. After consistently strong goaltending from Quinn Gibbs over the past few seasons, Canton will turn to senior Mike Staffiere, who has been a backup the past two years and is drawing great reviews for his play during the preseason.
“Overall, we have a lot of experience returning up front at the forward position, but that’s true for a lot of teams in our league and in our division,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “The real question will be how much these players improved from last year, which we won’t know for sure until the games get going.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-9-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro is coming off the best season in program history, as the Warriors won 10 games and qualified for the state tournament without relying on the Sullivan Rule. Now, the Warriors come back this season hoping to build on that season and make another run at the state tournament behind an offense that, according to coach Mark Cedorchuk, is as deep as it has ever been.
Junior Ronnie MacLellan and sophomore Kirk Leach are two of the forwards to keep an eye on this season for the Warriors after the duo combined for 15 goals and 32 points last season. Also up front will be senior Tanner Kennedy and juniors Sebastian Ricketts and Josh Bertumen, who combined for 10 goals last year and are looking to continue their development to add depth to the attack.
Senior Brendan Tully will lead the defensive effort but is also the team’s leading scorer. The blue line standout scored 18 goals and had 19 assists and is going to be a major factor in all three zones as well as a leader on the penalty kill and power play. He will be joined on the blue line by junior Kyle McGinnis, while junior Espen Reager will be between the pipes this year.
“Even though we had a successful season last year, best in team history,” Cedorchuk said, “our players are not satisfied, they are hungry to improve on that.”
2017-2018 Record: 12-6-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Chris Spillane
Franklin started well last winter, reaching the final of the prestigious Mount St. Charles tournament and taking a point off Malden Catholic for the first time, but the Panthers couldn’t carry the momentum throughout the season and were knocked out in the first round of the tournament. As usual, Franklin graduated a lot of players, but also return a strong corps of experienced players to take on arguably the program’s toughest regular season schedule, which is loaded with some of the state’s top teams.
The Panthers return 11 seniors for this season, including eight forwards, but also have a group of eight sophomores that are jumping up from the JV to contribute on varsity this season. The forward line has plenty of experience and should be able to fire in the goals this year. Seniors Joey Lizotte, Zac Falvey, Scott Elliott, Dan Magazu, and C.J. Spillane will all be able to jump into the top scoring lines after playing major roles last year.
Defensively, the top five defensemen will be juniors Tom Tasker (who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last year) and Colin Hedvig and seniors Cam Casella, Matt D’Errico, and Evan Forbes. Three sophomores will also see time on the blue line for the Panthers this season. After graduating three senior goaltenders, the job is open to senior Ryan Cameron and junior Ray Ivers, who are both making the jump from JV.
“Our hope is that team speed will drive the offense and that our returning defense will have the experience to make sound decisions in our end,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The boys are looking forward to the upcoming season. I see the Hockomock as an extremely competitive league this year. We will also challenge our boys with a high-end non-league schedule.”
2017-2018 Record: 8-12-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip brings 11 players back from last year’s squad and is hoping a tough schedule will result in a battle-tested team ready for the D1 South Tournament at the end of February. It starts with the seniors for the Warriors with four of them back, plus a transfer.
There will be a lot of experience in the top line for KP, as well as its first defensive pair and between the pipes. Captain Ryan Fitzpatrick (10 points) had a strong season last year and will be trying to replicate that this year. Fitzpatrick is joined by assistant captain Luke D’Amico (13 points) as wingers while senior transfer Brendan Shandley steps in at center to give the Warriors a formidable line to work with. Juniors Chris Daniels (13 points), Joe Boselli (11 points), and Jack Coulter (10 points) are all back after successful sophomore seasons and should provide KP with good depth.
On the blueline, veteran Garrett Maxwell is the lone senior back from last year so he will be relied on for leadership. He is one of the strongest players in the league and plays in all situations for KP, including the power play plus the penalty kill. There will be some other familiar faces on defense for KP with junior Kyle Gray (seven points) and sophomore Rocco Bianculli (eight points) both back with varsity experience.
Senior James Lewis takes over in the crease as the starting netminder for the Warriors. Lewis saw action in three games last season, including a pair of wins and shutouts. While new to the starting position, Lewis has plenty of experience and that bodes well for the Warriors. Jesper Makudera and Nate Ihley will be pushing for minutes in net as well.
“I expect the team to have some good chemistry and get off to a good start,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “Practice has been good, and we have good leadership this year with a strong core. The Hockomock League is always competitive, the Kelley-Rex is a strong division, and we have a tough non-league schedule too, so we want to challenge ourselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 9-7-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets have a strong core of players back this season, along with the addition of a couple of new faces, and head coach Mike Balzarini is hoping that combination will result in success this season.
Experience will be a strong suit for Mansfield as five of its top six forwards played significant minutes last year. Chris Copponi (12 points) and Matt Copponi (16 points) will be on the wings around center Coleman O’Brien for one line while Jake Lund (eight points) and Kevin Bellanger are returners on another line. The sixth forward will be center Jack Garland, who played juniors last year but is back in the fold for the Hornets this year. Ben Ierardo, Cam Page, and Braedon Copparini will be in the mix for minutes as well.
Defensively, while there are certainly some holes to fill, Balzarini has some talent to rely on the blue line. Two-time HockomockSports.com selections Mike Arnold and Tyler Oakley graduated so there is a little bit of a void, but Austin Ricker has stepped on early on to anchor the Hornet defensive unit. Ricker is joined by Brad Grant, who played for the Hornets previously before switching to juniors. Nick Levine and Joe Troiano gained valuable experience last year, and Jack Gormley and Brian Grant should be in the mix as well.
Mansfield also has experience in the goalie position with junior Sean McCafferty back between the pipes after having a breakout sophomore campaign. McCafferty was one of the top goalies in the league last year, earning HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman honors. He had 377 saves and a 92 save percentage, which bodes well for the Hornets this year.
“We obviously want to pick up where we left off after making the playoffs the last two years,” Balzarini said. “With the returning players plus new additions, I think we’re a little bit deeper and we know what we need to do to be competitive and make sure we’re playing well at the end of the season.”
2017-2018 Record: 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Ben McManama
Defense will be key for the Rocketeers during the 2018-2019 season. With a handful of returners back on the blue line as well as veteran goalie Ryan Warren, North Attleboro boasts a talented defensive unit.
Senior captain Brendan McHugh will anchor the defensive group alongside juniors Jeff Baker and Will Yeomans. All three are very experienced players that put defense first. They can all get involved in the offense as well. Warren has shined between the pipes each of the last three seasons, earning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a freshman and was a HockomockSports Third Team selection last season. Warren is pushed in practice each day as Chris Ulrich and Nick Digiacomo push for time.
Offensively, North Attleboro only lost two forwards from last year’s group, but those two players (Drew Wissler, Jason McNeany) combined for nearly half of the Rocketeers’ 76 goals a season ago. So this year, Big Red will need forwards to step up and contribute. Captain Anthony Zammiello scored 13 goals last year and will look to continue his success this season. Todd Robinson, Justin Moccia, Dennis Morehouse, Jake Ebert, and Jack Connolly are all candidates to have big years for the Rocketeers.
“We are a very big and physical team that works hard,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “We will need to stay out of the box to have success this year. Defense and depth will be the strength of our team. We will also need three lines that can score. I am very optimistic on the season because it is obvious that all our players put a ton of work in during the offseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Speed has been the strength of the Tigers since Sean Bertoni took over the team and Oliver Ames will be relying on that speed and aggressiveness to try and challenge Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and to make a run in the state tournament. With a few players coming back from juniors to join with an experienced group, OA has high hopes of pushing the Panthers for the league title.
Senior forward Brett Williams will be the key player in the attack, coming off a season in which he scored 21 goals and recorded 15 assists and was named to the HockomockSports.com First Team. Williams will have plenty of help up front from senior Colin Bourne, who is one of the fastest skaters in the league and had 13 points last season. Senior forward Cullen Gallagher will also give the offense a boost, as he comes back to the program after a year in juniors.
Senior Matt McCormack was one of the league’s top defensemen last year and his steadying presence on the blue line will be critical to OA improving on that end of the ice, after giving up 54 goals as a team last year. Senior James Beatty is back after a year in juniors and should be a big boost to the blue line. Junior Owen Connor is back in net and looking to build off last season’s efforts.
“We are a team that will rely heavily on our team speed,” Bertoni said. “Our aggressive style of defense will lead to a successful offense. We will have to establish our forecheck to be effective. Our transition game will be a strength for us this year, creating turnovers and getting on the attack.”
2017-2018 Record: 1-20-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Overall, the Stoughton Black Knights will be on the young side but they have a veteran first line that will lead the way.
The Knights will be looking to improve on last year’s record, while possibly trying to surprise some teams along the way. Leading the way offensively will be senior Sean Doherty. Doherty was Stoughton’s second-leading scorer last year behind Brendan Campbell (graduated). Doherty was second on the Black Knights with 12 goals and added 11 assists and will be relied upon to be a key piece of the offense this season. Joining Doherty on the first line will be senior Luke Bainton, who brings a lot of varsity experience to the table. Bainton will look to improve on last year after recording seven points (four goals, three assists).
Senior Josh Hough will anchor the blue line for the Black Knights. In his fourth year on varsity, Hough has logged a lot of minutes on the ice over the past couple of seasons and will be one of the most experienced defensemen in the league. Hough is able to create on the offensive end as well, scoring a pair of goals last year along with seven assists. Senior Thomas McCoy is set to return in goal after getting experience between the pipes a season ago.
2017-2018 Record: 12-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has been a program on the rise for the past few seasons and last year the Tigers took another big step forward by making a push to the Div. 2 South semifinal. That unexpected tournament run as the No. 13 seed, which included wins over No. 4 Old Rochester and No. 5 Nauset, has boosted the team’s confidence heading into a new year in which all but four players are back.
Scoring has not been a problem for the Tigers in recent seasons. Last year, Taunton scored a league-best 98 goals, five more than Davenport champ Canton, and senior forward Cam Sneyd (30 points) and junior Mike Albert (32 points) both eclipsed the 30-point mark. Senior Jack Patneaude added 15 points last year and he is poised for a big year along with classmates Jaden Weyant, Owen Ross, and Nick Vandermeel.
The defense is almost completely returned from last year, led by senior Andrew Carter, who was solid in the defensive zone but also chipped in with 20 points. Senior Brady Nichols and sophomore Dylan Nichols are also back for the Tigers. Junior Sean Bunker returns in net after a solid performance in the tournament run and he will be backed up by classmate Andrew Gomes, who has shown that he is a capable replacement when needed.
“The players have embraced the enjoyment of the journey, the process, and working hard to get better every day,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “They have the potential to continue their accomplishment of new heights. They will be fun to coach, and watch grow throughout the season.”
Albert is coming off a remarkable sophomore season in which he was among the league’s leading scorers and helped the Tigers make an improbable run to the Div. 2 South semifinal. Albert scored 17 goals and recorded 15 assists last year and is a tenacious forward in the attacking zone, chasing every puck and capable of making plays anywhere in the offensive zone. Although not the biggest forward, Albert never shied away from a hit and his speed makes him a threat wherever he picks up the puck. Taunton has been a program on the rise over the past few seasons and Albert’s skill and scoring touch have the Tigers confident of continuing that upward trajectory this winter.
The reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, Hagan is one of the top forwards in the Hockomock League and part of the league’s most dynamic scoring duo, along with senior Ryan Nolte (see below). Hagan was tied for the team lead with 36 points last year, including 14 goals and a team-high 22 assists, and came through in the clutch with nine of his points coming in three playoff games. He seems to love the physical part of the game and is very difficult to dislodge from the puck when he is breaking into the zone and he has the vision to find seams to set up his teammates or take the puck to goal. Hagan has an impressive shot and a love for the big hits (which sometimes gets him in trouble with penalties) and when he is on the ice opposing defenses have to keep an eye out for him at all times. Canton has been consistently among the top teams in Div. 2 and Hagan’s growth on the first line should keep the Bulldogs in that category again this winter.
Lizzotte is one of Franklin’s top returning forwards from last year’s league title-winning side and he could make the move up from the second to the first line for the Panthers this season. His energy and tenacity in the offensive zone made him one of Franklin’s top scoring threats, as the Panthers advanced to the final of the competitive Mount St. Charles tournament and got a point for the first time against Malden Catholic. Lizzotte scored nine times and assisted on four other goals, partnering with Zac Falvey on the second line and both are back to keep Franklin rolling into a new season. Lizzotte utilizes his speed to open up space for diagonal passes and is willing to chase pucks into the corners to try and keep the offense going. In addition to league play, Franklin has a schedule loaded with some of the top teams in Div. 1, so Lizzotte and the forwards will need to be firing right from the start to help the Panthers compete with some of the state’s best.
McCafferty has put in two impressive seasons for the Hornets and he will be one of the top returning goaltenders this winter, as Mansfield looks to challenge Franklin for the league title and make some noise in the state tournament. As a sophomore, McCafferty allowed only 1.85 goals against and saved 92 percent of the shots that he faced. Overall, he made 377 saves last year and had a solid performance in the loss to Xaverian in the tournament. McCafferty is quick with a strong glove and does a good job of positioning to be in the right places to make saves. The loss of graduated defensemen Tyler Oakley and Tim Arnold will make McCafferty’s communication with the blue line group even more important this season, but at least the Hornets know that there will be a solid last line of defense if things do break down. McCafferty will be tested this season, but the Hornets are confident he can come through and give them the type of performances needed to push Franklin and try to win a first league title since 2011.
McCormack has been one of the most consistent defensemen in the league over the past couple of seasons and is an imposing figure on the blue line for the Tigers, who will be hoping to challenge perennial power Franklin for the Kelley-Rex division title. In addition to his physical presence in the defensive zone and his ability to dominate the crease, McCormack also chipped in on offense, scoring eight goals and providing eight assists. His passing in the transition game is a key to the Tigers taking advantage of their speed in the forward lines and he has a rocket of a shot from the point. Teams look for reliability from the blue line and McCormack has provided that for OA the past few seasons, limiting the opposition’s scoring chances and adding toughness to the lineup. With McCormack in the back line, the Tigers will be confident of keeping pace with the top teams in the division.
With the graduation of leading scorer Jake Parker, the Bombardiers will be counting on Morry to continue his development into a top line center. As a sophomore, Morry centered the second line and was part of the top power play and penalty kill units and he contributed 11 goals and 15 assists to help Attleboro get back into the state tournament. This year, the skilled, physical forward will be counted on to make up some of the production lost from Parker’s graduation and continue playing big minutes (more than 25 minutes per game last season). He has solid stick-handling skills and an accurate shot on the move, but it is his vision and ability to pick out the right pass under pressure that makes him effective for the Bombardiers. With Sam Larkin back after a year at juniors and a year of experience for Morry, Attleboro has the pieces in place to make another run at a playoff place.
The 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year and 2018 Player of the Year, Nolte is arguably the top two-way forward in the Hockomock League and leads the top line for the Bulldogs, who went unbeaten in the Hock last year. His partnership with Johnny Hagan (see above) was the league’s most dynamic last year and they are back to try and bring another league title to the Canton Ice House. Nolte scored 18 goals and had 18 assists for the Bulldogs and was also part of both the penalty kill and the power play because of his work in all three zones. Physically strong and with impressive skill with the puck, Nolte can score in a variety of ways and is not afraid of getting into the crease and causing havoc in front opposing goalies. He is also a patient attacker, willing to cycle the puck and wait for the right opening. Canton has high expectations every winter and this season is no different, as the Bulldogs look to secure another league title and make a run at an elusive sectional title.
Tasker jumped into the mix for Franklin and made a quick impression as a solid performer on the blue line in all three zones, providing big hits and a hard shot from the point. Now as a junior Tasker has solidified himself as a mainstay and one of the leaders of the Panthers defense as they try to continue their dominance in the Kelley-Rex division and make another run in the tournament. Tasker is a physical presence in the defensive zone but also showed good touch on his outlet passes to get the Panthers into the attack quickly. He scored four goals and had four assists last season and became a dangerous weapon on the power play. After a year of experience on the varsity level, Tasker will be one of the leaders in the back line and keep driving the team forward from the defensive zone. Expectations are high for Franklin defensemen but Tasker seems more than capable of meeting them.
Tully spent a year in juniors but returned last season to lead the Warriors to the best season in program history. The senior defenseman will hope to repeat that success this year, as not only the leader of the team’s blueline corps but also as one of Foxboro’s top scorers. Tully scored 19 goals and had 18 assists from his defenseman position, which was among the top scorers in the Hockomock League regardless of position. He is a skilled player with the puck, but can also play the physical game necessary to keep opponents away from goal. With his speed and game IQ, Tully can cover a lot of ice and always seems to be in the right position to make plays in either zone. Coming off a 10-win season, the Warriors will be turning to Tully to lead another run at a state tournament berth and continue the program’s forward momentum.
Warren has been one of the league’s top goaltenders for the past three seasons and he enters his senior year with the opportunity to help North Attleboro unseat Canton at the top of the Davenport division. Warren, the 2016 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, allowed only 2.75 goals per game last season and held 11 opponents to two goals or less, which gave the potent North offense the chance in just about every game. A quick and agile goalie, Warren makes some of the most difficult saves seem easy and he came through against some of North’s toughest opponents, such as 36 saves against Franklin or more than 50 stops against Canton. When Warren is on his game, North can compete with anyone in Div. 2 and the Rocketeers will be counting on consistent performances this winter as they make another run at a league title. With Warren back in goal, a tournament run isn’t out of the question for North as well.
“They are swinging the bat well, we’re just trying to keep the same approach regardless of what the pitcher is doing out there,” said first-year North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart. “We’re taking it one pitch at a time, one batter at a time. We feel if we take care of ourselves, we can be successful.”
And if the offense wasn’t hot enough, North Attleboro ace Nick Sinacola allowed just two hits and two unearned runs in six innings of work while striking out seven to earn the win.
“I’ll give it to that North Attleboro lineup, they crush the ball,” said Oliver Ames coach Joe Barr. “I’ve never seen a team like that, top to bottom, just go through and square it up. Our guy [Reid Latham] was throwing strikes but I don’t know if the air was a little thin or what but those balls got in the air and kept traveling.”
Once Sinacola set the Tigers down in order in the first inning, North Attleboro’s offense went right to work. Brendan McHugh led off with a double, Zach DeMattio had a one-out walk, and Nate Pearce roped a ground-rule double over the fence for a quick 1-0 lead.
Nick Raneri scored on a fielder’s choice as DeMattio was able to get home before OA’s throw did, and Jeff Gale hit one deep enough that brought Pearce, who was ruled to have tagged up after Mitch Goulet’s spectacular catch in center, home for a 3-0 lead after an inning.
Big Red tacked on four more runs — all with two outs — when it returned to the plate in the bottom of the second inning. McHugh started the rally with a single and moved to third when Sinacola picked up his first hit of the day. DeMattio brought both runners home with a hard hit triple, Pearce knocked a run in with a single, and Raneri drove a run in with a single as well to make it 7-0.
“We’ve all been working together through the winter and the spring and it really just shows how much hard work and coming together as a group can accomplish when you execute,” DeMattio said.
Nick Zwerle reached after forcing an error on his bunt and Sean O’Brien walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Sinacola got the second out but Michael Friel hit a line drive double into the gap in left center to bring both runs in to give the Tigers some life, cutting the deficit to 7-2.
But North Attleboro landed a big counter punch in the form of four runs in the bottom of the third to extend its lead. Aidan Harding walked and pinch runner Kyle Briere took second on a wild pitch and third on a single from McHugh. Briere beat out a throw home on Sinacola’s grounder, DeMattio scored McHugh with a single, Sinacola scored after DeMattio stole second and OA attempted to pick him off, and Pearce doubled in DeMattio for an 11-2 advantage.
“Subconsciously that’s the type of stuff that just creeps into your mind,” Abarr said. “You think you’re back in it — and I think we were in it more most of the game — but that was a deflating experience. I’ve been on that end as a player and a coach, and it’s tough. I tip my cap to North for that, they didn’t let up. They played hard right to the end.”
“I give [OA] a lot of credit, they are an excellent hitting team,” Hart said. “In regards to answering back, I think it just puts us at ease. I think it made it 7-2 then and five runs with these two teams means nothing. So to get those runs back, it helps Nick on the mound.”
Sinacola retired the side in order in each of the first and second innings, and after allowing two runs in the third, only allowed one base runner to reach third base (an error and a wild pitch). It was Sinacola’s second win against OA this year after beating them in his first appearance back in early April.
“I think early in the year, a lot of hitters struggle with the fastball,” Sinacola said. “Once you get to this point in the season, they are a lot better and they have their timing down. So I think we had to change it up and throw a little bit more offspeed then I did the first time and I think it worked.”
Raneri scored on a passed ball and Gale came home on a hard hit ball from Nolan Buckley that was ruled an infield error for the Tigers in the fifth inning.
In the bottom fo the sixth, Sinacola got his second RBI with a single to score McHugh, DeMattio picked up his fourth RBI of the day with a base hit to score Sinacola and at the next at-bat, Pearce launched a two-run home run to cap the scoring.
“We had to pretty much show up and play perfect against that lineup and that pitcher in order to walk out with a win,” Abarr said. “We knew they’d be relentless. But it was an unreal run for us here at the end, with a team that didn’t quite expect to be here. We don’t set hard and fast goals about where a team can get to, we have just shown up and worked on specific things to get better each day. And these guys did a great job doing that.”
North Attleboro’s top four hitters — McHugh, Sinacola, DeMattio, and Pearce — combined for 13 hits, 11 RBI, and 14 runs scored.
“This is definitely the best group I’ve ever coached,” Abarr said of his team. “From top to bottom, the first guy in the lineup to the last guy on the bench to the team manager…they were tight, always behind each other, and regardless who was in the lineup each day, they were ready to play. It was the most reliable, hard-working, and unified group that I’ve coached and those are the three qualities you look for in a high school team.”
North Attleboro (21-2) advances to the D2 State Final to play North champ Beverly (20-4) on Thursday night at 6:30 at LaLacheur Park in Lowell.