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
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.
Hagan created a turnover for Canton in the offensive zone but was denied by the post, and minutes later, OA’s Williams was turned away when his shot went off of Staffiere’s mask.
In the final seconds, Hagan connected with Kelleher for the empty net goal, the assist giving Hagan his 100th career point.
BOURNE, Mass. – Coming into the month of February, Oliver Ames junior defensemen Ryan Gottwald was in search of his first career goal.
That came just over a week into the month in a big win over Brockton. Now he can add a game-winning goal in a playoff game to his resume.
Gottwald scored his second career goal just over two minutes into the third period, and that tally proved to the be the game-winner as the ninth-seeded Oliver Ames boys hockey team skated to a win over eighth-seeded Plymouth North.
“I honestly was trying to pass it out front, I was just trying to throw it to the middle and I was surprised when it went in,” Gottwald said. “I pinched in because the puck was open so I went down and got it and was just looking for someone out front and I think it went five-hole.
“This is a big confidence booster for us, we played hard tonight, so we deserved it.”
Neither the Tigers or the Eagles could find separation for the first 25 minutes of the contest, with Plymouth North twice answering goals from OA to tie the game. And after four total goals in the first period, neither team could get an edge in the second, not until the final minutes.
Oliver Ames bookended the end of the second and beginning of the third with goals, which proved to be the difference in the game. After a strong second period, the Tigers were rewarded with a goal with just over a minute left in the frame for a 3-2 lead.
And then Gottwald opened the third with a low shot that found its way in to make it 4-2.
“We talked about getting shots to the net,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “If you have a one-on-one situation, a get a shot to the net. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Most of the goals were deflection goals so wanted to get the puck to the net, we’re not an overly cute team. Credit to Ryan, it worked out in that case. He doesn’t have a lot of shots, doesn’t have a lot of goals but if you get the puck on the net, you can be rewarded.”
Plymouth North cut the deficit to one with 2:38 when the puck was deflected from behind the net to right in front for a tap in. The Eagles pulled the goalie with just over a minute left but junior goalie Owen Connor made two big saves in the final minute, and senior Cullen Gallagher – making his return after missing a majority of the season to injury – made a terrific effort play with a diving clearance to help the Tigers kill the final seconds.
Connor finished with 35 saves, making 11 stops in the first period, 12 in the second, and 12 more in the third period for the win.
“I think his confidence got higher as the game went on,” Bertoni said. “We didn’t do a good job for him in the first period. Our defensive coverage was poor, I thought we improved in the second and third but we had some breakdowns we aren’t used to but that’s also a credit to Plymouth North.”
Oliver Ames got off to a perfect start, scoring just 1:13 into the contest. Jake Gottwald, Ryan’s twin brother, came flying in and forced a turnover, intercepting a pass at the Eagles’ blue line. Jake Gottwald went in alone on the goalie, firing a wrist shot that was stopped but the rebound fell right back to him and he buried the chance.
“I had just come off the bench, it was one of my first shifts,” Jake Gottwald said. “I took away the middle and the pass came right to me. I took the shot and was able to get the rebound, it popped out to the right side.”
The lead lasted just over two minutes as the Eagles were able to establish an offensive zone presence, and Jake Fleet tossed a puck on net that took a wild deflection and found the back of tenet to make it 1-1.
Oliver Ames went back in front, capitalizing on its first power play chance of the game. Junior Hunter Costello was extra patient with the puck on his stick, and was able to fake the defense by making a move behind the net. Instead, Costello came back to the left and found senior Max Ward flying in and hit him for a one-timer for a 2-1 lead with 4:58 left in the first.
Plymouth North once again had an answer just over two minutes later. Cam Caraher came up with a bad giveaway at the blue line from the OA defense, skated across the zone and snuck his wrist shot into the back of the net to make it 2-2.
The Eagles earned a power play chance five minutes into the second and appeared to have the go-ahead goal, celebrating as if that was the case but the ref had blown the whistle before the puck crossed and the game stayed 2-2. In the remaining time on the power play, Gallagher came up with a big clear and Connor made a terrific stop on a redirected shot.
At the midway point, the Eagles’ Jason Norwood had a partial break, going in one-on-one with OA’s Julian Krowski, and the Tiger junior won the battle, sweeping away the puck to prevent a chance from the Eagles.
OA nearly went back in front with 5:20 left in the second when Costello connected with Gallagher in front but Plymouth North goalie Jack Arnold made a terrific left-to-right push to rob Gallagher.
Freshman Bryan Kearns had one of the best chances of the frame for Oliver Ames, skating in on a partial breakaway with a defenseman riding his back. He unleashed a hard shot that Arnold got just enough of up high to keep it out.
While Kearns’ bid was turned aside, the Tigers cashed in on the ensuing face-off. Brett Williams and Gallagher linked up with Costello, who turned and fired a low shot from the right circle that banked off a Plymouth North defenseman’s skate and into the back of the net for a 3-2 lead with 1:04 left in the second.
“We played a very good second period, we started the third well, and the first period was just okay. We did an excellent job killing penalties, especially those two in the third. This is one of the most resilient groups I’ve been around, nothing really fazes them. No matter what happens, they have a quick turnaround. The effort was there tonight, nothing was really pretty tonight but we got it done. At this point in the new season, we did a good job grinding it out.
“Getting that one with two minutes left, that was huge to go into the locker room with the lead going into the third. And since we rely so much on protecting our net, having a lead in the third is big for us.”
Oliver Ames killed to Plymouth North power plays in the third period. Connor made four saves on the second extra-man opportunity, Ryan Gottwald and Gallagher had clearances, and Colin Bourne pinned the puck in the offensive zone to kill some time.
Oliver Ames boys hockey (14-8-1) advances to the D2 South quarterfinal to take on a familiar foe in league rival Canton. The Tigers, who dropped a 5-2 decision to the Bulldogs in the regular season, will renew acquittances with one of their rivals on Saturday at 6:45 at the Canton Ice House.
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, 9 @ Stoughton, 2 – Final – Attleboro senior Sam Larkin scored a hat trick and Cam Littig found the back of the net twice as the Bombarders skated to two points on the road at Asiaf. Carter Gerome scored twice for the Black Knights.
Taunton, 0 @ Canton, 5 – Final – Ryan Nolte scored a pair of goals while Tommy Vaughn, Tommy Ghostlaw, and Johnny Hagan each scored once for the Bulldogs, who finished a perfect 9-0 in league play. Andrew Gomes made 49 saves in net for Taunton.
Foxboro, 1 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final – Foxboro goalie Espen Reager made 52 saves and the Warriors scored a third period goal to earn an upset over the Hornets. Reager turned away 23 first period shots and then 29 over the second and third periods to earn the shutout. Tanner Kennedy scored on a rebound in front to put the Warriors ahead, just one of two shots from Foxboro in the third period.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip senior Brendan Shandley scored the game-winning goal less than a minute into the third period and assisted on the Warriors’ other two goals to earn two points against Oliver Ames. Max Ward put Oliver Ames ahead late in the first period before Conor Cooke (from Shandley) tied it midway through the second period. Shandley put KP in front just 18 seconds into the third period, and then set up Joe Boselli for an insurance goal with four minutes left in the game. James Lewis made 17 saves for the win.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 1 @ Franklin, 4 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.
Stoughton, 0 @ King Philip, 8 – Final
Milford, 39 @ Canton, 35 – Final
North Attleboro, 44 @ Foxboro, 21 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this dual meet.
Franklin, 60 vs. St. John’s (Shrewsbury), 15 – Final
King Philip, 24 @ Mansfield, 51 – Final
Oliver Ames, 57 @ Taunton, 18 – Final – Seven Oliver Ames grapplers earned wins by pin as the visiting Tigers topped Taunton. John Dobbin (106), Stavros Constantinou (113), Remi Creighton (126), Bryan Young (138), Billy Tat (170), Andrew Fraser (182), and Dean Pacini (195) all won by pin for OA. Tyler Lima (120) and Candido Santos (160) won by pin for Taunton.
Stoughton, 22 @ Sharon, 45 – Final
Oliver Ames, 134.95 @ Sharon, 122.05 – Final – Oliver Ames Lauren Picanzi scored a meet-high 9.1 on the vault on her way to winning the All Around as the Tigers picked up a win over Sharon. Picanzi scored a 35.6 for the All Around, adding a 8.8 on bards, 8.9 on beam, and 8.8 on floor to go with a strong vault performance. Ashlyn Latham was second in the All Around, highlighted by a 8.8 on the vault. Gianna Martucci added an 8.9 on the vault and an 8.7 on the beam for the Tigers.
Today’s games are listed below.
Foxboro, 1 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Attleboro received goals from three different players on its way to a key win over visiting Foxboro. Kyle McCabe, Ryan Morry, and Sam Larkin each found the back of the net for the Bombardiers while Cam Littig had an assist.
Franklin, 5 @ King Philip, 2 – Final – Franklin tied the game at 2-2 with less than a minute left in the second period and then outscored the Warriors 3-0 in the final period to earn a key division win, moving into first place with one league game left to play. KP had a 1-0 lead after one period and took a 2-1 lead in the second but Franklin knotted the score with 51 seconds left in the second period. Franklin took a 3-2 lead just two minutes into the third, and then tacked on two goals in a two minute period halfway through the third. Cam Cassella, Matt Holmes, Scott Elliott, Shane McCaffrey, and Joey Lizotte each had a goal for Franklin. Brendan Shandley and Jack Coulter (from Garrett Maxwell) had goals for KP while James Lewis made 20 saves in net for the Warriors.
Mansfield, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 4 – Final – Oliver Ames scored three straight goals between the first and second periods to take a 3-1 lead, and then tacked on an empty net goal in the final minute of the game to secure two points and a win over Mansfield. Hornet junior Joseph Troiano put Mansfield 1-0 on an assist from Coleman O’Brien but OA’s Max Ward (from Brett Williams) tied the game with 3:16 to go in the first period. Freshman Bryan Kearns (two assists) finished off a scrum in front in the second to put OA up 2-1 and James Beatty found Colin Bourne for a one-timer to give the Tigers a 3-1 advantage after two periods. Mansfield’s Jack Garland scored shorthanded on a breakaway early in the third to make it a one-goal game but Jake Gottwald iced it with an empty netter in the final minute. Owen Connor had 22 saves in net for the Tigers.
Taunton, 9 @ Stoughton, 4 – Final – Taunton senior defenseman Dylan Nichols scored two of his three goals in the first period and Camden Faria netted a pair in the first as the Tigers built a 5-1 lead after a period and never looked back. Nichols and Stoughton’s Sean Doherty traded goals to start the game but the Tigers scored four straight to take a big lead. Taunton’s Cam Sneyd had three assists in the opening period. Sean Doherty scored twice for Black Knights.
Canton, 6 vs. Norwood, 0 – Final – After scoring her 50th career goal last game, Lauren Fitzpatrick scored the first four goals of the night for the Bulldogs. Maggie Malloy and Lizzie Tassinari also scored in the win.
Franklin, 3 @ Medfield/Norton, 1 – Final – Three different players each scored once as Franklin rolled to a win on the road over Medfield. Cassi Ronan (two assists), Regan Paterson (assist) and Amanda Lewandowski each found the back of while Gabby Colace (13 saves) earned the win in net for Franklin.
King Philip, 1 vs. Westwood, 4 – Final
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 1 vs. Medway, 1 – Final – Emma Pereira scored the lone goal of the game for the Warriors, putting them up 1-0 in the third period but Medway was able to find the equalizer.
Hock Super Quad (Canton, Franklin, Foxboro, King Philip, Taunton, Stoughton) – Click here for a photo gallery from this event.
Hock Super Quad (Mansfield, Milford, North Attleboro, Oliver Ames, Sharon) – Click here for a photo gallery from this event.
Stoughton, 52 @ King Philip, 95 – Final
Stoughton, 61 @ King Philip, 82 – Final
Attleboro vs. Braintree, 10:00AM
Today’s games are listed below.
Franklin, 35 @ Holy Name, 33 – Final – Ali Brigham secured the win and a season sweep of Holy Name, scoring the game-winning basket with just one second remaining on the clock. Brigham scored 23 points on the night.
Franklin, 2 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.
Canton, 3 vs. Newburyport, 1 – Final – Canton faced a one-goal deficit after one period but scored three unanswered goals to beat Newburyport. Junior Colby Ciffolillo knotted the game early in the second period and senior Ryan Nolte scored on the power play to put the Bulldogs up 2-1. Junior Chris Lavoie scored in the third period to make it 3-1.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Foxboro, 0 – Final – North Attleboro scored once in the first period and again in the second period to pick up a win over Foxboro. Jake Ebert put the Rocketeers ahead 1-0 and Dennis Morehouse doubled the lead with a goal in the second.
Oliver Ames, 6 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames exploded with four goals in the third period to pull away from visiting Coyle & Cassidy. Hunter Costello paced the Tigers with a pair of goals and an assist, Brett Williams scored once and had one helper, and Julian Krowski (first career goal), Duncan Pereira, and Max Ward each scored once. Owen Connor earned the win in net with 19 saves.
Sharon @ North Attleboro, 4:00
Canton @ Attleboro, 1:30
Sharon @ Taunton, 1:00
Trailing by a goal entering the third period, and without two of their top point producers due to injury and illness, the Tigers battled back to score the tying goal midway through the period and killed off a penalty in the final two minutes to grab a 2-2 tie with visiting North Attleboro.
“It was an awesome effort, I’m really proud of them,” Bertoni said. “We didn’t win the game but it was one of my proudest moments, being down guys and most teams in that situation against a quality team like North Attleboro are in trouble. Our theme is being resilient. No matter what, we just keep fighting, the effort is always there. We showed it against Canton, we showed it tonight. It’s rewarding to see as a coach.”
Despite being without leading scorers Cullen Gallagher and Brian Kearns, who each have 17 points, the Tigers twice overcame a one-goal deficit in the game.
North Attleboro took a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the game and took that advantage into the locker room during the first intermission. OA knotted the score with 9:50 to go in the second period but the Rocketeers took the lead back with a late goal in the second.
“That’s a bad tie for us,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “That’s taking nothing away from OA, they work their butts off. They have some guys who are sick, some guys who are injured and my hats off to them, they showed something today. We didn’t respond today, we have a full four line, healthy group that just didn’t get it done.”
Rocketeer senior defenseman Brendan McHugh put the visitors up 2-1 with just 1:03 left in the second period. After skating to a relatively even period, McHugh tossed a high shot on net from the blue line that OA goalie Owen Connor (14 saves) never seemed to get eyes on and it fluttered into the back of the net.
The Tigers opened the third by earning a power play but couldn’t muster any chances on goal. Instead, the best chance came for North Attleboro when the penalty expired. Rocketeer junior Jack Connolly came out of the box, took a pass and went flying into the offensive zone alone. But Connolly couldn’t quite get off a final shot with Connor covering the post with the pad.
Three minutes later, Oliver Ames had its equalizer. Senior Brett Williams prevented a clearance along the boards with a strong check that put the puck in the center of the ice. Junior Ryan Gottwald was able to bat the puck back to Williams, who was all by himself, and he deposited his shot five-hole to knot the score 2-2 with 6:47 to go.
North Attleboro had a final chance to go back on top when it went on the power play with 2:13 to go in the game. Oliver Ames’ top penalty killer Matt McCormick was whistled for a boarding penalty but the Rocketeers were only able to get one shot on net during the final two minutes.
Max Ward came up with a big early clear, and then teamed up with Williams to provide an aggressive forecheck that didn’t allow the Rocketeers to leave its own zone. McHugh had the lone shot of the man advantage but Connor easily gloved it.
“Even just getting the penalty with two minutes left in a tie game can deflate a team, especially with our top penalty kill guy in the box,” Bertoni said. “But it felt like we were attacking on it, we didn’t let them set up. I think they only had one shot on net, we had a good chance too. Brett and Max were relentless in the offensive zone. The kids are giving us everything, it’s awesome to see. We haven’t got much puck luck this year but hard work will pay off.
The Tigers even had a chance to score the game winner while shorthanded. Junior Hunter Costello cleared the puck off the boards and senior Colin Bourne used his speed to get around a North defender and get to the puck first. He was able to get a close bid on goal but North senior goalie Ryan Warren (19 saves) made a big pad save to prevent the shorthanded bid.
“They had a lot more energy in the third, they work really hard,” McManama said. “It didn’t feel like one team was better than the other in the third, it felt pretty even but I thought we could have been better. It breaks down into just some simple plays. We weren’t getting pucks in deep, we were turning it over at the blue line. Those little things, they add up. Those little things snowball and can really hurt you.”
North Attleboro struck on a rebound chance 5:31 into the contest. Andrew Zammiello put a shot on goal that Connor turned aside but junior Dennis Morehouse had plenty of space in front to bury it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
North had a couple of chances to add to its lead in the first but couldn’t find the back of the net. The best opportunity came when Todd Robinson fed Connolly in the slot but Connor came up with a big pad stop.
OA’s best chances came off the stick of McCormick, who fired a slap shot that Warren gobbled up and a backhand chance from Jake Gottwald that Warren turned away.
OA senior James Beatty set the tying goal up with an absolute perfect pass. With possession in his own defensive end, Beatty fired a perfectly weighted pass through the neutral zone right onto the stick of Williams as he entered the offensive zone for a breakaway, and Williams used a nice move and lifted the puck into the net to make it 1-1.
Beyond North Attleboro’s first goal, the Tigers’ defense did a nice job of limiting chances for the Rocketeers.
“Defensive positioning has been great all year,” Bertoni said. “We only rolled four defensemen tonight, [McCormick], James [Beatty], Julian [Krowski], and Ryan [Gottwald]. They gave us a ton of minutes, and we had to kill a couple of penalties too. Other than that first goal, where we didn’t get our sticks in there, we didn’t give up a lot of quality chances. And we had some chances in the third too so I’ll get that point for sure.”
Oliver Ames boys hockey (2-2-1 Hockomock, 7-4-1 overall) hits the road on Saturday with a visit to Taunton at 2:00. North Attleboro (3-1-1, 5-5-1) is off until Monday when it takes on Foxboro at 6:00 at the Foxboro Sports Center.
The Bulldogs scored twice inside the first minute of the game and had a third goal before the midway point of the first period, eventually skating away with a 5-2 decision over Oliver Ames.
Canton needed just 12 seconds to find the back of the net, doubled the lead in similar fashion at the 58 second mark, and again won a battle down low with 9:51 to go in the first to build a 3-0 lead.
“That’s as a good as I’ve seen coaching Canton High,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “It was a good start, we came out flying, but you knew it was going to settle down at some point and [Oliver Ames] was going to play better. And it did and it was an even hockey game. When you play like a team like OA, and you know each other as well as we do, it’s going to tighten up eventually and it did. They are a good team, they run three good lines, four good [defensemen] and a good goalie. It was a good hockey game.”
After quickly getting possession in the attacking zone, Canton senior Matt Martin fired a low shot that was turned aside by OA junior goalie Owen Connor (18 saves) with a pad stop but the rebound was won by junior Timmy Kelleher and he quickly lifted the puck into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 14:48 left.
Canton continued to apply pressure and doubled its advantage with a similar play. Junior Chris Lavoie came streaking down the left side along the boards before rifling a low shot that was once again denied by Connor. But once again, Canton had plenty of help in front with senior Ryan Nolte providing a screen in front and junior Shane Marshall there to clean up the loose puck to make it 2-0 just 58 seconds into the game.
“We’d like to have the first minute back, yeah,” said OA head coach Sean Bertoni. “We knew what we were in for and it’s kind of ironic because we worked on a lot of 3-on-3 down low all week and that’s how they scored the first three goals. They came out hard, they wanted it more…that’s how Canton plays. They were hungry out front and we weren’t. We just didn’t take sticks, we were in position, but we just didn’t take sticks, and Canton wanted it more.”
The Bulldogs didn’t relent after building a 2-0 goal, pushing forward and finding the back of the net just over five minutes into the game. This time the set up came from junior Ronan O’Mahoney, who sent the puck towards the net from a step inside the blue line. The puck didn’t make it through, blocked down by a body in front and Canton senior Joe Robinson was the first to react, batting in the loose put for a 3-0 lead, all before Oliver Ames was able to register a shot on goal.
The Tigers’ first shot on goal came with 6:45 left in the first and Oliver Ames made the most of it. Senior Brett Williams connected with classmate Max Ward in front and he directed the puck into the back of the net to get the Tigers on the board, down 3-1.
Oliver Ames started the second period with a power play, but it was quickly erased by a tripping call to make it 4-on-4. Canton had over a minute and a half of power play time when the 4-on-4 elapsed, but good forechecking from Williams and freshman Bryan Kearns prevented Canton from creating any real chances.
Junior Johnny Hagan nearly extended Canton’s lead with 9:50 left in the second period when Kelleher set him up in the slot but Connor made a terrific save to keep the puck out and the deficit at two.
But just over a minute later, Connor had no chance when Lavoie was left all alone in front. Marshall did the dirty work, pinning the puck in behind the net and drew the attention of three OA players. Marshall delivered a perfectly weighted pass in front to Lavoie and he one-timed it in to make it 4-1.
OA had a power play in the final minutes of the period and had a couple of looks but couldn’t solve Canton goalie Michael Staffiere for a second time. First, Kearns centered a pass to junior Jake Gottwald but he was tied up by a pair of Bulldogs defensemen and couldn’t get a stick on it. Moments later, senior Julian Krowski fed sophomore Ross Carroll but his bid from in close was denied.
The third period belonged to the defenses as neither side could generate much offense. Ward had one of the best chances just over five minutes into the period but saw his shot go just over the bar. It wasn’t until 3:17 left in the game that the pace picked up again.
Ward was on the receiving end of assists from Williams and Kearns, finishing off a chance in front to bring the Tigers within two late in the game. OA had another good look on the stick of Williams, but Staffiere came up with a big save.
Kelleher scored an empty net goal on an assist from Hagan with less than a minute to go to ice the game.
Canton boys hockey (4-0-0 Hockomock, 8-0-0 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it travels to Foxboro to take on the Warriors at 5:20. Oliver Ames (2-2, 7-4) will try to bounce back on Wednesday when it hosts North Attleboro at 5:00.