Attleboro Playoff Hopes Dashed by ORR/Fairhaven

Attleboro hockey
Jake Parker scored the lone goal for Attleboro on Saturday afternoon in a 4-1 loss to ORR/Fairhaven. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry

TAUNTON, Mass. – In between all of the penalties, the two disqualifications, the numerous stoppages, Attleboro showed flashes of why it was still in contention for a Div. 3 playoff spot and why the Bombardiers were capable of making a deep run in last year’s tournament.

Head coach Mike Cripps has spoken all season about how Attleboro can skate with most teams when it is five-on-five, but unfortunately the Bombardiers hurt themselves with penalties.

On Saturday afternoon at Aleixo Arena, penalties were again Attleboro’s downfall along with the play of Old Rochester/Fairhaven goalie Chase Cunningham, who made 29 saves. This time it proved decisive, as the 4-1 loss knocked the Bombardiers (6-11-2) out of tournament contention.

Both teams recorded 10 penalties apiece, although Attleboro also had freshman Sam Larkin sent to the locker room in the first period and his brother Keagin, a senior, sent off early in the third.

“Against a team like this, you can’t play shorthanded,” said Attleboro coach Mike Cripps. “Just with the numbers we have, we can’t afford those penalties.”

“They couldn’t control it. We told them to keep their mouths shut but unfortunately the emotions got the better of them.”

Attleboro nearly grabbed the lead just a minute in, when a chipped pass to the neutral zone found P.J. Elliott streaking forward but Cunningham stayed on the puck and managed to get his pad across to the post for the save. Later in the first, Sam Larkin smacked his shot off the bar with the goalie beaten.

ORR started to press and use its speed in the attack and midway through the period had two good chances in the slot, but both were stopped by Attleboro freshman goalie Evan Andrew (21 saves). It was a big turnaround for the netminder, whose first career start was against ORR and he allowed eight goals in an 8-5 defeat.

On Saturday, Andrew showed that his game has markedly improved over the course of the season. “He’s come a long way this year as a freshman,” said Cripps.

The visitors took the lead with 6:39 left in the first as Connor Kelley knocked in a pass from Evan Stanley. Elliott had another breakaway opportunity with three minutes left in the first but again Cunningham was up to the test.

In the second period, Attleboro kept creating chances. Freshman Kyle McCabe received a pass right in front from Cam Littig but Cunningham managed to get a toe to it and keep it out. Later in the second, Jake Parker had a great opportunity in the slot but he smacked the post with his shot.

“We just didn’t seem to get the bounces,” admitted Cripps.

ORR took advantage of Attleboro’s missed chances to add to its lead. With the Bombardiers pushing forward, Sam Henrie caught the Attleboro defense flatfooted for a breakaway goal that made it 2-0. Two minutes later, the Bulldogs added a third.

Attleboro gave itself a shot at a comeback with 1:07 left in the second. Parker split a pair of ORR defensemen and then beat Cunningham with a backhand over the glove side to make it 3-1. Thanks to an ORR penalty after the buzzer, Attleboro also began the third on the power play.

It was a big lift for the hosts and gave Attleboro hope of staying alive for the postseason.

“It just brought back to Thursday against Taunton when we started the third period two down (and won 6-4),” said Cripps. “Plus we started the period on the power play…although the power play was not working too smoothly.”

The third period featured 10 combined penalties and had almost no flow. Still Attleboro continued to push forward and the Bombardiers had flurries of shots, as the Bulldogs struggled at times to get the puck out of their zone and took unnecessary risks with passes through the middle.

“P.J. all year, he’ll skate the whole last period if we ask him to and some of the freshmen too like Cam Littig and Kyle McCabe skating their butts off to create chances,” said Cripps about his team battling right to the end.

Kelley wrapped up the win for ORR/Fairhaven with 1:26 left when he tacked on a shorthanded, empty net goal that made it 4-1.

Attleboro will close out its season on Monday when it hosts Dighton-Rehoboth/Seekonk.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Sheehan Scores Twice As Stoughton Tops Attleboro

Stoughton hockey
Stoughton senior Mark Sheehan scored a pair of goals and had an assist in the Black Knights’ win over Attleboro (Jarett Leonard/HockomockSports.com)

ByJarettLeonard


TAUNTON, Mass. – Though Stoughton was significantly out skated for the majority of the opening period, the backstopping of AJ Scott and an explosive second frame from Mark Sheehan allowed the Black Knights to capture a 4-1 win over Attleboro on Saturday.
“Like last week against Taunton, when we skate we can play,” Stoughton head coach Dan Mark said. “When we don’t skate, it doesn’t matter who it is. If you don’t skate, it makes all the difference in the game.”
Trailing by a goal after a first period in which the Black Knights were outshot 14-2, Sheehan went to work to erase the deficit. Similar to his game-tying goal in a win against Taunton last week, the senior captain hustled into the offensive zone, cut through the defense and slid the puck past Attleboro goaltender Tim Gile (13 saves) to even the score.
“We told them they were going to have to come out strong,” Attleboro head coach Mike Cripps said of his message during the first intermission. “They weren’t going to be quitting and we needed the next goal, but unfortunately we came out a bit flat in the second period.”
Later in the second, Jon Lessa sealed in a clearing attempt at the line and fed it down low to Nick Hardy, who ripped a wrist shot past Gile to give Stoughton the lead. Just over a minute later, Sheehan netted his second of the game to add some insurance for the Black Knights. Stoughton flipped the script on Attleboro in the second, outshooting the Bombardiers 11-1 in the period.
“The kids decided to skate,” Mark said of his team’s second period effort. “The second part of that first period I thought they really started to pick it up speed wise. I thought the second and third period we really skated hard.”
Sean Doherty added a late goal for Stoughton on a two-man advantage to seal the win. Doherty also had two assists in the game while Sheehan and Lessa each had a helper.
“The kids are starting to feel good about themselves, which is good,” Mark said. “They can do it when they want to.”
Despite collecting 14 shots in the first period, Attleboro could only solve Scott once. About five minutes into the game, Sam Larkin buried a rebound from a Cam Littig shot to capture the early lead. But Scott, who finished with 20 saves, kept his team in the game until they could figure it out offensively.
“They have an extremely strong goalie,” Cripps said. “We knew going in that is was going to be low scoring for us.”
With its second league win in three games, Stoughton hockey improves to 6-10-3 overall, 4-6-0 in the league, and will have a week off before hosting Bishop Feehan next Saturday. Attleboro, now 5-10-2 overall and 1-8-1 in the league, will host Dighton-Rehoboth on Monday.

Stoughton Hockey

Bombardiers Come From Behind to Tie Mansfield

Attleboro Hockey
Attleboro celebrates Kyle McCabe’s third period goal that tied the game at 2-2 and earned the Bombardiers a point. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

TAUNTON, Mass. – With 8:21 left in the second period, Keagin and Sam Larkin skated to the penalty box for the Bombardiers. Mansfield would have a full 1:30 of two-man advantage to try and extend its 2-0 lead and put Attleboro away.

The Hornets have struggled offensively this season (19 goals in 11 games), but coming off a six-goal performance against Taunton on Wednesday, head coach Rick Anastos thought the team may have broken out of its slump. Unfortunately for Mansfield, offense is still a concern, as the Hornets failed to score on the power play, keeping Attleboro within two.

“It’s been our problem all year long,” said Anastos. “We just can’t score. I thought we were going to have a break out finally and went up 2-0 and thought it was in hand. But [Attleboro] battled…they always battle.”

The missed opportunity quickly came back to bite the Hornets. Attleboro got on the board with 4:22 left in the second and scored again just 1:30 into the third period and managed to come away from Saturday afternoon’s physical game at Aleixo Arena with a 2-2 tie.

“I thought we came out pretty strong again,” said Attleboro coach Mike Cripps, referring to a 7-6 loss to King Philip on Wednesday night.

“If we come out and skate and play hockey then we can skate with anybody. We have limited depth but they’re giving it everything they’ve got.”

The Bombardiers started strongly, controlling the puck in the offensive zone for long periods of the first period and leading at one point 6-1 on shots. Attleboro has been strong at even strength but have been hurt by penalties this season and Saturday was no different.

Mansfield opened the scoring on the power play when Attleboro failed to clear the puck. Max Hoffman found Matt Farragher below the right circle and he flipped a pass right in front of goal to Pat Sunderland and he scored on a one-timer.

“They’re clicking but they need to stay out of the penalty box more,” said Cripps. “They just make it harder on themselves. You just can’t take stupid penalties at any stage of the game.”

The Hornets made it 2-0 with 1:14 left in the first and again it came from an Attleboro error and again came from a special teams unit. This time it was a shorthanded goal from Hoffman on a breakaway off assist from defensemen Matt Chirichiello and Mike Arnold.

Mansfield had plenty of chances to extend the lead. In the opening minutes of the second period, Arnold had a shot from the point that was knocked down by Attleboro goalie Evan Andrews (21 saves) but caused a scramble the crease. Another shot rang the post for Mansfield.

Then came the two-man advantage, but the Hornets only managed a couple of shots from distance. The best chance during the power play was actually for Attleboro forward P.J Elliott who snuck out on a breakaway after blocking a pass near his own blue line, but he got too deep before firing a shot on Mansfield goalie Anthony Visconti (24 saves).

Cripps said, “Thankfully the guys that were not in the box came up big. They have a whole bunch of heart, all 20 kids on the team.”

He joked, “They pick each other up even when they do stupid things.”

Three minutes after clearing off the penalty, Attleboro cut the lead in half. Elliott and Jake Parker fired shots that Visconti was able to knock down but the second rebound popped out to winger Nick Miniati and he fired his shot through traffic and into the back of the net.

The Bombardiers carried that momentum into the third period and stormed back onto the ice to try and tie the game. Just 1:30 into the third, Elliott managed to pick the pocket of a Mansfield defenseman at his own blue line. The puck wound its way to Kyle McCabe, who sent a shot through a screen that bounced past an unsighted Visconti to make it 2-2.

“I can’t repeat much of what I said,” said Cripps with a laugh. “I just kind of laid into them for being selfish and they had to come out and decide whether they were going to come out and play hockey and play a team game or continue to play selfishly.”

“Thankfully they seemed to come out as a team.”

Just seconds after Attleboro tied it, the Bombardiers nearly took the lead. Again it was Elliott that created the chance but his Keagin Larkin was unable to put his shot on target with the net gaping. On the next rush up ice, a shot from the point beat Visconti, but not the post.

Mansfield was on its heels but still managed to create a couple of chances with quick transitions. Sunderland tried to return the favor to Farragher on a two on one, but the pass eluded the forward’s stick. Later, on a three on one, Chad Piotti just missed with Andrews stranded.

“We just keep preaching the same things over and over – rebounds, rebounds, shoot, rebounds rebounds, shoot,” explained Anastos. “It’s not like we’ve been blown out by any team this season…we just can’t score.”

He added, “You don’t score a lot of goals then you start gripping the stick a little harder. I think that was the difference.”

Andrews also came through with several big saves, including a quick kick save on a shot from Shane Doherty in the slot. It was a strong finish for the Hornets but too little too late and for the second time in three seasons, Attleboro was able to earn a point from Mansfield.

Attleboro (5-6-2, 1-4-1) will try to carry that momentum into Wednesday’s meeting with Franklin. Mansfield (2-6-3, 2-2-1) will face North Attleboro on Monday night. 

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Hockey: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2015-2016

Kelley-Rex hockey
Mansfield and North Attleboro will be two of the teams gunning to unseat Franklin and win a league title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Attleboro
2014-15 Record: 11-13-1 (2-8-0)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South semifinal
Head Coach: Mike Cripps

The Bombardiers made an improbable run to the Div. 3 South semifinal before being eliminated by Hanover. Even with a short bench and a goaltender that had never played before, Attleboro won three tournament games for the first time in program history and this year will try to build on that experience and get back to the postseason.

With 20 players on the roster, depth may not be Attleboro’s strength but there are some players that Cripps will be counting on to produce this season led by senior forward Keagin Larkin. He will be helped out on the forward line by junior P.J. Elliott and sophomore Sam Parker. Freshman Sam Larkin will also step in right away and Cripps said that he has been “impressive” during the opening two weeks of practice.

Senior goalie Tim Gile returns between the pipes after a season that saw him put on goalie pads for the first time. He will be joined at the goalie position by junior Tyler Koppy. In front of goal, seniors Will McKenzie and Jack Flynn and sophomore Sam McKenzie will be part of Attleboro’s defensive corps.

There may only be 20 players on the roster, but the Bombardiers are a tight-knit group and Cripps is hopeful that they can get back to .500 and another trip to the playoffs. He said, “Our team is a group of hard-working players with good chemistry. With our lack of depth, we have to avoid injuries and illness. I am very happy with the progress I have seen after the first week.”

Franklin
2014-15 Record: 17-4-3 (10-0-0)
2014-15 Finish: Lost in first round of the Super 8
Head Coach: Chris Spillane

How does Franklin follow up its first ever appearance in the prestigious Super 8 tournament? How does the program recover from losing 21 seniors off a roster that finished unbeaten in the Hockomock League and had one of the league’s most exciting hockey moments when it beat Xaverian in overtime in the Super 8 play-in game?

Those are tough questions that head coach Chris Spillane will be trying to answer in the coming weeks as he incorporates almost an entirely new roster. The top returning scorer from last season is senior Alex Bissanti, who chipped in with five goals as a junior. He will be joined up front by junior Adam Assad, who Spillane said has “lots of offensive potential.” In addition, the coach noted that he is looking towards a “strong” sophomore class to provide a spark offensively.

Ryan Shea was a rock in goal last season after getting his first playing time as a senior and the Panthers will be counting on seniors Nick Jasinki (five games in 2014-15) and Cam Benham to step in this year and have a similar impact. In front of the goalies, Franklin has a strong defensive corps led by senior captains Matt Pleshaw and Jack Chaffee. The defense has been bolstered by the return of senior Tyler Oaks, who had been playing for the South Shore Kings. Spillane called him a “strong offensive defenseman.”

It is only the third season for Franklin in Div. 1 and already the Panthers have accomplished more than most public school programs. This could be a transition year for Franklin but expectations remain high for a perennial power. Spillane said, “With the departure of 21 seniors, the success of this team will rely on finding a identity early in the season.”

King Philip
2014-15 Record: 7-10-3 (4-5-1)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Paul Carlow

For the second time in three season, King Philip has changed coaches with Paul Carlow taking charge of the Warriors this winter after two seasons as the JV and assistant coach. Thanks to his experience with the program and with the players, Carlow, who was once a standout player for KP, called the transition “smooth.” He added, “I know the players and they know me, which has made it pretty easy. Everyone know what is expected.”

The Warriors numbers were not huge this winter and depth may not be a strength, but Carlow is excited about the talent that KP will send out on the ice with six forwards and six defensemen returning from last year’s squad. The Warriors will be led on the forward line by senior captain Matt Smith, while fellow captain Clay Guess will lead an experienced blue line group that also includes football star Corey Lombardo.

Sophomore Collin Cooke is a player to watch this season and is poised for a breakout winter after scoring 11 goals and 10 assists as a freshman. Fellow sophomore Dan McLoughlin could be a player that steps in and provides a spark along with junior Richie Lucente, who saw plenty of ice time last season. Carlow also said that junior Jeremy Smith should step right in at defense. He noted that Smith had the talent to get on the ice as a sophomore but was only limited by the experienced players ahead of him.

Carlow has added preseason scrimmages and has changed the schedule around to add teams like Nauset, Walpole, and Coyle to prepare the team for the rigors of the Div. 1 tournament. After narrowly missing out the past two seasons, Carlow is confident the Warriors can make a run to the postseason. “We need to be ready for the type of teams we’re going to face,” said Carlow. “We may not be the deepest team, we didn’t have 90 kids tryout like Franklin, but we’ve got speed and we can play.”

Mansfield
2014-15 Record: 10-11-0 (8-2-0)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round
Head Coach: Rick Anastos

Mansfield enters another season as one of the main threats to Franklin in the Kelley-Rex division. The Hornets, who are the only other team to have won the division (in 2011), are one of the few programs to consistently have the talent base to challenge the Panthers and this season is no different.

Junior forward Matt Farragher is primed for a breakout season after scoring 13 points as a sophomore and he will be paired up front with several classmates, including Pat Sunderland and Chad Piotti. Seniors Pat Graham, Shane Doherty, and Max Hoffman will return to give Mansfield strength in depth along its first two lines and the firepower to make the Hornets a dangerous team in the Hock.

Mansfield also has the potential to be strong defensively, as demonstrated by a scoreless tie with Winthrop on Saturday. Anthony Visconti, who gave up just more three goals per game last season, returns in goal and he will be helped out by senior defenseman Mike Arnold, who leads the blue liners, along with classmate Tim O’Brien.

The Hornets have experienced returning players, but there is plenty of youth coming through program as well with two freshman and five sophomores on the varsity roster. Franklin may remain the team to beat, but Mansfield is confident that it will be right there pushing the Panthers to the end.

North Attleboro
2014-15 Record: 12-8-1 (6-4-0)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round
Head Coach: Stephen Snizek

The Rocketeers made it back to the tournament last season but were knocked out in overtime by Milford in the first round. With Sean Young graduated, North Attleboro will be looking for someone that can step into his role as the primary scorer and make a run at a first league title in its final season in the Kelley-Rex.

There is a lot of depth returning for North this season led on the forward line by senior captains Andrew Casson and Brian Poillucci and juniors Zach McGowan and Erik Clements, each of whom have years of experience for the Rocketeers. Sophomores Jason McNeany and Andrew Wissler and a strong freshman class will add to the forwards over the course of the season.

Defensively, North Attleboro will count on juniors Paul Baker and Vincent Zammiello and senior Matthew Marceau on the back line. The defense will be key and Snizek is expecting his forwards to help back as well as the Rocketeers will be using freshmen Chris Ulrich and Ryan Warren in goal this year.

The Rocketeers have a lot of weapons and Snizek is excited for the talent coming through the program. He said, “We have a lot of weapons on offense and we need to get pucks to the net and drive in the dirty goals. Our forwards will need to play in all zones on the ice.  Not just the offensive zone.”

Taunton
2014-15 Record: 9-12-1 (2-8-0)
2014-15 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Head Coach: Kris Metea

The Tigers have been building the program for the past few years, developing young skaters, and waiting for a time that it can come together for a potential run at the state tournament. Head coach Kris Metea is hopeful that this could be the year, as Taunton boasts a talented forward line that could provide the goals needed to get to the playoffs. Metea said, “The eighth graders and freshmen that took beatings three years ago have all grown up and can physically compete with players in the Hockomock now.”

Among the players that Metea highlighted this season are junior Nick Terry, who is coming off an all-star season, and senior Tyler Pietrzyk, who will both be starters. Junior Zack Albert and sophomore Will Walsh will add depth to the forwards as well. Defensively, senior David Perry and junior Mike Volkmann will be two of the key players and add a physical component to the Tigers.

Taunton has three goalies on the varsity roster and Metea has confidence in all of them to win games. Senior Cam Pitts is the most experienced of the trio but junior Justin Chappell and freshman Griffin Speicher both will see time as well.

If Taunton can improve the power play and utilize its overall team speed, this could be an interesting year for the Tigers. “It has been a pleasure working with these players and see them grow up as hockey players and young men,” said Metea. “They have matured physically and mentally and are ready to take the next step to compete with the top end of the ever-competitive Hockomock.”