North Orchestrates Third Period Comeback Over OA

North Attleboro hockey
North Attleboro’s Anthony Zammiello (right) carries the puck into the offensive zone in the first period. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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BROCKTON, Mass. – After coming out on the wrong end of back-to-back, back-and-forth games, North Attleboro staged a third-period rally to earn two points on the road in a win over Oliver Ames.

North was coming off narrow losses to both Mansfield and Fxzƒranklin despite having leads in both contests.

Big Red took the lead in the first period but faced a 2-1 deficit heading into the final period. Junior Anthony Zammiello scored a natural hat trick in the final frame, helping the Rocketeers improve to 6-4-0 overall.

“A team like Oliver Ames, they work hard and they work hard the whole game. For us, we needed to match their intensity,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “Their coach really gets them going, so if we take a shift off, we were going to be in trouble. We had to bring it to the next level and I thought we did that in the third period.”

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Zammiello gave the Rocketeers an instant boost in the third period. Just 32 seconds into the final frame, Zammeilo was parked out in front of the goal, burying a rebound chance after a shot from the point was turned away by OA goalie Owen Connor (16 saves).

Big Red capitalized on the momentum it picked up with the early tying goal. North’s first line struck again as Zammiello came away with a loose puck after a scrum to the right of the goal. The junior took a stride towards the slot and fired a low wrist shot to make it 3-2 with 9:34 to play.

With the goalie pulled in the final minute, Zammiello completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal with just a second to play.

“It’s big to score that early, obviously that’s what we want to do,” McManama added. “But the important thing is that the kids did what we asked them to do. OA blocks a lot of shots so we needed to find ways to get pucks in and also block out guys in front of the net. It was exactly what we had talked about and then they went out and executed.

“We’re searching for that second line to step up and I think they are but its a process, it takes some time and that’s okay. Each game we play, we’re getting better and better. That first line has to show us the way right now, and they are. And we just have to learn from that.”s

North Attleboro took the first lead of the game just over the midway point of the first period. Junior defenseman Brendan McHugh ripped a wrist shot that redirected by the traffic in front, leaving Connor with little chance for a save.

Oliver Ames had three serious scoring chances that went without a goal in the first period. After a shot rocketed off the boards behind the net, the puck fell right in front of goal but freshman Ross Carroll had his shot go just over the bar.

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Senior Michael Nikiciukaa forced a big kick save from junior Ryan Warren (23 saves) and just seconds later Eric LeBlanc had his one-timer bid denied by Warren.

But finally with just 3:15 left to play in the first, the Tigers broke through. Both sophomore Jake Gottwald and junior Jordan Bello made hustle plays to keep the puck in the attacking zone for OA. The puck then ended up on the stick of junior defenseman Matt McCormack, who rifled his shot from the blue line off the post and in for a 1-1 tie.

“Our best game of the year was when we played them the first time, and even tonight I felt we played three full periods,” said OA head coach Sean Bertoni. “We’re still down a couple of guys, missing our first line center but it didn’t show a ton tonight. We generated 31 shots against a good opponent. The effort was definitely was there, we aren’t big on moral victories, it’s a little disheartening not to have the win. We established our forecheck, a lot of loose pucks in the slot we just couldn’t out-battle them or finish at the net.”

It looked as though Oliver Ames had taken the lead in the first minute of the second period, but the referee ruled it no goal. Sophomore Ryan Gottwald moved the puck up ice to junior Brett Williams and it looked as though Williams’ hard shot hit the middle bar inside the goal and came out, but the ref waved it off.

“I think the kids responded well to it,” Bertoni said of the no-goal decision. “We didn’t talk about it between periods, they stayed focused. I think getting the next goal to make it 2-1 certainly helped. If North had taken the lead there it might have been different. But it was a great breakout from the defensive end. Sophomore Ryan Gottwald chipped it out, indirect to our center, who broke Brett free, and he has a great shot. You can’t blame the refs, it happened so quickly. But I think our kids moved on from it right away.”

The Tigers did take the lead four minutes later. After a save on a shot from the point, LeBlanc gained possession and skated behind the net, firing a hard pass to junior Colin Bourne for a one-timer and a 2-1 lead.

North Attleboro hockey (2-2 Hockomock, 6-4 overall) is back in action on Monday when it hosts Milton at 12:30. Oliver Ames (1-2, 3-4) will travel to Walpole on the same day with a 2:40 start.

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Whalen Double-Double Earns Stoughton Win at North

Stoughton girls basketball
Stoughton senior forward Val Whalen (14) scored 19 points and pulled down 19 rebounds to help the Black Knights earn their first league win of the season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming into Friday night’s game at the Pickering Gym, Stoughton had lost four games by seven or less points, struggling to find ways down the stretch to pull out wins. When North Attleboro climbed back to within five points in the fourth quarter, it looked like that may happen again for the Black Knights.

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Instead of letting the game slip away, senior forward Val Whalen took over down the stretch. She scored 10 points, made 8-of-10 from the free throw line, and dominated the paint to help Stoughton close with a 17-6 run that sealed a 59-43 victory over North and ended the Black Knights’ winless start in the league.

“This is the best game of Val’s senior year so far and I know she’s going to continue to do great things,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “It was clutch. She stepped up to the line and knocked them down. Obviously, her offensive rebounds were important, but it was nice to see her do well from the free throw line.”

Whalen finished the game with 19 points and 19 rebounds, while also adding four assists and two blocks. North struggled to find an answer for the senior on either end of the floor.

“She’s a nightmare and causes a lot of problems,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “She can shoot a little bit and it drags you out and then you’ve got [Jordan] Motley to grab all the backside rebounds. So, you’ve really got to have two posts and if you don’t have two posts you’re always playing a matchup game.”

Stoughton took over on the boards right from the opening tap. Whalen pulled down nine rebounds in the first quarter and scored seven points, with both of her baskets coming on putbacks at the rim. Sophomore guard Aliyah Wright (13 points, nine rebounds) also chipped in with six in the first.

North tried to stay close with its perimeter game. Julia Feid (team-high 12 points) and Emily Haskell (eight points) each knocked down threes to keep North within seven (17-10) after one quarter.

The Rocketeers made only one shot from the floor in the second, but were managing to stay close thanks to 9-of-12 shooting from the free throw line. Stoughton’s aggressive defense was giving North free points, but sophomores Shyanne Trinh (14 points) and Mariah Harris (seven points) each hit threes to keep the Black Knights ahead.

With North hanging around, down just eight inside the final few seconds of the half, Trinh took off on a coast-to-coast run that ended with a layup and a 30-20 halftime lead, which left North’s bench frustrated.

“We did okay with our game plan, but they’re a good team, they’re battle-tested, and they’ve got some kids who’ve been on varsity for two or three years now,” said Herber.

Fouls continued to rack up for Stoughton in the second half. North shot 12 free throws in the third and reached the bonus before the end of the quarter. Feid scored on an offensive rebound to cut the lead back to 10 and Julia Santos (eight points, 11 rebounds) added a putback as well.

Heading to the fourth quarter, Stoughton’s lead, which had been as many as 13 was down to just seven.

“We were in foul trouble and that really hurt us,” said Steele Jordan, “but we’ve had several close ones that we needed just a little bit more and I think those games helped us in this instance.”

North continued to battle early in the fourth. Sophomore Eliza Dion (seven points) drove through the Stoughton defense for a layup that made it 40-35 and, after a pair of Whalen free throws, Haskell drove on the other side for a bucket that again got the Rocketeers within five points. It was as close as North would get.

Herber said, “They fight, they fight and that’s why I feel so bad for them because they do fight. We’ve been in the last couple of games but we just couldn’t get that big shot.”

Wright scored on a runner in the lane and found Whalen leaking out in transition for an easy basket to push the lead back to nine. Whalen grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Trinh for an open three that put Stoughton up by double digits and then Whalen sealed the win with six free throws in the closing minutes.

“They can do some things in the post that we didn’t have any answers for,” Herber admitted. “Whalen and Motley (14 rebounds) down the stretch really gave us problems and we tried to get them in foul trouble but couldn’t at the end.”

Steele Jordan said, “It’s tough. You have a few tough losses back-to-back, but I have a fantastic team and they work hard for me every day. They dug down, played solid ‘D’, and took their time on offense and it showed today.”

After earning its first win in the league, Steele Jordan is hoping that the team can build off this performance. She said, “They’re young, but they’re coming into their own, which is nice because you always worry about peaking too soon. I’m glad my team is starting to turn the wheels now and really get going.”

Stoughton (2-7, 1-5) will travel to Sharon on Tuesday night trying to make it two in a row in the Hock. North Attleboro (1-7, 0-6) will try to get its first win in the league on Tuesday at Milford.

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Canton Turns Defense Into Offense Against North

Canton boys basketball
Canton’s Jake Verille (right) tries to get past North Attleboro’s Josh Montague (left) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – With North Attleboro’s half-court defense giving Canton’s offense fits, the Bulldogs needed to find other ways to get its offense in gear.

The offensive jumpstart that Canton needed started on the defensive end, as the Bulldogs’ defense came up with continuous stops that allowed the team to cash in in transition. And on top of that, five of the Bulldogs’ six offensive rebounds resulted in second-chance points.

That combination gave Canton’s offense the boost it needed and the defense did the result, earning a 53-35 win over the Rocketeers.

“It all started with our defense,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “[North] has a lot of size and we were concerned about post entries so we worked really hard on defending it. I felt like we did a good executing our defensive gameplan.

“I thought North did a really good job in the half court against us defensively, we struggled. They did a good job containing our guards. We talked about it during a timeout in the quarter. We said tonight our best offense is going to be getting stops and then pushing the ball in transition. That’s a credit to North, they did a nice job taking away some things.”

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Canton got off to a strong start, limiting Big Red to just a pair of field goals in the first quarter. The Bulldogs hauled in nine defensive rebounds and got out running, leading to a 14-5 lead after eight minutes.

North Attleboro’s offense got back on track in the second, which also helped slow Canton’s offense down. After a transition bucket from Devin Foster (13 points) put Canton up 21-8 early in the quarter, North’s offense rattled off an 11-4 run to end the half.

North junior Josh Montague (12 points, eight rebounds, three assists) was the catalyst of the run. Matt Seavey’s two free throws started the surge but Montague scored the Rocketeers’ next nine points, including a putback, a drive the length of the court after hauling in a defensive rebound, and one at the free throw line.

But as quickly as North got back into the game at the end of the half, Canton recreated its lead with a surge to open the third quarter. Austin Maffie (10 points, six rebounds) converted a putback to open the scoring, senior Tony Harris cut across the paint and took a feed from Jake Verille (nine points, seven rebounds, four assists) for an easy two, and then Foster capped the run with a triple, followed by a strong take to the rim.

“I thought our defense was bad pretty much throughout,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “I didn’t think we had any passion, I didn’t think we tried to do what we wanted to do. They dictated the pace and had a good game plan against us. We didn’t make shots but that doesn’t excuse the lack of effort. They killed us on 50/50 balls, seemed like they got everyone. Then we’d finally defend for 25 seconds, their shot goes up and we’d get beat to the rebound. We have to defend better than that to be competitive”

Big Red rattled off four straight points to get within 11 again but a bucket from Kyle Fitzgerald in transition was followed by a putback from Matt Warburton to swing momentum back in favor of the visitors.

“North did a good job mucking it up so we needed to find other ways to score,” Gordy said. “If you can get some offensive rebound putbacks or offensive rebounds that turn into points, and then also score in transition, those are the extra little things that make the difference in the game.”

Canton’s defense limited North Attleboro 10 points or less in three of the four quarters, 26% shooting from the field overall, and just four three’s on 19 attempts.

“The defense set the tone for us tonight,” Gordy said. “If we can defend like that and push the ball like that…that’s when we’re at our best. Especially since we sometimes play two or three point guards who can handle it and get it going in transition.”

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Canton had an answer for every push North made in the final quarter. Junior Jake Petersen (eight points, nine rebounds) scored down low off a feed from Montague but Verille answered with a three-pointer. Peterson scored off an offensive rebound and Montague hit a step back triple for a quick 5-0 spurt but Maffie hit back-to-back baskets in response.

“Those second chance points kill any momentum you might have,” Mulkerrins said. “Points were at a premium, they didn’t exactly light it up with 53 points, but for us…I just kept yelling ‘wake up’ because I didn’t think at any point during the game we played to our ability level. It starts with us being aggressive, being passionate…being excited to be there. I just kind of felt we were a bit lethargic today and Canton does such a good job of getting Foster and Harris the ball and their other guys fill their roles great for them. Hats off to Canton, they showed up today and we didn’t.”

Canton boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 5-1 overall) will be back in action on Tuesday night when it hosts Milford. North Attleboro (1-3, 3-3) will try to bounce back when the same night when it takes a trip to Sharon. Both games are scheduled to tipoff at 6:30.

Mansfield Edges North Behind Late Arnold Winner

Mansfield hockey
Tim Arnold (4) celebrates his power play goal with five minutes remaining that turned out to be the game-winner for Mansfield against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – Chris Copponi’s shot was scuffed. The forward barely making contact with the puck just outside the right circle, but enough contact was made to redirect it past several sliding North Attleboro players trying desperately to block the Mansfield junior’s attempt at a power play goal.

The puck squirmed through the crowd of bodies right to senior defenseman Tim Arnold, who took advantage of the space and a wrong-footed North goalie Ryan Warren to one-time it into the empty net.

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Arnold’s goal with five minutes remaining in the third period turned out to be the game-winner for the Hornets, who held on to beat North 3-2 in Saturday night’s league encounter at the Foxboro Sports Center.

“He whiffs and it still gets through, but we’ll take it,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini outside the locker room after the game. “We’ve been working on our power play because we knew they’d be a tough opponent from the first time we played them (a 4-1 North win in the season opener) and we were just patient. Yeah, it was a misfire, but we’ll take it.”

The Hornets converted on two-of-five power play opportunities in the game, including the game-tying goal in the second period and the eventual winner in the third. Arnold’s goal came on the third power play chance for the Hornets in the final period.

“Penalties are part of the game,” said first-year North coach Ben McManama, “but we’re getting too many lazy penalties where we’re playing defense with our sticks and not our feet. It was a game where we were in it but we shot ourselves in the foot.”

He added, “We also have to have more energy all game. We’re not having a consistent effort and that’s hurt us.”

There was no lack of energy from the Hornets at the start of the game. Mansfield came out flying in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, part of what has made this one of the league’s top rivalries in the last few seasons.

Freshman Justin McIvor created an early scoring chance with a big hit on Will Yeomans on the half-board. The puck popped loose to Copponi for a one-timer from the slot, but Warren (21 saves) stood tall to stop it. Warren then came up with a big pad save to rob Jake Lund in the slot and then blocked the follow-up effort too.

“The first period has been a struggle all year because we’ve come out flat,” Balzarini explained. “We played Stoughton on Wednesday and we scored three goals in the first period and that was the stresser during practice on Friday to come out with intensity.”

The Hornets made the good start count. Senior defenseman Tyler Oakley jumped up to join the attack, skating right down the middle of the North defense. His first shot was saved but he collected the rebound and finished. It was the first of two goals and three points out of the senior defensemen in the game.

“That’s why they where the ‘C’ on their jerseys,” said Balzarini of Oakley and Arnold. “They’re both really good captains, really good leaders and for those guys to step up not only on the ice but off the ice has been huge for us.”

With 7:11 left in the first, a fire alarm went off, momentarily forcing the stands to empty and the teams to head back to the locker rooms. It also stole the momentum from the hosts and allowed North the chance to regroup.

Drew Wissler had North’s first good scoring opportunity when he caught Mansfield up ice and found space in the left circle, but his shot was saved by Hornets goalie Sean McCafferty. The Rocketeers tied the game two minutes later, with only 25.1 on the clock, when Wissler fed the puck to Anthony Zammiello for a shorthanded breakaway and the junior went five-hole for the score.

“Before I could even have a chance to talk to them, they knew that they didn’t come out ready,” said McManama of the fire alarm break. “We’ve had a lot of bad starts this year and it really needs to change. The team is aware of it, but we just need to suck it up and come out ready to play.”

North took its first lead early in the second period. Wissler flew down the left side again, opened his body and unleashed an unstoppable shot over the shoulder of McCafferty and just inside the top corner.

The lead lasted six minutes before Mansfield responded with a power play goal of its own. Oakley lined up a blast from the point that Warren could only parry. The puck fell to Cullin Anastasia and he deposited it into the open net.

The Hornets had the chance to get back in front early in the third but Patrick McCafferty saw his shot carom off Warren’s mask and off the boards behind the net. After Arnold scored, defenseman Nick Levine nearly got into the act for the Hornets but Warren again made an important close-range save.

With time running down and North scrambling for an equalizer, Jason McNeanyhad a tap in at the back post that went wide of an open net and Nick Raneri had a shot in the final minute that was kicked aside at the post.

“The penalties in these games disrupt the flow, so things may be going our way but a penalty for or against if we don’t capitalize changes the whole momentum of the game,” said McManama. “A good hockey team doesn’t get affected by these things, but we’re not there yet. We’re going to get there, but we’re just not there yet.”

Mansfield has now won two in a row and Balzarini is hoping the Hornets can build off a strong week. He said, “The momentum was ours from Wednesday to today and I’m hoping it continues [at practice] on Monday and Tuesday.”

Mansfield (3-3-1, 2-0-0) will host Brockton in a non-league game on Wednesday. North Attleboro (5-3-0, 1-1-0) will host Franklin at the New England Sports Village.

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