Below are the official 2017 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Jack Goyetch, Canton
Hockomock League All Stars
Jake Parker, Attleboro
Nick Allen, Canton
John Hagan, Canton
Jack Goyetch, Canton
Ryan Nolte, Canton
Quinn Gibbs, Canton
Aidan Sullivan, Foxboro
Brendan Tully, Foxboro
Luke Downie, Franklin
Owen Ginley, Franklin
Jack McGrath, Franklin
Jeremy Miller, Franklin
Collin Cooke, King Philip
Mike Curtin, King Philip
Cullin Anastasia, Mansfield
Tim Arnold, Mansfield
Jason McNeany, North Attleboro
Drew Wissler, North Attleboro
Matt McCormack, Oliver Ames
Michael Nikiciuk, Oliver Ames
Brett Williams, Oliver Ames
Brendan Campbell, Stoughton
Will Walsh, Taunton
It was just the second penalty of the game for the Dogs, but the visiting Panthers of Franklin High needed just 20 seconds in the second period on their first chance of the man advantage to cash in.
With the game on the line, Canton’s penalty showed it had learned its lesson from earlier on, coming up with a near perfect kill. The Bulldogs went on to score just over a minute after killing the penalty, and again with the net empty, to earn a 4-1 win in a clash of Davenport and Kelley-Rex division champions.
“That was a great kill,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “Bubba [McNeice] had a great game with the two goals but he was great on the kill. Jack Goyetch, Johnny [Hagan], Ryan [Nolte]…they all had a big kill. They learned their lesson from the first one around. They played very smart on that second kill, that was a huge part of the game.”
Franklin needed just seconds on its first power play of the game with senior Brendan O’Rielly finding classmate Luke Downie at the back door for a simple one-timer. The goal had tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period.
“I was happy with our effort in the first period and a half,” said Franklin head coach Chris Spillane. “I thought we competed with them, skated with them, and even had some stretches where we controlled the play. But the second half of the game, they just outplayed us. All three zones, they wanted it much more than us and it showed.”
This time around, Canton didn’t even let the Panthers have a sniff at a scoring chance. Matt Casamento blocked an early chance, leading to a clear from Hagan. When Franklin attempted to bring it back in, Casamento forced the puck loose with a hit and Charlie Malloy came in and made the clear.
“I thought the defense was ready,” Shuman said. “I thought Matt Casamento played the best game I’ve ever seen him play, he was exceptional. Talk about a guy that played every other shift for us. Losing Brad Murphy put a little strain on the defense but Matt has stepped up like I’ve not seen a defenseman step up before. He played at a whole new level tonight, big hits, big plays. Charlie Malloy played well as well too. The defense stepped up and played well.”
Franklin had its lone shot of the power play up next but Quinn Gibbs (20 saves) made the save right into his chest. From there, McNeice had a pair of clearance, the latter helped along by a nice stick lift from Nick Allen.
Shortly after the penalty was killed, Canton’s Timmy Kelleher linked up with Nolte, but his backhand attempt was just wide. Nolte then returned the favor, finding the sophomore in front for a one-timer but Franklin goalie Owen Ginley (31 saves) made a point-blank save.
With Franklin pushing numbers trying to find an equalizer, Canton was able to take advantage of a mistake in the neutral zone. McNeice jumped on a loose puck a Franklin defenseman couldn’t handle, skated in on a breakaway and roofed his shot to make it 3-1 with 1:19 to play.
McNeice added an empty-net goal in the final seconds to put an exclamation point on the win.
“The line of Bubba, Mike Dadasis and Jack Goyetch…they thrive in that type of game,” Shuman said. “They’re all about getting pucks to the net, playing hard, playing in tight spaces…they love a game like that. They aren’t flashy, they might not have the flashiness of some of the other guys but they get their nose dirty, they play hard. I thought they were probably our one consistent line and we built on that going forward.”
While Canton had the strong finish to the game, Franklin was the team that came out on the front foot. The Panthers’ speed caused problems for the Bulldogs and the visitors had a lead in shots until the final few minutes.
Franklin’s best chance of the opening period came when senior Kenny Demerchant took a pass against the grain, catching the defense going the opposite way. That allowed him to skate in alone but Gibbs came up with the pad save on Demerchant’s tough angle bid.
Canton picked up some momentum at the end of the period when Franklin was called for tripping with 1:09 left. Ginley stopped a shot from Allen, and then a follow-up chance from McNeice. And then Owen Lehane had his shot stopped and Dadasis saw his rebound chance blocked.
The power play carried over into the second period, and the Bulldogs needed just 13 seconds to convert. After winning the opening faceoff, Kelleher linked up with Hagan in front of goal, and the sophomore used his backhand to go upstairs to beat Ginley for a 1-0 lead.
Franklin tied the game exactly four minutes later, just 20 seconds into their first power play chance.
With the rest of the period playing out equally, Canton grabbed the momentum back with four minutes to go. Nolte had a chance at the right post but went just wide. On the ensuing scrum in front, Kelleher was able to get his stick onto the puck and into the back of the net to make it 2-1.
“That was a great goal, [Franklin] has a great power play,” Shuman said. “It was well drawn up by the coaches…nice shot, nice goal. Couldn’t do much about it. But getting one back was big, we had to respond. In the past, they’ve gone up or they’ve scored and we haven’t responded, and that was a time we had a good response.”
“It took a little wind out of our sails but we still had a whole 15 more minutes to come out and play hockey,” Spillane said of Canton’s late second-period tally. “We had a power play late in the third and had nothing to show for it. We looked like a tired team out there, they looked fresh. They are a great hockey team and they just wanted it more than us. I don’t think the players that we lean on played to their capabilities.”
A win for Canton boys hockey (8-0-0 Hockomock, 11-1-4 overall) meant avenging its lone loss in regulation this season. The Bulldogs fell to Franklin earlier this season in the second game of the season in a non-league clash. Not only was it their lone loss in regulation, it was just one of three games they had allowed two or more goals in three periods of play.
That, on top of senior, with bragging rights between division champs on the line, resulted in a spirited effort from the home side.
“We sometimes talk about having the best record in the Hockomock,” admitted Shuman, but added that there wasn’t much talk about the first meeting. “These guys have done a pretty good job of looking forward. There’s so much of a difference between the first week of December and February. We don’t really look back, we didn’t even watch that film to get ready for it. We watched some more recent film because its two different teams from then and now. It was a good hockey game, Quinn made some save, their guy made some saves. It could have gone either way, but just a good hockey team between two good teams.”
Franklin (12-3-3) dropped its second straight game after falling to Hingham 6-2 earlier this week.
“We’re in a good position but you want to be playing your best hockey in the last week or two of the season, and we’re having a hard time finding that again,” Spillane said. “I think our locker room has to do some soul-searching. The 22 guys that suit up and ultimately have a say in the game, they just aren’t performing the way they should.”
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – For the second time in three seasons, Franklin reached the championship game of the Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off at the venerable Adelard Arena and for the second time the Panthers were unable to come up with a third win in three days to claim the first place trophy.
Joe Mancini of Fairfield Prep (Conn.) scored his second goal of the game with 3:37 remaining in the second overtime to give the Jesuits the 3-2 victory in a game that featured non-stop, end-to-end action right from the opening face-off.
“I’m happy with the effort for sure,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane, whose team does take home a point, as the game will be officially recorded as a 2-2 tie for MIAA purposes. “Three games in three days and all three were sort of like this; nothing was easy here.
“So, at the end of the day we were happy with what we got. Sure, it’s a nice moral boost to get the victory, but we sort of ran out of gas. You could see that three days of hockey took its toll.”
The Panthers came out flying in the first period, dictating play, winning battles in the corners on both ends of the ice, out-skating Prep, and creating a host of scoring opportunities. Franklin held a 13-7 edge in shots after the first and had each of its first three lines contribute.
Junior Matt Holmes had Franklin’s first chance just two minutes into the game with a shot from the slot off a pass by T.J. Durkin that was saved by Prep goalie Jack McGee. Dan Magazu had a chance just seconds later off a Luke Downie feed but McGee gloved the shot to keep it scoreless.
The Panthers broke the deadlock with 5:08 left in the first. Durkin dug out the puck from the corner and slipped it from behind the net out in front to senior Brendan O’Rielly, who pulled it across the crease to his backhand and buried the shot high to the glove side.
Despite Franklin’s dominance, the Jesuits managed to create one great scoring chance with a minute to go in the period and pounced. A turnover in the attacking zone turned into a quick break and an odd-man rush for Prep, which Mancini finished off to tie the game at 1-1.
“We had one breakdown and they capitalized on it,” said Spillane. “We left a few goals on the table and that would’ve been a huge boost for us to score a couple of goals, but that’s the way the puck bounces.”
There is no break in between periods, as Adelard Arena only cleans the ice in the second intermission. The teams barely had a chance to get water let alone talk things over and the new period started. Spillane admitted that it was something the Panthers had to be concerned with.
He said, “It’s hard. We’re used to getting on a fresh sheet of ice and, if speed is our game, then we want a fresh sheet of ice. We’ve been down here long enough that we adapted, we expect it.”
The old ice worked just fine for the Jesuits. Having scored with a minute left in the first period, Prep took its first lead just a minute into the second. Franklin’s defense was caught pinching in at the blue line and Fairfield got another two-on-one break that Kevin Oricoli took advantage of with a snipe under the bar.
The Panthers nearly tied the game three minutes later when junior Joe Lizzotte stole the puck in the neutral zone on the penalty kill and skated in for a shorthanded breakaway, but McGee was able to deny the forward at full stretch.
At nearly the same time as the goal he scored in the first period, O’Rielly popped up with his second of the night to level things up. Downie was credited with the assist, although it appeared to be Magazu that was crashing the goal, when his shot was parried by McGee right to O’Rielly, who did not miss the chance.
“They were solid,” Spillane remarked about the Panthers top scoring line. “Bubba (O’Rielly) had two goals and I think Luke had two goals the night before that. It’s a nice balance and the third and fourth line is starting to feel its confidence growing.”
Franklin nearly grabbed the lead back early in the third period. Junior Zac Falvey skated into the high slot, nearly uncovered, and uncorked a wicked slap shot that hit the inside of the junction between post and crossbar, fell to the ice, and skidded straight across the mouth of the goal with McGee stranded.
Connor Norton had a shot from the point saved just a few minutes later and the rebound fell to Falvey, but this time the junior’s flicked backhand somehow looped narrowly above the bar.
After being just an inch away from the lead, the Panthers started to fade and Prep started to take control of play. The Jesuits held a 10-5 edge in shots in the third and put increasing pressure on Franklin goalie Owen Ginley (36 saves). The senior netminder came through with a series of solid stops including a glove save to rob Mancini with a few minutes left.
Prep continued the momentum into overtime and Ginley was called on for another spectacular stop with just three seconds left, going post-to-post to get a pad on a Ryan Eckert shot after a saucer pass across the crease by Mancini.
It was Mancini that knocked in the winner during the 4-on-4 second overtime. The Panthers lost the puck in the defensive zone and the puck was played across the goal to Mancini and he scored with a one-time to win the title.
“That last goal, it was a nice smart play by their forward to give it to the open guy, they caught us in a change, and we were gassed,” Spillane explained.
Franklin beat LaSalle College (Pa.) and Bishop Guertin (R.I.) to reach the final game. A lot has been made of the Panthers being the lone public school program in the eight-team field, but Spillane played down the importance of representing public school hockey.
He said, “You could say it’s a feather in our cap but at the end of the day they’re all 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids playing a sport they love. It was great competition and we fit right in. That tells me that we’re a pretty good program consistently and we’ve been doing it year-in, year-out.”
Spillane added, “We’ve been here long enough, now we’ve just got to get that third win.”
Franklin (5-1-1) will get a week break before getting back on the ice to open Hockomock League play against Stoughton on Jan. 6.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Two good bounces turned into two goals for Franklin, one for Dan Magazu in the second period and one for Brendan O’Rielly in third, and senior netminder Owen Ginley made 27 saves to make those goals stand up, as the Panthers pulled out a 2-0 victory over rival Canton in a non-league meeting on Friday night at Pirelli Veterans Arena.
“We had a really bad practice yesterday after a big win Wednesday (4-3 against defending Div. 1 state champion St. Mary’s of Lynn) and I just didn’t know what to expect,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane.
“Canton did a great job taking a lot of space away. When we’re playing our best hockey is when we’re using our team speed and they didn’t allow us to do that tonight. We just had to grind it out.”
The Bulldogs came out of the gates flying, outshooting Franklin 11-4 in the opening period and creating a number of scoring opportunities only to be denied by Ginley.
Sophomore Chris Lavoie had the first good chance of the game nearly three minutes in when he was fed in front by junior winger Joe Robinson, but Ginley got his blocker on the shot. The puck deflected up off the post and out with several Bulldogs fans arguing that it had actually gone in. Five minutes later, Lavoie had another chance when he corralled a loose puck in the slot but it was saved and Robinson’s rebound was gloved.
“He was solid for us last year,” said Spillane of Ginley, “and it’s going to be hard for those other two senior goaltenders to take his spot away. It really is because when he’s focused and he’s mentally into the game then he’s a really good goaltender.”
Franklin had its best chance of the period when Zac Falvey managed to knock the puck into the zone with his hand, barely staying onside in the process. He slipped a pass to senior Jeremy Miller alone in front but his shot slammed off the post. A couple minutes later, Miller found Falvey with a drop pass but again the Panthers were denied by the post.
In between those chances, Canton junior Ryan Nolte found the perfect pass to spring senior Bubba McNeice behind the defense, but he was denied on the breakaway by Ginley. McNeice was stuffed a few minutes later with Jack McGrath clearing the rebound off the line and in the final seconds of the period Robinson had another chance but again the goalie was up to the task.
“To come out with no goals in a Franklin/Canton game is always disappointing,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We couldn’t get any momentum at all. It’s one thing to have a shot on net and get a rebound and have an opportunity and it’s another thing to put one home.”
Franklin came out much stronger in the second period and started to take control of the game. Within two minutes, the Panthers nearly created the opening goal when Miller forced a turnover with an important back-check in the defensive zone. He hit Falvey on the outlet, who then found Joe Lizzotte flying past the defense only for Canton goalie Quinn Gibbs (22 saves) to make the stick save.
“Our second line is carrying a lot of weight right now,” said Spillane of the combination of Miller, Falvey, and Lizzotte. “Jeremy is just a strong, strong kid and he makes good hockey plays and he’s got two speedsters on his line that are small but they’re fast and they’re good with their hands. They seem to pick up the pace when we need it.”
The deadlock was finally broken with 9:13 left in the second. O’Rielly carried the puck into the offensive zone and was met just outside the left circle by two Canton defensemen. The puck squirted free and Magazu skated onto it all alone. He cut across the crease and lifted a backhand over Gibbs’ pad for a 1-0 lead.
Spillane said, “The first goal is huge and it definitely gave us a boost of energy. You could see the kids get into it. After the first period, I just knew it was going to be one of those games and we were going to have to grind it out and we were fortunate to get a couple bounces in the end.”
Franklin doubled its lead early in the third period thanks to another friendly deflection. Luke Downie battled along the nearside boards to sweep the puck back to the point and retain possession. Tom Trasker lined up a slapshot that kicked off the skate of a defenseman right to O’Rielly, who took a second before wristing a shot past Gibbs.
“We went down 1-0 and our bench felt like we went down 5-0 with two minutes to play and that was disappointing,” said Shuman. “We did fight back and had some chances, but it’s hard to climb back from 2-0 hole with eight minutes left against these guys because they have good goaltending and play defense better than most.”
Canton stepped up its intensity in the closing minutes, desperately searching a goal that would get the Bulldogs back in the game. Nolte had the best chance on a power play with five minutes left. He tipped a shot from the point right in front of Ginley, who made the first stop, and then had the rebound come right back to his stick only for Ginley to throw out a pad and stuff the chance on the post.
It was the first loss of the season for the Bulldogs, who won their third straight Gormley Cup last week. Shuman explained, “I just thought they outplayed us. They looked like a seasoned, veteran team out there that was ready to play, won more battles than us, and I think intimidated us in many aspects.”
Franklin is unbeaten through its opening two games of a very difficult stretch to start the season. Spillane remarked, “Pope Francis next and then Newburyport and then Mount St. Charles (Holiday Tournament) is just crazy and it’s back-to-back days. It’s going to tell us where we are and where we need to get to so that in league play we’ll be firing on all cylinders.”
Franklin (2-0) will travel to the Olympia Center in Springfield to face perennial Super 8 contender Pope Francis on Thursday. Canton (1-1-1) will host defending Div. 3 state champion Shrewsbury on Wednesday.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled in its closing games of 2016-17 and narrowly missed out on a place in the state tournament via the Sullivan rule. This year’s Bombardiers are hoping that a mix of youth and experience will be enough to get the team over the hump and back in the playoff mix.
The main scoring threat for Attleboro this season is senior forward Jake Parker, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection last winter who led the team with 20 goals despite facing regular double teams and playing loads of minutes. Parker will be joined up front by sophomore Ryan Morry, who is coming off a solid rookie campaign and will try to take advantage of the opportunities Parker creates near the net.
Attleboro’s experience is on the defensive side of the ice. Seniors Eddie Noel and Sam MacKenzie and junior Kyle McCabe provide size, physicality, and reading of the game to protect the Bombardiers goal. Attleboro coach Mark Homer, in his second season with the team, is expecting the defensemen to be aggressive in the zone and be more prepared to clear the puck. The Bombardiers are also experienced in goal with junior Evan Andrews and sophomore Derrik Rivet offering a solid one-two between the pipes.
“As a team, we are working on becoming more competitive in our games at all phases of the game, said Homer. “We will strive to be better today than we were yesterday but not as good as we will be tomorrow. Our success will be measured by how hard we work and not by our wins and losses.”
2016-2017 Record: 16-5-3
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Brian Shuman
After another league title in 2016-17 and a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal, Canton has started this season with a win and a draw (that turned into an overtime win in the final of the Gormley Cup) and the expectations remain as high as ever for one of the teams to beat in D2.
Last season, Canton was by far the league’s best defensive team, allowing only 32 goals in 24 games. The next best defense allowed 48 goals. But, the Bulldogs will need to rebuild the blue line this season after the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and Third Team selection C.J. Martin. Defensemen Brad Murphy and Nick Allen have experience and will be counted on to step up to bigger roles this year.
The key for the Canton defense, which has allowed only one goal in two games so far this season, will be junior goalie Quinn Gibbs. He was a HockomockSports.com First Team choice last year with a league-best 0.924 save percentage and there is hope he can get even better with a year of experience. Offensively, the Bulldogs bring back most of the goals from last year with Ryan Nolte, Johnny Hagan, Bubba McNeice, and Jack Goyetch all returning this season and all having scored big goals in big moments for Canton during last season’s tournament run.
“I think the most important determinant of our success will be whether we can find some depth at forward and defense,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Teams need more than two lines and four ‘D’ to make a deep run, so we need some guys to compete for those remaining spots.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 3 First Round.
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro saw improvement last year, increasing its win total, goals for, and allowed fewer goals than the season before. Head coach Mark Cedarchuk is hoping that trend continues this season as the Warriors look to try and compete for the spot in the postseason.
The Warriors will be relying on a mix of experience as well as youth to try and compete in the Hockomock League this year. Senior captain Aidan Sullivan (two goals, six assists) has been an anchor of the team’s blue line unit over the past couple of seasons and will be relied upon to lead the way again this year. Senior captain Taylor Sharfman is another defenseman that gives the Warriors two capable and reliable options in the back. Junior Tanner Kennedy is also back after a solid sophomore year and Warriors added junior Brendan Tully to the defensive unit.
On offense, Foxboro graduated its top three goal scorers but sophomore Ronnie MacLellan (four goals, seven assists) is back after a strong sophomore year. He will be joined up front by senior Sam Garrabrant and sophomore Sebastian Ricketts, who had four goals and two assists last year.
Foxboro will have to find a replacement for goalie John Cronin, a multi-year starter in between the pipes for the Warriors. Foxboro has three goalies – freshman Jack Spinney, sophomore Espen Reager, and freshman Connor Callahan – listed on the roster.
“With a combination of experienced upperclassman and talented underclassman, we’re looking forward to an exciting and competitive season,” Cedarchuk said.
2016-2017 Record: 14-9-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Chris Spillane
Although last winter was atypical for the Panthers, losing two games in the league for the first time in several years, Franklin won another league title and with 20 players back for this season the expectation is that a seventh straight league crown is a distinct possibility – not to mention making a run in the state tournament.
Experience will be the key for the Panthers. Most of the forwards were members of the team that won the state championship two years ago and know what it takes to get goals against top competition. Leading scorer Brendan O’Rielly is back after scoring 20 goals and recording 11 assists last season. He should have plenty of help up front with classmates Luke Downie, Jeremy Miller, T.J. Durkin, and Ken Demerchant, who are all three-year varsity players for the Panthers.
Defensively, Franklin has lost several talented young defensemen to other programs in recent seasons, but still boasts a strong defensive corps heading into this winter. Jack McGrath, Matt Crane, Connor Norton, Cam Cassella, and sophomore Tom Tasker will all contribute to the defensive pairings this season and that depth will be important over a long season. The goalie position is a battle between three seniors, including returning netminders Owen Ginley and Dan Sheehan, who both saw time last year.
“I will be looking to our leading goal scorer from last year Brendan O’Rielly to once again lead the offensive charge,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “From a small practice sample (one skate) I was impressed with our team speed.”
2016-2017 Record: 4-16-0
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip finished just below .500 in the league last season, and just five points out of second place in the Kelley-Rex division, but struggled in the non-league schedule, losing all 11 games outside of the Hock. The Warriors will look to improve that considerably this year with an experienced roster that wants to challenge for a league title.
KP returns 13 players from last year’s squad and that experience will be vital to allow the Warriors to compete not only in the league but against a schedule that has been bolstered because of the program’s move up to Div. 1 several seasons ago. Offensively, the attention will be on senior forward Collin Cooke, who chipped in with 10 goals and seven assists and has been drawing the focus of opposing defenses for several years. Senior Gavin Maxwell had nine goals and eight assists last season and will again be a solid counterpoint to take some of the pressure off Cooke in the attacking zone.
On the defensive side of the ice, KP continues to be a physical team that likes to be aggressive attacking the puck. Senior defensemen Will Connor will get some help at the back with the return of senior Mike Curtin from juniors, who head coach Paul Carlow said could be an “anchor” on defense. Senior Shane Frommer, fresh off a stellar football season and another Super Bowl title, will quickly transition from the gridiron to be the team’s starting goalie, after posting a 2.66 goals against average in 2016-17.
“Our strength is that we have a total of 13 returning players from last years team,” said Carlow. “We have experience up front and on the back end. We should see some team chemistry with this many returning players.”
2016-2017 Record: 12-8-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round.
Coach: Mike Balazarini
In last year’s state tournament, Mansfield held its own against perennial power Xaverian before losing 2-1 in the opening round and that defeat is spurring the Hornets on this season, as the team has built a deep roster that believes it can challenge for the Kelley-Rex crown.
Team speed is going to be a strength for the Hornets this season, even without several key pieces from last winter, including breakout freshman Chris Jenkins, lost to graduation or to juniors. Senior forward Dylan Tivnan and Cullin Anastasia will be back to man the top scoring line along with freshman Coleman Jenkins. The second line will feature a lot of youth with sophomore Jake Lund and freshman Matt Copponi alongside junior Chris Copponi.
Seniors Tyler Oakley and Tim Arnold will be the leaders on the defensive side this year, while senior Ryan O’Hara and juniors Nick Levine and Austin Ricker will give the Hornets depth in the defensive unit. That depth should make things easier for sophomore Sean McCafferty, who will be stepping between the pipes for Mansfield this season.
“I think everyone wants to pick up where he left off last year,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We’ve had a good mindset early on this season. We have some new faces and everyone has gelled so far. We can’t take everyone lightly, we have to play every shift as its out last.”
2016-2017 Record: 14-4-4
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro is coming off its most successful season in program history, and will be starting a new chapter with new head coach Ben McManama.
The Rocketeers will be tasked with finding replacements for some of the top players in the league from a season ago. Someone will need to step up in order to fill the void left by Zach McGowan (19 goals, 13 assists for 32 points – third most in the Hockomock) as well as Hunter Sarro’s 22 points and Erik Clements’ 20 points.
Senior Jason McNeany is a key piece back for the Rocketeers, fresh off a terrific football season. He scored 13 goals last season and added 13 assists, and has been a big piece of the offense for many years now. He will be counted on to be a leader this season, both in the locker room and on the ice.
2016-2017 Record: 14-7-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Sean Bertoni
Under first-year head coach Sean Bertoni, Oliver Ames proved to be a strong skating team that could cause a number of problems with its dangerous attack. That speed up front will be put to the test again this year, as the Tigers look to jump from second in the Kelley-Rex division to the top of the standings.
The Tigers have a number of talented forwards returning from last season’s team, which reached the Div. 2 South tournament and beat Nauset only to run into state finalist Scituate in the second round. That loss will provide motivation for junior forward Brett Williams, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team with 12 goals and eight assists last year, and the rest of the OA forwards. Williams will be joined up front by seniors Eric LeBlanc and Rory Madden and junior Max Ward.
On defense, junior Matt McCormick returns to be one of the top four along with senior Mike Nikiciuk. Both players will provide leadership for a defensive unit that promises to be aggressive in both zones, as Bertoni continues to implement his system at OA. Sophomore goalie Owen Connor will be the new goalie for the Tigers.
“We will continue to use our team speed and play an aggressive style offensively and defensively,” said Bertoni. “We hope to compete at a high level in all three zones. If we bring an aggressive forecheck we can create turnovers which should result in production.”
2016-2017 Record: 7-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Dan Mark
Numbers are a bit down for the Stoughton High hockey team this season, so the Knights will be relying on their most experienced players to lead the way, especially early on.
On offense, the Knights boast senior Brendan Campbell at center and junior Sean Doherty at wing. Campbell had a team-high in points last season, finishing second with 11 goals while recording a team-best 15 assists for 26 points. Doherty was third on the team, tying for the team lead with 12 goals and finishing with 25 points.
Senior Cam Nelson and junior Josh Hough will be the leaders of the Knights’ defensive unit. Hough is a captain along with Campbell and Doherty and has the most experience on the blue line. Nelson also saw plenty of time last season, recording an assist.
“We are an inexperienced team that will improve as the season goes on,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark.
2016-2017 Record: 12-9-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round.
Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons, setting new program bests for wins and making the state tournament two seasons in a row. This year’s team features only three seniors, so the Tigers will be hoping recent success will continue with a youthful lineup.
Senior forward Will Walsh has returned from junior hockey and will provide a boost to the front line, which head coach Kris Metea has high hopes for this season. Senior Jake Roberts is also back for the Tigers after scoring 18 points last year and junior Cam Sneyd is back after a 16-point season last winter. Metea is counting on high energy from the offensive unit and believes that the roster is capable of creating loads of scoring opportunities.
Sophomore Sean Bunker will be in net for the Tigers and the defensive unit is fairly inexperienced, although the coach believes that by working together Taunton will be able to put together a solid back line. The hope is that defense will become a strength of the Tigers by the end of the season.
“The players enjoy wearing the orange and black and look forward to coming to the rink every day,” said Metea. “The coaching staff has preached about enjoying the journey of a season and the developmental process. These players strive to work hard and get better every day. They will be fun to watch grow throughout the season.”
2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview
2016-2017 Record: 14-5-6
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Final
Coach: Dennis Aldrich
Canton is coming off a remarkable state tournament run that took the No. 14 seed all the way to the TD Garden and the program’s first state title game appearance since 2006. After years of competing in the SEMGHL Coastal division, the Bulldogs are excited for the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and enter the new season as favorites to bring home the first Hock title.
A number of key players are back from the team that battled Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in the state championship game last March and will be counted on to put together another solid defensive effort that made the Bulldogs so tough to play against during the tournament run. Spearheading that defensive unit is senior goalie Colleen Kelleher, who was stellar throughout the state tournament with clutch saves in key situations.
On offense, Canton returns plenty of firepower. Juniors Maggie Malloy and Lauren Fitzpatrick emerged as big time scorers last year and came through with important goals to help the Bulldogs make a run to the Garden. Senior forwards Melissa Devane, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil give Canton a loaded attacking unit that always seemed to pop up with goals when the team needed it most.
“The strength of the Bulldogs will continue to be a tenacious, smothering team defense, strong goaltending, and balanced, opportunistic scoring,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “We are proud to have our roster filled with 11 Canton team captains amongst our 22 rostered players.”
2016-2017 Record: 4-15-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Marjorie Burke
Franklin enters the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season with a young roster, but one that is expected to compete with the other four teams and have a shot at bringing home the inaugural title.
Junior Regan Paterson and senior Jackie Connelly will be expected to provide leadership and create scoring opportunities for a roster that is loaded with underclassmen. Both players provide speed and playmaking ability in the attacking zone and the Panthers will be counting on their experience to make the difference.
Leadership is going to be critical for this year’s team and head coach Marjorie Burke is looking to her senior class to provide direction for the youthful lineup on both ends of the ice. Among the seniors that Burke is looking to this season are Bella Trask, Caroline Hedvig, Maddie Hinkley, Jillian McGlaughlin, and Connelly.
“We are excited about the upcoming season,” said Burke. “We are young but look to be competitive.”
2016-2017 Record: 11-10-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Three years ago, King Philip was the top seed in Div. 2 and after two more playoff appearance, the Warriors now have the opportunity to bring their recent success into the first ever Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and hope that an experienced lineup could make them the first Hock champs.
Junior Nicole Connor is off to a strong start this season and has the potential, according to KP coach Jack Unger, to be one of the top players in the Hockomock League this year. Connor will play both at forward and along the blue line, crucial versatility that makes her an important piece for KP. The Warriors return five seniors who will be the “backbone” of the squad, said Unger. Kyleigh Remmes, Olivia McCarthy, Jessica Daniels, Katie Crowther, and Talia Quinn give the Warriors depth all over the ice.
Lilly Potts returns for her third year in between the pipes, while sophomore Cristina Coleman will be the backup netminder. Freshmen Avari Maxwell and Jordyn Remmes will be instant contributors on offense, while classmate Marin Cormier will step in on defense. Sophomores Abby Carr and Sammy Robison are also expected to step in at forward this season.
“[The roster is] rounded out by a number of talented juniors who should be able to spread out the scoring amongst the three starting forward lines,” said Unger.
2016-2017 Record: 14-6-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Coach: Mike Dalton
Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro have joined forces since the 2014-15 season and have reached the postseason each of the past two winters, suffering an overtime loss to Walpole in the first round of the state tournament last year, and have started this season with an impressive win in the opener.
The Warriors will be led by Foxboro’s Catherine Luciano. The senior was the team’s leading scorer last year and scored a hat trick in the season opener to get off to another strong start. Joining Luciano on the top line will be Mackenzie Fraser and Isabelle Shanteller. Other contributors in the offensive zone include senior Kayla Dalton, Kristina O’Connell, and Lindsey Corning.
While the Warriors are expected to create a number of scoring opportunities, defense will be just as important if Mansfield/OA (MOA) is going to make it a third straight playoff appearance. Denea Reager, Ali Delano, and Emily Bubencick will all be critical components of the Warriors defensive unit. Senior Kerren Holmes will be back in goal this year to stifle the opposition, while freshman Cate Gallegher will be the backup netminder.
“A strong freshman class will assist the team with help on both offense and defense,” said MOA coach Mike Dalton. “The team looks to compete for a top position in the Hockomock League and secure a spot in the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-19-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Richard Grasso
The newest of the programs in the inaugural season of Hockomock League girls’ hockey, Stoughton is in only its third season of varsity play, but the Black Knights are counting on last year’s experience and the growth in the program to make them a team to watch out for this winter.
Two-time all-star Julia Russell will be one of the key defenders for the Black Knights, but also brings an offensive punch with her speed forcing opponents to worry about her carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Senior Sarah Widrow will join Russell at the blue line and provides consistency in the defensive zone. Both will be expected to provide leadership for the less experienced players on the roster and try to make Stoughton a team that is tough to play against.
The offense will be sparked by a pair of freshmen. Hailey Nelson and Morgan Lesso made an instant impact on their debuts, helping Stoughton start the season with a 6-5 win at Framingham in the season opener. Lesso recorded a hat trick against the Flyers to set a high standard in her first varsity action.
“Stoughton will be a much stronger team this year than last,” said Black Knights coach Richard Grasso. “However, this will be a great challenge for our program. We have a lot of respect for the teams in the Hockomock League. There’s a lot of talent out there and each team is well-coached.”
With Saturday afternoon’s game at the Foxboro Sports Center tied at 2-2 early in the third period, Franklin senior Noah Nasuti turned at the blue line and flung a puck on net. It landed a few feet from goal and bounced on its edge and slid past Mansfield senior goalie Tony Rullo, who finished with 28 saves and had a strong overall game to keep the Hornets in it.
That bounce allowed the Panthers, who seemed nervous at times in the attacking zone, to breathe a little easier. Two late goals, one on the power play and the other into an empty net, sealed a 5-2 victory for Franklin and put an end to a two-game losing streak.
“I know out third goal won’t be making the ‘Top 10’ on Sportscenter, but it was big for us,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “It gave us a little breathing room and we weren’t gripping the sticks so tight and we got into a flow.”
Everyone came into Saturday’s game thinking that Franklin was going to come out flying, motivated by last weekend’s state final rematch loss to St. Mary’s (Lynn) and the shocking loss to Taunton in midweek, which was the first loss for the Panthers in the league since the 2013-14 season. Franklin had not lost twice in the Hock since 2012-13.
Rather than Franklin asserting itself in the first, it was Mansfield that came out stronger and took the lead inside the first five minutes. James Bezeau fed a pass from the half-boards into the middle to a streaking Cullin Anastasia, who had a step on his defender and then slotted his shot five-hole for the opener.
“Everybody’s first shift, we wanted them to make good plays, get the first shot on net, make the first hit, and have them make the first save,” said first-year Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We put in a good 15 minutes of hockey in the first period.”
Franklin had several chances in the first period to try and get the game on level terms. Nasuti had a good chance knocked down by Rullo, Luke Downie had a wrist shot from the left circle snagged and in the final minute Brendan O’Rielly had a one-timer from the slot saved by Rullo as well.
Despite a 9-8 advantage in shots, Spillane was not happy with the way the Panthers started the game. He said, “I expected us to come out in that first period and just explode and we didn’t do that. We have a lot of work in front of us. We haven’t played a full game…It’s hard to figure these guys out.”
The Panthers picked up the energy in the second period and started to control the play. Downie created a scoring opportunity on the forecheck but shot it into the chest of Rullo. Downie set up James Kilroe for a point-blank chance a couple minutes later but the shot was partially blocked and covered.
Mansfield almost doubled its lead against the run of play when Patrick McCafferty got behind the Franklin defense but his backhand effort was kept out by a combination of Owen Ginley’s shoulder and the post. Rullo then came through with a huge stop, going post-to-post and stretching out a pad to rob Adam Assad after a give-and-go with Jeremy Miller.
The pressure eventually paid off for Franklin with freshman defenseman Colin Oppelt having a shot from the point tipped by Kilroe and the rebound cleaned up by O’Rielly to tie the game. Just 10 seconds later and it was the Panthers in front after Dan Magazu sliding a shot under Rullo’s pads, assisted by Kenny DeMerchant and Jack McGrath.
“[Dan] is a sophomore we don’t play much, but he scores a goal every time we put him out there,” said Spillane. That’s his third goal, so putting players out there like that lets the upperclassmen know their jobs are not secure.”
A minute later, Mansfield tied the score again. After a scramble in front of Ginley, freshman Chris Jenkins got the final touch (Cullen Murphy was credited on the score sheet) to make it 2-2, despite the Hornets being outshot 12-7 in the period.
“The issue in the second period was that we played their game; we didn’t play our game,” said Balazarini. “We were flooding the neutral zone, taking away their D-to-D pass, and then we kind of strayed away from that.”
Franklin got the break it needed 2:24 into the third period, when Nasuti saw his shot find the back of the net.
“It’s tough,” Balzarini said. “They were getting pucks to the net from everywhere. They did a good job at that. It is what it is. That’s hockey. But we didn’t stop and we had some good chances.”
The Panthers were on top on the scoreboard and on the ice, but Mansfield had its chances to get back into the game. Matt Farragher twice in the span of a minute came flying down the right wing and had a shot from the edge of the circle but Ginley (22 saves) was able to glove one and stand tall to stop the other.
Franklin doubled its lead on the power play with 2:09 remaining. Assad pushed the puck to Miller behind the goal and dashed to the net. Miller passed it back out in front and Assad roofed it for a 4-2 lead. O’Rielly made sure of the two points with an empty net goal (his second) in the final minute.
“I like the way we competed in the second and third periods,” said Spillane. “Our forecheck really came to life, our speed jumped out, and the goals came, but that should be consistent every game, every shift.”
After a trying week, Spillane was happy to see the Panthers bounce off their uncustomary position at the bottom of the league standings. He said, “I think we’re going to see this every game in the Hockomock League. Once the message was sent that they’re beatable. we’re going to get everyone’s ‘A’ game. There’s no gimmes, at least not for us.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The last time that Franklin and St. Mary’s (Lynn) met on the ice, it was an instant classic. The Panthers and Spartans wowed the crowd at the Boston Garden in a dramatic, double overtime thriller that Franklin won to claim its first state championship in three decades.
On Saturday night, the teams met again, this time in the smaller confines of Pirelli Veterans Arena, and the game played out very differently.
Franklin got off to a great start, taking a lead just 1:23 into the first period, but for the majority of the next 43 minutes the game was dominated by the visitors. St. Mary’s took the lead by the end of the first and never looked back, pulling out a 7-3 victory and exacting a measure of revenge for last season’s title game defeat.
“I thought we played well for the first 10 minutes,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “I thought we had a jump in our step, we forechecked well, we were physical, and then right after that you could see it start to derail. That’s sort of been our season. We haven’t played a full 45 [minutes].”
The Panthers got off to the perfect start to the game. Jeremy Miller burst into the zone and had a shot from the right side kicked aside by St. Mary’s goalie Andrew LoRusso, but Adam Assad was following up the play and he knocked the loose puck into the open net.
Shortly after the goal, the Spartans would be given a four-minute power play of which the first 90 seconds would be a two-man advantage. Thanks to a couple of solid kick saves by goalie Owen Ginley and strong defense that kept the visitors on the edges, Franklin managed to clear it off and gain even more energy.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the strong start could not be sustained.
Colin Reddy tied the game with 3:18 left in the first when he tapped in Jason Loeser’s pass that slipped through the skates of a Franklin defenseman. Two minutes later, Kyle Ouellette flipped a pass towards goal that was knocked down into the slot by Mike Zampanti and knocked in by Anthony Bono.
Ginley came through with a huge save on Bono after a mix up by the Franklin defense in the final seconds of the first, but he picked up an injury in the process and would be taken out for Cam Benham in the second.
Spillane said, “We had all the momentum. It was great and then right after that we just lost it. Our starting goaltender got hurt at the end of the first period and then we had to switch goalies, got a cold goalie coming in…and it just kept rolling.”
Franklin got off to a decent start to the second period with Miller setting up Zac Falvey only for LoRusso to deny him. Benham made a big save on Bono after a slip by the Franklin defense gave the St. Mary’s forward a breakaway, but was unable to stop a wraparound by Damon Maribito that made it 3-1.
Benham stopped Maribito four minutes later on another breakaway and the Panthers nearly had an answer when James Kilroe was set up Noah Nasuti, but the shot was off-target. Twenty-four seconds after that chance a puck up the boards bounced between a pair Panthers and started a 2-on-1 break for the Spartans. Reddy scored his second off an assist by Mike Desmond.
“One bad bounce and that’s it,” said Spillane. “We sort of hung our heads…We have capabilities, we have good hockey players, but we’re not consistent right now. Against a team like this, you can’t play inconsistent.”
The fourth goal seemed to open the floodgates for St. Mary’s with Bono scoring on a blast off a face-off win to make it 5-1. Assad struck the post before the end of the second, but just three minutes into the third period Loeser flicked a wrist shot from the high slot through traffic that snuck inside the post.
The Panthers showed some life in the final period helped out by several power play opportunities. Brendan O’Reilly set up Luke Downie (the hero from last March’s final at the TD Garden) but LoRusso again made the stop. T.J. Durkin had a goal disallowed a minute later when he knocked in Assad’s pass only for the officials to rule that the net was dislodged first.
With 8:34 left to play, Kilroe followed up a rebound from Jack McGrath’s shot from the point to cut the lead to four with a power play goal. Dan Sheehan stopped a breakaway to keep it 6-2 and Cam Trask had a chance saved before Franklin added a third. Tom Sicchio drove to the red line and cut a pass across the crease that was tipped on net by Matt Holmes and tapped in by Downie.
St. Mary’s sealed the win in the final minutes with a shot through traffic by Marc Zampanti. Despite the defeat, Spillane saw positives for his team from playing that level of competition.
He said, “At the end of the day, it’s good for our kids in the long run. They’re a good team and we’re going to see teams just like this down the road, so we’ve got to be ready.
Spillane added, “I think we have the players to compete, it’s just got to be 45 minutes night in, night out. Now we go into our league play and I’m going to demand we play 45 minutes every night or you’ll be on the bench. We’ve got a lot of kids that want to play.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2016-2017 Kelley-Rex Hockey Preview
2015-16 Record: 7-11-2 (1-8-1)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro narrowly missed out on a playoff spot last season, losing in its final game against a Div. 3 opponent and this year’s team will be motivated to try and get back in the postseason under new head coach Mark Homer, who made the switch from Oliver Ames where he coached the past three years, and with a new home – moving from Aleixo Arena in Taunton to the new England Sports Village just a couple minutes from the school.
In what has become a common issue for the Bombardiers program, Attleboro will not have
a lot of depth to call on this winter with only 15 skaters and two goalies on the varsity roster, but there is some experience coming back. Senior P.J. Elliott is a talented skater and stick handler who will be counted on to provide the scoring punch along with Jake Parker and Dylan Weallac on the first line.
Sam McKenzie emerged last year as a physical presence and senior captain Eddie Noel will partner him on the top defensive pairing. Sophomore Evan Andrews and freshman Derek Rivet will battle it out for the starting goaltender position for the Bombardiers. There are several other underclassmen who could make immediate impacts, including sophomore forward Cam Littig.
“With the new facility in Attleboro the hopes are that in the coming years, the roster will grow to include increasing depth to the program,” said Homer. “The goal of this years team is to stay healthy, work together as one unit on and off the ice, and get better each day. It’s a new day for Attleboro High School Hockey with a promising future.”
2015-16 Record: 18-4-5 (8-0-2)
2015-16 Finish: Won the Div. 1 State Championship
Head Coach: Chris Spillane
After being the first Hockomock League team selected for the prestigious Super 8 tournament in 2014-15 and then graduating 21 players, Franklin was supposed to need a year to rebuild, but the Panthers showed just how strong their program is by bringing home the Div. 1 state championship in a dramatic double overtime thriller against St. Mary’s at the TD Garden. It was the program’s first state title at any level since 1983.
The Panthers graduated another large class of 13 seniors from last year’s champions and lost promising freshman defenseman Kevin Mackay who transferred to Dexter. Still, expectations remain as high as ever for the Panthers, who have won four straight league titles. Much of that excitement comes from the potential in the offensive zone with Franklin returning last year’s title game hero Luke Downie, leading goal scorer Jeremy Miller, and Brendan O’Reilly and the top line of seniors Joey Blasie, Adam Assad, and James Kilroe. Sophomores Matt Holmes and Zach Falvey will add depth to the offense.
Defense is where the Panthers will have some new faces, although seniors Tom Sicchio and Stan Carter will add some experience to the back line. Juniors Jack McGrath and Connor Norton will make the jump up from the JV team to add to the defensive lines and freshman Collin Opet will also see playing time on the defense as well. For the third season in a row, Franklin will have a new No. 1 goalie with senior Cam Benhamand junior Owen Ginley will battle it out for the starting spot.
“For the Panthers to be successful this year it will be a result of a team defense concept,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The offense will take care of itself, we will be focusing on strong play in our zone.”
2015-16 Record: 9-8-4 (5-2-3)
2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 South playoffs
Head Coach: Paul Carlow
The Warriors made strides last winter under first-year head coach Paul Carlow, including a regular season tie with Franklin and reaching the postseason for the first time since the program was moved back up to Div. 1. This season, Carlow is hopeful for a return to the postseason and to challenge for KP’s first league title since 2007, despite losing 10 seniors from last year’s roster.
The offensive zone should be strong for the Warriors this season with several key returning players that put up solid totals last winter. Junior forward Collin Cooke is the main weapon after putting up 11 goals and 15 assists for a team-high 26 points to be named a league all-star. He is joined up front by senior Ritchie Lucente, who scored 10 goals and had nine assists last year, and senior Jacob Kelly, who finished with 11 goals and nine assists.
KP will also return a few important pieces on the defensive side of the puck, including junior goalie Shane Frommer, who was 3-1-1 in his five starts last year. Frommer’s start to the hockey season will be slightly delayed after helping the football team win its first Super Bowl title. In front of the Frommer will be senior Jeremy Smith, who chipped in with three goals and four assists last season.
“We had some success last season qualifying for the D1 playoffs,” said Carlow. “We have our work cut out for us this season… We are a young team with only five seniors but I expect us to get back to the playoffs.”
2015-16 Record: 5-10-5 (4-4-2)
2015-16 Finish: Missed the playoffs
Head Coach: Mike Balzarini
Last winter was atypical for the Hornets, who missed out on the playoffs and finished fourth in the Kelley-Rex division, but Mansfield is hoping for a quick turnaround under new head coach Mike Balzarini, who makes the move from Milford. The Hornets have a number of returning players, including several from club or other school programs to bolster the depth.
One of the returning players is Joe Olsen, who spent last year with a juniors program but will be a significant addition to the Hornets top attacking line alongside fellow seniors Matt Farragher and Chad Piotti, who both had solid years in 2015-16. Junior Cullen Anastasia is another forward to come back to the program and could step right in to make an impact. Freshman Chris Jenkins is going to be the center on the third line and classmate James Bezeau will also see playing time this year.
On defense, the Hornets will be led by senior Cullen Murphy, a physical presence at the back and one of the leaders on the ice. Juniors Tim Arnold, Ryan O’Hara, and Tyler Oakley will also be important pieces on the top defensive pairings. Freshman Joseph Troiano will also be on the defense after he decided against attending Xaverian this year. The defense will be protecting senior goalies Brendan McKenna and Tony Rullo, who will each see time.
“We’re a lot deeper,” said Balzarini, who said that the Hornets would be carrying four lines and four sets of defensemen and is excited about the potential on the team. “It’s been good having two weeks to prepare. They have to get used to our new system and adhering to the structures that we’re putting in place.”
2015-16 Record: 10-10-1
2015-16 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Head Coach: Sean Bertoni
Oliver Ames will be looking to keep its postseason streak alive under new head coach Sean Bertoni – a former standout goalie for Franklin.
If the Tigers want to get back to the state tournament, they’ll need some help from their younger players; Oliver Ames has eight sophomores and four freshman on its roster this year. OA does have seven seniors and a group of experienced juniors that can help lead the way.
Owen Gallagher (26 points), who led the team in scoring a year ago, is back along with Eric LeBlanc (18 points), Cullen Gallagher (13 points) and Max Ward (12 points). Junior Rory Madden also returns this season after a year away; Madden registered 14 points his freshman year. Defensively, seniors Jack Maloney and Jared Costello bring a lot of experience to the blue line. Zach Walsh will be back between the pipes after a strong junior season.
“The goals of the team are to progress from Day one to the end of the year,” Bertoni said. “We have to use our team speed and forecheck extremely hard. We will be a disciplined, hard working aggressive team.”
2015-16 Record: 13-10-0 (3-7-0)
2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South playoffs
Head Coach: Kris Metea
The Tigers got to experience what the state tournament is like last season for the first time since 2006-07 and only the second time in the past two decades. Taunton had the fourth most wins in a season in the 44-year history of the program and scored a remarkable 106 goals last season, which was the best in the Hock.
This year, Taunton will try to build on its historic season and make a quick return to the postseason. Leading scorer Tyler Pietrzyk has graduated but there is plenty of firepower returning for the Tigers this season, including senior forward Zack Albert who is coming off a 30-point campaign. He will be joined up from by classmate Jordan Hoey, who had 17 points last season and senior Cam Carnes, who had 10 points. Sophomore Cam Sneyd could be poised for a breakout year for the Tigers.
Defensively, Taunton can lean on three-time league all-star Nick Terry, who will man the top defensive pairing. Mike Volkmann may be listed as a defenseman on the roster but he can get forward into the attack with 29 points a season ago. Junior Cam Welby will be a new addition to the defense after playing juniors all of last season. Senior Justin Chappell returns in net.
“This year’s group of seniors are first class kids,” said head coach Kris Metea. “They exemplify leadership across the board…They had a chance to taste the tournament last year, and are focused on acquiring more than just a taste this time around.”
Sophomore Luke Downie, who celebrated his 16th birthday on Sunday, scored on a wrist shot six minutes into the second overtime to give Franklin a 4-3 win over St. Mary’s Lynn and the program its first MIAA Division 1 State Championship.
Senior Tyler Oakes connected on a pass from his own zone to senior and Jake Downie (Luke’s cousin) along the boards in the neutral, who then dropped the puck back to Luke after crossing the blue line. Luke fired a wrist shot that deflected off the the leg of a St. Mary’s defenseman and found its way over the goalie’s pad short side for the game winner.
“This is awesome,” Luke Downie said postgame. “This is the best birthday present you could ask for.”
Franklin – who had been shutout three straight years in the D2 State Final from 2011-2013 —got off to an ideal start with a pair of first period goals and took that same lead into the final period. But two goals in the first five minutes of the final period from St. Mary’s knotted the game 3-3.
The final 10 minutes remained scoreless, sending the game into a sudden death overtime period. Neither team could find the back of the net in that period either, sending the teams to the locker room for the ice to be cleaned for a second overtime period.
With exactly nine minutes to go in the second overtime period, Downie scored the game winner.
“I think that the problem was we were playing in the wrong division the other times,” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane joked. Franklin moved up to Division 1 at the start of the 2013 season. “This has just been one of those Cinderella years. To follow up last year with a new crop of kids and have them commit to something from day one, and to see them enjoy this success, that’s what high school sports are all about.”
Senior captain and defenseman Joe Corsi scored just his third goal of the season to give Franklin the lead midway through the first period. Sophomore Brendan O’Rielly relayed a perfect outlet pass to senior Sean Hedvig in alone on goal but St. Mary’s goalie Andrew LoRusso got a pad to it.
The puck bounced around and as a St. Mary’s defenseman tried to chip it out, Corsi had pinched in and jumped off the ice to grab the puck, put it on the ice and fired it into the back of the net with 8:26 left in the first period.
“They tried to chip it out and I caught it and just put it down,” Corsi said. “Coach always tells me to roll my wrist and I had to roll it on that one. It was just surreal. I haven’t scored a goal like that before.
“This a dream come true. No one believed we could do this at the beginning of the year, except us, all the guys in the locker room. Each in every day we grinding it out, it’s just a dream.”
Just three minutes later, Franklin doubled its lead. Senior Matt Pleshaw fired a wrist shot from inside the blue line that was blocked down. Before LoRusso could smother the puck, junior Joey Blasie poked it in to make it 2-0 with 5:14 left in the period.
Video courtesy of Gavin Mealey
The Spartans cut the deficit in half just 11 seconds into the second period when Eric Pedro knocked in rebound of shot by Dante Maribito.
But Franklin had an answer just minutes later as Alec Gilliatt found sophomore Jeremy Miller behind the net. Miller skated around and found a perfect passing lane between the post and a defenseman to feed freshman Kevin Mackay. Mackay took a step in and sniped one top shelf to make it 3-1 with just over 12 minutes to play in the second period.
Franklin took a 3-1 lead into the final period but once again St. Mary’s found early period success. Less than a minute in, Conor Foley batted in rebound for powerplay goal to make it 3-2. Just three minutes later, Maribito found the back of the net for his third point of the net to tie the game 3-3.
“Huge momentum swings,” Spillane said. “They started to carry the play and their offensive kids started to open up the ice. Nick did a great job making the saves he needed to make. We talked about team defense, keeping them high on the forecheck and the defensive guys winning the battles and chipping the puck out.
“That was a great hockey team we played tonight, it was back and forth and both teams had chances to win. I’m proud of my kids, they responded.”
The Panthers nearly had the winner at the end of the third period but LoRusso went post to post to deny Jake Downie with 1:11 to go.
Neither side produced a clear scoring chance in the 12 minute overtime period but Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski came up with a huge kick save off a redirection in the opening minutes of the second overtime. Just two minutes later, the Panthers had the game winner.
Like it has been all season, the Panthers got contributions from all three lines — and four different goal scorers.
“Four different goal scorers and that’s kind of been the key to our success,” Spillane said. “You can’t really one focus on that one player. I said in the locker room after overtime, someone in this room is going to be a hero. Who wants to be that hero tonight? Luke’s been playing great hockey for us, midseason he just turned it on. As a sophomore it’s great to see him be that hero. Also, Kevin Mackay scored his first high school goal tonight. That’s quite a team to score your first goal of the year. That’s the type of team we are. There are no one or two superstars, it’s 22 kids out there having the same belief, working hard and just grinding it out.”
“To win championships, you have to have depth and that’s what we have,” Corsi added. “Everyone believed and look at where we are now.”
The Panthers were somewhat of an unknown coming into season after graduating 21 seniors from a squad that made a historic run to the Super 8 last season. Now this year’s team has created its own place in history.
“I think it gives us a little validity as a program that we can do that, anytime you graduate that many seniors it’s a challenge,” Spillane said. “It just tells us what our junior varsity and youth programs are like. We have a lot of kids that want to wear that jersey and they’re going to wait around until they get that opportunity. We have 13 seniors this year and very few of them skated last year, if any. They waited four years to put that jersey on and they made the most of it.
“It feels good but it’s not about the coaching staff. Yeah we’re excited but it’s about seeing the faces on these kids in that locker room, how excited they are and how committed they were to win the hockey game. I know a lot of people said it’s a rebuilding year but I guess they thought different.”
Franklin hockey finished the season with an 18-4-5 record.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.