Below are the official 2020 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Johnny Hagan, Canton
Hockomock League All Stars
Nick Piazza, Attleboro
Johnny Hagan, Canton
Chris Lavoie, Canton
Jack Connolly, Canton
Owen Lehane, Canton
Espen Reager, Foxboro
Kirk Leach, Foxboro
Ronnie MacLellan, Foxboro
Tom Tasker, Franklin
Kyle Hedvig, Franklin
Dylan Marchand, Franklin
Joseph Boselli, King Phillip
Chris Daniels, King Phillip
Kyle Gray, King Phillip
Rocco Bianculli, King Phillip
Sean McCafferty, Mansfield
Kevin Belanger, Mansfield
Dennis Morehouse, North Attleboro
Jake McNeany, North Attleboro
Ryan Gottwald, Oliver Ames
Michael Albert, Taunton
Brady Nichols, Taunton
Ryan Morry, Attleboro
Ronan O’Mahony, Canton
Jack Watts, Foxboro
Colin Hedvig, Franklin
Jack Coulter, King Philip
Chris Jenkins, Mansfield
William Yeomans, North Attleboro
Owen Connor, Oliver Ames
Jack DeMoura, Taunton
But unfortunately, neither team will hit the ice at the TD Garden. In fact, none of the six hockey games scheduled for Sunday will happen after the MIAA decided to cancel them due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The MIAA also canceled all of the basketball state championship games scheduled for Saturday.
With the cancellations, all of the teams that were scheduled to play in the final are considered co-champions. The Canton girl’s hockey team shares the title with Wellesley while the boys share the crown with Lincoln-Sudbury.
There will be a lot of anger, frustration, and disappointment among other emotions. Time will tell if this incredibly tough — and rather unprecedented — decision the MIAA made was the best choice. While it’s hard to swallow, keeping student-athletes safe is and should always be a top priority.
“We understand this is disappointing news however, this decision was made in the best interests of all our student-athletes, schools and communities,” read a statement on the MIAA website. “Schools who would have been participating in the State Finals will be considered Co-Champions.”
It’s tough to put in words how unfair it is to take away this opportunity from those who have earned it. One thing is for sure, it’s heartbreaking for all of the players, coaches, and team personnel involved that started this journey together back in December with hopes of reaching this point, only to have that opportunity taken away.
“I’ve been in the locker room in the past trying to console players after a heartbreaking loss but when we found out about the decision after practice, it was like nothing I’ve had to do before,” said Canton boys head coach Brian Shuman. “Sadness, frustration, disappointment…the full gamut of emotions.
“I wish I had the right words to make them feel better.”
Over the past week, we’ve seen the professional sports leagues like the NBA and NHL postpone their current seasons due to the outbreak. The MIAA also announced that the start of the spring season will be pushed back at least two weeks.
As the week went on, school systems across Massachusetts starting to announce closures ranging from days to up to a month in some locations.
“It’s just really horrible for us and for our opponents,” Shuman said. “We both had remarkable seasons and we were both looking forward to closing it out on Sunday. It’s just really unfortunate, I’m really bummed out for the kids.”
The Bulldogs would have entered Sunday’s championship game with a record of 21-1-3, the lone loss coming to their opponent Lincoln-Sudbury back on February 12th. At the time, it snapped Canton’s 43-game unbeaten streak that dated back to the 2018-2019 season, a year in which the Bulldogs went undefeated and won the D2 State Championship.
While Shuman noted the goal was to always return to the Garden to try and defend the title, there has to be an extra layer of frustration that the Bulldogs won’t get a shot at avenging their lone blemish in a remarkable two-year stretch.
“The kids worked incredibly hard every single game, not just skating, passing, and shooting, but emotionally and mentally every single day was such a grind. Not just this season, but for two years. It requires such mental toughness and commitment. To go through that, and then to not have that final test or final opportunity to hopefully put the cherry in top of a remarkable run is overwhelming.”
Without the state championship game, it means the high school hockey careers have come to a close for over a dozen Bulldog seniors: Chris Lavoie, Tommy Vaughan, Jack Connolly, Dom Cammarata, Tommy Ghostlaw, Shane Marshall, Colby Ciffolillo, Timmy Kelleher, Owen Lehane, Johnny Hagan, Declan Pfeffer, Ronan O’Mahony, and Joe Cammarata.
It would have been the third trip in the past four years to the TD Garden for the Canton girls team. It would have been a chance for those seniors to skate together one last time, a chance to deliver the first state championship in program history.
Canton (19-1-4) would have entered Sunday’s D2 Final as the underdog against the top-seeded Raiders (22-1-0) but that hasn’t stopped the Bulldogs from winning before. Back in 2017 as the 14-seed, Canton gave a scare to top-seed Notre Dame Academy, and a year later, the Bulldogs nearly knocked off the Raiders in a one-goal game.
In the run up to the final, Canton outscored its three opponents 11-2 and knocked off #2 Norwell in the state semifinal.
Unfortunately, we won’t get to see if the third time would have been the charm for the Bulldogs.
With just 15 minutes left in the D2 South Sectional Final, the Bulldogs were knotted at 1-1 with the 15th-seeded Shamrocks of Bishop Feehan.
Dating back to the start of last year’s state tournament, it was the first time in eight playoff games that Canton did not lead entering the final period. And on top of that, it was the first time in that same stretch that the Bulldogs didn’t have a two-goal cushion with one period left.
But in a matter of 19 seconds, Canton’s #19 — senior forward and captain Johnny Hagan — broke the game wide open. Hagan scored twice in that time span, tacking on an empty netter late to finish with four goals to lead the Bulldogs to a 4-1 decision over the upset-minded Shamrocks.
With the win, Canton claims its second straight D2 South Sectional title and returns to the TD Garden to defend its D2 State Championship.
“For all the experience we have in that locker room, we haven’t had the experience of really have to grind out a third period and the end of a game in the playoffs the last two years,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “And that’s what they had to do tonight, they stepped up. All the credit in the world to Bishop Feehan, what a season they had. They are a heck of a team, well-coached, a lot of skill and they had a great run in the tournament.
“The playoffs so far, we’ve had our way against teams. We talked in-between periods how this is how it’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be 1-1 going into the third in a championship game. We had to embrace that, we had to embrace the hard part of the game. I think the mentality went from being afraid to lose, to winning the final period. I think the switch in that mentality plus our second line and red line played great in the third, they set the tone for the third period.”
In last year’s playoffs, Canton led by an average of nearly four goals going into the final period of play. This year, the Bulldogs led by scores of 4-0 (against Taunton), 6-1 (against Medway) and 3-0 (against Whitman-Hanson) going into the final stanza.
Canton was close to taking a one-goal lead into the third when Hagan opened the scoring in the game with 2:25 left in the middle period. The senior converted a partial breakaway with a great low shot that beat the goalie five-hole to put the top-seeded Bulldogs ahead.
But Feehan needed just five seconds on the power play to knot the score. Jason Sullivan’s low show through traffic from the right circle found its way into the back of the net with just 30.4 seconds left in the middle frame.
With just 15 minutes to play, the Shamrocks were level with the Bulldogs.
“I think they outplayed us in the second,” Hagan said. “We came back into the locker room and decided as a team that we had 15 minutes left, it was in our own hands and that we control our own destiny. Feehan is a good team, if they did the seedings the right way [strength of schedule], they’d probably be a top-five seed. It’s a playoff game, it’s the South final so we knew it was going to be close.”
Similar to the first period, the Canton offense applied a lot of pressure over the course of the first couple of minutes of the third. The Bulldogs’ second line of Tommy Ghostlaw, Shane Marshall, and Timmy Kelleher set the tone with a couple of good chances early.
Senior defenseman Owen Lehane found Marshall for a shot in the slot with Kelleher screened, but Feehan goalie Ryan D’Amato (saves) was in position for the stop. Seconds later, Ghostlaw connected with Marshall, who dished it along to Kelleher for a shot but again D’Amato made the stop and then stuffed Marshall on the doorstep on the rebound.
Senior Chris Lavoie carried the puck into the zone down the left side and tossed it in front. With a handful of bodies in front, the puck popped free to Hagan and he buried his shot to make it 2-1 with 10:19 left in the game.
Hagan needed just 19 seconds to complete his hat trick, pinching down to the right corner and winning a battle. He carried the puck toward goal and picked the top corner on the near side to make it 3-1 with 10:00 to play.
“What a career he’d had…he’s arguably the greatest player that I’ve coached, one of the greatest athletes we’ve seen at Canton High,” Shuman said. “He’s a fierce competitor and he was going to go out there and do what he could in that third period.”
Bishop Feehan was limited to just three shots on goal in the third period but had a couple of serious chances. The Shamrocks stormed into the offensive zone just past the midway point with an odd-man rush but Bulldog defenseman Declan Pfeffer made a decisive sweeping motion to knock the puck free and break up the chance.
And the Shamrocks’ best chance, again on the stick of Sullivan, came with just over two minutes to go after a Bulldog turnover gave him an open look right in front but Joe Cammarata stood tall to deny the chance.
With just over a minute to go, Canton caught the Shamrocks in a line change and tacked on an empty net goal to seal the win.
While it was all Canton in the first period (15-5 advantage in shots on goal), the Bulldogs couldn’t break through. Lavoie, Hagan, and Donny McNeice all registered serious scoring chances in the opening minute, and sophomore Eamon Kelly had a nice shot saved with 10 minutes to go.
Ghostlaw and Kelleher did their best but couldn’t solve D’Amato, the goalie making a toe save on Kelleher at the midway point. Hagan blasted a shot off the mask with five minutes to go, Kelly’s tip on a rip from Sam Carlino was denied with four minutes to go, and Lavoie dangled past a pair of defenseman only for his shot to be stopped.
After scoring seven goals on the Shamrocks in the regular season matchup, Canton was held to just one through two periods.
“I think these guys have done a good job of forgetting past games against teams. [Thomas Reilly] is a great player for them, a game-changer, and we didn’t see him the first time. Their goalie [Ryan D’Amato] was on a heck of a run and we didn’t see him the first time, so we knew it was going to be a different game. Plus they are just a really good team.
“We caught them on a bad night the first time around. We knew this would be a tough game. They are not a 15 seed…strength of schedule rankings they would be up higher…clearly one of the best teams in the south that deserved to be there at the end.”
Canton boys hockey (21-3-1) returns to the D2 State Championship game on Sunday at the TD Garden, with the time yet to be announced. The Bulldogs will take on either Triton or Lincoln-Sudbury, who battle for the North sectional title on Monday. Lincoln-Sudbury handed Canton its lone loss of the season in February (6-4 on February 12th).
It started with a pregame ceremony honoring the 10th anniversary of Canton’s 2010 D2 State Championship squad and it ended with the 2020 Bulldogs clinching the program’s 10th straight Davenport division title with a 3-1 win over rival Franklin.
The Canton boys hockey team is the only program in the entire Hockomock League in any sport to win ten 10 straight division championships. The Bulldogs are the only team to win a Davenport title for boys hockey, winning every year of the decade since the league split into two divisions.
“It’s a great thing, we’re very lucky to be apart of something like this here in Canton,” said Bulldogs coach Brian Shuman, who quickly went from one rink to the other inside the Ice House, coaching a 6th/7th grade Canton youth team immediately following the Bulldogs’ win over Franklin. “All of these guys were watching our game before coming over here for their game, and all of our guys watched the teams before them.”
Canton erased a one-goal deficit after a period of play, scoring twice in a two-minute window in the second period and tacked on an insurance goal in the third period to secure the win. The Bulldogs went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
A pair of those kills came in the first period, including one just under three minutes into the contest. A tripping call put Canton down a man but an aggressive kill prevented the visiting Panthers from registering a serious chance on goal.
After Canton had a power play go without a goal shortly after, the Panthers once again had a man-advantage chance just past the midway point of the period. Again, the Bulldogs applied plenty of pressure, not allowing Franklin a good look in the offensive zone.
Instead, the best chance of that two-minute span fell to the Bulldogs. Senior Johnny Hagan pounced on a loose puck, slammed on the brakes as he crossed the blue line to shake a defenseman, dropped a pass to senior Chris Lavoie, who dished it back across to Hagan in front but the senior center couldn’t get his stick on the puck in time as the bid went just wide.
The Bulldogs knocked on the door against as the clock ticked under two minutes as Dylan Coyne connected with Donny McNeice but Franklin goalie Ray Ivers (18 saves) came up with the save and covered the rebound.
Although it was Canton who had the best chances for the majority of the period, it was Franklin that found the back of the net first. Junior Conor O’Neil connected with classmate Sean Connelly as the pair entered the offensive zone. Connelly worked his way past a defenseman and tossed the puck back in front and O’Neil completed a hard crash on net with the final touch into the back of the net.
Canton came out strong to start the second period, with Lavoie smashing a shot off the crossbar in the opening minute. The equalizer came just under four minutes into the period as sophomore Eamon Kelly drove hard behind the net, dishing the puck in front just before circling around. Hagan found the puck in the middle and dished it off to senior defenseman Jack Connolly, who deposited a shot into the top corner to make it 1-1 with 11:13 left in the second period.
The Bulldogs went on the power play shortly after and needed just seven seconds on the man advantage to go ahead. Lavoie dished it back to senior defenseman Owen Lehane after an offensive zone faceoff win and, after skating towards the center of the blue line, Lehane unleashed a wrist shot. With both Kelly and Hagan in front screening, Ivers had no chance as the puck found the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
“Just a huge goal…when you think too much on the power play, you get in trouble,” Shuman said. “Our guys tonight, they really did a phenomenal job moving the puck. And when they had the opportunity, just rip it. If you wait a half second longer or think too much, you miss the chance. We want Owen to shoot more at the top and he just fired it, it was a huge goal.”
Franklin had a golden chance with five minutes left in the second as Connelly came up with a turnover in the attacking zone, firing a pass over to Shane McCaffrey in front but the senior forward couldn’t get all of it on his shot and it went just wide.
The Panthers went on a power play in the final minutes of the second but were unable to convert. Dylan Marchand had a shot denied by Canton goalie Joe Cammarata on one try, and Cammarata made a stop on a tip from Connelly on a shot from Joe LeBlanc.
“We gave them too much space,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “We didn’t take good care of the puck…we have to be better in every facet of the game. We have to be committed to our game, stick to our game, we have to forecheck hard. We can’t give them that much space on the blue line…instead of forcing a dump in we were giving them 20 feet of room to maneuver. Against a good team like that, you have to minimize your mistakes.
“Special teams is going to make or break you in a game like that. They brought it and we didn’t. The first period was fine but after that, they wanted it more than we did.”
Coyne delivered the insurance goal for the Bulldogs. The junior forward whipped a low shot on goal as he crossed the blue line and the puck eluded Ivers and bounced into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead.
Franklin had a final power play chance to cut into the deficit but again without a goal. Tommy Tasker blasted a low shot but Cammarata read it the entire way without traffic in front. The Bulldogs went on to block two more shots and deflect another pair out of play to kill the penalty.
“We spend a lot of time on it, at least once a practice,” Shuman said. “And I think that was the best game we’ve had so far on the penalty kill. They were aggressive, and you have to be aggressive against [Franklin] because they are aggressive on their power play. You look at a kid like TJ McCabe, filling in for one of our best penalty killers in Tommy Ghostlaw, and he had a great game.
“It’s about being smart in those situations. You have to recognize what’s around you when you have the puck and make the right decisions, and we had some chances tonight. They put some forwards on the point [on the power play] so they aren’t used to playing defense so you can kind of take advantage of that.”
Canton boys hockey (6-0-0 Hockomock, 11-0-2 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it hosts North Attleboro. Franklin (3-1-2, 5-4-3) will host King Philip on Wednesday in a battle of the top two teams tied atop the Kelley-Rex division.
After back-to-back games in which the Bulldogs needed a third period goal to ignite its offense, Canton focused on all of the little things to get things going from the start.
And it certainly helps when two-thirds of your top line returns from injury.
Senior Chris Savoie, the team’s leading goal scorer, returned after a three-game hiatus to join classmate Johnny Hagan and sophomore Eamon Kelly (who rejoined the lineup on Wednesday) and the Bulldogs found the back of the net in each period en route to a 5-2 decision over a good King Philip team.
With the win, Canton extends its unbeaten streak to 35 games.
“We checked a lot of the boxes tonight,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “We learned from some of the games in the past against KP where you have to come out and do the little things like winning the battles, getting pucks to the net, working hard on the backcheck, and good things will happen. We kind of got away from that, even in some of the games we’ve played well, we have to realize the little things will lead to the goal scoring opportunities.”
Canton’s top line combined for three goals while Shane Marshall scored twice, finding the back of the net for the second straight game. The Bulldogs never trailed, turning a one-goal lead after a period into a two-goal advantage through 30 minutes. Canton had a four-goal lead before KP scored in the final minute of play.
“They don’t make many mistakes and they have three lines, one is as good as the next,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “They are well-coached and a deep team, they are good every year for a reason. It’s a good measuring stick, we need to play better to do well down the stretch. I think all the Hock teams are good but I think they are clearly the best.”
After a relatively even first 10 minutes, Canton seized the lead with just 2:25 to go. Not only did it give the hosts the lead and the momentum before the first intermission, it was a sign of things to come for the Bulldogs’ offense.
Just seconds after a 4-on-4 situation ended, Kelly made a hard drive to the net down the left side, cutting in front of the net but KP goalie Jesper Makudera made the stop. But Marshall was first the loose puck and batted the rebound in to give the hosts the lead.
King Philip responded well to start the second period, cashing in on its offensive zone pressure. The Warriors were able to force a loose clearance and sophomore Shaun Fitzpatrick won a stick battle to unleash a wrist shot. Canton goalie Joe Cammarata made the kick save but the rebound popped right to senior Noah Ray and he buried it to make it 1-1 with 11:15 left in the second.
While the Warriors seemed to have the momentum, they were whistled for a trip and the Bulldogs went on the power play. Canton needed just over a minute to cash in as senior defenseman Owen Lehane skated down into the right circle, firing a shot that Kelly tipped in for a 2-1 lead.
“We were battling out front, looked like a stick might have hit a skate…it was just a tough time for that call,” Carlow said. “We got some momentum back there with the goal early in the second and I felt like if we could play 5-on-5 for a good stretch, we were okay. But they took the lead right back on the power play, and right after we had a bad turnover that led to a breakaway.
“I think 5-on-5 we were okay tonight but obviously, [Canton] is a good hockey team, you can’t make mistakes against them. I didn’t think we played our best and I would have liked to see us play more 5-on-5 hockey but giving them the momentum right back certainly hurt us.”
King Philip had a chance to answer when it went on the man-advantage less than two minutes after Canton’s second goal, but instead, it was the Bulldogs that struck. Hagan took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone, used his speed to race across the blue line and fired a low shot five-hole for a shorthanded tally, giving the Dogs a 3-1 lead with 6:50 left in the second.
“Getting Chris Lavoie back on the power play particularly, having that third option is really important,” Shuman said. “Ironically, those are two guys [Owen and Eamon] that often times don’t touch the puck as much. Owen did a great job taking the ice he was given and Eamon doing what we preach all the time, going with his stick to the net and he made a good play.”
The Warriors had another chance to cut into the lead late in the period on a power play chance. A loose puck popped right in front to Conor Cooke and his shot looked destined for the back of the net but Cammarata made a terrific stop to keep the two-goal lead.
KP couldn’t convert on an early power play chance in the third period and junior David Lawler blasted a shot from the blue line that saw a rebound bounce around in front, but no one on KP could get a stick to it.
Canton made the visitors pay, scoring just before the midway mark of the third period. Ronan O’Mahony took and pass from Jack Connolly and laced a low shot through traffic from the blue line that Makudera stopped but Marshall was quick to pounce on the loose puck and buried it for a 4-1 lead.
With just under three minutes to go, Hagan skated in down the left boards and fired a shot that was stopped by Makudera but once again the Bulldogs were there for the rebound and Kelly tapped it in for a 5-1 advantage.
“The third was our best period, we talked about the next goal (in the third) was huge,” Shuman said. “If they scored, they’d have a ton of energy and be back in the game. Or if we got it, we’d take a huge step towards winning the game. The fourth one came from a good shot, the defense made a good play, and Shane buried it.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Player are listed alphabetically
Michael Albert, Senior – Taunton
The Tigers are going to be a young team this season so it will be important, especially early on, for the experienced players to lead the way. The good news for Taunton is that junior forward Michael Albert is back in the fold, a year after he led the team in scoring as just a sophomore. Albert was among the Hockomock League’s top scorers last year, scoring 10 goals and adding 19 assists for 29 points, which tied for ninth-most during the regular season. His 19 assists are what stand out the most, showing he can get teammates involved. The Tigers also have a couple of new additions to the roster through transfer so one of the early challenges will be finding the right combination of players that gel. While head coach Kris Metea sorts that out, he can lean on Albert’s speed, skill, and vision to carry the Tigers offensively again this year.
Rocco Bianculli, Junior – King Philip
Bianculli has been one of the league’s top skating defensemen for the past two seasons, becoming a top playmaker at the blue line and opening up scoring opportunities for his teammates. This year, the goal for the Warriors to get back into the playoffs and Bianculli’s speed with the puck and his stick skills through the center of the ice give KP a different look that can be hard for teams to contain. As a sophomore, Bianculli scored seven goals and added seven assists and his continued development as a physical player to go along with his vision and accurate shot, he will be a difficult matchup. His speed also enables him to recover in the defensive zone, even when it looks like he’s beat. KP has a clear goal this year and Bianculli will be a key to the team ending its wait for tournament play.
Hunter Costello, Senior – Oliver Ames
Two of the things that has made Oliver Ames competitive year in and year out is effort and versatility. Senior Hunter Costello has been on the Tigers’ roster for three years for a reason, and now a senior captain could be poised to have a breakout senior season. The Tigers lost a talented group to graduation but boast a good amount of experience, and a lot of players that are familiar with former assistant-now head coach Mike Zucarelli. Costello is one of those players back, coming off back-to-back seasons in which he recorded double-digit points. He had five goals and six assists during the regular season as a sophomore, and then last year took a big step forward with nine goals and 15 assists. As a captain and one of the most experienced players on the squad, OA will be relying on his leadership both on and off the ice.
Johnny Hagan, Senior – Canton
During Canton’s historic run to an unbeaten state title last winter, the one player that drew the most attention from scouts and opposing coaches was Hagan. They saw what anyone who followed the Bulldogs for three seasons already knew, Hagan has that killer combination of speed, toughness, and skill that makes him so difficult to contain in the offensive zone, while he has the physical, competitive nature to go and battle for loose pucks in the defensive zone. Hagan scored 51 points as a junior, 21 goals and 30 assists, and seemed to always come through in the clutch, including a hat trick in the state title game at the TD Garden. The loss of center Ryan Nolte will be difficult, considering his record point total last year, but Hagan’s return gives Canton plenty of firepower to try and make a run at back-to-back titles and maybe an elusive Super 8 berth.
Chris Jenkins, Senior – Mansfield
Every winter, the Mansfield roster goes through a number of changes, as players leave for prep schools or juniors programs and several players make returns to the Hornets. One of the players that will be coming back this season is Jenkins. The senior forward returns after two seasons with the South Shore Kings and should give the Hornets a much-needed boost on the offensive end, especially after Matt Copponi moved on. During his freshman season with the Hornets, Jenkins made an instant impact, scoring 11 goals and recording 10 assists. His 21 points was third-best on the team. A smooth forward with good size and an accurate shot, Jenkins should give Mansfield a little extra punch in the zone and is a talented skater who can cause problems in transition. The Hornets were so close to unseating Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex division last year and they will be happy to have Jenkins back in the fold to try and make another run at the league title.
Kirk Leach, Junior – Foxboro
Last year was the best season in program history, as the Warriors set records for wins (12) and points (27) in a season while earning an impressive victory over Mansfield and a point against Franklin. Leach is the team’s top returning scorer and will be counted on to try and keep the upward trajectory of the past two seasons by taking on a bigger role in the attack after the graduation of Brendan Tully. As a sophomore, Leach scored 18 goals and recorded 20 assists and showed off impressive speed that made it difficult to contain him in the transition game. He was also a player willing to mix it up in the corners or get physical in the middle of the ice and his size gives the Warriors a player who can cause matchup problems for the opposition. With Leach’s determination to get to the net and cause problems and several returning players who have gained experience last winter, Foxboro will still have a dangerous attack and will still have the postseason on its mind as the new year gets started.
Owen Lehane, Senior – Canton
The offense gets most of the press for the Bulldogs, but the Canton defense was also dominant last season and a critical component to a historic, unbeaten state title. Lehane is a guaranteed top-four defenseman for the Bulldogs again this year and his ability to control the blue line as a physical player and as a skilled passer will be important against this winter. Last year, Canton held teams to just 23 goals in 26 games and the combination of Lehane and classmate John Connolly make the defensive unit just as formidable this season. Lehane also chipped in with four goals and 10 assists last year, including the opening goal in the state championship game. Expectations are sky high for the Bulldogs again this season and Lehane’s experience at the blue line is one of the reasons that Canton will have hopes for back-to-back titles.
Dennis Morehouse, Senior – North Attleboro
North Attleboro is another team with a new coaching staff and several new faces this season but the Rocketeers will be able to count on an explosive scorer on the wing, as Morehouse comes back this year after tying for sixth in the Hock in goals last year. A big, physical forward with a cannon for a shot, Morehouse scored 15 goals in the regular season and added four assists. North may need him to be more of a playmaker this year to make up for several graduations, but he has been a consistently solid scorer flying down the right wing and someone who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the corners, using his body to push aside defenders and give himself space to create. As the only player to hit double digits for goals last year, Morehouse will be expected to be the primary scoring threat again for North, which is looking to continue its progress as a program and keep its string of playoff appearances alive this winter.
Ryan Morry, Senior – Attleboro
Attleboro has been a team that is consistently in the playoff mix in Div. 3 and one of the main reasons that the Bombardiers have the tournament as a goal again this winter is the return of Morry. The senior forward is coming off a season in which he was third in the league in scoring with 40 points. He finished with 16 goals and added 24 assists, as the Bombardiers turned to him to pick up some of the scoring touch from the graduation of Jake Parker. This year, Morry will be counted on even more to give Attleboro a creative force in the attacking zone, while continuing to be an all-around player that can help out the defense and is capable of playing on the power play or penalty kill. The Bombardiers will ask a lot of Morry this season, in terms of ice time and production, but his physicality, speed, and stick skills give him the potential to bring Attleboro back to the postseason again this year.
Tom Tasker, Senior – Franklin
There is a lot of change around the Franklin program this season, with a new coaching staff taking over after the retirement of Chris Spillane. The Panthers have become one of the top public school programs in the state and Tasker will be one of the players that the new staff relies on to keep that consistency this season. The senior defenseman is a strong, aggressive player who is tough to beat in the corners but is also capable of stepping up into the attack and has one of the league’s hardest shots from the blue line. He scored three goals and had 10 assists last year and showed the ability to play different brands of hockey depending on the opponent. He can race up and down the ice or he can sit back in the defensive zone and be the physical presence that the Panthers needed. In a season where there is a lot of changes, Tasker’s return for a third year on varsity gives some much-needed stability to the defensive pairings.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2019-2020 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview
2018-2019 Record: 10-10-2
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Mark Homer
The Bombardiers will be looking to stretch their postseason streak to three years this season. It showed how deep the Kelley-Rex division was last year that the Bombardiers, who did not fare well in league games, made it to the state tournament.
One reason that Attleboro is hopeful for a spot in the state tournament is the addition of a couple of transfers to the program. Jake Ward joined the program and will apart of the Bombardiers top line alongside senior captain Ryan Morry and junior Aidan Diggin. Both Morry and Diggin have a plethora of experience at the varsity level so expect Attleboro’s top line to be a dangerous one in the offensive zone. Attleboro picked up some needed depth with the addition of junior Owen Dryjowicz and freshman Aidan Dryjowicz, who will join sophomore Nate Parker on the second line.
The third line could see some rotation but will mostly feature junior Austin Blais at the center spot, and senior Liam McDonough, junior Owen Graney, and senior Kyle Miniati on the wings. The Bombardiers will have some experience on the blue line with senior Sam Flynn and junior Zach Pierce holding down two of the top spots, with sophomore Sean Marshall also in the mix. The fourth spot between the top two defensive pairs is still up for grabs in the early going. Sophomores Nick Piazza and Michael Dutremble are battling for minutes in net.
“We hope to improve our record from last year through commitment and hard work collectively, and gain entry to the state tournament,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer.
2018-2019 Record: 25-0-1
2018-2019 Finish: D2 State Champions
Coach: Brian Shuman
Having won nine straight Davenport division titles, Canton is used to having a target on its back as the rest of the Hockomock League tries to knock the Bulldogs from the top. But this year, that target is even bigger than before.
Fresh off one of the best seasons in both program and league history that ended with a D2 State Championship, the Bulldogs will be getting everyone’s best game in and game out. And while Canton certainly graduated some key pieces, like two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Ryan Nolte, the Bulldogs enter this season as not only the favorite for a 10th straight division crown but will certainly be in the mix when it comes to the 2020 D2 State title.
While replacing Nolte will be tough, the Bulldogs have several key forwards back from last year’s championship team. It will all start with senior Johnny Hagan, who was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a sophomore and racked up 51 points with 21 goals and 31 assists on the season. Hagan will have a lot of experience to work with in senior Timmy Kelleher (seven goals, seven assists last regular season), senior Tommy Ghostlaw (five goals, six assists), and senior Chris Lavoie (13 goals, 12 assists). Lavoie could be poised for a breakout year, scoring twice in the season-opening win over Franklin.
Canton also brings back top players along the blue line with Jack Connolly and HockomockSports.com Second Team selection Owen Lehane. Both seniors, Connolly and Lehane not only are among the best defensive players in the league but play a big part of the Canton offense with their shooting. Seniors Ronan O’Mahony and Declan Pfeffer are also experienced defensemen that will see increased roles this year. Canton turns to senior Joe Cammarata to start in between the pipes with junior Liam Polles impressing early on and could push for starting minutes.
“We have a lot of experience returning, but that’s true for a lot of teams across the state,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. If our preseason was any indication, there are a lot of outstanding, talented teams this year that improved greatly in the offseason. We will have our work cut out for us in the Hock and with a tough non-league schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-7-3
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South First Round
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro built upon its 10-season win two years ago with its best season in program history last year, picking up 12 wins including one in the postseason. After posting back-to-back successful seasons, the Warriors are hoping that trend continues.
With a good amount of returners back this year, the Warriors will be in good position to compete in the Hockomock League and will be aiming to make a deeper run into the state tournament behind a beefed-up schedule. One strength for Foxboro this year will be its offense with its two top regular season point producers back in junior Kirk Leach (15 goals, 20 assists) and senior Ronnie MacLellan (14 goals, 20 assists). That duo provided the Warriors with a lot of its offense last season and will be one of the top returning duos this season. Senior Sebastian Ricketts brings a vast amount of experience to the offense while sophomore Jack Watts (10 goals, four assists) will be looking to build on an impressive freshman year. Brady Daly, Eoin Reager, Josh Bertuman, Ryan Jacobs and Ben Ricketts will provide needed depth offensively.
Defensively it all starts with senior goalie Espen Reager, the defending Hockomock League MVP back after a strong junior season between the pipes for the Warriors. Reager has the ability to keep his team in teams, and he showed last year that he can help steal a game like he did against Mansfield. In front of Reager, senior Kyle McGinnis is one of the more experienced defensemen in the league and will be the anchor of the blue line group for Foxboro. Freshman Alex Coviello has impressed early on and will be a key piece of the defense.
“Our strength on offense this season will be our depth and overall team speed,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We have more depth on offense than we’ve ever had. We’re looking forward to this season, with a lot of depth up front, excellent team speed and a great goalie we feel we can compete with any team on our schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-10-4
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final
Coach: Anthony Sarno
A new chapter begins in Franklin boys hockey with Anthony Sarno taking over on the bench after longtime Panther coach Chris Spillane stepped down following last season. While the Panthers might have a bit of a new look, expectations are still high inside Pirelli for the defending Kelley-Rex champs.
Sarno is hoping that momentum will carry over from the Panthers’ impressive playoff run from a year ago when Franklin upset Mansfield in overtime and knocked off Catholic Memorial in the semifinals. But there won’t be any nights off for Franklin with a loaded schedule that features Malden Catholic, Pope Francis, and a loaded Mt. Hope tournament — and that’s just December.
“It will be a work in progress and we will look to develop a solid team chemistry with a relentless work ethic, staying true to consistency, and discipline in an environment where effort and attitude is paramount, and not up for discussion,” Sarno said.
Up front, the Panthers will be leaning on seniors Shane McCaffrey, Kevin O’Rielly, and Shea Hurley to lead the way. McCaffrey is the team’s top scorer returning from a year ago so it will be vital for new players to step up and contribute. Juniors Conor O’Neil and Declan Lovett are also going to be important pieces to the Panthers’ offense. Senior Ray Ivers returns between the pipes are stepping in last season and playing well. In front of Ivers, Franklin will have two of the best defensemen in the league with senior Tom Tasker, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last year, and junior Joe LeBlanc, who had a breakout sophomore campaign.
2018-2019 Record: 10-11-0
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Paul Carlow
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back seasons, the Warriors have a chance to end that drought in 2020 behind an experienced group of players after losing just five players to graduation.
Head coach Paul Carlow says this is the most experienced group he’s had at his disposal since taking over behind the Warriors’ bench in 2015. There are nine seniors back this year and eight juniors so King Philip certainly boasts a lot of depth, and players that have played plenty of minutes at the varsity level. It starts with senior captain Chris Daniels, senior assistant captain Joe Boselli, and senior assistant captain Jack Coulter. All three have skated plenty of minutes for Carlow over the past couple of years and will be relied upon for their leadership.
Daniels is a crafty forward that scored five goals and had six assists while Coulter is the top returning scorer back this year after scoring six goals and recording nine assists a year ago. Seniors Bryan Lucente and Noah Ray will also be in the mix offensively alongside Daniels, Coulter, and Boselli. The Warriors will also rely on a handful of juniors to chip in offensively including forward Conor Cooke. Cooke had a terrific season with 10 goals and four assists and could be poised for a breakout year.
Defensively, there is a lot of veterans along the blue line for King Philip. Seniors Kyle Gray and Ethan McGuire are joined by junior Rocco Bianculli, a Hockomock League All Star and a HocomockSports.com All Underclassman selection a year ago. Gray is a three-year player that provides physicality while Bianculli is one of the top scoring defensemen in the entire league, scoring seven goals and adding seven assists during his sophomore season. Seniors Nate Ihley and Jesper Makudera will battle for minutes in net.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” Carlow said. “On top of the seniors and juniors, we also have a strong sophomore class competing for spots. We have speed up front, we’re strong on the back end, and we have two good goalies. I’m looking forward to working with this group and fully expect them to make the tournament.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-6-3
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Mike Balzarini
Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini was a little concerned about his team’s depth coming into the season after graduating nine players and losing two top players to prep school. But after tryouts and a strong preseason, Balzarini believes this year’s squad will be just as deep as last year’ 14-win squad.
Losing a talented senior class hurts, and with Matt Copponi (eight goals, 28 assists, 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year) and Brian Grant (HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team) off to prep schools, the Hornets will need new faces to step up and contribute on both ends of the ice. But Balzarini and the Hornets have something that none of the other Hockomock teams have and that’s senior goalie Sean McCafferty. Now in his fourth year starting, McCafferty is a game-changer. Even if the Hornets aren’t having their best games, they’ll still likely have a chance to win because of McCafferty.
In front of McCafferty, the Hornets will turn to senior Joseph Troiano to anchor the defensive unit. He will be joined by Jack Gormley and Conor Benoit, both of whom picked up valuable minutes last season and should help Mansfield be one of the stingiest defensive groups. Offensively, the Hornets do get a boost with the return of senior forward Chris Jenkins. Jenkins was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team in 2017 after he had 11 goals and 10 assists as a freshman. He will join veterans Jake Lund and Kevin Belanger to form a talented first line for the Hornets. Cam Paige, Liam Anastasia, and Ben Ierardo will team up on Mansfield’s second line.
“We have a little bit of a sour taste after how last year ended,” Balzarini said. “We want to get over that hurdle of the first round of the playoffs. This group really plays well together, they play as a team. They’ve gelled nicely since the first day of tryouts.”
2018-2019 Record: 11-9-2
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro will be leaning on its defense in order to get back to the tournament again this season. With the defending state champs in Canton as well as an improved Foxboro squad, the Rocketeers have their hands full with a difficult three-team Davenport division.
Seniors Jake McNeany, Will Yeomans, Jeff Baker, and junior Charlie Connolly are all back this season to give North Attleboro a veteran defensive group. With a handful of experienced players leading the way defensively, it should make the transition from four-year starting goalie Ryan Warren a bit smoother. Another reason that transition should go smoothly is senior goalie Nick Digiacomo, who has been impressive in the preseason so far this year.
Senior Dennis Morehouse is back after a breakout junior campaign and will be in the mix as one of the top players in the Hockomock League this season. Morehouse was second on the team in points last year with 15 goals and four assists and is the top returning scorer back for the Rocketeers. Senior Jack Connolly is another experienced forward that will be a key piece of the offense while junior Tyler Sarro will look to build upon a solid sophomore season.
“For us to be successful, we need to be discipline and get scoring from our second and third lines,” said North Attleboro coach Ben McManama. “We are not as big as we were in years past so we need to play tough and physical.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9-1
2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Zucarelli
There is a new face at the helm of the Tigers this season, but its a familiar one. Mike Zucarelli takes over after serving as an assistant coach and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
Replacing one of the league’s top forwards in Brett Williams won’t be easy, but the Tigers boast experienced returners at every position on the ice. Senior Owen Connor is back for his third year in between the pipes. He took a big jump from his sophomore to junior year and that Zucarelli expects that trend to continue for the 2019-2020 season. In front of Connor, OA returns senior defensemen Ryan Gottwald and Matt Nosalek. Gottwald, one of the team’s two captains, had an impressive junior year and will be the leader of the defensive group this season.
Offensively, there will be some familiar faces including senior captain Hunter Costello. Costello, who scored nine goals and had 15 assists in the regular season a year ago, is joined by fellow returners Jake Gottwald, Duncan Pereira, and Brad Powers. All four of those seniors will be vital in the attack while juniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro should see expanded roles this year.
“We are going to be a gritty, hardworking team this year,” Zucarelli said, citing a preseason scrimmage with Milton. “We held our own during the first as Milton took it to us. We came out flying in the second, tied up the game and took the momentum into the third period with a huge penalty kill. The overall play of the team after one week was great to see.”
2018-2019 Record: 8-12-1
2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kris Metea
The Tigers enter the season with a relatively young squad but the goal is to integrate all of the youth with the returners and make a push for the state tournament by the end of the season.
Junior Mike Albert will be the main guy on the offensive end. Albert, who scored 10 goals and added 19 assists last season, was the leading scorer for the Tigers as a sophomore and is looking to take the next step this year. Junior Steve Roderick and sophomores Jack DeMoura and Michael Lucier are all new to the program and should be in the mix right away to help bolster the Taunton attack.
Head coach Kris Metea is also counting on some of the younger players to have breakout seasons, including sophomores Nathan Fernandes, Loren Corcoran, and Evan Perreira. On the defensive side, junior Brady Nichols will anchor the blue line unit. Although just a junior, Nichols has a wealth of varsity experience and the Tigers will lean on him to guide a young defensive core. Senior Andrew Gomes and junior Sean Bunker will battle for minutes in net.
“We have a group of young players that we will look to continue to develop over the course of the season,” Metea said. “The key to our success will be the meshing of the new players with the development of young players. The sky’s the limit for this group with continued commitment.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Canton was on its heels for large portions of Saturday night’s season opener at Pirelli Veterans Arena, struggling with the speed of the Franklin forwards and struggling to find the outlet passes that would send the Bulldogs racing forward into the offensive zone.
Still, the Bulldogs know how to find ways to win games. Senior forward Shane Marshall took advantage of a fortuitous bounce off a skate to score a power play goal with 11:27 to play and it turned out to be the difference in a 3-2 victory that extends Canton’s unbeaten run to 27 games and makes it four straight wins against the Panthers.
“It was probably not as tightly played as we’re used to, but that’s a really good team,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said. “They’re a very skilled, high-flying team this year. They were doing some stuff that we hadn’t seen them do in the past. I was very impressed with them, they played very well, and they took it to us.”
He added, “We got a lucky bounce on the power play goal to go up and then we just kind of hung on.”
The first period was relatively even, the teams putting nine shots on goal apiece. Owen Lehane had the first good chance for the Bulldogs, pushing forward from defense, splitting a pair of Franklin players, but having the puck roll off the blade at the last second. A face-off win set Shea Hurley up for a chance that was saved by Canton’s Joe Cammarata and the rebound was tipped over the glass.
With 6:34 left in the first, just after a power play had ended, Lavoie would put the Bulldogs in front. Johnny Hagan weaved his way behind the Franklin net and sent a pass right on the tape for Lavoie, who was left open in the slot, to one-time past Ivers.
Canton cleared off a two-man advantage but sophomore Dylan Marchand nearly tied the game before the end of the period when another face-off win set him up for a look from the slot. Declan Lovett dangled past the Canton defense on the left wing and forced another save from Cammarata, as the Panthers turned up the pressure.
It didn’t take long after the first intermission for Franklin to even the score. Sean Connelly was able to push past the first defenseman and then laid off a perfect pass across the crease to Shane McCaffrey, who smashed a one-timer into an open net less than a minute into the period.
The Panthers almost grabbed the lead when Marchand stole an outlet pass in the neutral zone and sped past the retreating Canton players. Cammarata stayed big and was able to stop the breakaway and then also recover to stop JT Dwyer’s follow-up effort.
Lavoie gave the Bulldogs back the lead on the power play. He corralled a loose puck in the slot, spun quickly onto his forehand, and fired a wrister just under the bar to make it 2-1.
Tom Tasker nearly set up a tying goal with a perfect angled pass from the right point to the far post, but Hurley was unable to knock it into the empty net. It was one of several good looks that the Panthers failed to capitalize on, as they outshot Canton 10-5 in the second. Franklin was also 0-for-5 with the man advantage in the first two periods.
“We had our chances, but I felt like we left a little on the table there and didn’t pull the trigger when we had to,” said first-year Franklin coach Anthony Sarno. “We were trying to be a little bit too polished and a little bit too cute and sometimes you just have to get the puck to the net.”
Just like in the second period, Franklin wasted no time to tie the game in the third. With 14:17 to play, Tasker stepped up to a loose puck on the near boards and let fly with a rocket of a slap shot blocker side, which gave Cammarata no chance.
Sarno said, “He’s got a shot like I’ve never seen before. He’s a big, strong kid and that goal he scored to tie the game was incredible. We need more of that. We need everybody to step up and contribute. We have to be committed.”
Also just like the second period, Canton wasted little time grabbing the lead back thanks to its dangerous power play (2-for-6 on Saturday). Ronan O’Mahony stepped up from the blue line to fire a shot on goal, which hit a skate in front and deflected directly to the stick of Marshall, who was stepping in from the left face-off dot. He didn’t need a second touch to knock it past the dive of Ivers.
“For the most part, for the first game we have a lot to learn,” said Sarno. “We need to take better care of the puck in our own zone. I thought we gave up a little too much space, especially on the initial rush. We need gap up a little better, take away their speed coming in, and force them to dump it in.”
Hagan nearly got his second assist when he set up Timmy Kelleher in front but Ivers was able to stay with the partially deflected shot and push it aside. The Bulldogs had an opportunity to put the game away after a major penalty was assessed to the Panthers, but Franklin managed to clear it off and also create a couple of chances to tie it in the final 1:15.
Lovett had the first chance with a shot from a face-off win, but it was stopped at the near post. Seconds later, Marchand had a slap shot that was sticked aside. Despite the Franklin pressure (the Panthers held a 29-21 advantage in shots for the game), and Canton looking shaky in its own zone, the Bulldogs managed to hang on.
“Our guys who have been around struggled tonight,” Shuman admitted. “Usually our strength is in the ‘D’ zone and breaking out and the guys who’ve been around really struggled. Hopefully it’s just first game jitters.”
They are now 26-0-1 in their last 27 games dating back to the start of last season, although Shuman is quick to turn the page on last year’s state championship.
“We rarely talk about last season, unless we’re asked about it and even then we kind of dismiss it,” he explained. “Based on scrimmages, based on this game, other teams got a heck of a lot better and we’re still figuring out how much better we got it. We had some magic last season and this season is going to be totally different.”