FOXBORO, Mass. – It’s not an ideal scenario to surrender an early goal, but sometimes it can serve as a wake-up call.
Such was the case on Wednesday evening, as King Philip scored just over two minutes into the game but the Mansfield boys hockey team responded in impressive fashion, eventually skating away with a 6-3 decision on the back of four power play goals.
King Philip capitalized on a soft turnover early on to take the lead but the goal only seemed to spark Mansfield as the Hornets tacked on three goals over the final eight minutes of the period to seize a 3-1 lead, an advantage it never surrendered.
“I thought the first goal woke us up, absolutely,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini said. “We’ve been in that situation before against Taunton and responded well. It’s been taking us a little bit to get going in the first but I’m proud of the way we battled back.
“We started off a little flat footed but I thought we battled back and had a tremendous finish to the first period. The second period was not conducive of how we want to play. We won the third period but the penalties kind of took away from the win, not enough discipline.”
KP sophomore Paul McDonald ended up with the puck on his stick after the turnover, carried towards goal and slid a pass across where sophomore Conor Cooke just beat the defenseman’s stick to one-time it into the goal for a 1-0 Warrior lead 2:08 into the game.
From there, the period belonged to the Hornets. On the second power play chance of the frame, the Hornets cashed in. Sophomore Matty Copponi did the majority of the work down low before his shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and stayed out. However, senior Coleman O’Brien was right there to bang the loose puck in to tie it 1-1.
The momentum stayed with Mansfield and the home team cashed in just a minute later. This time, senior Jack Garland won possession behind the net and tossed the puck in front to a wide open Jake Lund, and the senior bored it for a 2-1 advantage.
The teams traded genuine scoring chances over the next two minutes with Mansfield senior Chris Copponi being turned away from KP goalie James Lewis (28 saves) and KP junior Ethan McGuire taking a pass from Luke D’Amico, but the shot was just over the net.
Mansfield added to its advantage with 3:40 left in the period as Brad Grant drew a defenseman to the sideboards, took a hit while finding Garland in the slot for a one-timer and a 3-1 lead.
After killing an early Hornet power play in the second, King Philip went on a 5-on-4 for five minutes. While having a couple of chances with the man-advantage, mainly Shandley’s low shot hitting off the post, the Warriors really took control when the Hornets were whistled for another penalty.
On the 5-on-3, Bianculli delivered a perfectly weighted pass as he stepped in from the point across the ice to an open Ryan Fitzpatrick for a one-timer, bringing KP within a goal at 3-2.
But the Warriors were done in by another penalty, this time an interference call while in possession in the attacking end. Mansfield needed just 20 seconds to cash in for its second power play goal, as Matty Copponi worked his way from the corner to in front of goal and got just enough on his backhand for the puck to cross and Mansfield took a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
“It’s one of the things we’ve struggled with but we’ve been working on [the power play] lately in practice,” Balzarini said. “The guys are keeping it simple which is good. The results are there. If we just stick to what the game plan is, we’ll get what we want. We were four for six on the power play so that was good, and our penalty kill was pretty good too.”
A penalty-filled third period saw three goals, the first two adding onto Mansfield’s lead. After KP couldn’t convert on a man-advantage opportunity early on, the Warriors were whistled for a cross check with 5:53 to go. A minute into the power play. KP was hit with another penalty, and the Hornets went on a 5-on-3 power play.
Mansfield quick cashed in with Grant firing a hard wrist shot from a tight angle into the back of the net. Just before his shot, KP was hit with another penalty so Mansfield’s two-man advantage continued after the goal. Just before one penalty expired, Garland took a feed from Kevin Belanger to make it 6-2.
“We can’t stay out of the penalty box, no discipline,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “The same thing happened against North too. Playing at full strength, I thought we were every bit as good as [Mansfield]. At the end of the day, playing down a man, playing 5-on-3, you can’t win hockey games like that. Until we get it figured out, and play five-on-five….the league is too tough. If you take too many penalties, you won’t win.
“I thought the first half of the first period was good hockey for both teams. Then it just turned into a mess, no one wants to play that type of hockey.”
Mansfield was hit with three penalties in the final five minutes, and the Warriors cashed in on a 5-on-3 chance with under a minute to go. Fitzpatrick connected with junior Joe Boselli with a nice pass, and Boselli hammered it in with a one-timer.
Mansfield boys hockey (5-1-1 Hockomock, 11-2-1 overall) move into first place in the Kelley-Rex with the win, holding a one-point lead over Franklin with two games to go. The Hornets travel to Asiaf Arena on Saturday for a big clash with Oliver Ames, who is just two points out of first place. King Philip (3-3-0, 7-6-0) is home with a 7:20 tilt against the Panthers.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro came into Saturday afternoon’s game with King Philip a game below .500 and already thinking about how many points it will need to ensure a playoff spot. When games are tough and points are at a premium, then it take goals of all kinds to build momentum.
With one minute left to play, Jake Ebert fought his way to the crease and was the first to react when a shot slipped past KP goalie James Lewis. Ebert tapped the rebound into the open net and secured the Rocketeers a much-needed, come from behind 3-2 victory that pulls North back to .500 on the season.
“That’s what we’ve been focusing on,” said North coach Ben McManama. “I asked him after the game, how did you score that and he said, ‘dirty goals,’ and that’s what we’re trying to do. Hopefully they understand now that it doesn’t have to be pretty.”
Through two periods it didn’t look like the Rocketeers would need late heroics to pull out the win.
North grabbed an early lead on a two-man advantage inside the opening five minutes of the game. Will Yeomans had the initial shot from the slot that Lewis (28 saves) was able to get a piece of but not fully collect. The puck fell behind the goalie and Justin Moccia was in the right place at the right time to tap it in.
It took the Warriors more than nine minutes before they recorded their first shot on goal. Jack Coulter picked off a cross-ice pass and forced Ryan Warren (20 saves) into his first stop of the night.
The Rocketeers kept pushing for a second goal. A scrum in front forced a last-ditch, goal line clearance by KP defenseman Kyle Gray. With a minute left in the first, Lewis was forced into two reaction stops to deny both Jack Connolly and Ebert from point-blank range.
In the second period, the Warriors struggled to stay out of the box. KP picked up four penalties in that period alone, including a five-minute major that carried over to the third.
“We’ve got to stay out of the box,” KP coach Paul Carlow said. “You have to play even strength hockey to win. I would’ve like to have played them even strength more. We were shorthanded most of the night.”
Joe Boselli had a good look dragging the puck into the slot but he shot over the net and then Luke D’Amico forced Warren into a good glove save from a tight angle. Jake McNeany tested Lewis with a shot from the point that was kicked aside and Todd Robinson set up Connolly for a tip on the edge of the crease but it was sent just past the post.
North led 19-10 in shots heading into the third period and with 4:51 remaining on a major penalty, the Rocketeers looked like they were in control. But, KP stormed out of the locker room looking like a completely different team and, despite being down a skater, started to take the game to the hosts.
“You have to give credit to KP on that,” said McManama about North only scoring once while up a skater. “Our power play has been working at 33 percent coming into today and that’s the hardest our power play has had to work. They did a great job. They have a very good system and they work their butts off.”
Ryan Fitpatrick missed the net on a backhand seconds into the third and Warren was forced to make a sprawling save to deny Brendan Shandley when the rebound caromed to him at the far post. North nearly doubled its lead seconds later when Robinson’s shot forced a save out of Lewis and Connolly flicked the rebound wide of an open net.
That miss looked costly as KP skated down the other end and tied the game. Coulter had the initial shot from the right circle and Boselli was right there to follow up the rebound to make it 1-1.
“I think it was good that we had locker room time to talk about the kill and get the guys ready to go out for the kill,” said Carlow. “When you’re getting penalties all night, not only does it take away your chance to score but it kills your guys’ legs, so now when you come back from the kill then you don’t have any legs.”
Both teams continued to get chances in an end-to-end period. Robinson had a shot tipped inches wide by Ebert in front and Anthony Zammiello set up McNeany but his shot was blocked in front. Rocco Bianculli tested Warren with a blast from the edge of the right circle but the goalie got his blocker to it and Shandley forced another save that left the North defense scrambling.
With 5:47 to play, KP stunned the home crowd by grabbing the lead. Coulter played the puck into Conor Cooke, who was parked in the slot with a defenseman on his back. The forward collected the pass, spun, and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Warren and into the roof of the net to make it 2-1.
“Once we killed that penalty,” Carlow said, “it gave everyone a boost of confidence and then we were able to play some 5-on-5. When we played 5-on-5, we scored.”
Rather than get down, North turned the game around again. After KP cleared off yet another penalty (its eighth of the game), North got space in transition with Connolly finding a lot of room on the left circle. He opened his body up and went top shelf, far corner to beat Lewis and tie the game seemingly out of nowhere.
McManama explained, “Not much needed to be said. Everyone just started to step up and really it was one shift that got the other guys going. Winning a battle here or there and that built momentum for the last couple minutes.”
Zammiello hit the post from a very tight angle a minute later and then Ebert popped up 30 seconds after that with the dramatic finish that North needed to pull out a crucial two points at the midway point of its season.
“I thought they were playing very hard in the third period and they were winning all the battles,” McManama said. “It was very difficult to play them, even when we were on the power play…we didn’t match it in the third and that’s why the wheels started to come off a little bit, but I’m proud of the boys for battling back. It’s not an easy thing especially at this point in the season.”
North Attleboro (5-5, 3-1), which is just a game back of Canton in the Davenport title race, will travel to Oliver Ames on Wednesday, while King Philip (6-5, 2-2) will get a week off and be right back at the NESV to face Attleboro.
“It was a very good first period,” Carlow said. “The kids came out flying and worked hard. For the first time since I started coaching, we have three lines and that certainly helped. We got some outstanding goaltending and the defense played well in the back end.”
Each team had a good scoring chance inside the first six minutes of the game. After that, King Philip controlled the majority of the play and cashed in twice just over two minutes apart to build a lead.
King Philip senior goalie James Lewis (23 saves) turned away a pair of early OA shots while Tigers junior netminder Owen Connor (25 saves) denied the Warriors on a one-time bid off the stick of Joe Boselli (set up by Jack Coulter) to keep the game scoreless through six minutes.
The Warriors continued its offensive pressure and capitalized on a rush at the midway point of the period. Senior Garrett Maxwell connected with senior Brendan Shandley in neutral ice, and the latter took control into the attacking zone.
Skating down the right side, Shandley flipped the puck on net with a tough angle and the puck caromed off of the OA netminder and into the back of the net for a 1-0 advantage.
A couple of shifts later, the Warriors’ first line was at it again. A strong forecheck resulted in possession behind the net on the stick senior Ryan Fitzpatrick. Before the Tigers could get a defenseman to pressure him, Fitzpatrick alertly dumped the puck back in front, hitting the back of Connor’s skate and into the net. Shandley and Luke D’Amico were credited with assists.
“The boys work hard, we do a lot of skating and a lot of conditioning,” Carlow said. “Having that extra line helps [with the energy]. They came into the season prepared and it showed.
“I’m pleased with the way they played, that’s a good start. Oliver Ames is always a good team and well coached, so any time you can come down here and get two points is a good thing.”
Oliver Ames came out strong in the second period and had two very good chances to cut into the deficit but Lewis came up with two huge stops to preserve the two-goal lead.
First, junior Jake Gottwald drew a defenseman to the right side before turning and firing a pass to senior Max Ward right in front for a one-timer. Lewis got just enough of his glove to the puck to keep it out but OA kept possession.
Ward eventually got back on the puck behind the net and tossed it right in front to Colin Bourne for a one-timer but Lewis got the pad to the close range bid to keep it out.
The Tigers’ momentum was squandered by a cross checking penalty with 12:28 to play in the period. KP only had one solid chance on the man-advantage when Coulter nearly put a shot in the net but the puck didn’t get past the line and OA cleared it away.
Although Connor and the OA defense turned the Warriors away on the power play, the momentum stayed with King Philip for the rest of the period. The Warriors had strong spells of possession using al three things. The best chance coming at the midway point when Chris Daniels found Boselli but his shot slid just wide.
“The guys have bought in [on puck possession] and they did a good job tonight,” Carlow said. “I felt like we outplayed them for two and a half periods and then those penalties in the third, we almost let them back in.”
Connor made a terrific toe save early in the third period to keep a shot from Aiden Boulger out of the back of the net and OA nearly staged a comeback over the following minutes.
Lewis squeezed the pads to deny a one-time chance from Ward after a nice centering pass from Brad Powers. And then Lewis denied a shorthanded breakaway from Cullen Gallagher at the midway point of the final period to keep the Warriors up 2-0.
Oliver Ames had a variety of man-up opportunities throughout the final period, skating 5-on-3 briefly before taking a penalty of their own. During a 4-on-3 stretch, both James Beatty and Ward had chances turned aside by Lewis.
The Tigers kept possession in the attacking zone but Lewis continued his strong play, knocking aside another Beatty shot with his blocker and snatching a bid from Gottwald with the glove seconds later.
“He played outstanding,” Carlow said of Lewis. “He’s waited his turn, he’s been a backup for us and now he’s a senior…and tonight he put a performance on. He made a nice save early and I knew he was in the zone, and he was all night.”
Coulter iced the game with an empty net goal with 29 seconds to play.
“They just outplayed us all three periods, they wanted it more,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “It’s tough to come back against good teams. You never want to go down two goals, and down two goals to a good team. I thought the third period was better, especially better than the first. We had some special teams chances but we just couldn’t finish. The limited chances we did have, we didn’t finish.”
King Philip hockey (1-0 overall) is back on the ice next Wednesday when it hosts Coyle & Cassidy at 5:40 at Foxboro Sports Center. Oliver Ames (1-1) hits the road to take on North Attleboro on Saturday in a non-league clash.
2017-2018 Record: 9-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Homer
After a two year drought of postseason hockey, the Bombardiers made it to the playoffs last year and are aiming to make it two years in a row. The Bombardiers only had three seniors on the roster last season, so the majority of the squad is back, plus a familiar face is back in the fold this season.
One of the three seniors that graduated was Jake Parker, who led the Bombardiers in scoring last season with 26 goals and eight assists. But Attleboro is slated to return its next three scorers in senior Cam Littig (12 goals, 14 assists for 26 points), junior Ryan Morry (11 goals, 15 assists for 26 points) and senior Kyle McCabe (three goals, 10 assists for 13 points).
Another positive is that the Bombardiers have some experience in goal. Both senior Evan Andrews (13.66 games played) and junior Derrik Rivet (6.33 games) are set to return. Having an experienced goalie is a huge positive but having a strong backup helps even more. Andrews had 270 saves last season with a 0.882 save percentage while Rivet turned away 144 shots and had a 0.842 save percentage. In front of goal, McCabe, Sam Flynn, and Matt Viveiros will be joined by Liam McDonough, Kyle Miniati, and Zach Pierce as members of the defensive unit.
While Littig and Morry will try to replicate their success from a season ago, one name that could help bolster the offense is senior Sam Larkin. Larkin played his freshman year and had seven goals and seven assists before switching over to juniors. His experience should give Attleboro a boost during the season.
“We have had some additions to our team this year that has created a little more depth that had been absent in previous years,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We are working on maintaining a better consistency in our play. We are still in our tryout mode and hoping to find the right mix to make us more competitive this season, especially in our league games.”
2017-2018 Record: 17-3-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
Canton comes into every year with high expectations and the Bulldogs will be favorites to bring home a ninth straight Davenport division title and 11th Hockomock League title in the past 12 seasons. While the league campaign is a priority, the Bulldogs will also be comparing themselves to the top teams in Div. 2 and hoping this will be the year to break through in the South sectional and get back to the TD Garden for the first time since 2010.
After a dominant winter, the top scoring line is back in full for Canton. Senior Ryan Nolte, the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and junior Johnny Hagan, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will draw most of the plaudits but junior Timmy Kelleher gives the Bulldogs strong play on the other wing as well. That line combined for 69 points last season (27 apiece for Hagan and Nolte) and will be one of the league’s best going into this year. Canton also has juniors Tommy Ghostlaw and Chris Lavoie back to add scoring punch to the second line.
At the blue line, juniors Owen Lehane and Jack Connolly will both be expected to eat up a lot of minutes after strong sophomore seasons, and the Bulldogs will be looking for other players to step up and fill in defensively. After consistently strong goaltending from Quinn Gibbs over the past few seasons, Canton will turn to senior Mike Staffiere, who has been a backup the past two years and is drawing great reviews for his play during the preseason.
“Overall, we have a lot of experience returning up front at the forward position, but that’s true for a lot of teams in our league and in our division,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “The real question will be how much these players improved from last year, which we won’t know for sure until the games get going.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-9-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro is coming off the best season in program history, as the Warriors won 10 games and qualified for the state tournament without relying on the Sullivan Rule. Now, the Warriors come back this season hoping to build on that season and make another run at the state tournament behind an offense that, according to coach Mark Cedorchuk, is as deep as it has ever been.
Junior Ronnie MacLellan and sophomore Kirk Leach are two of the forwards to keep an eye on this season for the Warriors after the duo combined for 15 goals and 32 points last season. Also up front will be senior Tanner Kennedy and juniors Sebastian Ricketts and Josh Bertumen, who combined for 10 goals last year and are looking to continue their development to add depth to the attack.
Senior Brendan Tully will lead the defensive effort but is also the team’s leading scorer. The blue line standout scored 18 goals and had 19 assists and is going to be a major factor in all three zones as well as a leader on the penalty kill and power play. He will be joined on the blue line by junior Kyle McGinnis, while junior Espen Reager will be between the pipes this year.
“Even though we had a successful season last year, best in team history,” Cedorchuk said, “our players are not satisfied, they are hungry to improve on that.”
2017-2018 Record: 12-6-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Chris Spillane
Franklin started well last winter, reaching the final of the prestigious Mount St. Charles tournament and taking a point off Malden Catholic for the first time, but the Panthers couldn’t carry the momentum throughout the season and were knocked out in the first round of the tournament. As usual, Franklin graduated a lot of players, but also return a strong corps of experienced players to take on arguably the program’s toughest regular season schedule, which is loaded with some of the state’s top teams.
The Panthers return 11 seniors for this season, including eight forwards, but also have a group of eight sophomores that are jumping up from the JV to contribute on varsity this season. The forward line has plenty of experience and should be able to fire in the goals this year. Seniors Joey Lizotte, Zac Falvey, Scott Elliott, Dan Magazu, and C.J. Spillane will all be able to jump into the top scoring lines after playing major roles last year.
Defensively, the top five defensemen will be juniors Tom Tasker (who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last year) and Colin Hedvig and seniors Cam Casella, Matt D’Errico, and Evan Forbes. Three sophomores will also see time on the blue line for the Panthers this season. After graduating three senior goaltenders, the job is open to senior Ryan Cameron and junior Ray Ivers, who are both making the jump from JV.
“Our hope is that team speed will drive the offense and that our returning defense will have the experience to make sound decisions in our end,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The boys are looking forward to the upcoming season. I see the Hockomock as an extremely competitive league this year. We will also challenge our boys with a high-end non-league schedule.”
2017-2018 Record: 8-12-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip brings 11 players back from last year’s squad and is hoping a tough schedule will result in a battle-tested team ready for the D1 South Tournament at the end of February. It starts with the seniors for the Warriors with four of them back, plus a transfer.
There will be a lot of experience in the top line for KP, as well as its first defensive pair and between the pipes. Captain Ryan Fitzpatrick (10 points) had a strong season last year and will be trying to replicate that this year. Fitzpatrick is joined by assistant captain Luke D’Amico (13 points) as wingers while senior transfer Brendan Shandley steps in at center to give the Warriors a formidable line to work with. Juniors Chris Daniels (13 points), Joe Boselli (11 points), and Jack Coulter (10 points) are all back after successful sophomore seasons and should provide KP with good depth.
On the blueline, veteran Garrett Maxwell is the lone senior back from last year so he will be relied on for leadership. He is one of the strongest players in the league and plays in all situations for KP, including the power play plus the penalty kill. There will be some other familiar faces on defense for KP with junior Kyle Gray (seven points) and sophomore Rocco Bianculli (eight points) both back with varsity experience.
Senior James Lewis takes over in the crease as the starting netminder for the Warriors. Lewis saw action in three games last season, including a pair of wins and shutouts. While new to the starting position, Lewis has plenty of experience and that bodes well for the Warriors. Jesper Makudera and Nate Ihley will be pushing for minutes in net as well.
“I expect the team to have some good chemistry and get off to a good start,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “Practice has been good, and we have good leadership this year with a strong core. The Hockomock League is always competitive, the Kelley-Rex is a strong division, and we have a tough non-league schedule too, so we want to challenge ourselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 9-7-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets have a strong core of players back this season, along with the addition of a couple of new faces, and head coach Mike Balzarini is hoping that combination will result in success this season.
Experience will be a strong suit for Mansfield as five of its top six forwards played significant minutes last year. Chris Copponi (12 points) and Matt Copponi (16 points) will be on the wings around center Coleman O’Brien for one line while Jake Lund (eight points) and Kevin Bellanger are returners on another line. The sixth forward will be center Jack Garland, who played juniors last year but is back in the fold for the Hornets this year. Ben Ierardo, Cam Page, and Braedon Copparini will be in the mix for minutes as well.
Defensively, while there are certainly some holes to fill, Balzarini has some talent to rely on the blue line. Two-time HockomockSports.com selections Mike Arnold and Tyler Oakley graduated so there is a little bit of a void, but Austin Ricker has stepped on early on to anchor the Hornet defensive unit. Ricker is joined by Brad Grant, who played for the Hornets previously before switching to juniors. Nick Levine and Joe Troiano gained valuable experience last year, and Jack Gormley and Brian Grant should be in the mix as well.
Mansfield also has experience in the goalie position with junior Sean McCafferty back between the pipes after having a breakout sophomore campaign. McCafferty was one of the top goalies in the league last year, earning HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman honors. He had 377 saves and a 92 save percentage, which bodes well for the Hornets this year.
“We obviously want to pick up where we left off after making the playoffs the last two years,” Balzarini said. “With the returning players plus new additions, I think we’re a little bit deeper and we know what we need to do to be competitive and make sure we’re playing well at the end of the season.”
2017-2018 Record: 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Ben McManama
Defense will be key for the Rocketeers during the 2018-2019 season. With a handful of returners back on the blue line as well as veteran goalie Ryan Warren, North Attleboro boasts a talented defensive unit.
Senior captain Brendan McHugh will anchor the defensive group alongside juniors Jeff Baker and Will Yeomans. All three are very experienced players that put defense first. They can all get involved in the offense as well. Warren has shined between the pipes each of the last three seasons, earning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a freshman and was a HockomockSports Third Team selection last season. Warren is pushed in practice each day as Chris Ulrich and Nick Digiacomo push for time.
Offensively, North Attleboro only lost two forwards from last year’s group, but those two players (Drew Wissler, Jason McNeany) combined for nearly half of the Rocketeers’ 76 goals a season ago. So this year, Big Red will need forwards to step up and contribute. Captain Anthony Zammiello scored 13 goals last year and will look to continue his success this season. Todd Robinson, Justin Moccia, Dennis Morehouse, Jake Ebert, and Jack Connolly are all candidates to have big years for the Rocketeers.
“We are a very big and physical team that works hard,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “We will need to stay out of the box to have success this year. Defense and depth will be the strength of our team. We will also need three lines that can score. I am very optimistic on the season because it is obvious that all our players put a ton of work in during the offseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Speed has been the strength of the Tigers since Sean Bertoni took over the team and Oliver Ames will be relying on that speed and aggressiveness to try and challenge Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and to make a run in the state tournament. With a few players coming back from juniors to join with an experienced group, OA has high hopes of pushing the Panthers for the league title.
Senior forward Brett Williams will be the key player in the attack, coming off a season in which he scored 21 goals and recorded 15 assists and was named to the HockomockSports.com First Team. Williams will have plenty of help up front from senior Colin Bourne, who is one of the fastest skaters in the league and had 13 points last season. Senior forward Cullen Gallagher will also give the offense a boost, as he comes back to the program after a year in juniors.
Senior Matt McCormack was one of the league’s top defensemen last year and his steadying presence on the blue line will be critical to OA improving on that end of the ice, after giving up 54 goals as a team last year. Senior James Beatty is back after a year in juniors and should be a big boost to the blue line. Junior Owen Connor is back in net and looking to build off last season’s efforts.
“We are a team that will rely heavily on our team speed,” Bertoni said. “Our aggressive style of defense will lead to a successful offense. We will have to establish our forecheck to be effective. Our transition game will be a strength for us this year, creating turnovers and getting on the attack.”
2017-2018 Record: 1-20-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Overall, the Stoughton Black Knights will be on the young side but they have a veteran first line that will lead the way.
The Knights will be looking to improve on last year’s record, while possibly trying to surprise some teams along the way. Leading the way offensively will be senior Sean Doherty. Doherty was Stoughton’s second-leading scorer last year behind Brendan Campbell (graduated). Doherty was second on the Black Knights with 12 goals and added 11 assists and will be relied upon to be a key piece of the offense this season. Joining Doherty on the first line will be senior Luke Bainton, who brings a lot of varsity experience to the table. Bainton will look to improve on last year after recording seven points (four goals, three assists).
Senior Josh Hough will anchor the blue line for the Black Knights. In his fourth year on varsity, Hough has logged a lot of minutes on the ice over the past couple of seasons and will be one of the most experienced defensemen in the league. Hough is able to create on the offensive end as well, scoring a pair of goals last year along with seven assists. Senior Thomas McCoy is set to return in goal after getting experience between the pipes a season ago.
2017-2018 Record: 12-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has been a program on the rise for the past few seasons and last year the Tigers took another big step forward by making a push to the Div. 2 South semifinal. That unexpected tournament run as the No. 13 seed, which included wins over No. 4 Old Rochester and No. 5 Nauset, has boosted the team’s confidence heading into a new year in which all but four players are back.
Scoring has not been a problem for the Tigers in recent seasons. Last year, Taunton scored a league-best 98 goals, five more than Davenport champ Canton, and senior forward Cam Sneyd (30 points) and junior Mike Albert (32 points) both eclipsed the 30-point mark. Senior Jack Patneaude added 15 points last year and he is poised for a big year along with classmates Jaden Weyant, Owen Ross, and Nick Vandermeel.
The defense is almost completely returned from last year, led by senior Andrew Carter, who was solid in the defensive zone but also chipped in with 20 points. Senior Brady Nichols and sophomore Dylan Nichols are also back for the Tigers. Junior Sean Bunker returns in net after a solid performance in the tournament run and he will be backed up by classmate Andrew Gomes, who has shown that he is a capable replacement when needed.
“The players have embraced the enjoyment of the journey, the process, and working hard to get better every day,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “They have the potential to continue their accomplishment of new heights. They will be fun to coach, and watch grow throughout the season.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – One team is already qualified for the D1 South tournament, the other is battling to keep its postseason aspirations alive.
So it was no surprise that Wednesday night’s tilt between Mansfield and King Philip felt like a playoff game.
The teams skated to a 1-1 tie, exchanging goals in the final four minutes of the second period. With the point, King Philip is still alive for a playoff berth. The Warriors need to win their final two games of the season to join the Hornets in the tournament.
“We can’t lose,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow of the remaining games. “We were up 1-0 but our Achille’s Heel, penalties. If we can play even strength, I like our chances. But we had to kill a couple more extra penalties than I would have liked to. But the kids responded, they played a strong third, they killed that penalty off to start. We had our chances.”
After a relatively even first period, Mansfield began to gain control of the game, having long stretches of possession in the attacking zone. The Hornets had a 16-5 edge in shots on goal in the frame, peppering King Philip senior goalie Shane Frommer (29 saves).
“Shane played maybe his best game of the year tonight,” Carlow said. “[Mansfield] is a good team, they are very well coached. They are already going to the Division 1 tournament so it was a tall task for our guys to stay alive. They put it on us pretty good earlier in the year.”
When Mansfield went on the power play at the midway point of the game, senior defenseman Tyler Oakley had his wrist shot redirected by sophomore Jake Lund but Frommer was able to get his glove on top of the dribbling puck.
Two minutes later, the Hornets had another chance when Tim Arnold kept the puck in the offensive zone and the puck landed at the feet of Chris Copponi, but Frommer made a point-blank save.
But despite the Hornets having the edge in play in the period, it was the Warriors that struck first. Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty (23 saves) turned away a bid from Gavin Maxwell, but the puck found its way back in front and sophomore Joe Boselli lifted his shot into the back of the net. Luke D’Amico was credited with the assist while Maxwell provided the screen in front.
“Their goal was at the end of a long shift, our guys were out there for over two minutes so it cost us,” Balzarini said. “They tried their damnedest to get back but they just couldn’t. I don’t think Sean got a good look at it. But I thought we responded well. I thought the second period was much better for us.”
Less than 90 seconds after the Warriors took the lead, they took a penalty to put the Hornets on the man advantage again. This time, Mansfield cashed in.
Matt Copponi tossed a puck towards net from the blue line, where Oakley ripped a shot in close. The puck squirted free onto the other side and Chris Copponi batted in the rebound to tie the game with 1:09 left in the period.
“It was [like a playoff game],” Balzarini said. “I thought we started off slow, which is one thing we struggle with….They did a good job of putting sticks in the passing lanes and the shooting lanes. They had a handful of blocked shots, we just had trouble getting pucks to the net.”
KP had an 11-3 advantage in shots in the first period, but the teams split attacking zone possession. The best chance for King Philip came with just under three minutes to go when Maxwell saw his shot go wide and D’Amico had his rebound bid denied by McCafferty’s paddle on a diving save.
“Their goalie played well,” Carlow said. “We definitely had our chances, we had an odd-man rush late, we had a breakaway early on a shorthanded bid…both goalies played well. It was a good game, it was pretty evenly matched all night.”
Both teams had chances at the winner in the third period but couldn’t find the back of the net. D’Amico took a feed from Jack Coulter but McCafferty made the save right in front. D’Amico set up Boselli with just under six minutes to go, but again McCafferty was there for the save.
Right after the save, Mansfield went down the other end only for Matt Copponi’s shot to ring off the crossbar.
King Philip boys hockey (4-4 Hockomock, 8-10-1 overall) will try to keep its postseason hopes alive when it hosts Norwood on Monday at 5:20. Mansfield (5-2-2, 8-5-5) is on the road on Saturday, traveling to Larsen Arena to take on Winthrop.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – Oliver Ames erased an early deficit and held off a strong surge in the second period to pick up a 6-4 win over King Philip at the Foxboro Sports Center.
The Warriors took the lead less than three minutes into the game but that seemed to spark Oliver Ames. The Tigers responded with an onslaught of offensive pressure, including three great goal scoring chances in a three minute space. OA finally broke through to score back to back goals in less than a minute to take the lead.
“We responded very well,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “There’s only been about three games which we’ve come out on the attack. We’re a little bit of a slow team to get going but we pick it up as the game goes on.”
KP freshman Kyle Gray scored his first career goal 2:34 into the game to give the Warriors the lead. After an extended possession in the offensive zone, Gray took control along the blue line and wristed a shot through traffic that found its way into the back of the net.
But from that point on, it would be all Oliver Ames in the period.
With 10:45 to go in the opening period, Brett Williams circled behind the net before finding Eric LeBlanc open in front for he net but his point blank shot was turned aside by KP junior goalie Shane Frommer (44 saves).
With 9:15 to play, sophomore James Beatty took advantage of a miscue at the blue line by KP and race in along on goal but couldn’t get his shot past Frommer.
With 8:10 left, Max Ward hit Michael Nikiciuk for a shot from the blue line that Frommer got a piece of. Frommer scrambled and was able to keep the puck from crossing with the help of senior defenseman Jeremy Smith.
But on the ensuing face-off, Oliver Ames finally did cash in. Senior defenseman Jack Maloney ripped a shot that was saved, Beatty had his rebound shot saved but then was able to tuck his own rebound into the net to tie the game with 8:02 to play.
The Tigers kept the pressure up, taking the lead less than a minute later. With Oliver Ames cycling through the offensive zone, the puck popped free into the middle of the ice. OA senior Michael Ziino pounced on it and fired a wrist shot that found its way under Frommer’s arm to make it 2-1.
The momentum carried into the second period and it looked like Oliver Ames put the game to bed early in the middle fame.
Just 49 seconds into the second, Oliver Ames made it 3-1. Williams tracked down a puck in the offensive end and fired a perfect pass across the crease to an open Beatty. Beatty stepped around the goalie and tucked it home for a quick 3-1 lead.
The Tigers went on the power play following a late hit on the goal and took less than a minute to add another goal. Senior Jared Costello tracked the puck down off the side boards and took it right to goal, stuffing it in at the near post for a 4-1 lead.
“We had five or six goal scorers last game against Foxboro and then had four tonight so that’s nice to see,” Bertoni said. “That was Michael Ziino’s first start of the year, we had one of our top guys out for the first period and Michael stepped up. James Beatty has been a third line guy, he got to play on the second line today and scored two goals. We’ve been waiting for him because he’s got the skill. It was nice to see him get two big goals too.
“Our forecheck was very good tonight and we generated a lot of shots. We’re creating a lot of turnovers behind the goal line. The last three games we’ve had over 35 shots in each game. The theme this year has been finishing. The kids say it all the time, it’s just bearing down and having a net-front presence and making sure you’re buying the puck. The kids had a good response.”
Frommer denied Oliver Ames a fifth goal near the midway point of the period when LeBlanc had his breakaway chance turned aside. A minute later, KP went on the power play and took advantage.
Gavin Maxwell won a face-off in the offensive zone and junior Collin Cooke connected on a cross ice pass to find Jeremy Smith at the blue line. The senior took a step in and fired a rocket top shelf to cut the deficit to two with 7:36 left in the period.
OA goalie Zach Walsh made a tremendous glove save through traffic on a shot from KP freshman Joe Boselli with 3:50 to go but the Warriors kept pushing until the end of the period.
After Walsh made a point black stop on a shot from Gavin Maxwell right in front with 44 seconds to go, Maxwell was able to find the back of the net with 19 seconds to play. The junior stepped in front of a clearance attempt and roofed his shot to make it 4-3 heading into the third period.
But a penalty just before the end of the second meant KP started the third in a four on four situation and then, after 90 seconds, went a man down.
The Warriors were able to fight off the penalty but Oliver Ames found the back of the net within a minute after going back to full strength. The puck popped free to Nikiciuk at the blue line and he fired through traffic to find the back of the net, making it 5-3.
King Philip picked up back to back penalties shortly after, first a minor for tripping and then a four minute penalty for boarding, halting any thought of a comeback.
OA put the game out of reach on the power play with 6:54 to go when Costello skated towards the center of the ice near the blue line and wristing a shot through a screen for the Tigers’ sixth goal.
“We had a variety of scoring, we had at least one power play goal,” Bertoni said. “We’ve been practicing on just taking the puck to the net, net drives in practice and it showed tonight. It’s good to see them sacrifice and go to the net, and they might get punished, but they might get a goal out of it.
“The players deserve all the credit but as coaches it’s nice to see when they run the system. One through three, all lines, it just shows when you establish a forecheck and stick to the system good things happen.”
King Philip added the final goal of the game with just over two minutes to play on the power play. Smith played catch with Garrett Maxwell on the blue line before the sophomore fired a shot on target. Walsh turned it aside but KP Freshman Chris Daniels was there for the tap in for his first career goal.
“You have to give OA credit, they came out and wanted it a little bit more,” said KP head coach Paul Carlow. “They went to a three man forecheck, put the pressure on us and definitely took the game over there for a stretch. We got back in the game at the end of the second but then we took a penalty. We start the third shorthanded, and even though they didn’t score on it, it burns your guys out. Then we took another penalty and that pretty much did it.”
Oliver Ames hockey (9-4-1 overall, 5-2-1 league) will take on North Attleboro in a non-league D2 showdown on Monday at 4:30 at Asiaf. King Philip (3-12, 3-5) will be the road team in a clash with Foxboro at the Foxboro Sports Center on Wednesday.
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.
“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.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The Panthers have been on a roll in Hockomock League play. Franklin came into Sunday night’s game with King Philip at Pirelli Veterans Memorial Rink having won 14 straight games in the league, including a perfect 10-0 last year and the first three games of this season’s league schedule.
But as the clock was winding down in the third period, the Warriors looked poised to end that remarkable win streak. With 6:23 left to play, Joey Blasie pounced on a rebound to knock the puck home and finish one of Franklin’s numerous scoring opportunities. The goal canceled out Sam Ross’ first period goal and sent both teams home with a point.
“Evan kept us in it; kept us with the lead,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. “This is probably one of the best public school programs in the state year in, year out, so anytime that you can get a point against them you’ll take it.”
Franklin coach Chris Spillane was blunt in his assessment of the game. He explained, “Our boys learned real quick that you don’t win games just by showing up. King Philip showed up and worked their a—s off and we didn’t.”
The Panthers came out sluggish in the first period. Passing was erratic, the skating was slow, and the hosts struggled at times to control the puck. KP took advantage.
Jeremy Smith sent the first warning shot with a blast from the point that rang the post off a face-off win by Nick Connor. Two minutes later, Matt Smith slid a pass across the crease to a wide open Jacob Kelly but the junior forward’s shot from point-blank range was chipped over the bar.
With 8:05 left in the period, KP made the Panthers pay for the slow start. As Blasie raced from the box back into play, Ross found himself with the puck on his stick on the right side of goal and flicked his shot on net. The puck slipped through a screen and under Nick Jasinski’s pads for the opening goal; the first of the season for the senior.
“No bigger time than to get one against Franklin, right?” asked Carlow. He added, “I think when you get power plays, you have to take advantage. We’ve been working on it and the boys got one.”
Franklin had its chances as well. Remmes made 36 saves on the night and he was increasingly put under pressure as the game wore on. He made a quick reaction kick save to rob Thomas Sicchio in the first and then somehow managed to get a piece of a Jake Downie shot from the edge of the crease; sitting on the puck and keeping it out.
In the third period, just a minute before Franklin tied it, Remmes kept KP in front by getting a toe on a chance for Jeremy Miller who was left all alone by a great pass across the front of goal by Adam Assad.
“He played outstanding,” said Carlow. “You get that out of seniors in a big game. He played well against Canton and he played well tonight.”
In addition to the play of the KP goaltender, Franklin also missed a series of good chances. Brendan O’Rielly had a chance on an open net after Remmes stopped Tyler Oakes’s shot from the point in the first but smashed his shot off the bar. Luke Downie had a similar opportunity in the second on a rebound, again from an Oakes shot, but his effort bounced away off the far post.
“We had plenty of chances to score goals and guys don’t bear down to finish the easy goals and it’s frustrating to watch,” said Spillane. “We missed a lot of open nets, a lot of rebounds, a lot of shots were right at the goaltender when we had open ice.”
The Panthers outshot KP 16-4 in the second period, but the Warriors still created chances. Matt Smith skated in alone but his shot missed the net at the short side. As the period wound down, he had another good opportunity, this time from the right circle, and again went for Jasinski’s blocker side but again it went wide. In the opening 30 seconds of the third, Smith set up Ross in the slot but Jasinski (16 saves) was positioned well to clock the shot.
The pressure would eventually tell for the Panthers. Luke Downie collected the puck behind Remmes and tried to skate in front and score but the goalie kicked it away. Unfortunately for KP, the rebound went straight to Blasie and finally Franklin had someone finish.
Spillane said, “I give them a little credit that they worked hard to grab a point and we battled, but these are games that they have to come out and play 45 minutes. If they don’t play 45 minutes then this is the result against any team in our league.
With 3:20 left, Franklin nearly won the game when O’Reilly’s shot slipped past Remmes and sat right on the line. Cory Lombardo saved his goalie and his team by clearing the puck away. Franklin’s momentum was stymied as twice in the final 5:30 the Panthers were forced to go on the penalty kill.
“They were just unnecessary penalties that put you on the kill and then you’re wasting guys legs as the clock is ticking down,” Spillane said.
The Warriors scored five unanswered goals in the third period on Wednesday to come from behind and beat Taunton. Carlow believes that energy and confidence carried over and helped the Warriors grab a point at Franklin.
“I think that third period against Taunton coming back from a four-goal deficit, a period like that can turn your season,” said Carlow. “I think the guys came out tonight and played off that and gave us three good periods.”
Spillane was clearly disappointed with his team’s performance. After so much success in recent seasons, this may be a wake-up call for an atypically inexperienced roster. When Spillane was asked about it, he chuckled.
“Tomorrow morning they have a wake up call at 7 a.m., I can tell you that,” he said. “We will have a good skate.”
On Wednesday, Franklin (5-3-2, 3-0-1) will play host to divisional rival North Attleboro in a huge game in the Kelley-Rex standings. King Philip (5-4-1, 3-1-1) will travel to Aleixo Arena to face Attleboro.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
By Jarett Leonard, HockomockSports.com Contributor
TAUNTON, Mass. – A late goal in the second period sparked King Philip to a huge third period, as the Warriors erased a four-goal deficit with six unanswered tallies to top Taunton, 6-4.
Down 4-0 late in the second period, Matt Smith redirected a shot from Clay Geuss into the net to get King Philip on the board, a goal that gave the Warriors hope heading into the third.
“I think it woke the guys up,” King Philip head coach Paul Carlow said. “We definitely needed that. We certainly were not playing as well as we could at that point and we needed something.”
KP then exploded for three goals within the first four minutes of the third period to tie the game. Nick Connor carried the puck from the right corner to bottom of the circle, and a wrist shot snuck through to the goal line, where Collin Cooke finished it off. Just 38 seconds later, Richard Lucente netted a wrist shot from the high slot, and about a minute after that, with King Philip skating with a two man advantage, Geuss added one of his own to even the score.
“Once we got those two goals that really turned the momentum of the game,” Carlow said. “It gave the kids some confidence and they started skating.”
Cooke’s second goal of the game was the game winner, a rebound from a Jeremy Smith shot that gave KP its first lead of the night while the Warriors were on the power play. Jacob Kelly added some insurance for the Warriors with a drive from the left half wall that found the net. KP outshot Taunton 42-31 in the game but had a distinct 21-6 advantage in the third period alone.
“They played an outstanding third period,” Carlow said. “It took a couple goals to get the confidence and that momentum swing, and then once we had it, it was just a matter of time.”
Zack Albert scored the first goal of the game for the Tigers, burying one on the doorstep after a Nick Terry shot was deflected onto his tape. Tyler Pietrzyk then went to work to extend Taunton’s lead, scoring a hat trick in the second period alone. Pietrzyk potted rebounds on shots from Zack Albert and David Perry and then finished a breakaway set up by a Mike Volkmann stretch pass.
“We knew Taunton was 7-3 going in with some really good forwards,” Carlow said. “We knew what they were coming in. I felt like it was going to be a 50-50 game. I felt like we were very evenly matched and it was going to come down to who wanted it more.”
In addition to the goal, Geuss had two assists for King Philip while Connor, Lucente and Jeremy Smith each had one helper. Evan Remmes made 27 saves in net for the win.
Pietrzyk added an assist to his hat trick for a four point night for Taunton, extending his Division 2 South points lead. Brother Trevor Pietrzyk, Terry, Albert, Perry and Volkmann had an assist each.
King Philip (5-4, 3-1 Hockomock) will now look to build off its third period effort with a trip to Franklin on Sunday night at 6 p.m. Taunton, now 7-4 overall and 1-3 in the league, will face Attleboro on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s our first time we’ve won two straight,” Carlow said. “That third period tonight, I hope it keeps us going in the right direction.”