Below are the official 2017 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Jack Goyetch, Canton
Hockomock League All Stars
Jake Parker, Attleboro
Nick Allen, Canton
John Hagan, Canton
Jack Goyetch, Canton
Ryan Nolte, Canton
Quinn Gibbs, Canton
Aidan Sullivan, Foxboro
Brendan Tully, Foxboro
Luke Downie, Franklin
Owen Ginley, Franklin
Jack McGrath, Franklin
Jeremy Miller, Franklin
Collin Cooke, King Philip
Mike Curtin, King Philip
Cullin Anastasia, Mansfield
Tim Arnold, Mansfield
Jason McNeany, North Attleboro
Drew Wissler, North Attleboro
Matt McCormack, Oliver Ames
Michael Nikiciuk, Oliver Ames
Brett Williams, Oliver Ames
Brendan Campbell, Stoughton
Will Walsh, Taunton
CANTON, Mass. – The fans were jammed into the Canton Ice House on Saturday night, not surprising since both Canton and Westwood call it home, with lines stretching out into the parking lot at game time and people filling not only the rink’s lot but the parking lots of businesses down the street.
The massive crowd was expecting to see a close game between two contenders for the Div. 2 South title, a game that would go down to the wire. What the crowd got was a second straight dominating performance by the Bulldogs.
Canton outshot the Wolverines 38-13, controlled play the full length of the ice, and were relentless in a 5-0 victory that moves the Bulldogs into the sectional semifinal. Canton has now scored 16 goals without reply in two playoff games and gave head coach Brian Shuman some bragging rights when he returns to his classroom at Westwood High on Monday morning.
“This time of the year, you have to play every shift like it’s 0-0,” Shuman said. “It can’t just be a saying, you can’t be just talking, you have to play every shift like it’s 0-0 and I thought they did a good job of that.”
Special teams were critical for the Bulldogs on Saturday. Canton went 3-for-6 with the man advantage, including a pair of goals in the first period, and also killed off all four Westwood power play opportunities, while limiting the Wolverines to half-chances and long-range shots.
“They had maybe just a couple of shots on the power play,” said Shuman, praising his defensive corps for keeping senior goalie Quinn Gibbs (13 saves) largely untroubled. “Our neutral zone play on the penalty kill in particular was very good. They didn’t give them a chance to possess the puck in the neutral zone to get any possession coming into the zone.”
The dominance began right from the opening face-off, as Canton came out skating hard and creating chances. Ryan Nolte had the first good look on goal skating across the slot onto his forehand but the shot was saved by Westwood goalie Justin Anderson (34 saves).
With 7:26 remaining in the first, Canton broke the deadlock on the power play. Nolte was the first to a loose puck in the crease and he was able to knock it in for a 1-0 lead, Johnny Hagan and Timmy Kelleher picking up assists. Two minutes later, the lead was doubled as Bubba McNeice picked the top corner to Anderson’s blocker side.
Westwood had one good scoring chance in the first when Tim Dalton drove hard at the net from the left side, but Gibbs kept his pad and stick in place to block the shot at the near post and it was cleared. Kelleher and Hagan both had good chances soon after but both narrowly missed the net.
The Bulldogs went up a man with 21 seconds left in the first and quickly made the opportunity count. Nolte set up Hagan in the slot for a one-timer that gave Anderson no chance and gave Canton a 3-0 lead.
“Those power play goals in the first period were huge,” said Shuman. “I think we really moved the puck well and for those guys to get that one right before the end of the period was big.”
Nolte, a junior forward, had a goal and an assist in the first, hit the crossbar in the second and he continues to put together strong playoff performances on both ends of the ice. “Ryan is laid back but he’s had a different look about him the first couple playoff games,” Shuman said. “He’s really stepped up and been consistent for us every game this season and he had another good game tonight.”
The Bulldogs did not take their foot off the gas in the second period, although Anderson did his best to tap the brakes. The Westwood goalie made 12 saves in the second alone, denying Canton on a number of golden scoring chances.
Mike Dadasis was fed in front by Jack Goyetch but Anderson made the point-blank save and he also stopped Hagan after the sophomore danced around several Westwood defensemen to get free for a shot. He then denied Nolte with a scrambling pad save on a shot from the edge of the crease and stopped Joe Robinson right in front.
“He made some incredible saves in the second period,” said Shuman of Anderson. “He kept the score where it was making some incredible post-to-post saves. It was big to get some early because if you let him get hot then it’s a game from start to finish.”
The Bulldogs finally ended any doubt on the power play with five minutes gone in the third period. Anderson stopped the first two shots but the puck squirted loose to McNeice on the far post and he took his time to roof the rebound for a 4-0 lead.
“Bubba’s goal in the third period was huge,” Shuman explained. “That’s the kind of goal you need to score this time of the year, especially against a good goalie who makes those initial stops. For him to finally put that one in was big, not only for the game but also for our goal-scoring psyche as well.”
With 3:29 left, Hagan slid in an empty net goal for his second of the night and third point. The goal wrapped up another convincing win for the second-seeded Bulldogs.
Shuman was not getting carried away after the win. He said, “It’s a good start but as you know this side of the bracket is tough and the next opponent up, whether it’s Medway or Plymouth South, is going to be just as good so we need to continue that.”
Canton (17-2-4) will face either Medway or Plymouth South on Wednesday at Gallo Arena.
The Bulldogs have been the most successful team in the Division 2 South bracket over the past decade, reaching the semifinals nine times and the finals four times. Only one team made the finals more (Franklin) in that span but no one has been as consistent as the Bulldogs.
With another playoff season upon us, the Bulldogs made a statement that they plan on making another deep run.
#2 Canton dominated from start to finish, skating past D2 newcomer #15 Somerset-Berkley with an 11-0 decision.
“A lot of these guys have been here before, they want it,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “They know there are expectations and pressure. As much as we like to say there aren’t seeds and everyone is 0-0, they expect a lot of themselves so it was good to see them work through those first 10 minutes when they weren’t playing up to their potential and comeback and have a good second period.”
Canton scored a pair of goals in the first period but delivered the knockout blow with seven goals in the second period. The Bulldogs scored the first two goals of the period just 22 seconds in and then buried three goals in a period of 92 seconds later in the frame.
“I thought the first 10 minutes or so we played very nervous,” Shuman admitted. “You could feel it on the bench, they weren’t talking on the bench, they weren’t talking on the ice.”
But after those 10 minutes, Canton went on cruise control.
Sophomore Owen Lehane finally broke the statement just over 10 minutes into the game. He took possession behind his own goal, skated the length of the ice and past the defense but had his bid in close denied.
While the puck bounced around in front of goal, Lehane alertly got back into position at the blue line. The puck popped free onto the stick of the sophomore and he ripped a low shot through traffic to give Canton a 1-0 lead.
The Dogs capitalized on the momentum, adding a second tally with under a minute to play. Off of an offensive zone faceoff, junior Ryan Nolte was the draw clean right back to sophomore Johnny Hagan. Hagan skated between the circles and fired a wicked wrister top shelf to make it 2-0.
“I think goal scoring is equally as mental as physical,” Shuman said when asked how scoring the first goal changes his team. “All it takes is to squeeze the stick a fraction of a second too long or squeeze the stick half a pressure too tight and that makes all the difference. When you get the first one, and then the second, guys start to relax a little more and make some more plays.”
It didn’t take nearly as long for Canton to find the back of the net in the second period. Nolte won the opening draw back to Hagan who skated along the boards on the left side. He tossed a pass back in front to Nolte and the junior played the puck off of his skate and onto his backhand and flipped in his shot to make it 3-0.
Nolte gained possession of the puck himself on the ensuing faceoff. After losing it briefly, he picked the puck back up again, circled into the center of the ice and rifled a wrist shot in for a 4-0 lead just 22 seconds into the second.
Canton continued its offensive pressure with a fifth goal less than five minutes into the second. Sophomore Jack Connolly dumped a puck in, senior Jack Goyetch did well to keep possession, eventually getting it back to Connolly. The sophomore delivered a shot through traffic that senior Bubba McNeice got a tip on, making it 5-0 with 10:05 to play.
The Bulldogs went on the power play for the first time in the game shortly after their fifth tally and cashed in late with the man advantage. After a lengthy possession in the offense zone, senior Matt Casamento to across the blue line to junior Brad Murphy. Murphy took his time, allowing the forwards to get possession in front of goal. Murphy then released his shot and Joe Robinson redirected it off the post and in to make it 6-0.
The offense continued to dominate for Canton, especially its top line of Hagan, Nolte and Timmy Kelleher. Just a minute over Robinson’s tally, Nick Allen dumped the puck in deep, Hagan touched it along to Nolte, Nolte lifted a pass in the air in front of goal and Kelleher batted it out of the air and into the net to make it 7-0.
“That was a good start, that’s the line that’s getting that’s sort of getting a lot of the production this year,” Shuman said of the Hagan-Nolte-Kelleher line. “Ryan Nolte had the two goals and Johnny Hagan threw that nice pass to Timmy Kelleher for one. That line seems to get the big goals for us when we need it, to get us going. They like to be the go-to line.”
Off the ensuing face-off, Tommy Ghostlaw won it back to Murphy, who connected up ice to Chris Lavoie. Lavoie skated to his left and fired a wrist shot to make it 8-0.
Less than two minutes later, Goyetch found the back of the net himself to make it 9-0 with 4:42 left in the period.
In the third period, Charlie O’Connor and Ryan Colby set up Kevin Murphy on the right side, and the senior drilled his shot off the post and in. The Dogs added a final goal when Colby tipped in a shot off the stick of senior Brian Ghostlaw.
Canton boys hockey advance to the D2 South Quarterfinals and will take on either #7 Westwood or #10 Oliver Ames. The Dogs are familiar with both teams, sharing a home rink with the Wolverines while splitting the season series with the Tigers. The game is scheduled for Saturday with the time and location to be determined.
“Our side of the bracket is brutal, anybody can beat anybody,” Shuman said. “OA has proved that, Westwood has proved that. The difference among these teams is razor thing. Whoever plays well on any given night can get the win. From now on in there are going to be some tough games.”
RAYNHAM, Mass. – For the fourth straight year, Canton found itself in the final of the annual Joseph I. Quinn Memorial Tournament at the Raynham IcePlex, but the Bulldogs also found themselves down a goal to the host team, Coyle & Cassidy, heading into the third period.
Junior forward Ryan Nolte scored 21 seconds into the third to tie the game and then he popped up with just 54 seconds left on the clock with the tournament-winning goal, handing Canton a 3-2 win, its third Quinn Tournament title in the last four seasons, and a chance at the top seed in Div. 2 South.
“It was a good comeback,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “It was a great third period. We responded well in the third and I’m proud of the guys for that.”
The Bulldogs got off to a perfect start to the game. Nick Allen’s shot from the blue line was kicked aside but right to the stick of forward Timmy Kelleher. The sophomore knocked in the rebound for a 1-0 lead just 34 seconds into the game.
While Canton got the early strike, Coyle did not allow the Bulldogs to control the game, quickly regaining the momentum in what turned out to be an evenly played period that did not feature many clear-cut scoring chances.
“We were talking about learning our lessons from past games,” said Shuman. “We went up early and I think we took our foot off the gas a little bit. We got fired up on the bench and we talk about good starts but you’ve got to have a good start and sustain it.”
Kevin Murphy and Jack Goyetch each had shots on target midway through the first, Murphy from the slot and then Goyetch following up the rebound, but both shots were turned aside. With 1:17 left in the first, Coyle finally connected on a long outlet pass, catching the Canton defensemen wide and pushed forward, and Drew Arpin made it count with a five-hole finish on goalie Quinn Gibbs.
Canton came out of the gates on fire in the second period, despite having to kill off an early penalty. Shorthanded, Nolte created havoc on the forecheck and forced a turnover that he nearly put away with a wraparound chance and then John Hagan was denied as he got to the rebound.
Five minutes into the second, with Canton clearly in control of play, the Bulldogs made a mistake trying to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. It hit Jacob Ducharme on the leg and he was able to step forward clean through on goal. His backhand effort slipped under Gibbs for a Coyle lead against the run of play.
“It doesn’t matter shots in the end, who had zone time, puck possession, all that matters is the scoreboard and after two we were down,” said Shuman. “We were panicking a little bit. We just said, this time of year, you can’t let one- or two-goal deficits get in your head. You just have to take it one goal at a time.”
Canton had plenty of chances to tie the game in the second, outshooting Coyle 15-2. Sophomore Chris Lavoie had a shot from the left circle tipped just past the top corner and into the netting and Nolte took a shot from the same spot on a 3-on-1 break that was comfortably saved. Despite dominating play in the period, the Bulldogs went into the third down by a goal.
Starting the third with a power play, the Bulldogs wasted no time in getting level. Hagan had the first chance on the edge of the crease but the puck was blocked right to Nolte at the far post and he roofed his close-range shot to make it 2-2 just 21 seconds into the third.
Shuman explained, “You saw there with the power play at the end of the second period, we had a 5-on-3, we were panicking and just throwing shots on net from bad angles and I think those guys showed some poise [in the third] and made a good shot.”
The game settled into a similar pattern with Coyle trying to sneak players behind the aggressive back line of the Bulldogs, but the defenseman continuing to make plays to keep the Warriors from getting off shots. Jack Connolly, Owen Lehane, Matt Casamento, Charlie Malloy, Brad Murphy, and Allen all made big plays to stop Coyle in the neutral zone or at least keep the Warriors from getting a clean look. Gibbs faced only three shots in the final 30 minutes of the game.
Malloy also had one of Canton’s best chances in the third with a blast from the point that was saved to the corner. Charlie O’Connor also had a couple of chances but multiple times hit the side of the net in the third. Allen had Canton’s best chance after he stepped up into the attack with Kelleher and Hagan, but his one-timer missed the net by inches.
Just seconds after Hagan saw a shot that looked destined for the top corner gloved to the back boards, Nolte again found himself in a battle on the edge of the crease and managed to find the back of the net with the go-ahead goal.
“It’s great when one of your most skilled players is also one of your best defensive players,” said Shuman of Nolte, who he praised for his all-around performance. “Ryan played great defensively this game and his goals just came from being in the middle of the ice. A lot of times, Ryan will make a move, deke, and beat guys but he also needs to score in those dirty areas and he had a couple today.”
It was the second time in the past three games that Canton had scored a game-winner in the final minute, a trait that could be the difference between a potential tournament run and an actual one.
Canton (15-2-4) will wait for the result of a coin toss to see if it ends up with the top seed in Div. 2 South.
Today’s games are listed below.
Stoughton, 61 @ Waltham, 71 – Final – Stoughton scored 42 points in the second half and outscored the host Hawks over the last two quarters but the Black Knights couldn’t overcome a slow first half. The Knights shot just 25% from the floor in the opening half, falling behind 37-19 at the break. Stoughton hit five threes in the second half to help close the gap. Senior Cam Andrews had a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds while classmate Colin Sanda had eight points, six rebounds, and five assists. Both Andrews and Sanda were named to the all-tournament team.
Taunton, 71 @ Catholic Memorial, 90 – Final
Canton, 65 @ Weymouth, 59 – Final (OT) – Click here for a Recap from this game.
Foxboro, 58 vs. Natick, 45 – Final – Ashley Sampson scored 27 points and Foxboro closed out the regular season by winning the Warrior Classic and sewing up the top seed in Div. 2 South. Sampson was named the tournament MVP after a 29-point performance on Monday and Lily Sykes was named to the all-tournament team.
Franklin, 52 vs. Shepherd Hill, 43 – Final – Ali Brigham and Bea Bondhus combined for 31 points to help the Panthers beat the top seed at the Westboro tournament and one of the top seeds in the Central. Franklin will face Hopkinton in the tournament final on Thursday night.
Oliver Ames, 77 vs Duxbury, 74 – Final (2 OT) – Oliver Ames sophomore Meg Holleran hit a pair of late three-pointers to help the Tigers edge the Dragons in the Norwell Invitational. “Key combinations of grit and determination earned the win,” said OA head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. Senior Kayla Raymond had a team-high 22 points and 12 rebounds while classmate Abby Reardon had 12 points, including some key free throws down the stretch. Alex Sheldon added nine points and eight rebounds for the Tigers.
Canton, 2 vs. Medfield, 0 – Final – Canton senior Bubba McNeice scored in the first period and junior Ryan Nolte scored in the second to give the Bulldogs a win in the first round of the Joe Quinn Memorial Tournament. Quinn Gibbs recorded the shutout in net. Canton advances to the finals and will take on host Coyle & Cassidy on Thursday at 7:30.
Oliver Ames, 6 vs. Sandwich, 0 – Final – Max Ward recorded a hat trick to lead the Tigers to a big win in the consolation game of the Jeff Hayes Memorial Tournament. Colin Bourne and Brett Williams each scored once in the first period while senior Adam Healy scored in the second. Rory Madden had two assists while sophomore Owen Connor made 16 saves to earn the shutout.
Taunton, 8 @ Stoughton, 3 – Final – Taunton senior Will Walsh recorded a hat trick to pace the Tigers past the Black Knights at Asiaf Arena.
It was just the second penalty of the game for the Dogs, but the visiting Panthers of Franklin High needed just 20 seconds in the second period on their first chance of the man advantage to cash in.
With the game on the line, Canton’s penalty showed it had learned its lesson from earlier on, coming up with a near perfect kill. The Bulldogs went on to score just over a minute after killing the penalty, and again with the net empty, to earn a 4-1 win in a clash of Davenport and Kelley-Rex division champions.
“That was a great kill,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “Bubba [McNeice] had a great game with the two goals but he was great on the kill. Jack Goyetch, Johnny [Hagan], Ryan [Nolte]…they all had a big kill. They learned their lesson from the first one around. They played very smart on that second kill, that was a huge part of the game.”
Franklin needed just seconds on its first power play of the game with senior Brendan O’Rielly finding classmate Luke Downie at the back door for a simple one-timer. The goal had tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period.
“I was happy with our effort in the first period and a half,” said Franklin head coach Chris Spillane. “I thought we competed with them, skated with them, and even had some stretches where we controlled the play. But the second half of the game, they just outplayed us. All three zones, they wanted it much more than us and it showed.”
This time around, Canton didn’t even let the Panthers have a sniff at a scoring chance. Matt Casamento blocked an early chance, leading to a clear from Hagan. When Franklin attempted to bring it back in, Casamento forced the puck loose with a hit and Charlie Malloy came in and made the clear.
“I thought the defense was ready,” Shuman said. “I thought Matt Casamento played the best game I’ve ever seen him play, he was exceptional. Talk about a guy that played every other shift for us. Losing Brad Murphy put a little strain on the defense but Matt has stepped up like I’ve not seen a defenseman step up before. He played at a whole new level tonight, big hits, big plays. Charlie Malloy played well as well too. The defense stepped up and played well.”
Franklin had its lone shot of the power play up next but Quinn Gibbs (20 saves) made the save right into his chest. From there, McNeice had a pair of clearance, the latter helped along by a nice stick lift from Nick Allen.
Shortly after the penalty was killed, Canton’s Timmy Kelleher linked up with Nolte, but his backhand attempt was just wide. Nolte then returned the favor, finding the sophomore in front for a one-timer but Franklin goalie Owen Ginley (31 saves) made a point-blank save.
With Franklin pushing numbers trying to find an equalizer, Canton was able to take advantage of a mistake in the neutral zone. McNeice jumped on a loose puck a Franklin defenseman couldn’t handle, skated in on a breakaway and roofed his shot to make it 3-1 with 1:19 to play.
McNeice added an empty-net goal in the final seconds to put an exclamation point on the win.
“The line of Bubba, Mike Dadasis and Jack Goyetch…they thrive in that type of game,” Shuman said. “They’re all about getting pucks to the net, playing hard, playing in tight spaces…they love a game like that. They aren’t flashy, they might not have the flashiness of some of the other guys but they get their nose dirty, they play hard. I thought they were probably our one consistent line and we built on that going forward.”
While Canton had the strong finish to the game, Franklin was the team that came out on the front foot. The Panthers’ speed caused problems for the Bulldogs and the visitors had a lead in shots until the final few minutes.
Franklin’s best chance of the opening period came when senior Kenny Demerchant took a pass against the grain, catching the defense going the opposite way. That allowed him to skate in alone but Gibbs came up with the pad save on Demerchant’s tough angle bid.
Canton picked up some momentum at the end of the period when Franklin was called for tripping with 1:09 left. Ginley stopped a shot from Allen, and then a follow-up chance from McNeice. And then Owen Lehane had his shot stopped and Dadasis saw his rebound chance blocked.
The power play carried over into the second period, and the Bulldogs needed just 13 seconds to convert. After winning the opening faceoff, Kelleher linked up with Hagan in front of goal, and the sophomore used his backhand to go upstairs to beat Ginley for a 1-0 lead.
Franklin tied the game exactly four minutes later, just 20 seconds into their first power play chance.
With the rest of the period playing out equally, Canton grabbed the momentum back with four minutes to go. Nolte had a chance at the right post but went just wide. On the ensuing scrum in front, Kelleher was able to get his stick onto the puck and into the back of the net to make it 2-1.
“That was a great goal, [Franklin] has a great power play,” Shuman said. “It was well drawn up by the coaches…nice shot, nice goal. Couldn’t do much about it. But getting one back was big, we had to respond. In the past, they’ve gone up or they’ve scored and we haven’t responded, and that was a time we had a good response.”
“It took a little wind out of our sails but we still had a whole 15 more minutes to come out and play hockey,” Spillane said of Canton’s late second-period tally. “We had a power play late in the third and had nothing to show for it. We looked like a tired team out there, they looked fresh. They are a great hockey team and they just wanted it more than us. I don’t think the players that we lean on played to their capabilities.”
A win for Canton boys hockey (8-0-0 Hockomock, 11-1-4 overall) meant avenging its lone loss in regulation this season. The Bulldogs fell to Franklin earlier this season in the second game of the season in a non-league clash. Not only was it their lone loss in regulation, it was just one of three games they had allowed two or more goals in three periods of play.
That, on top of senior, with bragging rights between division champs on the line, resulted in a spirited effort from the home side.
“We sometimes talk about having the best record in the Hockomock,” admitted Shuman, but added that there wasn’t much talk about the first meeting. “These guys have done a pretty good job of looking forward. There’s so much of a difference between the first week of December and February. We don’t really look back, we didn’t even watch that film to get ready for it. We watched some more recent film because its two different teams from then and now. It was a good hockey game, Quinn made some save, their guy made some saves. It could have gone either way, but just a good hockey team between two good teams.”
Franklin (12-3-3) dropped its second straight game after falling to Hingham 6-2 earlier this week.
“We’re in a good position but you want to be playing your best hockey in the last week or two of the season, and we’re having a hard time finding that again,” Spillane said. “I think our locker room has to do some soul-searching. The 22 guys that suit up and ultimately have a say in the game, they just aren’t performing the way they should.”
The Bulldogs scored once in the second and two straight in the third to earn a 3-1 decision over Mansfield, marking Shuman’s 200th career win.
While the timing of Shuman’s 200th win and Saturday night’s “Hockey Fights Cancer” doubleheader was coincidental, it was only fitting that the big milestone came on a night that Shuman helped organized to benefit others.
Canton and Mansfield followed a clash between Xaverian and Malden Catholic, a doubleheader that raised money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in memory of Reo Todesca, mother of Xaverian assistant Paul Todesca and a beloved friend to many in the Canton hockey community.
Canton’s list of accolades on the ice, including numerous Hockomock titles, dozens of playoff wins and a state championship in 2010, is just about as long as the amount of charity work Shuman and his Bulldogs are apart of off the ice.
There’s the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk every September that Shuman and his Bulldogs walk in to benefit The Jimmy Fund. And there’s the annual Evening of Hope Gala that Shuman helps organize with his wife Tara.
And Shuman and the Bulldogs spend plenty of time on the ice with the Bear Cubs Hockey program, which team chairman Matty Marcone is apart of. And who could forget two years ago when Shuman, along with Stoughton coach Dan Mark, worked to get Marcone on the ice of a varsity game.
The list goes on and on, which is why it’s so fitting that Shuman reached the milestone while helping raise money to fight cancer.
“I’m a bit embarrassed it happened on a night like this because it’s not about me, it’s a night to remember all of the people that have fought this battle [against cancer],” Shuman said. Canton wore special pink uniforms for the game. “But it really is special because some of the best nights I’ve been a coach in this program have been nights like this where we really together as a community in support of someone or a family, and that’s what makes it all worth it to me as a coach.”
And of course, Shuman was quick to deflect credit away from himself and to the program for getting to 200 wins in just 13 years.
“It says everything about the program. I’m incredibly fortunate to coach in a real hockey town. I think it’s one of the best hockey towns in Massachusetts. It says everything about our players, parents, families, community…just every single time I start or finish a season, I think how lucky I am. This is just one of those special moments that you reflect on how lucky you are.”
The visitors came out strong in the first period, having an edge in time of possession and attacking zone time. The Hornets also had a pair of power play opportunities, the first after a Canton cross-check with 11:17 left in the opening period, and again after a roughing call with 6:17 to go.
But out of those two man-advantage situations, the only real threat came late in the second one when freshman Matt Copponi went to circle the net but dropped a pass right in front of goal instead to his brother Chris Copponi, but the elder brother was unable to get the puck past Canton goalie Quinn Gibbs.
The Bulldogs came out flying in the second period and dominated the second period. Mansfield was able to kill off a cross-checking penalty but Canton was able to cash in a minute later. Junior Ryan Nolte connected a pass to sophomore Johnny Hagan, who lifted his backhand attempt top shelf to give the Dogs a 1-0 lead.
“I thought that first period, that was probably the most we have been outplayed in a period all year long,” Shuman said. “Mansfield has a good team, they play hard, they work hard, they have a great system and they are very, very well coached. I think the breakout for us was everything in the first period. I think the breakout sets the tone for so much of our offense and the flow of the game, and we could not break the puck out of the zone, we struggled in all facets of the breakout. Give credit to Mansfield, they made it hard for us.
“The second period was much better, I think a lot came from our breakout. I thought our line of Ryan Colby, Charlie O’Connor and Kevin Smith really gave us some life in that second period. They went out and had a really good shift and created some chances. Those guys are kind of a hybrid third/fourth line and I thought they played great.”
Canton had two more power play chances, including a brief 5-on-3 chance with just over three minutes to go, but the Dogs couldn’t add to their lead.
Mansfield’s best chance came when the Hornets killed off their third penalty. Senior Adam Anastos came out of the box, took a feed from Cullin Anastaia as he entered the zone, and then center a pass back to Anastasia but his tip effort sailed just wide of the post.
“I’m not sure what exactly happened in the second period, we had such a great first period, we came out with energy,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini. “Their first few shifts kind of set the tone, then we settled down and stuck to the gameplan. I can’t remember a time since I started here that we only had one shot on net in the period. But we had to kill three penalties in that second period, we played shorthanded for six minutes. That sort of gave us some life toward the end of the period and we had that late chance.
“I thought we had a better third period but Canton is a good team, they play every single shift and they play 200 feet.”
Canton senior Jack Goyetch nearly doubled the Bulldogs’ lead two minutes into the final period when he redirected a shot from Jack Connelly but Mansfield sophomore Sean McCafferty made a terrific glove save.
But the Bulldogs continued to put pressure as Goyetch and Mike Dadasis linked up before finding Bubba McNeice in front for a one-timer to make it 2-0. Canton cashed in on its fourth power play attempt with 9:20 left in the game.
Mansfield won the faceoff clean straight back, but McNeice was first to the loose puck and fired a centering pass to Goyetch for a tap-in.
The Hornets struck back just 17 seconds after Canton’s third goal. Fresh out of a timeout, Mansfield had a strong attacking zone possession before sophomore Joseph Troiano stepped into a loose puck and fired one into the back of the net.
“I have nothing but respect for Brian and what he’s done with Canton,” Balzarini said. Both Balzarini (’93) and Shuman (’98) graduated from Catholic Memorial. “It’s bittersweet for him to get the 200th win against us, but him being a CM guy, I like Brian a lot, he’s a really good coach and he deserves it.”
Canton boys hockey (7-0-0 Hockomock, 10-1-4 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it hosts Franklin in a clash of Davenport and Kelley-Rex division champions. Mansfield (5-2-2, 7-5-4) will try to bounce back in a week when it travels to Brockton.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Two good bounces turned into two goals for Franklin, one for Dan Magazu in the second period and one for Brendan O’Rielly in third, and senior netminder Owen Ginley made 27 saves to make those goals stand up, as the Panthers pulled out a 2-0 victory over rival Canton in a non-league meeting on Friday night at Pirelli Veterans Arena.
“We had a really bad practice yesterday after a big win Wednesday (4-3 against defending Div. 1 state champion St. Mary’s of Lynn) and I just didn’t know what to expect,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane.
“Canton did a great job taking a lot of space away. When we’re playing our best hockey is when we’re using our team speed and they didn’t allow us to do that tonight. We just had to grind it out.”
The Bulldogs came out of the gates flying, outshooting Franklin 11-4 in the opening period and creating a number of scoring opportunities only to be denied by Ginley.
Sophomore Chris Lavoie had the first good chance of the game nearly three minutes in when he was fed in front by junior winger Joe Robinson, but Ginley got his blocker on the shot. The puck deflected up off the post and out with several Bulldogs fans arguing that it had actually gone in. Five minutes later, Lavoie had another chance when he corralled a loose puck in the slot but it was saved and Robinson’s rebound was gloved.
“He was solid for us last year,” said Spillane of Ginley, “and it’s going to be hard for those other two senior goaltenders to take his spot away. It really is because when he’s focused and he’s mentally into the game then he’s a really good goaltender.”
Franklin had its best chance of the period when Zac Falvey managed to knock the puck into the zone with his hand, barely staying onside in the process. He slipped a pass to senior Jeremy Miller alone in front but his shot slammed off the post. A couple minutes later, Miller found Falvey with a drop pass but again the Panthers were denied by the post.
In between those chances, Canton junior Ryan Nolte found the perfect pass to spring senior Bubba McNeice behind the defense, but he was denied on the breakaway by Ginley. McNeice was stuffed a few minutes later with Jack McGrath clearing the rebound off the line and in the final seconds of the period Robinson had another chance but again the goalie was up to the task.
“To come out with no goals in a Franklin/Canton game is always disappointing,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We couldn’t get any momentum at all. It’s one thing to have a shot on net and get a rebound and have an opportunity and it’s another thing to put one home.”
Franklin came out much stronger in the second period and started to take control of the game. Within two minutes, the Panthers nearly created the opening goal when Miller forced a turnover with an important back-check in the defensive zone. He hit Falvey on the outlet, who then found Joe Lizzotte flying past the defense only for Canton goalie Quinn Gibbs (22 saves) to make the stick save.
“Our second line is carrying a lot of weight right now,” said Spillane of the combination of Miller, Falvey, and Lizzotte. “Jeremy is just a strong, strong kid and he makes good hockey plays and he’s got two speedsters on his line that are small but they’re fast and they’re good with their hands. They seem to pick up the pace when we need it.”
The deadlock was finally broken with 9:13 left in the second. O’Rielly carried the puck into the offensive zone and was met just outside the left circle by two Canton defensemen. The puck squirted free and Magazu skated onto it all alone. He cut across the crease and lifted a backhand over Gibbs’ pad for a 1-0 lead.
Spillane said, “The first goal is huge and it definitely gave us a boost of energy. You could see the kids get into it. After the first period, I just knew it was going to be one of those games and we were going to have to grind it out and we were fortunate to get a couple bounces in the end.”
Franklin doubled its lead early in the third period thanks to another friendly deflection. Luke Downie battled along the nearside boards to sweep the puck back to the point and retain possession. Tom Trasker lined up a slapshot that kicked off the skate of a defenseman right to O’Rielly, who took a second before wristing a shot past Gibbs.
“We went down 1-0 and our bench felt like we went down 5-0 with two minutes to play and that was disappointing,” said Shuman. “We did fight back and had some chances, but it’s hard to climb back from 2-0 hole with eight minutes left against these guys because they have good goaltending and play defense better than most.”
Canton stepped up its intensity in the closing minutes, desperately searching a goal that would get the Bulldogs back in the game. Nolte had the best chance on a power play with five minutes left. He tipped a shot from the point right in front of Ginley, who made the first stop, and then had the rebound come right back to his stick only for Ginley to throw out a pad and stuff the chance on the post.
It was the first loss of the season for the Bulldogs, who won their third straight Gormley Cup last week. Shuman explained, “I just thought they outplayed us. They looked like a seasoned, veteran team out there that was ready to play, won more battles than us, and I think intimidated us in many aspects.”
Franklin is unbeaten through its opening two games of a very difficult stretch to start the season. Spillane remarked, “Pope Francis next and then Newburyport and then Mount St. Charles (Holiday Tournament) is just crazy and it’s back-to-back days. It’s going to tell us where we are and where we need to get to so that in league play we’ll be firing on all cylinders.”
Franklin (2-0) will travel to the Olympia Center in Springfield to face perennial Super 8 contender Pope Francis on Thursday. Canton (1-1-1) will host defending Div. 3 state champion Shrewsbury on Wednesday.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Players are listed alphabetically
Brendan Campbell, Senior – Stoughton
The Black Knights are a relatively young team this year, so they will be relying heavily on their experienced players to lead the way and make a difference. Senior Brendan Campbell was one of three players to go over the 20-point plateau last season, and just one of two returning this season along with junior Sean Doherty. Campbell was second on the team with 11 goals and notched a team-high 15 assists for a team-best 26 points. Campbell is one of the fastest skaters in the league, which gives him an edge on defensemen. Once he gets the puck on his stick, he’s a threat to make a big play. Whether it be setting up a teammate for a great opportunity, or putting it on goal himself. He is someone opposing teams will need to focus on this again season.
Collin Cooke, Senior – King Philip
Two years removed from being selected for the HockomockSports.com Third Team and All-Underclassman Team, King Philip senior Collin Cooke remains one of the most dynamic forwards for the Warriors and someone capable of helping KP climb up the league standings. Last year, Cooke scored 10 goals and recorded seven assists and was tied for second on the team with 17 points. His speed and his ability to beat defensemen in the attacking zone opens up space for his teammates and he is capable of picking the right pass to ensure a scoring opportunity for the Warriors. Cooke will be one of the key players for KP, if the Warriors are going to book a spot in the state tournament.
Quinn Gibbs, Senior – Canton
Quinn Gibbs had big shoes to fill when he stepped between the pipes last season, trying to fill the void left by a three-year starter. But Gibbs held his own, and quickly made a name for himself around the league as a top goalie. During his first year in net, he made 320 saves (0.924 save percentage) while allowing just 1.31 goals against a game. As the year went on, you could see his confidence grow. He will be a vital part of the Bulldogs’ defense this year after losing a handful of starters to graduation. He already has a good amount of playoff experience as well, which will be key as Canton will likely be a contender in D2 South again this season.
Tyler Oakley, Senior – Mansfield
Mansfield senior defenseman Tyler Oakley will be the leader of the Hornets defensive effort this season and will set the tone with his physicality and ability to pick the right pass to spring the forwards into the attack. Oakley was a HockomockSports.com Second Team performer in 2016-17 after anchoring a defense that allowed only 50 goals on the season, which was second best in the Kelley-Rex division and fourth best in the league. He also recorded 10 assists from the blue line and recorded a team-high plus-18 for the season. With Oakley back as a top-four defenseman, Mansfield will be hoping to improve on last year’s third-place finish in the division.
Brendan O’Rielly, Senior – Franklin
Franklin senior forward Brendan O’Rielly will be hoping to lead the Panthers on a run similar to his sophomore season when they won the Div. 1 state title. O’Rielly was the team’s leading scorer last year with a team-best 20 goals plus 11 assists for 31 points. He will spearhead an experience group of forwards and will use his strong skating, good stick-handling, and accurate shooting to help Franklin make another run at a Kelley-Rex division title. As a three-year varsity player, O’Rielly has continued to develop throughout his career and has the potential to be one of the league’s leading scorers again this winter.
Jake Parker, Senior – Attleboro
Attleboro senior forward Jake Parker returns to lead the Bombardiers attack this winter and, as usual, will be counted on to not only create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates but also to chip in on the power play and penalty kill. An unselfish forward with a keen eye for a pass, Parker is always the first look for an Attleboro defenseman to try and break the puck out of the zone with speed. With great stick-handling ability, Parker can get Attleboro set up in the offensive zone and gives the Bombardiers much-needed patience on the puck. Parker, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team last year, scored 20 goals and had six assists in 2016-17, including a five-goal performance in a tie with Mansfield.
Aidan Sullivan, Senior – Foxboro
Foxboro has been able to rely on Aidan Sullivan for the past three years and will look to him for leadership both on and off of the ice this season. Sullivan enters his fourth year as a member of the Warriors’ defensive unit and has improved every single year. He was named to the 2015-2016 HockomockSports.com All Underclassman Team as a sophomore and improved his production on the offensive end of the ice last season notching a career-high eight points, scoring twice with six helpers. Foxboro has a relatively young group of forwards this season so it will be important for Sullivan to be an anchor on the defensive end as the younger players gain experience.
Will Walsh, Senior – Taunton
After a season away with a juniors team, Taunton senior forward Will Walsh has returned to provide a boost to the Tigers attack. Walsh is a dangerous scorer with an accurate shot and a lot of energy that is contagious. His teammates feed off the emotion and energy that he plays with. Two years ago, as part of a powerful Taunton offense, Walsh scored three goals and 11 assists. In 21 games with the South Shore Kings in 2016-17, Walsh scored two goals and seven assists and his addition will open space for his fellow forwards and add to the potent Tigers attack.
Ryan Warren, Junior – North Attleboro
North Attleboro’s Ryan Warren has been one of the most consistent goalies in the league over the past two seasons. He was stellar during his freshman season and earned HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors, and last year during his sophomore campaign he helped Big Red to 14 wins by making 395 saves and a .892 save percentage. From his first year on varsity, Warren has always shown great positioning, and his ability to control rebounds makes it difficult for opponents to net second chance goals.
Brett Williams, Junior – Oliver Ames
Oliver Ames had a handful of young talented forwards last season, and Brett Williams emerged as one of the most talented in the league. Williams helped the Tigers have a terrific season, coming within one point of the Kelley-Rex division title. As just a sophomore, he scored a team-high 12 goals while adding eight assists for 20 points. His speed is what really sets him apart from others in the league. His quick burst allows him to get get pass defenses and fly in on goal, and on top of his speed, he has the ability to finish.
Girls Hockey Players to Watch
Players are listed alphabetically
Nicole Connor, Junior – King Philip
King Philip junior Nicole Connor is one of the most versatile girls’ hockey players in the newly formed Hockomock league and will be a key to KP making a run at the inaugural league title. Connor will see time as both a forward and on the blue line, giving the Warriors help all over the ice. As a sophomore, Connor scored five goals and had six assists while playing primarily as in defense and she is poised to have a breakout winter for the Warriors.
Colleen Kelleher, Senior – Canton
Canton senior goalie Colleen Kelleher returns after a strong season in net for Canton, leading the Bulldogs from the No. 14 seed to their first state final since 2006. Kelleher came through numerous times in the playoffs to keep opponents out and give the potent Canton attack the chance to find winning goals. She will backstop Canton’s attempt at winning the inaugural Hockomock League title.
Catherine Luciano, Senior – Mansfield/Oliver Ames
Foxboro senior forward Catherine Luciano has been one of the most dynamic scorers in the area over the last two years and led the Warriors in scoring last winter with 25 goals and 12 assists. Luciano is off to a flying start this winter with a hat trick in the season-opening win against Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton. The partnership of Luciano with Mackenzie Fraser (19 points last year) and Isabelle Shanteller (21 points) could be the key to Mansfield/Oliver Ames making a run at the first ever league title.
Regan Paterson, Junior – Franklin
Franklin junior Regan Paterson will be one of the primary attackers for Franklin, as the Panthers compete for the first ever Hockomock League title and book a return to the state tournament. Paterson score 11 goals and had five assists as a sophomore and is coming off a strong fall for the Franklin field hockey program. Her experience will be counted on to lead a young Panthers roster this winter.
Julia Russell, Junior – Stoughton
Stoughton senior defenseman Julia Russell is coming off a pair of all-star seasons for the new program and will be hoping to take her form from the SEMGHL to the Black Knights opening campaign in the Hockomock League. Russell is a speedy defender who can also step into the attack and her leadership will be key for a talented group of underclassmen that have Stoughton confident in a big improvement this winter, as evidenced by a season-opening win over Framingham.