King Philip, 9 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – King Philip senior Rocco Bianculli recorded his first career hat trick in a non-league win over Oliver Ames on the road. KP scored twice in the opening period but Oliver Ames scored early in the second period to make it 2-1. The Warriors responded with five unanswered goals in the period to create a big lead. Freshman Max Robison scored his first career goal in the win for KP.
Canton @ King Philip – Postponed to TBA.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 7 @ Stoughton, 1 – Final
Oliver Ames, 49 @ Foxboro, 45 – Final – Oliver Ames opened the second half with a big run and then held on as Foxboro made a fourth-quarter push. Similar to Friday night’s game, OA turned a close game at halftime (25-25) into a double-digit lead entering the fourth quarter, this time using a 15-2 run to start the third quarter. But Foxboro didn’t back down, battling back in the fourth to make it a one-possession game late. Junior Dylan Gordon stole a pass and scored with just under a minute to go to make it 48-45 but the Tigers were able to hold on for the win. OA senior Amari Brown led all scorers with a game-high 28 points, scoring 14 points in each quarter. Sophomore Alex Penders scored a career-high 19 points while Gordon added 14 points.
Canton, 16 @ Mansfield, 55 – Final – Mansfield’s defense pitched a first quarter shutout and allowed just one first half field goal in a big win over Canton. Baskets from Brendan Foley, TJ Guy, Matt Boen, Brian See, and Chris Hill helped the Hornets establish an 11-0 lead after eight minutes, and junior Matt Hyland helped Mansfield extend the lead to 26-3 at half. Guy added eight of his game-high 15 points in the third quarter. Mansfield’s Matt Boen and Canton’s Eric Mischler each had eight points.
North Attleboro, 42 @ Mansfield, 69 – Final – Mansfield came out firing on all cylinders, scoring 39 points in the first half to take control of the game and never looked back. Brooke Berube led all scorers with 14 points and Abby Wager added 12 points and a strong all-around game on both ends of the floor to help the Hornets pick up the non-league win. Kayla Vine also had 12 points for Mansfield. North tried to chip away at the lead in the second half and had it down to 13 with five minutes to play, but couldn’t get any closer. Taylor McMath had 12 points to pace North and Amanda Kaiser added six.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ King Philip, 8 – Final – King Philip lit the lamp four times in the opening period and tacked on three more in the second period on its way to a big win over Oliver Ames in a non-league clash. Conor Cooke (Paul McDonald, Aidan Boulger) and Brad Guden scored just a minute apart to get the scoring started while David Lawler (power play from Boulger, Max Robison) and Rocco Bianculli (Kevin Birenbaum) added two more late in the period. Boulger added two goals in the second, Sean Crowther added another goal, and Shaun Fitzpatrick capped the scoring in the third.
Stoughton, 2 @ Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 5 – Final
King Philip, 5 @ Franklin, 1 – Final – Jen Daniels scored twice and three Warriors each scored once as King Philip avenged its loss to Franklin to split the seasons series. Kara McWhinnie, Sydney O’Shea, and Kelly Holmes also scored for KP.
King Philip, 129.70 @ Sharon, 108.70 – Final
FOXBORO, Mass. – Just 48 hours removed from another loss to Franklin, King Philip boys hockey coach Paul Carlow challenged each player on his roster.
Carlow challenged his squad to work harder, play with structure, and play at the level he knew they were capable of doing — something he believes they failed to do in Monday night’s 6-1 setback in Franklin.
The Warriors answered their coach’s challenge and were rewarded in the form of a 5-4 win over the Panthers.
It marks KP’s first win over Franklin in over 20 years according to research by HockomockSports.com and local high school hockey guru Jim Clark. The last win found by either came in 2000 when the Warriors won 4-3.
“We didn’t play with enough structure and we didn’t play with enough determination in that second half…they outplayed us,” Carlow said of Monday’s game. “I just didn’t think we competed in the first game the way that we can compete. I felt if we competed hard tonight and played with some structure and discipline that we could play with them. Obviously, it was a back and forth game, we had to go on the kill a couple of times. I just thought we outworked them tonight.”
King Philip’s improved work ethic was a direct result in two goals, and its willingness to play to the final buzzer led to another. Despite giving up the first goal of the game, KP took the lead in the second period and never trailed the rest of the way.
Franklin opened the scoring late in the first period with just under five minutes to go. Dylan Marchand took a pass from the defensive end and found Conor O’Neil streaking into the attacking zone. O’Neil latched onto the pass and unleashed a wrist shot just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
A prolonged trip in the offensive zone from KP’s third line resulted in a face-off and eventually the equalizer before the end of the first. Nolan Jackson passed to his defensive partner Rocco Bianculli, who rifled a shot wide off the end boards. The puck bounced behind the goal and to the other side of the net where senior Paul McDonald buried his bid into the open net.
King Philip struck first in the second period just over five minutes into the frame. Max Robison won a foot race in the defensive zone to gain possession and hit Aidan Boulger in the neutral zone. Boulger lifted a pass forward and the bouncing puck eluded a Franklin defenseman and rested on the stick of a streaking Ian Hilll. Hill deked in front of goal before sliding a backhand shot five-hole for a 2-1 answer.
But similar to how KP had an answer in the first, Franklin had a response in the second. Just two minutes later, the Panthers capitalized on a power play chance. SSean Connelly found Justin Abely entering the attacking zone on the right boards, and Abely patiently waited for O’Neil, who came streaking to the far post. Abely delivered a perfect pass and O’Neil redirected it in past KP sophomore goalie Kyle Abbott (29 saves) to make it 2-2 with 7:24 left in the period.
Just when it looked like the teams would head to the final period knotted at 2-2, King Philip’s hard work was rewarded with a goal that just beat the buzzer. Bianculli linked up with Boulger as he skated out of the defensive zone. Boulger fired a shot wide but Jackson tracked down the loose puck and tossed it right back in front. With a scrum in front, senior Conor Cooke was able to get his stick on it and the puck found the back of the net just as time expired for a 3-2 lead.
Despite a zamboni break, King Philip’s momentum carried into the third period. Freshman Brad Guden hopped onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and found junior Sean Crowther at the blue line. Crowther connected with Shaun Fitzpatrick, who deked between two defensemen and tucked his shot past Franklin senior Jack Paterson (24 saves) into the back of the net for a 4-2 lead just under a minute into the third.
“Those are huge goals for us,” Carlow said of scoring on either side of the second intermission. “Coming off a one-goal performance the other night…it just didn’t look like us the other night. I knew we were better than that. I challenged our guys and hats off to them, they responded. We’re led by an awesome senior group, we have eight of them, and eight juniors so it’s a veteran group. I knew they’d answer and I felt like they outworked them tonight.”
Franklin kept things interesting with a goal five minutes later to cut the deficit to just one. Franklin couldn’t take advantage of a 3-on-2 but the Warriors were unable to clear it. After a brief scramble in front, the puck popped free to senior defenseman Pat Dolan who stepped into a blast, beating a pair of KP players and Abbott to make it 4-3 with 9:18 to play.
“We knew they were going to push at the start of the third,” Carlow said “They are well-coached, they have a lot of talented kids over there, they always do. They got us twice on penalties, we have to do a better job there and limit those mistakes. But just trying to keep them to one goal and get the momentum back, try to answer quickly. I think we answered just about every time, we played three lines almost the entire game. The depth of this program has improved over the past couple of years and to be able to play more guys, that helps a lot against a team like Franklin.”
KP’s hard work was rewarded once again, this time proving to be the game-winning goal. Bianculli cleared a puck off the glass and Boulger turned on the jets, flying down the ice to beat out an icing call and take possession. Franklin nearly cleared it but David Lawler quickly pinched and kept the puck in the attacking zone. Lawler carried the puck behind the net, drawing the attention of three Panthers. He circled back around and found Cooke wide open in front for a one-timer and a 5-3 lead.
“Plain and simple, we got outworked,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “When you come to the rink and think you don’t have to work so hard because you just beat them 6-1, that’s not going to work. We knew…they are well-coached, disciplined, all it’s going to take is put two guys on the puck and they are going to outwork you. That’s exactly what happened. We lost 50-50 puck battles, we lost foot races to the puck in our own zone…a lot of self-inflicted stuff with turnovers in our own zone. Before you know it, you’re two goals behind and the clock is running out.
“They didn’t lose their composure. They didn’t stop, they didn’t quit and that’s what good teams do. Hopefully, we’re humbled by this and they come back and work harder. We got outworked from start to finish, plain and simple, for all 45 minutes.”
Franklin went back on the power play just moments after KP’s goal and needed just nine seconds to make it a one-goal game again. Declan Lovett won a battle at the blue line, kept possession, and then skated to the middle of the ice before blasting a slap shot through traffic and in to make it 5-4.
Franklin had a pair of faceoffs in the attacking zone in the final minute but KP’s defense prevented the Panthers from getting a good look off on Abbott.
King Philip (3-1-0 Kelley-Rex, 3-1-0 overall) sits in first place with half of its division games played. The Warriors are scheduled to take on Oliver Ames in a pair of non-league crossovers next. Franklin (1-1, 3-1) has a non-league crossover title against North Attleboro on Friday.
King Philip has plans for trying to topple Franklin’s reign at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and Bianculli, a four-year varsity player, is one of the reasons for optimism. A quintessential attack-minded defenseman, Bianculli is always looking to push the puck up the ice and has the quickness to turn a standard breakout into an odd-man rush. His strength in possession and his stickhandling ability make him tough to stop in open ice and he has the vision to find scoring chances for himself or for teammates. He led the Warriors in assists and tied for the team lead with 24 points last season. Bianculli isn’t afraid to take risks moving forward and more often than not that leads to a shot on the offensive end. He’s also a physical presence in the defensive one and reads plays well to cut the danger. His energy is a key to KP’s success on both ends of the ice and a critical component to the Warriors making a league title challenge.
During its run to back-to-back state championships, Canton was known for a team that could score goals in bunches, overwhelming teams with its ability to put the puck in the net. The Bulldogs were also a dominant defensive team, allowing opponents only the rare open look at goal. Connolly has emerged from the pack as one of the top blueliners for the Bulldogs after an impressive sophomore season. He combines the speed, stickhandling, passing, and willingness to be physical in the corners that make Canton defensemen difficult to play against. He can also jump into the attack himself, scoring two goals and recording six assists last season, and showing the knack for finding the right breakout pass to get the Bulldogs transitioning up the ice. With a couple of years of experience at the varsity level, Connolly will have to be a leader on the ice this season and help the various new faces on the roster acclimate quickly and keep the Bulldogs at the top of the Davenport division.
After back-to-back D2 state championships (with a combined one loss over two seasons), Canton has established itself as one of the top programs in the state. There will be a lot of new faces for the Bulldogs this winter and a lot of layers taking on bigger roles to try and maintain the team’s dominance of the Davenport division. Kelly is battling back from an injury for the second season in a row but will be one of the main attacking threats for Canton this year. The crafty forward scored five goals and had 12 assists last winter, despite missing games at the start of the season. A solid forechecker and a player willing to get to the front of the net, Kelly has popped up with big goals in big games, and his willingness to battle in the corners and fight for the puck open up scoring opportunities for his linemates. With graduations taking their toll on the roster, Kelly is Canton’s top returning scorer and will be counted on to make the jump up to the top lines and produce. Canton reloads rather than rebuilds and Kelly will be leading the cause this winter, as the Bulldogs seek an 11th straight league title.
Each of the past three years, Foxboro has set a new program best for wins and points in a season and last winter added a run to the D3 South semifinal as well. The shortened season means the Warriors won’t be able to keep that trend going but there is still a lot to play for and a lot of attacking firepower to make Foxboro a tough team to beat. Leach is one of the main offensive threats for the Warriors this season. Fresh off a 20-goal, 14-assist junior year, Leach enters the winter as one of the top scoring threats in the league. A creative forward with good speed and the size and strength to keep hold of the puck under pressure, Leach consistently find space for himself and his teammates. He can burst through the neutral zone to create odd-man rushes or go down into the corner and battle for pucks to maintain possession. Leach was the third-leading scorer in the Hock last year and will be hoping to keep Foxboro on the front foot again this winter.
Year in and year out, Franklin is one of the toughest teams to break down defensively. They are one of the most disciplined groups that clog shooting lanes and work tirelessly to interrupt passes. And the Panthers usually have one defenseman they can rely on most and this year it’s the experience of senior Joe LeBlanc. In this third year on varsity, LeBlanc plays in virtually every situation for the Panthers – five-on-five, penalty kill, and power play. Not only is he a reliable option anchoring the blue line unit in the defensive end of the ice, LeBlanc is a weapon when the Panthers push forward. Franklin is aiming to be a puck-possession type team this year and LeBlanc’s skill with the puck will help in the attacking end. Last year as a junior, LeBlanc scored one goal and had eight assists.
Franklin junior Dylan Marchand burst onto the scene last year, emerging as one of the most dangerous attacking players in the Hockomock League. His speed is the first thing that jumps out, racing away from defensemen into the attacking area. Even if it seems like he is out of the play, his speed gets him right back in the mix. Not only can is he able to use his speed to work his way around and past defensemen, but he also has strong stick handling skills and does a nice job finishing around the net. He was a catalyst for the Panthers’ offense last year, scoring four goals along with registering nine assists. Look for Marchand to take a big step forward this year with an expanded role in the offense.
If the Tigers get on the ice again this season — and we certainly hope that’s the case — the strength of the squad will be in its blue line group. Taunton has two of the top defensemen in the league in senior Brady Nichols, a Hockomock League All Star selection last year, and junior Jack DeMoura, a HockomockSports.com All Underclassman Team selection. Nichols is one of the most experienced players in the league, part of the varsity squad since he was an eighth-grader. Not only will he relied upon to lead the way defensively during his fifth season with the Tigers, but Nichols is also a catalyst on the offensive end too. His speed allows him to attack from the blue line and he has a strong shot as well. During his junior year, Nichols was among the top scorers in the Hock with 14 goals and 17 assists.
Mansfield relied on its top line for the majority of its offense last season but graduated all three players that combined for nearly 70% of the team’s goals. That means head coach Mike Balzarini will need some new players to step up and produce offensively. One candidate to step up and lead the charge will be senior captain Cam Page. In his third year on varsity, Page will see an expanded role this season. He will provide a lot of leadership both on and off the ice for the Hornets, who have a relatively inexperienced group of players. Page is a hard-worker that does a nice job back-checking and setting an example for others to follow. Offensively, he isn’t a flashy player but makes a lot of good decisions and is an unselfish player, always willing to make a pass to turn a good chance into a great chance.
New Attleboro coach Greg Chamberlain considers goalie to be a position of strength this season and Piazza’s return between the pipes is one of the main reasons for that. The junior netminder had a breakout season in 2019-20, earning All-Underclassman Team honors after an impressive debut as the starter. He made 489 saves in 19 games, recording a 0.911 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. In back-to-back games, Piazza held Mansfield and Canton to just one goal apiece, keeping Attleboro in games against two perennial league powers. He showed remarkable poise for a young goalie, not getting flustered as teams crashed the net, staying with and clearing pucks from the crease, and pulling off big stops against some of the league’s top forwards. His composure in net was a confidence boost for the guys playing in front of him, knowing that they could count on him to make the stops. As Attleboro learns a new system under a new coaching staff, the Bombardiers know they can rely on Piazza to make the stops to give them a chance at grabbing results.
North Attleboro is starting a new goalie and has a lot of new faces on the blue line so the Rocketeers will be leaning on its experience on the offensive end of the ice, especially early in the season. One of the most experienced players is senior forward Tyler Sarro, who is in his fourth year on the varsity squad. Sarro is a reliable player that is going to provide a lot of leadership both on and off the ice. He sets the tone with his hard work, a two-way type player that works hard on the backcheck. On offense, he does a lot of the little things right and his work ethic is contagious. He’ll be joined on North’s top line with his brother Brady, another experienced Rocketeer forward on the other wing, and center Nik Kojoian. Sarro, a captain, will look to build on his production last season when he scored once and had 10 assists.
2019-2020 Record: 5-14-1 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Greg Chamberlain
Attleboro struggled down the stretch last season, losing nine of its final 11 games (five of those losses by two goals or fewer) and narrowly missing out on a postseason berth. Former Canton assistant Greg Chamberlain has taken over this season with the goal of making the Bombardiers competitive in the Kelley-Rex division.
Goalie will be a position of strength this year, as Attleboro has three players that can step in between the pipes. Junior Nick Piazza will be the starter after a breakout sophomore year where he made nearly 500 saves. Junior Michael DuTremble and freshman Julien Horton are the other goalies on the roster. In front of Piazza, Attleboro has three solid pairings. Senior Owen Dryjowicz moved from forward to defense late last season and looked comfortable on the blue line. Junior Sean Marshall and senior Zack Pierce are also returning defenders that the Bombardiers are counting on.
Offensively, the Bombardiers will miss the scoring of Ryan Morry, who led the team with 21 points, but with several returning players Attleboro has the potential to put together solid forward lines. Senior Aidan Dryjowicz is the team’s top returning scorer with nine goals and classmate Jake Ward, junior Nate Parker, and freshman winger Dane Holskie have the potential to contribute to the attack this season.
“I think the key to this season,” said Chamberlain, “is that everyone needs to pull their weight. If you look around the league teams that win have three or four lines that they can roll out every night. That is going to be the name of the game for us. Keeping it simple and do your job.”
2019-2020 Record: 21-1-3 2019-2020 Finish: Div. 2 State Co-Champion Coach: Brian Shuman
Although Canton didn’t get the chance to go to the TD Garden to face Lincoln-Sudbury and try to avenge its only loss of the past two seasons, the Bulldogs brought home a second straight Div. 2 state championship. Even for a program with the sustained success of Canton, last year’s senior class had a uniquely impressive record and that class’ graduation leaves a lot of holes that new faces will need to step into.
Last year’s top scorers, Johnny Hagan and Chris Lavoie, combined for 37 goals and 68 points, so it will be tough to reproduce that output. Senior Dylan Coyne will be hoping to make up some of that scoring punch and the Bulldogs will hope junior Eamon Kelly can return from an injury and get back to the form he showed last year.
While the defense was also hit hard by graduation, Canton returns a pair of defensemen that saw considerable time on the blue line last season. Junior Sean Connolly and sophomore Vincent Sica both jumped right into the lineup and looked comfortable competing at the top level, but this year they will also be experienced veterans and leaders in that group. Senior Liam Polles will get the chance to jump in goal this year.
Canton coach Brian Shuman said, “I can say that after the first two weeks, things are certainly different in many ways, but I am confident that we will adapt and adjust like most teams our league to give our players a much-needed physical outlet and important connection to a team.”
2019-2020 Record: 12-5-5 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Semifinal Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro has grown by leaps and bounds in recent seasons. Each of the past three years have seen the Warriors set a new standard for the best season in program history, culminating in last winter’s 12 wins and run to the Div. 3 South semifinal.
Depth at the forward line will be a strength this season and Foxboro should be capable of scoring plenty of goals. Senior forward Kirk Leach was second in the Hock last year with 20 goals and he leads an experienced group. Junior Jack Watts had 13 goals and 14 assists last year and is another big, physical forward. Senior Brady Daly will look to add to his nine points from last season and junior Eoin Reager can play multiple positions, including forward, and added 14 points as a sophomore.
The Warriors will obviously miss former Hock MVP Espen Raeger, who was one of the league’s top goalies. Senior Jack Spinney was the backup goalie last year and could step in between the pipes after seeing a few minutes of action as a junior. Junior Dylan Pothier and sophomore Alex Coviello are two of the returning defensemen from last year’s team and both played big roles in the team’s strong performance in the postseason. Eoin Reager can also play in the back line.
“We have a lot of forwards returning, so the depth is there,” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We also have a lot of skilled defenseman holding the blue line. Looking forward to the season, even though it will look and feel a lot different, I’m just happy for our guys get to play.”
2019-2020 Record: 11-8-4 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Anthony Sarno
Head coach Anthony Sarno can’t help but wonder what could have been for this season. Franklin had a strong group of returners back from last year’s squad and Sarno had a schedule filled with top teams from around the state ready to see how his Panthers stacked up to the elite talent. But now Franklin will focus on its 10-game Hockomock schedule with a chance to prove it’s the top team in the league.
Franklin will rely on its senior class to lead the way. The Panthers will be very solid in the back, starting with senior goalie Jack Paterson. After serving in a backup capacity previously, Paterson steps into the starting role but is getting pushed in practice by classmate Gary Mandia. Along the blue line, Franklin has plenty of familiar names with the likes of Joe LeBlanc (nine points), Will Sheehan, Justin Abely, and Pat Dolan — all four are seniors with a good amount of varsity experience.
Offensively, the Panthers have a good variety of attacking options led by last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Dylan Marchand (13 points). Sarno is carrying 20 players and plans to use them all, rolling four lines offensively. JT Dwyer and Declan Lovett are both senior centers and have been strong in the face off circle so far. Sophomore Ben Jarosz should see an expanded role after getting some time last year. Franklin will look to expand on its puck possession after making the switch from a dump-and-chase team.
“We were looking forward to playing against some of the best teams in the state but we’re going to make the most of this opportunity,” Sarno said. “We’re going to give it our all each game. We’ve going to practice as hard as we play in games, the energy the kids have brought has been contagious. We’re treating every game like a playoff game, that’s the type of energy we want to bring to each game.”
2019-2020 Record: 10-6-5 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip pushed Franklin to the final week of the regular season in its quest to win a first league title since 2013 (and end the nine-year reign for the Panthers in the Kelley-Rex). The Warriors did get back into the postseason, although again Franklin stood in the way in the preliminary round, and will return 13 players to make another run at that elusive league championship.
Experience on both ends of the ice will be the strength for KP this season, with eight seniors and eight juniors on the roster, including a pair of four-year players. Senior forward Conor Cooke and senior defenseman Rocco Bianculli have been critical players for each of the past three seasons. Bianculli is not only a leader at the blue line, but also one of the league’s top offensive defenders. KP returns three of its top four scorers from last year. In addition to Bianculli, senior Aidan Boulger and junior Nolan Feyler provide the scoring punch on the forward line and are a good mix with Cooke’s physical presence up front. Seniors Paul McDonald and Justin Yatsuhashi add speed and depth.
Defensively, senior David Lawler will join Bianculli on the blue line. More of a defensive-minded player, Lawler adds solidity in his own zone and is counted on to make the right plays under pressure. Seniors Shea Cunningham and Geoff Bowes are also returning defensemen that couple size and experience around their own net. Sophomore Kyle Abbott will take over between the pipes
“As always we are looking to build on last year and compete for the league title,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. “Our team this season has some good experience. We also have some real skill and speed in the younger group.”
2019-2020 Record: 7-8-6 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets aren’t focusing on how many games are on the schedule but focusing on taking it one game at a game instead. Mansfield brings back a lot of players that picked up varsity experience last season during the team’s postseason run.
Replacing three-year starter Sean McCafferty in goal won’t be easy but head coach Mike Balzarini has praised the work of Chris Hormann, who will be taking over in between the pipes. Balzarini said Hormann learned a lot last season in his backup role, is coming off a stellar fall season and has looked strong so far in practice this year. Captain Jake Quirk will anchor the blue line unit for the Hornets and will be joined by some familiar faces. Senior Joseph Gormley will bring a lot of experience to the defensive group and will be joined by sophomore Patrick Gormley as well as Ben Levine and James Hughes.
Senior captain Cam Page will spearhead the attack for the Hornets this season. Mansfield lost most of its point production to graduation so there will be plenty of opportunities for new faces to take advantage of. Mark DiDiralamo, Kyle Oakley, Dillon Benoit, Ryan Doherty, and Liam Anastasia are all in the mix for the top six for Mansfield.
“It’s a shortened season but we have looked good thus far in practice and in our scrimmage,” Balzarini said. “We’re looking to push the pace this year and play a faster-paced game.”
2019-2020 Record: 7-8-6 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Ben McManama
On the ice, it’s been business as usual for the Red Rocketeers, who have a strong returning core ready to make a run at dethroning Canton atop the Davenport division. The biggest challenges for head coach Ben McManama and his squad so far have been adapting to all of the changes off of the ice.
Expectations are high for the Big Red with some familiar names at each position. The most returners come from the offense where the Rocketeers have a handful of forwards back, giving McManama the flexibility to run at least three lines. Senior captain Tyler Sarro will be a leader on and off the ice and will be joined by his brother Brady as the wings on the top line. Nik Kojoian is back after missing almost all of last season and will center the top line. McManama notes his second and third lines are interchangeable, more “2A” and “2B” rather than second and third lines. Juniors Sam Clarke and Nick Longa and sophomores Mark Ayvazyan and Joe Quinn will all be in the mix.
The Rocketeers will have a lot of spots to fill along the blue line after graduating a strong corps of defensemen from last winter. Senior Charlie Connolly and junior Austin Comery are the veterans in the group, entering this season with the most experience. McManama has tabbed junior Anthony Westcott as another option along the blue line while the final spot is up for grabs. Senior James Burtch will take over in net for the Rocketeers while freshman Kyle Gruber is pushing for time.
“The big thing for us this year is being a system team,” McManama said. “We have to be disciplined with our system. We’re really harping on sticking to our system and what we do, and we have to be really disciplined and do our jobs. That’s how we’re going to generate goals and it’s going to be how we stop shots too, it works on both ends. We’ve had great practices, it’s been fun getting the kids back.”
2019-2020 Record: 6-13-2 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Mike Zucarelli
Oliver Ames finished 2019-20 with six wins, but also had four losses by a single goal (all four to teams in the playoffs), so the Tigers were closer to earning a postseason berth under first-year coach Mike Zuccarelli than the final record may indicate. This season, the Tigers return to the Davenport division for the first time since 2016 and with only six returning players there will be opportunities for new faces to step in and contribute right away.
Seniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro will provide leadership in the forward line and much-needed experience for a young group. Sophomores Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron both saw action last year and their development will be important for the Tigers to get consistent production from the forward lines.
Defensively, senior Kevin Tremblay and junior Elliot Cohen both grew into bigger roles last year and will be expected to lead the blue line corps this season. Sophomore Brandon Burke will take over in net after backing up Owen Connor last winter. Zuccarelli is also counting on a strong freshman group to come in and provide an instant impact and is excited about the potential for the program going forward.
“Patience and resilience are going to be two major themes this year as we have already experienced,” said Zucarelli. “Our goal is to grow as a team and tackle each challenge we are presented together both on and off the ice. I am confident with our senior leadership, outstanding assistant coaches, and the support we receive from the OA community that we will have a season to remember.”
2019-2020 Record: 4-16-1 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Dan Mark
After an up-and-down first year in a co-op with Brockton, the Black Knights are aiming for an improved 2021 season. After a year away, Stoughton is back in Hockomock League competition and will be vying for the Davenport title.
With just four players gone to graduation, longtime head coach Dan Mark has a veteran squad at his disposal for the upcoming 10-game schedule plus a small postseason planned. The foundation of the team starts between the pipes as the Black Knights have two goalies back with experience. Sophomore Chris Andrade will compete with senior Ryan Spano for the starting job in net.
In front of goal, Mark is leaning on a trio of juniors plus one senior to get the job done. Senior Kenny Young will be joined along the blue line by Josh Greenspoon, Anthony Hern, and Steven Westerlund — all returners from a season ago. Offensively, the Black Knights will turn three-year starters in junior Colin Alessi and Joe McNulty to anchor the offense. They’ll be joined by seniors Kyle Cruickshank, Cade O’Connell, Mike Andrade, and Ryan Flannery to bolster the attack.
“We have a veteran team blended with some younger players and are looking to improve on last year’s record,” Mark said.
2019-2020 Record: 10-11-3 2019-2020 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton is returning a plethora of players from last year’s varsity squad that had double-digit wins and made a trip to the postseason. Now, the Tigers are just hoping to play a complete — albeit shortened — season.
The Tigers got a couple of days on the ice before the school district paused all athletic activities over the winter break. Head coach Kris Metea and his 18 returning players are hoping to resume practice on Monday and get their season back on track. While the break will certainly be a setback for the Tigers, having such an experienced squad will help when Taunton does get back on the ice. Leading the way will be a pair of defensemen: senior captain and Hockomock League All Star Brady Nichols and junior Jack DeMoura, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team selection.
Having reliable options on the blue line will be key as the Tigers sort out the situation between the pipes. Senior Jason Frates, who only has a handful of years of experience at the position, is set to start in net. Offensively, the challenge will be replacing the production from Michael Albert, one of the most productive players in program history. Metea will look to juniors Nathan Fernandes and Loren Corcoran as well as sophomores Colton Scheralis and Connor McGrath to replicate that production. Senior Camden Faria will be a leader of the offensive group
“2020 has been a challenging time and we are hoping that athletics can provide respite for players and families as we enter 2021,” Metea said. “We will take whatever games guidelines allows us to play and be thankful for the opportunity to skate in the presence of friends!”
Below are the official 2020 Hockomock League Boys Hockey All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Johnny Hagan, Canton
Hockomock League All Stars
Nick Piazza, Attleboro
Johnny Hagan, Canton
Chris Lavoie, Canton
Jack Connolly, Canton
Owen Lehane, Canton
Espen Reager, Foxboro
Kirk Leach, Foxboro
Ronnie MacLellan, Foxboro
Tom Tasker, Franklin
Kyle Hedvig, Franklin
Dylan Marchand, Franklin
Joseph Boselli, King Phillip
Chris Daniels, King Phillip
Kyle Gray, King Phillip
Rocco Bianculli, King Phillip
Sean McCafferty, Mansfield
Kevin Belanger, Mansfield
Dennis Morehouse, North Attleboro
Jake McNeany, North Attleboro
Ryan Gottwald, Oliver Ames
Michael Albert, Taunton
Brady Nichols, Taunton
Ryan Morry, Attleboro
Ronan O’Mahony, Canton
Jack Watts, Foxboro
Colin Hedvig, Franklin
Jack Coulter, King Philip
Chris Jenkins, Mansfield
William Yeomans, North Attleboro
Owen Connor, Oliver Ames
Jack DeMoura, Taunton
CANTON, Mass. – One team looked like it was hitting its stride at the right time of the year and looked like it was as comfortable playing on the playoff stage as it was at any point during the regular season. The other team looked like it was making its first playoff appearance in five seasons.
Franklin scored twice in the opening four minutes of Thursday night’s Div. 1 South first round contest at the Canton Ice House, including one just 36 seconds in, and never looked back, rolling to a 7-1 victory over King Philip in a battle of the top two finishers in the Kelley-Rex division.
“I thought we would’ve had more,” said KP coach Paul Carlow, admitting that Franklin played like a playoff-tested team on Thursday. “We were on our heels from the get-go and we never got out of the starting blocks really. I was worried all week about the game being too big for them and it was.”
The Panthers wasted no time grabbing the lead. Tom Tasker fired a wrist shot from the point and through a screen in front that slipped past KP goalie Jesper Makudera, after just 46 seconds.
Three minutes later, Franklin doubled its advantage on the power play. Kyle Hedvig sent a pass across the zone to Tasker at the point and the big defenseman blasted a shot that Makudera did well to get a pad to, but the rebound fell right to Colin Hedvig and he lifted a backhand past the sprawling goalie.
“He could stop a freight train with that shot,” Franklin coach Anthony Sarno said. “We showed up to play. The forecheck 5-on-5, we just took it to them. We started to create some space for ourselves cycling it down low.”
He added, “That team is a good team and the hardest thing to do is beat the same team twice. Paul is a great coach and they’ve got some really great players and we didn’t take them for granted. We knew they would come in with all the fight they had. We had to do all the little things, the intangibles you need to win.”
It took a while for the Warriors to get their legs under them. Nolan Feyler set up Rocco Bianculli for a shot from the left circle that Ray Ivers saved and Conor Cooke had a tip from in front knocked aside by the goalie as well. Ivers was forced to made a smart pad save on Chris Daniels from close range.
Despite those chances, KP was struggling to get anything consistent in the offensive zone. Franklin held a 13-9 edge in shots after one.
The Warriors did have a golden opportunity to try and get back into the game in the second period when they started with 1:28 of two-man advantage. KP didn’t manage a shot on goal during the power play.
“We came out in the second with the 5-on-3 and we still didn’t settle down,” said Carlow. “Our power play has been really good all year and it just looked like we were nervous. We had trouble controlling the puck and getting set up in the zone and as soon as they killed that off I felt like momentum swung back.”
Franklin continued to have good luck getting offense from its blue line corps. Tasker blocked a clearance against the far boards and then skated towards goal only for Makudera to stay square and make the stop. Justin Abely caused havoc with a shot from the point that was saved but that produced a rebound that sat untouched on the post with the goal gaping.
A third goal came with 5:20 left in the second. JT Dwyer sent a puck out in front that deflected off a KP skate and right to the stick of Sean Connelly in the slot. He took a touch to control and then ripped a shot over the goalie’s shoulder.
Declan Lovett came close to making it four with a steal in the offensive zone, but it was Colin Hedvig that would extend the lead. He was set up by Kevin O’Rielly and Kyle Hedvig, knocking in a pass through the crease at the back post.
The four-goal lead only lasted 30 seconds. Aidan Boulger finally was able to get behind the Franklin defense and he managed to squeeze his breakaway underneath Ivers to make it 4-1.
Joe LeBlanc nearly restored the lead near the end of the second but his shot from the point struck the post and stayed out. Dylan Marchand nearly got it back just 13 seconds into the third when Kyle Hedvig hit him with a perfect pass from the left to right circle but Makudera made the glove save.
“We told them to keep forcing the forecheck down their throat and keep playing the right way, sticks in the passing lane, bodies in the shooting lane, and make sure it stops,” Sarno said of the message before the third period.
Three minutes into the third, Franklin got the crucial fifth goal and in back-breaking fashion. Tasker hit Dwyer with a perfect tape-to-tape diagonal outlet pass from his own zone. Dwyer teed up a slap shot that went off the goalie’s blocker, straight up into the air, and then landed behind the goalie in the net.
Carlow said, “I thought the next goal was big. I thought if we could cut it to 4-2 then we could make a run at them there but that goal was obviously a big goal at that point.”
Marchand added a sixth a little more than a minute later. Going from left to right across the zone, Marchand roofed it over backup goalie Nate Ihley. Andrew Demerchant added a seventh in the final three minutes.
Sarno said, “It’s one win, four more to go, but we’ve just got to keep out composure and keep bringing it every night. We can’t take shifts off.”
Franklin (10-7-4) will travel to Loring Arena on Saturday night to take on No. 2 seed Natick. King Philip finishes the season at 10-6-5.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It might not have been a win, but it was mission accomplished for the North Attleboro boys hockey team.
The Rocketeers erased a two-goal deficit over the final 22 minutes of play to secure a 3-3 tie with Hockomock rival King Philip, and with the point, North Attleboro punches its ticket to the state tournament.
“They were outstanding,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama after his Rocketeers controlled the third period from start to finish. “We knew we needed our best period of hockey and they delivered. I think it was obvious how hard we worked, how well we worked together and how we stuck to our systems. It was fun to watch.”
The Big Red comeback started, surprisingly enough, on the heels of King Philip’s second goal of the second period. The Warriors had leveled the scoring in the first period, tying the game through 15 minutes, and went on to tack on two goals in the first eight minutes of the second period.
Sophomore Nolan Feyler put KP ahead just 1:18 into the second and scored his second with 6:59 left in the period as the Warriors looked poised to skate away with the game, up 3-1 with three straight goals.
But North Attleboro responded in a timely manner, using a smart hustle play that gave the hosts life. Senior Dennis Morehouse found classmate Jack Connolly entering the zone on the left side and Connolly unleashed a low shot. King Philip goalie Jesper Makudera (25 saves) made the pad stop but North sophomore Nik Kojoian made a great read and won the race to the loose puck, batting the rebound in to make it 3-2.
The goal came just 43 seconds after the Warriors built their two-goal advantage.
“That’s the type of play we needed,” McManama said. “It’s just the little things we talk about. That’s getting the puck to the net, shooting it low and someone else driving hard. That’s hockey, it’s basic and something we preach all the time but we get away from it. Now we’re getting some goals off it so they are seeing it works.
“That’s a very good team we played and I thought we played.”
Makudera came up with a big stick save to stop a five-hole shot from Morehouse with 15 seconds left and North Attleboro goalie Nick Digiacomo (15 saves) was equal to the task on a shot from KP’s Conor Cooke with less than a second to go.
Trailing by just a goal with the postseason a point away, the Rocketeers put together a terrific third period. And it didn’t take long for the hosts to pull even. Just under five minutes into the period, Jeff Baker had his bid knocked away but Morehouse was quick to pounce on the loose puck and blasted it into the back of the net to make it 3-3 with 10:48 to go.
North had a couple of looks at the winner but couldn’t get another put back Makudera. Connolly came flying down the left side and rifled a shot that was covered up. Minutes later, North’s Tyler Sarro and Jake McNeany were inches from a loose puck in front of goal but Makudera dove on top.
Connolly had another chance after a faceoff bounced in front of goal but he couldn’t lift his backhand bid over the goalie.
King Philip had just two shots on goal in the entire third, spending most of the period playing defense. But with under a minute to go, the Warriors had a surge into the zone and Jack Coulter unleashed a blast but it hit off the crossbar and stayed out.
“We haven’t been able to close teams out,” said King Philip coach Paul Carlow. “We played a great second period. I’m not sure if we’re satisfied when we get the lead, or if we’re satisfied with the tie. I’d like to see us put some teams away, especially this time of year. [North Attleboro] is a good team but I felt like we could have won today.”
North Attleboro got off to a strong start early on as Digiacomo came up with a terrific positional save, denying a point-blank chance from Cooke after a great feed from Coulter.
And minutes later, Morehouse skated in uncontested down the right side and flicked his shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with less than three minutes expired.
King Philip answered at the midway point of the period, and in similar fashion to the bid that was denied early on. Coulter forced a turnover behind the net and linked up with Cooke, who initially looked at goal but instead dished a pass in front and Aidan Boulger buried the one-timer to make it 1-1 with 7:31 left in the first.
Rocco Bianculli was the catalyst of KP’s second goal, taking control of a loose puck in the neutral zone and speeding into the offensive zone. He laid a pass off to Chris Daniels, and he quickly fed the puck across to Feyler for the finish plus a 2-1 lead with 13:42 left in the second.
The Warriors went on the power play shortly before the midway point of the game and took full advantage of their chance. Joe Bosellii, who just had a shot saved, let another rip go that was blocked down, the puck eventually finding Feyler for the finish in close.
“I didn’t think we came out that strong in the beginning, we always seem to give up the first goal,” Carlow said. “But after that, we got the goal back, we seemed to get stronger. Then we got the power play goal, which always helps. In the third, we had a broken skate blade and we ended up running around a little bit, couldn’t get the puck out of our zone and it ends up in the back of the net.
“[North Attleboro] needed a point [to qualify], they definitely had a little more 1-2 in the third than we did.”
Both teams have time to prepare for the postseason. King Philip (4-2-2 Hockomock, 10-4-4 overall) has two games left, including a trip to Rodman Arena on Saturday to take on Walpole, and a home game on Monday afternoon against a good Norwood team.
“We haven’t lost in the last four or five games, we’ve won or tied, but I’d like to see us play a complete game going into the playoffs,” Carlow said. “From the drop of the puck to the final whistle. Overall, I like the way they are playing. They are playing strong defensively for the most part, we aren’t giving up a bunch of goals. I’d like to see us put a few more in.”
North Attleboro boys hockey (2-3-3, 7-6-6) will wrap up its regular season on Friday night when it takes on rival Bishop Feehan in what will likely be a playoff atmosphere.
“It’s more about how you’re playing when the playoffs come [instead of record] and when we look at it, especially that third period, we feel like we can do some work in the playoffs if we play like that. We have a big game on Friday against a rival, but I like where we’re at, I really do, but we just have to keep working.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – Through two periods of play at the Foxboro Sports Center, the Mansfield and King Philip boys hockey teams were split right down the middle.
The Hornets controlled the opening 15 minutes, seizing a 2-0 lead only for the Warriors to respond with an equally as dominant second period that netted a pair of goals and had the teams deadlocked entering the final period.
The play on the ice certainly favored King Philip in the third period but nothing changed on the scoreboard as Mansfield senior goalie Sean McCafferty shined between the pipes to deny the Warriors a third goal, stealing a point in a 2-2 non-league contest between division rivals.
“In the third period he was unbelievable,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini as McCafferty recorded 15 of his 27 saves in the last period to prevent KP from grabbing its 10th win of the season.
The point helps Mansfield move within five points of qualifying for the state tournament, although the Hornets could qualify with a point against Foxboro on Friday, securing a second place finish in the Kelley-Rex.
“He’s been the backbone of this team all year long,” Balzarini continued about McCafferty. “Games we’ve won, games that we’ve tied, even games that we’ve lost, he’s played great. He played phenomenal against Winthrop even though they scored what they did, it could have been a lot more. And he was great again tonight in the third.”
What looked like a good start for King Philip ended up being a big moment for Mansfield. The Warriors went on the power play just over a minute into the contest but were caught a bit flat-footed. Hornet senior Kevin Belanger won a battle at the blue line and skated in on a breakaway. He cut across the front of the net and deposited the puck five-hole to give Mansfield a 1-0 lead just 1:46 into the game.
From there, the Hornets piled it on in the opening period, holding an 11-4 advantage on shot on goals. Just past the midway point of the period, an interference call in the neutral zone presented the Hornets with a power play opportunity and Mansfield cashed in just over a minute in.
After Chris Jenkins had a shot blocked, Belanger quickly batted the loose buck on goal. King Philip goalie Jesper Makudera (17 saves) made a pad stop but Jake Lund was the first to the rebound and buried it into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead with 5:31 to play in the first.
Mansfield nearly made it 3-0 in the first in the final minutes when Belanger flew into the offensive zone and fired a wrist shot that clanked off the far post and stayed out.
The second period couldn’t have gone much different than the first as it was all King Philip from the first face off. Junior Justin Yatsuhashi had an early chance after a turnover but his backhand from in close was over the bar.
Mansfield’s Sam Clayman came up with a big stop on a two-on-one chance for the Warriors at the 12 minute mark but the Warriors kept applying pressure and came up with a power play chance with 8:32 to go in the second.
McCafferty came up with early saves on the man-down situation stopping a give-and-go between Joe Boselli and Nolan Feyler, the former depositing a shot right into the goalie’s chest. Senior defenseman Kyle Gray also had a blast denied in the open portion of the power play.
Finally the pressure paid off as Gray fired a low show that was saved but senior Chris Daniels was in perfect position in front to clean up the rebound with a nice backhand finish to make it 2-1.
“It was very similar to the first game,” said KP coach Paul Carlow, the Warriors having erased a two-goal deficit in the first meeting as well. “I try to use analogies with the kids…you never want to get punched in the face first, right? But we almost have to. First shot on net goes in both games. I love their resolve, I love their battle…they don’t quit. I’d love to see us come out [to start] like we did in the second. Hopefully we get that.”
King Philip capitalized on the momentum and needed just 17 seconds to find the equalizing goal. The puck popped up near the blue line and was brought down by a Hornet but King Philip’s Jack Coulter was alert to the play, applying pressure and came away with the puck.
It resulted in a two-on-one chance for KP and Coulter slid a pass across for a finish from Aidan Boulger to make it 2-2 with 6:55 to play in the second. The Warriors had another power play chance late in the period but the Hornets killed it off.
“I think there’s always a natural letdown after qualifying for the tournament, especially for a team that isn’t used to being there,” Carlow said. “We’re in and maybe we took our foot off the gas, I think that was what happened in the first. But I love the way they responded, they came out and tied it in the second. And I felt like we outplayed them down the stretch, we certainly had more quality chances in the third.
“Mansfield always plays us tough. [McCafferty] certainly played well for them tonight. They are a good team, I think they’ll get into the tournament.”
Mansfield had an early chance in the third when a KP defenseman slipped as Cam Page fed Liam Anastasia but Makudera made a glove save on the latter’s wrist shot.
The result of the period featured stop after stop from McCafferty. Coulter fired a shot that was redirected by Conor Cooke only to be denied by the McCafferty’s mask. Yatsuhashi had a found chance swallowed up.
The best chance came at the midway point when Boselli came away with a breakaway chance, making a move to get past McCafferty but the goalie did enough for force Boselli wide enough that his bid on goal hit the post and stayed out. KP had two rebound chances after with Feyler and Rocco Bianculli burying shots on net but were stoned by McCafferty.
Mansfield nearly came up with a chance to steal the win on a two-on-one break but Gray made a terrific read to stop the bid.
King Philip’s final chances were from Feyler, who took a pass from Bianculli, but didn’t get all of it when he spun around to fire a shot on goal. And Noah Ray got a piece of a shot from Bianculli but again McCafferty was up to the task.
“[Two-goal leads] have not been our friend at all,” Balzarini said, noting the first meeting against KP plus a pair of two-goal leads against Franklin that both disappeared. “We were struggling starting, and now that’s getting better, but we just have to put together a 45-minute game. There are times we get complacent and we stray away from what we’re trying to focus on within our system. I thought our forecheck was great in the first period and then we just were kind of on our heels.”
King Philip boys hockey (4-2-2 Hockomock, 9-4-3 overall) will host Oliver Ames on Saturday while Mansfield (3-1-3, 5-6-5) will play its final league game of the year against Foxboro. If Mansfield wins, they will finish alone in second place, while a tie would mean the Hornets share second with KP, both situations securing Mansfield a playoff berth. A Foxboro win would mean Mansfield finished third in the division and need five points in its final three games.