Rocketeers Fall To Westwood Despite Strong Effort

North Attleboro hockey
North Attleboro’s William Yeomans carries the puck past a Westwood defenseman. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
BROCKTON, Mass. – North Attleboro held the advantage in nearly every offensive category except for the most important one: the score.

The Rocketeers dominated in terms of attacking zone time, shots on goal and scoring opportunities but Westwood was opportunistic, capitalizing on its chances to snatch a 4-1 win over Big Red.

“I can honestly say I think we were the better team today,” said North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek. “The score didn’t reflect that, they got the bounces and we didn’t. I thought we carried the play from start to finish. I’m very proud of my guys, I can’t ask for anything more from what they gave me today.”

Though no one knew it yet, the first sequence of the game was an example of how the game would play out. North had a good chance just a minute into the game when Brendan McHugh ripped a shot and Anthony Zammiello had a chance on the rebound but it slid just wide.

And on the other end, in Westwood’s first trip into the attacking zone, a defensive miscue gave the Wolverines a golden chance that Trevor Fahey buried to make it 1-0 just 75 seconds into the game.

North responded well though, finding the equalizer less than two minutes later. Junior Hunter Sarro forced a turnover in the offensive zone and ripped a wrist shot from the right circle to tie the game.

The level score was short lived as the Wolverines pounced on another North defensive miscue just three minutes later. A defenseman slipped with a Westwood skater at his feet, forcing the puck free in the defensive zone. Westwood’s Sam Murphy jumped onto it just before it cleared the blue line and fired one top shelf to make it 2-1.

The momentum completely shifted to Big Red in the middle frame. The Rocketeers peppered Westwood goalie Justin Anderson with 14 shots in the period but couldn’t get one by him.

Drew Wissler had the first chance less than a minute in after blocking a clearance attempt but his wrist shot was gloved down.

North Attleboro went on the power play and Zach McGowan had a chance but his shot was blocked by a defenseman.

With eight minutes to play, Zammiello knocked down a clearance from Westwood and unleashed a shot but his tough angle bid was saved.

The Rocketeers’ first line had a good chance with under four minutes to play as Wissler connected with McGowan, who shoveled along a pass to Erik Clements as they entered the zone. Clements got off a shot but it sailed wide of the target.

“We had a gameplay, we wanted to get on them early and attack, attack attack,” Snizek said “We didn’t want to be afraid to lose. The kids held up their end of the bargain, it was just unfortunate with the outcome. I thought it was by far our best season in my eight years here.”

Before North Attleboro could keep the momentum going in the third period, the Wolverines doubled their lead just three minutes into the final stanza. Defenseman Mark Horsfall tossed a shot from the blue line that Timmy Dalton got a piece of. The puck easily found its away in the net as North goalie Ryan Warren was knocked to the ground.

No penalty was called.

“North Attleboro came out and they flew, they’ve got kids that can really fly,” said Westwood coach Mike Welby. “[McGowan], [Clements], even [Wissler], they put a lot of pressure on us. We were surprised by how things went in the second period. But we were very fortunate to come out there in the third and grab the momentum back. We got a pretty opportunistic third goal and then the fourth goal sealed it.”

The Rocketeers had a couple of chances as time ticked away in the third but couldn’t beat Anderson.

Westwood iced the game when Tom Keith raced up the far boards, made a nice move past a defenseman and was able to tuck his chance in to make it 4-1 with 7:58 to play.

Sarro had a nice chance with five minutes to play but Anderson made the save without giving up a rebound and then with a minute to play, McGowan made a nice move to get in close but had his bid turned aside.

“Their goalie played phenomenal, he gobbled everything up,” Snizek said. “It happens, its unfortunate but it happens. We were snakebitten today. No dirty goal chances, which we try to get. They capitalized on the mistakes and thats what good teams do.”

North Attleboro hockey finished with a 29-22 advantage in shots. The Rocketeers finished the season 14-4-4.

“I’m so proud of my seniors,” Snizek said. “Captains and the rest of the senior class…the leadership this year was unbelievable. It was the best I’ve seen in my tenure. They picked everybody up when anyone was down.”

Wissler Scores Twice as Rocketeers Edge King Philip

North Attleboro hockey
North Attleboro junior Andrew Wissler (4) scored a pair of goals as the Rocketeers pulled out a one-goal victory at King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – With 1:19 left in the second period, King Philip took possession in its defensive zone and with one pass turned it into a breakaway to tie the game at 2-2. The home team seemed poised to have all the momentum heading into the third until North Attleboro junior Andrew Wissler hustled the Rocketeers back into the lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Erik Clements flicked a puck over the top, just trying to relieve the pressure from the Warriors and clear the zone. KP defensemen were caught up the ice and Wissler flew past them to chase the puck. Sophomore goalie James Lewis was forced to leave his crease to try and play it, but Wissler beat him to it and tapped into the vacated net for his second goal of the night.

The goal provided a huge boost to North, which took momentum and carried it into the third where the Rocketeers added am early power play goal to take control. KP rallied with a late goal and a flurry of chances in the final 90 seconds, but North held on to win 4-3 and moved within one point of the program’s best single season total.

“All-in-all it was a good effort. We were down six guys with the flu and I know they were battling the same thing, so it’s tough to get the guys ready to play when half the team is sick and playing with new players, but I thought they adjusted pretty well,” said North coach Steve Snizek, who highlighted sophomore Kyle Bolgerhaving to move from forward to defense for the game.

North jumped in front inside the opening three minutes. Zach McGowan drove the puck down the right wing and all the way to the edge of the goal before sending a pass into the slot for Wissler to one-time it.

The Rocketeers outshot KP 8-7 in the period, but the Warriors had their chances, including an opportunity for Luke D’Amico stepping up into the rush on a two-on-one with Gavin Maxwell, but his shot was saved by Ryan Warren (17 saves). North’s best chance to double the lead was a chance by Clements from the right circle but Lewis (25 saves) made the stop.

KP tied the game three minutes into the second. Again it was Maxwell with the rush and Warren made a huge pad stop to deny the break only to see the rebound pop out to the stick of Collin Cooke and the junior forward roofed it.

Lewis tried to make the score stand up, stopping three shots (at least) in a huge scrum on the edge of his crease. However, two minutes later, there was nothing he could do to stop Clements. The senior went top shelf with an unstoppable wrister from the circle for a 2-1 lead.

With 2:34 left in the second, the Warriors again bounced back to tie it, despite being outshot 13-6 in the period. Garrett Maxwell picked the perfect outlet pass right on the tape of Jacob Kelly as the senior burst through the neutral zone. Kelly went racing in on Warren and beat the goalie five-hole for a 2-2 tie.

The game was only tied for 1:15 before Wissler showed off his speed and his tenacity to regain the advantage for North Attleboro.

Snizek said, “That was a hell of an effort by Drew Wissler never giving up on the play. That’s the type of player he is; he’s the workhorse of the team and it’s great to see his hard work pay off like that. that definitely gave us momentum going into the third, which was absolutely key.”

The Rocketeers came flying out of the gates in the third and got a power play opportunity. Brendan McHugh worked the puck down to Clements who had a chance blocked in front of Lewis, who had already made four saves in the period, and it caromed out to McGowan. The senior buried his one-time shot into the bottom corner for a 4-2 lead.

Although North had the two-goal edge, the game was far from over. KP continued to press to try and get back into it and Gavin Maxwell had a golden chance in the final minutes when he got behind the defense for a breakaway only to be denied by Warren.

“He’s been lights out again all season long,” said Snizek of Warren, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. “He was upset that that one trickled in but he’s made 10 beautiful saves to that one and I’ll take that any day of the week.”

The one that got away came with 1:37 remaining. Kelly got free on the right hand side and was able to put a shot on goal as he was falling down. The puck did not have a lot on it but was able to squeeze through the goalie’s pads. The whistle blew with KP looking for a penalty and North assuming it was saved, only for the refs to point to center ice.

The Warriors pulled Lewis for the extra skater and had a series of face-offs in the North end, but could not find the tying goal.

“The momentum had definitely changed to us and they we kind of got away from it a little bit,” said Snizek of the third period. “We started to hang back and second guess ourselves and obviously they capitalized on that.”

North Attleboro (12-3-3, 6-2-1) now has 27 points, one shy of last year’s program-best 28, with two games remaining. The Rocketeers will get a good playoff preview on Saturday with a trip to Medway. King Philip (4-14, 4-5) suffered its third one-goal loss of the season. The Warriors will travel to Norwood on Saturday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton Weathers North Attleboro’s Comeback Effort

Canton hockey
Canton’s Bubba McNeice (assist) carries the puck in the offensive zone against North Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
CANTON, Mass, – For 43 minutes, Canton was clicking and playing impressive hockey.

But in a two minute span, North Attleboro completely changed the game and erased a three goal deficit.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they were able to bounce back with one more goal late in the second period to pick up a 4-3 win over the the Rocketeers in a Davenport division showdown.

“I don’t think I’ve ever coached in a game like that were all of a sudden we were up three and then tied in a blink of an eye,” admitted Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “But that’s North Attleboro, they are dangerous. They shoot the puck harder than any team we’ve faced. Those guys can shoot and they had a couple good shots off and it’s a tie ball game, that’s how explosive they are.”

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Canton scored a pair of goals in a dominating first period and added one more early in the third period and looked to be cruising. But midway through the period, the Rocketeers turned things around.

First, Hunter Sarro pounced on a loose puck in the offensive zone, corralling the puck and turning and firing all in one motion. Canton goalie Quinn Gibbs (14 saves) got a piece of the shot but the puck found its way over the line.

Just 42 seconds later, the Rocketeers made things interesting as Jason McNeany centered the puck right in front of goal, allowing a tap in opportunity for Sarro to make it 3-2 with 7:17 to play in the second period.

And just over one minute later, Will Yeomans knocked down a clearance and centered it for Erik Clements, who fired a wrist shot top shelf to tie the game with 6:10 to play in the period.

“No adjustments, we told them we just had to stay with our game,” said North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek. “We came out flat; our team knew it and [Canton] took advantage. It’s tough to comeback but they showed a lot of character tonight which I’m very proud of. We came up short but there were a lot of positives – some negatives – but I thought the positives outweighed especially just being a man and showing a lot of character.”

Canton was able to respond shortly before the end of the period, a goal that turned out to be the game-winner.

Senior defenseman DJ Trerice weaved his way into the offensive zone and dropped the puck back at the blue line to Bubba McNeice. McNeice played catch with CJ Martin on the blue line before firing the puck towards goal. Junior Charlie O’Connor was able to get his stick on the puck to redirect the puck into the back of the net.

“Not only was it important for the scoreboard, it was important for the bench,” Shuman said. “A lot of guys were getting on each other to pick it up so that was huge. CJ Martin, that was the best game I’ve seen him play in two years. He was outstanding out there defensively, he skated the puck when we needed him to and then it was really nice to see him factor into that goal, he had a great game.”

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The third period was mostly even, but neither side registered a serious scoring chance. North Attleboro had a power play opportunity with 2:47 left but couldn’t cash in. Canton was able to keep the pressure in the offensive zone to prevent the Rocketeers from pulling goalie Ryan Warren (28 saves).

Canton opened the scoring just three minutes into the game. After an offensive zone face off, junior Mike Dadasis went into the corner and dug out the puck. He carried it right to he near post and tucked it in for a 1-0 lead.

Tommy Kilduff had a chance for Canton midway through the second period but a diving effort from Vincent Zamiello disrupted the partial breakaway chance. The Bulldogs did breakthrough with just under four minutes to play. Jack Goyetch blocked a clearance just inside the blue line and raced in and found the back of the net while being tripped out in front for a 2-0 lead.

“We played really well in the first period,” Shuman said. “We had some really good scoring opportunities, it was nice to spot ourselves the lead but we left a couple on the board. We played really well in the first and then [North Attleboro] came back and killed that penalty in the second period which was a big momentum shift. The third was back and forth game, I thought they had some really good pressure on us in the third but I thought we played better defensively. The few opportunities they had in the second they buried and they played well in the third but we were able to play tighter defensively and limit the good shots.”

Less than a minute into the second period, Canton added to its lead. With the puck dumped into the offensive zone, freshman John Hagan unleashed a big hit in the corner the forced the puck to pop free. That’s where Kilduff ripped a shot from the slot to make it 3-0.

With the win, Canton moves within a point of clinching its seventh Davenport title. Even with big league title implications on the line, Shuman said his team treated it the same they do every league game.

“We say it all the time that every game is important in the Davenport and in the league,” Shuman said. “It’s cliché but at some point it rings true where every game is a championship game. If you drop any game, your chances of taking the league title are hurt. We treated this game like we did Stoughton, Foxboro and all of the other games. We’re a step closer but we’re not there by any means we have three very tough games left in the league.”

Canton (9-2-2 overall, 6-0 Hockomock) will try to extend its 11 game unbeaten streak on Saturday against Medway. North Attleboro (7-3-2, 3-2-1) will try to bounce back on Sunday against Mansfield.

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McGowan, ‘Resilient’ Rocketeers Grab Last Chance Tie

Zach McGowan (7) is rushed by teammates after scoring the game-tying goal with 4.9 seconds left in a 2-2 tie against Bishop Feehan. (Cameron Merritt/HockomockSports.com)

By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor

ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In the waning seconds of their Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee with non-league rivals Bishop Feehan, the North Attleboro Red Rocketeers, despite their late efforts and man advantage from pulling goalie Ryan Warren, looked destined for defeat.

However, a redirect off a last-chance shot by senior forward Zach McGowan with 4.9 seconds remaining changed everything, allowing the Rocketeers to escape the clash with a point, while denying the rival Shamrocks an important non-league victory.

“Obviously I’m happy with the outcome,” said North Attleboro coach Steve Snizek. “Our boys were resilient, [which] shows a lot of character. They played desperation, which was obviously needed. So all in all, I thought it was a pretty even game.”

Both teams had 27 shots on the afternoon; both goaltenders, North’s Ryan Warren and Feehan’s Derek Dattero, made 25 saves.

“Warren’s been solid behind the pipes as usual,” said Snizek, who credited his point blank save on a hard Feehan shot late in the third period as “the game changer.”

The game began fairly even, but the Shamrocks would be handed the first power play opportunity of the game with 13:19 left in the period as they were called for too many men on the ice, though nothing would come of it.

North Attleboro would have an opportunity of their own with 9:45 as Feehan’s Devin Payson was assessed a cross-checking penalty. Both teams would continue to exchange shots, though neither found luck nor the back of the net.

After a North Attleboro interference penalty with 7:42 left in the period, Feehan was able to get off a pair of shots on the power play and take the momentum, as well as possession.

While Feehan looked to be the stronger side heading into the first intermission, the Rocketeers took their chance as McGowan dumped the puck behind the net, and junior Andrew Wissler was able to wrap it around the post and slide it past the blockers of Dattero and give North Attleboro a 1-0 lead with 0:16 remaining before the break.

In the second period, North showed their abilities to use the body to their advantages, dominating checks along the boards. The Shamrocks, on the other hand, were dominating possession and shots, while the Rocketeers were unable to challenge Dattero until almost halfway through the middle period.

The Shamrocks had near back-to-back power play chances after tripping (11:35) and hit to the head (9:13) penalties sent North to the box, but again the Rocketeers were able to kill off the chances.

After multiple attempts on Warren, Feehan were able to beat the goaltender with 2:38 remaining as, in front of goal, as Kevin Jezard and Josh Nelson set up Ben Gaucher, allowing the sophomore forward to draw the Shamrocks even with the Rocketeers.

Riding the momentum, Feehan struck again just 42 seconds later as Payson, with help from Joe Castano and Tim D’Ambrosia, gave the Shamrocks the 2-1 lead with 1:56 left in the period.

Neither side went quietly into the second intermission, as three penalties were assessed in the final minute. Both teams exchanged penalties with 0:42 seconds left as Feehan and North were assessed elbowing and hooking penalties respectively, and then Feehan’s Sean Dunphy was called for roughing with 0:29 seconds, as North finished out the period with a four-on-three advantage.

In the final period, the Rocketeers flipped the switch on momentum, dominating possession and shots in the opening minutes.

When North was sent to the penalty box for roughing with 9:39 remaining, momentum began to shift in favor of Feehan, with the hosts looking likely to build on their lead as they continued to press on.

North Attleboro never wavered in their efforts, however, and despite several misses, and a near-Feehan goal on their empty net that missed by inches, McGowan’s goal was able to savage his team’s efforts and let them walk away with a point after a tough battle.

For Snizek, while they would’ve preferred a win, there were still important takeaways from the game in his eyes.

“The resiliency, the character, and bouncing back when you’re down,” said Snizek. “I’m very proud of the boys for that.”

North Attleboro return to action Wednesday as they host Kelley-Rex leaders King Philip, while Bishop Feehan will wait until Saturday to host Coyle-Cassidy.

North Kicks Off Season With Big Win at New Home

North Attleboro hockey
Ryan Warren made 20 saves for North Attleboro in the season-opening win against Dedham, including this post-to-post stop in the second period. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro moved into its new home at the New England Sports Village this winter and, although the rink is still under construction, the Rocketeers already looked like a finished product despite the season just getting underway.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Jason McNeany and Andrew Wissler each scored a pair of goals and senior center Zach McGowan recorded three points as North skated to a comprehensive 8-2 non-league victory over Dedham in Wednesday night’s season opener.

“I’m very happy with our effort, our finishing, our capitalization,” said North coach Steve Snizek about the team’s offensive effort. “One thing I do want to see is us stay out of the box. It’s becoming, as you know, more and more of a routine for us.”

It was the visiting Marauders that found themselves in the box in the first period and North took advantage of the extra skater and each time the goal came almost immediately after the penalty.

McGowan got the scoring started with 10:26 left in the first. He fired a wrist shot from the high slot, just eight seconds into the power play, off an assist from William Yeomans. Two minutes later, the lead was doubled by junior Hunter Sarro (assisted by defensemen Brendan McHugh and Vincent Zammiello) from a tight angle.

North outshot Dedham 13-7 in the first period, but after a boarding call against Erik Clements, goalie Ryan Warren needed to come through with a big save just before the horn to keep the Marauders off the board. Warren (20 saves) made the initial stop and then went post-to-post at full stretch to keep out the rebound.

“That was an amazing save,” said Snizek. “If he doesn’t save that then momentum is in their favor and it would’ve been a different ballgame. Again, he was lights out.”

Dedham did pull one back on the power play when Nick Mecuri knocked in a rebound from point-blank range, but the Rocketeers answered back less than a minute later. McNeany got free down the right wing and fired in a shorthanded goal that made it 3-1 and seemed to deflate the visitors.

Snizek said, “That was huge. It took the wind out of their sails a little bit and put it back into ours, so that was a good jumpstart again.”

Wissler stepped up two minutes later to knock in a rebound from McGowan’s shot to extend the lead to 4-1 and, after the Rocketeers cleared off a minute of two-man advantage, sophomore forward Todd Robinson turned a defensive zone face-off into a breakaway goal when he tipped the puck past the pinching defenseman and raced free.

North put the game away before the end of the second when McGowan assisted for the second time on a Wissler goal to make it 6-1. It was a dominating performance by the Rocketeers and Snizek was happy to see all three lines (and the fourth line during the third period) contributing to the win.

“They were impressive tonight,” said Snizek of the third line. “They jumpstarted us when the first two [lines] had some bad shifts, they would jump start us again. It’s good to see the third line contributing.”

He added, “That’s one of the things we practiced in the first week was the line stuff, get used to each other, so they picked it up really fast. I’m happy about that. It was a great win to start the season.”

McNeany added his second of the night off a Sarro assist with 8:36 to play and then freshman John Connolly answered a Dedham goal with the first score of his career to wrap up the scoring and get a pretty loud ovation from the sizable cheering section.

Besides getting two points to start the season, Snizek was also happy to get a debut win at the Rocketeers’ new home rink. He admitted that the crowd seems louder at the New England Sports Village (they are above the glass, unlike the Foxboro Sports Center) and he is looking forward to what the rink will be when it is fully built.

“I love it,” Snizek said. “I like the atmosphere. You saw the fans are right on top of you…it gets the adrenaline pumping.”

North Attleboro (1-0) will face a tough test on Saturday night when it plays host to rival Bishop Feehan.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Hockey: 2016-2017 Davenport Division Preview

2016-2017 Davenport Hockey Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016-2017 Davenport Hockey Preview

Canton

2015-2016 Record: 16-3-4
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Brian Shuman

Throughout the years, Canton has had plenty of skillful goal scorers that pace the offense. Heading into this season, it’s still to be determined who will emerge as Canton’s top offensive threat.

The Bulldogs lost a lot of scoring from a year ago, including the team’s top for scorers – Matt Lazaro, Jim Jenkins, Bobby Mullaney and Seamus Pecararo – who combined for over 100 points. However, the Bulldogs have one of the strongest programs from top to bottom in the area and it will be the next man up. Senior Tommy Kilduff (nine points) and junior Jack Goyetch (12 poitns) are likely candidates to be top offensive weapons on their respective lines.

One area that Canton is rock solid is defense. The Bulldogs are bringing back their top four defensemen from a year ago, including HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and HockomockSports Third Team selection CJ Martin. Those two will be joined once again by DJ Trerice and Brad Murphy, giving Canton a solid foundation to work off of.

Juniors Quinn Gibbs and Niko Donovan are set to compete for the starting job vacated by Justin Slocum.

“Overall, we expect to be a scrappy team with no real superstars, but a good balance of gritty forwards, experienced defensemen, and deep goaltending hopefully will allow us to compete with the top teams in the Hockomock League,” Canton head coach Brian Shuman said.

Foxboro

2015-2016 Record: 5-14-1
2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk

With a strong blend of experienced players and young talent, first year head coach Mark Cedorchuk is hopeful the Warriors can find their way back to the state tournament.

The Warriors return both of their top scoring threats from a year ago with seniors Mike Carresi (seven goals, 10 assists) and Peter Smith (10 goals, six assists) both back to pace the offense, as well as classmate Paul Vey. Junior Aidan Sullivan is back after an impressive sophomore season (eight points) and will be a big presence along the blue line along with classmate Taylor Sharfman and senior John Brolin.

It will be a familiar face between the pipes for Foxboro again this season as John Cronin returns as one of the top netminders in the league.

“With this core group of excellent upperclassman and talented underclassman we’re very excited about our season this year,” Cedorchuk said. “With the roster we have we’re looking to compete at a very high level and can’t wait for our season to start.”

North Attleboro

2015-2016 Record: 13-5-4
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Steve Snizek

Between a strong returning core of players and a switch to the Davenport division, 2016-2017 could be the year the Rocketeers make a serious run at a league title. Standing in the way will be Canton.

Five of the Rocketeers’ leading scorers are back this year, including top goal scorer Erik Clements (13 goals, 10 assists) and top assist man and HockomockSports.com First Team selection Zach McGowan (12 goals, 12 assists). Juniors Jason McNeany (eight goals, 12 assists), Andrew Wissler (nine goals, nine assists) and Hunter Sarro (nine goals, four assists) are all back as well with varsity experience. The depth in North Attleboro’s attack will make them tough to deal with.

Defensively, it all starts with sophomore goalie Ryan Warren, who had a terrific freshman year and was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. In front of him, senior Vincent Zammiello – a HockomockSports.com Third Team selection – and sophomore Brendan McHugh will anchor the defensive unit.

“In order for our team to be successful, we need to stick to our style of hockey and be well positioned and physical,” North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek said. “We also need to take advantage of power power play opportunities while staying disciplined.”

Stoughton

2015-2016 Record: 6-12-3
2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dan Mark

Stoughton returns a good handful of experienced varsity players from last year’s squad, but will still be one of the youngest teams in the league.

Senior forwards Jon Lessa and Nick Hardy are two of the more experienced players on the team. Lessa was second in scoring a year ago with nine goals and also added six assists while Hardy chipped in with seven points. Sophomore Sean Doherty will likely see a lot of ice time this season after an impressive freshman season. Doherty had seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points – second most on the team.

On defense, senior Cam Doherty will anchor the blue line while sophomore Josh Hough will look to build upon a strong rookie campaign a year ago. Sophomore AJ Scott is back in goal this season after making over 600 saves as a freshman. Having a year of varsity experience will be vital for a handful of Stoughton’s returning players.

“We are young team that will improve as the season goes on,” Stoughton head coach Dan Mark said.

Bounces Go Canton’s Way Against North

Canton hockey
Tommy Kilduff (2) and Jim Jenkins (22) scored two of Canton’s goals on Saturday, as the Bulldogs beat North Attleboro to return to the sectional semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BROCKTON, Mass. – Standing in the hallway outside the locker room after the game, Canton coach Brian Shuman did not look pleased. His team had just advanced in the state tournament, but he admitted that the Bulldogs had been outplayed by North Attleboro in Saturday afternoon’s Div. 2 South quarterfinal.

Despite being second best on the night, the Bulldogs scored off a deflection, off a loose puck in the slot, and on an empty net and got 25 saves from senior goalie Justin Slocum to pull out a 3-0 win.

“They outplayed us and I think they really carried the play for long stretches of the game and we did what we had to do to win the game and that started in net with Justin Slocum,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman.

The Rocketeers started the game with high intensity and their force-check paid almost immediate benefits with Erik Clements and Andrew Casson driving to the net off Canton turnovers only to be denied by Slocum and heads up play by defensemen Jackson Maffeo and C.J. Martin.

While the Canton defense was doing its job in clearing rebounds and denying chances at the back post, it was struggling to get the puck up ice.

North coach Steve Snizek said, “We were anticipating their breakout and were trying to forecheck the hell out them really so to not give them enough time to break out and hopefully make them make a mistake, which they did at times and we just couldn’t capitalize.”

Shuman was effusive in his praise for the Rocketeers and their 2-1-2 forecheck. He said, “They were all over us. Those first two guys in the zone were absolutely flying and they gave us very little time to get back to the puck and to get the breakout going.”

The North pressure was causing problems but there was no goal to show for it and with 3:45 left in the first, Canton took the lead against the run of play. Martin played the puck across the zone to Jim Jenkins and the senior threw the puck towards the back post where it appeared to take a decisive deflection to beat North’s freshman goalie Ryan Warren (25 saves).

“Sometimes it’s about the bounce of the puck,” said Shuman. “We’ve struggled to score goals this year and we just try to get to the puck to the net but [Warren] is an exceptional young goalie and he’s going to be good for years to come.”

Slocum made the lead hold up into the first intermission when he managed to get post to post to stop a close-range shot by Brian Poilluci who was set up by Clements.

The second period was even with North continuing to force the action, but without any end product. The Rocketeers only managed seven shots in the second despite more possession and trailed 20-15 in shots heading to the third.

The game continued in a similar mode until there was 6:26 remaining. Jenkins tried to take the puck into the middle but lost control. Luckily for the Bulldogs it eluded two North players and found its way to Tommy Kilduff in the slot and he managed to squeeze the puck under Warren for the crucial second.

“I feel bad for our team,” Snizek reflected. “[Canton] got the luck today and we did not, but it’s part of hockey. You have to take the good with the bad. “

North had two power play chances in the final four minutes and managed one good chance when the puck was deflected in front of Slocum and the goalie had to keep his head and bat away the chance.

With 13.6 on the clock and North skating five-on-four with Warren on the bench, Shaun Kirby wrapped up the victory for the Bulldogs with an empty net goal.

A few years ago, North Attleboro and Canton met at the same rink and at the same stage of the tournament but with very different expectations. That night, Canton also won but the fact that the game was close surprised many. No one was surprised on Saturday that the Rocketeers were in it to the end.

“This program has turned around immensely,” said Snizek. “It used to be that playing North was a point but now it’s a game. I’m very proud of the whole program.”

The Bulldogs are moving on and will be in the Div. 2 South semifinal for the fourth straight season.

Shuman said, “I told them in the locker room that I was proud of them because in all the years that I’ve been here you need one of those games in the state tournament where you have to find a way to win and grind it out and that’s what they did.”

Canton (16-2-4) advances to face Scituate at Gallo Arena in Bourne on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

North Attleboro Routs Taunton In Playoff Opener

North Attleboro hockey
North Attleboro’s Paul Baker carries the puck into the offensive zone against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
FALL RIVER, Mass. – North Attleboro scored five goals in the first period and never looked back, skating to a dominant 9-0 win over Taunton in the First Round of the MIAA D2 South tournament.
Just four days after the teams met for the first time this season on the last day of the regular season — a 6-1 win for Big Red — the Rocketeers were able to replicate their offense and then some in the first playoff game.
“The guys came out strong,” North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek said. “Our goalie bailed us out of a couple giveaways early on but then we settled down. We had a couple of nice plays, we moved the puck well and we got to the goalie early. We were fortunate to get to it early and take care of business.”
Four minutes into the game, sophomore Hunter Sarro was able to dig the puck out of the corner, attacked the net from the sideboards and roofed a backhand to put #6 North Attleboro up a goal.
Midway through the period, junior Erik Clements helped keep possession in the offensive zone and then found an open Brian Poillucci for a one timer to double the Rocketeers’ lead.
While North held a two goal lead with eight minutes gone in the game, they were nearly on the other end.
Two minutes into the game, freshman goalie Ryan Warren knocked down a shot from Tiger forward Nick Croft and then was somehow able to get his leg in the way of Zack Albert’s rebound to keep the game scoreless. North Attleboro scored two minutes later to take the lead.
With just over eight minutes remaining in the opening period, Croft intercepted a pass and fed senior Tyler Pietrzyk – the league’s leading scorer – right in front but once again, Warren was there for the stop. The Rocketeers doubled their lead less than a minute later.
“It would have been a completely different ball game,” Snizek said when asked how big Warren’s early saves were. “Warren came up big, especially against their top scorer. He’s definitely the backbone of our team and he’s proved it this season.”
The Rocketeers were able to really take care of business in the final three minutes of the period. Poillucci added his second when he finished off a rebound from a shot from Matt Marceau. North then added a power play game as sophomore Andrew Wissler poked home a pass from Sarro. Less than 30 seconds later, Andrew Casson made it 5-0 when he finished off a feed from Paul Baker.
“We’ve switched the lines up some and we’re trying different things,” Snizek said. “Right now it’s clicking. The guys are moving the puck real well so I’m really happy with the outcome.
“They rally around each other. They try to get the best out of each other.”
Any chance of a comeback for Taunton was quickly erased when North Attleboro junior Zach McGowan found the back of the net in the first minute of the second period. McGowan broke through the neutral zone and one stride into the offensive zone, ripped a wrist shot upstairs to make it 6-0.
“It was nice to see,” Snizek said of the early goal in the second. “Then we started to get away from out game a little bit and giving them some life. You can’t give a team like Taunton, that is coached so well, some life.”
After the rest of the second went without a goal, the Rocketeers added three more goals in the final period. Anthony Zammiello netted a shorthanded goal, McGowan added a second and Zammiello capped the scoring with 1:25 to go.
Warren made 17 saves for the shutout.
Taunton wraps up a historic season at 13-10-1. North Attleboro (13-4-4) advances to the D2 South Quarterfinals and will play the winner of #3 Canton and #14 Sandwich, which is being played on Wednesday at Asiaf. Details for the quarterfinal game have yet to be announced.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

End of First Period Flurry Propels Panthers Past North

Franklin senior Jake Downie scored a pair of goals, including the game winner in the first period. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Franklin senior Jake Downie scored a pair of goals, including the game winner in the first period. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin scored three goals in the final five minutes of the first period and iced the game with a fourth goal in the first five minutes of the third period to pick up a big 4-1 win over North Attleboro in battle of two of the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division.
Coming off a 1-1 tie against King Philip – a game in which they felt they had let too many scoring opportunities slip away – the Panthers were able to find the back of the net three times in the opening period.
It didn’t come right away despite a great chance less than four minutes in. A mistake from North Attleboro left the puck all alone in front of goal and Franklin senior Alex Bissanti pounced and tried to go backhand but Rocketeer freshman goalie Ryan Warren made the glove save while falling.
The Panthers then had a pair of chances on the power play but again Warren had an answer. A shot from sophomore Luke Downie was blocked aside and junior Joey Blaise had a good look but Warren was quick to react for the double save.
It wasn’t until the final five minutes that Franklin cashed, taking advantage of an interference penalty from North Attleboro for a power player goal. Senior Joe Corsi unleashed a wrist shot from the top of the circle to Warren’s left. The freshman goalie got a piece but the puck fell right to the stick of senior Jake Downie for an easy tap in.
After Franklin was able to kill off a North Attleboro power play, Jake Downie cashed in once more, again off an assist from Corsi. Corsi’s bunted attempt from just inside the blue line found the stick of Downie and the senior swept it along to find the back of the net to make it 2-0 with just over two minutes to play in the first.
Blaise made the most of the next loose puck he saw around the net, as the puck found his stick and he found the back of the net to make it 3-0 with 1:02 left in the first period.
“Offensively challenged has been the theme of the season and we showed it tonight with 44 shots and only four goals,” Spillane said. “But that’s what we need to do to be successful. We’re not going to score the pretty goals but we need to grind, get rebounds and get into the right spots and the guys did that for the second half of the first period, which sort of propelled us. I thought when we started the second with a four minute power play we’d go right back to it and put the game away but give credit to North Attleboro, they played physical and very hard and they were in the game right up to the end.”
A boarding call at the end of the first gave the Panthers a four minute power play to start the second period but the home team was unable to register a strong scoring chance against Warren. The teams took turns taking penalties in the middle period with the panthers going down a man on a high sticking call with 10:10 left. Franklin had arguably its best chance when Jeremy Miller was taken down on a breakaway and was rewarded a penalty shot. Miller skated in and tried to go stick side on Warren but the freshman stoned it.
The Panthers went up a man on a tripping call but a hooking call erased the power play.
It wasn’t until the final minute of the second that one team was finally able to break through. Junior Erik Clements skated across the ice, leaving the puck after his stick was knocked away. Classmate Zach McGowan picked up the puck and sniped one off the iron and in to bring the Rocketeers within two at 3-1 with 42.2 seconds left in the middle period.
Less than five minutes in the third, junior Adam Assad was able to get the all important next goal to ice the game for the Panthers. Assad got to a loose puck in the neutral zone, poked the puck by a defenseman and skated in alone at Warren. Assad faked twice but deposited the puck five hole to get Franklin’s fourth goal.
“If they get that second, it’s a whole new ballgame,” Spillane said of scoring the first goal in the third period. “And they had their chances too. Our defense was getting caught up in the emotion of the play so you have odd man rushes but getting that fourth goal was big. I would have liked to get it earlier. At 3-1 it was anyone’s game still. Our goaltender did well, that was a nice shot they beat him on but other than that he was consistent and made good saves.”
Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski made 15 saves.
“We try to make it tough. If we’re going to win games it’s not going to be by a score of 8-7, we have to win games 3-1, 3-0 and that’s how we’ll be successful. So far it’s worked, outside of a couple minor lapses. We just have to grind it out.”
Warren kept the deficit at just three with a huge save, moving across the crease to deny Brendan O’Rielly’s one timer of a feed from Luke Downie.
“I cannot say enough about how he kept his composure, especially with a team that has as much firepower as Franklin,” North Attleboro coach Steve Snizek said of Warren. “He stepped up big, with a couple breakaway stops and of course the penalty shot. He was our MVP tonight.”
Downie, who had a pair of goals, now has a team-high seven on the season. Blaise and Assad each scored their fourth goals of the season.
“We have a young team and a lot of kids scoring our goals are sophomores,” Spillane said. “That’s exciting to see but I’d like to see some more seniors step up. Jake Downie had two tonight which was great to see, I think he’s leading the team with [Jeremy] Miller. It’s nice to see Jake scoring and I think every goal he’s scored has been from the same position. He sits at the back door, picking up the rebounds, winning the battles. He’s a smart hockey player and he knows what he needs to do to score goals.”
Franklin (6-3-2, 4-0-1) is tied for first place in the Kelley-Rex (with KP with nine points each) but have a game in hand. The Panthers will be back on the ice on Saturday when Taunton comes to Pirelli Rink. North Attleboro (5-3-2, 3-1) will try to bounce back on Saturday when they take on King Philip.
“This was a hard fought game but the penalties is what killed us, especially playing about half the second period down,” Snizek said. “But I have to give credit to my guys, we switched up our penalty kill and it worked after that. We just need to be more disciplined and work on that in the games to come.”
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Hornets Come Back Twice To Get Tie Against North

Mansfield's Chad Piotti tries to get a chance by North Attleboro goalie Ryan Warren. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Mansfield’s Chad Piotti tries to get a chance by North Attleboro goalie Ryan Warren. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief

FOXBORO, Mass. – When North Attleboro took its second lead of the game with just 7:25 left in the game, Mansfield head coach Rick Anastos was tempted to take his one timeout.
On the advice of his son — an assistant coach — Anastos held off, instead mixing up his third line to add a little speed and the switch worked as the Hornets got a push in the offensive zone.
But after three minutes lapsed and the Hornets hadn’t tied the game, Anastos called for that timeout with an offensive zone face off coming up.
“I just wanted to regroup, refocus and keep going out at them,” Anastos said. “We wanted to focus on being aggressive and going at them. We lost the face off but we didn’t make it easy for them to get it out.”
The Rocketeers did win the face off but Mansfield was quick to put pressure as senior captain Pat Graham hugged the boards and blocked a clearance. Graham took possession and quickly fired a centering pass and senior Max Hoffman was able to poke his stick and get enough of the puck to find the back of the net as Mansfield and North Attleboro skated to a 2-2 tie.
“We had the lead and blew the lead twice,” North Attleboro said coach Steve Snizek said. “Obviously that’s not the outcome we wanted especially with them scoring so late in the game. But things happen, they capitalized on a mistake of ours and that’s what good teams do.”
The two rivals skated a scoreless period in the first period but a big reason was Rocketeer goalie Ryan Warren, a freshman making his high school debut, and North Attleboro’s defense.
Mansfield had a good chance on its first power play when a centering pass from Shane Doherty found Chad Piotti but North defensemen Paul Baker and Brendan McHugh got their sticks in the way to send the shot wide.
The Hornets first big test of Warren came with just over five minutes to play when Hoffman connected with Piotti for a close chance but Warren closed well and denied the shot. With just 10 seconds left Hoffman got in alone on Warren and tried to shoot it but the freshman got a piece of it to send it high.
““He stepped up very well for us,” Snizek said of Warren. “He looked very poised out there, especially for a freshman in his first game against our biggest rivals. He had a great game, very relaxed and played the puck, which I love to see. I’m very happy with his performance tonight.”
“We’re still trying to figure out the best combinations with the lines,” Anastos said. “I can’t get them to stop shooting but I can’t get them to shoot in the game. We had so many chances in the first period, we had three almost breakaways. I think if we had scored on those it would have been a tough battle for them to climb but they always play non-stop.”
Six minutes into the second period, North Attleboro took its first lead of the game. Sophomore Hunter Sarro used a pin point pass to find junior Connor Ford right in front and his one timer found the back of the net.
The lead didn’t last long though. Just 35 seconds later, the Hornets were able to level the game when junior Matt Farragher pushed one past Warren to make it 1-1 off assists from Mike Arnold and Shane Doherty.
The Rocketeers didn’t convert on a power play just over three minutes into the final period but were able to find the back of the net just two minutes later. Senior Andrew Casson gained possession behind the Mansfield net and wrapped around. With Mansfield goalie Anthony Visconti and a defender trying to knock it out, Casson and junior Erik Clements were hacking away trying to force it in. The puck eventually went North’s way and trickled over the line to take a 2-1 lead.
“I was going to call timeout at that point,” Anastos said. “I mixed up my third line and put a kid out there that’s fairly fast and they gave us some momentum in the offensive zone. My assistant said to wait and then at 4:07 he said do it, the times right.
“It seems like when you do that you take a step back and calm them down.”
North Attleboro (0-0-1) will skate against Bishop Feehan on Saturday while Mansfield (0-0-2) will get back on the ice the same day when they host Coyle & Cassidy. Mansfield and North Attleboro will meet again on January 16th, this time in a league game.
“We get the one point from this one and they get a point too but the next game is about a month away and that’s going to be a big one,” Snizek said. “Obviously both teams want that win. They’ll get the bugs out of their system, we’ll get the bus out of ours and it should be a great matchup.”
Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.