Tourgee, Blake Net Canton Comeback Win Against KP

Canton boys hockey
Sophomore Brendan Tourgee (13) celebrates the game-tying goal with less than three minutes remaining in the third period, helping Canton to a come from behind win over King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Despite Canton dominating play in the third period and holding King Philip to just two shots in the final 15 minutes, the Warriors went into the final three minutes holding onto a one-goal lead. It would be a rare win for KP in the series, a rare win for any Hockomock League team against the Bulldogs, and a chance to take a big early step towards a second straight league title.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But, there is a reason that Canton went into Wednesday night’s game at the Metropolis Rink having won 36 straight league games. The Bulldogs scored a pair of goals in 1:39, completed a comeback after being down two goals twice in the game, and pulled out a dramatic 4-3 victory.

“It’s huge for our psyche,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said. “It’s good for our guys to see that they can come from two goals down. Hopefully they’re not in that position too often, but it’s still good to build that mental toughness.”

After the game, KP coach Paul Carlow rued the missed opportunity to grab a lead in the Kelley-Rex division, even if it is just three games into the league campaign.

“They pinned us in in the third,” he explained. “They outshot us and outplayed us in the third period. Instead of continuing to take it to them, it felt like we were more trying to hang on. That never works.”

It was all KP at the start of the game. The Warriors came out flying and needed only 27 seconds to pick up the opening goal. Shaun Fitzpatrick did good work down the right wing, driving at the net and drawing a couple of Canton defensemen. He flipped the puck out in front to Sean Crowther, who sent the puck through a crowd of legs across the crease where James Boldy was standing all alone to tap into the empty net.

Rather than being a wake up call for the home team, the goal seemed to spur the Warriors on for more. Fiztpatrick collected the puck against the right wing boards and turned towards goal. He had a free path right at Canton goalie Aiden French (18 saves) and stuffed the puck under the pads to make it 2-0 less than six minutes in.

Shuman said, “KP does a great job of getting pucks and bodies to the net and you saw that on the first goal. That’s their bread and butter and we struggled with that mightily tonight. We just weren’t tough enough out in front, we were puck watching, and losing guys. They play a tough brand of hockey.”

KP got a chance on the power play midway through the first and Max Robison forced French into a tough save on a shot from the point. Canton cleared the rebound. It was one of a couple chances that the Warriors had to try and extend the lead, but the Bulldogs held on and got the kill.

Only 13 seconds after getting back to even strength, Canton was on the board. AJ Thomas’ pressure on the forecheck caused a turnover in the attacking zone. His first shot from point-blank range was stopped by KP goalie Kyle Abbott (28 saves) but Thomas stuck with it and knocked in the rebound, cutting the lead in half.

The goal seemed to give Canton momentum, as the Bulldogs went into the locker room on the front foot, but it didn’t carry over to the second period. Only nine seconds elapsed before KP added a third. Boldy snapped off a wrsiter just as he was entering the zone on the left wing and French appeared to be unsighted as the puck flew under the bar on the stick side.

“We had some really good chances and then didn’t convert,” said Carlow. “Canton had the momentum off the kill and then I think they scored the very next shift and now it’s a one-goal game. We got a goal to start the second and I think we just kind of ran out of gas.”

Canton needed a spark. Sophomore Brendan Tourgee nearly had a quick response when he sailed into the zone, split a pair of defensemen and got off a backhand shot from a tight angle that Abbott kept out. Sam Carlino had a partial break for the Bulldogs but Robison hustled back to get a piece of the shot from the right face-off dot.

The Bulldogs were able to cut into the lead midway through the second. After a couple of shots from the point by Sean Connolly that Abbott pushed aside, they swung it across the blue line to Ryan Doucette. His shot was heading wide of the post but sophomore Brian Middleton was able to get a telling touch on it to sneak it past Abbott low at the near post.

“To get one there was big and that line of Middleton, (Patrick) Drury, and Blake continue to get it done and I think our other guys can learn a little bit from them because they’re having success and getting big goals just by getting to the tough, dirty areas,” said Shuman.

KP tried to hold on in the third, blocking shots and trying to keep the Bulldogs away from the crease. Eddie Gillis nearly set up Thomas for a tying goal, but Abbott stayed with the tip in front and kept it out. Tourgee then showed off his strength on the puck, holding off two defensemen to allow the Bulldogs to get back onside and then turning into the zone, forcing Abbott into a good save with his shoulder.

Connolly had another shot from the point that forced Abbott into a save. Tommy Phaneuf corralled the rebound in front but was pressured off the puck and couldn’t get a shot on target.

While the chances were piling up, the clock was winding down. Finally, with 2:42 to play. Tourgee found the back of the net. He dragged the puck through a stick check on the left wing boards and then angled towards goal. His backhand shot through the crease somehow snuck through a thicket of legs and found the far corner.

“He’s so gifted on the puck,” Shuman said of Tourgee. “He’s strong on the puck, he’s fast, he’s just got a nose for the net. I think he’s got to trust getting pucks to the net instead of always trying to pick those corners because you can see how offensively gifted he is.”

The pressure continued, as Canton outshot KP 13-3 in the final period. With 1:03 to go, the Bulldogs got the winner. Brennen Pecararo dropped a pass back to sophomore Colin Blake and he pounced on the chance in the slot, slamming the puck into the back of the net.

KP had one last look with the goalie pulled and less than 10 seconds on the clock, but Brad Guden’s shot from the point hit a body to the side of the post and ricocheted into the corner.

“We just got off to a tough start this year with injuries and illness,” Carlow said. “I think we had eight out sick the first week of the season, so we got off to a tough start and we’re just trying to get rolling.”

Canton (4-2-1) will be back home on Saturday afternoon to face Mansfield, which was the last team to hand the Bulldogs a league loss back in February 2017. King Philip (2-4-1) returns to Canton on Saturday night, this time at the IcePlex, to take on Archbishop Williams.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Attleboro

2020-2021 Record: 1-8-0
Coach: Greg Chamberlain
Attleboro had a difficult 2020-21 season, as delays and big breaks early in the season led to three games in three days to close things out. The Bombardiers will be hoping that they can build off that experience and make a push to get back into the postseason mix with several underclassmen stepping in to supplement the returning corps.

The offense has depth to it this season and head coach Greg Chamberlain is expecting a lot of grit and effort in the attacking zone to create scoring chances. Senior Nate Parker will be the leader of the forward line but he will get help from juniors Colin Flynn and Mike Lachance, who have both had two seasons on varsity already. Freshmen Austin Bessette and Nate Conroy have impressed the coaches in the preseason and could be ready to contribute right away.

Defense could be a strong unit this season, as the Bombardiers have decent skaters and decent depth along the blue line. Senior Sean Marshall will be the key to that group, providing on-ice leadership. Sophomore Dane Holske had a good first season on varsity and can help out both in defense and at forward. Senior Nick Piazza is capable of being one of the top netminders in the league and will be back between the pipes for Attleboro this season.

“Biggest thing that is a positive for us is the guys wanna earn some respect and be tough to play against,” said Chamberlain. “We understand what we have but we think our schedule can help us gain some real confidence.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Canton

2020-2021 Record: 11-0-1
Coach: Brian Shuman
The Davenport division has been ruled by Canton, which has won the title every season since the league split. The Bulldogs bring back a lot of returning players to hunt a 12th straight league title and defend the Div. 2 state title that they won back in 2019-20, but for many of the players, this will be their first season with a full slate of games.

Canton is known for its goalscoring, but the Bulldogs typically start from the defensive zone and this year should be no different. Senior Sean Connolly, the reigning league MVP, will be back at the blue line alongside classmate Ryan Doucette. Juniors James Young and Leo Owens should also see plenty of time on the ice with seniors Brennen Pecararo and Jay Kelleher slotting in at defense or at forward. The goalie job is up for grabs coming into the season with a three-way battle going on between senior Aiden French, junior Carson Eagles, and freshman Collin Davis.

As usual, the Bulldogs should be potent in front of the goal this winter. Senior Eamon Kelly, the team’s leading scorer last year, is back for his fourth season on varsity. Seniors Andrew Valkanas, Tommy Phaneuf, Sam Carlino, and Eddie Gillis will all chip in and junior Jeff Chaput could be poised for a big season after scoring 13 points last year.

“Solid team defense is the expectation as always this season, and we ask all positions to be important players all over the ice,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Our forwards need to be able to shut down opponents and our defense must contribute to our offensive production to have a successful year.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Foxboro

2020-2021 Record: 4-6-0
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Just two years removed from one of the best seasons in program history, Foxboro comes into the winter with an experienced squad, featuring nine seniors, to try and make another push for a state tournament berth. Although the Warriors went 4-6 in the shortened 2020-21 season, four of those losses were against Franklin and Canton and the other two were to North Attleboro by a combined three goals, so there is potential for the Warriors to get back to their 2019-20 form.

The forward line should have plenty of firepower this season with the return of seniors Jack Watts, Matt Grace, and Ben Ricketts, who combined for 13 goals in 10 games last year. Fellow forwards Derek Axon and Steven Bridges will give Foxboro good leadership and depth in the forward line. The Warriors also got plenty of scoring from the blue line, with senior Tom Marcucella adding four goals and three assists last winter.

Improvements in the defensive zone (and not playing almost every game against the league’s top-scoring teams) will be expected this season. Marcucella is listed as a defenseman but has the versatility to line up in multiple positions and he will be helped on defense by classmates Dylan Pothier and Brady Callahan. Junior Alex Coviello and sophomore Sully Kenneally are also going to step into bigger roles on the blue line this season.

“I would say all nine of our seniors are going to be major contributors and that’s definitely a first for Foxboro hockey and it’s a good thing!” said Foxboro coach Mark Cedorchuk. “I would say we will be skilled and experienced.”

Franklin

2020-2021 Record: 10-2-1
Coach: Anthony Sarno
This will be a new-look Franklin team that takes the ice this season, looking to win its 11th straight league title and make a deep run in the postseason. The Panthers graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team and only return seven players with significant varsity experience to try and manage a schedule loaded with some of the best teams in the state.

Senior forward Dylan Marchand is the key returning player in the forward line. The team’s leading scorer last year, the speedy center scored eight goals and nine assists in 13 games. Seniors Justin Magazu and Domenic Lampasona and juniors Ben Jarosz and Ryan Sicchio will also return to add more firepower to the attacking end of the ice. With 14 new players on the roster, there could be a lot of new names on the score sheet this winter.

Defensively, the Panthers will lean on experienced players like seniors Aidan Hunt and Jack MacKinnon to guide the younger players, as they take on the high-end talent that Franklin will face right from the start of the season. In goal, sophomore Cole Pouliot-Porter and freshman Jack O’Connor will both get chances between the pipes.

“I am optimistic with the youth we have and excited to watch us grow together,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno. “We will just have to weather the ebbs and flows, try to remain even-keeled, communicate, and trust each other as a team in order for us to grow and move forward as a complete unit.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

King Philip

2020-2021 Record: 9-1-0
Coach: Paul Carlow
Last season, King Philip won a share of its first league title since 2006, picking up a rare win against rival Franklin in the process. With 12 returning players and a roster that has 16 upperclassmen, the Warriors will try to make more history by winning back-to-back titles for the first time in program history and also put together a run in the state tournament.

There are four players coming back this year that averaged a point per game in 2020-21. Three of those players are forwards. Seniors Shaun Fitzpatrick and Sean Crowther and junior James Boldy, who combined for 15 goals and 22 assists in 10 games last season. Senior Nolan Feyler will be a big boost, as the forward had a strong sophomore season but missed all of last year due to an injury. Senior Kevin Birenbaum is another of the nine seniors on the forward line.

Sophomore defenseman Brad Guden is the fourth Warrior who averaged a point per game last year. He broke into the lineup and scored 10 times and had 10 assists in his first varsity season. Seniors Nolan Jackson and Quin Garstka add leadership and experience at the blue line and sophomore Max Robison returns after an impressive rookie season. Senior Kyle Abbott will be back between the pipes for the Warriors.

“We have a tough schedule this season but we are looking to challenge for another Hockomock League title,” said KP coach Paul Carlow. We have great leadership from our seniors and a good mix of skill and speed with the younger players. I’m really looking forward to working with this group and build on last year’s success.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Mansfield

2020-2021 Record: 5-6-0
Coach: Mike Balzarini
With its top six forwards all back from last year, there is optimism that Mansfield will consistently put the puck in the back of the net and in turn, challenge for the Kelley-Rex division title.

And another big positive for the Hornets is junior Chris Hormann back between the pipes with a solid amount of varsity experience now under his belt. That combination of experience in the offensive zone and in the crease is what Mansfield is hoping translates to success. The challenge will be getting a new mix of defensemen working together as the Hornets graduated the majority of that unit.

Leading scorer Mark DeGirolamo returns with a lot of varsity experience under his belt, coming off a season with eight goals and five assists. He’s joined by Dillon Benoit (7 goals, 5 assists), Kyle Oakley (2 goals, 5 assists), Doherty (2 goals, 3 assists), Liam Anastasia (6 goals, 5 assists), and Brayden Purtell (4 goals, 2 assists). As the stats suggest, the Hornets have a very even top two lines which means head coach Mike Balzarini can trust both units to get it done.

Looks for the line of Cullen Egan, Cody Gordon, and Connor Davey to provide energy and some offensive punch throughout the season. Balzarini is looking for some new faces to step up on the blue line. A mix of depth pieces are back, and the Hornets have converted some forwards to defensemen looking to solidify that unit. Patrick Gormley, Brendan Flynn, Will Cameron, Ryan DeGirolamo, and Ty Carroll are all in the mix to get some minutes.

“Last season was difficult for everyone so we’re excited for a more normal year,” Balzarini said. “We’re going to be quick and we have multiple lines that can be a factor for us. We’ve seen some success on offense in our scrimmages so scoring should be a strength, these kids are working well together.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

North Attleboro

2020-2021 Record: 8-6-0
Coach: Kyle Heagney
North Attleboro returns 14 players from last year’s roster, including two of the league’s top three scorers, and the Rocketeers will be looking to use that experience under first-year coach Kyle Heagney (who formerly coached Norton and was a North assistant the past two seasons) to challenge Canton at the top of the Davenport division and to put together a playoff run.

Although the Rocketeers bring back senior forwards Nik Kojoain and Brady Sarro, who combined for 41 points in 14 games last year, North is a team built on hard work and team effort in the offensive zone, rather than on individual stars. Seniors Sam Clarke and Nick Longa and juniors Joe Quinn and Mark Ayvazyan will provide plenty of help in front of goal and all have plenty of experience at the varsity level.

North graduated only one of its defensemen from last year. Senior Austin Comery will be the leader for North at the blue line and he will be assisted by classmate Anthony Westcott. Sophomore Kyle Gruber is back in goal for North after an impressive debut season, where he was thrown in against some of the league’s top teams, including a first appearance against Canton.

“Our strength is that we are not a team of superstars,” said Heagney. “We are a team of hockey players that will win first in the locker room before the ice. We look forward to the season and having fun. These are memories that will live forever with our players.”

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Oliver Ames

2020-2021 Record: 1-10-0
Coach: Mike Zucarelli
Oliver Ames has been in a rebuilding phase under head coach Mike Zucarelli. The Tigers won just once in the shortened 2020-21 season and head into this winter with a roster loaded with underclassmen. While this may be a difficult season, Zucarelli is excited for the potential on his team and the growth the program is making for the future.

Seniors Cam Tower and Eliot Cohen will be instrumental in shoring things up at the blue line. The two defensemen will need to provide leadership for the younger players and help limit the opposition scoring chances. Junior forwards Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron will hope to improve the team’s scoring punch as well, after OA was held to 10 goals in 11 games last year. Zucarelli is already seeing more confidence and better decision-making in the offensive zone and is hoping the team’s work rate will lead to more chances.

With seven sophomores on the roster, OA will rely on its youth movement to turn things around. After a lot of growth in the offseason (both physically and mentally), Zucarelli thinks that the septet is ready for the challenges of playing varsity hockey day-in, day-out. Winger Andrew Livingstone and center Matt Lawson will add to the team’s production in the offensive zone and defenseman Landon Grothe could be a standout in the defensive end of the ice. Junior Brandon Burke had a solid summer with his club team and will be the starting goalie for the Tigers this winter.

“If we continue to put in the effort I have seen both on and off the ice to start this year, I believe these young men have the opportunity to do something special,” Zuccarelli said.

2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Taunton

2020-2021 Record: 0-6-1
Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton had a tough 2020-21 season, as the Tigers were only able to six games, and come into a winter of transition. The roster is going to be very young, with only nine upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) in the program, so there will be a lot of younger players getting their first taste of varsity action and others experiencing a full season for the first time.

The forward line has a lot of speed and the Tigers are going to rely on that energy to try and create scoring chances. Senior Nathan Fernandes is the most experienced forward returning and he will be joined up top by junior Connor McGrath.

Defensively, the Tigers will be an inexperienced group but there is potential and the desire to get better over the course of the season. Senior Ethan Ross will be the leader at the blue line and junior Colton Scheralis can add his experience there as well. Freshman Cameron Tomaszycki will be jumping between the pipes this season to get his first varsity action.

“We are happy to be back for a full year,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “Last season was full of delays, pauses, and feelings of frustrations that made for a very long, short, season. The lessons learned from last season has made the players within the program grateful for a return to a more normal season. We will plan to improve every day and be a better, more complete team by the end of the season.”

Canton and Franklin Skate Away With a Point Apiece

Franklin Boys Hockey
Canton and Franklin boys hockey renewed their rivalry at Metropolis Rink and the rivals battled to a 2-2 tie with all the goals coming in the second period. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Even in the most irregular of seasons, Canton and Franklin’s rivalry on the ice matters.

When the two teams met on Thursday night at the Metropolis Rink, the game had no bearing on either winning yet another league title and neither team was preparing for its typical postseason run. But, regardless of the circumstances, both teams skated a little faster and things were a little more intense because of who was on the opposite bench.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Five days ago, Franklin battled back to tie the game only for Canton to score a late winner. On Thursday, nothing could separate the two teams. Twice Franklin went in front and twice Canton found the tying goal. The teams skated to a 2-2 tie, with all four goals scored in the second period.

“We were on the phone for hours one night figuring out how to do this in a shortened season,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “I know the kids appreciated it immensely on both teams.

“That’s the best team we’ve faced all season and they’re one of the best teams in the state with their skill and their speed. A lot of our guys have never experienced this rivalry before at this level and I’m really proud of them for how they battled.”

Both teams flew out of the gates and the action was end-to-end. Even if the scoring chances were limited in quantity, there were high quality opportunities for both teams to break the deadlock.

“You’ve kind of got to bring yourself back down a little bit because everybody’s amped up tp play,” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno.” Our guys have a ton of respect for those guys and those guys have a ton of respect for us, coaches included, and it’s just good hockey all-around.”

He added, “A season without Canton, wouldn’t have been a season.”

The Panthers had a good early chance with a quick breakout. Joe LeBlanc’s outlet pass from the defensive zone hit fellow defender Justin Abely, who redirected it to Dylan Marchand. Canton goalie Liam Polles (23 saves) made the first stop and then was able to get a block on Justin Magazu’s follow up chance on the rebound.

Eddie Gillis forced a pad save from Franklin netminder Gary Mandia (21 saves) with a deflected shot. Sam Carlino nearly created a great opening for Dylan Coyne right in front of goal, but the Franklin defense managed to get a block and then the loose puck slid away from the stick of Leo Owens at the post.

Magazu was able to open a lane for Domenic Lampasono, but Polles stayed strong and was able to stop the close-range chance.

“They’ve got a lot of quick forwards, lot of speed, so we were just trying to step up and play between the dots, take away the bodies and make them dump the puck in,” Sarno explained. “Neutral zone, we weren’t trying to play with it too much, short passes. In this rink, any turnover in the neutral zone and it’s a breakaway and if anyone can exploit that it’s Canton.”

It was a defensive-zone turnover that would lead to the opener. Just 90 seconds after the intermission, a reverse pass caromed off the end boards and right out in front to Aidan Hunt. Polles nearly made a great save. He was able to catch the one-time, but as he was scrambling across goal to get in position he was deep in the crease and he ended up on the wrong side of the goal line.

Momentum from the goal didn’t last long. It only took a minute for the Bulldogs to even things up. Sean Connolly’s shot from the point was parried by Mandia, who somehow saw the puck through the crowd in front. Franklin wasn’t able to clear the rebound, with Andrew Valkanas keeping it alive and getting it back to Connolly at the blue line. The second shot had eyes and snuck through traffic and into the back of the net.

Seconds after Mandia was able to deny Tommy Phaneuf what looked like a sure goal, the visitors regained the lead. Magazu raced down the left wing and flipped a pass across the slot to Marchand at the far circle and his one-timer gave Polles no chance, sneaking inside the post.

This time, the lead lasted seven minutes before Canton again found an equalizer. Valkanas created the chance by teeing up Jeffrey Chaput. Mandia made the blocker save but Valkanas was there for the rebound.

Things tightened up in the third period, as neither team wanted to take a big risk that could lead to a winning goal for their opponents. Mandia was forced into a good save on Phaneuf and Lampasona dug out the rebound, but Canton was noticeably tiring in its second game in as many days.

“We exerted so much energy in the first and second periods and in the third, credit to them, they were flying and still had their legs and we were hanging on,” said Shuman. “Classic Franklin/Canton game. Comes down to the third period and the last minutes and so happy we had a chance to experience it this year.”

Franklin still had its legs and created a couple of chances that could’ve won it. Magazu was a constant thorn in the Canton defense’s side and he somehow split a pair of defensemen at the blue line, drew a third, and laid a pass off to Lampasona, who missed the net from close range.

With five minutes to play, Marchand got free in the zone and fired a shot that Polles stopped at the near post. Marchand stayed with the rebound and set up Magazu right in front, but again the Canton goalie came through with a big save to preserve a point.

“They played hard this year,” Sarno said. “We didn’t know if we were going to have the season, then we were, then we weren’t. Hats off to the boys, they fought through some adversity.”

Canton (9-0-1), which remarkably has lost one game in the past three seasons combined, will close out its league campaign against Oliver Ames and Foxboro. Franklin (10-2-1), which has clinched at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title, closed out its season on Thursday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Wednesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/06/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
King Philip, 56 @ Mansfield, 75 – FinalMansfield senior Matt Boen poured in 30 points to lead the Hornets to a season-opening win over King Philip. The Hornets raced out to a 22-13 lead after one quarter, extended it to 40-24 by halftime, and put the game away with 26 points in the third quarter. Boen added six assists, five rebounds, five steals, and two blocks in a stellar all-around performance. Freshman Trevor Foley added 10 points and five rebounds in his debut and senior TJ Guy finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. King Philip sophomore Will Laplante impressed in his debut, hitting five three-pointers for 18 points.

Girls Basketball
Canton, 48 @ North Attleboro, 32 – FinalFay Gallery and Kiara Cerruti combined for 40 of Canton’s 48 points, as the Bulldogs rolled to a big road win in the season opener for both teams. Gallery got things going for Canton with 10 points in the first and the Bulldogs built a 14-6 lead. The visitors broke the game open in the second and took a 19-point edge into halftime. Gallery scored nine more before the break and had 19 of her game-high 22 in the first half. Cerruti scored seven in the second, added four in a low-scoring third quarter, and closed out the game with seven more in the fourth, finishing with 18 total. Summer Doherty led North with nine points, including seven in the third, Amanda Kaiser added six, and Taylor McMath had five.

Boys Hockey
North Attleboro, 5 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – FinalNorth Attleboro exploded for four goals in the middle period to earn a season-opening win on the road over Oliver Ames at Asiaf Arena. Jake Gruber redirected a shot from Sean Mahoney to put the Rocketeers on the board and goalie Jimmy Burtch denied a Tiger penalty shot in the first. In the second, Nik Kojoian, Brady Sarro, Mark Ayvazyan, and Charlie Connolly each found the back of the net. Ross Carroll scored for OA in the second period. Sophomore Brandon Burke made 41 saves for the Tigers.

Franklin, 4 @ Foxboro, 2 – FinalFranklin scored three straight goals between the first and second periods to seize the lead, and tacked on an empty net goal with just four seconds to go to earn a hard-fought win over Foxboro. Thomas Marcucella scored midway through the opening period to put Foxboro ahead 1-0 but Franklin’s Dylan Marchand tied it up with under two minutes to go in the period. Justin Abely scored to put the Panthers up 2-1 with 5:42 left in the second and Sean Connelly scored two minutes later to make it 3-1. Foxboro’s Brady Daly cut into the deficit and the Warriors had a power play chance that followed but couldn’t find the tying goal. Marchand iced it with the empty net goal. Will Sheehan had two assists for Franklin while JT Dwyer and Ben Jarosz each had one. Jack Paterson (27 saves) earned the win in net.

Attleboro, 0 @ Canton, 7 – FinalCanton scored three goals in the opening period and added four more in the third to pick up a win over Attleboro in the first game of the season for both teams. Eamon Kelly scored twice while AJ Thomas, Jeff Chaput, Dylan Coyne, Tommy Phaneuf, and James Delello each scored once in the win.

Girls Hockey
Franklin, 0 @ Canton, 4 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Boys Swimming
Franklin, 100 @ Milford, 54 – Final
Oliver Ames @ North Attleboro – Postponed to TBD.

Girls Swimming
Franklin, 105 @ Milford, 52 – Final
Oliver Ames @ North Attleboro – Postponed to TBD.

Gymnastics
Canton vs. Attleboro, 2:15

Teams of the Decade #1: 2019 Canton Boys Hockey

Canton boys hockey

Team: Canton Boys Hockey
Year: 2018-2019
Record: 25-0-1
2019 Davenport Division Champions
2019 Division 2 State Champions


There has been a lot of talented teams in the Hockomock League over the past decade, and narrowing it down to a select few was a tedious and challenging task. With nearly 40 state championship teams, dozens of state finalists, and numerous sectional champions, there was no shortage of talent to select from.

When it came to selecting the top team for the list, there was one squad that stood out above the rest: the 2018-2019 Canton boys hockey team.

Like all of the teams at the top of the list, Canton was loaded with talent on the roster from the first player through the last, and the Bulldogs also checked every box when it came to championships, winning at the league, sectional and state level.

But what really separated this group from the rest was the manner in which they dominated the competition from day one up until the Division 2 State Championship at the TD Garden. Outscoring opponents 133-23, the Bulldogs picked up marquee wins throughout the regular season; they were great from the first game (7-2 over Plymouth South) all the way to their crowning achievement against Tewksbury (6-2).

Some of the great teams on this list have had slow starts while others came up just short late in the tournament or in the state championship. And of course, there were some teams that had a hiccup here or there in the middle of the season against top competition.

This Canton team rolled from the opening puck drop down in Bourne, a season-opening win over Plymouth South to avenge a heartbreaking loss that abruptly ended their season a year prior. In fact, you could circle that game — the 2018 D2 South Semifinal 5-3 loss to Plymouth South — as one of the biggest motivators for the 2018-2019 squad.

“I’m going to use a word that HockomockSports came up with for this team and that’s relentless,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “I think that was the perfect word that sums up this team, they just did not stop. I think we scored the more goals in the opening couple of minutes of a game than I’ve ever been apart of as a coach.

“From the opening puck drop to the very end, just not stopping. Coming shift after shift, three or four lines, and six or seven defensemen playing consistently. Just non-stop and you don’t have to be a hockey aficionado to know that this team was a relentless group of driven and talented hockey players who were on a mission. Not even from day one, it was from the end of the season before from that heartbreaking loss to Plymouth South.”

And when the postseason rolled around, the Bulldogs were at their very best. Against the best competition in the area, Canton made it look easy by outscoring teams 29 goals in just five games, scoring six or more goals in four of those contests.

“We were just so close with each other,” said Ryan Nolte, a senior captain and forward that registered an impressive 71 points (32 goals, 39 assists) that season. “Most of us played together our whole lives growing up. We all had the common goal of playing for the varsity team, we were all together for one last ride my senior year so we wanted to make the most of it.

“We were just so competitive in practice, no one wanted to lose. I think that translated onto the ice in games. And off the ice, I think it was probably the closest group out of all four years I was there. We were always together, even after film and after practice, we’d hang out together. I think being such a close-knit group played a huge role in our season.”

Canton notched two impressive wins before the new year, knocking off a good Franklin team (that went on to the D1 South Finals that season) and dominating Westwood, 4-0. The Wolverines entered unbeaten and didn’t lose a game the rest of the regular season, eventually meeting with the Bulldogs in the South final.

When league play began in January, Canton continued to have its way with opponents. The Bulldogs won their first six league games by outscoring foes 36-5. A good non-league win over Newburyport preceded a two-game span that ended up being a big defining point in the season.

A Wednesday night trip to Franklin nearly derailed the perfect season as Zac Falvey and Scott Elliott each scored to put the Panthers up 2-0 through two periods. But in true fashion of a great team, the Bulldogs battled back. Nolte set up Jack Connolly less than a minute into the first period and Tommy Ghostlaw tied it 2-2 less than two minutes later. Despite playing with a 101-degree temperature, junior Johnny Hagan (21 goals, 31 assists) scored the game-winner with under two minutes to play.

“I’d say the moment when we kind of realized we were really good was that second Franklin game,” Nolte said. “Johnny Hagan was playing with the flu, we were down 2-0 and probably played two of our worst periods of the year, and we went out, in Franklin, and scored three in the third to come back and win 3-2. In the locker room after that game, it was like ‘Okay, we have a real shot at this.’”

Just days later, Canton was put to the test against a hungry North Attleboro squad. After letting a 2-0 lead slip away, Nolte notched his 100th career point by setting up Owen Lehane for the game-winner with just over two minutes to go.

“The two games back-to-back that really showed the grit and mettle was the game at Franklin which we were down 2-0 at their place and came back with three goals in the third period to win 3-2,” Shuman said. “And then to gut out a tough win against a really good North Attleboro team, who had us on the ropes, and we scored a late goal to get the win. That showed they had the mental toughness to do something special.”

Canton completed its unbeaten league schedule with a win over Taunton and then really beefed up its resume by knocking off top non-league foes: Bishop Feehan (6-0), Smithfield (8-1), Shrewsbury (5-0), Hanover (4-3), and Natick (3-0), garnering them attention for the Super 8 (Division 1A) Tournament.

“This team was unique and one way was because some of our best players had a confidence — not a cockiness — but a confidence that when they played well, we would win,” Shuman said. “Ryan Nolte, Johnny Hagan, Mike Staffiere…those guys in particular, the guys we were leaning on to score big goals and make big saves. They were definitely the most confident group I’ve coached. That mentality was contagious and infectious throughout our team. When they have that attitude, it really filters throughout the team.

The lone “blemish” of the season came in the opening round of the Quinn Tournament. Hagan scored a late equalizer for the Bulldogs against Boston Latin, with the game going down as a 2-2 in the MIAA record books. Since it was a tournament, it went into overtime and Hagan added another goal to give Canton the win. In the tournament finale, the Bulldogs put an exclamation mark on their resume with a 6-1 beating of Coyle & Cassidy.

The Super 8 committee met two days later and there Bulldogs got four votes in the first round of nominations to advance to the second stage, but didn’t get nominated again and were not selected despite boasting a 20-0-1 record.

“Honestly, I thought we had a shot at it,” Shuman said of the Super 8. “To go undefeated is incredibly difficult. If you’re involved in sports, you know how hard it is, day in and day out, game in and game out, get everybody’s best and respond like we did, it was pretty remarkable. We didn’t talk about (the Super 8), but I think it was on everyone’s mind, including myself.

“I felt the MIAA and the coaches association had opportunities to shake it up over the years and get teams into the Super 8 tournament that never had the chance before. Teams have those windows where they have a great group and they can hang with the best teams in the state. Like Wilmington had a good run, and Franklin had a good run in Division 2 that those teams should get a chance. I thought we made a great case…if they didn’t give it to us, they’ll never give it to a Division 2 team as far as I’m concerned. I think it would have been fun, it would have been special but everything works out for a reason.”

Longtime Franklin coach Chris Spillane, who guided the first Hockomock team to the Super 8 tournament in 2015, saw the Bulldogs a handful of times throughout the season and suffered a pair of setbacks to Canton as mentioned above.

“It’s heartbreaking that Canton didn’t get a look [in 2019] and didn’t get a sniff this year,” Spillane said. “The process is flawed tremendously because people get so caught up on Div. 1 and Div. 2 and there’s no doubt in my mind watching Canton play last year and this year there was no doubt in my mind that not only would they have held their own they probably would’ve had success.”

If the Bulldogs were disappointed by the snub, they certainly didn’t let it translate to their play on the ice. When the Division 2 South tournament started the following week, it was all business for Canton. And for the rest of the bracket, it was trouble.

“You always want to be playing your best hockey going into the playoffs and that’s what this team was doing,” Shuman said. “You look at that Boston Latin overtime win, it was like a playoff game so it showed we were ready for the postseason. As bummed out as a lot of kids were that we tied the game, it showed me we were ready for the playoffs that we went on to win in overtime.

“When you get to the playoffs, everyone is good. We looked at our side of the bracket, you could not have structured a more difficult road to the Garden from D2 South.”

It was like a revenge tour for the previous decade during the playoffs. After drubbing Norwood (6-0) to start the tournament, the Bulldogs welcomed league rival Oliver Ames to the Ice House. Despite holding a 5-2 win over the Tigers from earlier in the season, OA was a team with a successful track record against Canton in the tournament. Back in 2011, the Tigers stunned Canton in overtime, and two years later OA posted a 2-0 shutout in the semifinals.

True to form, the Tigers gave Canton their stiffest test of the tournament. Going stride for stride, up and down the ice, trading hits, it was one of the most competitive games of the year. A one-minute span in the second period changed the game as Nolte tipped in a shot from Connolly, and just 52 seconds later, Chris Lavoie redirected a shot from Matt Martin. Staffiere (17 saves) stood tall in net as the Tigers continued to pressure but Hagan recorded his 100th career point with an empty net goal to secure the win.

Up next was a trip to Gallo Arena, which had recently turned into a house of horrors for the Bulldogs in the month of March. Dating back to 2013, Canton reached at least the semifinals each season, which meant a trip down over the bridge to Gallo. And unfortunately, it also meant heartbreak. A 2-0 loss to OA in 2013, a 3-2 loss to Medfield in 2014, a 4-1 setback to Westwood in 2015, being upset 4-2 by Scituate in 2016, and back-to-back heartbreakers: a 3-2 loss to Medway in 2017 and the 5-3 defeat to Plymouth South a year prior.

“The word was that we couldn’t win at Bourne,” Nolte said. “We wanted to keep the haters in the rearview and prove them wrong.”

Not only did Canton go on to win at Bourne, they decimated the competition. Going against one of the best goalies in the region in Norwood senior Austin Reardon, the Bulldogs put together a terrific performance, scoring six goals against one of the stingiest defenses around.

To top that performance, Canton went on to light the lamp eight times in the South sectional final. Westwood, which hadn’t lost a game since its setback to the Bulldogs in December, entered with a 16-1-6 record but it took Canton less than a minute to score and the rout was on from there.

“You talk about being relentless? We scored early in that game and that set the tone for the entire game,” Shuman said. “We just didn’t stop at that point, we continued to put the pressure on. There aren’t many times you can look back and see an 8-0 win in the sectional final. It’s tough to beat a team twice and tough to beat a team with that much talent but it was truly a team effort. Our depth really carried us that game, that was the most complete game of the season.”

While nothing is given, and the Canton boys hockey program had certainly seen its share up ups and downs during the postseason over the past decade, it certainly felt like the state championship was just a formality; that’s how good this team was playing at the time.

If there was any doubt or nerves while playing under the bright lights at the TD Garden against Tewksbury for the D2 State Championship, it certainly didn’t show. In typical fashion, Canton needed just five minutes to find the back of the net. Lehane blasted a shot from the point and Timmy Kelleher buried the rebound. Just 90 seconds later, Ronan O’Mahony set up Connolly for a blast for a 2-0. And just 16 seconds later, Nolte joined in on the scoring party and suddenly Canton had a 3-0 lead just 7:49 into the game.

Tewksbury battled back in the second, cutting the deficit to 4-2, but Staffiere came up with some big saves to preserve the lead and Hagan added two more goals to complete the hat trick, earning a 6-2 win and the state championship.

“You dream of getting off to a good start like we did but it’s a 45-minute hockey game and you don’t win a game in 15 minutes,” Shuman said. “We knew Tewksbury didn’t play their best, they played much better in the second and scored a couple of goals but credit to our guys, we responded and fought back like we had all year long. We came out swinging early on, took a few blows in the second but then closed it out in the third.”






Listening Options:

                                        


Canton boys hockey
Canton boys hockey

Opponent
Result
Plymouth SouthW, 7-2
Plymouth NorthW, 5-0
FranklinW, 3-1 (Recap)
WestwoodW, 4-0
AttleboroW, 9-0
MansfieldW, 4-0 (Recap)
King PhilipW, 2-1
Oliver AmesW, 5-2 (Recap)
FoxboroW, 4-0
StoughtonW, 12-2
NewburyportW, 3-1
FranklinW, 3-2 (Recap)
North AttleboroW, 3-2 (Recap)
TauntonW, 5-0
Bishop FeehanW, 6-0
SmithfieldW, 8-1
ShrewsburyW, 5-0
HanoverW, 4-3
NatickW, 3-0
Boston LatinT, 2-2 (W, 3-2 in OT)
Coyle & CassidyW, 6-1 (Recap)
MedwayW, 6-0
Oliver AmesW, 3-0 (Recap)
NorwoodW, 6-1 (Recap)
WestwoodW, 8-0 (Recap)
TewksburyW, 6-2 (Recap)






Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey

Canton boys hockey