Canton, 68 vs. Middleboro, 34 – Final – Canton built a double-digit lead in the first quarter, racing out to a 17-7 lead after eight minutes. The Bulldogs extended that lead to 33-15 at halftime and then blew the game open in the third, taking a 59-26 advantage into the third. Sophomore Devin Foster had 16 points for Canton while Tony Harris had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Danny Hartnett chipped in with 12 points.
North Attleboro, 59 @ Milford, 44 – Final – Samantha Taggart scored 18 points and Liz Morehouse added 12, as North Attleboro set up a winner-take-all game with Foxboro on Friday night to decide the Davenport division title. Kate Irwin scored 15 points and Nicole Dahlgren had 14 for the Hawks.
Mansfield, 5 @ Plymouth South, 0 – Final – Mansfield senior Matt Farragher scored his first of three goals in the first period, which turned out to be the game-winner. The Hornets added three goals in the second period, including one on the power play and one shorthanded. Mansfield added an empty netter in the third period. Mansfield senior Tony Rullo had the shutout in net.
Oliver Ames, 4 vs. St. Peter Marian, 0 – Final – After a scoreless first period, OA seniors Jared Costello and Evan DiMartinis each scored a goal in the second to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Brett Williams netted a pair of goals in the third period to ice the game for OA. Sophomore Max Ward recorded two assists in the game and freshman Owen Connor made nine saves in net to record his first career shutout.
King Philip @ Mansfield, 7:00
Canton, 4 @ Medway/Ashland, 0 – Final
Franklin, 1 @ Ursuline, 7 – Final
King Philip, 2 vs. Cohasset/Hanover, 2 – Final
Canton, 1 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Mansfield scored a pair of goals in the first period and killed a late penalty in the third period to earn the win over the Bulldogs. Junior Adam Anastos tipped in a shot from sophomore Austin Ricker on the power play to open the scoring with six minutes to play in the first. The Hornets then doubled the lead late in the first, with Cullin Anastasia scoring off a feed from James Bezeau. Canton sophomore Ryan Nolte cut the deficit in half in the second period with a power play goal but the Bulldogs couldn’t find an equalizer. “We had two great practices coming into the game,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini. “We played great in the first period and that penalty kill at the end was huge.” Tony Rullo made 29 saves for the Hornets.
Foxboro, 1 @ North Attleboro, 8 – Final – North Attleboro senior Zach McGowan scored a natural hat trick, netting three straight goals in the second period to help the Rocketeers to a big win. Foxboro’s Mike Carresi opened the scoring in the game but goals from North’s Will Yeomans and Erik Clements had Big Red ahead after one period. Jason McNeany, Devin Sparrow and Colin Young also scored for North Attleboro.
Stoughton, 3 vs. Apponequet/Connolly, 3 – Final – Stoughton scored the first goal to take a 1-0 lead but had to battle back late in the second to tie the game 2-2. Both sides scored once in the third period. Sean Doherty, Ryan Chipman and Brendan Campbell each had a goal for the Black Knights.
Div. 1 State Dual Meet (Franklin) – Franklin took home third at the D1 State Duals meet. After a bye in the first round, Franklin beat Framingham 42-16 but suffered its first in state loss of the season with a 31-24 loss to Lincoln-Sudbury in the semifinals. The Panthers won the third place match 40-22 over St. John’s Prep.
Div. 2 State Dual Meet (North Attleboro, Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames took down Concord-Carlisle 36-15 in the opening round but fell to top-seeded Central Catholic, 46-12, in the quarterfinals. The Tigers beat Beverly, 42-34, in a consolation match. Senior Liston Funai, sophomore Anthony Berksza and sophomore Dean Pacini each went 3-0 on the day. North Attleboro had a bye in the first round but fell to Marshfield on a tiebreaker (match wins). The Rocketeers took down Beverly (52-13) and Algonquin (41-24) in consolation matches.
Div. 3 State Dual Meet – Foxboro won the D3 State Dual Meet title on Saturday. The Warriors beat Ashland 44-22, Norton 56-17 and top-seeded Wayland 45-32 to claim the state title. Adam Lanctot (106), Matt Kelley (132), Tom Gallagher (138), Brian Kelley (145), and Matt Mullally (160) all went 3-0 for the day.
Walpole Quad (Canton) – Canton went 1-2 on the day, securing a winning record in dual meets for 2016-2017. The Bulldogs picked up a win over Scituate but fell to Hingham and Walpole (45-36).
Franklin County Tech Quad (King Philip) – King Philip went 4-0, picking up wins over Gramby Regional (66-18), Smith Voke (69-6), Franklin Tech (50-30) and Shepherd (64-18).
Sandwich Quad (Mansfield) – The Hornets went 2-0 on the day, improving their record to 15-9, more than doubling their win total from a season ago. Mansfield beat Quincy (33-27) and Sandwich (37-30) on the day.
Franklin, 126 @ Medway, 140 – Final
Sharon, 129.5 @ Shrewsbury, 133.9 – Final
Sharon, 129.5 vs. Westboro, 122 – Final
Canton, 3 @ Plymouth, 1 – Final – Canton sophomore Maggie Malloy scored a hat trick, netting all three of her goals in the final period to help the Bulldogs pick up two points on the road.
King Philip, 9 @ Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton, 0 – Final
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 3 vs. Westwood, 2 – Final
Stoughton, 2 @ Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake, 9 – Final
Attleboro, 129.2 vs. Braintree, 153.1 – Final
While the Tigers had seven players hit the penalty box over the final 30 minutes, their ability to kill off man-advantage opportunities for Mansfield resulted in momentum gained for OA.
“We work a lot on PK in practice and it’s very aggressive,” said first year OA head coach Sean Bertoni. “We emphasize blocked shots so we get into shooting lanes. Hopefully we don’t have to kill too many penalties – we had way too many tonight – but those PK guys worked extremely hard. Right after that 5-on-3 we go out and score a goal so we took some momentum there which was great.”
The 5-on-3 Bertoni referenced was Mansfield’s first power play opportunity that came early in the second period. After a delayed interference call, the Hornets were able to keep the puck and draw a hooking call to get a two man advantage.
Despite having a full 1:30 with the two-man advantage, Mansfield registered just two shots on goal. Oliver Ames capitalized on the momentum gained from the kill, scoring the opener just 30 seconds into being even strength.
Ward, who had a penalty shot saved in the first period by Mansfield goalie Tony Rullo (21 saves), blocked a clearance in the offensive end and went right to goal and tucked the puck in to make it 1-0.
Mansfield nearly tied it a minute later when Matt Farragher had his shot saved by Walsh and the rebound chance was scoffed. The Hornets had a power play with 6:43 left, and then again with 3:00 to play but couldn’t find the back of the net either time.
“It wasn’t ideal – we were 1/6 on the power play and that includes the 5-on-3 for 90 seconds,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini. “That’s not what we want. We moved the puck well on the 5-on-3 but we maybe have two shots. We’ve been focusing more on our penalty kill, which was great tonight, but we just have to get back to basics for offense. The guys know the premise but we were trying to rush it.
“OA did a great job of killing the penalties and keeping us outside. They got in front of the shots or got their sticks in the passing lanes so it was a little frustrating. We lost two face offs clean on the 5 on 3 and two more on 5-on-4 and that just sucks the momentum right away from you.”
The Hornets once again went a man up with 5.3 seconds to play in the second. After a quick save, Mansfield once again won the face off and a quick shot resulted in a rebound right to freshman Ryan Sullivan. He batted the back into the back of the net as the horn sounded and the referee declared it a good goal to tie the game 1-1 through two periods.
Oliver Ames again went down a man just 2:31 into the final period on a high sticking call but the Hornets couldn’t convert. In fact, the Tigers had the best chance on a shorthanded attempt with Bourne streaking in but his back hand attempt sailed high and off the glass.
“I thought defensively we played pretty well,” Bertoni said. “We blocked a lot shots, I don’t think we gave up a lot of shots. They didn’t have a ton of scoring chances and they also missed some opportunities.”
OA was whistled for too many meant with 10:49 to play but Mansfield couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end. With the puck in the defensive zone and the power play over, the Hornets went for a switch but a failed clearance resulted in the puck on the stick of Williams and he took one stride towards goal before unleashing a shot off the iron and in to make it 2-1.
“Our forecheck is pretty effective when our first line is on the puck hard, stick on stick and body on body,” Bertoni said. “Brett Williams, who’s having a good year for us, picked up the puck and buried one which was huge. We’re very effective on the forecheck.
Mansfield killed a late penalty and then pulled Rullo with a minute to go. But OA won a face off in the defensive zone and Bourne raced out with the puck to bury the empty net goal to get to the final score of 3-1.
“I hope the kids get it, that when we’re 5 on 5, we can skate with most teams we play against,” Bertoni said. “We have depth too, we roll three lines. We have to do a better job, there’s no excuses to take that many penalties.”
Oliver Ames (7-3-1 overall, 3-1-1 Hockomock) will try to extend its unbeaten streak to six when it visits Franklin – Bertoni’s alma mater – on Saturday. Mansfield (5-5-1, 2-2) will look to bounce back when they take on King Philip at Foxboro Sports Center the same day.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Sometimes even the top teams need a friendly bounce every once in a while.
With Saturday afternoon’s game at the Foxboro Sports Center tied at 2-2 early in the third period, Franklin senior Noah Nasuti turned at the blue line and flung a puck on net. It landed a few feet from goal and bounced on its edge and slid past Mansfield senior goalie Tony Rullo, who finished with 28 saves and had a strong overall game to keep the Hornets in it.
That bounce allowed the Panthers, who seemed nervous at times in the attacking zone, to breathe a little easier. Two late goals, one on the power play and the other into an empty net, sealed a 5-2 victory for Franklin and put an end to a two-game losing streak.
“I know out third goal won’t be making the ‘Top 10’ on Sportscenter, but it was big for us,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “It gave us a little breathing room and we weren’t gripping the sticks so tight and we got into a flow.”
Everyone came into Saturday’s game thinking that Franklin was going to come out flying, motivated by last weekend’s state final rematch loss to St. Mary’s (Lynn) and the shocking loss to Taunton in midweek, which was the first loss for the Panthers in the league since the 2013-14 season. Franklin had not lost twice in the Hock since 2012-13.
Rather than Franklin asserting itself in the first, it was Mansfield that came out stronger and took the lead inside the first five minutes. James Bezeau fed a pass from the half-boards into the middle to a streaking Cullin Anastasia, who had a step on his defender and then slotted his shot five-hole for the opener.
“Everybody’s first shift, we wanted them to make good plays, get the first shot on net, make the first hit, and have them make the first save,” said first-year Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We put in a good 15 minutes of hockey in the first period.”
Franklin had several chances in the first period to try and get the game on level terms. Nasuti had a good chance knocked down by Rullo, Luke Downie had a wrist shot from the left circle snagged and in the final minute Brendan O’Rielly had a one-timer from the slot saved by Rullo as well.
Despite a 9-8 advantage in shots, Spillane was not happy with the way the Panthers started the game. He said, “I expected us to come out in that first period and just explode and we didn’t do that. We have a lot of work in front of us. We haven’t played a full game…It’s hard to figure these guys out.”
The Panthers picked up the energy in the second period and started to control the play. Downie created a scoring opportunity on the forecheck but shot it into the chest of Rullo. Downie set up James Kilroe for a point-blank chance a couple minutes later but the shot was partially blocked and covered.
Mansfield almost doubled its lead against the run of play when Patrick McCafferty got behind the Franklin defense but his backhand effort was kept out by a combination of Owen Ginley’s shoulder and the post. Rullo then came through with a huge stop, going post-to-post and stretching out a pad to rob Adam Assad after a give-and-go with Jeremy Miller.
The pressure eventually paid off for Franklin with freshman defenseman Colin Oppelt having a shot from the point tipped by Kilroe and the rebound cleaned up by O’Rielly to tie the game. Just 10 seconds later and it was the Panthers in front after Dan Magazu sliding a shot under Rullo’s pads, assisted by Kenny DeMerchant and Jack McGrath.
“[Dan] is a sophomore we don’t play much, but he scores a goal every time we put him out there,” said Spillane. That’s his third goal, so putting players out there like that lets the upperclassmen know their jobs are not secure.”
A minute later, Mansfield tied the score again. After a scramble in front of Ginley, freshman Chris Jenkins got the final touch (Cullen Murphy was credited on the score sheet) to make it 2-2, despite the Hornets being outshot 12-7 in the period.
“The issue in the second period was that we played their game; we didn’t play our game,” said Balazarini. “We were flooding the neutral zone, taking away their D-to-D pass, and then we kind of strayed away from that.”
Franklin got the break it needed 2:24 into the third period, when Nasuti saw his shot find the back of the net.
“It’s tough,” Balzarini said. “They were getting pucks to the net from everywhere. They did a good job at that. It is what it is. That’s hockey. But we didn’t stop and we had some good chances.”
The Panthers were on top on the scoreboard and on the ice, but Mansfield had its chances to get back into the game. Matt Farragher twice in the span of a minute came flying down the right wing and had a shot from the edge of the circle but Ginley (22 saves) was able to glove one and stand tall to stop the other.
Franklin doubled its lead on the power play with 2:09 remaining. Assad pushed the puck to Miller behind the goal and dashed to the net. Miller passed it back out in front and Assad roofed it for a 4-2 lead. O’Rielly made sure of the two points with an empty net goal (his second) in the final minute.
“I like the way we competed in the second and third periods,” said Spillane. “Our forecheck really came to life, our speed jumped out, and the goals came, but that should be consistent every game, every shift.”
After a trying week, Spillane was happy to see the Panthers bounce off their uncustomary position at the bottom of the league standings. He said, “I think we’re going to see this every game in the Hockomock League. Once the message was sent that they’re beatable. we’re going to get everyone’s ‘A’ game. There’s no gimmes, at least not for us.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – Because of the snow that forced a postponement of Saturday’s game with Taunton, Mansfield had gone a week without taking the ice for a competitive game. It may have played a role in the Hornets getting off to a rough start against visiting Brockton on Wednesday evening at the Foxboro Sports Center.
Mansfield managed to shrug off the sluggishness, controlling play for the majority of the game, and pulling out a 2-0 victory thanks to a pair of goals by senior Joey Olsen that moved the Hornets to 4-3-1 on the season and extended their win streak to three games.
“It was definitely sluggish,” said first-year Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini of the slow start. “I thought we had two good days of practice but it didn’t translate to the game. We couldn’t get anything going. Granted we held them to three shots, but we weren’t mentally prepared.”
The Hornets struggled to get the puck moving from defense into the attack. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, until the final few minutes of the first when Mansfield strung together several chances to take an 8-4 lead in shots.
Freshman Chris Jenkins had the first real scoring opportunity for the hosts on a two-on-one with Cullin Anastasia, catching Brockton in a line change, but his shot was stopped by Adam Stagnone. The third line chipped in and brought some energy, nearly creating the opening goal when Adam Anastos fed Jaden Mezner in front only for Spagnone to again come through with the stop.
Jenkins had another chance when he dove forward to knock a bouncing puck on goal in the final minute of the first but the Hornets went into the intermission scoreless.
“We talked to them in between periods and said, this is not how we’re used to playing,” said Balzarini. “We had to switch some lines around…and guys had to get used to each other, but still no excuse.”
(The change in lines was forced by an off-ice injury to senior Chad Piotti, who was in a car accident this week that will cause him to miss the rest of the season. Piotti was at Wednesday’s game.)
Mansfield started the second period with a two-man advantage and it seemed to get the Hornets clicking with Matt Farragher, Jenkins, and Olsen each having chances. Shortly after the power play ended, the Hornets got the lead. Olsen was in the right place on the edge of the crease to backhand a loose puck under the bar (assisted by Jenkins and Farragher).
Four minutes later, a major penalty forced Mansfield to try and clear off four minutes of man advantage for the Boxers. Tony Rullo (19 saves) came through with a few clutch saves but the shots were mostly from the outside thanks in large part to the play of defensemen Tim Arnold and Tyler Oakley, who were both immense in limiting the Boxers to shots from the edges.
Balzarini explained, “It was huge. For the past week, we’ve changed our penalty kill and it’s worked to a ’T’. We wanted to be a little more aggressive, face the play a little more, keep them to the outside, and it was a huge four-minute kill.”
With three minutes left in the second, again just after the Hornets had a power play, Olsen popped up with his second of the night. The senior, who played last season with his club team, raced onto a puck through the middle, got a step on his defenseman, and roofed a backhand shot over Spagnone’s shoulder. Jenkins picked up his second assist on the play.
“I didn’t get a chance to coach [Joey] and didn’t know how good he was,” said Balzarini, who coached Milford prior to taking over the Hornets this season. “It doesn’t matter who his linemates are. He’s a grinder, he’s skillful, and he sees the ice really well. Him and Matt have been playing well together.”
In the third period, Mansfield sought to protect its two-goal lead and looked for the third that would seal the points. The Hornets outshot Brockton 13-5 in the period and but for the heroics of Spagnone, who robbed Mansfield on several great scoring opportunities, it could have been a much bigger win.
Farragher had his shot ricochet off the goalie’s mask and Anastasia saw his backhander from the slot kicked aside. Olsen had a bid for a hat trick denied as well. Meanwhile Rullo looked comfortable in goal for the Hornets and was largely untroubled in the third.
“We want to make sure that we’re not trying to get that third goal by costing a turnover,” said Balzarini. “I told them I didn’t want anyone being a hero and I wanted to play 5-on-5 hockey. We almost scored off the face-off, but we’ll take the two points.”
Mansfield (4-3-1) will try to keep the win streak alive after another break. The Hornets will have a week off before their next game, against Foxboro next Wednesday.
RAYNHAM, Mass. – As three Coyle and Cassidy forwards pressed deep into the offensive zone, Mansfield’s last line of defense stepped up.
Tim Arnold bodied the Coyle forward, jarring the puck loose. Arnold corralled the loose puck and darted down the right-side boards. As Arnold carried deep into the offensive zone, he found a target. Freshman forward Chris Jenkins tapped home the pass from Arnold to give the Hornets an early one goal lead.
Mansfield took advantage of uneven opportunities to exploit Coyle’s defense in a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night. With 10 penalties between the two teams, the ice opened up for skating and scoring opportunities. Mansfield outshot Coyle Cassidy 33-19, as much of the game was spent in the Warrior’s offensive zone.
After mustering only one goal on their nine previous power play opportunities, the Hornets found success with the extra skater. Later in the first period, forward Matt Farragher received a pass at the point from Jenkins. Farragher worked the puck to Cullen Anastasia on the half wall and darted through the slot. Anastasia received the pass and quickly moved it back Farragher for a one time goal.
“The past couple days we have been working on moving the puck quickly,” Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini said. ” On your stick off your stick and making sure you’re making good decisions without the puck.”
Although the power play goal was the last of the night for Mansfield, the pressure continued. Faced with defending a four-on-three power play midway through the second period, Farragher poked the puck loose from a Coyle defender. With a burst of speed Farragher skated down the far side boards. As a Warrior defender closed in, Farragher once again beat Coyle goaltender Brett Borges (31 saves) over his blocker side. This time, the puck rang the post and bounced away into the corner of the offensive zone.
“In our game against Winthrop we didn’t play well in the neutral zone and allowed them to gain speed in the neutral zone,” Balzarini said. “So we worked on that in practice too, making sure our transition in the neutral zone from offense to defense was much better.”
The lone lapse for Mansfield came in the game’s final frame. Coyle’s Jonathan Giguere poked the puck free past the Mansfield defense to Ben Tufts. Tufts dipped his shoulder left forcing Mansfield goaltender Tony Rullo down to the ice and snuck the puck into the right corner of the net.
In his second start of the season Rullo tallied 18 saves, shutting down several Coyle scoring chances. Late in the first period, a Mansfield turnover left Rullo facing a two-on-one disadvantage. After a quick pass exchange, Rullo flashed his left pad to deny the one-time blast. The puck dribbled into the corner and the Warrior scoring chance subsided.
“He has been practicing well and it’s a tough decision because [we] really have two number one goalies,” Balzarini said. “He wanted this game and it was great to see him win. He earned it. We all did.”
Mansfield (1-2-1) faces off against Norwood next Wednesday at 2:00 at the Foxboro Sports Center.
2015-16 Record: 7-11-2 (1-8-1) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro narrowly missed out on a playoff spot last season, losing in its final game against a Div. 3 opponent and this year’s team will be motivated to try and get back in the postseason under new head coach Mark Homer, who made the switch from Oliver Ames where he coached the past three years, and with a new home – moving from Aleixo Arena in Taunton to the new England Sports Village just a couple minutes from the school.
In what has become a common issue for the Bombardiers program, Attleboro will not have
a lot of depth to call on this winter with only 15 skaters and two goalies on the varsity roster, but there is some experience coming back. Senior P.J. Elliott is a talented skater and stick handler who will be counted on to provide the scoring punch along with Jake Parker and Dylan Weallac on the first line.
Sam McKenzie emerged last year as a physical presence and senior captain Eddie Noel will partner him on the top defensive pairing. Sophomore Evan Andrews and freshman Derek Rivet will battle it out for the starting goaltender position for the Bombardiers. There are several other underclassmen who could make immediate impacts, including sophomore forward Cam Littig.
“With the new facility in Attleboro the hopes are that in the coming years, the roster will grow to include increasing depth to the program,” said Homer. “The goal of this years team is to stay healthy, work together as one unit on and off the ice, and get better each day. It’s a new day for Attleboro High School Hockey with a promising future.”
2015-16 Record: 18-4-5 (8-0-2) 2015-16 Finish: Won the Div. 1 State Championship Head Coach: Chris Spillane
After being the first Hockomock League team selected for the prestigious Super 8 tournament in 2014-15 and then graduating 21 players, Franklin was supposed to need a year to rebuild, but the Panthers showed just how strong their program is by bringing home the Div. 1 state championship in a dramatic double overtime thriller against St. Mary’s at the TD Garden. It was the program’s first state title at any level since 1983.
The Panthers graduated another large class of 13 seniors from last year’s champions and lost promising freshman defenseman Kevin Mackay who transferred to Dexter. Still, expectations remain as high as ever for the Panthers, who have won four straight league titles. Much of that excitement comes from the potential in the offensive zone with Franklin returning last year’s title game hero Luke Downie, leading goal scorer Jeremy Miller, and Brendan O’Reilly and the top line of seniors Joey Blasie, Adam Assad, and James Kilroe. Sophomores Matt Holmes and Zach Falvey will add depth to the offense.
Defense is where the Panthers will have some new faces, although seniors Tom Sicchio and Stan Carter will add some experience to the back line. Juniors Jack McGrath and Connor Norton will make the jump up from the JV team to add to the defensive lines and freshman Collin Opet will also see playing time on the defense as well. For the third season in a row, Franklin will have a new No. 1 goalie with senior Cam Benhamand junior Owen Ginley will battle it out for the starting spot.
“For the Panthers to be successful this year it will be a result of a team defense concept,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The offense will take care of itself, we will be focusing on strong play in our zone.”
2015-16 Record: 9-8-4 (5-2-3) 2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 South playoffs Head Coach: Paul Carlow
The Warriors made strides last winter under first-year head coach Paul Carlow, including a regular season tie with Franklin and reaching the postseason for the first time since the program was moved back up to Div. 1. This season, Carlow is hopeful for a return to the postseason and to challenge for KP’s first league title since 2007, despite losing 10 seniors from last year’s roster.
The offensive zone should be strong for the Warriors this season with several key returning players that put up solid totals last winter. Junior forward Collin Cooke is the main weapon after putting up 11 goals and 15 assists for a team-high 26 points to be named a league all-star. He is joined up front by senior Ritchie Lucente, who scored 10 goals and had nine assists last year, and senior Jacob Kelly, who finished with 11 goals and nine assists.
KP will also return a few important pieces on the defensive side of the puck, including junior goalie Shane Frommer, who was 3-1-1 in his five starts last year. Frommer’s start to the hockey season will be slightly delayed after helping the football team win its first Super Bowl title. In front of the Frommer will be senior Jeremy Smith, who chipped in with three goals and four assists last season.
“We had some success last season qualifying for the D1 playoffs,” said Carlow. “We have our work cut out for us this season… We are a young team with only five seniors but I expect us to get back to the playoffs.”
2015-16 Record: 5-10-5 (4-4-2) 2015-16 Finish: Missed the playoffs Head Coach: Mike Balzarini
Last winter was atypical for the Hornets, who missed out on the playoffs and finished fourth in the Kelley-Rex division, but Mansfield is hoping for a quick turnaround under new head coach Mike Balzarini, who makes the move from Milford. The Hornets have a number of returning players, including several from club or other school programs to bolster the depth.
One of the returning players is Joe Olsen, who spent last year with a juniors program but will be a significant addition to the Hornets top attacking line alongside fellow seniors Matt Farragher and Chad Piotti, who both had solid years in 2015-16. Junior Cullen Anastasia is another forward to come back to the program and could step right in to make an impact. Freshman Chris Jenkins is going to be the center on the third line and classmate James Bezeau will also see playing time this year.
On defense, the Hornets will be led by senior Cullen Murphy, a physical presence at the back and one of the leaders on the ice. Juniors Tim Arnold, Ryan O’Hara, and Tyler Oakley will also be important pieces on the top defensive pairings. Freshman Joseph Troiano will also be on the defense after he decided against attending Xaverian this year. The defense will be protecting senior goalies Brendan McKenna and Tony Rullo, who will each see time.
“We’re a lot deeper,” said Balzarini, who said that the Hornets would be carrying four lines and four sets of defensemen and is excited about the potential on the team. “It’s been good having two weeks to prepare. They have to get used to our new system and adhering to the structures that we’re putting in place.”
2015-16 Record: 10-10-1 2015-16 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Head Coach: Sean Bertoni
Oliver Ames will be looking to keep its postseason streak alive under new head coach Sean Bertoni – a former standout goalie for Franklin.
If the Tigers want to get back to the state tournament, they’ll need some help from their younger players; Oliver Ames has eight sophomores and four freshman on its roster this year. OA does have seven seniors and a group of experienced juniors that can help lead the way.
“The goals of the team are to progress from Day one to the end of the year,” Bertoni said. “We have to use our team speed and forecheck extremely hard. We will be a disciplined, hard working aggressive team.”
2015-16 Record: 13-10-0 (3-7-0) 2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South playoffs Head Coach: Kris Metea
The Tigers got to experience what the state tournament is like last season for the first time since 2006-07 and only the second time in the past two decades. Taunton had the fourth most wins in a season in the 44-year history of the program and scored a remarkable 106 goals last season, which was the best in the Hock.
This year, Taunton will try to build on its historic season and make a quick return to the postseason. Leading scorer Tyler Pietrzyk has graduated but there is plenty of firepower returning for the Tigers this season, including senior forward Zack Albert who is coming off a 30-point campaign. He will be joined up from by classmate Jordan Hoey, who had 17 points last season and senior Cam Carnes, who had 10 points. Sophomore Cam Sneyd could be poised for a breakout year for the Tigers.
Defensively, Taunton can lean on three-time league all-star Nick Terry, who will man the top defensive pairing. Mike Volkmann may be listed as a defenseman on the roster but he can get forward into the attack with 29 points a season ago. Junior Cam Welby will be a new addition to the defense after playing juniors all of last season. Senior Justin Chappell returns in net.
“This year’s group of seniors are first class kids,” said head coach Kris Metea. “They exemplify leadership across the board…They had a chance to taste the tournament last year, and are focused on acquiring more than just a taste this time around.”