CANTON, Mass. – The final score was in no way indicative of the type of game it had been, but the end result was the same as last year for Mansfield against Xaverian in the opening round of the Div. 1 South tournament at the Canton Ice House.
The Hawks tacked on three goals in the final 1:02 of the game, including an empty net goal and one with six seconds on the clock, to add gloss to a 6-2 scoreline and knock the Hornets out of the playoffs for the second straight season.
“They played very disciplined hockey and they capitalized on our mistakes,” explained Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “It’s been a tough struggle with that all year, but I thought we battled back. I thought we played really well all three periods. We played with the same intensity with the lead and without the lead.”
Mansfield (9-7-5) came into this year’s game as the nine seed and Xaverian as the eight, a reversal of last season, and the game played out as these match-ups typically do. The game was end-to-end, hard-hitting, and tight.
Ryan Pomposelli had the game’s first chance straight off a draw but his point-blank effort was saved by Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty at the near post. Two minutes later, the Hornets nearly took the lead with a shot from beyond the blue line by Jake Lund that took a slight deflection in front and turned into an awkward blocker save for A.J. Scott, who played at Stoughton last year.
McCafferty came up with a kick save to deny Ross Vona midway through the first and Scott was called upon to stop a backhanded effort by Cullin Anastasia. With four minutes left in the first, the Hornets took advantage of a power play opportunity to take the lead. Tyler Oakley’s shot from the point was tipped in front by Patrick McCafferty, giving Scott no chance.
“One of the things we talked about was getting off to a good start and playing with the lead and we did,” said Balzarini. “They outshot us in the first period but we were able to capitalize.”
The lead was doubled early in the second. Freshman Matty Copponi skated past his marker on the left side of the goal and attempted to saucer a pass in front to Coleman O’Brien but instead, the puck took a deflection and slid under the pads of the Xaverian goalie.
There was a delay before the officials signaled for a goal and then Scott argued that the net had been dislodged prior to the puck crossing the line. After a conversation between the officials, the goal stood and Mansfield had the 2-0 advantage.
“The ref was right there and he called it a good goal,” said Balzarini, “and that seemed to pick us up even more. We played with the same intensity all three periods, but they’re a good team.”
The Hornets could have added a third on two occasions. Dylan Tivnan forced Scott into a shoulder save with a wrister from the left circle after a quick transition and then Anastasia put the puck into the crease where a scrum of bodies was located but no one was able to find the necessary touch to knock it in.
Xaverian had speed to bother the Hornets, but generally, the defensemen, led by Tim Arnold and Oakley, were able to keep the Hawks to the outside and limit their chances. With 1:16 left in the second, Xaverian finally managed to get on the board. Pomposelli got a third bite of the apple from the edge of the crease and managed to lift it over the leg of the sprawling McCafferty, who had already made two saves in the sequence.
The goal gave the Hawks a little energy, but they took a penalty that appeared to give the impetus back to Mansfield. Unfortunately for the Hornets, a mix-up on an offensive zone face-off led to a tying goal. The puck could not be held in at the blue line and Josh Barton was on it in a flash, creating a shorthanded breakaway that made it 2-2 with just 15.2 on the clock.
Balzarini remarked, “It was just a miscommunication. We didn’t get the puck in deep on the first one and they were able to come down through transition in the neutral zone and on the second one we had a lefty on the right point and it got by him but, it happens and they capitalized.”
The momentum carried over into the third period. Xaverian quickly took control again and Austin Ricker was forced to give up a power play in order to stop a breakaway opportunity. On the power play, the Hawks crashed the net and, again after a couple of McCafferty saves, Matt Ryan was able to punch across the go-ahead goal.
Mansfield was struggling to create scoring chances against the organized Xaverian defense, which was clogging the shooting lanes. The Hornets only put five shots on goal in the third, although Patrick McCafferty did have a breakaway chance with six minutes to play that was saved by Scott.
With 1:02 remaining, as people were waiting to see when Mansfield would pull its goalie, Xaverian got a quick breakout of the zone and Matt Talarico scored to seal the win. An empty netter and a goal with barely any time on the clock would make the score far more lopsided than was the action on the ice.
Balzarini said, “They just kept coming and coming, but I thought player for player we hung right with them. It wasn’t a 6-2 game. I’m very proud of them.”
So it was no surprise that Wednesday night’s tilt between Mansfield and King Philip felt like a playoff game.
The teams skated to a 1-1 tie, exchanging goals in the final four minutes of the second period. With the point, King Philip is still alive for a playoff berth. The Warriors need to win their final two games of the season to join the Hornets in the tournament.
“We can’t lose,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow of the remaining games. “We were up 1-0 but our Achille’s Heel, penalties. If we can play even strength, I like our chances. But we had to kill a couple more extra penalties than I would have liked to. But the kids responded, they played a strong third, they killed that penalty off to start. We had our chances.”
After a relatively even first period, Mansfield began to gain control of the game, having long stretches of possession in the attacking zone. The Hornets had a 16-5 edge in shots on goal in the frame, peppering King Philip senior goalie Shane Frommer (29 saves).
“Shane played maybe his best game of the year tonight,” Carlow said. “[Mansfield] is a good team, they are very well coached. They are already going to the Division 1 tournament so it was a tall task for our guys to stay alive. They put it on us pretty good earlier in the year.”
When Mansfield went on the power play at the midway point of the game, senior defenseman Tyler Oakley had his wrist shot redirected by sophomore Jake Lund but Frommer was able to get his glove on top of the dribbling puck.
Two minutes later, the Hornets had another chance when Tim Arnold kept the puck in the offensive zone and the puck landed at the feet of Chris Copponi, but Frommer made a point-blank save.
But despite the Hornets having the edge in play in the period, it was the Warriors that struck first. Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty (23 saves) turned away a bid from Gavin Maxwell, but the puck found its way back in front and sophomore Joe Boselli lifted his shot into the back of the net. Luke D’Amico was credited with the assist while Maxwell provided the screen in front.
“Their goal was at the end of a long shift, our guys were out there for over two minutes so it cost us,” Balzarini said. “They tried their damnedest to get back but they just couldn’t. I don’t think Sean got a good look at it. But I thought we responded well. I thought the second period was much better for us.”
Less than 90 seconds after the Warriors took the lead, they took a penalty to put the Hornets on the man advantage again. This time, Mansfield cashed in.
Matt Copponi tossed a puck towards net from the blue line, where Oakley ripped a shot in close. The puck squirted free onto the other side and Chris Copponi batted in the rebound to tie the game with 1:09 left in the period.
“It was [like a playoff game],” Balzarini said. “I thought we started off slow, which is one thing we struggle with….They did a good job of putting sticks in the passing lanes and the shooting lanes. They had a handful of blocked shots, we just had trouble getting pucks to the net.”
KP had an 11-3 advantage in shots in the first period, but the teams split attacking zone possession. The best chance for King Philip came with just under three minutes to go when Maxwell saw his shot go wide and D’Amico had his rebound bid denied by McCafferty’s paddle on a diving save.
“Their goalie played well,” Carlow said. “We definitely had our chances, we had an odd-man rush late, we had a breakaway early on a shorthanded bid…both goalies played well. It was a good game, it was pretty evenly matched all night.”
Both teams had chances at the winner in the third period but couldn’t find the back of the net. D’Amico took a feed from Jack Coulter but McCafferty made the save right in front. D’Amico set up Boselli with just under six minutes to go, but again McCafferty was there for the save.
Right after the save, Mansfield went down the other end only for Matt Copponi’s shot to ring off the crossbar.
King Philip boys hockey (4-4 Hockomock, 8-10-1 overall) will try to keep its postseason hopes alive when it hosts Norwood on Monday at 5:20. Mansfield (5-2-2, 8-5-5) is on the road on Saturday, traveling to Larsen Arena to take on Winthrop.
Today’s games are listed below.
Attleboro, 2 vs. Southeastern, 1 – Final – Attleboro’s Cam Littig and Ryan Morry each scored to lift the Bombardiers to a key division win over Southeastern (15-4).
Canton, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames junior Matt McCormack scored early in the first period and sophomore Owen Connor had a strong game in goal, making 42 saves to earn the shutout in a non-league clash at Warrior Ice Arena. McCormack took a pass from sophomore Jake Gottwald to score the game-winning goal.
Mansfield, 4 @ Brockton, 1 – Final – Mansfield junior Chris Copponi scored a hat trick in the first period, the second two less than a minute apart to lift the Hornets to a win on the road. Copponi opened the scoring on an assist from Nick Levine. Coleman Jenkins and Jake Lund set up Copponi’s second goal, and Lund and Tyler Oakley earned helpers on Mansfield’s third goal. Cullin Anastasia added a goal in the second period with Chris Kelleher and Adam Anastos assisting.
Taunton, 9 vs. Durfee, 1 – Final – Taunton’s Cam Sneyd scored a hat trick, Mike Albert and Jakob Roberts each found the back of the net twice.
Canton, 2 @ Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Canton’s Kendra Farrelly scored a pair of goals to help the Bulldogs pick up the win. With the win, Canton clinches at least a share of the first ever Hockomock League title for girls hockey.
Franklin, 7 @ Leominster, 0 – Final
Indoor Track (@ Reggie Lewis)
Hockomock League Championships – Click here for a recap and a photo gallery of this game.
Gymnastics (@ Shrewsbury)
Hockomock League Championships – Click here for the Results and a Photo Gallery from this meet.
Today’s games are listed below.
Canton, 60 @ Boston Latin, 46 – Final – Canton trailed after eight minutes of play but built a five-point lead at halftime, and doubled that going into the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs qualified for the state tournament with the win. Junior Devin Foster had a team-high 21 points while senior Tony Harris had 18 points.
Foxboro, 1 @ Franklin, 6 – Final – Foxboro trailed by just two goals after two periods but Franklin put the game away with three third period goals. CJ Spillane, TJ Durkin, Dan Magazu, Shane McCaffrey, Joe Lizotte and Scott Elliot each scored once for the Panthers while Josh Bertumen scored for Foxboro in the second period.
Taunton, 1 @ King Philip, 4 – Final – King Philip scored a pair of goals in the first period and had a quick response in the second after Taunton cut it to one to beat the Tigers. Sophomore Jack Coulter buried a rebound on a shot from freshman Rocco Bianculli just under five minutes into the game. Sophomore Joe Boselli doubled the lead five minutes later, firing a low shot after a feed from defenseman Mike Curtin. Taunton’s Will Walsh took a feed from Cam Sneyd, used his first touch to get past the defenseman and then used a nice move, finishing backhand to cut the deficit to 2-1 just two minutes into the second. But less than three minutes later, Curtin drove a hard slap shot through traffic to put KP up 3-1. Luke D’Amico added an empty net goal in the final minute. Taunton sophomore Sean Bunker played well in net with 32 saves while KP goalie Shane Frommer had 19 saves.
Oliver Ames, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Oliver Ames stole the momentum with a goal late in the first period and then capitalized on it with two second period goals to beat Mansfield. The Hornets scored first and last, but the Tigers had three straight between the first and second periods. Mansfield sophomore Kevin Belanger tallied his first career goal just over two minutes into the game, getting a tip on Tim Arnold’s shot. Oliver Ames’ Rory Madden tied the game with 30 seconds left in the opening frame, burying a rebound off a shot from Matt McCormack. Just over two minutes into the second, the Tigers took the lead when Brett Williams batted in a rebound off a shot from Ryan Gottwald, with Madden also notching an assist. Six minutes later, solid forechecking from Ross Carroll and Adam Lyons resulted in the puck squirting free to top of the circles where OA senior Michael Nikiciuk stepped into a slapshot for a 3-1 lead. Mansfield sophomore Joseph Troiano recorded his first career goal in the third period, taking a pass from Tyler Oakley before depositing his slap shot into the back of the net.
Canton, 5 vs. Dedham, 0 – Final – Canton’s Lauren Fitzpatrick recorded her 50th career point in the Bulldogs’ big win over Dedham.
Franklin, 1 vs. Westwood, 3 – Final
King Philip, 6 vs. Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton, 0 – Final – King Philip scored three goals in each the first and second periods to build a big lead over DS/Hopkinton. Nicole Connor scored a pair of goals while Alli Meehan, Allie Wilson, and Katie Crowther each netted one goal apiece. Lilly Potts and Cristina Coleman combined for the shutout in goal.
Canton, 21 @ North Attleboro, 46 – Final – North Attleboro had success with the lower and upper weights in a division win over Canton, clinching at least a share of the Davenport title for the second straight year, and fourth league title overall. “The best part was our execution on our feet,” North head coach Wayne Griffin said. “The team’s take-downs are getting better and better along with other aspects of our wrestling.” Ethan Smith (106), Brady Folan (113), Adam Eberle (160), Brad White (195) and Matteus Kudra (220) had pins for North while Anis Chakir (132), Max Gallagher (138) and Cole Murphy (182) had pins for Canton.
Sharon, 21 @ Foxboro, 38 – Final
Mansfield, 21 @ Franklin, 43 – Final – Click here for a Recap and a Photo Gallery from this dual meet.
Oliver Ames, 49 @ King Philip, 28 – Final – Oliver Ames picked up some momentum heading into the league championships on Saturday with a division win over King Philip. Remy Creighton (106), Greg Griffin (120), Chris Belleton (160), Jay Fruci (195) and Dean Pacini (220) all won by pins for the Tigers while Casey Bellevue (132) had a major win and Brandon Belleton (138) had a minor win.
Milford, 27 @ Stoughton, 45 – Final
North Attleboro @ Milford, 4:00
King Philip, 127.90 @ Franklin, 133.15 – Final – Franklin junior Mia Lizotte won the All Around with a 35.75 while teammate Liz Traphagen took second with a 34.3 to help the Panthers beat King Philip. Franklin results: Vault – Lizotte 9.35, Traphagen 8.6, Lexi Lupien 8.3, Rachel Cyr 8.2; Bars – Lizotte 8.5, Sadie Rondeau 8.1, Traphagen 7.9, Katelyn Guidi 6.0; Beam – Lizzote/Traphagen 8.7, Rondeau 8.5, Lupien 7.9; Floor – Lizotte 9.2, Traphagen 9.1, Rondeau 8.3, Lupien 7.8.
Sharon, 130.00 @ North Attleboro, 139.20 – Final
FOXBORO, Mass. – Chris Copponi’s shot was scuffed. The forward barely making contact with the puck just outside the right circle, but enough contact was made to redirect it past several sliding North Attleboro players trying desperately to block the Mansfield junior’s attempt at a power play goal.
Arnold’s goal with five minutes remaining in the third period turned out to be the game-winner for the Hornets, who held on to beat North 3-2 in Saturday night’s league encounter at the Foxboro Sports Center.
“He whiffs and it still gets through, but we’ll take it,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini outside the locker room after the game. “We’ve been working on our power play because we knew they’d be a tough opponent from the first time we played them (a 4-1 North win in the season opener) and we were just patient. Yeah, it was a misfire, but we’ll take it.”
The Hornets converted on two-of-five power play opportunities in the game, including the game-tying goal in the second period and the eventual winner in the third. Arnold’s goal came on the third power play chance for the Hornets in the final period.
“Penalties are part of the game,” said first-year North coach Ben McManama, “but we’re getting too many lazy penalties where we’re playing defense with our sticks and not our feet. It was a game where we were in it but we shot ourselves in the foot.”
He added, “We also have to have more energy all game. We’re not having a consistent effort and that’s hurt us.”
There was no lack of energy from the Hornets at the start of the game. Mansfield came out flying in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, part of what has made this one of the league’s top rivalries in the last few seasons.
Freshman Justin McIvor created an early scoring chance with a big hit on Will Yeomans on the half-board. The puck popped loose to Copponi for a one-timer from the slot, but Warren (21 saves) stood tall to stop it. Warren then came up with a big pad save to rob Jake Lund in the slot and then blocked the follow-up effort too.
“The first period has been a struggle all year because we’ve come out flat,” Balzarini explained. “We played Stoughton on Wednesday and we scored three goals in the first period and that was the stresser during practice on Friday to come out with intensity.”
The Hornets made the good start count. Senior defenseman Tyler Oakley jumped up to join the attack, skating right down the middle of the North defense. His first shot was saved but he collected the rebound and finished. It was the first of two goals and three points out of the senior defensemen in the game.
“That’s why they where the ‘C’ on their jerseys,” said Balzarini of Oakley and Arnold. “They’re both really good captains, really good leaders and for those guys to step up not only on the ice but off the ice has been huge for us.”
With 7:11 left in the first, a fire alarm went off, momentarily forcing the stands to empty and the teams to head back to the locker rooms. It also stole the momentum from the hosts and allowed North the chance to regroup.
Drew Wissler had North’s first good scoring opportunity when he caught Mansfield up ice and found space in the left circle, but his shot was saved by Hornets goalie Sean McCafferty. The Rocketeers tied the game two minutes later, with only 25.1 on the clock, when Wissler fed the puck to Anthony Zammiello for a shorthanded breakaway and the junior went five-hole for the score.
“Before I could even have a chance to talk to them, they knew that they didn’t come out ready,” said McManama of the fire alarm break. “We’ve had a lot of bad starts this year and it really needs to change. The team is aware of it, but we just need to suck it up and come out ready to play.”
North took its first lead early in the second period. Wissler flew down the left side again, opened his body and unleashed an unstoppable shot over the shoulder of McCafferty and just inside the top corner.
The lead lasted six minutes before Mansfield responded with a power play goal of its own. Oakley lined up a blast from the point that Warren could only parry. The puck fell to Cullin Anastasia and he deposited it into the open net.
The Hornets had the chance to get back in front early in the third but Patrick McCafferty saw his shot carom off Warren’s mask and off the boards behind the net. After Arnold scored, defenseman Nick Levine nearly got into the act for the Hornets but Warren again made an important close-range save.
With time running down and North scrambling for an equalizer, Jason McNeanyhad a tap in at the back post that went wide of an open net and Nick Raneri had a shot in the final minute that was kicked aside at the post.
“The penalties in these games disrupt the flow, so things may be going our way but a penalty for or against if we don’t capitalize changes the whole momentum of the game,” said McManama. “A good hockey team doesn’t get affected by these things, but we’re not there yet. We’re going to get there, but we’re just not there yet.”
Mansfield has now won two in a row and Balzarini is hoping the Hornets can build off a strong week. He said, “The momentum was ours from Wednesday to today and I’m hoping it continues [at practice] on Monday and Tuesday.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Players are listed alphabetically
Brendan Campbell, Senior – Stoughton
The Black Knights are a relatively young team this year, so they will be relying heavily on their experienced players to lead the way and make a difference. Senior Brendan Campbell was one of three players to go over the 20-point plateau last season, and just one of two returning this season along with junior Sean Doherty. Campbell was second on the team with 11 goals and notched a team-high 15 assists for a team-best 26 points. Campbell is one of the fastest skaters in the league, which gives him an edge on defensemen. Once he gets the puck on his stick, he’s a threat to make a big play. Whether it be setting up a teammate for a great opportunity, or putting it on goal himself. He is someone opposing teams will need to focus on this again season.
Collin Cooke, Senior – King Philip
Two years removed from being selected for the HockomockSports.com Third Team and All-Underclassman Team, King Philip senior Collin Cooke remains one of the most dynamic forwards for the Warriors and someone capable of helping KP climb up the league standings. Last year, Cooke scored 10 goals and recorded seven assists and was tied for second on the team with 17 points. His speed and his ability to beat defensemen in the attacking zone opens up space for his teammates and he is capable of picking the right pass to ensure a scoring opportunity for the Warriors. Cooke will be one of the key players for KP, if the Warriors are going to book a spot in the state tournament.
Quinn Gibbs, Senior – Canton
Quinn Gibbs had big shoes to fill when he stepped between the pipes last season, trying to fill the void left by a three-year starter. But Gibbs held his own, and quickly made a name for himself around the league as a top goalie. During his first year in net, he made 320 saves (0.924 save percentage) while allowing just 1.31 goals against a game. As the year went on, you could see his confidence grow. He will be a vital part of the Bulldogs’ defense this year after losing a handful of starters to graduation. He already has a good amount of playoff experience as well, which will be key as Canton will likely be a contender in D2 South again this season.
Tyler Oakley, Senior – Mansfield
Mansfield senior defenseman Tyler Oakley will be the leader of the Hornets defensive effort this season and will set the tone with his physicality and ability to pick the right pass to spring the forwards into the attack. Oakley was a HockomockSports.com Second Team performer in 2016-17 after anchoring a defense that allowed only 50 goals on the season, which was second best in the Kelley-Rex division and fourth best in the league. He also recorded 10 assists from the blue line and recorded a team-high plus-18 for the season. With Oakley back as a top-four defenseman, Mansfield will be hoping to improve on last year’s third-place finish in the division.
Brendan O’Rielly, Senior – Franklin
Franklin senior forward Brendan O’Rielly will be hoping to lead the Panthers on a run similar to his sophomore season when they won the Div. 1 state title. O’Rielly was the team’s leading scorer last year with a team-best 20 goals plus 11 assists for 31 points. He will spearhead an experience group of forwards and will use his strong skating, good stick-handling, and accurate shooting to help Franklin make another run at a Kelley-Rex division title. As a three-year varsity player, O’Rielly has continued to develop throughout his career and has the potential to be one of the league’s leading scorers again this winter.
Jake Parker, Senior – Attleboro
Attleboro senior forward Jake Parker returns to lead the Bombardiers attack this winter and, as usual, will be counted on to not only create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates but also to chip in on the power play and penalty kill. An unselfish forward with a keen eye for a pass, Parker is always the first look for an Attleboro defenseman to try and break the puck out of the zone with speed. With great stick-handling ability, Parker can get Attleboro set up in the offensive zone and gives the Bombardiers much-needed patience on the puck. Parker, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team last year, scored 20 goals and had six assists in 2016-17, including a five-goal performance in a tie with Mansfield.
Aidan Sullivan, Senior – Foxboro
Foxboro has been able to rely on Aidan Sullivan for the past three years and will look to him for leadership both on and off of the ice this season. Sullivan enters his fourth year as a member of the Warriors’ defensive unit and has improved every single year. He was named to the 2015-2016 HockomockSports.com All Underclassman Team as a sophomore and improved his production on the offensive end of the ice last season notching a career-high eight points, scoring twice with six helpers. Foxboro has a relatively young group of forwards this season so it will be important for Sullivan to be an anchor on the defensive end as the younger players gain experience.
Will Walsh, Senior – Taunton
After a season away with a juniors team, Taunton senior forward Will Walsh has returned to provide a boost to the Tigers attack. Walsh is a dangerous scorer with an accurate shot and a lot of energy that is contagious. His teammates feed off the emotion and energy that he plays with. Two years ago, as part of a powerful Taunton offense, Walsh scored three goals and 11 assists. In 21 games with the South Shore Kings in 2016-17, Walsh scored two goals and seven assists and his addition will open space for his fellow forwards and add to the potent Tigers attack.
Ryan Warren, Junior – North Attleboro
North Attleboro’s Ryan Warren has been one of the most consistent goalies in the league over the past two seasons. He was stellar during his freshman season and earned HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors, and last year during his sophomore campaign he helped Big Red to 14 wins by making 395 saves and a .892 save percentage. From his first year on varsity, Warren has always shown great positioning, and his ability to control rebounds makes it difficult for opponents to net second chance goals.
Brett Williams, Junior – Oliver Ames
Oliver Ames had a handful of young talented forwards last season, and Brett Williams emerged as one of the most talented in the league. Williams helped the Tigers have a terrific season, coming within one point of the Kelley-Rex division title. As just a sophomore, he scored a team-high 12 goals while adding eight assists for 20 points. His speed is what really sets him apart from others in the league. His quick burst allows him to get get pass defenses and fly in on goal, and on top of his speed, he has the ability to finish.
Girls Hockey Players to Watch
Players are listed alphabetically
Nicole Connor, Junior – King Philip
King Philip junior Nicole Connor is one of the most versatile girls’ hockey players in the newly formed Hockomock league and will be a key to KP making a run at the inaugural league title. Connor will see time as both a forward and on the blue line, giving the Warriors help all over the ice. As a sophomore, Connor scored five goals and had six assists while playing primarily as in defense and she is poised to have a breakout winter for the Warriors.
Colleen Kelleher, Senior – Canton
Canton senior goalie Colleen Kelleher returns after a strong season in net for Canton, leading the Bulldogs from the No. 14 seed to their first state final since 2006. Kelleher came through numerous times in the playoffs to keep opponents out and give the potent Canton attack the chance to find winning goals. She will backstop Canton’s attempt at winning the inaugural Hockomock League title.
Catherine Luciano, Senior – Mansfield/Oliver Ames
Foxboro senior forward Catherine Luciano has been one of the most dynamic scorers in the area over the last two years and led the Warriors in scoring last winter with 25 goals and 12 assists. Luciano is off to a flying start this winter with a hat trick in the season-opening win against Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton. The partnership of Luciano with Mackenzie Fraser (19 points last year) and Isabelle Shanteller (21 points) could be the key to Mansfield/Oliver Ames making a run at the first ever league title.
Regan Paterson, Junior – Franklin
Franklin junior Regan Paterson will be one of the primary attackers for Franklin, as the Panthers compete for the first ever Hockomock League title and book a return to the state tournament. Paterson score 11 goals and had five assists as a sophomore and is coming off a strong fall for the Franklin field hockey program. Her experience will be counted on to lead a young Panthers roster this winter.
Julia Russell, Junior – Stoughton
Stoughton senior defenseman Julia Russell is coming off a pair of all-star seasons for the new program and will be hoping to take her form from the SEMGHL to the Black Knights opening campaign in the Hockomock League. Russell is a speedy defender who can also step into the attack and her leadership will be key for a talented group of underclassmen that have Stoughton confident in a big improvement this winter, as evidenced by a season-opening win over Framingham.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled in its closing games of 2016-17 and narrowly missed out on a place in the state tournament via the Sullivan rule. This year’s Bombardiers are hoping that a mix of youth and experience will be enough to get the team over the hump and back in the playoff mix.
The main scoring threat for Attleboro this season is senior forward Jake Parker, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection last winter who led the team with 20 goals despite facing regular double teams and playing loads of minutes. Parker will be joined up front by sophomore Ryan Morry, who is coming off a solid rookie campaign and will try to take advantage of the opportunities Parker creates near the net.
Attleboro’s experience is on the defensive side of the ice. Seniors Eddie Noel and Sam MacKenzie and junior Kyle McCabe provide size, physicality, and reading of the game to protect the Bombardiers goal. Attleboro coach Mark Homer, in his second season with the team, is expecting the defensemen to be aggressive in the zone and be more prepared to clear the puck. The Bombardiers are also experienced in goal with junior Evan Andrews and sophomore Derrik Rivet offering a solid one-two between the pipes.
“As a team, we are working on becoming more competitive in our games at all phases of the game, said Homer. “We will strive to be better today than we were yesterday but not as good as we will be tomorrow. Our success will be measured by how hard we work and not by our wins and losses.”
2016-2017 Record: 16-5-3
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Brian Shuman
After another league title in 2016-17 and a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal, Canton has started this season with a win and a draw (that turned into an overtime win in the final of the Gormley Cup) and the expectations remain as high as ever for one of the teams to beat in D2.
Last season, Canton was by far the league’s best defensive team, allowing only 32 goals in 24 games. The next best defense allowed 48 goals. But, the Bulldogs will need to rebuild the blue line this season after the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and Third Team selection C.J. Martin. Defensemen Brad Murphy and Nick Allen have experience and will be counted on to step up to bigger roles this year.
The key for the Canton defense, which has allowed only one goal in two games so far this season, will be junior goalie Quinn Gibbs. He was a HockomockSports.com First Team choice last year with a league-best 0.924 save percentage and there is hope he can get even better with a year of experience. Offensively, the Bulldogs bring back most of the goals from last year with Ryan Nolte, Johnny Hagan, Bubba McNeice, and Jack Goyetch all returning this season and all having scored big goals in big moments for Canton during last season’s tournament run.
“I think the most important determinant of our success will be whether we can find some depth at forward and defense,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Teams need more than two lines and four ‘D’ to make a deep run, so we need some guys to compete for those remaining spots.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 3 First Round.
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro saw improvement last year, increasing its win total, goals for, and allowed fewer goals than the season before. Head coach Mark Cedarchuk is hoping that trend continues this season as the Warriors look to try and compete for the spot in the postseason.
The Warriors will be relying on a mix of experience as well as youth to try and compete in the Hockomock League this year. Senior captain Aidan Sullivan (two goals, six assists) has been an anchor of the team’s blue line unit over the past couple of seasons and will be relied upon to lead the way again this year. Senior captain Taylor Sharfman is another defenseman that gives the Warriors two capable and reliable options in the back. Junior Tanner Kennedy is also back after a solid sophomore year and Warriors added junior Brendan Tully to the defensive unit.
On offense, Foxboro graduated its top three goal scorers but sophomore Ronnie MacLellan (four goals, seven assists) is back after a strong sophomore year. He will be joined up front by senior Sam Garrabrant and sophomore Sebastian Ricketts, who had four goals and two assists last year.
Foxboro will have to find a replacement for goalie John Cronin, a multi-year starter in between the pipes for the Warriors. Foxboro has three goalies – freshman Jack Spinney, sophomore Espen Reager, and freshman Connor Callahan – listed on the roster.
“With a combination of experienced upperclassman and talented underclassman, we’re looking forward to an exciting and competitive season,” Cedarchuk said.
2016-2017 Record: 14-9-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Chris Spillane
Although last winter was atypical for the Panthers, losing two games in the league for the first time in several years, Franklin won another league title and with 20 players back for this season the expectation is that a seventh straight league crown is a distinct possibility – not to mention making a run in the state tournament.
Experience will be the key for the Panthers. Most of the forwards were members of the team that won the state championship two years ago and know what it takes to get goals against top competition. Leading scorer Brendan O’Rielly is back after scoring 20 goals and recording 11 assists last season. He should have plenty of help up front with classmates Luke Downie, Jeremy Miller, T.J. Durkin, and Ken Demerchant, who are all three-year varsity players for the Panthers.
Defensively, Franklin has lost several talented young defensemen to other programs in recent seasons, but still boasts a strong defensive corps heading into this winter. Jack McGrath, Matt Crane, Connor Norton, Cam Cassella, and sophomore Tom Tasker will all contribute to the defensive pairings this season and that depth will be important over a long season. The goalie position is a battle between three seniors, including returning netminders Owen Ginley and Dan Sheehan, who both saw time last year.
“I will be looking to our leading goal scorer from last year Brendan O’Rielly to once again lead the offensive charge,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “From a small practice sample (one skate) I was impressed with our team speed.”
2016-2017 Record: 4-16-0
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip finished just below .500 in the league last season, and just five points out of second place in the Kelley-Rex division, but struggled in the non-league schedule, losing all 11 games outside of the Hock. The Warriors will look to improve that considerably this year with an experienced roster that wants to challenge for a league title.
KP returns 13 players from last year’s squad and that experience will be vital to allow the Warriors to compete not only in the league but against a schedule that has been bolstered because of the program’s move up to Div. 1 several seasons ago. Offensively, the attention will be on senior forward Collin Cooke, who chipped in with 10 goals and seven assists and has been drawing the focus of opposing defenses for several years. Senior Gavin Maxwell had nine goals and eight assists last season and will again be a solid counterpoint to take some of the pressure off Cooke in the attacking zone.
On the defensive side of the ice, KP continues to be a physical team that likes to be aggressive attacking the puck. Senior defensemen Will Connor will get some help at the back with the return of senior Mike Curtin from juniors, who head coach Paul Carlow said could be an “anchor” on defense. Senior Shane Frommer, fresh off a stellar football season and another Super Bowl title, will quickly transition from the gridiron to be the team’s starting goalie, after posting a 2.66 goals against average in 2016-17.
“Our strength is that we have a total of 13 returning players from last years team,” said Carlow. “We have experience up front and on the back end. We should see some team chemistry with this many returning players.”
2016-2017 Record: 12-8-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round.
Coach: Mike Balazarini
In last year’s state tournament, Mansfield held its own against perennial power Xaverian before losing 2-1 in the opening round and that defeat is spurring the Hornets on this season, as the team has built a deep roster that believes it can challenge for the Kelley-Rex crown.
Team speed is going to be a strength for the Hornets this season, even without several key pieces from last winter, including breakout freshman Chris Jenkins, lost to graduation or to juniors. Senior forward Dylan Tivnan and Cullin Anastasia will be back to man the top scoring line along with freshman Coleman Jenkins. The second line will feature a lot of youth with sophomore Jake Lund and freshman Matt Copponi alongside junior Chris Copponi.
Seniors Tyler Oakley and Tim Arnold will be the leaders on the defensive side this year, while senior Ryan O’Hara and juniors Nick Levine and Austin Ricker will give the Hornets depth in the defensive unit. That depth should make things easier for sophomore Sean McCafferty, who will be stepping between the pipes for Mansfield this season.
“I think everyone wants to pick up where he left off last year,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We’ve had a good mindset early on this season. We have some new faces and everyone has gelled so far. We can’t take everyone lightly, we have to play every shift as its out last.”
2016-2017 Record: 14-4-4
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro is coming off its most successful season in program history, and will be starting a new chapter with new head coach Ben McManama.
The Rocketeers will be tasked with finding replacements for some of the top players in the league from a season ago. Someone will need to step up in order to fill the void left by Zach McGowan (19 goals, 13 assists for 32 points – third most in the Hockomock) as well as Hunter Sarro’s 22 points and Erik Clements’ 20 points.
Senior Jason McNeany is a key piece back for the Rocketeers, fresh off a terrific football season. He scored 13 goals last season and added 13 assists, and has been a big piece of the offense for many years now. He will be counted on to be a leader this season, both in the locker room and on the ice.
2016-2017 Record: 14-7-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Sean Bertoni
Under first-year head coach Sean Bertoni, Oliver Ames proved to be a strong skating team that could cause a number of problems with its dangerous attack. That speed up front will be put to the test again this year, as the Tigers look to jump from second in the Kelley-Rex division to the top of the standings.
The Tigers have a number of talented forwards returning from last season’s team, which reached the Div. 2 South tournament and beat Nauset only to run into state finalist Scituate in the second round. That loss will provide motivation for junior forward Brett Williams, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team with 12 goals and eight assists last year, and the rest of the OA forwards. Williams will be joined up front by seniors Eric LeBlanc and Rory Madden and junior Max Ward.
On defense, junior Matt McCormick returns to be one of the top four along with senior Mike Nikiciuk. Both players will provide leadership for a defensive unit that promises to be aggressive in both zones, as Bertoni continues to implement his system at OA. Sophomore goalie Owen Connor will be the new goalie for the Tigers.
“We will continue to use our team speed and play an aggressive style offensively and defensively,” said Bertoni. “We hope to compete at a high level in all three zones. If we bring an aggressive forecheck we can create turnovers which should result in production.”
2016-2017 Record: 7-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Dan Mark
Numbers are a bit down for the Stoughton High hockey team this season, so the Knights will be relying on their most experienced players to lead the way, especially early on.
On offense, the Knights boast senior Brendan Campbell at center and junior Sean Doherty at wing. Campbell had a team-high in points last season, finishing second with 11 goals while recording a team-best 15 assists for 26 points. Doherty was third on the team, tying for the team lead with 12 goals and finishing with 25 points.
Senior Cam Nelson and junior Josh Hough will be the leaders of the Knights’ defensive unit. Hough is a captain along with Campbell and Doherty and has the most experience on the blue line. Nelson also saw plenty of time last season, recording an assist.
“We are an inexperienced team that will improve as the season goes on,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark.
2016-2017 Record: 12-9-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round.
Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons, setting new program bests for wins and making the state tournament two seasons in a row. This year’s team features only three seniors, so the Tigers will be hoping recent success will continue with a youthful lineup.
Senior forward Will Walsh has returned from junior hockey and will provide a boost to the front line, which head coach Kris Metea has high hopes for this season. Senior Jake Roberts is also back for the Tigers after scoring 18 points last year and junior Cam Sneyd is back after a 16-point season last winter. Metea is counting on high energy from the offensive unit and believes that the roster is capable of creating loads of scoring opportunities.
Sophomore Sean Bunker will be in net for the Tigers and the defensive unit is fairly inexperienced, although the coach believes that by working together Taunton will be able to put together a solid back line. The hope is that defense will become a strength of the Tigers by the end of the season.
“The players enjoy wearing the orange and black and look forward to coming to the rink every day,” said Metea. “The coaching staff has preached about enjoying the journey of a season and the developmental process. These players strive to work hard and get better every day. They will be fun to watch grow throughout the season.”
2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview
2016-2017 Record: 14-5-6
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Final
Coach: Dennis Aldrich
Canton is coming off a remarkable state tournament run that took the No. 14 seed all the way to the TD Garden and the program’s first state title game appearance since 2006. After years of competing in the SEMGHL Coastal division, the Bulldogs are excited for the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and enter the new season as favorites to bring home the first Hock title.
A number of key players are back from the team that battled Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in the state championship game last March and will be counted on to put together another solid defensive effort that made the Bulldogs so tough to play against during the tournament run. Spearheading that defensive unit is senior goalie Colleen Kelleher, who was stellar throughout the state tournament with clutch saves in key situations.
On offense, Canton returns plenty of firepower. Juniors Maggie Malloy and Lauren Fitzpatrick emerged as big time scorers last year and came through with important goals to help the Bulldogs make a run to the Garden. Senior forwards Melissa Devane, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil give Canton a loaded attacking unit that always seemed to pop up with goals when the team needed it most.
“The strength of the Bulldogs will continue to be a tenacious, smothering team defense, strong goaltending, and balanced, opportunistic scoring,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “We are proud to have our roster filled with 11 Canton team captains amongst our 22 rostered players.”
2016-2017 Record: 4-15-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Marjorie Burke
Franklin enters the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season with a young roster, but one that is expected to compete with the other four teams and have a shot at bringing home the inaugural title.
Junior Regan Paterson and senior Jackie Connelly will be expected to provide leadership and create scoring opportunities for a roster that is loaded with underclassmen. Both players provide speed and playmaking ability in the attacking zone and the Panthers will be counting on their experience to make the difference.
Leadership is going to be critical for this year’s team and head coach Marjorie Burke is looking to her senior class to provide direction for the youthful lineup on both ends of the ice. Among the seniors that Burke is looking to this season are Bella Trask, Caroline Hedvig, Maddie Hinkley, Jillian McGlaughlin, and Connelly.
“We are excited about the upcoming season,” said Burke. “We are young but look to be competitive.”
2016-2017 Record: 11-10-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Three years ago, King Philip was the top seed in Div. 2 and after two more playoff appearance, the Warriors now have the opportunity to bring their recent success into the first ever Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and hope that an experienced lineup could make them the first Hock champs.
Junior Nicole Connor is off to a strong start this season and has the potential, according to KP coach Jack Unger, to be one of the top players in the Hockomock League this year. Connor will play both at forward and along the blue line, crucial versatility that makes her an important piece for KP. The Warriors return five seniors who will be the “backbone” of the squad, said Unger. Kyleigh Remmes, Olivia McCarthy, Jessica Daniels, Katie Crowther, and Talia Quinn give the Warriors depth all over the ice.
Lilly Potts returns for her third year in between the pipes, while sophomore Cristina Coleman will be the backup netminder. Freshmen Avari Maxwell and Jordyn Remmes will be instant contributors on offense, while classmate Marin Cormier will step in on defense. Sophomores Abby Carr and Sammy Robison are also expected to step in at forward this season.
“[The roster is] rounded out by a number of talented juniors who should be able to spread out the scoring amongst the three starting forward lines,” said Unger.
2016-2017 Record: 14-6-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Coach: Mike Dalton
Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro have joined forces since the 2014-15 season and have reached the postseason each of the past two winters, suffering an overtime loss to Walpole in the first round of the state tournament last year, and have started this season with an impressive win in the opener.
The Warriors will be led by Foxboro’s Catherine Luciano. The senior was the team’s leading scorer last year and scored a hat trick in the season opener to get off to another strong start. Joining Luciano on the top line will be Mackenzie Fraser and Isabelle Shanteller. Other contributors in the offensive zone include senior Kayla Dalton, Kristina O’Connell, and Lindsey Corning.
While the Warriors are expected to create a number of scoring opportunities, defense will be just as important if Mansfield/OA (MOA) is going to make it a third straight playoff appearance. Denea Reager, Ali Delano, and Emily Bubencick will all be critical components of the Warriors defensive unit. Senior Kerren Holmes will be back in goal this year to stifle the opposition, while freshman Cate Gallegher will be the backup netminder.
“A strong freshman class will assist the team with help on both offense and defense,” said MOA coach Mike Dalton. “The team looks to compete for a top position in the Hockomock League and secure a spot in the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-19-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Richard Grasso
The newest of the programs in the inaugural season of Hockomock League girls’ hockey, Stoughton is in only its third season of varsity play, but the Black Knights are counting on last year’s experience and the growth in the program to make them a team to watch out for this winter.
Two-time all-star Julia Russell will be one of the key defenders for the Black Knights, but also brings an offensive punch with her speed forcing opponents to worry about her carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Senior Sarah Widrow will join Russell at the blue line and provides consistency in the defensive zone. Both will be expected to provide leadership for the less experienced players on the roster and try to make Stoughton a team that is tough to play against.
The offense will be sparked by a pair of freshmen. Hailey Nelson and Morgan Lesso made an instant impact on their debuts, helping Stoughton start the season with a 6-5 win at Framingham in the season opener. Lesso recorded a hat trick against the Flyers to set a high standard in her first varsity action.
“Stoughton will be a much stronger team this year than last,” said Black Knights coach Richard Grasso. “However, this will be a great challenge for our program. We have a lot of respect for the teams in the Hockomock League. There’s a lot of talent out there and each team is well-coached.”
Today’s games are listed below.
Mansfield, 2 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 2 – Final – Mansfield erased a two-goal deficit to earn a point in its season opener. Coyle took a 1-0 lead in the first period, and made it 2-0 in the second before Mansfield senior Tyler Oakley scored a power-play goal – his first career tally – with just over five minutes left in the second to cut into the deficit. Chris Kelleher then netted his first of the season three minutes later to make it 2-2. Sophomore Sean McCafferty made 33 saves in net for the Hornets.
Stoughton, 7 @ Framingham, 6 – Final