The Hockomock League returns to a more traditional balanced look this season with a pair of five-team divisions. Oliver Ames, which had been in the Kelley-Rex each of the past four years, switches back to the Davenport. Stoughton/Brockton will play a Davenport schedule again after spending last year as an independent. Two-time Division 2 state champion Canton, Foxboro and North Attleboro round out the Davenport side.
In the Kelley-Rex, former Canton assistant Greg Chamberlain is the league’s lone new coach at Attleboro. Franklin, King Philip, Mansfield and Taunton fill out the five-team side.
There’s essentially a full house returning for coach Anthony Sarno, who only had to add four new players to complete his roster for this season. Twelve seniors return and Sarno said “we will count on them for their guidance throughout the year,”
That senior group includes experienced netminders Jack Patterson and Gary Mandia and forwards Declan Lovett (5-7-12) and Conor O’Neil (9 goals), who had solid campaigns last year. Dynamic junior and league all-star Dylan Marchand (13 points) and sophomore Ben Jarosz add to the experience up front.
“As history has proven, anyone can beat anybody on any given day. Maximum effort and attitude along with integrity and passion and being a tight-knit family will be a must,” Sarno stressed.
KING PHILIP (10-5-5)
Thirteen players return for coach Paul Carlow to a team dominated by upperclassmen – eight seniors and eight juniors. The Warriors should factor into the league title race.
Four-year varsity regular Rocco Bianculli – a two-year All-League defenseman who shared the team scoring lead a year ago with six goals and 24 points – and fourth-year senior forward and captain Conor Cooke (5-8-13) lead the returnees. The forward group includes proven scorers Joey Boselli (11-13-24) and Aiden Boulger (12-6-18) along with seniors Paul McDonald and Justin Yatsuhashi.
In addition to Bianculli, senior captain David Lawler and seniors Geoff Bowes and Shea Cunningham return with experience on the back line. Kyle Abbott gets the nod in goal.
“As always we are looking to build on last year and compete for the league title,” Carlow said.
Coach Mike Balzarini anticipates Chris Horman playing a key role as he steps into the role as the Hornets’ full-time goalie. “He learned a lot last season, is coming off a stellar fall season and is looking strong in practice,” Balzarini said.
Captain Cam Page, Mark DeGirolamo, Kyle Oakley, Dillon Benoit, Ryan Doherty and Liam Anastasia are top forwards. Captain Jake Quirk, Joe Gormley, Patrick Gormley, Ben Levine and James Hughes will man the blue line.
“Yes, it’s a shortened season but we have looked good thus far in practice and are looking to push the pace this year and play a faster game,” Balzarini said.
The Blue Bombardiers will have championship experience behind the bench this season as Greg Chamberlain takes the reins following a successful run as an assistant to Brian Shuman and Canton.
Attleboro will be experienced on the blue line with senior Owen Dryjowicz, junior Sean Marshall and senior Zack Pierce all returning in front of junior goalie Nick Piazza.
Senior center Aidan Dryjowicz is the top returning forward along with wings Jake Ward (senior) and Nate Parker (junior).
Chamberlain said the key this season will be “just keeping it simple and playing our game.” He also said it will be an “all hands on deck” approach. “I need everyone to be a leader and a role player on this team.”
Coach Kris Metea returns to majority of his key pieces from last year’s Division 2 South tournament squad, with 18 returning players.
Senior captain Brady Nichols (14-18-32) is not only the top returning scorer, but also pilots a strong defense corps along with junior Jack DeMoura (1-22-23).
Offensively the Tigers will have some good balance with juniors Loren Corcoran (7-9-16) and Nathan Fernandes (5-10-15), senior Cam Faria (4-6-10), and sophomores Connor McGrath (7-6-13) and Colton Scheralis (2-6-8). Conner Goranson is a transfer from Coyle & Cassidy.
Metea, entering his 10th season, says defense and puck possession should be strengths of this Tigers squad. The power play, which clicked at 30 percent a year ago, also will be a focal point.
Few programs have enjoyed the kind of two-year run of success that the Bulldogs finished last March … a combined 46-1-4 record and a pair of Division 2 state championships. Canton didn’t get to finish things on the ice, its state final rematch against Lincoln-Sudbury – and a chance to avenge its lone loss over those two seasons — canceled because of COVID-19.
Now coach Brian Shuman’s challenge is replacing the core those two titles, both in scoring and in the defensive end. Senior Dylan Coyne should be the go-to player offensively along with junior Eamon Kelly.
On the blue line, look for junior Sean Connolly and sophomore Vincent Sica to take on bigger roles. Senior Liam Polles takes over in goal.
Canton also will be returning to the Metropolis Rink for the first time since the building’s roof collapsed in 2015.
The Warriors were a sleeper team entering the postseason last year, and proved their worth by reaching the Division 3 South semifinals before falling in a tough battle to eventual co-state champion Hanover.
Goalie Espen Reager, the Hockomock Davenport MVP, will be a big loss that coach Mark Cedorchuk will have to replace. Senior Jack Spinney, who saw some action behind Reager last season, could fill the role.
Offensively the Warriors are in good shape with senior Kirk Leach (team-high 20 goals) and junior Jack Watts (13-14-27) returning. Senior Brady Daly will add depth at forward.
Junior Eion Reager (14 points) can play both forward and defense. On the blue line he would support junior Dylan Pothier and sophomore Alex Coviello, both returnees from a season ago.
NORTH ATTLEBORO (7-8-6)
Entering his fourth season with the Red Rocketeers, Ben McManama says his team is lacking that big scorer, but has a lot of depth.
Tyler Sarro is the senior leader at forward and will be on the top line along with his brother, junior Brady Sarro. The forward depth shows in the junior class with centers Nik Kojoian and Nick Longa, and right wing Sam Clarke all returning.
McManama says the veteran defense, led by senior Charlie Connolly and junior Austin Comery, will need to log a lot of ice time this season. Sophomore Gavin Arabian is a newcomer on the blue line, while sophomore Brody Gaulin adds depth at forward.
OLIVER AMES (6-13-1)
Coach Mike Zucarelli will be looking for better success in his second season behind the Tigers bench, but will have an inexperienced squad with only six returning players.
Seniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro are among the returnees and will be the top returning forwards along with sophomores Sean McCarthy and Jack Perron.
On defense, OA will look to senior Kevin Tremblay and junior Elliot Cohen for leadership. Sophomore Brandon Burke is the expected starter in goal.
One year after breaking away from the Hockomock to become an independent as Stoughton and Brockton joined forces, the co-op will be playing a league schedule this season as part of the COVID-19 adjustments.
Longtime Black Knights coach Dan Mark has good numbers as a result of the co-op after losing just four players to graduation. The strength of the team should be on the blue line with senior Kenny Young and juniors Josh Greenspoon, Anthony Hern and Steve Westerlund all back from last season. They will be tasked with protecting a pair of goalies – senior captain Ryan Spano and sophomore Chris Andrade.
Juniors Colin Alessi and Joe McNulty return for their third seasons at forward, and McNulty will serve as a captain along with seniors Cade O’Connell and Mike Andrade. Senior forwards Kyle Cruickshank and Ryan Flannery also return.
- Kevin Doyle also contributed to this report