Mass. Boys HS Hockey – South Shore League Preview: Race Is On To Unseat Norwell As SSL Top Dog

Jim Clark
Jim Clark
Jim Clark joined Hockey Night in Boston in December 2019, and has covered high school hockey in Massachusetts for more than three decades. He also covers high school hockey and is a multiplatform editor for the Boston Globe, and previously spent two decades as high school hockey reporter at the Boston Herald, where he also served as the high schools editor from 2000-06. Clark was honored by the Mass. State Hockey Coaches Association with its William Stewart Award for contributions to the sport in May 2019, and also received the Joel Perlmutter Award for media coverage in 2006. A graduate of UMass, he also spent eight years as sports editor/reporter at the Sentinel & Enterprise in Fitchburg, and has extensively covered high school hockey in Central and Western Mass. as well as Connecticut.

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Norwell is the defending champion in the South Shore League, but should get some pushback this winter from some other clubs that are returning several players on their respective rosters.

ABINGTON (11-7-3)

The Green Wave made a breakthrough in 2019-20 in coach Bryan Woodford’s first season behind the bench, improving by seven wins and reaching the Division 3 South tournament.

The key forward core of that team returns with seniors John Polito and Dave McArthur, and junior Mikey Pineau. Woodford describes Polito as “lightning fast, hard worker, sniper,” and McArthur as a 200-foot center with “silky hands, sandpaper grit.” The 6-foot-2 Pineau is fast with an accurate shot and is “extremely coachable.”

Defensively Abington returns puck-moving senior Mark Cashman, and junior Ryan Tobin – a hard hitter with a heavy shot. Woodford praises sophomore goalie Spencer Merrick’s work ethic, positional play and puck-handling ability.

Woodford believes the inaugural South Shore Cup is “well within our reach with hard work.”

Nick Blonde
Rockland

ROCKLAND (10-9-4)

The Bulldogs bring back six players who all made an impact a season ago. Their six league all-stars are the most of any team in Eastern Mass.

Rockland will have a trio of potent forwards in senior Nick Blonde (15-17-32), junior Jake Higgins (9-13-22), and sophomore Joe Salamone (15-4-19). Coach Mike Flaherty, now in his 13th season, hopes to get more scoring from some of the underclassmen who have been in the program since eighth grade.

Senior goalie Thomas McSweeney (2.37 GAA, .903 SP) returns off his all-star campaign along with defensemen Sean Geary (sophomore, 3-6-9) and senior Nick Leander (senior, 0-6-6). Freshman Caleb Davis is a newcomer to watch on the blue line.

“Our goals do not change because of the situation,” Flaherty said of the shortened season with no MIAA tournament. “We still want to win the SSL regular season as always, but with the addition of league playoffs we want to win that as well. It’s great the league has given the kids a chance to compete for a few league titles and we are very appreciative of the opportunity.”

Sean Ennis
Norwell

NORWELL (17-4-3)

The Clippers ran the table in the South Shore League last season, and now will try to keep their spot at the top in coach Jim Casagrande’s 13th season.

Norwell returns a trio of SSL All-Stars in senior forward Sam Fettuccia, defenseman Cole Berglund, and goalie Sean Ennis.

The Clippers bring back 14 players overall. Fettuccia is joined up front by seniors Justin Spataro and John Milne, juniors Robert Lyden and Griffin Vetrano, and sophomore Timothy Ward. On defense, senior Derek Layden also returns, while juniors Joseph Daly, John Coyle, Maxwell Maiellano and Connor Therrien will add depth throughout the lineup.

Junior Micah Beltrami will back up Ennis in net.

EAST BRIDGEWATER (4-14-2)

The Vikings enter the season with only five seniors, but will have an influx of young talent as Mike D’Errico takes over as head coach.

Most of the experience is on the blue line, where seniors Gage Lonergan (6-5-11), Jack Parry (1-4-5) and Ryan McKenna (0-2-2) are back along with sophomore Kyle McDonald (0-1-1). Senior Ryan Annacone is a newcomer up front.

Sophomores Brett Peterson (9-5-14) and Luke Parry (4-7-11) look to be the offensive leaders in a forward group that has just one senior in Jake Lynch. Juniors Jeff Young (1-3-4) and Sean Noonan (2-3-5) also are back along with freshman Evan Brew.

Sophomore Anthony Patete will transition from forward to take over in goal.

The Vikings welcome two new sophomores in Pat Donahue (F) and Jake Shaw (D), as well as a pair of  freshmen in Sam Hall (D) and Nicolas Sturdevant (F). D’Errico also will gave a solid group of eighth-graders – forwards Gavin Bagley and Kasey Fortier, and defensemen Jason Hughes, Caden Johnson and Aiden Baldner.

MIDDLEBORO (6-12-2)

Middleboro brings back 17 players from last season, including 12 forwards, as coach Scott Drevitch’s squad tries to crack the .500 mark.

Leading the way is senior Justin Plausky (11-16-27), a South Shore League All-Star last season. Jake Dagesse (12-10-22) also is part of a strong senior group up front along with Hunter Dandreta (3-11-14), Aiden Larson (7-5-12), Stephen D’Errico (1-1-2) and Colby Strong. Juniors Josh Murphy (5-6-11), Ryan St. John (1-5-6), Dylan Bush (0-3-3), Zachary Leavens and Daniel Mokeler add to the forward depth along with sophomore Cam Cochran.

Matthew Ruggiero (8-8-16) is the lone senior back on the blue line, joined by juniors Aiden Carey (1-1-2) and Robert McNaughton (0-2-2), and sophomore Jake Jordan (3-7-10).

Senior Colin Nevitt, who played every game last season, returns in goal.

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