Bulldog ice hockey team opens season with a bang

Tempers flare during the Bulldogs' season opener vs. rival Franklin last Friday. (CCTV photo)

Tempers flare during the Bulldogs’ season opener vs. rival Franklin last Friday at Providence College. (CCTV photo)

The theme of this year’s CHS boys ice hockey season is “no excuses,” and the Bulldogs certainly walked the walk on opening weekend as they reeled off three big wins in a 72-hour span.

The boys kicked things off with a thrilling 4-2 victory over rival Franklin in the season opener Friday night at Providence College — home of the defending NCAA national champions — then turned around and played two more games over the weekend, beating both Sandwich and Plymouth North to capture the inaugural Gormley Cup. Held at Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne, the tournament honors longtime educator and coach Jim Gormley, who served for many years as an MIAA playoff tournament director.

“I think that was the most tiring and jam-packed weekend that I can remember,” said veteran head coach Brian Shuman after the dizzying three-day stretch.

With his Bulldogs facing a nomadic existence this winter due to the ongoing closure of Metropolis Rink, Shuman said he wanted to do something special for the team to start the season, and the Friars were more than happy to oblige.

Prior to the game, the Bulldogs were given a tour of the PC lockerroom and weight room courtesy of Kevin Rooney, a senior captain on this year’s Friars team and a CHS hockey legend. And the current crop of Bulldogs made sure to repay the favor with a stellar performance on the ice, capping off the night with a two-goal third period that sealed the victory for the home team.

Like most Canton-Franklin showdowns, Friday’s opener was a back-and-forth affair, with the two teams trading goals in an action-packed first period, followed by an equally competitive but ultimately scoreless second frame. But it was the Bulldogs who made the most of the third and final period, highlighted by senior captain Matt Lazaro’s eventual game-winner. Fellow senior captain Jim Jenkins, who assisted on Lazaro’s goal, would add a score of his own just a few minutes later to help seal the win for the green and white.

Other standouts in the win for Canton included junior Shaun Kirby, who scored both game-tying goals in the opening period, and senior goalie Justin Slocum, who made several key saves down the stretch.

Kirby and Slocum were also two of the biggest difference makers in the weekend games as Canton went on to outscore its two opponents by a combined total of 8-0, including a 6-0 thrashing of Sandwich on Saturday. Slocum was especially unstoppable as he racked up back-to-back shutouts, prompting Shuman to call him the “best player on the ice for us right now.”

The other big stars in the Gormley Tournament were Seamus Pecararo and senior captain Bobby Mullaney, who combined for four goals and an assist in the two-game stretch. Lazaro, Jenkins, Mike Dadadis, and CJ Martin also got on the scoreboard for the Bulldogs as they improved to 3-0 on the young season.

Overall, Shuman said he was thrilled with the team’s performance through the first three games, and he is eager to see what this squad can do against some tough upcoming opponents, including defending state champion Westwood, which knocked the Bulldogs out of the Division 2 south tournament in last year’s sectional title game.

With respect to this year’s unusual schedule, which is back-loaded with away games due to the unavailability of Ponky, Shuman said the team “hasn’t really dwelled on it” that much. “I think it’s sort of understood that it’s going to be different this season, and I think they’ve adjusted well so far and we’re just going to try to take it one game at a time,” he said.

The Bulldogs didn’t have any games scheduled this week but will be busy again next week with three games in six days, all at home at the Canton Sportsplex. The team will welcome Lincoln-Sudbury to town on Monday, followed by games against Westwood on Wednesday and Mansfield on Saturday, January 2.

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