Boston High School: Mike Gaffney

Recap: LaSalle Academy (R.I.) 1, Franklin 0

December, 27, 2013
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – As Franklin traveled to play Rhode Island power LaSalle Academy, Thursday, as part of Mount St. Charles’ 18th annual Holiday Faceoff tournament, the Panthers were looking for a bounce-back to a sizeable loss to Malden Catholic (an exclusion game) and a penalty-kill collapse against Lincoln-Sudbury.

But as Franklin was shutout, 1-0, after a 29-save performance from Rams junior goaltender Taylor Walsh at Adelard Arena, the Panthers were left kicking themselves again.

“He won the game, he flat out stole the game from the other team,” Rams head coach Mike Gaffney said. “Many, many of his saves were the kind preventing a certain goal. Sometimes goaltenders, the shot hits them, they’re in the right position. That’s hard enough to do. But he stole it away from them.”

This time, the Panthers (1-3-0) had more than plenty chances of their own on the power play, including a pair of sandwiched 5-on-3 chances to end the second period, but LaSalle (2-2-0) withstood it all.

The Rams tallied the lone goal of the game at 9:08 of the first, as junior forward Joe Manown tapped home a loose puck from the goalmouth, amidst a logjam of traffic in front of senior goaltender Mike Donadio (21 saves).

Still, with eight power-play opportunities to their credit, the Panthers had no one to blame but themselves.

“We have some really nice set-ups, getting into the zone and setting up what we wanted to, but the passes were in the skates, and on the power play, if you want to get a shot, you can’t do that,” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane said. “When we did put it on guys’ sticks, we weren’t ready or we didn’t handle it well.”

The Panthers were advantaged with a string of five straight power plays, elapsing over the final 10-and-a-half minutes of the second. During that span, Franklin was given a 5-on-3 opportunity for 38 seconds, which would carry over into the third. To make matters worse for LaSalle, a cross-checking call was also assessed as time ran out in the second, meaning Franklin would start the third period with piggy-backing power plays.

“That’s scary because they get to set up the opportunity exactly as they want it to out of the break,” Gaffney said.

Yet, the Panthers were able to muster just two shots in more than two minutes of 5-on-3 play.

“We’ve been at it a good month now, but I confessed to our team that we haven’t really done a lot of work on [the penalty kill],” Gaffney said. “But we have the right guys out there, the four defensemen, [Ben] Aldrich, [Nick] Altieri, [Ryan] Kelly and [Matt] Manown. I thought [forward Ryan] Tracy did a terrific job, too, when it was 5-on-3, up top.”

Yet, the Panthers seemed to find their stride midway through the third, as part of a 10-shot assault on Walsh in the period.

But Franklin was subject to a little more self-sabotage, as the Panthers got themselves into penalty trouble and a 5-on-3 situation, which LaSalle held in the latter stretches of the third.

“We finally had some serious momentum and then we give up the 5-on-3 and it gets taken away,” Spillane said. “It was all mental mistakes. They were all behind the play, not one of them needed to happen.”

Franklin must bounce back quickly as it prepares to face reigning Connecticut state champion Fairfield Prep tomorrow (2 p.m.) in the second round, while LaSalle hopes to keep the momentum rolling against RIIL rival Bishop Hendricken (6 p.m.)

Scrimmage slants: Marshfield vs. BC High vs. North Attleborough

August, 28, 2010
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. -- So much for easing into things.

This may have been only the third day of full contact permitted by the MIAA, but the three teams gathered for the tri-scrimmage at Beaupre Field this afternoon had no reservations about repeatedly lowering the boom. Between Marshfield, Boston College High, and host North Attleborough, there was plenty of pop coming out of the pads.

BC High was the only team to score on the afternoon, though the low scoring may have had a bit to do with the strict eight-play limit on each offensive drive. And while the Rams and Red Rocketeers came away a few players less (Marshfield with two injuries, the Rocketeers one), it was a mostly satisfying afternoon for all the parties involved.
[+] EnlargeBrian May, Marshfield HS football
Brendan Hall Marshfield junior Brian May will be one of the Rams' most versatile players in 2010.

A few observations:

-- BC High's defensive line was the unit that stuck out most this afternoon. Not only were they big, but they were physical and more than held their own, even with the absence of Division 1 prospect Obum Obukwelu (groin). In the Eagles' first series against the Rocketeers, North Attleborough struggled to move the ball and was forced to try the air (they ended up completing two passes). This unit, led by senior defensive tackle Gabe Seksay and junior defensive ends Alex Way and Jameson McShea, should be exciting to watch in 2010.

"I think we have a number of guys besides Obum who can play defensively," BC head coach Jon Bartlett said. "We're going to be alot faster defensively, I think, than last year -- up front, but linebackers as well."

Cracked North head coach Don Johnson, "Man, they're big. I wish we could have a couple of those guys."

-- Scary moment at the end of the scrimmage, when defensive tackle Mike Riley went down with a serious injury to his right leg. Two ambulances pulled up on the track, and an IV was even brought out. Initial diagnosis is that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound sophomore broke the lower part of his right leg, near the ankle, and will be out for a while.

"I feel bad, his sophomore year gets taken away by a broken leg," head coach Lou Silva said. "Real nice kid."

-- With just three starters back from last fall's Division 2A Super Bowl champion squad, the Rams have many new faces in new places. But look for fullback/defensive tackle Tom Pomella to make some waves in the Atlantic Coast League. The thick-bodied high school wrestler's low center of gravity allows him to get leverage on guys who might outweigh him at the point of attack, and offensively he'll work in a tailback/fullback role in Silva's multi-dimensional Wing-T offense.

Silva's teams are always fun to watch, even in down years, because of the way he deploys his skill position players at such a variety of different spots in the backfield. One of the more interesting players to watch out of that bunch should be junior speedster Brian May, who lined up at tailback but occasionally took jet-sweep handoffs out of the flanker spot.

"We're going to be relying on him alot," Silva said of May, who also plays linebacker. "He is one of our faster kids. The kid doesn't come off the field, he's just a tough kid. He's got some potential."

-- North Attleborough sputtered a bit in moving the ball downfield, but that may be the byproduct of breaking in so many new lineman. One guy they can count on is senior Bobby Richman -- he wore No. 75 today, but the Rocketeers roster suggests he may occasionally switch jersey numbers and line up in an h-back role -- but there were alot of rotations on the line today.

"We're taking a look at some seniors on the offensive line that we're putting in there to show they can do the job," Johnson said. "We also have some good underclassmen that can play, so that should create some good competition on the line."

-- BC's trenchmen were fairly impressive, but watch out for the linebackers too. There's a bit of a youth movement amongst the four spots -- six kids will generally be in the rotation, although senior Mike Gaffney is a constant -- but it's not as much of a green movement as one might be led to believe.

"We're very young this year, but we like our young players," Bartlett said.