Returning all but three players from last season’s breakout boys’ hockey team, the Bourne Canalmen playing well into March is the expectation for the 2018-19 season.

After putting together a 15-5-2, beating Sandwich in the Canal Cup and earning the fifth seed and reaching the Division 3 South Sectional quarter finals, Bourne has its sights set on even more success once the puck drops on the season next week.

The goals remain the same for first-year head coach Frank Carpenito, who filled in on an interim basis late last year after former head coach Tom Welch suffered a stroke. They want to win the Canalmen Classic, their host tournament which they won last year. They want to win the South Coast Conference, which will mean beating ORR/Fairhaven and a familiar face in new Bulldogs head coach Chuck Jancaterino. They still want to beat Sandwich in the Canal Cup in February ahead of making a deeper run in the postseason.

Offensively, there is no reason to think the Canalmen cannot achieve all that and more. Bourne returns its top six scorers from last season. On the top line will be seniors Kyle Casano, captain Christian Mulkern and Chase Lapworth. Together they combined for 67 points. Bourne’s second line, which players refer to as the 1A line, features senior captains Max and Joe Hess and junior Mike Bonito. The trio was equally if not more potent to the top line, generating 90 points.

The combination of speed and skill should lead to even more high-scoring games than last year, when Bourne averaged 4.72 goals per game, including 12 games where the Canalmen scored five or more goals.

Defensively, Bourne will return three of its top four defensemen in captain Ethan Morse, sophomore Owen Lapworth and Scott Silva, with key returners in senior Joe DiMonda and sophomore Jonathan Sheehy.

Expect a platoon in net between juniors Kyle McGuire and Kam Sassone early before Carpenito rides the hot hand. Last season McGuire stopped 85 of the 99 shots he faced in net (.859 save percentage) while Sassone stopped 27 of 30 (.900 save percentage). Whoever is in net will, in all likelihood, find themselves in many lopsided games, particularly against conference teams.

But, with a beefed-up regular season schedule, Bourne should be battle tested by the time the playoffs roll around. The Canalmen Classic, set to start on December 14, features a familiar foe in Dartmouth, but also newcomers Westfield and Revere/Malden, both of which reached the Division 3 playoffs in 2017-18.

The Canalmen will meet the Bulldogs twice before the end of January in a home-and-home series that will likely decide the SCC. Last season Bourne went 0-1-1 against the ORR/Fairhaven team. The Canal Cup against Sandwich will be played yet again on the day before the Super Bowl, February 2, at Gallo Ice Arena.

And Bourne will bookend its schedule with a couple of tough out-of-conference tests. They open the season against Newton South, a team that beat them 5-0 at home late last season. They close the regular season on the road against Hanover, the Division 3 state runners up, and a home game against Westwood, which beat the Canalmen 4-0 in Canton last year.

The puck drops to open the season at the Gallo Ice Arena against the Newton South Lions on Saturday, December 8, at 1 PM.

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