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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

KP Boys Hockey Team Aiming for Tournament Run

Toby Carlow, center, is surrounded by his staff after leading Medfield High to the Division 2 state championship in 2016.

By Ken Hamwey
Staff Sports Writer

Coach Toby Carlow guided the King Philip boys ice hockey team to a 12-6-3 record and a berth in the state tourney last year in his first season at the Warriors’ helm. There’ll be no “sophomore jinx’’ this year.

KP had an 11-4-2 record at Local Town Pages deadline and was ninth in the power ranking for the playoffs. The top 32 teams qualify for the state tourney.

“The No. 1 goal the coaching staff set in the pre-season was to qualify again for the playoffs and aim for a top-four seed,’’ Carlow said. “Competing for the Kelley-Rex Division title was another goal and improving daily also was on the list. The goals are realistic because we’ve got a talented and dedicated group whose work ethic is outstanding. Of course, the ultimate goal is to win a state title.’’

Carlow is no stranger to winning and he’s no stranger to winning a state championship. During his 14 years as Medfield High’s varsity coach, he led that program to a Division 2 state crown in 2016, the first in the school’s history.

Carlow’s current KP squad will rely on a variety of strengths in the tourney and hope they lead to a lengthy playoff run. Last year’s squad was eliminated in the first round by Hingham.

“Our kids are coachable, they’ve got experience and they provide depth,’’ Carlow noted. “Our hockey IQ has improved, our checking is strong, I like our goal-tending, and our offense is capable.’’

The Warriors, who lost five seniors to graduation, have a roster of 14 seniors, 4 juniors and 8 sophomores. “Our style is up-tempo on offense,’’ Carlow emphasized. “We like to push the pace and be fast. We can play possession hockey but we prefer to transition quickly from defense to offense.’’

KP’s captain — senior defenseman Cam Lehan-Allen —and its two assistant captains — seniors Max Robison (left wing) and Sam Naggar (defenseman) — are solid leaders.

“Cam is dedicated, hard-working and mentally and physically tough,’’ Carlow said. “A pure defenseman, he leads by example and usually is the first skater on the ice for practice. 

“Max is coachable, has a strong work ethic, and wants to win. An all-around forward, he’s solid on offense, knows his defensive responsibilities and checks effectively. A physical skater, a knee injury sidelined him for two games. Sam leads by example and by being vocal when needed. He’s dedicated, works hard, is tough and smart.’’ 

Senior center Nate Garstka, who had 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points, is a prolific offensive talent. “A top quality skater, Nate has a strong wrist shot and he can pass,’’ Carlow said. “He’s got good technique and he’s well-skilled in all aspects of the game. It’s not easy to be a center and he accepts the responsibilities that go with that position.’’

Senior left wing Rowan Boulger, who had 19 goals and 11 assists for 30 points, was a Hockomock League all-star last year. “He’s a hard-nosed player who works hard and is a scoring threat,’’ Carlow offered. “Rowan is a very good situational player who’s driven and at times plays hurt. A coachable player, he’s a great locker-room guy.’’

Senior Tyler Douglas is another center who relies on a strong wrist shot. “Tyler is also solid at center,’’ Carlow said. “He’s knows the responsibilities in the offensive end and is a three-zone player who also is on our penalty-killing team.’’

Junior goalie Trevor Walmsley, who transferred from Medway, is well-skilled in the net. At Local Town Pages deadline, his goals-against average was 1.99 and his save percentage was .907. “Trevor is a big kid whose technique is very good,’’ Carlow said. “He knows how to cut the angles and relies on instincts. He shut out Canton and is truly growing into the position.’’

Another goalie, junior Ted Bolan, has displayed promise. “Ted works hard and gives 100 percent all the time,’’ Carlow said. “He never gives up on a play and he’s improving daily.’’

Eight sophomores, who represent the future of KP hockey, have contributed to the team’s success. They include defensemen Sonny Bianculli, Evan Regan, and Charlie Pelkey; centers Finn Cunningham and Joe Robison; wingers Grady Bianculli (2 goals and 23 assists for 25 points) and Cole Kotkowski; and wing/center Jack Gresham.

“They’re a coachable group that’s no doubt the future of the program,’’ Carlow emphasized. “They foster team chemistry and all of them are technically sound.’’

Carlow’s staff includes varsity assistants Tony Iaffola and Albert Carlow (brother of the coach); Drew Diko (jayvee head coach) and Ted Ducharme (assistant jayvee coach). “They’re all capable and dedicated,’’ Carlow said. “And, they promote KP hockey.’’

Before coaching Medfield’s varsity, the 46-year-old Carlow was an assistant coach for six years at his alma mater (Burrillville High in Rhode Island). He played four varsity seasons at Burrillville, was a three-time all-star and also a captain as a senior. Carlow played college hockey at UMass-Boston where he was an ECAC all-star and an assistant captain.

Relying on a coaching philosophy that stresses “reaching one’s potential and enjoying athletics,’’ Carlow firmly believes that when those two situations occur, “winning is the by-product.’’ 

Carlow also knows that sports teach valuable life lessons. “Great life lessons include overcoming adversity and being resilient,’’ he said. “Other key lessons are learning how to lead, how to be a quality teammate and being accountable and responsible.’’

The 2023-24 KP hockey team will rely on an up-tempo style on offense but it can also play possession hockey when necessary.

No matter what style the Warriors choose, it’s a given that they’ll compete hard, stay focused and give 100 percent. And, there’s no doubt that they’ll personify desire and dedication.