As a freshman, Franklin’s Joey Lizotte found himself on the Panther’s junior varsity hockey team for a good part of the season. With only a handful of games remaining on the regular season, he was called up with a couple of other freshmen to play with the varsity team.
Although he scored a goal in his very first varsity contest, the then freshman found himself ineligible for the post-season. A post-season in which the Panthers went on a run and captured the Division 1 State Championship.
“Not being able to skate with the team during the playoffs was a tough one to swallow,” the Franklin winger said. “I would have loved to be part of that team.”
Now in his senior campaign with the Panthers, Lizotte is looking at his final chance to be part of a State Championship team.
“Coming into the season, I thought that we were going to be good with a senior class that had speed and talent. We just didn’t have that top-notch goalie,” Lizotte said. “Our goalies held their own and kept us in the games. We’re just over .500, but we were able to win the Hockomock League and qualify for the post season.”
Lizotte first laced up the skates around 3 or 4 thanks to his dad. A few years later he was playing organized hockey with the Franklin Flyer as a left wing.
“When I first started skating, my parents told me that every time I fell, I immediately got back up,” he said. “When I first tried hockey, I fell in love with the sport.”
The now senior captain originally was a right-hand shot, but his father helped him develop a left-hand shot so that he could play either wing. Lizotte enjoyed flying down the wings the way his idol Brad Marchand does for the hometown Bruins. The Franklin winger found himself playing a similar game as his idol and wasn’t that tall, either.
“I’m 5’ 4”, small like Marchand, but I don’t let it bother me. In fact, it motivates me,” he said. “Other players look at me and think I’m a pushover, but they soon find out it’s not true. I wouldn’t want to be any taller.”
Franklin Coach Chris Spillane agrees with his small winger’s assessment.
“He’s about four-foot-nothing, a real small kid, but he plays hard and smart,” the Panther coach said. “Teams look at his size and count him out, but they soon find out that he’s got speed on the ice and can’t leave him unattended.”
Despite having played for the Franklin Flyers Youth Program, Lizotte found the 5-day tryout period a little overwhelming. And things got a little worrisome for the then freshman when his name wasn’t called for a team.
“After the varsity players were announced, the coach read off the junior varsity team. When my name wasn’t called, I got a little nervous, and I thought that I was good enough to be on that team,” Lizotte said. “After the coach left the room, I just sat there for a few minutes before he returned to say that he missed my name.”
What has been a rather successful high school career, almost wasn’t.
During his freshman season, before making the leap up to the big club, Lizotte lead the team in scoring with 13 goals and 5 assists. Lizotte was surprised with his scoring prowess as he didn’t consider himself that type of player, instead he thought of himself more of an assist type of person.,
Over the next few years, the winger continued to find the back of the net for the Panthers scoring 5 goals and adding 2 assists during his sophomore season, and then 9 goals and 4 assists last year as a junior to lead the team in scoring. So far this year, the senior has netted 7 goals and 6 assists, once again leading the team.
“We’ve been juggling lines to find that perfect blend,” said Spillane. “Joe’s usually on the first or second line and has continued to be our leading scorer. He also kills penalties (has a couple of shorthanded goals) and is a major spark plug for the team.”
Coming into the season, Lizotte set a bunch of goals for himself. He wanted to increase his scoring numbers from the previous year, skate on that first line and be named a captain to the team. All have been accomplished. Now all that is left for the senior winger is to be a part of a State Championship squad.