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COLLEGE BASEBALL: Thomas ready to open season

Sport: Baseball  Posted: March 19th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

COLLEGE BASEBALL: Thomas ready to open season

WATERVILLE -- Thomas College baseball coach Greg King doesn't sugarcoat it when he talks about his team's pitching.

"Our pitching is probably going to be the weakest we've had," said King, now in his 12th season as the Terriers' coach. "Some days you come to practice and it looks like we're going to have a pretty darn good pitching staff, and other days it's like we're not sure what we're going to get."

Thomas begins the 2008 season next week with eight games in Arizona. The Terriers, who went 8-17 last season, open the trip next Wednesday with a doubleheader against D'Youville and close the week with two games against Castleton State, the preseason favorite in the North Atlantic Conference.

"We'd just like to take one from them," said Hallowell native Sam Shain, a junior.

Sophomores Payton Austin and Cory Estes will be at the top of the Terriers' pitching rotation. While each had an earned run average of less than 3.00 last season, the pair combined to throw just 35.1 innings and have just one start between them, by Austin.

"They both have outstanding breaking stuff. They're both throwing with a little more velocity right now, but both of those guys just have an uncanny ability to locate. They both throw three pitches for strikes," King said.

Freshmen Andrew Martin and Tony MacMillan, along with Shain, will see time on the mound. Shain threw just 3.1 innings last season. Catcher Nick Shauwecker has spent much of his preseason getting to know all his new pitchers.

"There's a lot of good freshman up and coming this year, so I have to learn and get with them, know everything they do. Learn their pitches. Help them by telling them what's wrong and what they need to work on," said Shauwecker, who hit .360 last season with 16 runs batted in. "I can't wait to see these kids outside. I can't wait to see what these kids are bringing."

The Terriers hit .324 as a team last season, and with five returning players who hit at least .333, offense should be the team's strength.

The lineup will be led by senior center fielder Mike Chamard. The team's only senior, Chamard led the NAC with a .474 average last season and was a second team all-conference selection, driving in a team-high 24 runs.

"Without question, (Chamard) should be one of the top players in the conference," King said.

Shortstop Jared Fieldsend hit .333 last season, as did Shain, who will see time at a number of positions.

"I'll probably be playing first, third, outfield, pitching a little bit. I could be anywhere, really," Shain said.

"With his bat, he's going to have to be in the lineup," King said of Shain.

Newcomers Josh Nickerson and Pat Brooks will see time at first and third base, respectively, while Mike Busa and Alex Pelletier will share second base duties. Sophomore Tom Desjardins will see action at third base, and Nick Cloutier will spell Shauwecker behind the plate or get in the lineup as the designated hitter.

The two corner outfield positions are up for grabs, King said.

"If a kid gets out there, he has to take advantage of their opportunity, and the one who is doing the best is the one who's going to stay out there," King said. "I think this year's team, we're going to have a bunch of kids playing a bunch of different positions. ... We'll just be throwing people into the mix and seeing what they can do."

Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242


GIRLS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Waterville's Rancourt caps brilliant career

Sport:   Posted: March 19th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

GIRLS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Waterville's Rancourt caps brilliant career
From staff reports

A swimming coach will face several choices during the high school season. But for Waterville's Bob Johnston, making Megan Rancourt the anchor on his relay teams was an easy one.

"The weight of the team could be carried on her back," Johnston said. "It meant a lot to her to be able to do it."

As a senior this season, Rancourt filled that role for the Purple Panthers, making their 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams the best in the area. Rancourt also led Waterville in individual scoring and was named girls swimmer of the meet after winning the 200 and 500 free at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championships.

"I like being the last," Rancourt said. "I get pumped up more. You get that extra boost of adrenaline being the anchor on the relay."

For her accomplishments, Rancourt is the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel Girls Swimmer of the Year. Also considered was Messalonskee freshman Emily Clark.

According to Johnston, what made Rancourt so successful was the time she put in at practice, as well as a competitive nature that would surface when she was challenged.

"If you ever saw Megan swim, she kind of would swim to the level of her competition," Johnston said. "If she was racing against someone who was faster than her, she would not let that person go."

Rancourt said she isn't competitive in other sports, or even at swimming practice. But something about the one-on-one aspect of racing would take her to a different level.

"Swimming is pretty much my life," Rancourt said. "I've been doing it since I was 5."

At the Class B state championships, Rancourt finished fifth in the 200 and third in the 500 while also anchoring two relay teams which finished in the top four. She followed that up by finishing eight at New Englands in both the 200 and the 500.

What makes Rancourt's accomplishments even more surprising is that she was not at 100 percent all season. A back injury forced her to cut back her practice time by two hours per session.

"I've had it since I was younger," Rancourt said. "It didn't really take effect until the end of last year. I went to the doctor's and they said to cut it down a little bit.

"In order to prevent surgery, it's what I needed to do."

The back injury will also play a factor in Rancourt not swimming competitively in college, although Johnston feels she could get a Division I scholarship at the right school. Rancourt is looking to study radiology at Eastern Maine Community College, which does not have a swim team.

"I'm not going to swim for a team in college," Rancourt said. "I'm just going to stay competitive and maybe this year or next year, take up Master's swimming."

That level is also quite competitive, and when she does move on to Master's, Rancourt can say she is coming off a senior season in which she met her expectations.

"My goals for this year were to perform well in states, at least get top eight, and top eight in New Englands too, and to win KVACs," Rancourt said. "I feel like I reached my goals this year."

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243


Cony's Dufour swims through the pain

Sport:   Posted: March 19th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cony's Dufour swims through the pain

Cony High School senior Cameron Dufour still jumps into the pool a few times a week, but his competitive swimming career is done.

It ended last month at the Class A state meet when he posted school records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, placing fourth in both events.

Dufour qualified for the New England meet, but a left shoulder that has grown progressively more painful throughout his career sealed his decision not to attend.

"After the state meet, the next two or three days I had a hard time moving my neck," Dufour said. "I was happy with myself. I said, 'This is the way I want to end it.' "

Dufour, who transferred from St. Dominic High School in Auburn after his sophomore year, ended a successful career at Cony that included being named outstanding swimmer at this season's Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet.

For his efforts, he's been selected Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel Boys Swimmer of the Year for the second year in a row.

Despite shoulder problems last season, Dufour didn't consider quitting the swim team. Diagnosed as tendinitis, the injury grew worse.

"His nerves were rubbing against his bones," Cony coach Jon Millett said. "Every time he moved his shoulders, he was in pain."

Dufour's doctor suggested an elastic tape than lifted the nerve away from the bone and for the most part it worked.

The pain still limited his practice time -- he took a day off before each meet -- as well as his goals for the season.

"The 200 freestyle was my race," said Dufour, who holds the school record in that event. "I was hoping to break 1:50. "And I wanted to beat the 500 school record."

Dufour was limited to the 50 and 100 freestyle events as well as the freestyle relays, but injury-free, he could have gone even further.

"He could have been a great backstroker," Millett said. "He's just solid muscle. There's not an ounce of fat on him."

Millett doesn't dwell too much on what Dufour might have done because he's satisfied with what he's been able to accomplish in and out of the pool.

"He's the best kid I've ever had," Millett said. "You won't find a nicer kid, a hard worker. He's a great role model for everybody."

Dufour, who was also a member of the KVAC All-Academic team, plans to attend the University of Fort Kent next fall and eventually become a state trooper, following in the footsteps of his uncle, Bill Harwood.

"The state police motto is, 'Fairness, compassion, integrity and honor,' " Dufour said. "Ever since I was 5 years old, that's what I've wanted to do in my life."

A lifeguard at the Kennebec Valley YMCA, Dufour is sure his competitive days are done. That doesn't mean he'll give up the sport, though.

"Swimming is just a good exercise for the overall body," he said.

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638


Corrigan faces sporting choice

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 19th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Corrigan faces sporting choice

Caribou High School senior Kyle Corrigan has the most important part of his college selection process settled.

He’s headed to the University of Maine-Presque Isle in the fall to study athletic training.

He’s also going to play a sport for the Owls, but he’s not yet sure which one — and he has two high-quality options.

"It’s either soccer or basketball," he said. "I just want to play one, and I don’t know which one I’m going to play yet. It’s going to take a while."

Corrigan earned All-New England honors from the Maine Soccer Coaches Association last fall after breaking a 30-year-old school single-season goal-scoring record with 27 while leading the Vikings to a 12-3 record. He finished his career with 51 goals and 13 assists.

This winter, the 5-9 guard was one of the top basketball players in Eastern Maine Class B, earning first-team All-Big East Conference honors and All-Aroostook accolades while leading Caribou to a 17-3 record and a berth in the regional tournament.

Corrigan also was a McDonald’s senior all-star.

"It’s just where my heart is and which sport I have more fun playing," said Corrigan of his eventual choice. "It’s not really about all the success, it’s about what I feel."

Corrigan’s favorite sport has changed over the years, which likely will make his decision all the more difficult.

"When I was little it was baseball, then in the middle-school era it was basketball," he said. "Once high school came around, I really got into soccer, so it’s definitely shifted."

Martin wins Gatorade honor

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 19th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Martin wins Gatorade honor

Ryan Martin of Maranacook of Readfield has capped off a clean sweep of the state’s top schoolboy basketball honors with his selection as Maine’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

That selection, released Monday, comes in the aftermath of the 5-foot-9 senior guard leading the Black Bears to a 22-0 record and the 2008 Class B state championship and being named Mr. Basketball on Friday night during the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Banquet.

Martin concluded his high school career with a stellar senior season that propelled Maranacook to its second state title in three years.

His contribution? Martin averaged 23.1 points and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 61 percent from the field, 60 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 88 percent from the free-throw line.

He scored a school-record 56 points — including eight 3-pointers — in the Black Bears’ regular-season finale, a 97-60 victory over Oak Hill of Sabattus. He then was named Eastern B tournament MVP for the second time in three years after averaging 25 points in three games.

Martin followed that effort with a game-high 26 points as the Black Bears defeated Cape Elizabeth 56-46 in the Class B state final.

A three-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B player of the year and a two-time Bangor Daily News All-Maine choice, Martin ended his career with 1,899 points.

Martin was a four-year starter for coach Rob Schmidt’s Black Bears but burst onto the scene in a statewide sense as a sophomore.

Martin averaged 34 points in three 2006 Eastern B tournament games, including 41 points in a semifinal win against Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and 35 in Maranacook’s championship-game victory over Presque Isle. He also set an Eastern B tournament record with 18 made free throws in the semifinals.

Maranacook went on to defeat Mountain Valley of Rumford in that year’s state final, but the Black Bears were ousted in the 2007 regional quarterfinals before regaining the gold ball this winter.

Martin’s Maranacook team compiled a 69-13 overall record over four years, including 59-4 during the last three years.

Martin is expected to announce his college plans by the end of this week, with options including Maine, Vermont, Quinnipiac, Keene State and Franklin Pierce.

Rams standout Weston taking talents to Bates

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 19th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Rams standout Weston taking talents to Bates
By Ernie Clark
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

The Bates College men’s basketball team has developed a fruitful connection with Bangor High School in recent years.

Zak Ray, a star guard for the Rams who was named the state’s 2003 Mr. Basketball, went on to become one of the top players in the New England Small College Athletic Conference during his four years at Bates.

And Alex Gallant, a forward who led Bangor to the 2007 Class A state championship, was part of the Bobcats’ regular rotation during his first year at the Lewiston school this winter.

Now Ryan Weston, who helped Bangor to a 42-2 record, one state championship and two Eastern Maine Class A titles over the last two seasons, plans to join Gallant on the Bates roster next season.

"I went there for a visit, and I loved the coach and I thought it was a beautiful campus even though they had a lot of construction going on," said Weston, a 6-foot-5 center. "The campus was absolutely gorgeous, everybody was really friendly and willing to answer your questions."

Weston said his familiarity with two local players on the team, Gallant and sophomore guard Chris Wilson of Brewer, also helped with his decision, as did the team’s style of play.

"I knew a couple of the guys on the team in Chris and Al, and I got to see them play and see how coach [Joe] Reilly coached," he said. "I loved the way coach Reilly coached — hard, intense man-to-man defense similar to what we do here at Bangor."

Weston, a Bangor Daily News third-team All-Maine choice as a junior, was the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North player of the year this winter while leading Bangor in scoring (12.7 ppg) and rebounding (8 rpg) despite averaging barely 20 minutes of playing time per game.

Bates finished the 2007-08 season with a 17-8 record, qualifying for the NESCAC playoffs before bowing to Bowdoin of Brunswick in the quarterfinals.

Weston’s athletic career at Bates won’t be confined to basketball, as he also plans to join the Bobcats’ football team this fall.

"When I was visiting there I met the football coach [Mark Harriman], who it turns out had been a referee in our quarterfinal [basketball] game last year against Leavitt, and I decided I wanted to play two sports instead of having to give up one," Weston said. "The coaches supported me 100 percent in doing that, so Bates seemed like a pretty good option for me."

Weston, a first-team All-Pine Tree Conference Class A tight end last fall while helping Bangor reach the Eastern A final, won’t be alone among Bangor football players matriculating to Bates. Fellow All-PTC first-team honorees Tyler McDade (linebacker) and Kyle Vanidestine (running back/defensive back) also are planning to play for the Bobcats beginning this year, Weston said.

Weston is hopeful the blend of new talent and experienced veterans will help Bates emerge from a struggling period in its football history. The Bobcats have finished 1-7 each of the last two years.

"It’s a program on the rise," he said, "and there’s a lot of desire and a lot of passion there."

Hiller leaves ORR hockey

Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Hiller leaves ORR hockey

March 18, 2008 6:00 AM

Jay Hiller, the head coach of the Old Rochester/Fairhaven hockey team for six seasons, told his players he was retiring from the job following their playoff loss to Pembroke in the MIAA Division 3 tournament on Feb. 28. But Hiller didn't go public with the news at the time because he didn't want it to detract attention from his players.

"I miss 90 percent of my kids' games. Braly has two years of high school left, and Kenly has three years of college left," said Hiller, whose two daughters are hockey players. "After nine years, it's just time family-wise."

Hiller took over the program in 2002 and won only two games his first season, but the program soon became competitive, making the state tournament four of the next five seasons. The peak came in 2006-07, when the Bulldogs went 14-1-3 and beat Harwich/Provincetown before falling to eventual sectional champion Scituate in the quarterfinals. Hiller finished the six-year run with a 53-54-13 regular-season record.

A 1979 graduate of ORR, he helped out the high school program after playing some hockey at Cape Cod Community College. After sinking his teeth for years in the family car dealership, Hiller decided to give coaching a try. Now he wants to spend his hockey hours watching his children. Kenly Hiller is a defenseman at Connecticut College, and Braly is a goalie on the girls team at Tabor Academy.

"It was a tough decision," said Hiller, who says he already misses working with assistant coaches Scott Hartley and Mike Jenkins. "Those guys I've been coaching with six years, and we added Jon Peters. When you can't play anymore, it's the closest you can get."

Athletic director Bill Tilden said he's talked to some prospective candidates and intends to hire Hiller's replacement this spring.

— Mick Colageo

Cardone kept under wraps by Needham

Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cardone kept under wraps by Needham
By David Pevear and Rick Harrison, Sun Staff
Article Last Updated: 03/17/2008 11:36:31 AM EDT

BOSTON -- For one of the few times in his career, Westford Academy playmaker/sharpshooter Craig Cardone was kept off the board.

He had several crafty setups to teammates, but ends the season with 19 goals, 31 assists, 50 points and his three-year Grey Ghosts' career with more than 100 points.

"Craig is very shifty, but Needham did a great job of taking him off the puck," said Westford coach Bob Carpenter. "Other than that they did nothing special we saw to neutralize him."

Hockey notebook

"We knew coming in that Cardone is really quick," said Rockets coach Bill Giusti. "Our defense did an excellent job keeping an eye on him."

Cardone's best bid was a superb pass in the slot to set up a teammate all alone late in the second period when it was still 2-0 and the Ghosts were shorthanded.

Cardone lists Phillips Exeter Academy, UMass Dartmouth, Stonehill, Wentworth Institute and possibly junior hockey among his myriad of possibilities for next fall.

All but one of the Wilmington High players' hair was dyed blonde, courtesy of Jackie Mello, a former Wilmington track standout now in the salon business. She is the sister of Wildcats' high-scoring forward Ernie Mello.

Mello finished the season with 27 goals, 18 assists, 45 points while linemate Eric Siegel had 18-20-38 points.

Sandwich carried powerful emotional energy into its game against Wilmington. The Blue Knights yesterday visited the grave of former teammate Jeff Hayes,
who died last January after battling Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. A month earlier, Sandwich coach Derackk Curtis had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Sandwich freshman goalie Pat Farrington registered an overtime shutout in the Division 2 South final against Franklin, and then stopped 22 shots while blanking Wilmington.

"He's going to have a great next three years. He will turn some heads. He's a great goalie," said Wilmington senior goalie Mike Cabral.

Cabral was pretty great himself, stopping 21 of 22 shots.

"(Cabral) did what he did all season for us," said Wilmington coach Steve Scanlon. "He keeps us in games and gives us a chance to win."

Cabral, a senior, is undecided on his college choice. He said he is likely to attend UMass Lowell or Salem State.

Scanlon was upbeat following the loss, reflecting on the season as a whole.

"We accomplished something the program has never accomplished by winning a sectional title," he said. "We'll take the next step someday."

The Wildcats graduate 11 seniors.

Westford will graduate 14 seniors including Cardone, forward Mike Young, All-Conference defensemen Jim Houghton, Tyler Harrington, blueliner Bob Laroche and top goaltender Curt Serafini.

"I'd take a season like this every year," said coach Carpenter. "As the days wear on our guys will be proud. They realize they qualified for Division 1A, were one goal from making the Super 8 tourney and won a couple of championships (league, North). "It couldn't have happened to a better bunch of guys."

A naked-eye estimate of the crowd at both the Wilmington and Westford games placed both between 4,500 and 5,000 fans -- pretty evenly divided among all four participating schools.

Reading High, believed to be the first public school ever to win the Division 1A Tournament, completed an impressive 5-0 run through the brutal round-robin event with a 3-0 victory over Malden Catholic.

David Pevear's e-mail address is dpevear@lowellsun.com. Rick Harrison's e-mail address is rharrison@lowellsun.com

Derek Dana right at home at St. Mary's

Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Derek Dana right at home at St. Mary's

St. Mary's baseball coach Derek Dana instructs catcher Anthony DiSciscio at practice on Monday in the school gym. (ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA)

St. Mary's baseball coach Derek Dana, right, and assistant Tom Donahue watch their team practice Monday. (ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA)
By Joyce Erekson / The Daily Item

LYNN -- Derek Dana is back in the fold.

The St. Mary's High graduate who played on two state title teams during his days as a Spartan is back, only this time he's the guy running the show. Monday was the first official day of practice for high school spring sports teams and it was Dana's first day as the St. Mary's baseball head coach.

"Things went very well," Dana said "I'm very excited to be back."

Dana, who had been serving as an assistant varsity coach under Jim Tgettis at Classical for the last five years, was hired to replace Bill Norcross.

Dana's coaching staff is also comprised primarily of former St. Mary's players. Tim Fila and Tom Donahue (who coached junior varsity at Classical last year) are his varsity assistants. Brian Mulvey is back as the freshman coach and Jason Bullock will work with the junior high team. The only coach who didn't wear the blue and gold for the Spartans is Jason Sport, a Gov. Dummer Academy graduate who is finishing up at Boston College this year. Sport is coaching the junior varsity.

"I'm very happy coming back," Dana said. "I spent some time coaching at Classical and enjoyed it, but I'm from St. Mary's. Getting a chance to coach is, it's a unique experience. It's nice to be back to where it started."

Dana graduated from St. Mary's in 1988. During his tenure there, the Spartans won the Division 3 state title in 1987 and 1988 under then-coach Tgettis. Dana was a pitcher and catcher in high school, but focused on catching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants and played three years in the Giants' minor-league system. He played another couple of years of independent baseball in Texas.

Dana is inheriting a team that finished 10-8 in the regular season in 2007. The Spartans had a nice run in the Division 3 North sectionals, defeating Amesbury, 6-3, in the preliminary round, Savio Prep, 25-1, in the first round and Greater Lawrence, 3-1, in the quarterfinals. The Spartans saw their ride come to an end with a 6-4 loss to North Reading in the semifinals.

If numbers are any indication, Dana should be in good shape this year. He had 75 players come out for the four teams (junior high, freshman, junior varsity and varsity). That number includes a solid core of returnees. Nick Conti, a senior pitcher and shortstop, is back, as is Anthony Struppa, a junior outfielder. Senior first baseman/catcher/pitcher Chris Kefalas is back, as is senior catcher A.J. Capano. The junior class also includes shortstop/second baseman Joe Kasabuski and third baseman Yano Petruzelli, both members of the Saugus American Little League baseball team that played in the 2003 Little League World Series. The returning contingent also features a sophomore, Mike Scanlon, who turned some heads as a freshman on the mound last year, and Ryan Beliveau, a junior pitcher and utility player.

Dana also got a transfer from Malden Catholic, and like Kasabuski and Petruzzelli, his name is a familiar one. Craig Cole, who also played on that Saugus American Little League team, is at St. Mary's this year. There are four players from that renowned Little League team playing baseball for the Spartans, the other one being Anthony DiSciscio. Tyler Grillo, who was also on that team, is at St. Mary's, but he's concentrating on basketball.

Dana said he has also been impressed by some of the younger players coming up in the system.

"The numbers are very good (overall)," he said. "I'm going to have to make some tough decisions, but I liked what I saw today. They're good decisions to make when you have the numbers to pick from."

Dana has scrimmages lined up with English, Classical and Swampscott, weather permitting. The Spartans' regular-season schedule will include non-league games with Everett, Beverly and Marblehead.

Extra effort pays off

Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Extra effort pays off
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mike Sullivan, who won the Bruce Landon Award as the region's top goaltender, graduated.

So did Garrett Kopeski, winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the area's top defenseman.

So how was Westfield High School's hockey team ever going to top last season when the Bombers came within a whisker of winning a state title?

The only way Westfield could accomplish that was to go one step further than it did a year ago. Sunday afternoon in Boston, Westfield did just that, beating Scituate, 3-2 to win its second state Division III hockey championship at TD Banknorth Garden.

Last year, Westfield lost, 1-0 to Scituate.

"I expected nothing different this year," coach Westfield coach C.B. "Moose" Matthews, Jr. said.

Sure enough, it was another one-goal game, the Bombers' third straight of the tourney.

"We were in the locker room before the third period and we talked about how this was our last game for the seniors," said Rich Asselin, who gave Westfield a 1-0 lead when he scored 29 seconds into the game. "We wanted to redeem ourselves after what happened last year and we worked hard for this."

It was special because of the way it was accomplished. No one player was bigger than the team and the players bought into the concept of doing what they do best.

Westfield was a team that would think defense first. The Bombers played aggressive, physical hockey and got great goaltending from junior Alex Wiggs.

Matthews, and assistants Bob Pouliot and Mike Busiere did an outstanding job creating a system that worked for their team and the Bombers followed a stellar regular season with an even better playoff run.

"It took a lot less motivation getting this team to the final," Matthews said. "Once we got there, our captains took over and provided leadership."

Westfield won four games in the tournament. After starting with a 7-4 triumph over Minnechaug, Westfield beat Longmeadow, Gardner and Scituate by identical 3-2 scores.

Different players stepped up each game. Senior Corey Bellamy got things started with a two-goal, one assist effort against Minnechaug.

A sophomore, Ryan Leonard scored twice in the Western Massachusetts final against Longmeadow. Dan Ross added two goals and Sean Frere, who scored in every postseason game, netted the game winner against Gardner before Ross added another big goal in the state final.

But nothing was more dramatic than Sunday's Garden party. Frere dove for the puck behind the net and passed out front to Leonard, who banged home the game-winner with 50.8 seconds remaining to give the Bombers their second state title since 2003.

"It was a game that could have gone either way," Matthews said. "We didn't want to go overtime and what a big goal by Ryan."

So now what will the Bombers do for an encore next season?

With Wiggs, Leonard, and four defensemen, Anthony Howard, Alex Fouche, Colin Arnold and Nick Cocchi coming back, the Bombers should once again, be the team to beat.

BESSONE BANQUET: The Amo "Bets" Bessone Award banquet will take place on May 4 at 1 p.m. at the Dante Club in West Springfield. The Bessone Award for the best player in Western Massachusetts will be presented.

The Republican's All-Scholastic team will be honored. Other awards presented will be the Eddie Shore Award for best defenseman, the Bruce Landon Award for best goalie, league rookies of the year and coach of the year.

Westfield hockey skates to state Div. III crown

Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Westfield hockey skates to state Div. III crown
Monday, March 17, 2008

Westfield 3 Scituate 2

BOSTON - One by one, the four captains took turns addressing their teammates in the locker room before Westfield High School's hockey team went out for the third period of the Division III state championship game.

Westfield had the early momentum, but Scituate seemed to seize it following a goal late in the second period that tied the game at one apiece. Undaunted, the Bombers' captains, Corey Bellamy, Rich Asselin, Brian Moran and Anthony Howard made sure everyone was on the same page entering the final period.

They were, and Sean Frere hustled to set up the winning goal by sophomore Ryan Leonard with 50.8 seconds remaining in the game to give Westfield its second state title after an intense 3-2 victory over Scituate yesterday at TD Banknorth Garden.

"I really thought the game was going into overtime, and I hoped we had better legs than them," said coach C.B. "Moose" Matthews, who guided the Bombers to the state crown in 2003.

Westfield, which won the Berry Division, finished 17-5-2.

Perhaps inspired by the pep talk from the captains, the Bombers went out and made sure they wouldn't leave the Garden in disappointment as they did last season when they lost 1-0 to Scituate.

"I think our guys wanted it more," Matthews said "The leadership from our captains in the locker room was the key."

Frere, who produced at least a point in every one of Westfield's four tournament games, hustled to get the puck behind the net. He fell forward after he was hit by a Scituate defender, but that didn't stop him from making the play that gave Westfield the dramatic finish and the state title.

Frere was flat on the ice when he delivered a pass out front. Instinctively, Leonard was in front of the net, and he tipped the pass through goalie Jamie Murray's legs.

"I fell, but the puck was still there, and I was hoping Ryan Leonard would be there," Frere said. "He was in the right place at the right time."

It was a repeat of what Leonard did in the Western Massachusetts final against Longmeadow. He scored two goals, including the game-winner to give the Bombers a 3-2 victory.

Westfield followed that up with a 3-2 triumph over Gardner in the state semifinal.

"We respect those guys, both as captains and teammates, and we listened to what they had to say," Leonard said. "We came out for the third period relaxed, confident and ready to do our job."

The Bombers were on a power play, and Matthews put his hottest players on the ice.

"Sean is such a grinder," Leonard said. "I went right for the net, and he found me."

Scituate's Danny Galvin scored a short-handed goal at 10:52 of the third period, taking a pass from linemate Matt Duggan and driving a hard shot through Alex Wiggs' pads to tie the score at 2-2. But Wiggs, who was outstanding, closed the door following that goal.

Westfield moved to a 2-1 lead when Dan Ross scored at 3:52 of the final period. Ross, who scored twice during Westfield's victory over Gardner, tipped an Anthony Howard shot past Jamie Murray

Murray made some clutch saves to keep Westfield from building on a 1-0 lead it got in the game's opening minute.

The Bombers failed to capitalize on two second-period power plays.

That came back to bite them when the Sailors struck late in the second period to tie things at 1-1. Jamie Pratt set up Pat Duggan for the equalizer with 36.7 seconds remaining.

Pratt picked up a loose puck in the high slot following a collision. He fed Duggan, who snapped a shot that found the net over Wiggs' left shoulder.

"We knew we needed to step it up after that goal, and we did," Leonard said.

It took Westfield only 29 seconds to do what it failed to accomplish during 45 minutes of last year's state final - score. Asselin's goal gave Westfield a 1-0 lead.

Bellamy started the play by sending the puck behind the net, where Josh Gearing picked it up. He threw it out front to Asselin, who crashed the net and powered a shot past Murray.

"Any time you score first, it's a big advantage," Matthews said. "It took the wind out of their sails and put ours up."


Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

No beating Needham's system

By Ricky Popolizio, Globe Correspondent  |  March 17, 2008

Needham had a lock on its opponents throughout the Division 1 South playoffs. In last night's state championship game, Westford Academy became the latest foe unable to find the right combination.

The Grey Ghosts, who erupted for 19 goals in their previous three tournament games, were contained by Needham and goalie Sam Gifford as the Rockets prevailed, 4-1, at TD Banknorth Garden and celebrated their first state title in 38 years.

Needham relied on its ability to protect its net all season. Entering the tournament, the Rockets had allowed just 21 goals in 20 games. After falling to Xaverian, 3-0, in the Super 8 play-in game, Needham got back to its winning formula, allowing just three goals over the next four games.

"We played very well defensively and came up with really clutch stops," said Needham coach Bill Guisti.

Senior Cody Sharib scored what proved to be the winning goal, his second of the game, 3:42 into the second period. The Rockets proceeded to clamp down on Westford, allowing just one shot to reach Gifford in the period.

"They controlled the game [in the second period]," said Westford coach Bob Carpenter. "They picked up our third guy coming down very well. That guy was always covered."

Curtis Serafini made a brilliant save shortly before Sharib put the Rockets up, 2-0. Sharib sent a pass to sophomore Sam Kane but Serafini slid to his right to make the save. Unfortunately for Serafini, he couldn't control the rebound. Amid confusion in front of the net, the puck squirted onto Sharib's stick and he found the back of the net through the scramble.

"I got the rebound out in front of the net and the goalie was nowhere to be seen," said Sharib. "I'm so happy, I'm speechless."

Carpenter, who credited Needham for "playing its system beautifully and taking care of the little things," said his team made a mistake on the play.

"We didn't do a good job clearing in front of the net," said Carpenter. "They are too good to give them three of four chances."

"To get that second goal was huge," said Guisti. "Cody took the bull by the horns today. He played great in all three zones. We were trying to keep him out there whenever [Craig Cardone's] line was out there."

Cardone, Westford's leading scorer with 50 points (19-31 -50), was held scoreless.

Serafini was helpless again on Needham's third tally at 13:07 of the second period on the power play, victimized this time in an entanglement in front that allowed Kane to snatch up the free puck untouched and deposit it into an empty net.

Westford's best chance of the period came just before the goal, as Cardone found senior Mike Young wide open coming down the slot. But Young's shorthanded attempt sailed over the net.

Gifford continued to deny the Grey Ghosts in the third period, stopping Pat Sullivan's high shot on a two-on-one a minute and a half in.

"He came up with the timely saves," said Guisti.

Westford continued to pressure with less than five minutes to play and had a sequence of shots blocked before finally getting one past Gifford.

On a power play, Young sent a quick pass from just behind the net across the crease to senior defenseman Tyler Harrington, who moved in and beat Gifford with 4:10 to play.

The Grey Ghosts pulled their goalie in the final minute but failed to keep the puck in the offensive zone, enabling Mark Joyce to add an empty-netter with 26.7 seconds to play.

Needham controlled play and sent four power-play shots at Serafini in the first couple of minutes but the senior was sharp. Westford needed nearly four minutes to test Gifford.

Sharib put Needham ahead to stay a 12:19 of the first period, taking Will Rayner's breakout pass and taking defenseman Bob Laroche wide before beating Serafini to the stick side.

"That was crucial for us to take the lead," said Guisti. "It took the monkey off our backs and relaxed us a little bit."


Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

No. 1 in more ways than one
Reading stops MC, becomes first public school to win elite tourney

By Matt Porter, Globe Correspondent  |  March 17, 2008

The cry was heard forcefully throughout the latter stages of the game.

"Public schools," the Reading fans chanted, asserting the Rockets' dominance over their parochial school opponent, Malden Catholic.

The fans were loud, and their counterparts on the other side of TD Banknorth Garden couldn't muster much of answer.

It was the same on the ice, as the Rockets owned the game from start to finish, taking a 3-0 win and the first title by a public school team in the 18-year history of the Super 8. Reading also became the first public school to win the championship of the top division in the state since Hudson in 1978.

"Overwhelming? Amazing? Speechless? I don't know what to say about this," said Reading senior Rob Toczylowski. "Making history is one thing, but going out on top with this team is even better."

When the final buzzer sounded, Reading players hugged in the corner, then broke toward their fans and jumped against the glass, while supporters chanted the Reading ZIP code, "0-1-8-6-7."

Regarded as one of the best lines in the state the past two seasons, Toczylowski and fellow seniors Pat Kiley and Mike Lozzi hadn't produced on the biggest stage, going 0-3 in last year's Super 8. They lived up to the billing this time around, factoring in all three goals.

But it was Rockets netminder Jeff Wyer who stole the show, making several glittering stops in a 23-save shutout.

"Our line didn't win it, our D didn't win it, it was Jeff in net that got us to this point," said Kiley. "He amazes me sometimes how he does it."

Wyer's best work came near the end of the second period.

Lancers forward Tony Serino's shot was blocked by Ryan Arsenault. Quinlan Junta whiffed on the clearing attempt, and the puck bounced to MC's Zack Sheppard, who simply had to slam it into an empty net. But Wyer had other ideas, sliding post-to-post to kick Sheppard's bid aside, keeping the Lancers off the board.

Toczylowski netted two for the Rockets (25-1). One involved luck, and the other was pure skill.

The Rockets controlled the faceoff at the start of the second period, and Toczylowski played it safe by dumping it in from 70 feet. But the puck skipped past MC goalie John Carbonneau (20 saves) and into the back of the net for Toczylowski's 34th goal of the season.

At 8:27 of the second, the big winger scored again, taking a neutral-zone pass from Lozzi, breaking into the MC zone, and ripping one past Carbonneau's blocker to put the Rockets up, 3-0.

MC had a few quality chances, the best of which was when Andrew Cerretani rang one off the crossbar in the second period. The Lancers held an 11-4 advantage in shots in the first period, but that only served to get Wyer warmed up.

"When he came out of the first period playing that well, I knew it was going to be a long night," said Lancers coach Chris Serino.

Kiley got the Rockets on the board at 11:41 of the first. After chipping the puck through the skates of defenseman Evan Yanovitch, Kiley regained possession and fired a shot that hit Carbonneau in the mask before trickling over the line.

Toczylowski tried to put Reading's win in perspective.

"All these kids going to Catholic schools or prep schools, it's unfortunate," he said. "We did something for public schools that says, 'Hey, you can do this.' It was a community effort - the crowd was amazing - and this is going down in history. It was just phenomenal."

Line's drive propelled Rockets

Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Line's drive propelled Rockets

By Jeff Powalisz, Globe Correspondent  |  March 17, 2008

Pat Kiley gives Reading a lift by firing a shot past John Carbonneau, giving the Rockets an early lead in their Super 8 final victory. Pat Kiley gives Reading a lift by firing a shot past John Carbonneau, giving the Rockets an early lead in their Super 8 final victory. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Devising a formula for public school success in one of the nation's most recognizable high school hockey tournaments could have been looked at as a pipe dream. The common belief was that Catholic programs would bend, but not break. And, for nearly two decades, it held true.

Until last night.

When the day finally came - when every other school's season was over and when the predicting and second-guessing finally meant nothing, when a public school finally raised the elusive Super 8 trophy - it had to happen with a first line like Reading's leading the way.

State champion Reading - 3-0 victors over fellow Super 8 final debut participant Malden Catholic at TD Banknorth Garden - became the first public school to win the tournament thanks in large part to its elite senior line of center Michael Lozzi (25-47 -72), right wing Pat Kiley (26-45 -71), and left wing Rob Toczylowski (35-30 -65). They left the once unconvinced quiet and persuaded.

"We said it at the beginning of the year, 'We've been together for three years now. We have to do it this year,' " Kiley said. "We did it for the person next to us. And that's why we won."

The four-year varsity trio spent the last three years on Rocket teams that couldn't quite push themselves into Reading lore.

"They're special kids," Reading coach Peter Doherty said. "They had a great year - but they had a great year last year. Every year since they've been together, there's been a different leading scorer in the league. And they're all different."

First, they were freshmen on a team that held a 1-0 lead over Catholic Memorial in the Super 8 semifinals after two periods before a three-goal meltdown in the third period sent Reading home. As sophomores, the expectations of a roster overflowing with talent were never met, as key regular-season losses kept them out of the Division 1A tournament.

And what weighed heaviest on the minds of the trio as it made history this season was last year, when the Rockets entered the Super 8 with their usual hope and anticipation. Their elimination occurred almost as quickly as their arrival, however, as three straight frustrating losses ensued with stunning speed.

"It's just that motivation," said Lozzi after his 12th Super 8 game. "And experience definitely helps. After you go 0-3, it's with you the whole summer, whole fall, and whole winter season. It's all motivation."

None of it matters now. As state champions, each member of the group has carried his unique skill sets into each season, together forming a perfectly versatile line. They stand at the forefront of the greatest season in Reading hockey history (25-1) and the most memorable for any public school since Hudson's victory in 1978.

The results last night were as advertised. Kiley (1 goal, 2 assists) continued his remarkable run through the Super 8. Toczylowski (2 goals) and Lozzi (1 assist) played their usual parts as well.

Kiley, who ran up the scoreboard toward a 5-10 -15 line in the Super 8, struck first to erase a scoreless tie when he rushed in from the right side with 3:19 remaining in the first period. With his usual patience, he found the right moment to flick it past MC netminder John Carbonneau.

Toczylowski followed just 12 seconds into the second period. Off the opening faceoff (and still in the neutral zone), he fired it straight at the net. Carbonneau, in a moment of disbelief, watched as the puck slid past him.

Six minutes later, Toczylowski struck again. After Kiley passed to Lozzi and Lozzi sent a cross-ice feed to Toczylowski, the left winger skated down the left side and fired it in from the circle for the 3-0 lead.

The pattern was what it had been for a line that grew and matured for four years. They stand today as the proud trio that helped do what no public school had ever done.

"It's second nature with them," Toczylowski said. "When you know their moves it's great. Those two are stand-up guys on and off the ice. It was great to play with them. I'm going to miss it."


Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Net worth quite high
Farrington good as gold for Sandwich

By Maggie Cassidy, Globe Correspondent  |  March 17, 2008

As far as personal standards go, Pat Farrington has set his bar high.

The freshman led Sandwich to the MIAA Division 2 state title yesterday, stopping 18 shots in a 1-0 victory over Wilmington at TD Banknorth Garden.

It was Sandwich's first state title, and the shutout was Farrington's second in a row. The Blue Knights emerged from the Division 2 South finals with a 1-0 shootout win over Franklin last Sunday.

"I did not expect this coming into my freshman year at Sandwich High School. I did not expect a state championship," he said after denying all of Wilmington's 18 attempts - four more than he faced against the Panthers.

But Sandwich coach Derackk Curtis said he's come to expect a high level of play from the youngster, who has matured considerably since allowing three goals in the first period of his debut varsity performance against Barnstable.

"I knew [early in the regular season] that we had a good team, and I felt that after watching Pat play during the regular season that maybe we had a good chance at making a run at this thing, if he could hold his own and play more of a veteran style of play," he said. "And he played outstanding. I mean, the kid's a freshman and he didn't act like it at all. The chances that they did have he shut the door."

Wilmington (17-3-4) had a hard time generating chances early, as both teams appeared groggy out of the gate.

Sandwich (20-2-3) garnered a 6-2 shooting advantage by the end of the first period. But the Wildcats brought their offense up to par in the middle frame, matching Sandwich's nine shots, including four in the first 90 seconds.

Sandwich's Craig Brubaker interrupted the Wilmington momentum 4:28 into the stanza, giving his team its 1-0 lead. Wading through the right faceoff circle, he rocketed a feed from linemates Bryan Bolton and Connor Hayes between the legs of Wilmington netminder Michael Cabral, who finished with 20 saves.

"I thought Brubaker was the best player on the ice, for both teams," Curtis said.

Wilmington continued to create chances, with senior Eric Siegel registering the best for his side. He rifled off three quality attempts in a span of about two minutes, but Farrington denied Siegel's low shot and high shot before hugging his left post to stop the third.

"They do a good job cleaning up. When there is a rebound . . . they come in and you don't get that second and third opportunity," said Wilmington coach Stephen Scanlon. "I didn't think we got much puck luck tonight, either. Things didn't bounce our way. Ernie [Mello] had some good chances.

"And the kid made some good saves, too," he said. "For a young kid, he did a good job. They've got a good team, a good balanced team."

The Wildcats survived back-to-back Sandwich power plays late in the second period, as well as a bevy of opportunities generated by Matt Cassista, Casey Helms, and Garrett Lessard. But they couldn't get past Sandwich's talented young netminder.

"It's amazing. We worked hard all year," Brubaker said. "It's an unbelievable feeling."
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