Chris Smirden #14 passes out of the corner.
This past Monday afternoon the Salem Blue Devils hosted a pesky 2-1-1 Mountaineer team from Berlin at the Icenter, and the visitors took advantage of a 5 on 3 situation to score with 3:12 left in the first period. Salem goalie Robbie Liberatore had kept this game scoreless before that with six nifty saves while several Blue Devils sat in the penalty box, but Berlin kept their slight 1-0 lead, until with 4:42 left in the second period, the Mountaineers were able to add another power play goal. The Blue Devils inability to stay out of the penalty box, continued to plague them despite having one of the best goalies in the state backing them up. Just a little more than a minute later, Chris Smerdon cut that lead in half when he was set up with a nifty pass from Marc Baroni, and Salem trailed 2-1. Baroni picked up his second assist on the night when he fed John Pettoruto with a super pass that tied the game up at 2-2. Liberatore was still holding the fort for the Blue Devils and with 8:09 left to play, Marc Baroni swooped in on the Berlin net and fired home what appeared to be the go ahead goal, but the Berlin goalie lifted the goal post off it’s mount and the goal was nullified by the officials, but the Mountaineers were given a two minutes delay of game penalty. Just 30 seconds later, Salem’s Joel Vastl made them pay when he lifted one over the goalies shoulder off another assist from Baroni and Salem had a 3-2 lead. Both teams had a few scoring chances in the next few minutes, but the Blue Devils picked up another penalty with 2:42 left in the game, and 19 seconds later, Berlin scored their third power play goal of the game. This game went into overtime and Salem had the best of the scoring chances, but they got caught up on the ice and the Mountaineers were able to score a breakaway goal three minutes into overtime for the 4-3 victory. Robbie Liberatore made 21 saves for the Blue Devils, but only five of them was when the team was at full strength, and the other 16 was when Berlin was on the power play.
It was looking a little scary for coach Mark McGinn and his Blue Devil hockey team last Saturday afternoon, as they entered the third period up in Nashua against the 0-4 Titans with a scant 1-0 lead, but the Salem kids broke out and exploded for four third period goals to win this one 5-0. The victory had the Blue Devils resting at 2-2 in Division 1 play. Timmy Kingdon gave Salem their early 1-0 lead with his second goal of the season, but the winless Titans were staying right with Salem for the first two periods. Senior forward Aaron Mackey has been a bright spot for the Blue Devils the past two weeks, and Mackey would give Salem a 2-0 lead at the start of the third period, and then would add another goal to make it a 3-0 game with seven minutes left to play. Senior forward followed suit a few minutes late and scored to make it a 4-0 game, and junior Dakota McKenzie tucked his first varsity goal around the Nashua North goalie for the 5-0 final. Salem seniors Jared Henderson and Mike Rocheleau picked up two assists each in this game, while Bryan Thibodeai, John Pettoruto, Joey Simone, and Ken Frazier also added assists.
Being out scored 16-2 in the third quarter at Derry last week by Pinkerton, and being out scored 22-13 in the fourth quarter Friday against Dover, and having Memorial get off to a 20-8 first-quarter lead Tuesday night, has cost coach Liz Briggs team three Class L victories in the past week and a half. Briggs never thought she’d have to do more coaching this year than ever before, but she also never knew she would go without her all-State forward, Amanda Saab, who went down with a knee in the second day and practice and will miss her entire senior year. When that happened, coach Liz Briggs said the teams’ number one priority was scoring on offense.
Last Tuesday night, the Blue Devils traveled to Memorial for a game with the Crusaders, and the shooting started off very cold as they trailed 20-8 before junior guard Nora Galvin started getting hot from the perimeter. Sarah Raye also hit some outside jumpers (including two three-pointers) and Caitlin Peters hit a couple of treys, but Salem still found themselves down 31-19 by halftime. The Blue Devils cut the lead to 39-31 after three quarters, but on this night they couldn’t get any inside scoring as Olivia Connors had the only four points for Salem other than the guards. Memorial was able to take a 50-37 win that put Salem’s Class L record at 2-4.
Last Friday night at Davis Gymnasium in Salem, the Blue Devils got out to a 9-7 first-quarter lead over the Dover Green Wave, and they’d end up having nine different girls hit the scorebook, but a 22-13 fourth quarter by Dover killed the Salem girls. Coach Briggs’ Salem girls still held a 17-16 half-time lead thanks to four points by freshman Kerry White and big buckets by Amanda Smigliani and Jen Bujnowski, and the Blue Devils still had a 27-26 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Amanda Vaudreuil, Kelsi Record, and Olivia Connors were all doing a nice job inside. In the final six minutes, Peters and Galvin were driving and trying to make things happen, and Dover had the advantage from the foul line with 12 freebees to Salem’s six, and they were able to take a 48-40 win. Again, not enough scoring by the Blue Devils.
The Salem girls started out the week by only trailing the unbeaten Pinkerton Astros and All-State player A. J. Guidi 13-10 after one quarter, and just 21-15 at half-time. Nora Galvin would be Salem’s top scorer with nine points in the game, and sophomore center Jen Bujnowski is getting more playing time and starting to toss in five or six a game, but the Blue Devils were outscored 16-2 in the third quarter, which no doubt did them in. Pinkerton went on to win this one 47-31.
Last year the Salem girls ran out to a 10-2 start on the season, but without Amanda healthy and in the line-up, I can see where this very young team can start putting together 50 points a game and come away as winners with their very aggressive defense. Remember girls … it’s not which team is hot in mid January that you have to watch out for … it’s which team gets hot and plays together the best in late February that everybody has to watch out for.
No folks, this is not a misprint! Coach Ginnie Lavallo agreed to coach the boys and the girls gymnastics teams this winter, and her boys gymnasts have started off just as good as her two-time state champion girls teams have. Lavallo has a new assistant coach for the boys, Steve Needham, and they didn’t have any trouble feeling right at home last Thursday night at Newton North High School. Salem’s Nick Miles got off to a great start on his season as he blew away everyone in the all-around by amassing 48.4 points for the six events. Miles took first place in all six events, and his teammate Sean Fallon took all six second-place finishes in those events. Fallon came in second in the all-around when he piled up 40.8 points.
Miles’ two highest scores of the night were 9.1 marks, and one of them came in Floor Exercise where Fallon finished second with an 8.8 score. Salem’s Dan Raymond took third with a 6.3 score. Miles ‘ other 9.1 mark came in the Vault, and Sean Fallon’s score of 8.4 was good for second place, and Dan Raymond was right behind Fallon in third place with a 7.8 score. Nick Miles 7.8 score topped everyone in the Still Rings, as Fallon got a 5.6 from the judges and Dan Raymond picked up his third third-place finish with a mark of 4.6. The Parallel Bars were no match for Nick either, as he swung his way to an 8.2 score, with Fallon getting second at 6.2 and New North’s Bryson Cochran earning third place at 5.0 to break up Salem’s shutout. Miles’ 8.1 score blew away everyone on the Pommel Horse, as Fallon’s 6.0 score was second, and Dan Raymond earned his fourth third-place finish of the night with 4.2 mark. Sean Fallon came very close to dealing Miles his first defeat of the young season on the High Bar, as Fallon scored a 5.8, but lost the lead when Miles came through with a 6.1 performance.
These Blue Devil gymnasts will be hosting Lowell and Andover on Thursday, January 22, in the upper gym at Salem High School, beginning at 7 p.m.
Blue Devil swim coach Missy Rowell and her assistant Lois Nardi were a little shorthanded with their team last week in their first swim meet of the season. The Blue Devils have already had their first two meets postponed because of bad weather, and last week the Alvirne Broncos came to the Salem Boys and Girls Club when a lot of the Salem swimmers were either down with the Blue Devil band in Arizona at the Fiesta Bowl or were sick with the flu that has been going around. Coach Rowell only had four boys that were around or healthy enough to swim against the Bronco boys, and despite losing the meet 119-37, these four Salem lads did a very nice job. Dan Given, Chris Foote, Matt Gaudette, and Sean O’Brien combined to take second in the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 2:03.58. This same quartet then went out and grabbed another second place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay by stopping the clock in 1:52.17. Salem senior Chris Foote won the 100-yard breaststroke when he finished up in 1:13.77, then Foote took a second place finish in the 200-yard intermediate when he stopped the clock in 2:33.89. Freshman Matt Gaudette took a second in the 50-yard freestyle in 26.08 seconds and took another second place finish in the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 1:09.66. Sophomore Dan Given had a third in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:25.95 and a fifth in the 50-yard freestyle in 31.91 seconds. Senior Dean O’Brien took a second in the 100-yard freestyle in 1:02.56 and a third place finish in the 200-yard freestyle in 2:29.81.
Missy Rowell and Lois Vardi’s Salem girls were missing some key people too, but they still had more than enough to beat Alvirne 98-69. Senior Zoe Nikitas and sophomores Jackie Mayo and Caitlyn Shea all won two events apiece and combined to win several relay races for the Blue Devils, as did freshman Angela Bleeker, who, coach Rowell told me a month ago, was going to be a real good one. These four girls combined to start the meet off where they’d win 200-yard medley relay in a time of 2:10.18. Nikitas then went out and won the 200-yard freestyle in 2:22.03 and then romped in the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 6:09.46, which beat the second place finisher, Marcela Trocha, by a minute and 18 seconds. Yikes!
Jackie Mayo cleaned house in the 200-yard intermediate with a win in 2:30.18 and she doubled up by winning the 50-yard freestyle in a time of 27.16 seconds. Caitlyn Shea won the 100-yard butterfly in 1;05.44, with teammate Katherine Schmidt right behind her in 1:18.72, and she triumphed in the 100-yard freestyle in 57.30 seconds. Freshman Angela Bleeker introduced herself to varsity swimming by winning the 100-yard backstroke in 1:09.83 and then taking the top spot in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:24.93. All of these girls qualified for the state meet and they’ll be plenty more Salem swimmers qualifying in their upcoming meets.
This past Monday night at Londonderry, the Blue Devil girls ran their 2008-2009 record to 6-0 when they defeated the Londonderry Lancers 130.85 to 126.65 and coach Lavallo had five different Blue Devils scoring in the top three of the four events. Vadala placed first in her second straight meet of going All-Around with a 33.0 score, and Shireen Kirata was right behind her in second place with 32.75 points. Vadala got things rolling early by capturing the top spot in the Vault with a winning 8.4 score, while Kirata earned the runner-up spot with an 8.2 score. The Lancers Leah Jackson took third with an 8.15 mark. Freshman Giana Contrada just got through getting her first varsity points the week before, but on this night Contrada would take first place on the Bars with an 8.2 score, with Londonderry’s Briana Mastermarino getting second place with an 8.0 score, and Blue Devil freshman Jamie Maffeo grabbing the silver medal with a 7.9 score. The Balance Beam was coach Lavallo’s top event for Salem on the night, as Shireen Kirata put up an 8.6 mark to win the event, and Leeann Vadala and Giana Contrada tied for second place with identical scores of 8.5. Vadala sent her teammates all running to their bus with smiles on their faces when she picked up an 8.6 score to win the Floor Exercise, Kirata took a, 8.45 score for second place, and junior Taylor Buatti nailed down the third spot with an 8.25 score.
The Salem Blue Devils girls’ gymnastic team hosted Nashua North, Nashua South, and Manchester Central last Friday night at Salem High, and it was only fitting that senior captain, Leeann Vadala used this meet to have her first All-Around performance of the season. After beating Concord and Pelham in their first meet of the year a few days before Christmas, the Blue Devils were easily able to get by (the team that chased them to the state title last year), Manchester Central as Salem tallied 132.55 points to Central’s total of 126.65 points. The Panthers from Nashua South finished third with 119.8 points and the Titans from Nashua North finished with 113.4 points. Vadala came out sporting her new knee brace, which she will wear for every meet this season, right, Nick? Leeann Vadala defeated nemesis, Ainsley Smith of Manchester Central 35.1 to 34.0 in the All-Around competition as she won three of the four events. Vadala’s top score of the night came in the Floor Exercise where she won with a nifty routine that grabbed an 8.95 score from the judges, with teammate Shireen Kirata close behind in second with an 8.9 score. Nashua North’s Courtney Mailloux took third place at 8.55. Vadala was flying high on the Bars too, as she took first place with an 8.65 mark to edge teammate Jamie Maffeo, who was tied for second place with Ainsley Smith with identical 8.4 scores, and North’s Courtney Mailloux took another third at 8.3.
Leeann then had a terrific routine on the Balance Beam that drew a super 8.8 score from the judges, and Ainsley Smith was second with an 8.4 score, while Salem’s Shireen Kirata and Nashua South’s Samantha Davis tied for third with scores of 8.2. Ainsley Smith was able to edge out Vadala for first place in the Vault, as Smith put up an 8.9 score to win it, Vadala tied for second place with South’s Kerry Letendre with 8.75 scores, and Salem freshman Giana Contrada placed in her first varsity meet when she put up a score of 8.3 to secure the third spot.
This past Tuesday night Josh Jones was presented with his 1,000th point game ball as he was surrounded by his family at mid-court before Salem entertained the Manchester Memorial Crusaders, but the visitors were intent on spoiling Salem’s party. This was a very rare night, where the entire Salem team had a cold shooting night, and Memorial just pressed all over the court. The Crusaders took a 19-14 lead after one quarter and upped that to 32-25 by halftime. All the Blue Devil fans came out to see Josh Jones honored for his 1,000 points, but there was a real good feeling that Jones and the Blue Devils were going to shake off this sluggish start, but it never happened. Kimball led Salem with 22 points, Josh Jones had 16 points, and sophomore forward Joe Gallant came off the bench to score six points for the fifth time in the last six games.
Coach E. J. Perry’s Blue Devils fared way better up in Dover last Friday as they exploded out of the starting gates and raced out to a 19-7 first quarter lead over the Green Wave. Kimball was on for this night and he’d finish with a game high 31 points, and Josh Jones did his scoring, rebounding, and played stellar defense throughout. Dover cut Salem’s lead to 32-24 at intermission, but they didn’t get too much closer than 10 points the rest of the way, and coach Perry’s took this one 67-57 to go 2-1 in Class L play. Jones tossed in 16 points on the night, including his 1,000th career point.
Davis Gymnasium looked like a Class L playoff game while being played last week, as the two-time defending Class L champion Salem Blue Devil boys basketball team hooked up with a pesky Pinkerton team. Both teams exchanged the lead several times coming down the stretch, until Pinkerton’s Beau Cassidy hit a three-pointer with four seconds to go. Alex Larosa’s last-ditch 3-point chance just dropped off the front rim at the buzzer, giving the Astros the thrilling 63-60 victory. The Astros started out hot and led 17-13 after one period, but Salem came bouncing back by halftime and took a 33-26 lead at the break thanks to some hot shooting in the second quarter that had them outscoring Pinkerton 20-9. Salem senior forward Sean Bergeron had his finest outing of the young season as he hit for nine points underneath just battling for second chance baskets, as Mike Kimball, Josh Jones, Alex Larosa, and Mark Adamson hit some big shots from the perimeter. The Blue Devils still led 42-32 midway through the fourth quarter but the Astros’ came storming back in the final four minutes of the third quarter, to knot the score at 47-47 heading into the last period. Adamson had eight of Salem’s 13 points in the last quarter, as Alex Larosa hit a trey and sophomore Joe Gallant for the other two, but Larosa’s last chance three-pointer, just missed the mark, giving Pinkerton the 63-60 win. Kimball led Salem with 16 points, Alex Larosa had a dozen, Mark Adamson fired in 10 points, Sean “Bangin Berge” Bergeron had nine, Josh Jones had seven, and Joe Gallant six.