Rob Liberatore makes a save against Londonderry
Salem hockey coach Mark McGinn knew that Bishop Guertin and Concord are the two best Division 1 hockey teams right now, but after being edged 2-1 by Concord last week, he was hoping that his kids could go over to Skate III in Tyngsboro and pull off another upset over the Bishop Guertin Cardinals like they did last January! Coach McGinn said, “Bishop Guertin is one of the best hockey teams in the state and they have a very good power play, and they got us for three power plays in the first two periods and we weren’t able to recover. I thought our kids played tough and much better than the 5-2 final score might indicate.” The Cardinals were able to score two power play goals in the first period and then add two more goals in the second period to take a 4-0 lead into the third period. The Blue Devils sounded attack and came back with two goals and then were still getting the better of the scoring chances, until they were called for a crease violation with only four minutes left in the game. Aaron Mackey has been playing some superb hockey recently for the Blue Devils and he broke the ice when he took a pass from Mike Rocheleau and Mike Frahm and fired it past Guertin’s goalie Dave O’Brien. It was Rocheleau and Frahm just a few minutes later that set up senior Cory Lavallee for a terrific score that cut the lead to 4-2. Salem did have some super scoring chances and especially near the end of the first period where they’d do everything but put the puck in the net, during a 5 on 3 situation with four minutes left. Guertin was able to get an empty net goal from Sean White with just 20 seconds left in the game to seal it, but McGinn looked at the upside of his Blue Devils’ performance. McGinn noted, “I liked the hustle and the spirit the kids displayed out there today. If we continue to play with that spark, I’ll guarantee that this team should be peaking when the playoffs roll around. We dug ourselves in a hole early, but they didn’t back down and I really liked that. I want to see that same kind of spirit from them on the ice this Wednesday night when we’ll be hosting a 5-3-1 Trinity team that is ahead of us in the standings.”
This same Salem team hosted an up and coming Londonderry team that is starting to get hot after a slow start last Wednesday afternoon at the Icenter. The Blue Devils got some superb goaltending from junior Robbie Liberatore and took a 2-0 early lead, before holding onto a 3-2 verdict against the Lancers. The Blue Devils met the Lancers back in the first round of the Coca Cola Christmas Tournament back six weeks ago and Salem took it 8-0, and it almost looked like it was starting that way again as Londonderry picked up two first period penalties, and the Blue Devil’s answered with two goals near the end of the opening period. Mike Frahm got a steal near mid ice and rifled one over the shoulder of the Lancer goalie to make it 1-0 with 2:19 left in the first period, and then Mark Baroni wristed a shot at the net from just inside the blue line with 57 seconds left in the first quarter, and junior Dakota McKenzie redirected it into the goal for a 2-0 Salem lead. The Lancers didn’t take too long letting the Salem kids know that they weren’t dead yet, as Tommy Thompson only needed 30 seconds into the second period to make it a 2-1 game. In the second period, it was the Lancers’ turn to take advantage of several power plays but Robbie Liberatore came up with array of outstanding stops to keep his Salem teammates out in front. Several minutes into the third period, Salem senior Joel Vastl gave the Blue Devils a cushion when he scored with the assist going to Baroni to make it a 3-1 Salem lead. Salem’s senior forward, Mike Rocheleau has a few goals and several assists, but he was all over the place dishing out clean, tough checks on the Lancer forwards and especially his old buddy Tommy Thompson. Rocheleau hit Thompson with a bone-crushing hit alongside the Salem net with about five minutes to play, but Thompson got right up and continued, and also scored Londonderry’s final score with just 20 seconds left in the game. McGinn once again got tough and steady games from Mark Baroni. Nick Barreira, Chris Smerdon, Aaron Mackey, Mike Rocheleau, and Joel Vastl, as this team is going to need clutch efforts from multiple people in order to have success in getting past the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Salem Blue Devils boys basketball team won their fifth game in a row last Tuesday night in Merrimack when they opened up an 11-2 first quarter lead and saw nine of their players hit the score sheet, as they scalped the Tomahawks 63-40 to raise their Class L record to 7-2, which is the halfway mark of the regular season. Mike Kimball and Josh Jones had their shooting touches in this game as Kimball poured in 16 points and Jonsey canned 14 points, but sophomore Joe Gallant continues to impress. One game after he dropped in eight points against Londonderry, Gallant had a career high 13 points at Merrimack and did a super job on the boards along with senior Sean Bergeron. Salem led 27-13 at halftime and stretched it to 43-31 after three quarters before breezing to the 63-40 victory.
Coach E. J. Perry had a tiger on his tail Friday night as the Blue Devils had to travel to Londonderry to take on a 3-6 Lancer team. The two teams were tied at 7-7 after one period, but the Lancers held a scant 22-20 halftime lead. Coach Perry’s defense then went out and put on a defensive clinic for the next eight minutes, and the Lancers never knew what hit them. Salem outscored Londonderry 20-6 in the third quarter and the Blue Devils took advantage of 10 Lancer turnovers and accepted 16 points of those miscues. Mike Kimball had a game high 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Josh Jones pumped in 18 points and snared eight rebounds. Look for coach Perry’s crew to run their winning streak to six in a row this Friday night when the 2-6 Goffstown Grizzlies come to Salem.
Leeann Vadala on uneven bars
Senior Leeann Vadala had it all going on last Wednesday night at Salem High, as she exploded for her highest All-Around score of the season with a total of 35.25 for the four events, and her junior teammate Shireen Kirata put up 32.5points to take third place in front of Londonderry’s star, Leah Jackson. Vadala would score another personal best in the All-Around on Friday night when the Blue Devils ran their record to 13-0 with a 137.7 -117.7 win over Concord that upped their unbeaten record to 13-0. Ginnie Lavallo had 13 personal best marks on Friday against Concord, and her three freshmen stars, Giana Contrada, Jamie Maffeo, and Christy Theriault all just seem to keep getting better and don’t seem to feel any kind of pressure. Valada had three first place finishes Friday, starting with the Floor Exercise when she rung up a 9.2 score, and Shireen Kiarata was second with a 9.1 mark, and Salem junior Taylor Buatti made the sweep when she had a best ever 9.05 score. Vadala then rang up a 9.05 first place finish on the Balance Beam, with Kirata picking up her second runner-up spot with an 8.6 score, and freshman Christy Theriault gained a third at 8.45. Vadala had an 8.8 winning score on the Uneven Bars then her freshmen tandem of Jamie Maffie and Giana Contrada took second and third respectively with scores of 8.7 and 8.35. Concord’s Kaelyn Bouchard won the Vault with an 8.6 score, but Vadala took second there with an 8.45 score, with Kirata’s 8.2 score getting the third position.
The Salem girls beat Londonderry by 12 points Wednesday 132-120, with Pelham coming in third with 107 points. Pelham’s Chelsea I’Anson won the Vault with an 8.4 score, and then took first on the Balance Beam with a 9.0 score, but Leeann Vadala swept the other two events. Vadala captured the top spot on the Uneven Bars with a lofty 9.25 score, and Jamie Maffeo’s 8.0 score was good for second place. Leeann Vadala topped the ticket on Floor Exercise with a 9.0 mark, and junior Shireen Kirata tied for second place with I’Anson with a 8.9 score. These Salem champions are supposed to host Keene, Pinkerton, and Manchester Central Thursday night and hope to raise their 2009 record to 16-0. The Blue Devils will be hosting the State Meet at Salem High School Saturday, February 21 beginning at 9 a.m.
Sarah Raye shooting a free throw
Something must have happened a week ago in the Salem girls locker room after coach Liz Briggs girls played a lack-luster first half against Bishop Guertin and were trailing 29-20 at the break. The Blue Devils had a great second half and outscored their opponents 30-14 to beat the Cardinals 50-43, then they went up to Londonderry last Friday night and came very close to beating the Lancers, falling short 33-28. This past Tuesday night coach Briggs had 8-1 Merrimack in the house, and midway through the first period it looked like the Tomahawks might make this one a very short night with a 9-3 lead, but our Salem girls had other thoughts. They dug in on defense and after trailing 11-5 after one period, were able to take a 14-13 lead on a Caitlin Peters free throw with three minutes left in the half, but Merrimack regained the lead and were able to go on a 7-0 run to enjoy a 20-14 lead over Salem. The key for the Blue Devils was their intense third period defense that held the mighty Tomahawks to just four points in the quarter, while Caitlin Peters and Olivia Connors lit it up on the offensive side. Peters, Gina Righini, Nora Galvin, Sarah Raye, and Amanda Smigliani were all giving Merrimack’s stars Sarah Doyle a lot of extra attention, and Connors, Kelsi Record, Amanda Vaudrieul, Kerry White, and Jen Bujnowski were not giving the Merrimack forwards an inch inside for scoring or rebounds. This gave Salem a 29-24 advantage heading into the final frame. Peters and Connors did a nice job of hitting their fouls down the stretch, as Peters would wind up with a career high 14 points, while Olivia Connors poured in 13 points. Nora Galvin had five critical points, Amanda Vaudrieul had four points, and 10 Salem girls completely dug in on defense for the full 16 minutes of the second half.
This team almost had their third come-from-behind win in a row on Friday night when they and Londonderry were involved in a low scoring contest that had the Lancers holding a slim 13-8 lead at halftime. Salem fell behind 23-11 after three quarters, but Olivia Connors heated up in the last quarter, and Salem got 3-pointers from Gina Righini, Amanda Vaudrieul, and Sarah Raye, as the Blue Devils cut the Lancers lead down to three, before losing a 33-28 decision. Connors had nine points to lead Salem’s offense, but the biggest story about this team is their ability to hold the top teams in Class L to only 34 points like they did Tuesday night against powerful Merrimack. The 5-6 Blue Devils will travel to Goffstown this Friday night for a game with the 2-7 Grizzlies in hopes of reaching the .500 mark, and they’ll really be up for Tuesday night’s game when the 7-4 Alvirne Broncos come to Salem for a 6:30 p.m. game.
With just a week to go before the big State Meet, coaches Missy Rowell and Lois Nardi got the best out of all their Blue Devil swimmers last Friday night. The Salem boys beat Merrimack 94-63, Milford 109-35, and Pelham 115-20 to give them their sweep. The Salem girls defeated Merrimack 89-80, Milford 108-61, and Pelham 132-20 to follow suit. The Salem boys didn’t waste any time getting off to a quick start as the quartet of Dan Given, Sean O’Brien, Chris Foote, and Stephan Chau combined to win the 200 Yard Medley Relay in 2:07.84. Coach Missy Rowell’s two other boys’ relay teams brought on victories too. The team of Sean Merkle, Matt Gaudet, Dylan Endyke, and Mark Bacigalupo smoked the rest of the field by 10 seconds in the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay when they finished in 1:43.09, and the same foursome got together to win the 400 Yard Freestyle Relay when they stopped the clock in 3:51.87. Senior captain Mark Bacigalupo took two more first place finishes when he won the 100 Yard Butterfly in 58.34 seconds, and then took the gold in the 100 Yard Backstroke in 59.56 seconds, as he’ll be making a serious run at state titles in the near future. Senior Dylan Endyke came up big by winning the 200 Yard Freestyle in 2:11.69, and then finished second in the 200 Yard Intermediate in 2:31.46. Chris Foote and Sean Merkle had big meets for Salem as Foote took a second in the 100 Yard Breaststroke in 1:12.36, and a third in the 200 Yard Intermediate in 2:34.04, while Merkle won the 100 Yard Freestyle in 57.63, and a third place finish in the 100 Yard Breaststroke. Senior Matt Gaudet came through with two second place finishes in the 100 Yard Freestyle and the 50 Yard Freestyle, and Sean O’Brien had a third place finish in the 50 Yard Freestyle.
Now Missy Rowell and Lois Nardi had plenty of good things to cheer about with their Blue Devil girls too! The Salem team of sophomores Jackie Mayo and Caitlin Shea, senior Danielle Dickie, and freshman Angela Bleeker won the 200 Yard Medley Relay in a time of 2:10.16 and that same group was victorious in the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay in 1:50.35. All four of these girls would also excel in their individual events too. Shea was a double winner on the night for taking first in the 200 Yard Intermediate in 2:19.87, and the top spot in the 100 Yard Butterfly in a time of 1:05.36. Mayo swam to victory in the 50 Yard Freestyle in 26.97 seconds, and then just barely got beat in the 100 Yard Backstroke by a half of a second, and teammate Danielle Dickie was third. Freshman Angela Bleeker certainly doesn’t perform like any other freshman as she won the 200 Yard Freestyle in 2:13.33, and took third place in the 100 Yard Freestyle in 1:02.16. Senior Zoe Nikitas had her finest outing of the season in the 500 Yard Freestyle as she beat the field by a whopping 23 seconds, as she touched home in 6:03.06. These girls will all be looking forward to performing their best of the State meet.