Yes, they are the youngest wrestling team in Division 1 with only one senior and the rest of them mostly freshmen and sophomores, but coach Todd Oljey and his Blue Devil grapplers performed quite admirably last weekend in the Division 1 wrestling tournament that was held at Nashua South High School. The Blue Devils will be sending six of their wrestlers to the Meet of Champions this Saturday at Londonderry High School, after finishing in seventh place out of 19 teams as they accumulated 77.5 points.
There were two Blue Devils who entered the semi-finals undefeated, and senior Steve Comtois at 171-pounds and freshman Zach Hicks at 112-pounds were able to come away with third place medals. Comtois lost a real tough 6-5 match to Nashua North’s Sean Coughlin in his semi-final bout, but he wrestled back to take third and manhandled everyone else along the way. Hicks comes from a wrestling family and this kid was seeded fifth coming in, but after getting caught in a spladle in the semi’s he went about his business, unlike the 14-year-old freshman that he is, and didn’t have a problem running the table after that. The Blue Devils will have four other young grapplers joining them in the Meet of Champions at Londonderry High, too, as sophomores Devin Deardon and Cam Yergeau took fifth place medals, and freshmen Ryan Bolduc and sophomore Brett Pittera took home sixth place medals. Coach Todd Oljey couldn’t say enough about the hard work that his kids put in at Nashua South over the weekend. Oljey offered, “Hicks and Steve Comtois were both seeded fifth in their respective weight classes and both of them picked up third place finishes which I thought was terrific. Devin Deardon wrestled the best that he has all season long in the 119-pound group, and I’m looking for him to go above his fifth place spot. Cam Yergeau caught fire after his first loss and ran the table after that. Ryan Bolduc in the 103-pound group and Brett Pittera in the 130-pound class were in tough in their respective divisions, but I see them coming out hungry up in Londonderry this Saturday.”
The Saints are now beginning the final round of Valley League play for the season.
The Mites team was not able to end the third round with a win, losing to Wilmington, 8-1.
The Squirt 1 team had a record of 1-2-0 for the week. They lost to Woburn during a weeknight game, 5-2. On Saturday, the Squirt 1’s rallied to beat Reading, 6-1. It was a very close game until the Saints blew it open in the third period. Landon Krekorian led the team with two goals and two assists. Dylan Salvo, Jake Sylvester, Michael Durfee, and Steve Birch each contributed a goal and assist. The final game of the week was a hard-fought loss against the first place Methuen team at 3-1. The lone goal for Saints was scored by Dylan Salvo.
The Squirt 2 team gained a win against Beverly, 4-2. Kevin Bolio, Matt Bergeron, Steve Birch, and Shea Kingsley scored the goals, with Ryan Letourneau making several key saves to secure the win.
The Saints PeeWee teams had a tough week at 2-3-1.
The PeeWee 1 skated to a 3-3 tie against Methuen. Brad Margraff scored two, with Tim Sullivan scoring the other one, assisted by John Gray. The second game for the 1’s was a win against Pentucket, 4-1. Brad Marggraff and Tim Sullivan scored two each, and Jared Carlson had an assist.
The PeeWee 2 team lost to Danvers, 1-0, on Saturday, but won against Reading, 6-0. A shutout for goalies Chris Ronan and Andrew Gosson.
The PeeWee 3 team had two losses for the week against Lynn, 10-0, and Newton, 3-1.
The Bantam teams went 2-2-0. Bantam 1 won against Cape Ann 3-0, with Kenny Sturgess and Willie Arlen sharing the shutout. Dylan Yameen, Connor Donahue, and Jake Barnacle, with Ryan Pease having an assist, did the scoring.
Saints Bantam 2 had a win against Danvers, 7-1, and a loss against Watertown, 1-0.
The Bantam 3 loses a tough one against Triton, 3-2. Scoring twice for the shorthanded Saints was Sebastian Belangers, with Josh Spaziano, the emergency goaltender, having a great game in net. The defense was led by Devin Cox, Will Wallace, and Corey Street; upfront Jack Shea, Michail Lavretyev, and Cam Soucy had Triton on their heels.
The Salem hockey team is trying to regroup after two less-than-glowing performances last week that saw them tie Londonderry 4-4 Wednesday night and then watch 7-7 Hanover score seven unanswered goals Saturday night in a 7-2 loss to the Marauders. This now has coach Mark McGinn’s Blue Devil skaters posting an 8-7-1 record heading into the last week of the regular season, and it doesn’t get any easier. The Blue Devils will travel to Dover this Wednesday night to meet the number four ranked St. Thomas Saints, (who the Blue Devils beat 4-2 earlier this season), and then end it Saturday with a game up at Hanover.
Last Saturday Hanover came to the Icenter looking to get an upset win over Salem that could put them at 8-7 and ahead of the Blue Devils in the Division 1 standings. Salem drew first blood when senior defenseman Marc Baroni took a pass from senior Mike Rocheleau and fired it past the Marauders; Forrest Miller for a 1-0 lead, but Hanover would tie it up at 1-1 a couple minutes later to leave the teams tied heading into the second period. Salem would only get 10 shots on Forrest Miller for the rest of the game, even though the Blue Devils only had two penalties against them in the game. Hanover was able to score the only goal of the second period, to give them a 2-1 edge heading into the final 15 minutes. The Marauders out-hustled and out-played Salem over the last period and would pepper Robbie Liberatore and back-up goalie Chad Livingston with 20 shots in the last period and would score five times. Hanover made it 3-1 a minute and a half into the third period, then made it 4-1 four minutes later. Salem was not getting any offense going and their defensemen were getting beaten badly, as Hanover made it 5-1 with 8:19 left in the game, forcing McGinn to replace Liberatore with Livingston. Just 35 seconds later Hanover scored again to stretch it to 6-1 and it was lights out for the Blue Devils. Hanover scored another goal and Marc Baroni scored again, to make it a 7-2 final in favor of the Marauders, who went ahead of Salem in the Division 1 standings.
An exasperated coach McGinn said following the game, “This is not Salem hockey as we’ve come to know it for the last 10 years is it? You know, you’ve been here since the beginning! I’m just very disappointed as a coach. Salem hockey has always been hard work, going all-out, being disciplined, and staying out of the penalty box. We only had two penalties against Hanover, but there clearly was a lack of effort. We weren’t getting to loose pucks, we were reaching for the puck on defense, and we have blown coverage everywhere. Back in past years, if we had a small problem during the season our senior leadership would step up and take over and the younger kids would follow, but I haven’s seen that yet this season and the playoffs start next week. We were in a great spot at 8-5 a week and a half ago, but we dropped the 5-2 game to Exeter, then almost got beat by Londonderry last Wednesday up at Cyclones after we had already beaten them 8-0 and 4-3 earlier in the year. Now Hanover comes down to our ice and blows us out. I’ve got to make some changes this week, in hopes that we cane still have a shot at hosting a first round playoff game.”
On a slippery Wednesday night at Cyclones Arena in Hudson, the Londonderry Lancers showed why they are coming on strong and playing their best hockey of the season. Coach McGinn had a couple of his players out of this game, but Lancers’ star, Tommy Thompson would only need 23 seconds to put his team on the scoreboard. At the midway point of the first period, Salem senior Joe Simone tied it up at 1-1 with the assist going to Bryan Thibadeau, but the Blue Devils were committing some uncalled for penalties and the Lancers’ took advantage of it. With four and a half minutes left in the opening period, Jeff Parker scored a power play goal with the assists going to Ryan Callahan and Tommy Thompson and that’s the way the first period would end with Londonderry leading 2-1. Both teams were getting plenty of shots on goal and with 3:35 gone in the second period, the Blue Devils tied it at 2-2 when junior Dakota McKenzie scored off a nice feed from Joel Vastl. Londonderry regained the lead three minutes later as Steve Hanlon scored with the assist going to James Dunn and the Lancers took a 3-2 lead into the third period. Just 22 seconds into the third period, it was Scott Morrison’s turn to light the lamp and put Londonderry up 4-2 with the assists going to Tommy Thompson and Jeff Parker. Salem started playing much harder in the last five minutes of the third period, and with 1:01 left to play, Joel Vastl scored a power play goal with the assists going to Chris Smerdon and John Pettoruto, to pull to within a goal of the Lancers. The Blue Devils kept the pressure on in the Lancer end and with just 25 seconds left in regulation, Dakota McKenzie scored his second goal of the game to knot it up at 4-4 with Joel Vastl and Kenny Frazier picking up the assists. The blue Devils had the better of the scoring chances in overtime, but were forced to settle for a 4-4 tie with the Lancers.
Some might say that things never change after watching coach Ginnie Lavallo’s Blue Devil gymnasts take their third straight State Title last Saturday at Salem High School and 12th since 1981, but they were oh-so wrong for thinking that. This year coach Lavallo has lost 50 pounds from the past year, and it was her senior co-captain, Leeann Vadala, who went and avenged a knee injury in last year’s State Title meet, to finished second in the All-Around and rip off a phenomenal 9.4 score to take first place on the uneven bars. The Blue Devils accumulated 136.2 points to beat Pinkerton (132.625), and Manchester Central (130.625), and ten other teams in rolling to the victory. The big victory secures the Blue Devil girls at the New England Meet, which will be held at Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut on Saturday March 14th. Second place Pinkerton will also be going to the New England Meet.
With almost 400 girls competing on the day the Blue Devils needed two top efforts from All-Around girls Leeann Vadala and junior Shireen Kirata and several other glowing performances from other Salem underclassmen, and coach Lavallo got everything she needed from every one of her girls. Vadala first rocked the house when she ripped off a near-perfect 9.4 routine to take the gold medal for first place on the uneven bars. Leeann also tied for sixth place in the vault with Pinkerton’s Courtney Thompson as they both received 8.9 scores. Vadala added a sixth place medal on the Balance beam when she recorded an 8.550 score, but that might have been a 9 or better if she didn’t have a fall. The floor exercise was Vadala’s last event and all eyes were on her. Vadala was rolling last year when her kneecap became dislocated midway through her routine and she had to be disqualified. This year Vadala would wear a brace for every meet and would have no troubles what so ever? (At least that is what she told us.) Leeann went out and had a nifty 9.025 score in floor exercise that gave her fifth place there, but Spauldings’ Kaitlyn O’Brien was able to startle everyone with a 9.4 score to just slide by Vadala for first place in the All-Around.
Salem’s Shireen Kirata had a nice day too, as she finished the competition eighth in the All-Around when she chalked up 33.925 for her four events. Kirata took fourth place in the vault with a 9.025 mark, tied for seventh place on the uneven bars with an 8.350 score, she’d collect an 8.025 score on the Balance beam, and finish up with an 8.525 mark in floor exercise. Kirata did a tremendous job taking the place of senior-captain Jess Maffeo who missed six weeks due to having mono at the beginning of the year, but Maffeo got the go ahead to return early this week and even without practice the last six weeks, was still able to come up with an 8.550 score to tie for 11th place. Coach Ginnie Lavallo said, “Tommy, if I had time to tell you about how all the girls came through, or how amazing Jess Maffeo was on the vault missing six weeks of practice, or how junior Taylor Buatti twisted her knee while dismounting off the beam and still came through big time with an 8.775 score on floor, and freshman Christy Theriault coming through big time on the beam with an 8.200 score and an 8.775 score on floor, I’m serious, I could go on for the rest of the weekend.”
Salem freshman Jamie Maffeo didn’t seem the least bit fazed for her first State Meet as she went out and took sixth place on the uneven bars with an 8.450 score, while Salem freshman Brittany Fetzner had a nifty 7.75 score in the vault. Giana Contrada stepped to the plate in a big way as she tied for the 13th spot on the Balance beam with an 8.150 score and had a super 8.500 mark on floor exercise. After receiving their state championship Plaque and medals coach Lavallo and her girls started taking the gym apart again and taking all the mats and apparatus back to the upstairs gym. The Pinkerton girls stayed around and helped the Salem girls with the equipment and coach E. J. Perry’s Blue Devil basketball team came down after practice to help clean up the equipment in the gym too. Coach Ginnie LaVallo smiled and admitted, “Wow this was a long day, but it was well worth it for our girls. Now we have three more weeks of practice to get ready for the New England meet and that should be a lot of fun for all of the girls, and especially our senior co-captains Leeann Vadala and Jess Maffeo. They’ve earned every bit of it so we’ll just go down there and see how we do against the best girls in New England!”
Coach Perry’s Blue Devils erupted for 27 fourth quarter points against the Panthers at Nashua South Tuesday night to run that record to 12-3 with a comfy 78-62 win. Josh Jones and Mike Kimball were their same steady selves during this game, and Jones had time to fire in three 3-pointers, but Kimball and Jones were also happy dishing out assists and watching junior guard Alex LaRosa light it up to the tune of a career-high 25 points. LaRosa launched three 3-point missiles that found nothing but net, and he still handed out nine assists and yanked down six rebounds for his command performance. LaRosa and the Blue Devils combined to sink 26 foul shots against the Panthers. The Blue Devils enjoyed a first quarter lead of 19-13 that they stretched to 37-27 by halftime, but the Panthers took a bite out of that lead after three quarters when they cut the Salem lead to 51-49. The Blue Devils also got nice efforts inside from sophomore Joe Gallant (nine points), and senior Sean Bergeron (five points), and they just kept sinking their free-bees down the stretch. Salem will try and make it lucky win number 13 on Friday night when they’ll travel to Plaistow to take on the Timberlane Owls.
The 8-5 Exeter Blue Hawks came into Davis Gymnasium at Salem High School last Thursday night, looking for a big upset that could raise their seeding in the Class L standings. Salem’s guards did not have one of their better shooting nights, but they did something that they hadn’t done since last year. Last season a bad outside shooting night meant that forwards Shawn Stoodley and Dan Kinney, would hold court under the basket and come up with big games. Last Thursday night, coach E. J. Perry saw his team get off to a slow start and have the visitors holding a 12-5 lead heading into the second quarter. Perry also decided that he needed a big presence under the basket and summoned senior forward Sean Bergeron onto the court. Bergeron played most of the second quarter and hit two hoops and grabbed some much-needed rebounds, and Sam Shields added a pair of hoops as Salem closed the deficit to 23-19 by halftime. Exeter has a six foot freshman named Michael Thorpe who transferred here from Florida over the summer and he and teammate Kevin Walker would combine to toss in five 3-pointers in a row in just four minutes and coach Perry would call a time out 1:29 left in the third quarter with his team trailing 38-30. Mike Kimball and Mike Thorpe traded hoops before Sean Bergeron rolled on a pick and roll with Kimball to give Exeter a 40-34 lead heading into the last period. The Blue Devils buckled down on defense for the next three minutes (holding Exeter scoreless) and Kimball found Bergeron open, rolling to the hoop for three straight baskets to knot the score at 40-40. Junior playmaker Alex LaRosa was helping to keep the Blue Devils close in this game as he had seven points early, and would save seven more points for the last quarter, but Sean Bergeron was the difference in this Exeter victory. Bergeron finished with a career high 18 points and 11 rebounds, and he shot 9 for 10 from the field with Mike Kimball picking up six of those assists. Bergeron’s last hoop of the night gave Salem a 49-47 with 50 seconds left to play, but LaRosa had a gigantic 3-pointer and Mike Adamson had a clutch hoop off an offensive rebound midway through the final frame. Salem was able to come all the way back and win this one, 51-49 over Exeter as Bergeron led the way with 18 points. LaRosa chipped in with 14 points and Mike Kimball had eight points and eight assists. Kimball said following the game, “Hey, I wasn’t hitting my normal shots that I usually do, so I was driving and looking for Sean underneath and that worked very well tonight. Hey, whatever it takes to win we’ll do.” Alex LaRosa and Josh Jones also agreed and will now focus their attention on a Tuesday night game in Nashua against the 10-4 Nashua South Panthers in hopes of running their Class L record to 12-3 and staying tied for the number two seed in the standings.
Amanda Vaudreuil is supposed to come off the bench and rebound, play tough defense, and then help out scoring-wise for the Blue Devils. Vaudreuil couldn’t have done it any better last Tuesday night against the Nashua South Panthers. She lit it up for a career-high 20 points, buried three long 3-pointers that came from somewhere close to the Kelley Library, and worked very hard inside for put backs and rebounds. Salem trailed the Panthers 17-15 after one quarter and were still down 27-24 when they went to the locker room at halftime, but we as Blue Devil fans have come to expect that knowing that this group never really zones in until the second half when the money is on the line. Co-captain Caitlin Peters had another terrific game too, as she buried two 3-pointers and had the only field goal of the fourth quarter, when the Blue Devils sank 16 foul shots at the charity stripe. Sophomore guard Gina Righini had seven points and buried five foul shots down the stretch and now hopes to end the regular season with a win at Timberlane Friday night.
The Salem girls basketball team took their show on the road at 9-6 Exeter last Friday night and they fell behind like they usually do 8-5 after the first quarter, but they kept playing their pesky defense and were only down 19-18 by halftime. Coach Liz Briggs would get a real big game out of junior forward, Olivia Connors, and sophomore Gina Righini would have a career-high scoring game and would force several big turnovers that their offense would turn into hoops on the other end. The Blue Devils took the lead for good near the beginning of the third quarter and would outscore the Blue Hawks 10-6 in the quarter to now hold 28-25 advantage heading into the final eight minutes. Salem had nine different girls pitching in on the scorebook as Connors led the way with 11 points and eight rebounds, but she had help under the boards from Kelsi record who had five points and sophomore Jen Bujnowski who had four biggies. Salem co-captain Caitlin Peters did a great defensive job once again and Gina Righini would toss in a career-high nine points, along with junior guard Nora Galvin who also had nine huge points in Salem’s 47-36 win. The Salem girls would like nothing better than to finish up at 11-7 and have a shot at hosting a first round playoff game.