Boston High School: Evan Bidgood

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
3:32
PM ET
Plain and simple: You can't have a true conversation about New Hampshire's rich history of hockey unless the discussion includes Berlin High.

New HampshireThe small-school Mountaineers, representing a tight-knit town at the base of the White Mountains, have long competed at the highest level of NHIAA hockey.

“Our community is a hockey community. They love us and support us,” said second-year Berlin coach Mike Poulin, the face of a program that has made 27 championship appearances since 1947 and nine times finished No. 1.

But this season, there was buzz about Berlin for a different reason: the program was making its final go-round in Division I.

The Mountaineers next season will skate in Division III. Poulin cited the program's consistent decline in participation as the reason for such a precipitous drop. Tough economic times in a town long known for its lumber and paper mills hasn't helped.

Berlin's 2011-12 team featured just 20 skaters, including a mere four seniors. Ten skaters played almost every minute of the varsity team's 18 regular-season games.

“It's a numbers thing,” said Poulin, a 1993 Berlin graduate. “Our youth hockey, we have to continue to build. We're only pulling (athletes) from the Berlin area. It's not like we have a co-op school.

“We have a school of (517) students,” he added. “We're pulling kids out of the hallway to play JV, or kids cut from basketball to play JV. It's difficult to turn around and put them in a Division I game.”

Which makes this story, though sobering, remarkable, too.

Poulin's team – led by co-captains Ethan Dorval and Jeremy Rivard – very nearly qualified for the Division I tournament. Berlin's bid to punch the 10th-and-final tourney ticket came down to the regular-season finale Feb. 25 at Salem.

Know this: Berlin won only three of its first 10 contests. Yet it entered Salem's Icenter with a 7-10-0 record.

The Mountaineers extended their late-season win streak to four games Feb. 22. In their final Division I home game at Notre Dame Arena – Senior Night for the co-captains, goaltender Steve Martin and forward Curtis Riendeau – they celebrated a 5-4 decision against playoff-bound Londonderry High.

“Those kids worked super hard in that game. They were down, 2-0, and they battled. They struggled through their year, but they were right in it until the end,” said Londonderry coach Peter Bedford, whose Lancers secured the No. 8 seed, won their first-round game and advanced to the quarterfinals. “That's an attribute everybody should recognize.”

Tournament qualification required Berlin beat Salem for the second time in seven days. The Mountaineers won a 7-6 affair Feb. 18 against the Blue Devils.

Berlin's bubble, however, burst with a 6-0 setback.

Should the six juniors and seven sophomores on this year's roster return next winter, the Mountaineers figure to be very competitive in Division III.

Poulin said he hopes to someday see the Mountaineers again skating in Division I.

He isn't alone.

“I wish them nothing but the best,” Bedford said.

TIMBERLANE TRIUMPHS – AGAIN

Twenty-six-year coach Barry Chooljian said he spent this season guiding his youngest team in some time. Youth, though, didn't hurt the state's premier wrestling program a lick.

Timberlane Regional locked up its ninth straight Meet of Champions crown Feb. 25 at Londonderry. The Plaistow program celebrated its 18th state championship, and 17th title in the past 20 years.

That's a run that dates to 1993.

Ten Owls were place-winners, and nine of them advanced to the championship match in their respective weight classes.

Those efforts fueled the team's 280-point performance. Second-place Manchester Central High earned 134 points.

Four Owls celebrated individual championships. Juniors Adam Corey (120 pounds), Josh Burnham (132) and Harry Denoncourt (182) survived their brackets.

But senior Zach Bridson, a Division I scholarship recruit for Tennessee-Chattanooga, was the big winner. He captured the crown at 113 pounds. The three-time MoC king was also named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.

“Coming out of the Division I championships (Feb. 18), we did really well, but we're so young the question was if we could repeat (the effort),” Chooljian told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “Then we took nine out of 10 matches in the semis and we knew we had it.

“That's hard enough to do in a local tournament,” he added, “let alone the state one.”

So, only one question remains. Can the Owls win their 10th New England championship, and fifth in a row?

They'll have their chance March 2 and 3 at the Providence (R.I.) Career and Technical Center.

SHRINE ROSTER RELEASED

New Hampshire's roster for the 59th annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl was released Feb. 21. The Granite State seeks to extend its series-record win streak against Vermont to 12 games when the teams meet Aug. 4 at Dartmouth College.

All-Stars from the 603 area code include:

Bedford: Jordan Garron, LB; Nate Harrington, DT

Bishop Guertin: Nate Chartrand, SE

Dover: Eric Miller, DT

Epping-Newmarket: Dustin Jarosz, CB

Exeter: Adam Morin, OG; Brad Tiernan, OT

Franklin: Brian Pickowicz, DE

Hanover: Dan Gorman, SE

Hollis/Brookline: Colin Pellerin, S

Inter-Lakes: Conor Donovan, LB

Laconia: Raige Hollis, OG

Lebanon: Alexander Morrill, OG

Manchester Central: Junior Brown, SE; Jared Chandler, Slot

Manchester Memorial: Cody Dalton, DB

Merrimack: Jackson King, Slot; Sam Prive, OT

Milford: Jordan Gaudette, OG

Nashua South: Jon Bieren, OC

Pinkerton: Kevin Davies, TB; Emmitt Smith, Slot

Plymouth: Nick Reisert, DE

Salem: Jerickson Fedrick, TB

Sanborn: Dylan Spence, DB

Souhegan: Tim Beliveau, SE; Chris Chininis, Slot; Rob McCormick, QB

Spaulding: Dillon Couture, DE

Stevens: Cam Blewitt, CB

St. Thomas Aquinas: Tom Cifrino, LB

Timberlane: Evan Bidgood, QB

Trinity: Josh Hughes, LB; Mike Leonard, LB

Winnacunnet: Matt Myers, DT

Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He co-hosts the “N.H. High School Sports Show” on Manchester's WGIR-AM 610 and the Seacoast's 96.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. Read his “New Hampshire GameDay” blog and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
3:54
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This had to be Merrimack High's mantra for the holiday tournament season: Why settle for just one title?

New HampshireIn the days after Christmas, the Tomahawks rolled to championships in arguably New Hampshire's top tournaments for boys' basketball and hockey.

The school's Division I hoop team, on the strength of a last-second 3-pointer from star guard Dimitri Floras, won the 48th annual Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament at Manchester Memorial High. The Division II hockey club, thanks to a fourth-round shootout goal from forward Chris Fortin, copped the Bauer Classic crown at Manchester's JFK Coliseum.

Talk about a wild week.

The hockey team's four-day run to the crown was the more surprising story. The reigning state runners-up, the Tomahawks were considered a mystery when the season started shortly before the holiday break. They graduated one of the state's top snipers (Erik Glendye) and said goodbye to their coach (Dan Legro).

They're a mystery no more.

After starting 3-0 in league play, the Tomahawks won four games at JFK. They beat three Division I teams, including defending champion Trinity High of Manchester, 3-1; reigning runner-up and perennial power Hanover High, 4-3 (shootout); and then-No. 1-ranked Memorial, 2-1 (shootout), in the final.

Goaltender Brett Glendye -- who made 45 title-game saves -- was named tournament MVP. Teammate and forward David Downie also earned a spot on the all-tourney team.

"I looked at (the holiday tourney) as a 'prove it' opportunity for the kids," Merrimack coach Kurt Mithoefer said. "Thus far, the kids have proven the naysayers wrong in terms of offensive ability and being a mystery team."

On the hardwood, the Tomahawks ended the feel-good story of the QCIBT.

Floras hit the big bucket that lifted Merrimack a 57-54 win over upstart Manchester West High. The 6-foot 2-inch junior guard -- named the tourney MVP -- drained a lead-changing 3-pointer from the left corner with 7 seconds to play. He finished the contest with 20 points, six assists and four rebounds.

"I missed a lot of easy ones tonight and felt like I let my team down. But I got the one that mattered most, I guess," Floras told the New Hampshire Union Leader after the Dec. 28 title-game win.

Merrimack's path to the title round included wins over Seacoast squads Dover High, 59-51, and Exeter High, 58-39.

But in the high-stakes round, it took a charging violation to clinch the win. Jeff Giannelli, a 6-foot-7 tower, held his ground as West's Jocarl Bureau drove the lane for a potential game-winning layup. The pivotal play came with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

The QCIBT runner-up a year earlier, Merrimack reached the championship game for the ninth time in the last 12 years. This year's title was the program's fourth in that span, and first since a three-peat from 2000-02.

"We played good. But my hats off to West," Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge told the statewide newspaper. "They made it come down to one shot."

(Read full post)

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Football, Basketball, New Hampshire, New England Roundup, Ice Hockey, Wrestling, Hanover (N.H.), South Kingstown, Manchester West, Manchester Central, Exeter (N.H.), Concord (N.H.), Nolan Cornell, Jerickson Fedrick, Lebanon, Londonderry, Emmitt Smith, Jesse Trottier, Bay View Academy, Kevin Davies, Steve Riker, Manchester Trinity, Barry Chooljian, Zach Bridson, Amra Elezovic, Allie Hartford, Dan Legro, Erik Glendye, Chris Fortin, David Downie, Andrew Lauderdale, Brendan Murphy, Milford (N.H.), Dimitri Floras, Merrimack (N.H.), Dover (N.H.), Windham (N.H.), Chris Anderson, Alexander Morrill, Jimmy Carver, Josh Hughes, Mike Leonard, Aaron Martin, Timberlane Regional, Armond McRae, Dillon Couture, Colin Pellerin, Billy Lane, Anthony Kurylak, Cole Brooker, Scott Priestly, Brad Tiernan, Conor Carrier, Zach Mailloux, Nick Reisert, David Rogers, Tanner Quinney, Dustin Jarosz, Tyler Briand, Riley Leavitt, Travis Smalley, Tyler Zabkar, Kurt Mithoefer, Jeff Giannelli, Jocari Bureau, Tim Goodridge, Rob Markusic, Sam Boivee, Peace Kabari, Mt. Anthony Union, John Houston, Chris Maglaras, Eric Miller, Adam Morin, Jake Pleadwell, Tim Stackhouse, Connor Donovan, Michael Lautenschlager, Dustin Stewart, Raige Hollis, Billy Mahoney, Tyler Veilleux, Brett Liporto, Justin Lozowski, Dan Stacey, Ryan Morris, Dylan Spence, Mike Estes, Tom Cifrino, Evan Bidgood, Efrain Rolon, Matt Myers, Nate Harrington, Nate Chartrand, Ryan Belleville, Dan Gorman, Parker Hausen, Oakley Singer, Will Ansah, Junior Brown, Jared Chandler, Stephen Grzywacz, Sean Collins, Cody Dalton, Jackson King, Sam Prive, Andrew Bellantoni, Jordan Gaudette, Nick Dragon, Austin Bauer, John Bieren, Derek Paradis, Shannon Tucker, Logan Merritt, Tim Beliveau, Chris Chinnis

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