Sports 04-06-2017

Bruins Beat

by Bob Morello

Bruins clinch is a cinch

With a solid 60-minute effort producing a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, the Bruins are playoff-bound, having clinched a spot for the first time in three seasons. Boston’s sixth consecutive win (Tampa, Chicago, Florida, Dallas, Nashville, and New York Islanders), during a streak that began on March 23, following a devastating four losses streak. The win to get into the playoffs was particularly rewarding for new bench boss, Bruce Cassidy, who gushed, “Extremely gratifying.” Despite coaching with the ‘interim’ tag still underlining his position, Cassidy has coached this team to a satisfying record of 18-7-0 in regular season play, with just two games remaining versus Ottawa and Washington, before beginning the playoffs. It seems the change from nine-year coach Claude Julien, was timely, in the sense that the players have responded nicely to Cassidy’s message, and quickly bought in to his plan to play more aggressively, and with more intent. To say that Cassidy has done an excellent job since taking over early February, can only be qualified by Bruins management removing the ‘interim’ tag from his title.

Tuukka Rask is presently playing at the top of his game having earned his eighth shutout of the season with Tuesday’s 28-save blanking of the Lightning, tying him with Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby for the league lead in shutouts. Rask’s numbers at press time include an impressive 37-20-4 record, with a 2.27 goals-against-average, and a .914 save percentage. The captain, Zdeno Chara posted goal number ten of the season in the win over Tampa, as he a nice rhythm going, with ten points in his last 13 games. Another notch in the belt of Patrice Bergeron, winning 17 of 17 faceoffs in the win, and David Pastrnak putting up two goals (33, 34), while earning a painful amount of stitches for a nasty cut.

Brad Marchand entered Tuesday night’s game seeking goal #40, instead he left late in the first period with a five-minute penalty, and a game misconduct, for a deadly accurate uppercut with his stick, to Tampa’s Jake Dotchin’s groin. Some of the pain felt by Dotchin may be matched by Marchand, after the play is viewed by the NHL’s Player Safety Department. He was scheduled to have a hearing this (Thursday) morning. Not in his favor is the fact that Marchand already has a bad track record with Player Safety, having been suspended a half-dozen time in his career, and even as recent as this season, they doled out a $10,000 fine to him for what was termed ‘a questionably hit.’ Realizing the severity (and stupidity) of the incident, Marchand after the game stated, “It was an undisciplined penalty. There’s no question about that, it could have cost the team a very important game, but the guys did a great job of rallying and having a huge game.”

All this success has the Bruins at press time, holding down the third spot in the Atlantic Division, with a huge game tonight (Thursday), with the Ottawa Senators on Garden ice. Boston is tied with the Senators who have a game-in-hand, for second place in the Atlantic with 94 points, hold a single-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs (93 points), who also have a game-in-hand, and are ahead of the Lightning by six points (88) plus a game-in-hand. The importance of tonight’s (Thursday) game is immeasurable as it stands right now, the game might be what the first-round matchup would be, or a not good outcome could drop the Bs into the wild-card position, which would mean they’d be starting the opening playoff round by facing the Western Conference-leading Washington Capitals. Not a good alternative. Ideally for Boston, a second place finish in the Atlantic would give them home-ice advantage, facing either Toronto, Ottawa, or possibly Tampa. The regular season’s final two games for Boston will have Ottawa on Garden ice tonight (Thursday) in a 7:00pm start, and the finale with the Capitals and afternoon delight on Saturday with a 3:00pm faceoff.

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the team has signed Boston University forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to a three-year, entry-level contract, beginning with the 2016-17 season. Forsbacka Karlsson is expected to join the Bruins this week. Forsbacka Karlsson served as alternate captain of the B.U. Terriers as a sophomore in 2016-17, posting 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points. The 20-year-old forward was selected to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team as a freshman in 2015-16, after notching 10 goals and 20 assists for 30 points. In international play Forsbacka Karlsson represented Sweden. In 49 games of international juniors competition from 2011-16, he recorded seven goals and 22 assists for 29 points. Most recently he appeared in seven games at the 2016 Under-20 World Junior Championships, where he posted one goal and four assists for five points. The Stockholm, Sweden native was selected by the Bruins in the second round (45th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

CHS Roundup

CHS track teams looking forward  to the coming season

After scrimmaging with Malden this past week, the Chelsea High boys and girls outdoor track & field teams were scheduled to open their 2017 season with a meet against Northeast Regional Vocational School yesterday (Wednesday).

The CHS boys team will be looking to improve upon last year’s 5-4 performance. The Red Devils will be led by senior standout Adriel Cedano.  Adriel is coming off an indoor season where he placed sixth at the state meet in the 300 meter.  This spring he is eyeing school records in the 200, 400, and triple jump.

Also leading the way in the sprints is senior Nick Ieng in the 100 and 200, as well as in the shot put and javelin.  The distance team continues to improve, paced by junior Jose Leclerc.  Jose is looking to qualify for the state meet in both the 800 and mile.

The CHS distance runners are young, with big contributions expected from freshman Abraham Barrientos and sophomore Wilfido Hernandez.

“This boys’ team continues to work hard and maximize their potential,” said CHS head coach Mark Martineau. “The only thing holding this team back is numbers.  With only 22 boys on the roster, every meet and event will be a fight.  The way that our workouts have been going, I feel confident in our ability to win the close races.”

On the girls’ side, the Lady Red Devil will seek to continue their winning ways and make it three straight Commonwealth Athletic Conference titles. This team is loaded with talent and the sky is the limit.

The spotlight will be on junior Martine Simon, who is coming off all-state performances last year in both the long jump and triple jump.  In addition to the jumps, Martine is one of the fastest sprinters in the state and has worked hard all year to be strong enough to compete at a high level.

The Lady Red Devils once again continue to be deep and strong in the sprints, with freshman Isha Osman, sophomore Alexis Shillingford, freshman Stephanie Simon, and many others all looking to place high at the conference level and make it to the state meet.

Senior hurdler Sylvia Agyeiwaa is coming off a break-out indoor season and has her eyes on a conference championship after finishing second last year.  Senior Owliyo Mohamud is returning after last year’s second place finish in the 400 meter at the CAC meet and is looking to win it all this year.

“Owliyo had a great indoor and pre-season,” noted Martineau, “and she is in great position starting the year. “

The CHS distance team is small, but young and talented.  Leading the team are a trio of talented sophomores: Jocelyn Poste, Amanda Dias, and Yarid Deras.  Yarid is the reigning CAC cross country champion and all three are coming off great indoor seasons where they all qualified for the state meet.

The throws this year will be another area of strength for Chelsea. The Lady Red Devils could have the top four discus girls in the conference, with two-time CAC champion Tracy Flores battling sophomore Masireh Ceesay, junior Xiana Herasme, and senior captain Alex Martinez.

Martinez leads the equally-deep shot-put squad. “With more than 10 girls coming out for the three throwing events this year, we will have some great competition in practice that will help everyone push their performance higher and higher,” said Martineau.

“This girls team is well-rounded and there is tons of potential everywhere,” added Martineau, who himself is coming off an indoor season in which he was named the  MSTCA Coach of the Year. “Our next step for this team is to start to realize their potential.  In years past we would be happy just qualifying for the state meet.  Now, we need to not only qualify for the meet, but place in the meet.  These girls will have to work hard on and off the track and push each other in order to achieve this goal.”

CHS baseball team at Mother Nature’s mercy

“Rain, rain, — and cold, wind, and snow — go away…” has been the common refrain of coaches and athletes thus far in the spring sports season of 2017.

For the Chelsea High baseball team, the unseasonably unspring-like weather (even by the low standards for us hardy Eastern Massachusetts natives) resulted in the postponement of Monday’s season-opener with St. Clement’s (which now has been moved to April 17) because of the muddy field conditions at Carter Park  left in the wake of the weekend’s deluge.

The hopes for yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) scheduled contest with Maimonides under the lights at the CHS field similarly looked bleak as the Record went to press after Tuesday’s rain-all-day weather.

Coach Alan Beausoleil and his Red Devils’ have two contests on the schedule next week, both at home, on Monday against Minuteman Regional and on Wednesday against Mystic Valley — weather permitting, of course.

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