by Bob Morello
Bruins prepare to pump up the volume
Tonight (Thursday) the Bruins resume their push to the playoffs following their five-day All-Star break, hosted by the very competitive New York Islanders. Currently the Islanders stand at the top of the Metropolitan Division, ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins. More importantly, they are tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings, with a game in hand. Six games in two weeks sounds like a pretty sparse schedule for the B’s, but there is little doubt that it will be an easy one.
Along with tonight’s matchup with the Islanders, the teams will meet twice during this two-week stretch. The Islanders have benefited from the play of former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk who has played well, earning 24 points (4-20) in 37 games. The B’s will also face the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, and division-rival Montreal Canadiens. In a sense it gives Boston the opportunity to face a series of tough games, as they prepare to get their rhythm back to playing ‘Bruins style’ hockey.
Boston fans will also have the chance to salute Patrice Bergeron tonight on his outstanding five-point NHL All-Star showing as a member of the victorious Team Toews. Bergeron in his first ever NHL All-Star invitation showed why many still question as to why he had not been selected in previous years. The main benefactor of Bergeron’s play was Islanders’ John Tavares who scored a goal in each of the three periods, as he was on the receiving end of a Bergeron pass each time to score the ‘hat trick,’ on his way to tying an All-Star game record with four goals in the game.
The Bruins’ record at home (15-7-4) shows strong signs that they prefer home cooking, which should be a plus, as four of their next six games will be on Garden ice. Following tonight’s game, the B’s return to TD Garden to take on the Los Angeles Kings (Saturday, 1/31 @ 7:00pm). The Kings are also fighting for a playoff position, currently sitting in ninth place in the Western conference, three points out of a playoff spot. The month of February begins with a trip to New York (Wednesday, 2/4 @ 8:00pm), to take on the Rangers who hold down the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders will take the ice at the Garden on Saturday, 2/7 @ 7:00pm, as the Bruins begin a three-game homestand. Visiting the B’s on Monday, 2/8 @ 7:30pm will be division-rival Montreal, ending their home stay with a Tuesday, 2/10 @ 7:00pm confrontation with the Dallas Stars, another team fighting for a playoff spot. Former Bruin Tyler Seguin is feeling ‘at home on the range’ playing for Dallas, his impressive stats include having appeared in all 47 Stars’ games to date, scoring 28 goals/25 assists for a solid 53 points.
Consistency in their play was the key word that Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs used when demanding better play from the Bruins’ team – the players showed signs of meeting his demands with a 6-1-3 record prior to the All-Star break. Without a doubt the return of two key components – Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, played a big part in that streak. It now remains to be seen whether the weeklong layoff has benefited or hurt Chara, as he continues to recuperate from a knee injury.
The Bruins will be able to put another feather in their helmet, as the National Hockey League recently announced during All-Star weekend, that the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will feature the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA, on January 1, 2016. When these long-time rivals meet, Boston will become the first NHL team to host the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic for a second time, after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime at the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park. It will mark the first time the Canadiens will play in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and just the second time a Canadian-based NHL team will play in the game, following Toronto’s appearance in 2014.
Bruins fans were saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Wilson, the radio voice of the Boston Bruins for more than two decades, retiring in 1995. Wilson recently succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 85, and Bruins President Cam Neely commented, “For a generation of New England hockey fans, Bob’s legendary voice was synonymous with the Bruins and he will always be a part of our club’s history. Our thoughts are with Nancy and their children during this difficult time.” Bob Wilson’s voice will never be silenced; it will play in the head of Bruins fans for a long time!
Red Devil hoopmen drop two contests.
The Chelsea High basketball team came out on the short end of a pair of contests this week, falling to Medford, 52-42, and then to Mystic Valley, 62-51. The twin defeats drop the Red Devils below the .500 mark to 5-6 as they cross the midway point of the season.
Chelsea fell behind early by a wide margin to Medford, trailing 22-10 after one period, 31-17 at the half, and 45-29 after three frames. However, the Red Devils came alive in the final quarter, engaging in a furious comeback that saw Chelsea draw within four 46-42, with two minutes to play. But that would be as close as the Red Devils would get and Medford held on to prevail by a final score of 52-42.
CHS captain Eric Flores, whose nine points in the final frame keyed the Chelsea effort in the final quarter, finished with 13 points on the night. Franklin Cruz hit for 12 points, followed by Angel Alvarez with six, Eric Fernandez with five, Jahro Marshall with four, and Guillermo Zelata with two.
Chelsea next played Mystic Valley Friday evening. The contest was a close affair at the half, with MV holding a 25-23 edge. However, the Red Devils fell into a funk after the intermission, allowing Mystic Valley to move out to a 12 point lead from which Chelsea never was able fully to recover. Although the Red Devils did get within four in the final quarter, they ended up on the short end of a 62-51 outcome.
Flores had a big game and paced Chelsea with 27 points. Cruz reached double figures with 10, followed by Chris Torres with four, Zelata with three, and the duo of Marshall and Albie Alicea with two each.
“Our inconsistent play has been disappointing and has really hurt us,” said CHS head coach Jay Seigal. “When we’re able to put together four solid periods in a game, we do well, but that was not the case in our two games this week.”
Chelsea was scheduled to play Greater Lawrence this past Tuesday, and though the game was moved up to Monday, it was postponed thanks to Mother Nature. The Red Devils were scheduled to be back in action yesterday (Wednesday) at Arlington Catholic, but that contest too, most likely was postponed.
Assuming the snow finally comes to an end, Chelsea will host Lynn Tech Friday at 5:30 and Arlington Catholic next Wednesday at 7:00.
CHS track teams do well vs. Medford
Although both the Chelsea High boys and girls indoor track teams fell to Medford last Thursday, both teams gave fine performances in close meets.
The Lady Red Devils came out on the short end of a 52-33 decision. First place finishers for Chelsea were Mariama Kamara, who sprinted to victory in the 55 meter dash in 7.7. seconds; Katherine Cabral, who captured the 300 dash in a state-qualifying performance of 43.9; Wendy Becerra, who took first in the mile in a clocking of 6:45; and Hassatu Dialo, who outdistanced the field in the two-mile run in 15:32 in her first time running that event.
Other point scorers for Chelsea were Martine Simon with a third in the 55 dash in 8.1; Owliyo Muhammad with a second in the 600 in a tough race in 1:56.4; Awa Bajinka with a third in the 600 in 2:05.7; Emely Burgos with a second in the 1000 in 4:06; Eva Hernandez with a third in the 1000 in 4:10; Cynthia Guzman with a third in the mile in 7:34; and Jasmine Castelleno with a toss of 26′- 8″ in the shotput that was good for second place.
The Lady Red Devils finished their inaugural indoor season in the Greater Boston League with a 2-3 record.
“We are only one or two athletes away from being one of the top teams in the league,” said CHS head coach Mark Martineau. “Adding to that promise is the fact that we are graduating very few of our athletes and none of our top scorers. A lot of credit needs to go to coach Rebecca Hayes who spends a lot of team with each athlete working with them to achieve their best every week. Without the guidance of Hayes, this girls’ team would not have been as successful as it has. This team is looking good for years to come.”
On the boys’ side, the Red Devils performed well in a meet that was close the whole way, with Medford ultimately prevailing by a slim 48-37 final tally.
First place finishers for Chelsea were Cris Sanyet in the 300 dash in a time of 39.0; Jeffrey Estrada in the 600 dash in 1:37.1; Sam Hernandez in the 1000 in 3:13; Cris Lemus in the mile in 5:42; and Luka Braga with his first win of the season in the shot-put with a throw of 34’01’2″.
“Luka has been getting stronger and stronger each week,” noted Martineau.
Red Devils who placed three points onto the Chelsea side of the scoresheet with second-place finishes were: Marcone Correa in the 600 in 1:42; Brian Horn in the 1000 in 3:15; and Ronald Castro in the mile in 5:46.
Third place efforts came from Isaac Colcord in the 55 hurdles in 11.8; Josue Reyes in the two-mile run in 13:27; and Sanyet with a shot-put toss of 31′-6.5″.
“The meet was back and forth the whole way,” said Martineau, “but we lacked the depth to be able to pull it out in the end. The boys had a tough season overall, but several of our athletes are among the best in the GBL and should do very well in the GBL championships. Looking to next year we have several holes to fill due to some key graduations, but hopefully more athletes will come out for the team in its second season.”
Next up for both the boys and girls teams is the GBL championship meet this Saturday at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.