Red Devils fall to strong Salem
The Chelsea High basketball team started well in its contest with Salem in first-round play of the Division 2 North Sectional of the MIAA boys state basketball tournament last Thursday evening.
The Red Devils grabbed a 6-3 lead in the opening minutes on the Witches’ home court, inspiring hope among the Chelsea partisans on hand (many of whom were brought to the game by a CHS fan bus) that just maybe an upset could be in the making.
But the Witches soon showed why they steamrollered their Northeastern Conference opponents en route to an undefeated NEC championship. Salem outscored Chelsea 16-2 over the remainder of the first period and expanded their advantage to a commanding 47-21 lead at the half.
The Red Devils fought back after the intermission, making a 12-2 run at the start of the second half to pull within 14 points, forcing a hasty Salem timeout. However, Chelsea was unable to sustain its momentum and the Witches reassumed command. A pair of Chelsea turnovers and a three-pointer by Salem brought the margin back to 20 points, from where the Witches went on to post an 88-49 triumph.
“Salem presses and runs the entire game,” said CHS head coach Jay Seigal. “We had scouted them and knew what to expect, but they are so athletic and fast that you never truly are prepared for what they bring to the floor until you actually face them.
“When we were patient and beat their press, we did well,” added Seigal. “But you have to be precise with every pass on every possession and if you are not, they make you pay for your mistakes.”
Sophomore Chris Torrez turned in an outstanding game for Chelsea, hitting for a team-high 24 points. Jahro Marshall added eight points, followed by Steve Lacey with seven, Werner Mazariegos with five, Ralph Otero with two, Cobi Molina with two, and Balmeiro Daveiga with a free throw.
Despite the defeat, Seigal said his team had much to be proud of this season. “Our level of play improved as the season progressed,” said Seigal, whose squad had defeated Masconomet Regional in a preliminary round contest of the tourney last Monday prior to taking on Salem, which was the number one seed in the D-2 North and is ranked fifth in the state. “Overall it was a great year and winning a game in the tourney was a big thrill and accomplishment.”
Bruins Beat by Bob Morello
Bruins hitting their stride
Many fans doubted Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s decisions at the end of the February 29th deadline, so perhaps it is time to take a look back and evaluate the results in their present standings. Sweeney’s decision to not trade Loui Eriksson was number one, number two was his two veteran pickups, forward Lee Stempniak and defenseman John-Michael Liles, who both have proved to be a plus for Boston. In the five games since the trade deadline, Boston has a record of four wins and a single overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. Even more important to note is that three of those wins, and even their single overtime loss came against strong teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, and Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, with their only loss, coming in overtime, against the NHL leading Washington Capitals, all currently in playoff spots.
Tuesday’s 1-0 exciting overtime win was gift-wrapped by the outstanding 42-save show put on by Bruins backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. Starting his first game since surrendering five goals in a 6-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets February 22nd, he was certainly equal to the task in facing the Lightning. Gustavsson’s record of 11-5-1 is even more impressive with the fact that eight of those wins have come on the road, where the Bruins have posted a 23-7-3 record. Tuesday’s win tied Boston with Tampa for first place in the Atlantic Division, with the Lightning holding a single game in hand. At press time the tight Eastern Conference standings had the Bs tied with Tampa (83) for third place, both a single point behind the New York Rangers (84) for second spot. Right behind the Bruins are the New York Islanders and Florida, each two points back with multiple games in hand. Buoying Boston’s confidence is their 7-2-1 record in their last ten games, and they are currently riding a two-game win streak.
Their recent overtime victories are proof as to how each and every point is so crucial at this point in the season, with just 14 games left on Boston’s regular season schedule. The addition of Stempniak to the Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand line has proved to be an instant cure to the right wing spot, as Stempniak has a goal and five assists (6 points) in the five games played as a Bruin. Liles has performed well on defense, adding some veteran experience to the blue line, important, especially with the recent injury to Kevan Miller.
Bruins fans are certainly getting their entertainment value with exciting overtime wins, most recently, Marchand’s game-winning goal (34) against Tampa – just ten seconds into the overtime, Stempniak’s game-winner (17) over Florida, all while Bergeron continues to play with passion, notching goals number 27 and 28 versus Florida. Boston returns home tonight to Garden ice for a pair of games, on a brief homestand during which they will host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight (Thursday at 7:00pm) and the New York Islanders in a Saturday matinee (1:00pm), before heading out on a four-game road trip featuring three on the West Coast – San Jose Sharks (Tuesday 3/15 at 10:00pm), Anaheim Ducks (Friday 3/18 at 10:00pm), Los Angeles Kings (Saturday 3/19 at 10:30pm), finishing the road trip with the New York Rangers (Wednesday 3/23 at 8:00pm).
Not to be overlooked in the team’s recent success is the fact that Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien is now Boston’s all-time coaching wins leader, passing Art Ross who posted 387 wins in his Bruins coaching career. In his ninth season with the Bruins, he currently is the wins-leader with 389, and is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL. His success can be measured by his ability to steer his team to the playoffs in seven of his eight years on the Boston bench, while also holding the Bruins’ career coaching record with 57 playoff victories. The ultimate win coming in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup Championship. His personal best was winning the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s top coach following the 2008-09 season.