River Drivers skate past Nationals for 8-3 win

By Jean LeBlanc

BERLIN — Veteran forward, John Celli, had two goals and an assist to lead a balanced scoring attack for the Berlin River Drivers in an 8-3 victory over the Cornwall Nationals in Berlin on Saturday.

The River Drivers improved to 13-9-1-3 and currently sit in the second spot in the Federal Hockey League.

The Nationals absorbed their fourth straight loss and are currently tied for sixth place at 7-14-3-1.

BRDvsCW1Cornwall goaltender Paul Bourbeau Jr. makes this big save on Berlin sniper Artur Drindrozhik during first period action. (JEAN LEBLANC PHOTO)

The Nationals had a short bench and the River Drivers went to work early blitzing the visitors and peppering goaltender Paul Bourbeau Jr for three goals on 17 shots in the first period. At 1:46, Celli made a good body-check to force a turnover. Artur Drindrozhik made it 1-0 on his 10th goal of the year from Celli and defender Patrick Harrison. The home team went up 2-0 at the 10:05 mark on a beautiful Pavel Kubena lamp-lighter from linemates Dominik Synek and Jiri Pestuka for a 2-0 advantage. The goal was Kubena's 12th on the winter. The River Drivers went up 3-0 on Jan Salak's goal just three minutes later. Linemates Josh Pietrantonio and newcomer Chris Martin had the assists.

BRDvsCW4Artur Drindrizhik (No. 15) and to his right (No. 91) John Celli, celebrate Celli's second goal of the game in Berlin's 8-3 win over Cornwall. (JEAN LEBLANC PHOTO)

Berlin was relentless on the attack and stayed after the Nationals into the second period. At 9:49, Celli netted his first of the game from Drindrozhik and Harrison for the 4-0 lead. Four minutes later it was Synek getting his 16th of the winter from Kubena and Pestuka and a five-goal advantage.

In goal, Berlin's Matt Kaludis was back from his stint in the SPHL. Cornwall scored a power-play goal at 15:29 to make it 5-1. Jean-Christopher Houde got the goal from Anthony Mezzagno and goaltender Paul Bourbeau Jr.

BRDvsCW2Berlin defenseman Kristaps Nimanis (No. 2), zeros in on this loose puck in front of the Cornwall goal crease, to notch his first Berlin River Driver goal during second period action. The River Drivers won the game 8-3 over the Cornwall Nationals. (JEAN LEBLANC PHOTO)

The final period got a little ragged, as a worn out group of Cornwall players got very fiesty and verbal with many of the River Driver players.

At 4:07 of the third period, defensman Kristaps Nimanis notched his first River Driver goal for a 6-1 lead. Pestuka and David Brancik got the assists. Four minutes later Cornwall's Sylvester Bzdyl made it 6-2 and when Celli scored his second of the game and 12th of the year at 13:21, it was again a five goal lead at 7-2.

There was less than five minutes to play when the National's Mezzagno cut the deficit to four goals 7-3. However, new player Chris Martin got his second goal of the year for the River Driver's from Vojtech Zemlicka and Igor Stibysh to make the final score 8-3.

In the Nationals' goal, Bourbeau had 41 saves on 49 shots and Berlin's Kaludis had 22 saves in picking up his ninth win on the winter.

BRDvsCW3The Berlin River Drivers salute their fans after defeating the Cornwall Nationals 8-3 on Saturday. (JEAN LEBLANC PHOTO)

A huge Federal Hockey League match-up takes place this coming Friday night in Berlin. The top ranked 20-4-3-1 Danville Dashers bring their 12-game winning streak to the Notre Dame Arnea to take on the second ranked River Drivers in an 8 p.m. starting time. You can check out the Berlin team at http://www.riverdrivershockey.com/ or on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GoRiverDrivers/.

Icy conditions make for challenging race for alpine Huskies

LYNDON, Vt. — The Gorham High School Ski Team battled it out in a day of slalom racing with seven other NHIAA Division IV teams and a guest team from Lyndon, Vt., last Friday.

The two races proved challenging after two days of rain, followed by a sudden freeze which made for icy conditions on Gary's Run at Cannon Mountain.

Natalie Harmon led the way for the girls, finishing third in both the morning two-run, combined-time slalom (98.36) and the one-run afternoon race (43.7). Danielle Cotnoir contributed 16th (123.11) and 17th place finishes (52.99); Amira Robertson 19th (136.95) and 22nd (58.16); Olivia Halle was the fourth Gorham counter in the morning (30th, 158.78) and Riley Fitzmorris (26th, 64.32) scored in the afternoon competition. Gorham speedster, Karyssa Lachance, was unavailable for the race while away at a school leadership training program.

Girls team scores:

Morning: Profile (381), Derryfield (374), Lyndon Institute (358), Gorham (332), Littleton(326), Woodsville (286), Lin-Wood (256), Newport (226), Moultonborough (165).

Afternoon: Derryfield (375), Profile (367), Lin-Wood (366) Lyndon Institute (363), Gorham (330), Littleton (319), Woodsville (288), Newport (227).

The Gorham boys matched the girls' results with a fourth place team finish in the first race and fifth place in the second slalom event of the day.

Senior Sam Sjostrom was the top finisher for the boys in both races, contributing an 11th (105.11) and 15th place (46.58). Ben Harmon added a 16th (119.79) and 20th (51.41). Eighth grader Tristan Robertson became a first-time counter in the morning with a 24th (147.18); Bronson Leclerc was the third to score in the afternoon (21st, 51.6). Bryce Gauther was the fourth counter in both races (25th, 147. 35 and 27th, 66.22). Other Gorham boys: Melvin Olson 30th (68.05), Jordan Lukaszewski, 34th (166.87) and 37th (72.48).

Boys' team scores: morning: Profile (381), Derryfield (374), Lyndon Institute (358), Gorham (332), Littleton (326), Woodsville (286), Lin-Wood (256), Newport (226), Moultonborough (165).

Afternoon: Derryfield (375), Profile (367), Lin-Wood (366), Lyndon Institute (363), Gorham (330), Littleton (319), Woodsville (288), Newport (227).

“Tough conditions that I can only classify as "character-building." After this race, everything else should look easy. We will look forward to Karyssa Lachance returning next week to help the girls out,” said Coach Sherrill Tracy.

The Gorham skiers have a busy week coming up with the Kanc Classic night slalom in Lincoln on Thursday, Jan. 19, 6 p.m., and a Friday race, 10 a.m., at Cranmore, hosted by Kennett High School.

Natalie 2017Natalie Harmon

Mounties keep Bears in hibernation 56-26

By Jean LeBlanc

BERLIN — The Berlin High boys' basketball team limited Newfound to just five first half points and rolled to a decisive 56-26 victory over the Bears in Berlin recently. The Mounties earned their third straight regular season win improving to 4-2. Newfound remains winless in six contests.
"Our defensive intensity against Newfound was good," said Dave Morrissette, Mountaineers' head coach. "We have focused on challenging shots, limiting dribble penetration and pressuring the ball handler. We were particularly successful in the first half, limiting our opponent to five points."
Berlin was patient offensively and did a good job at sharing the basketball. The Mounties spread the floor against Newfound's man-to-man defense and took the ball to the basket, earning three hoops and a foul shot for an old-fashioned three-point scoring attempt. Josh McBride and Seth Balderrama had five points each with teammates Evan Arsenault and Isaac Balderrama netting two hoops apiece. Berlin led 20-2 after the opening eight minutes of play. AJ Muse had the lone Bear hoop.
BBBBvsNHS3Berlin sophomore Seth Balderrama finishes this drive to the basket during first quarter action. Balderrama led all scorers with 13 points in Berlin's 56-26 victory over Newfound. (GUY STEVER PHOTO)
The BHS coaching staff emptied the bench in the second quarter getting every player some time. A 10-3 scoring run put Berlin on top 30-5 at intermission. Isaac Balderrama and Joe Fodor had two hoops each in the second quarter.
In the second half, the starters began the quarter, but were quickly replaced by the reserves. Berlin outscored Newfound 26-21 in the second half to make the final score 56-26. Jarrod Fairbank had eight points and Muse seven to key the Bear offense in the second half. Arsenault had seven points on three hoops for Berlin. Neither team had much success at the foul line. 
BBBBvsNHS1Mountie point guard Evan Arsenault puts this shot up and in for two of his 11 points in Berlin's 56-26 win. (GUY STEVER PHOTO)
"Newfound is in the first year of rebuilding their program with a proven and experienced coach," said Morrissette. "They will improve as the year progresses, and they have some promising young players. We are looking forward to building on our last two games and continue our defensive efforts against Gilford on Friday (results not known as of press time)."
BBBBvsNHS2Mountie guard Sincere Davis makes his way through traffic on this drive to the basket during fourth quarter action. Davis had a couple hoops in Berlin's 56-26 victory over the Bears. (GUY STEVER PHOTO)
Muse led the Bears with nine markers. Seth Balderrama, 13 points, and Arsenault, 11, had double digits in points for the home team.
BHS   20 10 11 15   56
NHS   02 03 12 09   26

Gilford catches Berlin late, 40-39

By Jean LeBlanc
BERLIN — The Gilford boys' basketball team scored the final three points Friday night to come from behind the edge Berlin 40-39 in nail-biter in Berlin.
The Golden Eagles improved to 5-2 on the season in Division III play, while the Mountiainers dropped to 4-3.
In a well played game, both teams could not generate long runs of scoring, keeping it a tightly contested game. The visitors led after one quarter of play 10-9. Mason McGonacle had three hoops for Gilford, Berlin got four points each from juniors Joe Fodor and Evan Arsenault.
BHSvsGHS1Berlin's Seth Balderrama (center) plays defense on Gilford's Greg Madore (No. 14) during first half action. Both team's played solid defense in Giford's 40-39 win over the Mountaineers. (JEAN LEBLANC PHOTO)
The game was also officiated in a manner that got both teams to the free throw line. Play became a little ragged in the second quarter, with many stoppages and trips to the foul line. Berlin held a slight scoring advantage in the second quarter 15-13 to lead at halftime 24-23. McGonacle had five and Carrier four points to pace the Eagles. Seth Balderrama netted six points and Arsenault added to provided most of the Berlin scoring.
BHSvsGHS2Mountie Evan Arsenault (center) scores on this layup just as the first half ended, giving Berlin a 24-23 lead. (JEAN LEBLANC PHOTO)
The third quarter featured more of the same. A 13-11 scoring advantage for the home team, gave the Mounties a three-point lead, 37-34. Carrier hit an old-fashioned three-point play and teammate David Hart hit a shot from behind the arc to net six of the 11 points scored. Balderrama scored four points and senior Josh McBride added a three-pointer to help provide the Mounties with the scoring edge.
The fourth quarter was one for the record books. Gilford tied the game 37-37 and Berlin's Joe Fodor hit a layup with 5:23 to go for a 39-37 lead. Carrier slashed his way to the hoop with a drive for a bucket and a foul with 4:24 to play. Carrier hit the foul shot to put his team on top 40-39. That would be the final points scored of the game.
Both teams had possessions, both teams had turnovers, both teams missed shots. Berlin fouled Gilford's Gregory Madore with 26.1 seconds left to play. The Mounties had talked over who they wanted to foul in the closing moments during a timeout, Madore had been 1-4 from the charity stripe for the game. The pressure was high. Gilford was in the two-shot bonus. Madore missed both shots and Berlin controlled the rebound. The Mounties called timeout to set-up their offense with 17.1 seconds to play. Out of the timeout, Berlin tried to isolate Arsenault at the top of the key. Arsenault drove to his left and pulled up for a fade away 12-footer that did not fall with five seconds to go. Mountie Sincere Davis got the rebound in the paint and quickly found an open Josh McBride at the top of the key. McBride let his three-pointer fly as time expired. His shot looked like it was going to fall, but instead hit both rims and stayed out, giving Gilford the victory.
BHSvsGHS3All eyes and ears are focused on head coach Dave Morrissette during this fourth quarter timeout. Gilford was able to beat Berlin 40-39 in a well played game in Berlin. (JEAN LEBLANC PHOTO)
"It was a tough loss on Friday night to Gilford," said Dave Morrissette, Mountaineers' head coach. "On the whole, we played a tough defensive game and executed our game plan. The goal is to hold teams to nine points per quarter, or 36 for the game. We came close to reaching that mark against a team which has put up some points in other games. We have made progress since December, and there is still room to improve. Gilford worked hard at limiting our shot selection as well, particularly focusing efforts of Evan Arsenault. We struggled finishing at the basket, and had too many unforced turnovers. Gilford's Ethan Carrier, 6'5'', changed shots as we attacked the basket. Despite some of the difficulties on offense, our defense kept us in the game. We had a chance to win with the last possession of the game. Gilford defended well, forcing Evan to take an off balance shot. The rebound and the kick out for the last shot at the buzzer did not fall."
For the game, Gilford hit 14 shots from the floor and shot 11-22 from the foul line. McGonacle scored 15 points and Carrier added 11 to lead the way for the visitors. The Mounties had 13 field goals from the floor and went 10-16 from the free throw line.
Arsenault, who scored 12 points, and Balderrama, with 11, had double-digits in scoring for the home team.
"We will move forward, build on the positive aspects of our performance and improve in areas that need attention," said Morrissette. "Overall, the team played with heart and intensity. They fought and persevered through some adversity. We are looking forward to the game at home against Mascoma on Friday night."
Berlin will get a few days off to practice this week. On Friday, the Mountaineers are scheduled to play host to Mascoma (2-4) in a 6:30 p.m. contest.
BHS   09 15 13 02   39
GHS   10 13 11 06   40