Bruins Part Ways With Thornton

The enforcer will not be wearing the black and gold next season.

Bruins’ general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Monday that Shawn Thornton, a fan favorite, will not be back for an eighth season.

During his tenure in Boston, Thornton was a member of the 2011 team that won the Stanley Cup. He spent much of his time playing on the fourth line, and the fans loved his physical play.

But in terms of production, there wasn’t much to talk about. He never scored more than ten goals in a season (in 2011.) He just had one assist in this year’s playoffs. Still, the lack of points wasn’t the reason Bruins fans fell in love with him over the past seven years.

But he definitely knew how to rack up those penalty minutes. And then, there was the hit on Brooks Orpik that got Thornton a 15-game suspension.

So with Thornton out of the mix, who will be next year’s enforcer? Or, will there even be one? The NHL’s unrestricted free agent period begins on July 1.

Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports

 

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My Trip to Richmond International Raceway

This gallery contains 95 photos.

Over the weekend, I went to the NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway, a.k.a “The Action Track.” And there was plenty of action to go around. Here are some photos I took from my experience.

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Bruins Bounce Back in Game 2

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Here are three takeaways from the Bruins’ 4-1 victory over the Red Wings in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The series is now tied at a game apiece.

TOTAL TEAM EFFORT. The Bruins had the edge in play for much of the afternoon. It helped that they got an early gift-wrapped goal when Jimmy Howard couldn’t clear the puck and Justin Florek scored into an open net. And when the Wings cut the lead in half in the second period, Milan Lucic had the answer five minutes later, and the home team was in control from there.

POWER PLAY GETS IT DONE. Reilly Smith and Zdeno Chara each scored on the man advantage for the B’s. Boston went 2-for-4 with the man advantage, after getting shut out in the series opener.

TUUKKA STILL SHARP. Tuukka Rask has only allowed one goal in each of the first two games of this series. He stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced on Sunday afternoon. It’s too bad the one he didn’t stop on Friday night in Game 1 turned out to be the difference. Rask is playing like the Rask Bruins fans have grown accustomed to over the past few years.

The series now shifts to Joe Louis Arena for Game 3 on Tuesday night, with faceoff set for 7:30 p.m.

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

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Bruins Stay Red-Hot

After having their 12-game winning streak snapped by the Canadiens, the Bruins have started a new one. They’ve won three in a row – against the Blackhawks, Capitals and Flyers – and 15 of their last 16. Their road winning streak stands at nine. And they can also call themselves champions of the Atlantic Division.

WHO’S HOT
With his two goals on Saturday against the Caps, Jarome Iginla reached the 30-goal plateau on the season. It’s the 12th time in his career he has accomplished that.

Patrice Bergeron has four goals in the last three games. Carl Soderberg has two goals and two assists during that span.

David Krejci has three assists in the last two games.

Tuukka Rask has won nine of his last ten starts, the lone loss coming at the hands of Montreal last Monday. His 49 saves against Philadelphia on Sunday were a season-high.

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

 

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Four New England Schools in the NCAA Tournament

The brackets have been announced for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, and New England is well-represented. Four teams from the region are heading to the Big Dance.

UMASS: it’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since the Minutemen went to the tournament, but it has. Derek Kellogg is in his sixth season in Amherst, and this will be his first trip to the tournament as a head coach. Senior guard Chaz Williams will be a player to watch. He averages 15.8 points and seven assists per game. The Minutemen are one of six tournament teams to come from the Atlantic-Ten. UMass is the No. 6 seed in the Midwest. The Minutemen will tip off on Friday afternoon in Raleigh against the winner of the opening-round matchup between Iowa and Tennessee.

UCONN: Kevin Ollie is in his second year as head coach in Storrs. After a year removed from postseason play, his Huskies are back in the tournament. UConn finished with a 26-8 record, and made it all the way to the championship game of the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament, where it lost to Louisville. The headliner here is senior Shabazz Napier, who’s averaging 17 points per game. UConn is the No. 7 seed in the East, and will face St. Joseph’s in Buffalo on Thursday night.

PROVIDENCE: entering the Big East Tournament, the Friars were on the bubble. They knew they probably had to run the table to secure the league’s automatic berth. And that’s just what they did, culminating their march to the Big Dance with an upset win over Creighton in the tournament final. It was their first Big East tournament title since 1994. This is the first NCAA bid for Providence in ten years. Keep an eye on Bryce Cotton, who’s averaging 21.4 points per game, and was MVP of the Big East Tournament. The Friars are the No. 11 seed in the East, and will face the Tar Heels of North Carolina on Friday night in San Antonio.
HARVARD: the final New England entry in the tournament was the first to clinch an automatic berth, when the Crimson won the Ivy League title outright. Tommy Amaker is taking his team to the Big Dance for the third year in a row. His team is riding an eight-game winning streak, and went 26-4 on the season. Five players are averaging in double-figures: Wesley Saunders, Siyani Chambers, Steve Moundo-Missi, Kyle Casey and Laurent Rivard. Last year, the No.14 seed Crimson pulled off one of the big upsets of the tournament when they beat New Mexico. This year, Harvard is the No. 12 seed in the East, and will travel across country to face fifth-seeded Cincinnati in Spokane on Thursday.

Photo Courtesy: friars.com

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Framingham State Clinches MASCAC Title

BRIDGEWATER, MA – The Framingham State Rams are celebrating a championship in the inaugural season of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC.)

They wrapped up the title on Saturday afternoon with a thrilling, 35-28 victory over Bridgewater State. The decisive score came when Melikke Van Alstyne ran it in from nine yards out with just 29 seconds remaining.

“I’m elated,” said Rams’ head coach Tom Kelley. “I’m happy for our seniors….we won our first MASCAC championship, and the first time in history we’ve beat Bridgewater four years in a row.”

For a game that featured nine touchdowns in all, it started out as a defensive battle. The Rams got on the board first when Van Alstyne scored his first touchdown of the game from one yard out. The Rams led 6-0 after the PAT was blocked. The Bears responded with a 65-yard drive, capped off by quarterback Mike McCarthy’s five-yard run. The score remained 7-6 until the final minute of the half.

That’s when the game turned into a shootout. Rams quarterback Matthew Silva found Jared Gauthier from 14 yards out. Gauthier out-jumped the defender, and Framingham State was back on top, 13-7, but not for long. The Bears got a good kickoff return, a personal foul on the Rams, a long pass play from McCarthy to Matthew Green, followed by McCarthy’s one-yard run, his second score of the game. Bridgewater State took a 14-13 lead into the locker room.

In third quarter, McCarthy was picked off by Tyllor McDonald. The Rams capitalized on the turnover, with Van Alstyne scoring from a yard out to make it 20-14. Then, after McDonald intercepted McCarthy again, Gauthier’s 4-yard reception made it 27-14.

“Our defense has come up big all year long, and they came up big again,” said Kelley.

But McCarthy and the Bears would not fold. Playing in his final home game, he led his team 79 yards in 11 plays, and once again called his own number for his third rushing touchdown of the game. That made it 27-21. Late in the fourth quarter, the Rams appeared to stop the Bears on 4th and goal, but a pass interference penalty gave BSU new life. On the ensuing play, McCarthy appeared to be going into the end zone, but fumbled. Fortunately for the Bears, offensive lineman Mike Duran was in the right place at the right time, and fell on the ball for the touchdown. With 3:51 left, the Bears had re-taken the lead, 28-27. The difference in the game was the blocked PAT in the first quarter.

But FSU would not panic. Silva calmly led his team 55 yards in seven plays, with Van Alstyne scoring the winning touchdown – his third of the game – in the final minute. The senior finished with 158 yards on 24 carries. Silva was 22-36 for 230 yards. The Rams celebrated the conference title on the field afterward.

“We’ve been a second half team all year long,” said Kelley. “When we got the ball with a couple of minutes to go, I was real confident that we were going to at least kick a field goal.”

It was a heartbreaking Senior Day for McCarthy and the rest of his teammates. He rushed for a team-high 95 yards and threw for 117.

Framingham State closes out the regular season at Worcester State, while Bridgewater State travels to Mass. Maritime.

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Northeast-10: AIC 42, Bentley 14

WALTHAM, MA – This game turned into the Kevin Arduino show.

The junior quarterback for American International College ran for four touchdowns, and threw for another, as the Yellow Jackets defeated Bentley on Saturday afternoon, 42-14. With Stonehill beating New Haven, AIC moved into a three-way tie atop the Northeast-10 Conference.

AIC scored first, and would never trail. After the Yellow Jackets recovered a Bentley fumble, they drove 41yards in seven plays. Hunter Beckmann scored from eight yards out to make it 7-0. That was the only AIC score in which Arduino was not involved.

Later in the quarter, Arduino’s first score, a 1-yard run on a QB sneak, capped a 90-yard drive and made it 14-0. It stayed that way until the final minute of the half, when Bentley QB Danny Guadagnoli scored on a QB sneak of his own to put the Falcons on the board. AIC had a chance to increase its lead before the intermission, but Arduino was intercepted in the end zone by Sam McDonald on the final play.

In the third quarter, Arduino provided the highlight reel play of the game. AIC had the ball on the Bentley 30. It looked like he would get sacked. But he broke a tackle, then another, and another. A few seconds later, he was running into the end zone to make it 21-7.

The Falcons answered with a 71-yard drive, capped off by Jeff Hill’s leaping grab in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to seven. That would be the last time Bentley would score on the afternoon.

From there, the Yellow Jackets broke the game wide open. Arduino scored his third rushing TD of the game, this time from seven yards out, to put AIC back up by 14. After another Bentley fumble, Arduino connected with Evan Graham on a 48-yard strike, with Graham making a superb diving catch in the end zone. Then in the fourth quarter, Arduino’s fourth touchdown on the ground, a 2-yard run, accounted for the final score.

AIC came into the day leading the conference in rushing yards. The Yellow Jackets had 261 on the ground in this game, 129 of them from Arduino. He also threw for 222 yards. For Bentley, Guadagnoli was 22-36 for 279 yards. Hill had a nice game: nine catches for 124 yards.

Next Saturday, AIC hosts Saint Anselm, while Bentley travels to Merrimack.

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Curry 27, Coast Guard 24

MILTON, MA – After losing three straight games to open the season, the Curry College Colonels are now riding a modest two-game winning streak.

On a rainy Saturday afternoon, they used a 275-yard effort in the running game to hold off Coast Guard Academy, 27-24.

“I think we’re doing some good things there. We’ve got a bunch of young guys. They’re working their tails off. They’re starting to believe themselves in the team,” said Colonels’ head coach Skip Bandini, whose team improved to 2-1 in the New England Football Conference (NEFC.)

Curry took the lead on its opening possession with a 13-play, 76-yard drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock. It ended with Kevin Fruwirth finding Tyran Harrigan in the end zone from nine yards out. The Colonels led 6-0 after the extra point hit the right upright.

In the second quarter, the Bears took advantage of a muffed punt by Curry, and turned it into a 26-yard field goal from Tyler Henning. It stayed 6-3 until the closing seconds of the half, when Fruwirth found a wide open Jordan Shairs on the right side, and Shairs went untouched into the end zone to give the Colonels a 13-3 lead at the intermission.

In the second half, the rain picked up, and so did both offenses. The third quarter began with a surprise onside kick attempt by Curry that did not fool the Bears. They marched down the field, and scored their first TD of the game on an 8-yard pass from Derek Victory to Nick Fredericksen.

But Curry came right back, with the running game really asserting itself. Shairs broke through the middle of the line, and was off to the races – 59 yards for the touchdown to make put the home team back up by 10. Shairs finished with 17 carries for 161 yards and two scores (one rushing, one receiving.)

But the Bears wouldn’t go away. Victory led a 70-yard drive, and capped it off with an 8-yard pass to Blake Thompson to make it 20-17. Victory finished 28-50 for 235 yards, but was also intercepted twice, and had two other picks nullified by Curry penalties.

Midway thru the fourth quarter, Phil Bigelow’s 2-yard TD run on 4th and goal turned out to be the deciding score. With 2:37 to play, Coast Guard scored its own TD on a 4th and goal, with Jake Wawrzyniak taking the pitch on the option and finding the end zone from two yards out. Curry recovered the ensuing onside kick, picked up a first down, and was able to run out the clock.

Fruwirth finished 15-24 for 120 yards, but did not make any mistakes to cost his team. While Curry had 275 yards rushing, Coast Guard had just 38.

“We’re a young team, we got a long way to go,” said Bandini. “We’re making some mistakes, but that’s part of the game….so if they don’t do the right thing, it’s my fault.”

Curry hosts Salve Regina on Friday night – a team Bandini called one of the better teams in New England, not just the NEFC. Coast Guard returns home to face Maine Maritime on Saturday.

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Stonehill 30, Bentley 3

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EASTON, MA – Stonehill College is sending a message that it is a force to be reckoned with in the Northeast-10.

Thanks to a stellar defensive effort, the Skyhawks dominated Bentley University on Saturday night, 30-3.  They forced four turnovers (two fumble recoveries and two interceptions) and sacked the Falcons’ quarterbacks six times.  They also stopped Bentley four times on 4th down.

“They moved the ball a little bit, they got in the red zone and we didn’t budge,” said Stonehill head coach Rob Talley, whose team improved to 3-0 in the conference.  “Our kids just did a really good job.”

Stonehill struck first in this one, and would never trail.  The Skyhawks went 70 yards in 11 plays, with QB Logan Meyer hitting Corey White over the middle for a 20-yard touchdown pass.  The missed PAT made the score 6-0.  The Falcons had their best chance to score later in the quarter.  After recovering a fumble on a punt return, Bentley QB Danny Guadagnoli found Chris Walsh, who appeared to be going into the end zone.  But Walsh fumbled at the 1-yard line, and the Skyhawks recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

The home team broke the game open in the second quarter.  Jamal Johnson’s 19-yard run made it 13-0.  The Skyhawks made it 20-0 when Meyer found Nate Robitaille open down the left sideline for a 35-yard scoring pass.  Robitaille had 8 catches for 116 yards.  They made it 23-0 just before halftime on Stephen Grzywacz’s 25-yard field goal.

In the fourth quarter, Johnson found the end zone for the second time, this time from three yards out.  He finished with 31 carries for 151 yards.

“I really feel like this is a special team,” said Johnson.  “We’re playing with so much momentum (and) so much more confidence.”

Meyer completed just over half of his passes (17 of 32) for 256 yards.  Guadagnoli was 20 of 31 for 217 yards, and was the recipient of five of Stonehill’s six sacks.

Bentley came into this game having won 21 of the previous 27 meetings with Stonehill.  But Saturday night was a different story.

“To me, it doesn’t matter what the score is…or what you’re doing…you’re playing Bentley….our kids are hungry,” said Talley.

Both teams are home next Saturday.  Stonehill hosts American International, while Bentley takes on Saint Anselm.

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Record-Setting Night for Stonehill QB

EASTON – There is a new, all-time passing leader at Stonehill College. His name is Logan Meyer.

Meyer shattered his way into the record books by accounting for six touchdowns Saturday night against St. Anselm College. The Skyhawks beat the Hawks, 52-24.

Stonehill got on the board first on its opening possession, as Meyer hit Corey White for an 8-yard TD pass. St. Anselm would tie the score after taking advantage of a botched punt deep in Skyhawks’ territory. Hawks’ QB Andrew Murphy scored from one yard out. Meyer’s record-breaking throw came in the second quarter, when he hit White again over the middle, and White took it the rest of the way for a 67-yard catch-and-run to make it 14-7.

“He was really hard on himself after last week’s game,” said Stonehill head coach Rob Talley. “So this week, we put together a game plan that he felt a little more comfortable with.”

The key play of the game was the final play of the half. Stonehill’s Zaire Reiph got open down the right sideline, and Meyer found him for a 44-yard touchdown. The Skyhawks went into the locker room with a 14-point lead.

In the third quarter, after St. Anselm cut the lead to seven, Meyer connected with White for their third touchdown of the game, this time for 15 yards. Stonehill would lead by double-digits the rest of the way. Meyer also threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Nate Robitaille, and also found the end zone himself on a 2-yard run. Meyer finished 18-33 for 332 yards.

His record-breaking performance overshadowed an impressive effort on the ground by Jamal Johnson. He rushed for 170 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. On the night, the Skyhawks had 593 yards of total offense.

“(He) doesn’t say a word. He just comes to practice every day, and knows this is going to be his opportunity. And he’s taken advantage of it,” said Talley of Johnson’s performance.

For the Knights, Murphy was 27-45 for 280 yards, one TD and two interceptions. Keith Charles led the way on the ground with 97 yards and a score.

Stonehill is now 8-0 against St. Anselm in the “Battle For the ol’ Bronze Hawk.”

“It’s great to bounce back, especially after last week….kind of getting our butts kicked a little bit on both sides of the ball,” said Talley. “Being able to come back and put together to a game where you score 50 points. I don’t care who you score 50 points against, it still feels good.”

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