HB-Derryfield Warriors making progress under new coach

Staff photo by TOM KING Hollis Brookline-Derryfield's Alec MacEachen (2) tries to make life difficult for John Stark-Hopkinton's Brett Patnode during Satureday's game at Conway Arena.

NASHUA – A few years ago, the Hollis Brookline High School hockey program was facing extinction.

It had missed a varsity season due to low numbers, but the solution was – as it has been for so many schools – to go the co-op route, which it has the last five years with Derryfield School.

The on-ice results, though, haven’t been the greatest. But this year there’s been a different feeling, despite Saturday’s 7-0 loss to Division III defending champion John Stark-Hopkinton.

“We still are (feeling good),” Warriors coach Joel Sanborn said. “They’re defending champs for a reason.”

Sanborn was the assistant for one year before taking the head coaching reins this year, and there seems to be some more energy and a better following for the Warriors. There’s certainly a lot of community/booster support as evidenced by the game programs that are available at the table entering the Conway Arena rink area from the lobby.

Now, that doesn’t translate to wins, but there’s certainly some kind of difference this season as the Warriors are already 3-2 after winning just one game a year ago.

“I think we’ve got a pretty bright future ahead of us,” Sanborn said. “The kids have been feeling pretty good about themselves. … We’ve got a little injection of youth. Some good freshmen have come in.”

And not just a couple. The Warriors have eight freshmen, and that may lead to some growing pains, it can also lead to some energy and enthusiasm.

And, while freshmen can give a team a new feeling,so can a new coach.

“It’s my first year stepping in, and, you know, trying to implement the system,” Sanborn said. “Just trying to get my feet wet. We’re still a young team, with eight freshmen. We’ll have three seniors graduate this year, so the future looks bright.”

The seniors are defenseman Alec MacEachen, plus forwards Cam Bishop and Dylan Terenzoni. There are six juniors, although they lost one on Saturday, forward Aidan Chretien, to what Sanborn and HB atheltic director Rhonn Rupp said was a dislocated kneecap. There are also six sophomores listed on the roster.

The Warriors now play their home games at Conway Arena, which also helps them get a little better following from their days at Hudson’s Cyclones Arena.

“We have been kind of under the radar, anonymous like you said,” Sanborn said. “But like I said, the future looks bright.”

Sanborn said both schools have contributed players and support.

HBDS’s wins this season have been over Belmont-Gilford, Pembroke-Campbell and Kearsarge-Plymouth. Their other loss was a tight 6-5 game vs. Monadnock-Fall Mountain at Conway Arena before the holiday break, a game in which the Warriors led 5-4 after two periods.

Remember, Division III is mainly a co-op league. The only non-co-op teams on the Warriors’ schedule are Sanborn and traditional power Kennett.

Saturday’s game aside, it certainly seems as if the Warriors won’t be pushovers this season.

Home again

Alvirne High School boys basketball coach Marty Edwards said he was nervous last Friday as early as 7 a.m. That night was to be his official return to his alma mater Bishop Guertin as the opposing team’s coach. Edwards, you may remember, was a 15-year assistant in the Cardinals program before he left to coach in Maine for a couple of years and then returned last year to take the Alvirne job.

He had all sorts of emotions when he entered the Colligadome (officially the Collignon Gym, named after late BG principal Bro. John Collignon).

“It’s just weird coming back here,” Edwards said after his Broncos won a tight one, 40-38. “I spent 20 years of my life here. It’s surreal, but my kids made me feel at home, my basketball kids, my Alvirne kids. It made me feel at home in here. They were behind me, they said they were going to play hard for me, and they really did, I’m really proud of them.”

Edwards saw the picture of Collignon in the lobby right away when he came in.

“First thing I saw was Brother John,” he said. “It’s set up in the lobby so no matter where you are, he’s looking at you. No matter where you are, Brother John can see you in the front lobby. And he’s looking at you when you walk out. Brother John’s still here with us still.

“But it’s still the same smell, the same sounds. It’s good to come back. Great crowd.”

Looking up

There’s a different feeling around the Nashua South-Pelham hockey team, especially after playing Bishop Guertin in the closest game (3-1, 2-1 until an empty net goal) the two programs have played in quite some time this past Saturday at Conway Arena.

“We’re trying to implement a little bit different stuff at practice, and we think it’s working,” Kings coach Shawn Connors said. “And we’ve got three lines. Last year we were running one-two, one-two, one-two-three; this year we’re running the third line at least every other.

“The guys, I think they want it more this year. We’ve been going over a lot of stuff in practice as far as systems are concerned, and it looked good.”

Connors said the goal is obviously to get the team prepared for and into the post season, as the team made the tournament for the first time in several years last winter. But it’s not a given this year. The Kings have lost three straight, albeit to the iron – Pinkerton, Bishop Guertin, and Hanover – and more iron awaits in the form of Concord Wednesday night and Windham Saturday afternoon, both at Conway Arena.

The final nine games of the season will be the key, with two of them against rival North-Souhegan. Others included in that stretch are Bishop Brady, Londonderry, Alvirne-Milford, Trinity, Manchester Memorial and Exeter. These are games and teams the Kings likely will be very competitive with.

Time change

Please note a half-hour time change for Friday’s scheduled varsity and JV girls basketball games between Bishop Guertin and Nasua South at South’s Belanger Gym.

The Nashua athletic department announced on twitter that the JV game will start a half hour earlier, 4:30 p.m., than the original 5 p.m. start and thus the varsity game is slated to start Friday at 6 p.m. (rather than 6:30).

No official reason was listed but keep in mind that the big Nashua Hall of Fame Wrestling Classic is Saturday morning at the Belanger, and some extra set up time may be needed the night before.

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