December 25, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: A look in the rear view mirror at 2008
by Dave Long

We are at the close of an eventful year. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights, not necessarily the ultimate best of the best, but the things that caught my attention.

January — The Patriots got to 18-0 with two playoff wins, the Celtics were in high gear in January for the first time since George Bush the father was in the White House, Arizona Sun Devil John McCain won the GOP primary as Hillary Clinton knocked off wiry southpaw Barack Obama on the other side to gain her first and last lead in their brutal primary fight. The best local game played in the month came from Mike Stys in putting up 37 points in a Central win over Bishop Guertin, although the 21-point, eight-rebound effort for BC by Londonderry’s Steph Murphy in a 60-59 upset of  North Carolina State was the best out-of-town score for sure.

February — Plaxico Buress shots the Patriots in the foot with a touchdown catch in the final minute to win the Super Bowl and end the Patriots’ hopes of a glorious season. With KG missing 10 straight with an abdominal pull, the Cs lost three straight for the only time all year and endured their worst month at 9-5 — a cause for celebration in any other year. Monarchs rookie Teddy Purcell scored four times, including the game-winner to give Canada a 9-8 win over Planet USA in the AHL All-Star game. Local lad and Central alum Bill Foti got his 300th win (against 127 losses) as Colby-Sawyer beats New England College 72-59. And the NHIAA hoop playoffs got under way as Alicia Doucet and Christiana Backolas combined 65 points in Central’s first two wins.

March — The world famous Verizon Wireless Arena  hosted an NCAA Hockey Regional, though it wasn’t good news for the U, which was one and done by losing to Charlie Weis and Notre Dame 7-3. The St. Anselm women finished off a magical year with an easy 7-2 win over Sacred Heart to win the ECAC title. Manchester’s Charlie Davies impressively qualified for the under 23 U.S. soccer that began their quest to make the Olympic team beginning this week. Stefanie Murphy was named to the ACC All-Rookie Team after the Londonderry alum scored 15.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for Boston College, while the Trinity boys and Central girls came up short in the Class L Basketball finals in losing to defending champions Salem and Winnacunnet respectively. 

April — Kirsten Provencher threw a no-hitter in leading West to a 1-0 win over Concord when opposite number Paige Hansen  lost her perfect game in the sixth. Ian McCarthy of the Manchester Millrats was named the ABA General Manager of the Year in his first year at the helm after going 28-12. Some nitwit paid $175,100 in an eBay auction for the David Ortiz jersey buried by construction worker Gino Castignoli in the new Yankee Stadium and later excavated by order of the Yankee high command.

May — The powers that be smartly settled on Mike Fitzpatrick as their choice to lead the basketball program at Memorial.  Domingo (Sea) Cruz won the 100-meter, 200-meter and long jump in the city track meet while Meggie Donovan took the 100 and 200 meters. West shortstop Andrew Klimm snared a line drive off the bat of Matt Shaughnessy, stepped on second and threw to first to complete the rare feat in an 8-4 loss to Central. Memorial’s Kerry Webb struck out 12 and no-hit Central girls by the unusual no-no score of 7-2. Bishop Guertin powdered Nashua North 27-0 in lacrosse action as 13 players scored at least one goal. Pinkerton’s Bree Robinson became the first girl ever to leap more than 19 feet in the broad jump at the Class L track meet on Friday in Concord.

June — Bruce Boudreau was named NHL Coach of the Year after the 6-14-1 Washington Capitols he inherited went 37-17-7 upon his arrival from the AHL. Bedford right-hander Nick Asselin took his 93-mile-an-hour heater to A ball after signing with the (yikes) Yankees, while Colin Lynch joined the San Deigo Padres after a stellar career at St. John’s. Goffstown won its first Class L baseball title by knocking off Salem 4-3 when Kory Kiro drove in the winning run in the top of the seventh. Derryfield was upset in the Class S baseball playoffs by Lin-Wood 8-3 when Andrew Kelley struck out 13 Cougars. Londonderry’s (babbling) Brooke Beaudet eliminated Central from the Class L Softball playoffs when she struck out 16, throwing a no-hitter in a 9-0 win. Joanne Dow claimed a spot on the U.S. Olympics team with a second-place finish in the 20-kilometer walk at the Olympic trials. And the Celtics routed the Lakers just as I predicted in the NBA Finals as Paul Pierce won MVP honor.

July — Manchester Little League All-Star team headed to the Eastern Region Tournament for the first time since 1990. They got there by dethroning two-time defending champion Portsmouth with a 12-4 game won by Nolan Flynn. A record crowd of 8,762 streamed into the ball park for the Eastern League All-Star game won by the North Division 5-3. F-Cat slugger Travis Snyder won the Home Run Derby. Concord’s Mark Stevens took the NH State Amateur golf tournament by beating Ryan Friel 2 and 1 at the Lochmere Golf and Country Club in Tilton. Londonderry’s Brian Wilson was named to play in the All-Star game at Yankee Stadium.

August — After a sensational run through the elite Little League teams in New England it sadly all came to an end one game from the LL world series when Manchester lost 2-1 in the Eastern Region finals. The Manchester Wolves season ended with a 45-35 playoff loss to Tennessee Valley after winning 10 of their last 12 to get there. Chris (leg of) Lambert was summoned by the Tigers at the close of the month and got his first major-league win 6-5 over the Twins in his second start. Former Dartmouth head man Dave Faucher was named head man at Daniel Webster.

September — Dan Arvanitis and Louise Billy were winners again in the city golf championship to give them a combined total of championships too high to count. The Nashua Pride closed their season and ended operations only to re-emerge a few weeks later as American Defenders of Nashua under an ownership including former Rex Sox GM Dan Duquette. The F-Cats set an all time attendance record of 373, 237 despite finishing 26 games out of first place. UNH stunned Army with a 28-20 win at West Point which was followed up by a five touch pass effort by newcomer RJ Toman in a 51-42 win over URI. The soon to be state champion Central girls got out of the blocks by scoring 28 goals in a 4-0 start. 

October — Katherine DisPastina scored her school-record 76th career goal as Derryfield beat Winnisquam 3-1 in field hockey. Kaleigh Roberge had a hand in all six goals when she scored two assists on four more when Memorial beat Timberlane. Seven different players scored TDs as Goffstown pounded John Stark in a 53-14 win. A stunning 9,383 were on hand at the V when the world champion Boston Celtics downed the Houston Rockets 90-89 on a jumper by point guard Gabe Pruitt with 6.6 seconds. The Saint Anselm football team ended a 34-game losing streak in a wild 48-42 triumph over Merrimack as Luke St. Marie ran for a school record 241 yards. Liz Belanger and Cassey Muse each got a hat trick as Central soccer pulverized Timberlane 11-0.

November —  Derryfield climbed out of a 1-0 hole to claim the Class S title when Camille Smith and MacKenzie Logan scored a minute 16 seconds apart to claim a dramatic 2-1 win over Wilton-Lyndeborough. Central claimed the Class L soccer title with a 4-1 win over top-seeded Merrimack when Lindsay Johnson, Meghan Tobin (two) and Casey Muse got the goals. Behind Dave Zocco’s five-TD effort, Nashua South dethroned three-time defending champion Pinkerton with a tremendous 33-32 overtime win to take the Division I football title that had too many stars to name in this space. 

December —UNH loses 36-34 for the third time in four years to Northern Iowa after leading at half-time 27-26. Alums Dan Mullen and Chip Kelly make news in big-time college football as after heading the Florida offense all the way to the BCS title game Mullen is named head man at Mississippi State and Kelly is promised the Oregon spot when current head coach Mike Bellotti steps down so he’ll spurn interest from Syracuse and others.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.


12/18/2008 The Pats' playoff run and new Yankees contracts make big news

12/11/2008 Random thoughts and associations
12/4/2008 Pats should consider options when it comes to Cassel and Brady
11/27/2008 Putting the thanks in Thanksgiving
11/20/2008 News of the week has people talking
11/13/2008 Cassel's in the clouds compared to early expectations11/6/2008 Mail bag delivers some interesting questiont10/30/2008"Yankees Suck" - like mentality fuels political discontent10/23/2008 No ray of hope as season closes in Tampa Bay
10/16/2008 Going to the nines a thing of the past
10/9/2008 C-eeing some interesting stories unfold this week
10/2/2008 "How come?" is the main question of the day
9/25/2008 Observations on baseball in 2008
9/18/2008 If I were a QB, a DB, a stat geek or a soccer mom ...
9/11/2008 After disaster Brady's bunch won't pass on season
9/4/2008 Pats start off with high expectation and some concerns
8/28/2008 A race to the finish to take all month long
8/21/2008 National news items of interest for local folks
8/14/2008 A little of this and that from the good side of sports pile
8/7/2008 Manny happy returns from the Evil Empire
7/31/2008 Manny being Manny - the sequel Part XXXII
7/24/2008 Open the mail bag for some Red Sox questions
7/17/2008 Hall-worthy or not the latest question on Schilling
7/10/2008 Baseball season has actually started
7/03/2008 UL editorial in denial — stop the presses
6/26/2008 Boston turnaround makes NBA green with envy
6/19/2008 Letters from the NBA finals
6/12/2008 A Father's Day letter to dad
6/5/2008 Twenty-one and six are the lucky numbers for the Cs
5/29/2008 Sometimes a bat is just a bat
5/22/2008 Some questions for folks right up there in the front row
5/15/2008 Numbers don't add up to supposed Fenway
5/8/2008 Cavalier attitude nearly derails first meeting with LeBron
5/1/2008 I'm so old,I remember ...
4/24/2008 Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
4/17/2008 Show me the way to that All-Star Game
4/10/2008 For C'ing a great time ahead as playoffs arrive this spring
4/3/2008 Bill James and the stats for 2008 — Take Two
3/27/2008 Drowning in the NCAA office pool
3/20/2008 Whether forecast is right or not is the question
3/13/2008 Comment sparks wonder over just what I did
3/6/2008 New hires, new trades in pro sports
2/28/2008 Celtics issues far from black and white in the early days
2/21/2008 Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
2/14/2008 Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football
2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury — that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving
11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
11/8/2007 OK — it's week nine and I'm ready to talk
11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox
10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...
9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime
9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 M’s for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did
02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Hero’s death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat