New role for Buckley
Haverhill’s Mike Buckley has added some impressive duties this year as one of the top goalie coaches in the country.
The 36-year-old Buckley, in addition to operating Goaltending Development Services (GDS) and directing goaltending for Pro Ambitions Hockey, was hired last year as goalie coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Buckley, a Haverhill High and UMass Amherst graduate, travels for up to a week or two at a time to Pittsburgh and also deals with regional prospects in New England. Incidentally, one of his former pupils is Olympic goalie Jonathan Quick.
Slippage in MVC?
Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like the overall strength of the Merrimack Valley Conference has slipped a bit in several sports.
Central Catholic remains a basketball powerhouse and Andover and newcomer North Andover are right up there but some of the other schools seem awfully weak in not only hoop but a bunch of sports.
Years ago, it seemed like there was more talent across the board, and anyone could win on a given day, but upsets are becoming fewer and fewer. I see this particularly in boys basketball and wrestling.
Another Prep title
St. John’s Prep is strong in almost everything, but it has a real stranglehold on fencing. Last week, the Prep won its 10th straight state title with Andover’s Rory Burke leading the way.
Inside golf anyone?
Any diehard golfers who are antsy for the good weather to arrive may want to give Par 97 in Georgetown a try. Located on Route 97 just over the Groveland line, it’s an indoor golf center and 70-seat restaurant that features seven golf simulators and other high-end golf training tools. A grand opening is set for this Saturday, Feb. 22.
Locals for Austin Prep
Colleague Dave Willis recently gave a fine profile of Austin Prep goalie Elijah Harris of Haverhill after a recent victory over Central Catholic, but Harris is far from the only local player contributing for Austin.
In addition to high-scoring star Bobby Carpenter of North Reading, who was injured for the Central game, two of Austin’s top forwards are Ryan McDonough of Andover and Dan O’Toole of North Reading.
Austin Prep, incidentally, has had one of the stronger boys hockey programs for years and now its girls program is considered among the state’s elite as well.
Holy Cross-BC football
I’m a big fan of local rivalries but does it really make sense for Holy Cross and Boston College to renew their football rivalry?
The two schools signed to play each other in 2018 and 2020. This probably won’t help either team unless BC falters and Holy Cross pulls off a major upset.
I was at the last game played between the two schools, back in 1986 when Plaistow’s Ron George was a Holy Cross captain and, although the Crusaders scored two early touchdowns and took a brief lead, it generally wasn’t pretty as the Eagles rolled, 56-26.
Ruler of Vermont
While the 94 dual-meet victory streak of Timberlane’s wrestling team in New Hampshire (296-3 since 1992) is mighty impressive, it falls short of Mt. Anthony in Vermont.
The Patriots, who went 36-0 this year, have won 267 straight in Vermont and 25 straight state titles. Of course, Timberlane has faced tougher in-state competition.