EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 4, 2014

Cancelled game was played

By Bill Burt
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — WHAT A scrimmage!

Merrimack College’s hockey game scheduled for Thursday night at Lawler Arena with the Russian Red Stars, of the Junior Hockey League competing in Russia and neighboring Baltic countries, was cancelled because of the snowstorm.

But since the Russian team was held up in a hotel with nothing to do, it came to the rink Thursday afternoon and the teams played a scrimmage as the snow came down hard outside.

And what a scrimmage it was!

Merrimack ended up tying the game late in the third period and eventually winning an exciting shootout, 5-4.

The Russian juniors drove out yesterday after the snow stopped to play at Cornell University.

COMMONWEALTH MOTORS SIGNS ON

The Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic will remain just that for some years to come, according to Charlie Daher, owner of Commonwealth Motors.

Daher and his family signed on this past fall to sponsor the big local Merrimack Valley event.

One thing Daher wanted was increased scholarship money and that happened, with 16 senior players (one boy and one girl from each of the teams) being awarded $1,000.

“It has a big success,” said Daher. “It was nice to see the excitement back. It was always a great event and it deserves the interest it got.”

PATS TICKETS ON SALE

Hours after locking up their 12th win of the season — a 34-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium — the Patriots learned that they will host an AFC Divisional Playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 8:15 p.m.

A limited number of individual tickets will go on sale Monday, Jan. 6 at 10 a.m. exclusively through Ticketmaster.

TALIB’S WINTER WONDERLAND

While Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib lived a few years in the Cleveland and Newark, N.J. area, he doesn’t remember too many snowstorms like the ones he saw Thursday and Friday.

Some of it he enjoyed, and some he didn’t so much.

“It was freezing. I don’t know; it just brings you back being a little kid though, so we had fun,” said Talib. “We practiced in it yesterday, we had a lot of fun, and it just takes you back a little bit to recess and stuff like that, so can’t complain.”

As for the driving, particularly yesterday, Talib might as well have been a New England rookie.

“It was hard to drive in it this morning,” he said. “Just left early, gave myself an hour to get here. I live about 10 minutes away, made it on time. (I drove) real slow. Both lanes, I need both lanes, too.”

1st Day of School...National title game

The 2013 St. John’s Prep graduate and basketball star Drex Costello, a long-time North Andover resident, applied to several schools before settling on his first choice, Florida State University.

But the school said it didn’t have a spot for the Costello, the Catholic Conference basketball MVP last winter, until the second semester. So he attended the University of Tampa for the first semester.

Well, his first day of school is Monday, Jan. 6, which also happens to be the BCS national championship game between FSU and Auburn.

“I can’t wait for that day,” said Costello.

A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER

Remember the name Trevor Knight. I mean, really remember it because if you watched the Sugar Bowl on Thursday night you understand my point.

The University of Oklahoma quarterback, only a freshman, was the star of the bowl game against two-time defending champ, Alabama.

Knight shocked everybody, including the Tide defense, completing 32 of 44 passes for 348 yards and four TDs. Those are Johnny “Football” Manziel numbers.

Oh yes, Oklahoma, a 14-point underdog, beat Alabama, 45-31.

“We have seen in practice for a long time that Trevor is very, very good at moving around and throwing the ball,” Jay Norvell, Oklahoma’s co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach said after the game. “He has tremendous accuracy and a strong arm, but sometimes it’s just a matter of getting the reps in practice before it translates into games.”