EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 21, 2013

Sports in a Minute

Bill Burt
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Jaffarian delivers for Haverhill

Haverhill High Athletics Department got a nice gift from Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion president Gary Jaffarian, to the tune of $4,100.

Jaffarian donated the money as part of a program he started two years ago, called Game On!, which donates money to Haverhill High and surrounding schools for purchasing a car at their Water Street facility in Haverhill.

Game On! has donated more than $18,000 to area high schools, helping to promote students to participate, including those who can’t afford users’ fees.

This year alone, the Hillies have captured four Merrimack Valley Conference titles and 11 teams have competed in post-season play. Other recent accomplishments include two teams ranked No. 1 in the state and the football team snapped a 32-game losing streak by going 8-3 last fall. The boys’ volleyball team advanced to the state final match last spring and the wrestling program was restored. In addition, significant facility improvements have been implemented including a new gym floor, entrance to high school athletic facilities, and renovation of the playing fields.

Hockey East honors

Boston College sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau was named Player of the Year by the Hockey East Writers and Broadcasters Association while UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin was named Coach of the Year and Providence goaltender Jon Gillies captured the association’s Rookie of the Year award.

Gaudreau was also a unanimous selection on the HEWBA’s All-Hockey East First Team while his BC teammate, Mike Matheson, along with forwards Danny O’Regan (Boston University) and Kevin Roy (Northeastern) were unanimous choices for the HEWBA’s All-Rookie Team.

Merrimack had two players honored: Junior forward Mike Collins was named to the All-Hockey East first team with 12 goals and 21 assists in league games, tied for second overall, and junior defenseman Jordan Heywood, who was second on the team in scoring with eight goals and 13 assists in 39 games, was named the second team.

Best to Bobby Orr

In case you missed it (like I did yesterday), Bobby Orr, the former Boston Bruins legend turned 65 yesterday.

Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald wrote a nice piece referring to not only Orr’s greatness, but the fact that he regretted not being a better dad to his boys growing up.

Apparently, it struck him while watching his son interact with his grandchildren.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Orr is the greatest hockey player that ever lived. That’s not my opinion. It’s fact.

Happy birthday, Bobby.

Reader on Welker

I received many notes from fans about my column on Saturday (saying Bill Belichick and Wes Welker were probably destined to break up) and my followup on Wendesday (Welker’s agent deserves culpability, too.

One reader, John Small, disagreed with my assessment a bit:

“If Kraft knew that his deal was the best and if he really wanted to keep Welker why didn’t he sit down with him and prove that his deal was the best,” wrote Small. “If I really wanted to keep a player of his caliber I would have leaned over backwards to keep him. I don’t think he tried hard enough.” Fair enough. I said it before and I’ll say it again, most fans love Welker and aren’t happy with the Patriots. I don’t agree, necessarily, but I understand their pain.

Ex-Merrimack signs

After helping lead the Merrimack men’s soccer team to its first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament this past fall, leading scorer and graduating senior Franklin Lemus Pena of Revere achieved an enormous individual milestone in inking his first professional soccer contract this week.

Lemus Pena, the Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year this past fall, will join the up-and-coming New England Force club. The new franchise was born over the winter and will play an exhibition schedule against some of the top teams both in the United States and at the international level.

The Force will apply for membership in one of the top leagues (MLS, NASL or USL) in the United States at the conclusion of their introductory season. The franchise will be based close to Providence, R.I.

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