---- — IMPRESSED WITH MERRIMACK
Merrimack College and Boston College will battle for first place in Hockey East on Friday night at Lawler Arena.
And former Boston College star and current New York Rangers center Brian Boyle certainly is impressed with how much the Merrimack program has improved since his days at BC.
Boyle, who played for BC from 2003-06, said Merrimack wasn’t a pushover then.
“We would go there and play and I feel like they would give us fits when we’d go there,” Boyle said. “There weren’t too many easy games in Hockey East. I think since coach (Mark) Dennehy has been there, he has done a great job. That’s great for the league that they are having some success.”
Boxford’s Chris Kreider, who won a national title with BC last year and also plays for the Rangers, said about Merrimack: “They’ve always had good teams here and there. But they are kind of stringing (success) together now. ... Dennehy’s done a really good job there.”
Dennehy won three Hockey East regular season titles with BC and was on the Eagles’ 1989-90 Hockey East championship team.
GUIDI GETTING IT DONE
Rivier women’s basketball team lost 65-58 to visiting Emmanuel on Sunday but former Pinkerton star A.J. Guidi netted 15 points — all in the first half — for Rivier.
Guidi entered yesterday’s game as the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 13.4 points per game in 21 contests.
Meanwhile, her old Pinkerton girls basketball team is having its best season since she was a senior. The Astros entered yesterday’s game with a 16-1 record overall and a 14-0 mark in Division 1.
DA COSTA BACK IN NHL
The Ottawa Senators recently recalled former Merrimack star Stephane Da Costa from the AHL.
In a recent Ottawa Sun article, Da Costa said he was trying to be more honest or in other words play better defense this year than during his NHL stint last year.
“When we play honest, that’s when the chances are coming more, I think,” Da Costa told the Ottawa Sun. “I tried to cheat a little too much last year because I felt I wasn’t producing as much as I wanted to. And it just didn’t work for me. So I’m trying to be honest, and trying to play just how I can.”
Former quarterbacks John David Booty (USC), Josh Booty (LSU), Doug Flutie (Boston College), David Greene (Georgia) and Ryan Perrilloux (LSU & Jacksonville State) will compete for an invitation to the Arizona Diamondbacks spring training camp in MLB Network’s reality series competition “The Next Knuckler,” which premiers today at 9 p.m.
It will be co-hosted former Red Sox All-Star knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield and ex-Red Sox player and MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar.
Each episode will feature the contestants learning from Wakefield how to throw the pitch before facing challenges to test the effectiveness of their knuckleball. One contestant will be eliminated from the competition in each episode based on his performance and input from Wakefield and Millar. The winner will have a chance to pitch for the Diamondbacks during spring training.
“You don’t have to grip the baseball the way I threw it, but if you want to win, you have to lose the spin,” Wakefield said in a statement.
The show also features special guests R.A. Dickey, the Toronto Blue Jays star knuckleballer and Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
BARBOSA’S SEASON OVER
Boston Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa underwent an MRI yesterday at New England Baptist Hospital and it revealed that he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. No surgery date is scheduled yet. He will miss the rest of the season.
Barbosa appeared in 41 games for the Celtics this year and averaged 5.2 ppg.