EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 28, 2012

Sports in a Minute

By David Willis
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Hot hockey rivalry

Central Catholic hockey’s 2-1 victory over St. John’s Prep Wednesday was the latest installment of what is quickly becoming one of the top rivalries in Mass. high school hockey, and not just because the two schools have become perennial Super 8 qualifiers. They have also begun turning in nail-biters year after year.

The Raiders got the better of the Eagles this year, the Prep took both matchups a season ago, and the Central won each meeting in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. In the last seven meetings between the two schools (3-3-1), only one matchup has not been decided by a single goal, last year’s 4-0 regular season Prep win.

Few would be shocked if these two teams met up again in the Super 8 this postseason.

Heikkinen honored

Andover receiver and two-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star Will Heikkinen was the lone local named to the Massachusetts “All-State” football team, selected by the Mass. High School Football Coaches Association. Heikkinen, an All-Scholastic, shattered the modern (1994-present) Eagle-Tribune area records with 1,126 receiving yards and 67 catches.

Obvious local snubs include Heikkinen’s teammate, Eagle-Tribune offensive Player of the Year C.J. Scarpa, and record-setting Haverhill running back Chance Brady.

New arena, same result

If Andover girls hockey freshman star Veronica Alois’ name seems very familiar — if a bit out of place — to you, you aren’t alone.

Alois, who has scored six goals in the Golden Warriors’ first five games this season, is the sister of 2012 Eagle-Tribune female Athlete of the Year and current basketball star Jackie Alois, fellow Golden Warriors hoops starter Rebecca Alois and older sister Alex Alois, who started on the 2010 basketball title team.

Serino honored

Former Merrimack College hockey coach Chris Serino, who passed away from throat cancer in October, is being honored by Malden Catholic this season with his initials etched into the ice at their home rink. Serino was the head hockey coach and athletic director at Malden Catholic from 2005-11, before having to step down last season due to his battle with cancer, an illness he beat while coaching Merrimack. MC won the Super 8 title each of the last two seasons.

DeOssie Bowl bound?

While the NFL’s 2013 Pro Bowl rosters were announced yesterday, it’s yet to be determined if North Andover’s Zak DeOssie will be headed back to Hawaii in January. Long snappers are not selected with the rest of the roster. They are, instead, named to the team at a later date by the head coach of each team.

DeOssie, the special teams captain for the New York Giants, has played in two Pro Bowls, 2008 and 2010.

Pro Bowl diss

While it is an honor for players like DeOssie to be named to the Pro Bowl, they are less interested than ever to play in the All-Star game because it is now held the week before the Super Bowl. Thus the two teams that make the Super Bowl do not participate.

As Patriots special teamer and all-around good guy Matt Slater said about being selected to his second straight Pro Bowl:

“I’d rather be eating gumbo in New Orleans (at the Super Bowl) than pineapple in Hawaii.”

Poor Avery

If Avery Johnson, who was fired as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets yesterday, didn’t have bad luck he’d have no luck at all.

The former longtime NBA point guard was fired from his first head coaching job in Dallas in 2008 after leading the Mavericks to a 51-31 record that season, and this season was canned by the Nets following the Christmas Day loss to the Celtics with Brooklyn a respectable 14-14.

Johnson, like Celtics coach Doc Rivers, is a protege of longtime San Antonio coach Greg Popovich.