NE Wolves give kids a good start in hockey

LACONIA — Nestled in the northern range of the Appalachian Mountains, and situated between three of New England’s largest lakes, the historic town of Laconia is home to the EHL’s New England Wolves.
The Wolves’ home ice is the Merrill Fay Arena. Built by a passionate hockey community on 100 percent donations, the arena was constructed in 1996 and has served home to Junior Hockey for nearly 20 seasons, helping over 200 athletes achieve their NCAA hockey dreams. It boasts a seating capacity of nearly 1,000, with large crowds attending for many of the “community- first” type events that built the arena in the first place.
Whether it be a game to benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society, a local boy battling leukemia, or the annual JBT Benefit Game, the fans in Laconia create a “home ice advantage” for the Wolves throughout New Hampshire’s cold winters.
The scenic surroundings help players train their bodies in ways that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. Resistance training on sand at the famous Weirs Beach in Laconia, hiking up a mountain or running the WOW Trail create a unique understanding of the players’ involvement and integration in their community, and the Wolves give back by volunteering over 1,000 man hours to community service projects in the Lakes Region every year.
The New England Wolves have access to tremendous resources, and players enjoy the following amenities:
• Dedicated team locker rooms with seating and lockers for 25.
• Skate sharpening/equipment room/ coaches office/laundry facilities/video classroom
• Gym with stationary bikes, weight machines, free weights and room for 25+ athletes
• New equipment (helmets, gloves, pant shells, practice gear, apparel package)
• Access to transferable college credits at Lakes Region Community College
• Full-time coaching staff, including head and assistant coaches, and an academic advisor/peak performance coach, dedicated to the development of the players’ off-ice academic needs.
Why play in Laconia?
Laconia has had a long history of hockey. The Laconia Lakers were a semi-pro team in the 1960s that toured New England and started the obsession with Hockey in the Lakes Region. The Lakes Region Lakers Youth Hockey Program has been training and developing young athletes for over 40 years, recently winning a New Hampshire state championship at the Mite, Squirt and Pee Wee levels in 2016-17. In fact, many former NHL players and coaches call the Lakes Region of New Hampshire home, including legendary coach Pat Burns who lived in Gilmanton before passing away in 2010.
The Wolves take the approach of building quality over quantity. In addition to our involvement with the Lakers Youth Hockey Program, the amateur hockey-playing community in Laconia is very small (fewer than 200 athletes), yet has seen its players promoted to the national festival, and all across the highest levels of NCAA hockey. The Wolves, utilizing a simple three-team (Split- Midget, EHLP & EHL) structure, players have the opportunity to receive quality on-ice and off-ice training time without cutting corners. The Wolves view every player in their organization as an investment. An investment, that has seen 70 of its athletes in the last five years move on to NCAA hockey.
For details, contact GM/Head Coach Andrew Trimble at 732-647-5696 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

08 15 Jr Hockey

The New England Wolves Junior Hockey teamshave been training and developing young athletes for more than 40 years. (Courtesy photo)

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
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Sachems looking to be contenders in Division II

08 16 Craig Kozens football Alan MacRae

Head Coach Craig Kozens was glad to be back on the Laconia High School gridiron yesterday for practice at the start of the new school year. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — With a core group of veteran players returning, the Laconia Sachems are looking to be a contender in the always tough Division II North football this season.

Head Coach Craig Kozens, in his 17th year, said that there are a lot of good football teams in the division, which saw Plymouth defeat Bow 27-24 in last year's championship game. Both teams play in the North Division but the Sachems will only play one of them in the regular season this year, the defending champion Bobcats in their third game of the season.

The Sachems began their practices last week and this week will get their first taste of live action Friday at 10 a.m. when they host Division I Concord in a scrimmage at Jim Fitzgerald Field at Laconia High School. The scrimmage was originally planned for Concord but was moved to Laconia's turf field at Bank of New Hampshire Stadium due to the threat of rain.

The Sachems will also host a jamboree of local high school teams next Tuesday with Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough, Franklin, Gilford-Belmont and Somersworth taking part.

Kozens is pleased with the work being put in by his players so far in practice and is is counting on the team's five captains – Ben Belliveau, Brandon Weeks, Riley Roy, Drew Muzzey and Ryan McCrea – to provide leadership for the team, which went 5-4 last year.

He said that the team lost 17 seniors to graduation but he has “a good crew of kids who are returning” and thinks that they are poised to make a playoff run.

Senior quarterback Riley Roy, now in his third year of directing the offense, has running back Drew Muzzey and fullback Bradley Weeks in the backfield with him.

He will be operating behind an offensive line which includes Belliveau, Steven Towers, McCrea and Caleb Hounsell.

“It's a good core of players with good experience who have already played a lot of games together. We need to stay healthy and produce out on the field,” said Kozens.

The Sachems open their season at Hanover on Sept. 1 and host Kingswood the following week before taking on the defending champions in Plymouth.

They play at Pembroke on on Sept. 22 before closing out September by hosting John Stark, a team which beat them 28-14 last year.

October sees them playing at Lebanon before hosting Kennett. They close out the season by hosting Gilford-Belmont on Oct. 27.

They have already lost one opponent from their schedule, Trinity of Manchester, whom they were scheduled to play on Oct. 21.

Trinity announced this week that it is dropping varsity football this fall and hopes to field a team at the junior varsity level this year and drop down to Division III at the varsity level next year.

Kozens said that the Trinity decision is fully understandable. “It's really a tough situation. They only had three seniors turn out, two of whom have never played football before and one who had had issues with concussions. There was just one junior and 12 sophomores and 10 freshmen.”

He said that for Trinity it was as much a safety issue as anything else, as having inexperienced and undersize players competing at a high level is not a choice any coach wants to make.

Trinity dropped out of Division I in the 2007 season due to low numbers but played in Division V in 2008 when it got 60 players to take part in its program, It went on to win a Division V title in 2009 and moved to Division IV where it played in three straight title games.

Last year they went 1-9 and had 17 seniors from that team graduate.

Kozens said that like Trinity, Laconia has had a drop off in participation with the numbers for the total program down from 44 last year to 39 this year with only six freshmen turning out.

But he regards that as just a temporary blip on the radar screen as participation in football at the middle school and youth levels has increased.

“We'll have to weather a few thin years, but things should be fine after that,” said Kozens.

He said that one thing which has had a major impact on Sachem football in recent years has been the drop in high school enrollment from 800 to 500 over the last 10-15 years.

08 16 Craig Kozens football 2 Alan MacRae

Head coach Craig Kozens runs the Laconia High School Sachems football team through their paces during practice yesterday. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Roger Amsden
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Muskrats leading league in home runs

LACONIA — The Winnipesaukee Muskrats continue to flex their muscles and lead the New England Collegiate Baseball League in home runs with 49 despite a losing 13-19 record,
Their power was on display Sunday night when they homered four times at Robbie Mills Field in a 14-8 win over the North Adams Steeplecats. J.D. Andreesen homered twice, giving him five for the season, while Mark Sluys and Tyler Bielamowicz each knocked their third home run.
First baseman Koby Claborn leads the league with nine homers and is third in RBIs with 24 and sports a .343 average, third highest in the league, making him a candidate to capture the Triple Crown by leading the league in batting average, homers and RBIs.
Greg Ludwig is fifth in the league with six homers while J. Sorma is third in RBIs with 22.
The Muskrats also lead the league in total bases with 465 and slugging percentage at .447. But they are last in stolen bases with only 21.
They have received reliable starting pitching from Tyler Brown, who has posted four wins in six starts while pitching 32 innings with a earned run average of 1.93, third best in the league. A native of Hudson, he pitches for Northeastern College in Boston.
The Muskrats suffered back-to-back 5-2 setbacks Monday and Tuesday and played Wednesday night at the Valley Blue Sox.
Friday night will be Star Wars Night at Robbie Mills Field with free light sabers for children as long as supplies last. The Muskrats host the Sanford Mainers in a game which starts at 6:05 p.m.
On Monday Muskrats visited the Easter Seals Camp Sno-Mo in Gilmanton where they played a game of baseball with the campers and attended some of the activities such as swimming, archery and low ropes course. The Muskrats are part of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a wood bat collegiate summer baseball league operating in New England. Home games are played at the Robbie Mills Field in Laconia.

 

07 19 Muskrats at Sno mo

The Winnipesaukee Muskrats visited Easter Seals Camp Sno-Mo in Gilmanton Monday and played a baseball game with the campers. (Courtesy photo)

 

  • Written by Roger Amsden
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20th annual Nor'Easter softball tourney brings 55 teams to area

 By ROGER AMSDEN

LACONIA — The Nor'Easter U18 softball team is one of 55 teams from around New England which will be competing this weekend in the 20th annual Nor'East Classic, which will be played July 21-23 on 14 different fields in Laconia, Belmont, Gilford and Tilton.

Head coach Fern Beaudet says the Nor'Easters have been playing well this summer, having won the Brattleboro, Vermont, Summer Heat Sizzler last month after having placed second the previous weekend in the USA Softball New Hampshire state tournament. They have been invited to USA Softball National tournament in Canton, Ohio, later this summer.

They also advanced to the semifinals in a tournament in Bow last weekend and are looking to come up big before home town fans.

Most of the players are from area high schools or are college freshmen who grew up in the Lakes Region, like Cali Swormstedt of Laconia who was the Most Valuable Player in the Summer Heat Sizzler and attends Rivier College in Nashua.

Other major contributors include starting pitchers Sarah Lachapelle of Gilford who attends the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, and Brianna McGrath of Lisbon, who attends the University of Maine in Farmington. Also seeing action on the mound is Amanda Johnston of Newfound Regional High School in Bristol, who plays first base.

Other key contributors include Steve Orton and Jillian Lachapelle, both of Gilford, Meeka Bolduc of Tilton School, MacKenzie Ryan of Newfound Regional, who also pitches, and Jackie Hallisey of Gorham.

Beaudet, tournament director, said that the tournament annually draws around 600 players with their coaches and family to the Lakes Region and is one of the most popular in New England with registrations completed within the first month after the dates are announced.

People love to come here and the area restaurants and tourist attractions really benefit. Some teams come up early and spend the whole week here,” said Beaudet.

There are four age brackets, 18U, 16U, 14U and 12U, with pool play opening on Friday with games at Memorial Park in Laconia, which will be the site of the 18U games for the rest of the weekend. The U16 teams will play at Opechee Park in Laconia and U14 games will be played at Bryant Field in Belmont. In all there will be 134 games played over the weekend.

  • Written by Roger Amsden
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