LACONIA — The Laconia Leafs have changed their name to the New Hampshire Lakers Junior Hockey Club and starting in September will be playing in the Eastern Hockey League.
Tim Martin, communications director for the Lakers, says that the name change ''is designed to show the organization's commitment to the Lakes Region by adopting the same name as the local youth hockey organization.''
He said that the two-team, not-for-profit, organization will continue to call the Laconia Ice Arena home and will feature a new look and a new logo.
They will also be looking for a new head coach to replace Joe Cardarelli and expect to be naming the new coach within a few weeks.
Currently, Brad Wheeler, who is in his second year with the Lakers, is serving as general manager and interim head coach.
The Lakers recently hired Rocky Romanella as an assistant coach. Coach Romanella will assist in all facets of the New Hampshire Lakers program, including serving as the club's recruiting coordinator.
The Lakers are members of the Atlantic and Metropolitan Junior Hockey Leagues. Junior hockey is a competitive level of hockey with players who are 20 years or younger. The principle purpose of the program is to prepare, promote, and develop the athletes for future endeavors into a college or professional program.
The Leafs/Lakers have placed over 120 players into college and professional rinks over the last ten years. Over the 2012-13 season, players representing 17 different states and three European countries have worn the Laconia Leafs jersey. The athletes live with local families around the Lakes Region.
The Eastern Hockey League will kick off its inaugural season with three divisions in 2013-14. Each EHL team will play four games against its fellow divisional foes for 20 games; each EHL team will play 12 league Showcase games against teams in other divisions; each EHL team will play 12 more games against teams in other divisions for a total of 44 regular season games.
The EHL divisions are listed below:
North Division: New Hampshire Lakers, Boston Bandits, Boston Jr. Rangers, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Northern Cyclones and Valley Jr. Warriors
Central Division: Connecticut Oilers, Connecticut Wolfpack, New York Applecore, New York Bobcats,
Walpole Express and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
South Division: New Jersey Rockets, New Jersey Titans, Philadelphia Little Flyers, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, Philadelphia Revolution, Washington Jr. Nationals.
Former NHLer and U.S. Olympian Mark Kumpel, who spent the past five years coaching and managing a successful Junior hockey team, will serve as the EHL's Director of Hockey Operations. "This group of coaches and owners are the best in Junior hockey," said Kumpel. "The coaching staff of the EHL rivals that of any junior league in the country." Current EHL head coaches include former college and professional players (see team web sites for individual bios).
For players and parents looking for clarity and solid information about the Junior hockey experience, these 18 East Coast organizations are excited to form the EHL with the intention of producing college-bound hockey players and providing high standards of operation to assure a quality player environment. Simply put – a better league with higher standards and a player-focused environment.
The EHL has implemented league-wide standards including player contracts that mandate numerous player experience criteria at no extra cost above the player tuition. Additionally, EHL member organizations have created a league-wide education service that will help players and parents find ways to continue their education, as well as helping them navigate their way through the process of becoming a NCAA varsity student-athlete.
The 18 EHL organizations combined for more than 120 NCAA commitments during the 2012-13 season and have a proven track record of preparing young hockey players for college hockey and beyond.
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 August 2013 09:02
GILFORD — For the third straight year the Gilford 10U All-Stars won the District 6 Cal Ripken tournament.
After going 5-0 in pool play the Gilford All-Stars faced off against Lakes Region in a three-game series, losing 6-3 in the first game but scoring 13-2 and 7-0 wins over the next two days in the tournament, which was played in Franklin and ended on July 3.
''Pitching and defense were the keys for us,'' said Coach Rick Muthersbaugh, who is in his second year as coach of the All-Stars and was assistant coach when Gilford won their first district championship in Franklin in 2011.
He said that his coaches, Jeff McKinney and Joe Rizzitano, helped develop the fielding skills of his young team, which included three eight-year-olds, one in the infield and two in the outfield, as well as prepare them mentally for the challenges of tournament play.
''Playing good defense helps keep you in the game and prevents big innings which can cost you the game,'' says Muthersbaugh, who added that it is important for the young players to realize that making an error isn't the end of the world.
''We tell them that errors are part of the game and the best thing they can do is put it behind them,'' said Muthersbaugh.
He said that Connor Sullivan was the ace pitcher for the Gilford All-Stars while his nine-year-old son, Ben, who first started at that position as seven-year-old, did a good job as catcher.
Following the District 6 tournament the Gilford All-Stars went on to the state Cal Ripken tournament in Exeter, where they won a game for the first time and played competitive baseball in all three games.
''We lost 2-1 to Exeter, the defending state champions, in the first game. The way we played earned us the respect of other teams and that what as a good feeling,'' said Muthersbaugh.
Gilford beat Great North Woods 14-4 in its second tournament game before bowing out with a 3-0 loss to Youngsville.
''It's been a big improvement over the last three years. In our first state tournament we only played eight innings in two games because we were behind by 10 runs in both of them. Last year we lost 3-2 and 5-4 in seven innings. But this year we were really competitive against teams which draw from a much bigger base than we have.'' said Muthersbaugh.
He said there were only 100 players in Gilford, Cal Ripken this year while some of the other tournament teams have a pool of 500 or more and have All-Star teams at each age level, which helps them prepare for future tournaments.
''It's quite an accomplishment for a small town like ours to be competitive with much larger programs.'' said Muthersbaugh.
Front row: Alex Berube and Sebastian Moceri (lying on ground on either side of trophy); second row: Tyler Rizzitano, Riley Marsh, DJ Roberts, Anthony Aguiar, Harry Meehan, third row: Tyler Talbot, Billy McKinney, Jack McLean, Connor Sullivan, Ben Muthersbaugh; back row: Coach Jeff McKinney, Coach Rick Muthersbaugh, Coach Joe Rizzitano (Courtesy photo)
Last Updated on Friday, 26 July 2013 03:37
The summer season for the Lakes Region Wavemakers is slowly winding down. To date, seven records for the swim team have been broken.
Rebecca Cook now holds four records for Freestyle in the 14 and older age group, Kayla Phelps now holds 2 in the backstroke and Sarah Sundius now holds one in the breaststroke.
At the 2013 New England Manchester Swim Team meet at Theodore Raco Pool in Manchester, the Lakes Region Wavemakers had a strong showing. There were 28 top ten finishes out of 60 swims with over 12 teams from around the region participating. All the Wavemakers that participated in the meet had personal best times.
Heather Ausevich swam a personal best time in the female 12 and under 200 meter backstroke at 4:23:08. Hannah Verville also swam a personal best in the Female 10 and under 100 meter backstroke with a time of 2:07.42
The opportunity to participate in the Fall Season is coming up. New and returning swimmers should watch for announcements regarding the season, which will begin around mid September. Check out the team's website, lakesregionwavemakers.com, for details.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:06
Muskrats Looking for Big Turnout at NECBL All-Star Game Sunday (752 with pix McBroom, Torres, Blalock, Prevost, Will Blalock)
LACONIA — The Laconia Muskrats are hoping that a predicted break in the weather which will bring moderate temperatures to the area will bring out a big crowd when they host the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game on Sunday, July 21.
''Based on attendance at recent All-Star games we hope to have at least 1,000 people. It's going to be an exciting day with people from all over New England here.'' says Crane.
He also expects a large turnout of major leagues scouts to be present to check out the top prospects from the 13-team league, which since its inception in 1994 has sent 85 of its alumni on to the major leagues.
Three of its alumni, pitchers Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow and catcher Ryan Larvanway, are currently playing for the Red Sox. Other NECBL alumni include Joe Nathan, who closed out the All-Star game for the American League, and Washington Nationals young pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg.
"This is an opportunity for us to show off our organization and our incredible field to all of New England", said Crane, who said that he's very pleased with the play so far this year of the Muskrats, now in their third season, who after Wednesday night's win had a 17-12 record and were two and a half games out of first place.
''We've had some excellent pitching and good timely hitting,'' says Crane, who says that the major handicap to drawing more fans to Robbie Mills Field so far this year has been the weather.
''We had a lot of rain, or the threat of rain, in late June and early July and now we're having a heat wave with temperatures in the 90s that makes it very uncomfortable for people to sit through a two or three-hour ballgame,'' said Crane.
The annual NECBL event will kick-off at 1:25 p.m. with the fastest runner in the league competition and will be followed at 2 p.m. as the best power hitters in the NECBL take aim at Laconia's replica Green Monster as they compete in the Home Run Derby.
Among those taking part in the home run derby will be Muskrats' first baseman Ryan McBroom, a 6'3'', 215 pound first baseman from West Virginia University who leads the league in hitting with a .373 average.
''He's an impressive hitter,'' says Crane, who says that the Kansas City Royals were impressed enough with the right-handed hitting McBroom him to have drafted him in the 36th round and to have invited him to their Kansas City camp.
''He decided npt to sign and to go back to college for his senior year,'' says Crane, who noted hat McBroom is one of two Muskrat position players named to the NECBL's East Division All-Star roster.
The other is fleet-footed outfielder Joe Torres from Iona College who is batting .302 and leads the league in both walks, with 21, and stolen bases, also 21.
''He's fast and he has good instincts. He played last year for use and didn't hit as well. But this year he's completely changed his approach and is getting on base a lot, where he puts a lot of pressure on opposing pitchers with his base running skills,'' says Crane.
The Muskrats will be represented by two pitchers in Sunday's All-Star Game, Will Blalock, a 6'1'', 210 pound righthander from Lipscomb University in Tennessee, who will start the game for the East, and Joshua Prevost, a 6'7'', 210 pound righthander from Seton Hall.
Both pitchers have 2-1 records and Blalock, who has started four games, has a miniscule 0.96 ERA, striking out 22 batters in 28 innings while allowing only 23 hits and three walks.
''He has outstanding control and can throw any one of his three pitches, fastball, curve and changeup, for a stike at any point in the count,'' says Crane.
Prevost, an imposing righthander who is also a basketball player, ''is one of our top of the rotation guys,'' says Crane. Prevost pitched a complete game in his first start of the year against Vernont, yielding only two hits while striking out nine in a 3-0 win.
He's 2-1 for the season with a 1.12 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 24 innings while giving up only 15 hits and eight walks.
''This game is a real chance for our local fans to see some future major league players in action and show the rest of the league how much support there is for quality baseball in the Lakes Region. We're hopeful the weather is going to cooperate and provide the kind of fun day that everyone will remember,'' says Crane.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 July 2013 09:42