Junior hockey: Fighting Spirit sweep Maine Wild

The New Hampshire Fighting Spirit swept the Maine Wild this weekend and are primed for the playoff push. Saturday night saw the Spirit walk into Biddeford, Maine and take care of the Wild by a score of 7-2. Goalie Claes Endre was strong all night and made many key saves to allow the Spirit to increase the lead. Moultonborough native Tim Casey led the way scoring twice for the Spirit, one on a perfectly placed shot on a breakaway. Newcomer Nick Bartholomew had a solid game and netted a short handed goal that energized the Spirit to push for more.

Sunday's contest proved to be much closer and a good preview of the first round of the playoffs. The Spirit were able to squeak out a 4-3 victory after beating the Wild in a shootout. The Spirit got goals from 3 different players during regulation. Tyler Burton, Mike Heffernan and Frederic Pugin did the scoring. Forward Brett Bittner got the Spirit on the board first in the shootout while captain Alex Peddle sealed the deal beating the Wild goalie for the 2-0 win in the shootout rounds.

The Spirit will face the Wild again on Wednesday in their first game of the playoffs. It will be a best of three series in which the Spirit will host all three games if needed. Wednesday's game will be a 3 p.m. start at the Laconia Ice Arena.

Laconia Middle School boys take Bow Tournament title

The Laconia Middle School boys' A team closed out their season by capturing victory in the Bow Tournament over the February break. The young Sachems got a bye in the first round before facing off against a team from Litchfield. The scoring was spread pretty evenly in this one. Ryan Paiva led the team with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 steals. Jakob Steele and Ryan Chaisson chipped in 11 points each while Steele had 6 boards and Chaisson nabbed 5 steals. Caleb Patell threw down 10 points coming off the bench and the Sachems had a 57-41 victory.
Next up was Merrimack Valley, playing as the ICB rec team. This was a much anticipated rematch, as these two teams played in a double overtime thriller in the regular season finale. Fortunately for the Sachems, they had something they didn't have available to them in the regular season contest: Ryan Chaisson's shooting stroke. Chaisson paved the way with 15 points, including 3 shots from beyond the arc. Paiva netted 12 points and 7 rebounds while Steele and Ryan Chandler pitched in 6 points each. When the dust settled on this battle, Laconia squeaked out another one, 44-41 and punched their ticket to the championship game.
M.V. battled through the loser's bracket to earn another shot at their new rivals. The Sachems were hungry to get back to the winner's circle after having just missed it last season. The Laconia boys left no doubt in this one. Paiva continued his dominance with 24 points, 6 boards and 5 steals. Chaisson's hot hand continued as he dropped 18 points, including 4 beautiful 3-pointers and grabbed 6 rebounds of his own. Steele and Chandler chipped in 6 points each and Steele added 5 assists and 5 steals. Laconia's shooting and speed proved to be too much for M.V. to handle and the Sachems claimed the 66-41 victory and the tournament championship.
Ryan Paiva and Ryan Chaisson were named to the All Tourney team and Ryan Paiva captured the Tournament M.V.P. honors.
The young Sachems would like to thank the administration and their fans for all their support throughout another successful season.

Round-up: boys' basketball tournament starts this week

The regular season has come to an end for Division III boys' basketball and the seeds are set.

Winnisquam (14-4) secured the seventh seed and a bye despite a 77-58 loss to Gilford. The Bears will host (10) Farmington Thursday night in the second round. The teams did not meet in the regular season.

Gilford (14-4) jumped into the eighth seed with the 77-58 win against Winnisquam to close out the regular season. The eighth seed earned the Golden Eagles a bye in the first round and a home game against (9) Newport Thursday in second round action. Newport won the regular season contest 54-36.

The Sachems (7-11) finished the regular season with a 50-48 loss to Inter-Lakes. Laconia earned the 16th seed and will host (17) Prospect Mountain tonight at 7 p.m. in the first round.

Prospect Mountain (7-11) fell 70-30 to Pelham to close out the regular season. The Timberwolves are the 17th seed and head to Laconia tonight at 7 p.m. Prospect Mountain topped Laconia, 54-45 earlier this season.

Inter-Lakes (7-11) won the last four games to jump into the postseason. The 18th seed earns a trip to (15) Stevens tonight at 7 p.m. The teams did not meet in the regular season.

Belmont closed out the season with a 55-48 loss to White Mountains. The Red Raiders finished 2-16.

On the hockey front, Belmont-Gilford (16-2) locked up the top seed and a bye in the first round. The Bulldogs (16-2) dropped the season finale 3-1 to Souhegan Saturday evening. The Bulldogs will face off against the winner (4) Kennett and (5) Souhegan next Wednesday, March 11 in the semi-finals at the Everett Arena.

Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes (8-9-1) secured the sixth and final spot in the tournament. MA/IL fell to Souhegan, 6-2, in the regular season finale Wednesday night. The Renegades will visit (3) Berlin for the quarter-final contest.

Laconia/Winnisquam finished out the year 5-12-1 after a 3-0 win over ConVal. The Wolfpack did not qualify for the postseason.

Semi-final pits GHS against LHS tonight

Gilford and Laconia girls' basketball teams will meet tonight, with the winner earning a chance to play in the Division III final on Saturday. The semi-final game will be played at 5:30 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.

The Gilford Golden Eagles girls' basketball team played their final home game of the season Saturday night, advancing to the DIII semi-finals with a 36-29 win over Somersworth. Cassidy Bartlett led the way for the home team with 13 points.

Gilford controlled the game early and kept a comfortable lead throughout the game, leading 22-11 at the half. Somersworth tried to even things up in the third but could not come any closer than four points in the second.

Laconia advanced to semis by way of upsetting the third seed Newfound 54-49. Junior Kailey Nute scored 27 points in the victory.

The second seeded Golden Eagles (20-0) bested Laconia in the two regular season match-ups, 48-45 and 49-30. The sixth seeded Sachems (16-4) notched a 34-31 win over Gilford in the Lakes Region Holiday tournament. Also playing tonight for a finals berth are top-seeded Conant and fifth seeded Pelham. That game will be played at 7:30 p.m.