To The Garden! Belmont Heads To State Finals After Taking D1 North Crown, 3-2, Over St. John’s (S)

Photo: The Division 1 North champs, Belmont High School

The Marauders have conquered the North and the State is ready for the taking after Belmont High Ice Hockey scored twice in the final seven minutes of the third period to win the Division 1 North final, 3-2, over St. John’s (Shrewsbury) Monday night, March 9, in a come-from-behind thriller at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

Junior Ben Fici’s snap shot from beyond the left faceoff circle that rocketed by Pioneers goalie Dan Laursen glove with a minute and 25 seconds remaining proved to be the game winner, securing Belmont’s first ever Sectional crown.

Fici’s heroics followed a stunning shorthanded goal by senior assistant captain Marco Santagati who gathered a Matt Brody pass behind the defense, deeked Laursen to the left and buried a backhander at the 6:21 mark to tie the game at 2-2. Santagati’s goal came a little more than a minute after St. John’s retook the lead through the Pioneer’s Griffin Burns at 7:50.

“Tonight we got a power play (goal), we got a short handed goal, these kids just find different ways to win,” said Belmont Head coach Fred Allard outside a rakus locker room. “You just can’t count these kids out. They’ve just got a will that exceeds anything else. It’s remarkable.”

Belmont (14-5-5) will meet Walpole High (13-8-5), in the state championship game on Sunday, March 15, at the TD Garden in Boston. The Rebels are the surprise survivors of the South Sectionals, a 12th seed which, like Belmont, won its four playoff games by a single goal.

Belmont and Walpole are seeking its first state boys’ hockey championship. Belmont was the favorite in its only visit to the finals 65 years ago in 1955 only to be upset by Winchester which was coached by long-time Belmont resident Francis Finigan.

But a trip to the Garden was far from certain after the first 15 minutes as Belmont stumbled out of the gate giving up a goal after only 52 seconds on the Pioneers’ first shot on goal, a Matt Myers wrister from the slot that slide just inside the right post by Belmont’s senior goalie Nico Carere.

For the remainder of the period it appeared St. John’s was ready to skate the at times tentative Belmont players out of the building as they outshot Belmont 11-1. But Carere quickly returned to his steady form that he’s showcasted throughout the tournament, keeping a clean sheet for nearly two and a half periods.

“Nico’s our backbone. He’s the one that keeps us in everything. He did it again in another kind of sloppy first period,” said Allard.

In the locker room between periods, which Allard recalled being “pretty bad,” the team was pressed to return to the basics.

“We gotta focus on what we can do. Let’s get sticks on pucks, let’s get pucks in deep because we’re a good cycling team down low. Once we have control of the puck, once we get ourselves in that mode, we’re tough and we wear out defense, and that’s when we can put pucks on net,” said Allard.

Belmont came out the gate upping the intensity emphasized by senior co-captain Justin Rocha who producing a picture perfect shoulder-to-chest check in the first two minutes. The hit herald Belmont’s aggressive puck pursuit that bottled up St. John’s in its end, leading to turnovers as the Marauders’ shots total began adding up.

Belmont leveled the contest close to midway in the second when Matt Brody roofed a Laursen rebound deep in the slot at 8:08 in the second, sending the nearby Belmont student section into a frenzy. By the end of period, the Marauders outshot the Pioneers 17-6.

The pivotal third saw both teams pressed the action, with the Pioneers sending two forwards deep into the zone while Belmont looked for to pressure the puck carrier to attempt to jump on the transition.

After falling behind 2-1 and then picked up a penalty 49 second later with less than seven minutes in the game, Allard said he felt his team would not crack under the pressure.

“I think the fact that we’re battle tested, especially this year with the games we’ve had in the playoffs [four one goal wins] is just been a sign that we knew we could come back,” said Allard.

After taking the lead and St. John’s pulling its goalie, it was up to Carero to keep the door shut,

“Nico has just been locked in because he wants [a state championship],” said Allard. “He’s a very competitive, highly driven kid.”

After the game, Allard recalled the last season, Belmont missed the playoffs after finishing last in the Middlesex League.

“The player all say that we should have been better than that. But they didn’t get lazy, they worked just even harder to put ourselves in a position to have this moment right now. And today it worked out,” he said.

“I’ve been the speechless. These kids are just unbelievable.”

Breaking: First Coronavirus Case In Belmont Confirmed, Attended Biogen Conference

Photo: The Belmont resident with the coronavirus attended a Biogen conference at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf (Google maps)

Belmont’s first positive Coronavirus case in a resident has been confirmed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, according to a press release dated Wednesday, March 11 from Wesley Chin, director of the Belmont Health Department.

“The presumptive positive individual is in good spirits and reports mild symptoms,” said Chin.

A parent of students who attend the Chenery Middle School and Belmont High School, the resident took part in a Biogen conference at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf in late February which is “Ground Zero” in the spread of the respiratory disease. As of Tuesday, approximately 70 out of 91 presumptive positive cases in Massachusetts are linked to that leadership meeting.

Only the parent has shown symptoms of the virus known as COVID-19; the students and other members of the family are symptom free.

The resident and the family are now complying with a 14-day in-home quarantine protocol provided by MDPH, said the press release. The individual is isolated in the home and is staying away from members of their family.

Even before the confirmation, the individual and its family have been out of school and work since the previous week as a preventative measure to reduce the chance of community spread.

In light of the first positive case in town, the Belmont Public Schools Facilities Department is cleaning and disinfecting the schools the children attend as well as the Belmont Public Library, which was cleaned prior to opening today.

The school department has strengthened cleaning protocols at all schools, with a focus on high touch points. It is also closely monitoring hand towel and soap dispensers to ensure regular refill and has ordered a large supply of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to be distributed to all schools.

There are now plans to systematically disinfect all other town buildings moving forward, said Chin.

Local health departments, including the Belmont Health Department, conduct contact investigations of confirmed and presumptive positive COVID-19 cases, in collaboration with MDPH. This helps to prevent further spread by having contacts of cases self-quarantine.

The US Centers Disease Control (CDC) has updated recommendations for people at higher risk — older adults and people who have chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

Breaking: Schools Cancelling ‘Large Events’ Due To CoronaVirus Emergency; Musical’s Fate Up In The Air

Photo: BHS-PAC’s spring musical “Shrek The Musical” is one event that will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The Belmont Public Schools is canceling ‘large’ school-sanctioned events due to the spreading CoronaVirus pandemic, according to Superintendent John Phelan.

Speaking before the School Committee on Tuesday, March 10, hours after Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts after the number of suspected virus patients doubled in one day, Phelan said the district will email a public statement on Wednesday, March 11, detailing the district’s decision and how it will impact the community.

Phelan said the school district’s action was done in coordination with the town’s Health Department and the Town Administrator Patrice Garvin. It also follows Baker’s declaration Tuesday in which he urged large organizations “[to] limit or eliminate large events where possible.”

Examples of “large public gatherings” include the 7th and 8th grade band concert on Thursday, fundraisers such as the Wellington Carnival, public lectures and field trips.

“We’ve had a lot of feedback from our families that they were worried about larger events,” said Phelan.

Phelan also said principals will “have at their discretion” the ability to cancel smaller events at the schools. Those could include a PTO meeting where a few dozen parents and school administrators are attending in a classroom or a “Meet the Kindergarten teacher” event, said Phelan.

Phelan would not comment on the possible cancellation or delay of the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s annual spring musical, this year “Shrek The Musical.” The popular yearly event fills the high school auditorium during three or four performances.

“We have to talk about the play,” said Phelan saying he is in discussions with Arto Asadoorian, the district’s director of fine & performing arts on the show’s future. “There is a substantial amount of money that it takes in and a substantial amount that’s put out to support it. We are taking some of these events on a case-by-case basis.”

“But we also want to be safe and be prudent so we’ll decide that in the upcoming days,” said Phelan.

Phelan told the committee the district has not joined other public schools or several nearby colleges and universities in permitting home learning or virtual classrooms to prevent the virus from spreading in Belmont schools.

But Phelan noted that the district will be realistic that distance learning may become an option as the effect of the virus on communities “changes by the day.”

While no Belmont resident or public school student have been diagnosed with the coronavirus as of March 10, “it will come here,” he said.

Performing Arts Company Presents ‘Shrek The Musical’

Photo: The poster for Shrek The Musical by the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company.

The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company 2020 annual spring musical is Shrek The Musical.

Shrek is the tale of an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking Donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Throw in a short-tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there’s one on hand… and his name is Shrek.

Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, Shrek The Musical is a Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure, bringing all the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage, with music by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie; Caroline, or Change) and book by David Lindsay-Abaire.

Performances will take place in the Belmont High School auditorium on:

  • THURSDAY, MARCH 19 at 7 p.m.
  • FRIDAY, MARCH 20 at 7 p.m.
  • SATURDAY, MARCH 21 at 2 p.m and 7 p.m.
  • ADULTS: $12 in advance, $15 at the door


Tickets are now on sale online and at Champions Sporting Goods in Belmont Center.

More information at

Belmont Boys’ Hoops ‘Big Three’ Bring Marauders Back To North Final With Win Over Latin Academy

Photo: Belmont’s Preston Jackson-Stephens driving to the basket.

The Boston Celtics had the “Big Three” – Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen – who took the team to the NBA championship in 2008.

And during Belmont High Boys’ Basketball return to the Division 2 North Finals, its had found its own “Big Three” to carry the load.

Senior guard Mac Annus and junior forwards Tim Minicozzi and Preston Jackson-Stephens have asserted their prowess in the three tournament games not just in each scoring an average of 20-plus points per game but with on-court leadership and a coolness under pressure.

And it was never more in evidence on Wednesday, March 4 in Wakefield High’s oldie-style gym where the trio accepted the challenge from a smart and quick Boston Latin Academy squad to display the grit and guts to slay the Dragons, 72-64, in an all-you-would-hope-for North semifinal.

Belmont returns to the Tsongus Arena in Lowell on Saturday, March 7, to defend its North title in an encounter with top seed Beverly – the Panthers were the 1 seed last season. Tip off is at 4:15 p.m.

The three’s dominance showed as they combined for 66 of Belmont’s 72 points vs Latin Academy with Jackson-Stephens with 26, Minicozzi 23 and Annus throwing in 17.

“They’ve been doing that all year,” said Adam Pritchard, Belmont’s long time head coach. “There are not a lot of coaches that are blessed with three guys who are scoring for that average. It’s because they are really focused players who shot a lot but most of all they are great kids.”

Annus – who was recently named the MVP of the Middlesex League – Minicozzi and Jackson-Stephens found it difficult which of the three to defend as each has the ability to drive inside, find the assist or bury an NBA-length three point shots. Pick your poison.

The opening quarter was all Dragons, using its speed – slashing to the hoop, creating steals and winning the majority of the 50/50 ball all night long – and outside shooting to nearly run Belmont off the court and out of the game early as Latin Academy’s all-everything guard Abdulahi Aden hit for three 3s in the quarter.

The second saw the track meet ended as both teams took the game inside the paint with Belmont creeping back into the game as Minicozzi and Jackson-Stephens hit 3s to end the half down with Belmont down 33-29.

The Marauders started the third continuing to connect from long distance as Annus and Minicotti hit three consecutive 3s to put Belmont in the lead for the first time, 38-37. Slowly the Marauders advantage grew as Latin Academy shots were off the mark. An Annus 3 with a little more than a minute remaining gave Belmont its biggest lead at 49-40, before ending the quarter outscoring Latin Academy 20 to 10 in the third to take a 49-43 into the final eight minutes.

The fourth quarter saw Latin Academy come off the mat with Aden’s 11 points in the quarter leading the way. Jackson Stephens would make one of two free throws before driving for a layup to give Belmont a small three point cushion only to see Latin Academy march back to cut the lead to 63-62 when Belmont fouled on the shot near the basket.

With the ball in their hands and less than a minute to play, Latin Academy blinked, as they missed both free throws with 56.1 seconds left giving Belmont the rock and a one point lead.

On the subsequent trip down court, Minicozzi drove the baseline and was chopped down to put the junior on the charity stripe. Then, in frustration rather than anger, a Latin Academy player punched the loose ball toward the benches. The official had little option but to call a technical foul.

Annus hit the two technical free throws, Minicozzi sank his pair and Belmont retained possession. A quick foul sent Jackson-Stephens to the line who hit one of two and the damage had been done as a one point lead stretched to six in just a handful of seconds.

There was a reprieve for Latin Academy when Belmont was called for its own technical for taunting and narrowed the margin to a two possession game but a rushed shot and a foul proved the margin of victory.

Pritchard told the media gaggle surrounding him after the contest that having core players who have been this far into the tournament before is a clear advantage.

“Experience is not to be overlooked in terms of confidence. But you know that confidence is hard work, it’s determination and it’s self belief and they believe in themselves and believe in their teammates.”

As for the matchup against Beverly, Pritchard was succinct.

“They’re very good,” said Pritchard. “We’re pretty good, too.”

School Precaution: Staffer Who Self-Quarantined Back To Work, Trips Cancelled, And Disinfecting Schools

Photo: Belmont Public School Administration Building.

The byword for the Belmont School District on the expanding coronavirus epidemic is caution.

A female staffer who self-quarantined on Wednesday after returning from a conference in Italy over February break will return to work on Monday, March 9, according to an email from the Belmont School District.

Italy has by far the most cases of the coronavirus in Europe with nearly 4,000 cases and 148 deaths as of Friday, March 6.

Belmont School District Superintendent John Phelan said the staff member, who works at the Chenery Middle School and Belmont High School, placed herself in seclusion on March 4 after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its guidance that day asking people to self-quarantine if they have travelled to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea.

“Once the CDC guidance was updated Wednesday, the staff member who had travelled to Italy self-quarantined, despite the fact there are no symptoms of illness showing,” said Phelan.

“Given this staff member’s return from Italy was on Sunday, February 23, the staff member will return to work on Monday, March 9, as this will represent the expiration of the two week quarantine period,” noted Phelan.

Belmont is just one of several eastern Massachusetts school districts in which educators and staffers have self-quarantined, including Watertown and Beverly.

Belmont High School students were informed this past week that planned school trips during the April break to Spain and China have been cancelled due to the virus. Spain has about 260 cases and 3 deaths while China has been the epicenter of the virus with nearly 81,000 with the virus and 3,045 deaths.

As Belmont schools are where the largest concentration of people congregate during the work week, the district have begun disinfecting and sanitizing high-touch surfaces in the district’s six schools with hospital-grade equipment.

“As you know this is the season for the common flu and our efforts will help reduce the spread of a number of problematic pathogens,” said Phelan.

Earlier this week, Belmont Health Director Wesley Chin said there was a low risk of Belmont residents catching the virus.

Belmont Boys’ Hockey Take Down Top Seed Reading, 3-2; Off To D1 North Finals Monday

Photo: Belmont’s senior goaltender Nico Carere.

Belmont High School Boys’ Hockey Head Coach Fred Allard said after Saturday’s 1-0 overtime quarterfinal victory over St. Mary’s of Lynn, that his team was eager to get back to the Division 1 North semifinals at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell.

“We have some unfinished business and we’re looking forward to taking care of it,” said Allard, referring to a 3-2 overtime loss to Waltham in the 2018 North Semis as the Hawks went on to capture the Division 1 state crown.

Mission accomplished.

In a game that saw four goals in a bonkers final four and a quarter minutes of the match, Belmont hung on to defeat the number one seed and Middlesex League rivals Reading Memorial High, 3-2, at Lowell.

Belmont will meet St. John’s of Shrewsbury in the sectional finals on Monday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tsongas Arena.

What appeared to be an insurance goal by sophomore forward Matty Rowen with 1:19 remaining in the third period, giving Belmont a 3-1 lead, proved to be the game winner as Reading’s senior defender Cam Lawhorne rocketed a slap shot from the slot by Belmont’s stellar senior goalie Nico Carere with just under a minute to play to cut the lead to 3-2.

Rowen solo effort – nudging the puck five hole by Reading’s goalie Dylan Emery – came after junior defender Henry Stonehouse’s slap shot off an Emery long rebound snuck inside the right post to snap a 1-1 tie with 2:44 in the period.

Reading had evened the contest when freshman forward Evan Pennucci – who a minute earlier hit the post – redirected a shot by Carere with 4:15 left in the third. Belmont’s senior netminder had until then been unstoppable between the pipes, going nearly 90 minutes of shutout hockey since last being scored upon by Andover in the first round of the tournament.

And it was Carere who preserved the victory with two rapid fire, in close saves in the final eight seconds, ending sprawled on his back with his pads covering the puck as the siren sound.

The semifinal was a physical, slow moving affair between teams that were all too familiar with the other having battled twice this season with the Marauders coming up on the losing end of a pair of one-goal games.

After a cautious first period with far more icing calls than actual scoring opportunities – an apparent Reading goal was disallowed for a high stick – Belmont began using the larger NHL-sized rink to its advantage to take control of the game by using its better team speed to open space and create passing lanes.

While the offense found a rhythm, the defensive pairings led by junior Tom Grace, senior Ryan Hoffman, Stonehouse, junior Nolan Duffy and senior Mike Hardy stood tall on the blue line and was able to win most of the battles along the boards and behind the net. The back line was presented by Allard with the “Jax,” a firefighter’s helmet that signifies Belmont’s Player(s) of the Match.

Belmont got on the scorer’s sheet during the only penalty of the game – the second game the Marauders have not been called for an infraction – when Reading went down a man on a Pennucci cross check.

And the goal was right out of the playbook: Grace found senior all-star Justin Rocha as he circled behind the net. As the Reading players turned to face Rocha, senior Matt Brody drifted into the slot and one-timed his line-mate’s pass by Emery high glove side with 1:14 left in the second.

Belmont continued to dominate the majority of the third before Pennucci’s tally started the goal barrage.

High School Community Mourns Death Of Long Time Chorus Leader Sean Landers

Photo: Sean Landers

Long-time Belmont schools chorus teacher Sean Landers has died, according to an email from Isaac Taylor, Belmont High principal.

“Our school community was saddened to learn of the death of chorus teacher Sean Landers. Sean was a teacher in the district for twelve years, teaching at the middle and high schools. Our community will all miss him very much and will spend many difficult moments grieving his loss,” wrote Taylor.

Landers was one of the capstones of the musical education department, leading choruses that won many awards and prepared individual singers to gain entry into district and state choral groups.

Isaac said that should students wish to process this news in the coming days and weeks, “please encourage them to seek out a guidance counselor, the school nurse, the school resource officer, or a trusted adult in the building. If you as a parent have questions, please feel free to reach out.”

Belmont Boys’ Hoops Take On Latin Academy in Semis Wednesday At Wakefield

Photo: Belmont’s Preston Jackson-Stephens taking the shot vs. Billerica

The easy part is over.

After a pair of comprehensive playoff victories in the comforting confines of Wenner Field House, the Belmont High Boys’ Basketball squad will board the bus and head off to neutral site Wakefield High School to meet up with a challenger which has the ability to score in bunches and do so quickly.

The third seed Marauders (18-4) will take on second seed Boston Latin Academy (21-4) in the semi-finals of the Division 2 North sectionals on Wednesday, March 4. Tip off is at 7 p.m.

“They’re obviously a good team having made it this far,” said Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard after Belmont ran a good Billerica squad off the Coach Lyons court, 76-57, in the quarterfinals last Wednesday.

Academy is one of the smaller teams Belmont will play, but what they lack in height they make up in speed and outside shooting, usually scoring double the number of 3s their opponents will attempt.

The Dragons are led by 6th man Junior Guard Abdulahi Aden who scored 21 points while grabbing 5 rebounds and giving out 6 assists in its quarterfinal match with Gloucester.

Belmont is captained by Middlesex Liberty MVP senior Mac Annus who is averaging 23.5 points in the playoffs. He is joined by juniors Preston Jackson-Stephens and Tim Minicozzi who are contributing on both ends of the court.

Warren Finds Love In Belmont, Winning Dem Presidential Primary

Photo: credit Lorie Shaull (Creative Commons)

It was a rough Super Tuesday for Elizabeth Warren, as the Massachusetts senator saw her chances to become the Democratic standard bearer for President of the United States take a serious blow as she finished back in the pack in each of the 14 states up for grabs including in her home Bay State which was won by a surging Joe Biden.

But Warren would be able to savor the taste of victory at least once Tuesday; over in the Town of Homes as the Cambridge resident racked up nearly a third of all votes cast by Belmont voters in the state’s Presidential Primary held March 3.

The final tally in the Democratic primary from Belmont’s eight precincts:

  • Liz Warren: 2,856 (32.2 percent)
  • Joe Biden: 2,681 (30.2 percent)
  • Bernie Sanders: 1,805 (20.4 percent)
  • Mike Bloomberg: 1,043 (11.8 percent)
  • Pete Buttigieg: 239 (2.7 percent)
  • Amy Klobuchar: 108 (1.2 percent)
  • Tulsi Gabbard: 59 (0.7 percent)
  • Andrew Yang: 19 (0.2 percent)
  • Tom Steyer: 16 (0.2 percent)

See Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman announce the results of the 2020 presidential primary.

And there is good evidence that the suspension of Buttigieg and Klobuchar’s campaigns and their endorsements of Biden over the weekend impacted the outcome of the race. In the week of early voting when 1,571 (about 9 percent of all voters) cast ballots, Biden registered just nine percent of the early votes (130 votes), compared to Warren’s 35.4 percent (509 votes) and behind Sanders, Bloomberg and Buttigieg.

Overall voter participation was impressive with 55 percent of registered voters – 9,622 our of 17,633 – going to the polls, participated in early voting or taking out an absentee ballot. In 2016, 9,969 voters (58 percent) came out with two contested races while in 2008, 63 percent of registered voters participated.

Belmont was an outlier among Bay State municipalities as it was one of 14 cities and towns voting for Warren as Biden won the state after trailing badly in polls just a week previously.

With 89 percent of the state’s precinct reporting as of 1 a.m., Wednesday, March 4, Biden has received 33.8 percent of the total vote with Vt. Senator Bernie Sanders at 26.7 percent with Warren down at 20.9 percent.

Over on the Republican side of the ballot, President Trump took home 587 votes with former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld receiving 105.