Mullan’s 100th Career Goal Leads Marauders’ Belmont Girls Lax Win Over ‘Ponders [VIDEO]

Photo: Belmont High’s senior co-captain Mary Mullan (right) and Tess Desantis – the Marauders’ Nickel and Dime attack – after the victory over Arlington in which Mullan scored her 100th career goal.

Belmont High School Senior Co-captain Mary Mullan scored her 100th career goal as the dime in the Marauders’ Nickel and Dime attack pair – Mullan wears number 10, and junior Tess Desantis, number 5 – scored eight of Belmont’s 16 goals in the team’s 16-7 victory against Arlington High School on Friday, May 12.

Marauders upped its record to 7-4 solidifying its hold on a playoff spot with seven game remaining in the season.

“It’s a good accomplishment to have,” said Mullan after the game. “It’s been really special playing with these girls.”

Mullan’s century mark came 10 minutes into the second half as the three-year starter had a hat trick in the first 25 minutes. Mullan tallied her 100 goals in just two-and-a-half seasons as her first year season 2020 was cancelled due to Covid-19 and the 2021 campaign was cut in half

Belmont Head Coach Dan O’Brien said that on any other night, the game ball would have been handed to junior goalie Julia Herlihy who made 14 saves stifling any attempt by the SpyPonders to get back into the game.

Belmont High’s Julia Herlihy with one of her 14 saves vs. Arlington.

“[Herlihy] was lights out,” said O’Brien. “That’s the type of performance that’s going to carry us forward in the tournament.”

Belmont plays the first game of the annual Lacrosse Night in Belmont, as the Boys’ and Girls’ will host Waltham on Saturday, May 13.

Next Generation Of Baghdady Grapplers Already Winning On The National Stage [VIDEO]

Photo: David Baghdady after winning the Reno Worlds championship

Say the name of certain Belmont families and you immediately associate it with what they do: French and construction; Shea and law enforcement, Muzzioli, landscaping (and hockey); and Flett with development and heavy equipment, to mention just a few.

And while they have become successful in real estate, say the name Baghdady in Belmont, and the image that’s conjured up is of wrestling glory.

When banners were hanging in the Wenner Field House at Belmont High School, an entire corner of the gym was a visual litany of the Baghdady’s prowess on the wrestling mat: league, state and region champions from the 1980s till today. And those honors include a national title won by Samir Baghdady in 1991.

And the family’s legacy continues from father to son as David, Samir’s son, is making a name for himself at the young age of 10. Earlier this month, the Chenery Middle School 5th-grader won the Reno Worlds, a prestigious national tournament, by defeating the number-one ranked wrestler in the country from Pennsylvania in the Under 10 Boys, 85-pound division.

David Baghdady

“I was a little bit nervous but then when I was wrestling I was fine,” said David during a recent interview about his week in Nevada.

The finals, comprised of three 90-second periods, was a tactical affair, with David scoring a two-point takedown in the first period and then gaining a point early in the third to go up 3-0. His opponent – who had won four national tournaments before Reno – earned his lone point as David was called for stalling but never got a chance to score as David had his leg in a hold when the match ended.

“Honestly, it feels awesome,” said David of his victory. “Now, every day, I can walk into my room, and I can see my trophy.” His first-place trophy, including a massive bald eagle statue, caused a stir among Starbucks customers during the interview.

While he is a naturally shy 10-year-old with a happy smile whose favorite subject is maths; on the mat, David will turn most of his opponents into a pretzel in short order. David quickly dispatched his challengers in his four preliminary matches before the Reno finals with pins. So it’s little surprise to learn that David is a four-time Massachusetts and two-time New England winner.

Baghdady began learning freestyle wresting at four and placed second in his first competition at six. His day comprises daily exercises and practice in New Hampshire, Lawrence and Natick. He’s learning to improve his skill set as everyone in his group has the basics down.

“It’s who has more technique, the more toughness and who’s stronger with more speed” who will come out on top, said David.

Compared to the wrestling meccas such as Pennsylvania, any number of Midwest states, and the west coast, Massachusetts is an outlier in the sport, one where there are just not the numbers or expertise especially at the younger age groups. For that reason, Baghdady travels throughout New England and the eastern seaboard to tourneys looking for competition up to his skill level.

David Baghdady in action in Reno

And Baghdady’s talent is in demand, with all-star teams across the country wanting him to wrestle for them in upcoming tournaments. He was recently invited to participate in an elite dual-team meet in Virginia Beach in July after taking part in a large regional competition this month in Rochester. His next goal is to wrestle in the Super32 in North Carolina, “which is one of the toughest in the world.”

Some could see this focus on a sport as blocking out new activities that many of his age first experience in middle school.

But Baghdady, who lives with his parents and four siblings, doesn’t feel that he is missing out with his schedule filled with this activity.

“I honestly don’t care if I miss something for wrestling. I’m not really an instrument or play guy,” he said.

For Samir, if his son is excited and energetic about the sport, “I leave it up to him” whether he continues. “The other day, he said to me, ‘Dad, if I weren’t wrestling, I’d be sitting at home watching TV and playing video games’.”

David points out that wrestling has allowed him to travel throughout the country – David will list off that impressive number on demand – and make friends with fellow grapplers in far-flung places such as Hawaii and Florida.

“It’s been great,” said Baghdady.

A Champions’ Goodbye: Owner Of Belmont’s Iconic Sports Store Retiring After 35 Years

Photo: Gerry Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sporting Goods in Belmont Center

For the past 35 years, Belmont’s sports universe has revolved around a small elongated storefront smack in the Center. Need your child’s first hockey equipment? How about a lacrosse stick? A bag of Little League baseballs? Swimming goggles? A sweatshirt with “BELMONT” stitched across the chest? Skates sharpened? Tickets for the spring musical? You’ll find it there.

And there you’ll find the proprietor of Champions Sporting Goods on Leonard Street Gerry Dickhaut. And make no mistake, Gerry is the business. He’s taking inventory, finding the correct size soccer cleat, sharpening the skates, stocking the youth team’s uniforms, and sending his teenage employees to Rancs for ice cream.

Gerry has been the most ardent supporter of the Center and its businesses, president of the business association, runs the annual spring Town Day (Champions is the official sponsor of the dunk tank), and knows all the best gossip on Leonard Street.

But as with all good things, Gerry will soon bid a fond “adieu” to his business home for four decades as he’s retiring.

“October 8, 1988. That’s when I opened the doors, 35 years this year. I think I can say I deserve to retire,” said Dickhaut behind the cramped counter in his shop at 53 Leonard St.

“I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve been very lucky,” said Dickhaut, interrupting the interview to help a young father pick out socks for his son.

Gerry’s Champions, one of the increasingly rare independent sporting goods outlets in the US, harkens back to when the Center was the town’s business hub with a Filene’s, a supermarket, a specialty fish monger, an Italian market, a florist, and the century-old local bank. To stay afloat and remain profitable – it’s made money since the third year in operation – as small businesses are desimated by large box store and internet sales, three recessions and a devistating pandemic is remarkable.

Gerry Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sporting Goods

“My success has everything to do with the loyality of the people in town and the youth leagues. They come back time and time again. You can’t ask for anything more,” he said.

Besides selling sporting goods, Gerry has offered generations of Belmont High School students and alumni their first job in the store. Melis Demirtas, a highly proficiant kickboxer and high school rugby player, is one of many who lug new shipments here and there and helping customers putting shoes on kindergarteners.

“Gerry, he’s great,” Demirtas said.

Gerry said he was going to retire last year but was convinced by his landlord to “stay just one more year.”

“They gave me a break when I first opened the doors. They took a chance on me,” said Dickhaut.

The rumor that Gerry was ready to move on has been circulating among parents and league officials for a couple of months with many expressing their sadness to Gerry as some considered pooling funds and purchasing the business.

“I’m humbled and flattered that they see me as a [community asset.] And it goes both ways, I appreciate that they are loyal customers,” he said.

Knowing how the residents regard the store, Gerry has been working with a Belmont resident who is “interested” to buy and continue to run the business at its location. The possible buyer is, ironically, a former employee of Amazon – a scurge of small businsses – who has been working in the store to learn the ropes. The interested person is seeking a partner or a manager to run the store as the hours are quite considerable.

Gerry said there are others interested in running the shop, “and they’re all from Belmont.”

As for Gerry, he has some idea what he’ll be doing after he hands the keys over to the next owner.

“I want to go to London. I was there for two days once and it was fabulous. I want to go to Italy and get a real pizza. Then I want to go to Asia especially Bali, that part of the world. And also tour America. There are just so many beautiful spots in the country,” said Dickhaut.

But Gerry said he will be around to help the new owner “if they want me here.” But soon the golf enthusiast will be looking to the south for a place to hang up his clubs.

“I can’t handle the cold weather anymore. Really. It’s depressing, you’re always stuck inside,” said Gerry with an eye on someplace in Florida, around Pheonix or San Diego. A place with a golf course nearby.

Who’s That Tall Runner With Becca? Belmont Well Represented at 127th Boston Marathon

Photo: Belmont’s Becca Pizzi with former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chára with their medals after finishing the 127th B.A.A. Marathon (credit: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Seconds before former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chára crossing the finish line at the 127th running of the BAA Marathon on Monday, he reached down to grab the hand someone town residents know fairly well, Becca Pizzi, to share this special moment.

Turns out that Belmont’s 5’2” marathon champion was a big reason the 6’9″ Bruins legend was able to complete the 26.2 mile race which both would be raising money for the Hoyt Foundation. Being it was Chára’s first attempt at the distance, who better to be partnered with than the two-time winner of the World Marathon Challenge in which Becca ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven consecutive days.

In a twitter message before the race, Boston Marathon’s long time race director Dave McGillivray wrote: [Chára] is READY due in big part to Coach Becca Pizzi and has EARNED THE RIGHT to do this race.”

On Monday, Belmont’s 29 finishers were part of the 30,090 who completed this year’s marathon.

Belmont’s Brian Harvey at the Newton Firehouse.

Five men ran under 3 hours and four women broke 3:45 with Brian Harvey finishing 47th overall while 52-year-old Laurie Nahigian raced to a 3:44:47 finish which was the 367th finisher in her division, while long-time State Sen. Will Brownsberger was 395th in his division with a time of 4:22:54.

RunnerOfficial Time
Brian Harvey2:22:40
Cheng Zhong 2:47:42
Donal Reynolds 2:53:44
Mathew Swanson2:55:53
Tony Luongo2:58:54
Matthew Taylor3:03:31
Jacob Scott3:05:22
Lixin Qin3:05:22
David Marchefka3:05:41
Jeffrey Roth3:13:22
Douglas Hall3:16:16
Sam Belcher3:22:32
Nicholas Gallo 3:28:06
Lisa Engler3:36:22
Becca Pizzi 3:38:23
Xiaomei Zhou3:39:50
Laurie Nahigian3:44:47
Yi Zhang3:48:20
Catherine Wall3:52:37
Michael Ascione3:59:38
Yufei Xu3:59:43
Jenna Vargas 4:11:05
Erin Woodbury4:19:37
Will Brownsberger4:22:54
George Grant4:23:23
Meaghan Murphy4:54:41
Sylvia Limm5:15:42
Rachel Heller 5:15:42
Mandela Toyo5:49:23

32 Belmontians Set To Take On The Boston Marathon Monday

Photo: Brian Harvey (right) in the 2019 Brendan Home Run

A large contingency of Belmont racers, joggers, and charity runners will be toeing the starting line in Hopkinton on Monday morning to take on the 26.2-mile course in the 127th Boston Athletic Association Marathon.

High on the list of Belmontians in this year’s race is Brian Harvey, a two-time US Olympic Trials participant with a personal best of 2:17:40 wearing the impressive low number 59, who will be starting with the elite runners.

Well-known Belmont runners competing on Monday are marathon champion Becca Pizzi and State Sen. Will Brownsberger.

You can check on your favorite runner during and after the marathon by downloading the BAA Mobile App.

24773Ascione, Michael51USA 
2737Belcher, Sam30USA 
21503Brownsberger, William66USA 
20201Engler, Lisa45USA 
3698Gallo, Nicholas31USA 
21720Grant, George61USA 
4396Hall, Douglas45USA 
59Harvey, Brian35USA 
26779Heller, Rachel46USA 
26778Limm, Sylvia45USA 
6598Luongo, Tony51USACAN
6431Marchefka, David39USA 
30800Murphy, Meaghan32USA 
20365Nahigian, Laurie52USA 
2306Pickens, Carson37USA 
13751Pinault, Damien50USA 
13046Pizzi, Becca43USA 
7496Qin, Lixin49USA 
4262Reynolds, Donal46USAIRL
12373Roth, Jeffrey49USA 
10178Scott, Jacob40USA 
4801Swanson, Mathew45USA 
6051Taylor, Matthew45USA 
25625Toyo, Mandela38USANGR
671Vadenais, Evan28USA 
29277Vargas, Jenna31USA 
24837Wall, Catherine42USA 
25599Woodbury, Erin40USA 
27503Xu, Yufei42USACHN
20846Zhang, Yi42USA 
4248Zhong, Cheng41USACHN
20445Zhou, Xiaomei46USA 

Mix Of Vets, Rookies Power Belmont Girl’s Lax To Pair Of Season Opening Wins

Photo: Belmont senior attack Mary Mullan in action last year

A combination of veterans and rookies has provided the Belmont High School Girls’ Lacrosse squad with a winning start to the 2023 season. An opening 15-3 win at home against Stoneham coupled with a hard-fought 12-10 victory vs. undefeated Woburn has new Head Coach O’Brien praising his mix of talent

“We have a strong core of returning players, with 10 seniors, and are really excited about the underclassmen, with a number of sophomores hoping to contribute and four [first-year athletes] who will be contributing in the midfield,” said O’Brien.

A pair of senior captains are pacing Belmont in scoring, led by attack Mary Mullan with seven goals and an assist on two hat tricks over two games. Mid Layne Doherty has hit the back of the net five times, with four goals coming against the then-undefeated Tanners. Junior attacks Carli Gaziano (4 assists) and Tess Desantis (3 assists) are piling up the assists while scoring in both matches.

Joining the seniors making an impact in the scoring column is first-year midfielder Niamh Lesnik who has garnered two hat tricks in each game. But where Lesnik is making her presence felt is during draws where she controlled 20 of 24, which secured the Marauders’ second win. Sophomores Anna Santos (2 goals)in the midfield and attack Charlotte Mayall (1 goal, 1 assist).

The defensive line of Nina Leveroni, Kiki Hovsepian, Keira Healy, and Cat Gartland played solidly in front of Junior Goalie Julia Herlihy, who made 7 saves and 8 saves respectively.

Belmont will host Watertown on Wednesday, April 12. After Spring break, the Marauders will begin the tough Middlesex League part of their schedule welcoming powerhouse Winchester which has been averaging 17 goals in their five wins.

“Obviously, we are aware of how difficult the Middlesex League is, and especially the teams in the Liberty conference, but we are excited to challenge the likes of Winchester, Lexington, and Reading for the league,” said O’Brien.

Champ Again: Belmont’s Ellie Shea Dominate 2 Mile, 5,000M At National Indoor HS Championships

Photo: Belmont High Junior Ellie Shea breaking the tape (credit Keenan Gray/New Balance Nationals)

On her last big race just a month ago, Belmont High junior Ellie Shea traveled more than 10,000 miles to compete in the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Australia. Her latest major race was this weekend at the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championship in Brighton which is all of four miles from her Belmont home.

And whether its half way around the world or just down the street, Shea was the talk of the event: first running a historic 10th place in the U20 race in the world cross country title run while in Brighton, the 11th grader sparkled winning two national high school indoor track championship titles within 24 hours.

On Friday and Saturday, Shea – wearing her now iconic blue neon sunglasses – destroying talented fields in the 2 mile (Friday) and 5,000 meters (Saturday) by running away from some of the best high school runners in the country. And to top off the weekend, Shea stayed with the top high school miler in the country, sophomore Sadie Engelhardt of California, until the final 200 meters to finish third in the mile with a 4 minute, 40:76 second, finishing the meet as the only runner to win three individual medals at this invitational. [See the video of the race here]

In the 2 mile on Friday, Shea was off and running going clear of the others after one 200 meter lap and just increased the distance from the pack to win in 9 minutes, 49.82 seconds, more than 3/4 of a lap ahead of runner up Hanne Thomsen of California in 10:07.06. Her time was within shouting distance of the all-time US high school record (9:38.68) set by Mary Cain in Boston 10 years ago. [You can view the race here]

“My plan was not to necessarily go after [records],” said Shea in an interview after the race. “I just wanted to run a consistent pace and a consistent effort and test my fitness and have fun.”

But it was Saturday afternoon’s 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) where Shea, the defending champion, showed a dominance that’s rare in the era. Running 37 second laps to the others over 40 seconds, the race was essentially over after the second lap. From then on, Shea was running a solo race, clicking off 37/38 second laps, lapping the field twice before speeding up in the final two to break the tap in 15:46.28, [the race is here] breaking her own meet record and finishing nearly a minute ahead of second place Jolena Quarto in 16:43.18.

In her three events, Shea set personal best times. She is the leading US high school runner in the 3,000 meters, 2 mile and 5,000 meters.

Shea stated in an interview how she is able to transition from a world class cross country performance in the Australian outback to hammering a total of 6.1 miles over three days on an indoor track all within one month.

“I just trust in my training,” said Shea. “I know my training is going to set me up for whatever race I decide to do, whether it be on the track or the cross country course and however long it may be. So as long as I trust in my training, I know I’m prepared. So I was confident that I would be able to switch back to track quickly after traveling halfway around the world.”

After Dream Start, Belmont Boys’ Hockey Brought Back To Reality By Xaverian, 5-2, In Div. 1 Tourney

Photo: Belmont High sophomore forward Adam Bauer celebrates his goal 31 seconds into the playoff contest with Xaverian Bros, March 5, 2023 in Canton

The Belmont High Boys’ Hockey coaching staff could not have drawn up a more perfect start to its MIAA tourney matchup against Xaverian Brothers High School. A spot-on pass by senior forward Cam Fici allowed sophomore forward Adam Bauer the space to rocket the first shot of the game past Hawks’ junior goalie Cole Pouliot-Porter giving the Marauders a dream start just 31 seconds into its Sweet 16 contest played Sunday afternoon, March 5 in Canton.

But the reality of a one-zip code team battling a regional all-star squad soon became apparent as Xaverian would pull even two minutes later and take the lead by the end of the first period. And despite a late charge by Belmont in the final stanza, the Hawks scored twice in the last 10 minutes to pick up the 5-2 victory, eliminating the Marauders from the Division 1 tournament for the second year running.

Belmont ends the season at 14-7-3.

For Belmont’s Head Coach Tim Foley, his team had a lot to be proud on their performance Sunday.

“We played hard but they have a little more depth and had their share of good bounces here and there,” said Foley. “But we don’t make excuses. We can compete with anybody; we’re talented enough, we’re strong enough and good enough. We just came out on the wrong end of the final score.”

“My father would say you have two choices: ‘you can accept the challenge in front of you or you can fold up like an accordion’ and I didn’t see any accordions out on the ice today,” said Foley.

After playing a near flawless game in the first round shutout of Chelmsford – a team which beat Xaverian, 3-1, in late January – and going up early, Foley said Xaverian “came hard at us and the harder that you work the more opportunities you make for yourself.”

During the first period, Belmont was victimized by two goals that came after Marauder miscues. After Belmont failed to clear its zone, the Hawks’ senior Joe Di Martino slotted a low wrister across Belmont senior goalie Greg Federico and inside the right post to knot the contest up. At the midpoint of the period, a loose puck was not picked up by Belmont, leaving it up for third line sophomore Jackson Morse to handcuff Federico.

One the other end of the ledger, Bauer came close to doubling his goal tally tipping a shot that forced a right pad save from Pouliot-Porter while his counter part Federico stoned a clear break to keep the margin at one at the end of the first.

Soon after taking a two goal lead early in the second, Xaverian transitioned from playing the puck to punishing to body. Late hits, stray elbows, chirping from the bench, piling into Federico’s crease – with the expected retaliatory cross check – and the usual collection of cheap shots associated with the nasties.

“It’s the way they play,” said Foley. “They play a very chippy game and it’s not always clean.”

When the refs began cracking down on the argie bargie, it was usually one from each team heading to the box – the Hawks collected nine penalties including one 10 minute misconduct as Belmont took eight bookings – not providing Belmont the advantage those who are assaulted should expect. The Hawks’ rockum’ sockum’ tactics had its desired impact on the game, destroying any sense of rhythm on the ice and wearing down the battered Belmont players.

“They tried to keep us off our game and we kind of fell into it a little bit,” said Foley. “We have a lot of physically tough players … and we certainly were not going to back down from a challenge.”

The first minutes of the third provided the Marauders with a semblance of hope as senior defender Joe Gaziano took a back pass from Bauer and beat Pouliot-Porter with a classy backhander 90 seconds into the final frame to reduce the deficit to one, 3-2.

But that late lifeline was cut a minute and a half later by the prettiest goal of the early afternoon; a pass deep to the left side of Frederico, followed by a quick one timer to senior Liam Capplis sitting all alone out in front in the slot and, well, that was that. 4-2. The final nail came was driven in five and a half left in a solid season. Despite the score, Belmont would not stop looking for that next goal, with Fici being denied a final goal in his stellar career when his snap shot clanged off the post in the final 10 seconds.

While the team understandably took their time leaving the locker room – nine seniors for the final time – before their long ride home, Foley said the players accomplished much in a season with one of the toughest schedules in program history, playing 10 of the top 20 Division 1 teams.

“We certainly came out competitive in almost every game. The kids were battle tested [playing the schedule] and we did it for games like these. I’m very proud of the team, proud of how hard they worked in practice everyday,” said Foley.

There will be quite a bit of rebuilding for next year’s team, replacing three of four top line defenders – Gaziano, co-captain Peter Grace and Theo Martin – a varsity goalie and the squad’s two leading scorers in Fici and co-captain Shay Donahue. Yet Foley said there appears to be a good-size talent pool of new high school players on the way, with a great deal to live up to.

“The seniors that are leaving certainly had a great career over the last four years,” said Foley. “They’re leaving a good message and a good work ethic behind for the younger kids. So I think the future is bright.”

What’s Up With The Rink: Public Meeting Thursday, Tours Of The Skip This Week, How Much Will New Rink Cost Taxpayers

Photo: The first look of the new rink

With less than a month before the vote to determine the future of a new Belmont Rink & Sports Facility, supporters are ramping up events to help convince voters to support a new 40,313 sq-ft skating rink/recreation center at the location of the existing rink.

Public Meeting This Thursday

On Thursday, March 9 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Municipal Skating Rink Building Committee is hosting a hybrid public forum to update the public on conceptual plans for the new rink/recreation facility to be constructed on the site of the ‘Skip’ adjacent Harris Field.

Discussion will include conceptual design, current costing, energy utilization and year-round facility programming. Speaking will be architect Ted Galante and members of the Building Committee.

The meeting will take place on the third floor, Art Gallery, in the Homer Building in the Town Hall complex or via Zoom to learn more about the project and for an opportunity to provide the public feedback.

Trips of the ‘Skip’

Wondering why people are saying Belmont needs a brand new rink/recreation center? Can’t the existing facility be rehabbed? Put a new coat of paint on it? This weekend is your chance to see “why” a new rink the only solution.

Yes for the Rink, the voluntary campaign spearheading the effort to bring a new rink to Belmont, will be holding tours of the ‘Skip’ – the existing ‘Skip’ Viglirolo Skating Rink – to highlight the dilapidated condition of the half-century old building.

Tours are taking place:

  • Saturday, March 11; 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 12; between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

How Much Will An Average Homeowner Pay For A New Rink

Belmont Town Treasurer Floyd Carman this week has released the calculations on the cost to the “average” homeowner if voters approve the debt exclusion for a new rink at the April 4 Town Election. With a current net price-tag of $28.6 million – the $29.9 million construction cost minus $1.3 million in fundraising money – the owner of an average single family house, currently valued at $1.4 million – would see their residential tax increase $248 per year over the 30 years of the debt exclusion.

Complete Team Victory As Belmont High Boys’ Hockey Sweep Aside Chelmsford, 4-0, In D1 Tourney First Round

Photo: Belmont High’s Peter Grace, with the C on his jersey, celebrates with his teammates the 4-0 victory over Chelmsford in the first round of the 2022-3 MIAA Div. 1 Hockey State Championships.

Not a bad way to close the doors to the ol’ Skip.

In the final scholastic game to be played in the venerable – but completely dilapidated – Skip Viglirolo Ice Skating Rink, the Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey squad sent the home fans of the near sell out crowd happy as the entire lineup of 10th-ranked Marauders did Yeoman’s work sweeping aside a strong Chelmsford squad in the first round of the Division 1 state championship on Thursday, March 2.

Belmont dominated all parts of the game, controlling the pace of play with a stout defense and free flowing offense keeping the Lions caged in their end for the 45 minutes, making for a long night for Chelmsford sophomore tender Mark Bierwirth (40 saves on 44 shots).

Player of the Match was senior defender and co-captain Peter Grace who scored the brace from distance and teamed with his long-time line-mate senior co-captain Joseph Gaziano to prove again they are one of the best D pairing in the state. The three defensive lines limited the Lions’ opportunity to challenge Belmont senior goalie Greg Federico who made 14 saves Thursday night.

“It was a solid game from the whole team,” said Belmont Head Coach Tim Foley.

The Marauders are off to Canton on Sunday, March 4, for a noon time face off in a Sweet 16 matchup with 7th-ranked Xaverian Brothers High School, a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight battle where the Marauders’ were eliminated in a 2-1 heart breaker.

Belmont took the game straight to Chelmsford scoring three and a half minutes in the first as junior defender Ryan Halloran shot got through a Shay Donahue screen. Chelmsford could not generate an offense to strike back as the Belmont put up a wall on the Lions blue line; on four consecutive break outs, Chelmsford clearing pass was intercepted at the line and sent back behind the net.

“All three lines played the system well of forechecking well, kept our structure and hemmed Chelmsford in their zone which is a good, hardworking team,” said Foley. “Our game plan was to wear them down and it worked.”

The first eight minutes of the second stanza witnessed a continuous march of Marauders into the penalty box with the Lions skating 5-3 for nearly three minutes. But the defense along with senior forward Cam Fici were rock solid on the penalty kill, ending the deficit even in shots on net at one.

Back at even strength, it was four-year starter Grace who doubled Belmont’s lead with a rocket from the left circle that clanged off the crossbar and in.

It wouldn’t be a Belmont game if there wasn’t a Fici goal, and the fan base was not disappointed as the Marauders’ sniper snapped the goal in from the left circle early in third. Unlike when Chelmsford held a two-man advantage, Belmont was like a cat with a cornered mouse; you knew how this was going to end: Grace walking in and burying the puck by Bierwirth to finish the scoring.