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.

Sports: Belmont Girls Hoops’ Holds Garden Party at Chelmsford’s Expense

Photo: Belmont High wins at the Good Sports Invitational.

On the biggest stage this season, Belmont High’s Girls’ Hoops put together its best and most complete game as a suffocating defense and clutch shooting powered the Marauders by a strong Chelmsford High Lions squad, 50-36, on the parquet court of the TD Garden, Sunday, Jan. 24, at the Good Sports Invitational.

In a game which Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart used her entire bench (10 Marauders would grace the score sheet) allowing each player an opportunity to play on an NBA court, Belmont stayed with its Division 1 opponents in the first half before clamping down on the Lions shooters in the second half, limiting the Merrimack Valley Small Conference leaders to a total of 14 points in the final 16 minutes.

“We had some really good moments on the floor,” said Hart, whose team now stands at 8-3.

“The girls really communicated well in a big new place and nerves didn’t seem to be a factor,” she said.

Leading the Marauders was its senior co-captain center/forward Sarah Stewart who controlled the action in the paint (in front of the basket) with her rebounding against taller opponents, blocking and harassing shots and hitting a series of timely baskets including an offensive put-back as time expired in the third quarter to up Belmont’s the lead to 10.

“My coach said it starts with defense and that’s what I focused on, on boxing out and just being a bigger person on the court both mentally and physically,” said Stewart who finished the morning with 8 points. 

“When you do defense first, the offense will come with it,” she said.

Stewart’s dominance gave her teammates room to find space to score near the basket. After going “Oh-for” (no points) two nights before against Wakefield in a disappointing loss (42-38), sophomore Jenny Call responded by scoring a game-high 19 points, 12 in the second half on drives to the hoop and from range with a pair of threes.

Quarterbacking the offense was sophomore point guard Carly Christofori, who scored 12 points while picking herself off the floor after driving to the basket. 

Belmont got out to a fast start, going up 12-4 in the first four minutes. But the Lions used three-point marksmanship and pinpoint passing, took the lead in the second quarter behind Chelmsford’s 1,000 points senior captain Claire Markey (10 points) and center Annie Donahue, who had 9 of her 11 points in the first half. 

The Lions took a six-point lead, 22-16, midway through the quarter which saw Hart used her role players. And while the Belmont starters sat, their teammates chipped into the lead while wearing down the Chelmsford five. A mid-range basket by freshman Jane Mahon (2 points), a hoop from Call and a three-pointer from Christofori at the buzzer finished off a 7-0 run and secured a 23-22 halftime lead for the Marauders. 

“I think our depth actually helped by playing everyone. We were able to run so much, and while the game was close, we had fresh bodies out there, and that helped in the second half,” said Hart.

The second half saw Belmont slowly pull away from the tiring Lions as the Marauders took control of all aspects of the game. A spinning hook by sophomore Greta Propp (2 points) gave Belmont a 6 point lead with just under two minutes to play in the third and Stewart’s buzzer beater upped the advantage to nine, 39-30, with eight minutes to play.

While the Lions got within six points (41-35) midway through the quarter, Call would respond with a three-pointer and going 4-4 from the charity stripe to close the deal.

For Belmont, it was a rare occasion not just to play on the same court as the Boston Celtics, but to celebrate a victory in the Garden.

“At first, the adrenaline was really crazy. Just being here was unreal, so it was nice to see familiar faces in the crowd instead of random people,” said Stewart.

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Belmont Garden Party: Girls’ Hoops to Play At TDGarden Sunday, Jan. 24

Photo: Belmont High Girls Basketball to play the Boston TDGarden.

Along with Bill Russell and Larry Bird, you can now add the names Carly, Samari, Sarah and Irini as those who have played on the historic parquet floor of Boston Garden as the Belmont High School Girls’ Varsity Basketball team take on Chelmsford High School at the TDGarden at 10 a.m. on Sunday, January 24.

The game is part of the third annual Good Sports Invitational – the Belmont Boys’ team played in last year’s game – where sixteen high school teams will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play on the fabled court. The mission of Boston-based Good Sports is to help lay the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles by providing athletic equipment, footwear, and apparel to disadvantaged young people nationwide.

An added bonus is that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey – a former Harvard University basketball captain and pro-player in Europe – will be leading basketball events for Belmont and Chelmsford youth basketball players during halftime of the game. You’ll remember Healey as playing on Belmont’s Grove Street Playground basketball court in one of her political ads. 

Tickets for the game (which allows you to stay for all eight games) against the Lions are $15.  Belmont’s goal is to sell 400 tickets and have a large fan section to cheer on the Marauders. 

Tickets can be purchased in Belmont at:

  • Champions Sporting Goods, 53 Leonard Ave., Belmont Center
  • Rancatore’s Ice Cream, 36 Leonard Ave., Belmont Center
  • Country Store (the concession stand) at Belmont High School during home games: Friday, Jan. 15 and Tuesday, Jan. 19.
  • Belmont High School will also have a table set up outside the lunch room in the school day, specific days TBA.
  • Contact Marauders’ Head Coach Melissa Hart with any questions (  and who can arrange to get tickets.

High School Schedule for Day:

  • 8:30 a.m. – Wellesley vs. Needham (Girls) 
  • 10 a.m. – Belmont vs. Chelmsford (Girls) 
  • 11:30 a.m. – Andover vs Newton South (Boys) 
  • 1 p.m. – Mansfield vs Brighton (Boys) 
  • 2:30 p.m. – Bishop Hendricken vs. Cambridge Rindge & Latin (Boys)
  • 4 p.m. – St. Mary’s vs Lexington (Girls) 
  • 5:30 p.m. – Triton vs Newburyport (Boys)
  • 7 p.m. – Medford vs Arlington (Boys)