by Chris Braithwaite
copyright the Chronicle 3-13-13
On Friday, March 8, Barton native Susan Dunklee got a chance to compete on the biathlon course where she will almost certainly represent the U.S. in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The result was described by her father, Stan Dunklee, as “phenomenal.”
Ms. Dunklee finished seventh in the women’s 15-kilometer individual event. It was her best result, and the third time she has finished in the top 15 of a World Cup race this season.
Friday’s race was high above the Black Sea at Sochi, Russia, where workers are still busy finishing a complex that includes what Ms. Dunklee describes in her blog as “probably the biggest biathlon stadium building in the world.”
Inside the stadium, biathlon racers pause to shoot highly specialized rifles at very small targets. Outside is a cross-country ski course that Ms. Dunklee described to her father as “incredibly difficult,” with punishing climbs and “down-hills that belong in an alpine race.”
The trick in biathlon is to cover such courses very quickly without losing the physical control required to shoot very straight. Penalties of time or distance are imposed for every target missed.
That odd combination of skills, Mr. Dunklee said, is what makes biathlon so exciting. “It makes cross-country racing look boring,” he added.
Mr. Dunklee should know. He competed in cross-country skiing in the 1976 Winter Olympics, and again in Lake Placid in 1980.
In his daughter’s effort to secure a place on the 2014 team, last weekend’s event in Sochi was icing on the cake.
She pre-qualified for the Olympic team on her twenty-seventh birthday with a fifteenth-place finish in her 15-kilometer World Championship race in Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic on February 13. That followed a top-fifteen finish in Slovenia in December. Two such finishes, her father explained, pre-qualify a biathlon skier for the U.S. team.
Ms. Dunklee achieved her seventh-place finish in Sochi Friday with an unusual rifle. Its stock includes a precisely carved chunk of broomstick.
She took a fall on the final loop of her 15-kilometer race in Nove Mesto on her birthday, she relates in her blog, and broke the end of the stock.
Such stocks are custom-made for competitors, her father explained, and designed to be as lightweight as possible. They are correspondingly fragile, Mr. Dunklee noted.
There was no hope of replacing the rifle or its stock in time for the next day’s relay race. But there was a technician named Benjamin on hand for just such an emergency. With no wood supply at hand, he cut the end off the handle of a push broom and restored the stock.
“I think the broom helped me ‘clean,’” Ms. Dunklee quipped on her blog. “I hit 100 percent of my targets in the next race, a first for me on the World Cup.”
She was still using the broomstick rifle in last Friday’s race, she said in an e-mail. She missed just one target in her ski to seventh place.
Ms. Dunklee trains with the Green Team at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, and she has company on the European race circuit this winter.
Hannah Dreissigacker is racing as a member of the U.S. biathlon development team, and Ida Sargent of Orleans is on the equivalent Nordic team.
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by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 3-13-2013
BURLINGTON — Tuesday night’s Lake Division championship came right down to the wire as Harwood and North Country, the division’s top two teams, squared off at UVM’s Gutterson Field House. Hopes were high as the NC Falcons girls hockey team looked to cap off a strong season with the school’s first Lake Division title. On this night, however, it would be Harwood that would emerge with claims to the championship title with a 1-0 overtime victory.
“We’re both really good teams,” Falcon Anyas Morin said after the game. “It really could have gone either way. What we did this year was a big accomplishment, we really elevated our play.”
Tuesday’s contest was one of the more physical games of the season as the officials appeared content to let the players play and calling only the most egregious of offenses. One of the more obvious displays involved Harwood Highlander Hayley Martini poleaxing Morin behind the Falcons net.
“It was a little rougher than usual,” Morin said after the game. “I think everyone was a little excited, a little bit nervous and maybe we were hitting a little harder than we knew.”
Defense was the name of the game on both ends of the ice Tuesday night. Falcon Mikaella Doran turned aside 20 shots while her Highlander counterpart Siena Damon stopped 17 in Harwood’s winning effort. Both teams disrupted the other’s attack creating a melee in the neutral zone throughout much of the game.
“I think in the first period we had no flow,” Falcons Coach Claude Paul said. “We were barely surviving.”
The Falcons struggles showed as the Highlanders dominated North Country with 12 shots against Doran to the Falcons’ four shots on Damon. Though it took an entire period to acclimate, the Falcons showed signs of life in the second, matching Harwood with four shots apiece in the period.
“For the most part I think we battled hard,” Coach Paul said. “I think we had some grade-A scoring chances but were just not able to follow through.”
The Falcons entered the game with their sights set on the title, emerged with a runner-up banner and an experience they will be able to carry with them into next season. The growth in the team throughout the season, the camaraderie they formed molded them into a team in every sense of the word.
“There’s really no drama in the locker room,” Morin said. “We get along well on and off the ice and I think that’s why we work so well together. We didn’t go as far as maybe we wanted but we really stepped up our game.”
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by Harris Kinsey
copyright the Chronicle 3-11-2013
Coming off their quarterfinal win, the Lake Region boys baskeball team hoped to carry that momentum into Barre Auditorium for their semifinal against Burr and Burton, and into the championship game.
They played hard at the auditorium Wednesday night, March 6, for four quarters but came up short 80-62. Joey Shehadi led all scorers with 26 points, and Jake Stalcup added 18 points for the Bulldogs. Clint Provoncha led Lake Region with 17 points, and had help with Caleb Prue scoring 13 points, and Drew Gallup adding 12. But it wasn’t enough to stop Burr and Burton, who had many weapons on their team who could score from different spots on the floor.
The first quarter started well for Lake Region with Dennis Newland scoring the first points
of the game on an offensive rebound and putback to put Lake Region up 2-0. Burr and Burton answered back on two free throws by Taylor Fuller. The Rangers went on a little run, helped along with some good defense, and finished the quarter strong. At the end of the first quarter of play Lake Region had the lead at 18-14.
Burr and Burton got the first points of the second quarter on two free throws by Shehadi 34 seconds into the period. Lake Region answered back at the 6:36 mark on a jumper by Prue to retake a four-point lead at 20-16. It didn’t take long for Burr and Burton to tie the game at 20. After the game was tied, Lake Region’s defense started to break down. Burr and Burton went on an 18-2 run, and Lake Region struggled on offense as well as defense. Lake Region scored only eight points in the second quarter, compared to 25 points for the Bulldogs. At halftime Burr and Burton had a 13-point lead, 39-26.
The third quarter got going at the 6:45 mark on a layup by Stalcup. Lake Region answered back 27 seconds later on a three-pointer by Alex Beauregard. Lake Region’s defense was better in the third quarter, but Burr and Burton still played very good basketball. Shehadi scored eight points in the quarter including two three-pointers. Lake Region held Burr and Burton to 16 points in the third and scored 17 points of their own. After three quarters of play Lake Region still trailed by 12 points 55-43.
Lake Region got off to a good start in the fourth quarter with Gallup connecting on a jumper just 38 seconds in. They hoped that would give them some momentum, but Burr and Burton would answer back six seconds later on a layup by Fuller to go back up by 12. Three-pointers by Prue, Provoncha, and Dakota McCallister helped, but it only delayed the inevitable. Burr and Burton was just a little too strong, and scored 25 points in the fourth quarter. Lake Region managed to score 19 points, but lost by 18. The game ended with a score of 80-62 in favor of the Bulldogs.
After the game LR Coach James Ingalls said, “We met a really good team tonight. They played well for 32 minutes. We had stretches where we played great basketball. The
18-2 run they had broke our back, and we just couldn’t come back from that. My players have nothing to be ashamed of. We had a great season, and I hope they can hold their heads high.”
Lake Region finished their season with a record of 20-3.
by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 3-11-2013
JAY — The North Country Falcons (16-5-1) earned a berth in Tuesday night’s championship match against top ranked Harwood Union with a 3-2 win over the visiting Middlebury Tigers (13-9) on Saturday afternoon. The second-seeded Falcons faced a tough challenge from the number six seeded Tigers at the Jay Peak Ice Haus.
“We knew that this was going to be a tough game,” Coach Claude Paul said after the game. “They are a quick team. They outplayed us at times but we survived.”
Much of the credit can be attributed to the stellar performance of freshman goalie Mikaella Doran, Coach Paul said. Her skills enabled the Falcons to stay in the game despite the sometimes overwhelming offensive crush Middlebury brought to the contest.
“Mikaella had some big saves today, probably none bigger than the one with 20 seconds left in the game,” Coach Paul said.
“They scared me at the end,” Doran said after the game. “Middlebury’s a good team. We knew it was going to be close so we all had to work together as a team.”
North Country would be the first to light the lamp as Crystal Moss buried a cross ice pass from Whitney Bernier to give the Falcons the early 1-0 lead at 6:49 of the first period. That early goal provided the Falcons with the boost they needed to keep the Tigers at bay.
Middlebury applied fore checking pressure the entire contest giving Doran more work but also providing North Country with some key scoring opportunities.
“Middlebury is a team that likes to gamble and some of those gambles gave us a chance to breakaway on their goal,” Coach Paul said. “Corrina really showed her speed tonight.”
Corrina Cota capitalized on one of those breakaways at 6:24 in the second period, skating in and beating Tigers goalie Baily Ryan to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead. With the game seemingly well in hand, Middlebury’s Timi Carone final solved Doran and launched a shot up and over Doran’s shoulder on the stick side. With only 24 seconds remaining in the period, momentum had suddenly shifted in the Tigers’ favor.
“There’s not really much you can do to calm down during a game,” Doran said. “You just hope that whatever you do you can stop the puck. I depend a lot on my defense to help out and the offense to give me some breathing room.”
As the third period wore on, it was clear that Middlebury’s speed was beginning to take its toll on the Falcons. North Country defenders often found themselves chasing the Tigers instead of keeping pace. The Tigers would continue their puck barrage on the North Country net.
“They had a lot of chances but we did a good job of taking away quality chances,” Coach Paul said. “Our strategy is to keep them to the wings, out of the center and our defense was able to do that.”
Savannah Alberghini-Giroux was able to buy the Falcons some insurance at 9:15 in the third period as she buried a pass from Cota to give North Country a two goal lead. A penalty by North Country’s Emily Doty only 16 seconds later would prove costly. Carone would notch her second goal of the night on the power play to cut North Country’s lead down to 3-2 with 4:09 remaining in the game.
The Falcons defense tightened up even as the Tigers applied more pressure trying to force a tying goal. Doran and the Falcons would come out on top courtesy of Cota’ goal and an assist as well as Doran’s sterling 25 save performance.
The Falcons next challenge has them facing off against the number one seed Harwood Union Highlanders (18-3-1) at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Field House on Tuesday. The top two teams in the Lake Division will compete for the state title with a 6:30 p.m. start. Harwood holds the advantage having won both games between the two teams this season.
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by Joseph Gresser
CRAFTSBURY COMMON—When it was all over Saturday afternoon Coach Rick Thomas was smiling. True, his Chargers team had been mauled by Arlington Memorial High School, 28-57, in the quarter-finals of the Division IV championships. But, he said, the Craftsbury women won the school’s tournament and league championship.
They also boasted a 16-4 regular season record.
Although they won’t play at the Barre Auditorium this season, the future looks bright for the Chargers, Mr. Thomas said. All of this year’s players will be back next year, and the scrappy team includes a pair of eighth graders, which suggests a long run of basketball success. A run of hoop good fortune would fit nicely with the glorious new World War II Memorial Gymnasium built by the people of Craftsbury last year.
On this Saturday, however the basketball gods smiled on the Arlington Eagles.
They fouled Janet Bohannon as she took her first shot, but paid no price when she was unable to make good either of her three throws. Back on defense, the Chargers played tight defense inside, but made the mistake of letting Arlington’s Rayleen Sherman get a look from outside.
Sherman sunk a three-pointer to put the Eagles ahead for good. She proved a dangerous player to leave, dropping in 12 of her 16 points from downtown.
The outside shot was a potent weapon for Arlington. Almost half of their scoring — 27 points — came from the long ball.
While none of the Chargers could equal Sherman’s total, Aysha Hodgdon and Bohannon inflicted real damage on the Eagles, scoring 12 and 9 points respectively. They, along with teammates Sarah Dunbar, Meghan Brown and Meghan Pennock distinguished themselves with tenacious defense.
Craftsbury’s relative youth showed itself as the team fell behind. Players pressed hard on offense, rushing shots instead of relaxing and slowing the pace to make the most of their chances.
They harried the Eagles on defense and forced numerous turnovers, but were unable to take fullest advantage of those opportunities.
By the end of the first period Craftsbury had fallen behind by 8-17. The second period also began badly for the Chargers with the Eagles scoring a quick 5 points.
After that both teams bore down hard on defense. For the next three minutes neither team was able to score and it seemed as if Craftsbury was ready to make its move.
Unfortunately it was Arlington that broke the log jam, scoring an additional ten to Craftsbury’s two, ending the half at 10-27.
The third period went much as did the second, but Craftsbury also began to make defensive mistakes that put the team in foul trouble. The period closed with Craftsbury trailing 15-41.
By the start of the fourth period, with the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt, the Chargers showed their mettle. Playing for pride they swarmed the Eagles forcing turn overs.
It was in the fourth quarter that Craftsbury scored its only run of unanswered points, scoring three successive baskets. But a miraculous win was not to be.
During the after-game meeting with Mr. Thomas, the players looked anything but down cast. They had a fine season and never gave up, even when it was clear that victory would not be theirs. Such a spirit presages great things for the future.
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by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 3-8-2013
JAY — The North Country Falcons girls hockey team displayed the skills that made them the number two seeded team in the Lake Division with a 5-0 win over the visiting Stowe Raiders at the Jay Peak Ice Haus on Wednesday night, March 6. The Falcons dominated Stowe throughout the regular season recording three shutouts. Wednesday night’s game marked the fourth shut out against the Raiders and the Falcons’ tenth of the 2012-13 season.
Coach Claude Paul downplays any suggestion that drawing Stowe was in any way a lucky break for the Falcons.
“You don’t become the number two team by being lucky,” he said. “The girls worked hard all year to earn their position.”
“We’ve been running after Stowe all year,” sophomore Taylor Morley said after the game. “We know how to attack them and we set the pace early. Last season we were neck and neck all year long so it was nice to have the season we did against them this year.”
Despite blanking the Raiders in all four contests, Coach Paul gave Stowe goaltender Danielle Mayo props for her performance. She has proven a talented and challenging opponent for the Falcons. Her 37-save performance on Wednesday proved as much.
“She’s one of the top goalies in the league,” Coach Paul said. “Tonight the puck luck just happened to go our way. We had some good chances and were able to follow through.”
The Falcons’ Mikaella Doran turned aside ten shots in the shutout victory.
Those chances came as a result of a relentless assault on the Raiders’ defensive zone. The Falcons were relentless in taking the puck to the net and quickly clearing the neutral zone. That offensive push enabled Whitney Bernier to record the opening goal of the game at 9:31 of the first period.
Bernier’s goal would later prove to be the deciding goal though the Falcon offense did not stop there. North Country would add three more goals in the second period alone on tallies from Savannah Alberghini-Giroux, Morley and Bernier’s second of the night. Cassidy Webster would record the final goal in the third period to cap off the Falcons’ five-goal explosion.
The victory was a good start for the Falcons as they seek to capture the Lake Division title. Coach Paul said that his primary job at this point is to channel his players’ enthusiasm and energy game by game.
“I told them it’s a short road they need to travel,” he said. “Three games, now two, so they should give it all they have. You want to carry that intensity into every game because each game is a new game.”
The pressure of both the playoffs and their solid season has not gone unnoticed by the players, Morley said. On the heels of a solid campaign the expectations from the fans, their parents and themselves have achieved new heights during this playoff run.
“There’s definitely a lot more pressure now than at the start of the year,” Morley said. “When people see you win they expect you to keep winning. We know that we can win and we push ourselves every practice, every game to be the best we can be.”
The Falcons return to action on Saturday afternoon hosting visiting sixth-seeded Middlebury with a 2 p.m. start at the Ice Haus. North Country was a perfect 2-0 against Middlebury during the regular season.
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by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 3-7-2013
JAY — The North Country Falcons advanced to the semi-finals with a win over the Colchester Lakers on Wednesday night, March 6. The Falcons provided a 3-1 win for their fans at the Jay Peak Ice Haus as they continue their drive for the Metro Division championship.
“Colchester is a very good, very hard working team,” Coach Andrew Roy said after the game. “We’ve come out on top in all three matches this year but it’s been a tough battle every time.”
Wednesday’s contest was everything a hockey fan could hope for combining hard hits, fast skating and plenty of action at both ends of the rink. Key to the Falcons win was the performance of goaltender Chris Bronson.
“Hats off to Bronson,” Falcons defenseman Logan Fortier said after the game. “He was nuts tonight.”
Bronson’s athleticism was tested throughout the contest as he stuffed breakaways, denied point shots and generally did everything to keep Colchester off the score sheet. His performance included turning aside three first period breakaways by the visiting Lakers.
“I’ve seen a lot of incredible saves this season but there were some saves he made tonight I’m not sure anyone else could have made,” Coach Roy added. “We needed everyone to step up and he stepped it up.”
The Falcons opened the scoring in the first period when Travis Tetreault buried a shot from the faceoff circle past Colchester’s Matt McBruide to give North Country the early lead. Though both teams created opportunities, it would not be until the second period before anyone lit the lamp again.
A mere 48 seconds into the period Ryan Paul snapped home a shot off the corner crossbar to give North Country a 2-0 lead. Colchester would respond at the 11:02 mark as Garrett Swan finally found a chink in Bronson’s armor and cut the lead in half.
The second period was a highlight reel of precisely what North Country must avoid — a series of six needless and/or questionable penalties. At six foot four, Fortier recognizes that size alone makes him a favorite target of both opposing players and the referees.
“It’s something I’ve had to deal with my whole 14 years of playing hockey and especially my last three years in this league,” Fortier said. “The majority of calls against me have been kind of sketchy. I’m just easier to see.”
The target was plain to see as Fortier set up in front of Bronson during a penalty kill in the second period. Multiple Lakers took opportunities to land cheap shots and underhand jabs at the big defenseman. When the goading had finally proven too much, Fortier took out one of his tormentors with a cross-check. He was spotted by the officials and sent to the box for his misdeed.
“Basically, when I get thrown in the box for something iffy I put my faith in Bronson and my PK unit,” Fortier said, referring to the penalty killing team. “I know that they are going to keep us in it until I can get out.”
Fortier is the very model of the offensive defenseman. The pairing of quick hands and quick feet, coupled with his ice-dominating size make him a natural to lead the charge from the blue line. Knowing that he is a target to anyone not in a Falcons jersey also means he has had to learn when to rein-in his intensity.
“I try to turn that intensity into positive energy,” Fortier said. “I log a lot of ice time, like 30 minutes a game, so I need to pace myself, pick my spots and use that stamina when it’s going to make a difference.”
The final goal of the game came late in the third period as North Country took advantage of a power play opportunity. Kody Halikas took a blue line pass from Fortier, burned down the right wing and fired a shot past McBride to give North Country a 3-1 lead.
North Country (15-5-1) takes on the South Burlington Rebels (19-2) in a semi-final match in South Burlington on Saturday. The Rebels enter the contest with the advantage of having won both games against the Falcons during the regular season.
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by Harris Kinsey
copyright the Chronicle 3-4-2013
Coming off a win in their last regular season road game, the Lake Region girls basketball team hoped to get a win in their final regular season home game. On the night senior players Ashley Locke, Drew Neal, Allison Hall, and Sarah Burnham were honored, they fought hard but came up short 56-45 in a game that featured two technical fouls. Brianna Robare led all scorers with 35 points, and Christina Dang added 11 points for Winooski. Drew Neal led Lake Region with 17 points, but didn’t get much help, as her teammates struggled to score points.
The first quarter started out slow until the 6:35 mark when Robare connected on a layup to start the scoring for Winooski. Winooski jumped out to a quick 11-point lead before Neal scored on a layup for Lake Region’s first points of the game. The whole quarter Lake Region scored only four points compared to 15 points for Winooski as Lake Region didn’t play good help-defense, and most of Winooski’s points were scored on layups. after the first quarter the score was 15-4 Winooski.
The second quarter started better for Lake Region as Neal connected on a three pointer just 10 seconds into the quarter. Winooski answered back 27 seconds later on a three point play by Robare. Lake Region started going on a little run, finally finding the bottom of the basket, and playing better defense. Winooski coach, Tom Prim, didn’t like some of the calls made by the referees and received a technical foul at the 4:47 mark of the quarter. Lake Region made one of the two free throws, and then couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the basket. Winooski then started going on its own little run, and the quarter ended with the score Winooski 31, Lake Region 19.
The first score of the third quarter came on a layup by Robare at the 5:41 mark. Lake Region answered back at the 5:02 mark on a layup by Katie Menard. Lake Region played much better defense in the third quarter, forcing turnovers, and drew a few charges as well. Winooski managed to score only eight points in the quarter. Lake Region shot better and scored 13 points, helped out by two three pointers by Neal. After the third quarter came to a close Lake Region had pulled closer but still trailed by seven, 39-32.
Lake Region got the first score of the fourth quarter just 32 seconds in on a jumper by Michelle Thibault. Winooski had an answer with Robare scoring shortly after. Both teams played well on offense and then Lake Region started going on a little run that petered out when Winooski player Christina Dang received a technical foul at the 3:55 mark. After that again Lake Region started to struggle again. Winooski scored 17 points in the quarter to 13 points for Lake Region. The game ended with Winooski winning 56-45.
After the game Coach Mark Tinker said, “We struggled on both ends tonight. We got behind, and we played tight, and panicked a little bit. We had good stretches where we drew some charges on defense,and played great on offense, but we were inconsistent and couldn’t sustain anything good long enough to win the game.” The Rangers finished their season with a record of 16-4.