Owen Pederson nets first professional goal for game-winner
GLENS FALLS, NY – October 28, 2023 – Rookie forward Owen Pederson scored his first professional goal at 6:39 of overtime to give the Maine Mariners a 4-3 victory over the Adirondack Thunder on Saturday night at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, NY. Gabriel Chicoine also scored a pair of goals in Maine’s first win of the season.
Just 3:33 into his return to the Mariners, Boston Bruins prospect Curtis Hall opened the scoring in the game early in the first period. Reid Stefanson stole a puck away in the neutral zone and created a 2-on-1, feeding Hall for a backdoor tap-in. The story for the remainder of the period was Mariners netminder Shane Starrett, who turned aside all 16 Adirondack shots that came his way.
Less than a minute into the 2nd, the Mariners doubled their lead when defenseman Gabriel Chicoine was set up by Stefanson and Alex Kile, and beat Thunder goalie Vinnie Purpura with a one-timer from the right faceoff circle. The Thunder finally got on the board at the 9:00 mark of the middle frame, when T.J. Friedmann got behind the Maine defense and beat Starrett’s blocker with a wrister. Later in the period, the Mariners allowed the tying goal just moments after killing their first penalty of the night, Ryan Smith finding space between Starrett’s pads from the right circle. Heading into the third, the game was tied at two.
Chicoine’s second goal of the game put the Mariners back ahead at the 4:00 mark of the third period, when Tim Doherty zipped a pass to the defenseman in the high slot, and Chicoine buried another. The Thunder had the answer again, when Yushiroh Hirano snuck a quick shot-side shot inside the post at 12:01, off a nice rush by defenseman Tristan Thompson. Tied at three, the game headed into extra time.
A sloppy overtime period saw Starrett make several crucial stops to keep the Mariners alive. With just over 20 seconds to go, Tim Doherty rushed down the right wing and spotted Owen Pederson in front of the net. Pederson one-timed the game-winner past Purpura for the first goal of his professional career.
Starrett made 37 stops of 40 Adirondack shots, including six in overtime, to earn his first win of the season. Purpura turned aside 28 of 32 Mariners offerings.
The Mariners (1-2-0) visit Norfolk, VA for three games against the Norfolk Admirals next weekend, beginning Friday at 7:05 PM. They return home on Friday, November 10th for “Lobster Night” presented by Anthem, a 7:15 PM faceoff against the Trois-Rivieres Lions. Single game tickets for all regular season home games are on sale at MarinersOfMaine.com or at the Ware-Butler Box Office inside the Cross Insurance Arena. More information on ticket packages and group discounts can be found by calling 833-GO-MAINE or visiting the Mariners front office at 94 Free St. in Portland. The 2023-2024 season is presented by Hannaford to Go.
Press Release From the American Canadian Tour
Photo Courtesy of Alan Ward
Waterford, CT — Although rains pushed the Haunted Hundred at New London-Waterford Speedbowl back to Sunday, October 22, the poor weather did nothing to hinder the competition. Forty-nine American-Canadian Tour teams flooded the paddock at the coastal Connecticut oval with just thirty-one positions up for grabs in the final event of the 2023 season with the iconic ACT Tour championship, Rookie of the Year honors and Brookside Equipment Southern New England Triple Crown on the line.
By virtue of an impressive +6 in the fifth and final heat race, Scarborough, Maine’s Nick Cusack led the charge under the green flag for the Haunted Hundred. Urgency had been the mood of the day, especially after three rounds of qualifying sent home eighteen competitors. While Cusack held onto the early lead, Erick Sands and 2023 White Mountain Motorsports Park champion Kasey Beattie attempted to track him down on the inside groove. Waterford Speedbowl hot-shoes Ryan Morgan and Jordan Hadley also added in some local flavor out front in the opening laps.
Coming in second on the standings, defending champion D.J. Shaw entered the top-five on lap 13 under Brooks Clark while point leader Gabe Brown was mired in traffic way out back. Brown marched through all three rounds of qualifying on Sunday, entering the Haunted Hundred feature only after winning the Last Chance B-Feature.
Jacob ‘Rowdy’ Burns would bring out the lap 33 caution with a spin off turn two to slow the field. During the caution the hood flew up over the windshield of rookie contender Andrew Molleur until Woody Pit
kat’s contact with the frontstretch wall saved the hometown rookie on lap 35.
Erick Sands put the hammer down to lead the field on lap 36 before a series of four cautions in three laps led to single-file restarts for the remainder of the 100-lap event. Shaw powered up to the lead after a heartbreaker for Sands saw the lights go out under the hood of the 36NH on lap 60. As the field settled in, former Rookie of the Year and Serie ACT Quebec star Alexendre ‘Fireball’ Tardif went to work on Shaw with 15-laps remaining. Tardif battled hard with Shaw throughout the final circuits, but laps ran down leaving D.J. Shaw to take down the Haunted Hundred win over Tardif and Nick Cusack.
By virtue of the win and his lap-leader bonuses, Shaw was able to overcome a twenty-one-point deficit to Gabe Brown to come back and win the 2023 American-Canadian Tour championship by thirty-one points. Shaw overcame the largest points-deficit in ACT Tour history to claim his second-career championship. Shaw was also able to bring home his second-consecutive Brookside Equipment Sales Southern New England Triple Crown while Tanner Woodard was able to claim the 2023 ACT Tour Rookie of the Year honors.
The 45th season of American-Canadian Tour Championship Stock Car Racing is officially over with all the top stars returning to Barre, Vermont for the annual Banquet of Champions on Saturday, November 4th. 2024 rule books and the 2024 schedule will be released by the Barre offices by Thanksgiving.
For more information about the American-Canadian Tour, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, email@example.com, or visit www.acttour.com. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.
New London-Waterford Speedbowl – Waterford, CT
The Haunted Hundred
Sunday, October 22, 2023
2023 American-Canadian Tour Champion – D.J. Shaw
2023 ACT Rookie of the Year – Tanner Woodard
2023 Brookside Equipment Sales Triple Crown Champion – D.J. Shaw
- 04VT D.J. Shaw Center Conway, NH
- 21QC Alexendre Tardif Notre Dame des Pins, QC
- 49CT Nicholas Cusack Scarborough, ME
- 68VT Brooks Clark Fayston, VT
- 25NH Jesse Switser West Burke, VT
- 00NH Jimmy Renfrew Jr. Candia, NH
- 5MA Tom Carey III New Salem, MA
- 17QC Maxime Gauvreau St-Marie de Richelieu, QC
- 68NH #Tanner Woodard Waterbury Ctr., VT
- 7NC Davey Riendeau Mooresville, NC
- 0NH Brandon Barker Windham, ME
- 97NH Joey Polewarczyk Hudson, NH
- 41QC Jonathan Bouvrette Blainville, QC
- 45NH Kasey Beattie St. Johnsbury, VT
- 35CT Ryan Morgan N. Franklin, CT
- 90QC Zackary Fauteaux Mascouche, QC
- 03MA Derek Gluchacki North Dartmouth, MA
- 60ME Gabe Brown Center Conway, NH
- 31CT #Andrew Molleur Shelton, CT
- 31CS Brody Monahan Waterford, CT
- 76RI Tyler Tomassi Warwick, RI
- 27NH Cam Huntress Rochester, NH
- 36NH Erick Sands Derry, NH
- 37CT Jordan Hadley Quaker Hill, QC
- 77NH #Bryan Wall Jr. E. Kingston, NH
- 1CT Corey Fanning Uncasville, CT
- 47NH Brockton Davis Whitefield, NH
- 88MA Woody Pitkat Bellingham, MA
- 66VT Jason Corliss Barre, VT
- 38RI Connor Souza Providence, RI
- 30RI Jacob Rowdy Burns E. Greenwich, RI
B-Feature Non-Qualifiers –
DNQ 19CT Michael Bennett Willington, CT
DNQ 22RI Mark Jenison Cranston, RI
DNQ 53MA Glen Thomas West Bridgewater, MA
DNQ 6KT Derek Ramstrom Waterford, CT
DNQ 33MA Jaret Curtis Rutland, MA
DNQ 5RI Rich Staskowski Hope Valley, RI
DNQ 12CT #PJ Evans Uncasville, CT
DNQ 78M Emma Monahan Quaker Hill, CT
DNQ 8RI Ryan Souliere North Smithfield, RI
DNQ 22VT Peyton Lanphear Waterbury, VT
DNQ 21VT Reilly Lanphear Waterbury, VT
DNQ 49NH Matt Anderson Franklin, NH
DNQ 2DJ Douglas Curry Bozrah, CT
DNS 78CT Walter Sutcliffe E. Haven, CT
DNS 27MA Luke LeBrun Hudson, MA
DNS 2CT Derryck Anderson Jr Plainfield, CT
DNS 50RI Mike Benevides Westerly, RI
DNS 67MA Johnny Silva Attleboro, MA
Press Release From Stafford Speedway
Graphic Courtesy of Stafford Speedway
(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway officials have put the finishing touches on their 2024 racing schedule. 24 events make up the calendar from late April to late September, kicking off with the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler April 27th & 28th and wrapping up at the NAPA Auto Parts Fall September 28th.
“We are excited about how the 2024 schedule came together, with a great balance of special events and weekly racing,” explained Stafford CEO Mark Arute. “Our focus continues to be on showcasing our weekly race teams and ensuring our local competitors feel at home every race night.”
NAPA Spring Sizzler® Weekend April 27th & 28th
The 2024 NAPA Spring Sizzler® Weekend will once again be one of the biggest short track events of the year and will feature two separate days of racing. The NAPA Auto Parts Duel, two 40-lap qualifying races, will be held Saturday, April 27th and will set the field for Sunday’s 52nd Spring Sizzler®. Also on the card for Saturday will be the Street Stocks, Limited Late Model, and Late Model divisions.
Sunday, April 28th will play host to the highest paying Modified race in the country, the $20,000 to win 52nd running of the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. The SK Modified®, and SK Light Modified divisions will accompany the Modifieds for a packed afternoon of racing. Race fans will also have the opportunity to meet their favorite drivers at the NAPA Pit Party.
GAF Roofing Modified Masters
New for 2024, the GAF Roofing Modified Masters will be held Wednesday, July 17th. Big prize money will be on the line with Open Modified teams set to battle for a $12,000 to win prize in the 100 lap event. Also on the card that night will be the biggest SK Light Modified race of the year. Dubbed the King of the Crate, SK Light Modified teams will compete in a 40-lap, $2,000 to win event.
Weekly Friday Night Racing
Stafford’s 5 weekly divisions, including SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light Modified, Limited Late Model, and Street Stocks, are scheduled to compete Friday nights starting May 10th and running throughout 2024 culminating with the NAPA Auto Parts Champions Night on Friday, September 27th where the season champions will be crowned.
Each of Stafford’s 5 weekly divisions will have at least one special event night beginning with the first of two 40-lap SK Light races on Friday, May 24th, presented by Monaco Ford. The second SK Light double down race will be held July 17th with the GAF Modified Masters. Bonuses for the highest average finishes across both 40-lap events will be awarded. Limited Late Models will go an extra 10 laps on June 14th presented by Riley Generators, Street Stocks will run an extra 10 laps on June 28th for the annual Midstate Site Development Firecracker 30, and Paradiso Insurance returns as the presenting sponsor for the Late Model 50 on September 6th.
Stafford’s top weekly division, the SK Modifieds®, will have 3 special events in 2024 including:
Senators Cup (50 laps) – June 21st
11th Annual NAPA SK 5K (111 laps) – August 2nd
TC 13 SK Modified® Shootout (13 laps) – September 13th
Open Modified Events
Open Modified racing will continue to be a staple on the Stafford Speedway calendar, with 5 events including one event with the Monaco Modified Series:
April 27th & 28th – NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler & Duel
June 7th – Casella Waste Systems Open Modified 80
July 17th – GAF Roofing Modified Masters
August 16th – Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80
September 28th – NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final (Monaco Modifieds)
Season tickets for the 2024 season will go on sale Monday, October 30th online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets. Early discount pricing is available through December 15th. Contact the track office with any questions.
For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.
PORTLAND, ME – October 26, 2023 – The Maine Mariners and the ECHL have announced that the scheduled game on Friday, October 27th between the Mariners and Adirondack Thunder has been postponed.
The Maine Mariners released the following statement after the tragedy that occurred in Lewiston, ME on Wednesday night, October 25th:
“We are heartbroken and devastated by the senseless violence in Lewiston, ME. Our prayers are with everyone who has been impacted by this tragedy, and we are grateful for the first responders who are putting their own lives on the line to protect our communities. We urge everyone to stay safe and follow the guidance of local law enforcement. #LewistonStrong”
A makeup date for the game has not yet been announced. Refunds and exchanges will be available to customers. Fans can exchange their October 27th ticket to a future 2023-24 Mariners regular season game, subject to availability.
Mariners let early lead slip, fall short in comeback
Maine Mariners Press Release
Photo: Kristin Basnett
PORTLAND, ME – October 21, 2023 – Tim Doherty’s four assists and Alex Kile’s pair of goals led the Maine Mariners offense on Saturday night, but they fell short in a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the Trois-Rivieres Lions in their home opener. A sellout crowd of 5,499 witnessed the high-scoring affair.
There was plenty of offense to be had in the opening period alone, as the teams combined for four goals. The Mariners struck with a pair of power play tallies to jump out to a 2-0 lead as Alex Kile and Reid Stefanson each found the net at 10:05 and 12:13 respectively. Stefanson’s goal was instantly answered by Nolan Yaremko, who struck 11 seconds later to get the Lions on the board. Anthony Beauregard ripped a slap shot past Shane Starrett from the right faceoff circle at 17:29 to bring the game back even. The Mariners were outshot 17-9 in the opening period.
The Lions took the lead 2:41 into the third when captain Cedric Montminy drove the net and finished a pass from John Parker-Jones. After a major penalty to Austin Albrecht, Miguel Tourigny one-timed home a power play goal at 4:22 for the Lions’ fourth unanswered tally.
Trailing by two in the third, the Mariners got back in the game with Kile’s second of the night – another power play marker just 3:10 into the final frame. Former Mariner Nick Jermain punched back for the Lions with a rebound goal at 6:17 to put Trois-Rivieres back up two. The Mariners continued to battle, as Ethan Keppen deflected home a Tim Doherty shot with just over seven minutes to play, bringing them back within one. Yaremko found the empty net with 36 seconds left to cinch the Lions victory.
Each team totaled 30 shots, with the Mariners holding a 14-4 edge in the third. Joe Vrbetic improved to 2-0 with 26 stops while Shane Starrett stopped 24 in the losing effort.
The Mariners are back in action next weekend in a home-and-home with the Adirondack Thunder. It begins at home on Friday night at 7:15 PM for a Halloween-themed game. Single game tickets for all regular season home games are on sale at MarinersOfMaine.com or at the Ware-Butler Box Office inside the Cross Insurance Arena. More information on ticket packages and group discounts can be found by calling 833-GO-MAINE or visiting the Mariners front office at 94 Free St. in Portland. The 2023-2024 season is presented by Hannaford to Go.
For more pictures from the game, please visit Kristin Basnett’s photo website
Story By: Matthew Wiernasz
Photo Courtesy of the Springfield Thunderbirds
SPRINGFIELD, MA- The Lehigh Valley Phantoms erased a 2-0 deficit to comeback and scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-2 last night at the MassMutual Center.
” I didn’t like the start obviously. We made a couple of mistakes but I like that we stayed with it. We kept pushing. We kept pushing in the second. Kept pushing in the third. Came out with a big win. That’s a good team on the other side. We showed them a lot of respect by showing up in the last 40 minutes.” Phantoms Head Coach Ian Lappiere Said
” It’s a pretty good team win. Not the start we wanted. We finished with a strong second and third period. All positive and we gotta a game tomorrow. Let’s focus on that.” Phantoms forward Alexis Gendron Said
Thunderbirds forward Adam Gaudette would be getting plenty of scoring opportunities early. Gaudette would try a one-timer but Phantoms goaltender Cal Petersen made the save. Gaudette would get his first goal of the game when he fired the wrist shot with 6:58 remaining in the first period to make it 1-0.
Gaudette got his second goal of the period on the power play when he took the shot that went through Petersen to make it 2-0 with 7:00 left in the first period.
Olle Lycksell would cut into the lead with 3:12 remaining in the first period as he scored over the glove of Thunderbirds goaltender Malcolm Subban to make it 2-1.
The Phantoms would then score three more goals in the second period. Phantoms defenseman Helge Gran took the slap shot and Garrett Wilson was able to tip it in with 9:00 to tie the game at 2-2.
The Phantoms would then get their first lead of the night as Lycksell scored to make it 3-2 with 5:18 remaining in the second period.
Alexis Gendron would extend the lead 10 seconds later as he jammed in the rebound to make it 4-2. Gendron’s father Martin used to play in the AHL where he played for the Portland Pirates, Springfield Falcons, and the Fredericton Canadiens. Gendron is only 19 years old
” I played against his dad quite a bit in juniors which is weird for me to coach those guys. He’s been great. He scores goals. He’s known to do that. He did that in juniors. I like his 200 feet game. That’s one thing he needs to be better at. He wants to learn. He wants to be a pro. He shows a lot of maturity for his age. He wants to be better and I love that.” Lappiere Said
Gendron has learned a lot from his father and the guidance he has given him.
” Just to be positive. Just shoot, skate, and work hard and all the good things will happen.” Gendron Said
The Phantoms outshot the Thunderbirds 21-6 during the second period.
Lycksell would complete the hat trick with 2:12 remaining in regulation as he scored a one-timer to make it 5-2.
The Thunderbirds will continue their 3-in-3 weekend tonight when they take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for a 6:05 p.m. puck drop. The T-Birds will complete their first 3-in-3 of the season when they travel to the PPL Center tomorrow afternoon in Allentown to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The puck drop is at 3:05 p.m.
The Phantoms will take on the Hartford Wolf Pack tonight at the XL Center for the drop of the puck at 7:00 p.m.
The next home game for the Thunderbirds will be next Saturday, October 28 when the Providence Bruins come to the MassMutal Center. Game Time is at 7:05 p.m.
Story By: Matthew Wiernasz
Photo Courtesy of the Springfield Thunderbirds
SPRINGFIELD, MA- Thunderbirds forward Adam Gaudette scored the game-winning goal 4:08 remaining in regulation as they defeated the Providence Bruins 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at the MassMutual Center.
The Thunderbirds had a rough second period as Thunderbirds Head Coach Drew Bannister gave his thoughts.
” Yeah I mean, we weren’t really happy with our second period at all. You know we were definitely a step behind. Pretty much that period, we relied on Z (Zherenko) who had a good period for us. Kept us in that game really to give us an opportunity to kind of get ourselves into the third (period) and get us through the second period and kind of settle ourselves down. But certainly, you know they came out and scored that gave us some energy which we really needed because we just didn’t seem to have the energy at that time.” Bannister Said
” We were much a better team in game one than we were today. You know this one of quite honestly we didn’t deserve to win the game. The way the second period went I mean the first (period) you know was fine. It was the way it went. But you know the third period, we were good at times. But again, we kind of killed our momentum with those penalties we took. There were lazy penalties like for the ones for the refs to call.” Bannister continued
Thunderbirds Captain Matthew Peca got his team on the board on a delayed penalty call on Providence. Thunderbirds defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk took the wrist shot and Bruins goaltender Brendan Bussi tried to make the save but the puck came out. Peca was able to score with 12:12 remaining in the first period to make it 1-0. Nathan Walker and Dylan Coghlan would receive the assists.
Providence would respond in the second period. John Farinacci would put in the rebound with the backhand over the glove of Zherenko to tie the game at 1-1. The Bruins would then get their first lead of the afternoon as Fairnacci would find Luke Toporowski. Toporowski scored on a one-timer to make it 2-1 for the Bruins.
The Thunderbirds would come out with a bang in the third period as Nathan Walker was able to tie the game nine seconds into the third period as he would get his second goal of the weekend to make it 2-2. Adam Gaudette and Calle Rosen would receive the assists
Thunderbirds rookie forward Zachary Bolduc scored his first pro goal in the American Hockey League. Bolduc was on an odd-man rush and fired the shot over the blocker of Bussi over four minutes later to make it 3-2.
The Bruins would respond quickly as Reilly Walsh fired the slap shot and Marc McLaughlin tipped it in to get a power play goal for the Bruins to tie the game with 6:39 remaining in regulation to even the score at 3-3.
Thunderbirds forward Adam Gaudette would score the game-winning goal as he fired the snapshot that went under the crossbar to make it 4-3.
Zherenko made 38 saves in the team win. Bannister believes Zherenko has matured a lot from last season.
” I think just you know from last year and what he went through just to get here in the travel and stuck in a hotel was quite an ordeal. He came in and played well. But you could see as the year went on towards the end of the year. He started to kind of break down a little bit which is not unusual for the younger goalie. He’s had a good summer. He’s come in great shape. You know he’s different. He’s a big goalie. He’s very athletic.” Bannister Said
Bruins goaltender Brendan Bussi made 20 saves in the team loss.
Story and Photo By: Matthew Wiernasz
SPRINGFIELD, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds returned to home ice on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center as they lost to their I-91 rival, the Hartford Wolf Pack in front of a sellout crowd. Springfield Thunderbirds Head Coach Drew Bannister gave his thoughts.
” I think overall I was happy with the game. Obviously, I am not happy with the loss. Considering we’ve had to practices together with the majority of our group. I was pretty happy with the structure. We didn’t give up too much defensively. I thought our PK (Penalty Kill) was good but at the end of the day they were able to score one and that made the difference in the game.” Thunderbirds Head Coach Drew Bannister Said
The newest addition for the Wolf Pack, Alex Belzile was able to get his team on the board late in the first period as he put the puck into the open net at 19:26 into the opening period to make it 1-0. Adam Edstrom received the lone assist in the goal.
The Wolf Pack were able to outshoot the T-Birds 13-7 after the first period.
The Thunderbirds would respond in the second period. Thunderbirds defenseman Leo Loof took a shot on Wolf Pack goaltender Dylan Garand. Garand was able to make the initial save as the rebound went to Adam Gaudette. Gaudette made the pass to Nathan Walker and Walker was able to put the puck through Garand’s legs to even the score at 1-1 with 18:34 remaining in the second period.
Wolf Pack captain Jonny Brodzinski capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play as his shot went over the arm of Subban to make it 2-1 that would end up being the game-winning goal.
Brodzinski added his second goal of the game with an empty-net goal with 1:17 remaining in regulation to make it 3-1.
Wolf Pack goaltender Dylan Garand made 23 saves in the win for his team. Malcolm Subban making his Thunderbirds debut made 22 saves in the loss.
News and Notes
Prior to the start of Saturday’s game, Matthew Peca was named the team captain. Peca becomes the fourth team captain in Thunderbirds history.
” He has someone to look up to in Tommy Cross the last couple of years. He’s learned a lot from Tommy. He’s a quiet voice but for himself, he’s a Conn-Smyth pro. Does everything right off the ice and in the gym in practice and games. That’s the type of people were looking for to kind of show our young guys the way to come in and do things day-to-day. He’s great with conversations and getting it across.” Bannister Said
Thunderbirds forwards Nathan Walker, Hugh McGing along with defenseman Matt Kessel and Callie Rosen were named Alternates.
During the week, Thunderbirds forward Nathan Walker, Mackenzie MacEachern, and Callie Rosen were sent down to the Thunderbirds from their NHL affiliate, the St. Louis Blues.
” They’re real good players Obviously for those guys we missed them last year but we were happy they were in the NHL. They were big parts of what we did two years ago and getting into the finals. It’s nice to have them back and they are certainly here to prove they don’t belong here. They want to be in the NHL and I understand that and for all our guys that’s what we are here for to get these guys better and give them an opportunity to play in the NHL.” Bannister Said
Thunderbirds captain Matthew Peca gave his thoughts.
” It’s massive. Anytime you can add leadership experience to a group, especially NHL experience. It makes your team so much better. It makes your team closer. These guys know how to be around a locker game and make sure they’re putting guys in the right direction.” Peca Said
A moment of silence was held for long-time AHL off-ice official Jay Denver. He was a part of Springfield Hockey for five decades. Denver passed away over the summer.
The T-Birds return to action tomorrow afternoon when they host the Providence Bruins here at the MassMutual Center. Puck drop is at 3:05 p.m.
Column and Photo By Terrill Covey
Lee, NH – Kyle Busch has never been a big fan of finishing anywhere other than first place, but Friday night the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion had to settle for the bridesmaid role as Hudson, NH hot shoe Derek Griffith took home the $10,000 to win Keen Parts 125 at Lee USA Speedway.
After chasing Angelo Belsito and Joey Doiron for most of the race, Griffith charged to the lead on a late-race restart after Doiron selected the outside lane for the restart, and Busch worked his way around Doiron as well to secure the runner-up spot.
“It feels good,” Griffith said of the win. “I think (Busch) is one of the most talented race car drivers, in general, of all time. He hasn’t seen that car or the track before today and he goes out there and is really good. He just lays eyes on it today and comes out and is stout.
“He’s won hundreds and hundreds of races – late model stuff, Xfinity, trucks, Cup – not many people have a pedigree that substantial. It’s damn cool. I’m pumped. So it shows our little team from New Hampshire does alright.”
Busch was disappointed with a second-place finish, but he said he enjoyed competing in the Pro Stock.
“Thanks to Keen Parts and Chevrolet and Fisher Weir for being on the hood. We had a good solid night, it just wasn’t quite enough.”
Doiron was not as happy with his finish. He chose the outside on a lap 94 restart, allowing Griffith to his inside, and after the initial start was called back due to a false start by Griffith, Doiron said he didn’t get the grip he needed to hold onto the lead. Griffith got away, and Busch got around the outside of Belsito, then quickly dropped down to follow Griffith through the hole into second.
“I shouldn’t have taken the top on that restart,” Doiron said. “I had gotten the lead from (Belsito) and I honestly thought he was a little bit better than Derek at the time. They called back the first start and into turn one I got super free and tried to make it up and got up into the marbles. I don’t know if I just didn’t get my tires cleaned up enough. It’s just one of those things, I feel terrible for my guys. IF the yellow didn’t come out, we probably had it.”
Early on in the night it looked like Auburn, Mass. driver Angelo Belsito set the pace – a frantic pace – at the head of the field. Doiron was able to get past Belsito on a lap 41 restart, when Belsito ran him high, and Griffith punched it 3-wide. Belsito had to back out and Doiron cleared to the lead with Griffith behind him.
Both Griffith and Doiron said the pace that Belsito set early on made it hard to pace themselves through the 125 lap race, but both drivers have had their share of success at Lee USA Speedway and were able to adjust.
“(Belsito) ran a really, really hard pace,” Griffith said. “I just kept pressure on everybody in front of me until they messed up. Kyle (Busch) kind of hit the front stretch wall and gave me room to get by him, but really, the rest of them it was all pressure. Everything we got done tonight was putting the pressure to people until they made a mistake. Joey was good on the restarts, but for some reason our car just wrapped the bottom so well on that lap when I needed to, and he washed up, and that was that. I knew Kyle was coming at the end, but we held him off.”
“I definitely had to go a little harder than I wanted to at the beginning,” Doiron said. “I never got a good opportunity to ride. I didn’t feel like I was pushing super hard, but at the same time I didn’t get to do what I usually do here. I had to go a little bit harder than I wanted to and it might’ve bit me at the end. I definitely felt like I had the second best car behind the (Griffith). (Busch) just wheeled the hell out of it at the end. That’s probably why he races on Sundays.”
In addition to Griffith, the support division winners also had their day on the big stage. In the Six Shooter division, Christin Destefano won over Paul Childs and Steve Miller Sr.. Geoff Rollins won the NHSTRA Late Model battle for the belt race over Milton Duran and Andrew Morin, and Dave Cameron won the Ridge Runner feature over Heath DeButts and Carl Gagnon.
In a race riddled with top talent from throughout the northeast, Kyle Busch might not even have been the biggest draw in the field for many local fans. Busch, the former Oxford 250 winner, was joined by fellow Oxford 250 champions Wayne Helliwell Jr, Joey Polewarczyk, and Eddie MacDonald, as well as Pro All Star Series champions Ryan Kuhn, Doiron, and Griffith. But regardless of who they came to see, fans were packed into the 3/8-mile oval to watch their heroes do battle.
For Busch, who doesn’t do as many short track appearances as he used to, it was a rare opportunity to get out and have some fun.
“it’s just scheduling. Scheduling is the biggest thing,” he said. “With my kid racing as much as he does it’s hard to do, but he’s got a race this weekend down at home so they didn’t come this weekend, so I had a free night to come out and have a little fun for myself. I haven’t done it as much lately because I sold all my cars. I don’t have anything anymore. I really don’t enjoy coming out and doing it with somebody’s stuff because I always want to make sure my guys are doing it, and doing it right. But these guys tonight were really good so we had a good night.”
Busch was joined by his NASCAR spotter Derek Kneeland, a Maine native who looked forward to racing with Busch as well as some familiar faces from back home. Kneeland finished 14th, and although he was disappointed with the finish, he was happy to be back behind the wheel.
“It’s awesome to be here. It was cool last year we were able to make it happen with Tyler, and Archie (St. Hilaire) had asked me if I thought I might be able to get Kyle once he knew I was going to be spotting for Kyle and I asked Kyle before the season even started, and he said, ‘Absolutely.’”
While getting back in the car was fun for Kneeland, it wasn’t the outcome he was looking for.
“I love driving race cars and I am highly frustrated that I finished where I did. I want it so bad, and everybody comes up to me and says, ‘Well, you don’t get to do it very often,’ but it’s the racer in me. It’s never good enough until you get to where you want to be. But fun, absolutely. I didn’t have to spot. I got to have fun.”
The impact of Busch’s presence was not lost on his fellow competitors.
“He’s a racer at heart,” Griffith said. “You see it on a day-to-day basis with him. There’s no fluff with him, no bullsh-t. That’s not really a common thing in NASCAR nowadays. I got a taste of it the last year or two, and he’s the first one to tell you what he thinks and what’s going on. And he’s a short track guy.”
Helliwell said Busch’s presence at the track put a spotlight on Lee USA Speedway that can only help the track, fans and sponsors.
“It’s great for the community and the track,” Helliwell said. “His name brings all these people, and that’s what we need. This sport has gotten so expensive and the younger generation isn’t here like it was. So, if it takes someone like that coming in once or twice a year to keep this place running – we all need a place to play – I thank him for that. He hasn’t gotten too big on his high horse to come and run with us. We appreciate that.”
Story By: Terrill Covey
Photo By: Matthew Wiernasz
LOUDON – Monday may have been Martin Truex Jr.’s first NASCAR Cup Series win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but you would never know it by the way he dominated the Magic Mile during Monday’s rain-delayed Crayon 301.
Truex fended off early challengers Christopher Bell and Joey Logano early, and he had no challengers late as he led 254 laps en route to the victory.
“It’s no secret that I’ve been after this one for a long time,” Truex said. “It’s always been one I wanted so bad – maybe too bad at times. But it’s been well worth the wait to be able to do it finally today, and take home the lobster and put another win at Loudon with the name Truex on it.”
It took Truex 30 tries to lock down his first win at what he considers his home track, but he left no doubt on Monday.
“The car was super fast, again, like we’ve been in the past,” he said. “But it was fast all day long and not just in the first two stages, which is good.”
While Truex was thrilled with his car’s speed, runner-up Joey Logano left the track feeling a little frustrated, not with his second-place finish, but with the fact that his Ford couldn’t challenge Truex’s Toyota.
“The guys did a good job of putting us in position and making our car better throughout the race and we got where we could run in the top 2. We just weren’t quite as good as the 19,” Logano said. “We (Fords) don’t have quite enough yet. We still have a lot of work to do to catch the Toyotas. We can’t look at this and say this is good enough. We got smoked by the 20 and the 19 all day long. The 20 just screwed up enough times to keep him from leading every lap with the 19. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski had mixed feelings about his fifth-place finish, though he agreed with his former teammate about the work that Ford needs to do to gain ground on the competition. He said his feelings about the day depending on which hat he is wearing.
“My owner hat: I want both cars to be competing for wins,” he said. “That’s not where we’re at. It’s frustrating. We have to find more speed. We have to get better to be the team we want to be to contend for playoff spots and race wins, and do that every week.”
From a driver’s perspective, however, he said he was happy to take what he thought was a 10th or 11th place car and drive it to a top five finish.
“From the driver’s side I’m fairly pleased. I felt like we had a 10th, maybe 11th place car today, and we brought home top 5 by being really solid on pit road and solid on moves we made on the track. I’m proud of that. So I guess wearing two competing hats today on how I feel.”
The only Chevy represented in the top five was third-place finisher Kyle Larson, who lined up next to Truex on a restart with eight laps to go when Logano chose to restart in the top groove behind Truex. He didn’t have enough to outrun Truex or Logano, but he said he feels like the podium finish is a good result for his Hendrick Motorsports team, which has historically struggled at Loudon.
“In my career short tracks have been the worst, but this year any time we go to a short track we’ve got a really great car,” Larson said. “I’ve won a lot of them and been third here, and maybe 4th at Phoenix. It’s been good. Hats off to Hendrick Motorsports.”
He said he was hopeful that Truex and Logano would race hard or make a mistake on the last restart, but he knew it was a long shot and didn’t want to risk a strong finish.
“Joey chose the outside because the top launches better,” Larson said. “I was just hoping I could launch okay on the bottom and maybe clear him off of 2 and then get racing with him. But everybody is so good that they don’t make too many mistakes. Joey and Martin were both able to get good jumps and cleared me off the line so I just had to kind of tuck in line and ride to the finish.”
For Truex and his Joe Gibbs Racing team, the win was his third of the season, and they hope to parlay this mid-season run into a regular season championship, and ultimately a series championship. Crew Chief James Small said the team’s consistency across different tracks is impressive, but the results are what really matter.
“We’re showing a strong pace across a variety of tracks, but it’s just about executing,” Small said. “You can do that all day and have things outside your control go wrong and take you out of it. So we just take every race one at a time, every week at a time and try to maximize it. We’ll see if we wind up there and if we can do it, but I feel really good about it right now.”
The win for Joe Gibbs Racing was the team’s sixth in the past 11 races at New Hampshire, and team owner Joe Gibbs said he feels like his team has a good grasp on the track and comes in with confidence every year.
“I think we have a real confidence when we come here,” Gibbs said. “Our guys believe they are going to run good. Christopher is good here and obviously, Martin was last year, and Denny has been.”
Crayon 301 results
- Martin Truex Jr
- Joey Logano
- Kyle Larson
- Kevin Harvick
- Brad Keselowski
- Tyler Reddick
- Denny Hamlin
- Bubba Wallace
- Austin Dillon
- Chase Briscoe
- Erik Jones
- Chase Elliot
- Michael McDowell
- Alex Bowman
- Chris Buescher
- Daniel Suarez
- Justin Haley
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- AJ Allmendinger
- Harrison Burton
- Todd Gilliland
- Ryan Blaney
- Ross Chastain
- William Byron
- Austin Cindric
- Ty Dillon
- Ty Gibbs
- Ryan Preece
- Christopher Bell
- Ryan Newman
- BJ McLeod
- Noah Gragson
- Corey Lajoie
- Aric Almirola
- Cole Custer
- Kyle Busch