EMPTYING the notebook while hoping that this week’s New Hampshire college sports schedule I just typed will somehow approximate reality …
• For all its warts, the NFL has us in its grip. This is not breaking news, really, but while the rest of the pro, college and local high school sports world struggles to play in a pandemic, the King of Sports purrs along without serious interruption.
What would we sports fans do without our weekend TV fix of Mac Jones, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Dak and Zeke, Big Ben, Mahomes and Rodgers?
The league and way-too-many of its owners, players and coaches regularly get themselves in trouble. Sometimes it’s even criminal. Yet, we look the other way and root hard for our favorite laundry running fast and tackling hard on our favorite tundra, frozen or otherwise.
So pass the Doritos, please. And what kind of dip is that, anyway?
• Old Manchester Monarchs never go away. Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick are playing like kids again for the reborn L.A. Kings, Bruce Boudreau is back to his old tricks behind an NHL bench again, and now comes the roster for the U.S. Olympic hockey team that includes Brian O’Neill and Nick Shore. If you were around these parts for the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs, you remember them well.
• Oh, and the Kings’ Adrian Kempe, a young sniper during that same memorable Calder run, is an NHL All-Star. Mysteriously, Brad Marchand is not an All-Star.
• In-person observations from UNH’s 3-2 win over Boston College on Friday night at the Whittemore Center:
When the Wildcats are healthy, they can skate with anyone. Against a young but talented Boston College team, they played with energy and poise. Aside from a few stretches in the first and third periods when BC had them running around in their own zone, the Wildcats were the better team, passing crisply and anticipating plays.
Veterans stepped up and newcomers such as freshman defenseman Colton Huard have emerged. Huard scored for a second straight game, dangling to avoid a defender and then scoring on a wicked wrister.
Senior goalie Mike Robinson of Bedford made big saves down the stretch.
Was it enough to dare UNH faithful to dream again? We’ll see.
• Canada’s Olympic roster, meanwhile, is listing Daniel Winnik, who played three seasons at UNH (2003-2006) and is currently skating in Switzerland. Over his nomadic career, Winnik, 36, scored 82 goals for eight NHL teams.
• When the New Jersey Devils needed an emergency backup goalie last Thursday, they called Kyle Shapiro, a former New England College (and U. of Southern Maine) player. Shapiro, who played in Henniker during the 2017-18 season, is an assistant coach for the North American Hockey League’s New Jersey Titans.
• Hinsdale’s Angelina Nardollilo, a freshman forward for the Rhode Island College women’s basketball team, just keeps scoring points. Nardolillo poured in 24 in RIC’s victory over Emerson on Jan. 8 to earn her third Little East Rookie of the Week award this season.
• Derry’s Geo Baker, a senior at Rutgers, entered Saturday’s game against Maryland averaging 11.5 points per game.
• The Northeast-10 — the conference where Saint Anselm, SNHU and Franklin Pierce live — on Friday announced it will include all its programs to their men’s and women’s basketball and men’s hockey postseason tournaments. As the omicron rages, I’m guessing we’ll see more of these kind of announcements.
• NBA check: New Castle’s Duncan Robinson is averaging 12.1 points per game for the Miami Heat. Last Saturday, the long-range shooter hit eight 3-pointers and finished with 27 points in Miami’s win over Phoenix. Manchester’s Wenyen Gabriel, a forward, is on the sixth day of a second 10-day contract with the L.A. Clippers. On Thursday, he hit a 3-pointer in the Clips’ blowout loss to New Orleans. On Jan. 1 — in his first 10-day stint for Tyronn Lue — he scored seven points in L.A.’s win over the Nets.
• UNH men’s soccer coach Marc Hubbard, a Durham native, was named the ECAC coach of the year following the Wildcats’ historic 2021 season. He won it in 2019, too.
• Ex-Londonderry High Lancer Ryan Griffin made 26 catches for 261 yards this season for the New York Jets. The tight end just finished his ninth year in the NFL.
• From the obit department: Lost in the tributes to John Madden (and Betty White), let’s send out an R.I.P. to Dan Reeves, 77, who participated in nine Super Bowls either as a player, assistant coach or head coach, but never won one as a head coach.
And last week, we lost Don Maynard, 86, the New York Jets great who played in times of wide-open AFL football when wide receivers went deep or went home and quarterbacks — his, of course, was the great Joe Namath — knew how to throw the bomb. Now, let’s compare styles of eras, shall we? This season’s AFC leader in receptions was Tyreek Hill of the Chiefs. Pretty explosive guy, right? Well, he averaged 11.2 yards per catch. Maynard, meanwhile, averaged 18.7 yards per catch over his 13-year AFL/NFL career and averaged 20.0 or more yards in three straight seasons in the late 1960s.