There are other sports and championships taking place in New England besides the Bruins, Celtics, and of course, the 162-game drumbeat of the Red Sox.
The D3 Regionals are taking place across the U.S., with eight regional tournaments, including the New England Regional, in Mansfield, CT, hosted by Eastern Connecticut State University. The Pine Tree State is being represented by perennial participant, the University of Southern Maine Huskies, and a newcomer to regional play, the Husson Eagles.
USM, which occupied the #1 ranking nationally, prior to losing their conference tournament, are an at-large bid. They beat Husson 5-4, in their opening tilt and play the defending national champs, Trinity College, this morning. The Huskies, coached by longtime coach, Ed Flaherty, boast a powerful offensive lineup, highlighted by major league prospect, Anthony D'Alfonso. The 6'4" 235 lb. masher hit .435 on the season, including setting a single season record for RBIs, with 71, and continues to pad that total, including three more in the opening game against Husson. One of Trinity's top hitters, Ryan Piacentini hails from Portland, Maine, and both he and D'Alfonso logged considerable at bats in Maine's Twilight League, a former focus of mine.
I spent a very cold three days in Mansfield back in May, 2003, when my son's college team, Wheaton College, participated in the regional that year. As a freshman, he spent the tournament on the bench, huddled in his Wheaton warmup jacket, while dad and mom froze in the bleachers. Foolishly, I failed to pack anything resembling warm clothes, thinking that May in CT would be balmy. I've never been so cold in my life. Oh, and Mansfield isn't exactly a metropolis, either.
The next three seasons, Wheaton would qualify for the tournament two out of the three years remaining for my son (his junior and senior seasons), and the games were on the Cape, in Harwich, a much better place for families to spend the long weekend. In 2006, Wheaton won it all and headed to Wisconsin.
Best of luck to Maine's contingent. I'm sure the mercurial Flaherty has been putting on a show for the fans in Mansfield, as well as getting some ribbing from the ECSU fans in attendance, as both clubs have a long history of antics, especially Coach Flaherty and their fans.
While I've been able to get excited again about baseball (after taking last year off, basically), I miss those weekends devoted to watching my son play for Wheaton. It's always special for families and friends at tournament time, and I hope this upcoming weekend is full of many positive memories for everyone involved, win or lose.
Speaking of losses, where are all those Bruins' fans predicting a Stanley Cup for the team back when they were riding high, winning 10 in a row, at the end of December? Probably now the same group whining in the comments section, and calling in sports talk shows complaining about the coaching, the officiating, or making some other excuse for Carolina being the better team.
I'm still hoping for a Celts win in Game 7, on Sunday night, and also that Tito moves Ortiz down in the order, or sits him down for a few games. If you failed to see yesterday's line on him, it was brutal; 0 for 7, 3 Ks, and 12 men LOB. Hell, I could have done that and saved the team some cash.