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November 24. 2012 10:26PM

Jim Fennell's NH College Notebook: New hoop event at NHTI will replace Jacob's Bridge

One of the early season highlights of the state's small college men's basketball season was the Jacob's Bridge Through Autism Classic at NHTI in Concord.

The four-team event was called off after 12 years when the teams involved (Plymouth State, Keene State, Colby-Sawyer and Rivier) couldn't come up with a date that worked for this season. However, an alternative event is being introduced Tuesday when the inaugural Boys & Girls Classic will be held at NHTI's Crocker Wellness Center

The format is a men's and women's double-header between Plymouth State and Rivier. The women's game starts at 6 p.m., followed by the men's game at 8.

Proceeds will go toward creating a scholarship for past members of local Boys & Girls Clubs attending NHTI. Students from the NHTI Sports Management program are running the event.

As part of the event, coaches and players from the NHTI men's and women's basketball teams are also putting on a clinic Tuesday at the Concord Boys & Girls Club from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

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SERIOUS THIS TIME?: St. Anselm has never expressed a real interest in moving its hockey programs to the Division I level. Speculation was rampant nine years ago that a move could be in the works when the college was opening Sullivan Arena, an on-campus rink that cost $2 million to build.

The overall campus community, including alumni, seemed to enthusiastically support such an idea, but administration quickly shot it down. Ed Cannon, the athletics director at the time, said the college's president, Rev. Jonathan DeFelice, liked being part of the Division II Northeast-10 Conference across the board and had no interest in taking advantage of the NCAA rule that allows a college or university to move one program up a division.

Well, things have changed. DeFelice announced that he is stepping down at the end of this academic year and Atlantic Hockey is looking for a new member.

Hmmmmm.

UConn will be leaving Atlantic Hockey for Hockey East after next season and, in a story on USCHO.com, Atlantic Hockey commissioner Bob DeGregorio said St. Anselm is one of four colleges the conference has had contact with about joining.

In addition to UConn, other members of Atlantic Hockey include Air Force, Army, Holy Cross, Niagara and two other members of the NE-10 (AIC and Bentley).

DeGregorio told USCHO he has met with officials from St. Anselm and "the ball is in their court right now. They would make a great addition to the league. They have a great facility and tradition. The women's program would also be a great addition to the CHA (College Hockey America)."

The CHA is a six-team women's conference that includes RIT, Penn State, Lindenwood, Syracuse, Mercyhurst and Robert Morris.

Calls to St. Anselm athletic director Kelly Higgins were not returned before deadline.

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SHORT HOPS: Kudos to Keene State College for earning its second straight Little East Conference President's Cup for academic excellence. The award, announced this past week, was based on the cumulative grade point average of all student-athletes in the program in 2011-12. KSC was the only LEC member with a cumulative GPA over 3.0 (3.06). Plymouth State University tied for second at 2.96. ... One team that won't let its fall season end is the Franklin Pierce University volleyball team. The Ravens qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament for the first time and will face New York Tech on Thursday in the first round of the East Regional being hosted by the University of New Haven. ... Amherst College cross-country runners Eli Howe of Hillsborough and Elodie Reed of Bow were named to the NESCAC's all-sportsmanship teams for the fall season. They were also among 21 student-athletes from New Hampshire named to the NESCAC all-academic team. ... Williams senior defensive lineman Tom Foote of Dunbarton (Goffstown) gathered all-NESCAC football honors for the first time. Foote was named to the second team after leading Williams with four sacks. He has little time to savor the accomplishment; Foote is one of the top small college heavyweight wrestlers in New England. ... The New England College rugby club team recently won the NSCRO Northeast Division III regional with a 36-17 win over Salve Regina. The Pilgrims will have some time to rest up; the Division III Final Four will be held in the spring. ... The University of New Hampshire recently finished fourth at the National Collegiate Club Golf Association's national tournament in Sea Island, Ga. C.J. Konkowski of Spofford was the top finisher for the Wildcats, coming in third overall with rounds of 78 and 73 to finish eight strokes behind medalist Tom Duty of East Carolina.

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THE BEYOND THE BORDERS SPOTLIGHT SHINES ON: Brianna Keenan of Greenland (Portsmouth). The sophomore stepped into the starting goaltending position at Tufts University and helped lead the Jumbos to the NCAA Division III championship in field hockey. The team had lost a four-year starter and opened the season alternating Keenan and junior Katie Stuntz. Keenan won the job when the team went on a winning streak that reached 14 games with her in goal. She finished with a 0.98 goals against average that ranked eighth nationally in Division III. She stopped 13 of 17 shots during five NCAA tournament games, including five saves in a 2-1 win over Montclair (N.J.) State in the championship game. She had a shutout in a 2-0 win over DePauw in the semifinal round. A second spotlight shines on Keenan's teammate, junior midfielder Emily Cannon of Atkinson (Timberlane). Cannon was named a first team Division III All-America by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association and made the NESCAC all-academic team.

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Jim Fennell's New Hampshire College Notebook appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at jfennell@unionleader.com.


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