190304-spt-tufts Exeter Tufts_MSB03

Exeter hockey coach Jim Tufts instructs his players during a recent game. Tufts, who retired after 42 years at the helm, was named Division I Coach of the Year.

Manchester’s JFK Coliseum will be the venue for what could be a great night of high school hockey Wednesday, when ninth-seeded Salem (11-9-1) faces fifth-seeded Trinity (13-5-1) and second-seeded Concord (15-3-1) skates against third-seeded Bedford (15-3-1) in the NHIAA Division I semifinals.

Concord and Bedford will meet at 5:30 p.m., and the second contest is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. The winners will advance to Saturday’s championship game at SNHU Arena (5 p.m.).

Missing from the semifinals are Pinkerton Academy, the No. 1 seed for this year’s tournament; and Hanover, last year’s Division I champion. Salem upset Pinkerton 3-1 in Saturday’s quarterfinals, and Trinity eliminated fourth-seeded Hanover 6-2 in the quarterfinal round. Concord advanced with a 3-2 overtime victory against Bishop Guertin, and Bedford moved on with a 3-2 triumph over Exeter in a game that lasted every second of two overtimes.

Trinity beat Salem 6-2 during the regular season. The Pioneers have won nine of their last 10 games. Bedford won its regular-season matchup with Concord 2-1 in Concord.

“I think (both) games are going to be close,” Bedford coach Marty Myers said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any runaways. I don’t think there’s a clear favorite as of right now.”

Exeter’s 3-2 loss against Bedford in the quarterfinals was Jim Tufts’ final game behind the Exeter bench. He has been Exeter’s coach for the last 42 years. Tufts following the double-overtime loss:

“It’s hard to walk away. I told (the team) in there (the locker room), ‘I’m nuts for walking away from this.’ It’s fun. It’s rewarding to have a group of kids commit to what you’re trying to teach them. … I’ve hogged this job for 42 years. It’s somebody else’s turn to have this much fun. I’ve had so much fun. That’s the way I look at it.”


No New Hampshire team turned in a better performance at this past weekend’s New England wrestling championships than Salem, which finished fourth overall with 68 points. Danbury (Conn.) won the meet with 88.5 points. Bishop Hendricken of Warwick, R.I., was second with 71.5 and Coventry, R.I., placed third with 68.5.

Salem’s Beau Dillon raised his record to 53-5 by winning the 195-pound weight class. He became Salem’s first New England champion since 2008. Timberlane’s Connor McGonagle, who finished first at 132 pounds, was New Hampshire’s only other New England champion.

Salem also received a second-place finish from Tristen Cabinta at 160 pounds, and a fifth-place finish from Matt Adams at 120.

Dates and sites for this year’s NHGA State Am qualifiers:

May 28: The Oaks Golf Links (Somersworth)

May 30: Pease Golf Course (Portsmouth)

June 5: Stonebridge Country Club (Goffstown)

June 12: Bretwood Golf Course (Keene)


ICYMI: Londonderry quarterback Evan Cormier will continue his football career at Sacred Heart University, a Division I program in Fairfield, Conn., that competes in the Northeast Conference. Cormier, who announced his commitment on Twitter last week, completed 69 percent of his passes and threw for 21 touchdowns last season, when he led the Lancers to an 8-2 record. He was intercepted twice.


Dover resident Mike Vining has been hired to coach varsity softball at St. Thomas Aquinas this season. Vining was the head coach at Portsmouth Christian Academy for 10 years and led the Eagles to the Division IV championship game in 2014. Most recently, Vining was the softball coach at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth.

“I’m extremely excited to coach at St. Thomas Aquinas and look forward to the challenge of continuing to build the softball program and emphasize the school’s goals,” Vining said. “We’re going to be a fun and competitive program, and emphasize fundamentals, pitching and defense.”


Former University of New Hampshire quarterback Trevor Knight will attend UNH’s Pro Day, which will be held March 13 at the Seacoast United complex in Epping. Knight said he will work out as a quarterback and as a wide receiver. Knight also plans to attend the Dartmouth Pro Day on March 28.