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Wayland’s Alex DeBaere a spark for Williams College

Belmont Hill alum lifts Williams squad

Whether killing penalties or playing either wing for the men’s hockey team at Williams College, Wayland’s Alex DeBaere goes full throttle.

“Nothing seems to faze Alex. He just lays it on the line every shift and always gives us a spark,’’ said Bill Kangas, the 25-year head coach at Williams.

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“He’s our Brad Marchand — but not quite as big’’ as the Boston Bruins forward, Kangas said. “Any coach would appreciate what he brings to his team.’’

The 5-foot-5, 155-pound DeBaere is off to a solid junior season for the Ephs, the only undefeated Division 3 men’s hockey team in New England through last weekend.

DeBaere scored what proved to be the winning goal on a clean breakaway Nov. 17 when Williams defeated Bowdoin, 5-2, and he had a goal and an assist on the game-winner Nov. 23 in a 4-1 victory over Tufts.

“He’s just been invaluable to us,’’ added Kangas, whose team was 4-0-1 (3-0-1 New England Small College Athletic Conference) heading into this weekend. He will be back in the area on Jan. 7, when Williams plays NESCAC rival Trinity during the Frozen Fenway series.

DeBaere, whose brother, Chris, preceded him on the ice at Belmont Hill School and at Williams, skated on the temporary rink at Fenway Park in 2010, when Belmont Hill rallied from a three-goal, third-period deficit to beat St. Sebastian’s in overtime.

“It’s something you don’t forget, probably the highlight of my hockey career at Belmont Hill, so to have the opportunity to return to Fenway is pretty exciting,’’ said DeBaere, who also played soccer and was a lacrosse captain in high school.

DeBaere said size isn’t a factor in his approach to the game.

“I wouldn’t play any differently than if I were taller or heavier. I’ve always had to deal with it,’’ he said, “but it was never anything I couldn’t overcome and it’s been a motivation. I always give everything I have all of the time, and while I’m not the biggest or strongest player out there, I try to play smart and make the best of my assets.’’

Ken Martin, his coach at Belmont Hill, recalls DeBaere setting preseason goals.

“He told me he wanted to be on the ice in the last minute protecting a one-goal lead,’’ Martin said, “and he wound up doing that when the chips were down. Alex was always full of energy, loved to play the game, and he knew how to take advantage of his quickness and low center of gravity when bigger players would try to knock him off the puck or out of a play.’’

DeBaere, coached by his brother at camps and clinics, watched Chris play for Williams and liked the school, the team, and the Williamstown community.

Chris DeBaere lives in Boston, works for a consulting firm and coaches Midget hockey.

“We skated together in the summer and Chris always drew on his experience as to what he could have done better and would impress that upon me,’’ the younger DeBaere said.

A year ago this weekend, he set up Peter Mistretta for the winning goal against Amherst.

“It was really my first big moment at the college level and it gave me and the team a real confidence boost,’’ said DeBaere, who is seeing more ice time this season after the graduation of six forwards from last year’s team, which finished 17-7-3 (12-4-2 NESCAC).

Musler on the mark for Clark basketball

Clark University senior forward Andrew Musler, who battled through ankle and groin injuries in the past, is back in form for the men’s basketball team, which has started the season with a 6-2 mark.

One of five area players suiting up for the Cougars, the 6-4 Musler was named the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Player of the Week earlier this season.

The former Belmont High standout, who has a year of collegiate eligibility remaining, was averaging 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. His 16 points and 14 boards were crucial on Nov. 26 when Clark held off Anna Maria College.

“Andrew’s a bit on the quiet side, but he’s becoming a more vocal leader and he’s having a big year so far,’’ said coach Paul Phillips, who has added longtime Milford High boys’ coach Steve Manguso as associate head coach this season.

Clark’s roster also includes junior forward Conor Dow (Needham High), a transfer from Drew University, and a trio of freshmen — guard Matt Woods (Arlington Catholic), and forward David Mercier and guard Joe Atkinson, both of whom played for Manguso at Milford.

“We call Conor ‘Walton’ because of his red hair,’’ said Phillips, an assistant from 1976 to 1996 at St. John’s High, recalling a former Boston Celtics player. “He gives us a real lift off the bench.’’

Reviewing the play of the other local players, he said, “Matt is the real deal who can really shoot, David has started a number of games for us, and Joe, a backup point guard, has great athleticism and defensive skills.’’

Here and there

Newton North High senior Gracia Leydon Mahoney, the 2012 AT&T national diving champion, will attend Stanford University. . .  Chris Stadler (Belmont High) a senior at Haverford College, took first place at the Centennial Conference cross-country meet, was second at the Division 3 Mideast Regionals, and earned All-American honors at the NCAA meet with a 19th-place finish. . . . Stonehill College senior back Gina Sheehan (Shrewsbury High) and sophomore forward Erika Kelly (Watertown High) are first-team consensus All-Americans in field hockey. Kelly led Division 2 with 38 goals, while Sheehan started all 84 games in her collegiate career. Teammate Emily Sideris (Watertown High), a junior forward, was a second-team All-America selection.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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