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Notebook

At Middlebury, Canton’s Robbie Donahoe is a hit with the sticks

Will Costello

Golf or hockey?
A tough choice

Robbie Donahoe has been asked over and over again if he is a better golfer or hockey player. He still does not have an answer.

“It’s a great question and I get asked it all the time,” he said. “I guess I’m better at hockey . . . in the winter.”

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Donahoe, a senior defenseman from Canton who prepped at St. Sebastian’s in Needham, is a captain of the Middlebury College hockey team. He rolled right into the season after earning first-team golf honors this past fall in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

The best judge of his talent might be Bill Beaney , who doubles as the hockey coach and golf coach at Middlebury.

“I would say that he’s probably the number one Division 3 golfer in New England,” said Beaney. “He’s also been a great hockey player for us for four years. He’s a strong skater who has good vision on the ice.”

On the links, Donahoe carries a zero handicap and was the NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2010.

For now, however, his focus is on helping the Panther hockey team get on a roll entering the NESCAC playoffs. Counting Sunday’s game at Wesleyan, Middlebury (8-8-2, 6-5-1 NESCAC) has five league games remaining and sits in a three-way tie for fourth place with Bowdoin and Colby.

‘It’s a great question and I get asked it all the time. I guess I’m better at hockey . . . in the winter.’

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“We’ve been struggling a bit of late,” said Donahue. “We’ve got three weeks left to go on a run. We just need to find the trigger.”

Donahoe partially targets himself with that statement; he has a pair of goals and eight assists for the Panthers, who count three defensemen among their top five scorers.

Last season, he led all Panther defensemen in points, with six goals and 10 assists to earn second-team all-NESCAC honors.

Donahoe, who did not score a goal in his first two seasons at Middlebury, currently has eight goals and 24 assists in 78 career games.

“I haven’t been on the power play lately, so that’s been difficult,” said Donahoe, considered a puck-moving defenseman who generates offense with his speed. “I play my best when I’m skating. I only have two goals this year so it’s been difficult. When the opportunity is there I’m always going to take the shot. I’ve been focusing a little more on defense, and with the puck not going in the net, trying to maybe keep it out of our net.”

Donahoe followed his older brother, Tucker, to Middlebury. The pair skated together for two seasons before Tucker graduated in 2012 after scoring 16 goals and 23 assists for his career. The elder Donahoe played hockey for a year in France before taking job in Boston at Putnam Investments.

“Robbie is very athletic and has a wonderful work ethic and cares deeply about where his team goes,” said Beaney. “You wouldn’t know it by the number of goals he’s scored this year, but he can shoot the puck and handles the puck well.

“His big attribute is his ability to skate and recognize hockey situations. With his speed he has the ability to cover for somebody if they get caught out of position or to personally recover on a broken play.”

Donahoe said he hopes to earn an amateur tryout after the season ends and continue to play hockey after graduating, either in the United States or in Europe.

“I love the game too much and I’m not ready for a desk job just yet,” he said.

Freda, Fluke help Middlebury women

Freshman Jane Freda of Hingham has a pair of goals and two assists for the Middlebury women’s hockey team, which is ranked No. 2 in the country in Division 3. Freda owns one power-play tally for the Panthers (14-1-3, 9-0-3 NESCAC).

“She’s a very good player and we have high hopes for her as she continues to grow and understand our system,” said Middlebury coach Bill Mandigo . “She can skate and has a nice shot.”

Panthers’ junior forward Emily Fluke (11 goals, 11 assists) of Bourne was named NESCAC Player of the Week after scoring three goals in a pair of road wins.

Odds and ends

Competing in her first pentathlon event of the season, Worcester State junior Alyssa Jasper of Rockland collected 2,853 points to take home fourth place at the Springfield Invitational. She had the top toss in the shot put (38 feet, 4.75 inches) and the third-best time in the 800 (2:44.04). She was named the ECAC Division 3 New England Track & Field Athlete of the Week. This past fall, she led the women’s volleyball team with 370 kills. . . .

Babson sophomore goalie Jamie Murray (Scituate), Southern New Hampshire sophomore forward Joe Collins (Mansfield), and Stonehill senior forward Bryan Rooney (Canton) are among 18 semifinalists for the Joe Concannon Award, presented annually by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston to the best American-born college hockey player at the Division 2-3 level. . . .

Plymouth’s Michaela Flanagan, a sophomore guard for the New England University women’s basketball team, is averaging 10 minutes per game for the 18-2 Nor-Easters. . . .

Freshman Chanelle Melton (Brockton) scored six points and had four rebounds and a blocked shot in Bridgewater State’s 65-52 win over Westfield State. Melton, a reserve forward, made one of the game’s biggest baskets when she sank a 12-foot baseline jumper to curb a Westfield comeback late in the game. . . .

The Association of Independent Football Officials is looking for candidates to become football officials for the upcoming 2014 season. An informational meeting will be held at Braintree High School on March 12. For details, contact Dennis Devine at 508-947-4465 or Franden68@gmail.com or Bob Denise at 508-947-6760 or R1Denise@aol.com.

John Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.
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