SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 26, 2013

Peabody's Ciampa stands tall between pipes at Mercyhurst

Jean DePlacido
The Salem News

---- — What a season Stephanie Ciampa is having between the pipes for Mercyhurst College.

The Peabody native made a career high 40 saves to lead Mercyhurst over Boston College last weekend, a 3-2 home win in Erie, Penn. Ciampa’s sterling performance ended the Eagles’ 18-game unbeaten streak.

The senior, who splits duties in net in back-to-back games, made four big saves to deny BC on three power play opportunities.

She was recently named College Hockey America Goaltender of the Week for the fifth time.

“I was really up for that game,” said Ciampa, who is ranked fourth in the country in Division 1 women’s college hockey with a .945 save percentage and 1.18 goals-against average. “I know about half the girls on that (BC) team; a few played at Assabet when I was there. We needed to bring our ‘A’ game to beat them.”

Alex Carpenter, the daughter of former NHL star Bobby Carpenter (who grew up in Peabody and played at St. John’s Prep), has been on fire this season with at least one point in 21 straight games for BC. It’s a school record, and she assisted on both Eagles’ goals against Mercyhurst.

“She’s a great player,” said Ciampa, who played at Pingree before transferring to Tabor Academy. “I’ve known Alex for a long time from all the different tournaments I went to with Assabet.

“BC is so fast, and they move the puck so well. It seemed like they were buzzing around my net all game. Their first goal came when we got stuck in our end and had a turnover. They made a pass across and I was able to make one save, but they scored on the rebound. We were stuck on a long shift, and just couldn’t get to the puck in time. On the other one their captain beat me with a shot over my shoulder. She came in 1-on-1 and made a nice move.

“Overall I felt pretty good, and I was seeing the puck well,” added Ciampa. “We won’t see them again, but could wind up meeting in the playoffs.”

Mercyhurst had been ranked eighth nationally but moved up to sixth after splitting the two-game series with BC.

The Lakers are now 17-4-1 and host Lindenwood, a divisional rival, on “Pink The Rink” weekend to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer.

The Eagles dropped to 17-4-2 with the loss and fell from second place to third in the rankings.

“Minnesota is ranked No. 1,” said Ciampa, who is 10-1-0 this season and leads CHA in goals against, save percentage and shutouts. “We’ve got to take care of business all the way until the end of February, when the playoffs begin.”

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Graduation claimed eight star athletes who were all recruited and are now participating in track at the college level. So it figured to be a rebuilding year for the Peabody High boys indoor track team.

But that’s not the case.

A year removed from going 7-0 to win the Northeastern Conference title, the Tanners have done it again. Despite losing the top two competitors in eight of the 10 events, this hard-working bunch didn’t miss a beat.

Now they look ahead to the challenges of the big meets to come.

Credit goes to head coach Fernando Braz and his staff (Tom Holleran, Dennis Grube, David Coleman, Patrick Mayo, Steve Smyrnios, Brian Bettencourt, Nick Marotta, Peter Cirafice and Brandon Powers) for developing the team’s young talent.

“(Last year’s) graduating class was as deep and talented as we’ve had during my (14-year) tenure as head coach,” said Braz. “The vision of the staff and the offseason preparations by the student-athletes were the keys to success. The underclassmen did a terrific job preparing physically and educating themselves about the sport.”

Braz pointed to hurdler Christian Cedullo, sprinter Chris Cennami, middle distance Thomas Drover, 300/relays participant Scott Myers and high jumper/hurdler Justin Butler as having had the biggest impact. The Tanners are also blessed with tremendous depth, which helped them topple Revere in a battle of unbeatens.

“Depth is a result of athletes participating, and that’s always a good thing,” said Braz. “The depth has to be developed, and if we’re successful developing the young athletes it has a tremendous impact in the program’s ability to be competitive.

“I believe the same is true for a program with less depth; it’s all about developing what you have. I’ve been on both ends, and the same philosophy applies.”

Braz said because the city doesn’t have a youth program, it’s a struggle to attract freshmen. As a result, the sophomore class lacks experience and knowledge for the most part.

“This is a challenge for staff and athletes who want to experience long term success at Peabody High and the college level,” said Braz. “This current team is young in experience, (so) having the ability to be competitive this year in the NEC says a lot for the staff, student-athletes and parents. I am humbled and proud to be part of this track family.”

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com.