Past Issues of the Putnam Town Crier

This is Main Street during the Flood of 1955.

& Now
This is Main Street in Putnam in the summer of 2012. The Post Office is on the right in both photos. Putnam Town Crier file photos.

By Ron P. Coderre
The area’s premier hockey league for youngsters, The Griffin Youth Hockey League, ended its season on a high note with its postseason tournament and Griffin Awards Banquet  March 10. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of team and individual awards in the Atoms Division and Junior Division.  The Red Wings skated off with the regular season and postseason awards in the Atoms Division, while the Lightning captured the regular season and the Bruins were the postseason recipients in the Junior Division.
Individual Award Winners
Award         Atoms Division         Junior Division
Goalie of the Year         Ellie Jellison     Tom Castle
Top Goal Scorer A Line        Guerin Favreau    Evan Cunningham
Top Goal Scorer B Line        Kellen Horst    Jake Starr
Best Def. Player A Line        Anna Sosik    Connor Bavosi
Best Def. Player B Line        Cooper Larkin    Liam McDermott
Best Off. Player A Line        Guerin Favreau    Evan Cunningham
Best Off. Player B Line        Jack Gillin    Jake Starr
MVP A Line            Guerin Favreau    Connor Bavosi
MVP B Line            Matt Gaudreau    Noah Beaupre
Sportsmanship Award    Haley Armstrong    Connor Bavosi
In the postseason playoffs, the Bruins shutout the Lightning 3-0 in a tremendous display of team defense.  In the Atoms Division the Bruins fought back from a 1-0 deficit to capture the title 2-1 on the strength of Guerin Favreau goal midway through the third period.  The Red Wings Alex Wojciechowski put his team up with a first period goal.  Late in the second stanza Brock Dubay answered for the Bruins knotting the score at one all before Favreau delivered the game winner.
In the Mite Division, the Minor Big Game finished in a 4-4 tie, while the Major Big Game was won by the Blue Jackets as they subdued the Green Hornets.
Regular Season Final Standings
Atoms Division        Junior Division
      Red Wings 6-0-2        Lightning 6-2-0
      Bruins 3-4-1        Red Wings 4-4-0
      Lightning 3-5-0        Bruins 4-4-0
      Avalanche 2-5-1        Avalanche 2-6-0

eyes full
from cancer
By Ron P. Coderre
A story by Adam McCalvy on posted on March 12, 2013, titled “Upbeat LeBoeuf on road to recovery from Cancer” brought to my attention by former Griswold High School and Eastern Connecticut standout Archie Drobiak, not only caught my eye but made me sit up and take notice.
Drobiak and Leboeuf were opponents in high school at Griswold and Tourtellotte respectively.  They became teammates and friends when both arrived at Eastern Connecticut State University, where they played baseball for Coach Bill Holowaty.  The story on “hit me in the gut” was Drobiak’s reaction to the news.
Al LeBoeuf and cancer, those two words were unbelievable and could not be synonymous.  LeBoeuf the 1979 Tourtellotte Memorial High School graduate is a legend in northeast Connecticut, noted for his baseball exploits.  Legends don’t get hit by cancer.
But as we all know, cancer has no discretion or mercy on whom it strikes or when it strikes.  A call to LeBoeuf in Surprise, Arizona where he’s in spring training with the Milwaukee Brewers confirmed our biggest fears.  LeBoeuf openly stated the news was absolutely correct.
We also learned that as determined as he was on the baseball diamond, LeBoeuf, along with outstanding medical care, is in good spirits and determined to beat the dreaded C word that often takes the wind out of even the most optimistic individuals.
“Yes, Ron it’s true.  I do have cancer,” LeBoeuf told us in a telephone interview.  “I’m fortunate that the doctor’s found it early and I’m determined to get back to where I was before the discovery.  Baseball is my life.  I still have a lot to bring to the table and I plan to be able to do everything, including running, hitting infield, pitching batting practice and everything else that goes with my job as a coach,” were the words that came over the phone from more than 2,000 miles away.
The Story
It all started in May last year on an off day when LeBoeuf then with Triple A Nashville drove to meet the other coaches for a round of golf.  A scratch golfer and in good shape for his 53 years, LeBoeuf was perplexed when he started to cramp up on the 16th hole.  Thinking it was simply because he hadn’t played golf since spring training he disregarded the symptoms as tightness in the calves, causing numbness in his toes and lower legs.
The following day the team traveled to Tucson and while throwing batting practice his toes went numb again.  A few days later in Las Vegas the symptoms recurred once more while he was throwing BP.  The pain and numbness was so severe LeBoeuf was barely able to get off the field.
Suspecting a nerve injury in his back, doctors ordered an MRI, but instead discovered a cancerous spot on his left hip, which was described as POEMS syndrome.  LeBoeuf suspects the cause of the cancer goes way back to 1985 in Triple A ball when, as a player he suffered a severe bone bruise from what he describes as a “plunking.”    
“The news of cancer crushes you,” said LeBoeuf.  “You hear it occurring in other people but you never imagine it happening to you.  I was fortunate that it was detected early.  And I’ve been blessed with the unwavering support of my wife, Laura and son, Mac,” he said thankfully.
POEMS is a rare medical syndrome that basically is a plasma-cell disorder.  It generally strikes twice as many men as women and usually occurs after the age of 50.  If untreated it can be fatal, however, as in LeBoeuf’s case 60% of those affected survive five years or longer when POEMS is detected early.
Road to Recovery
Currently LeBoeuf is at spring training on a pair of crutches and braces on his legs, providing support to his still recuperating body.  He describes his current duties as analyzing and evaluating hitters in the batting cage and working on the mental aspects of the game with the young players.  By April 1 he expects to receive his assignment from the Brewers and promises that he’ll be down to one crutch by that time, although he still requires physical therapy three times per week.
But since being hit by POEMS life hasn’t been that easy.  The road to recovery has included five long months in a wheelchair, which caused his legs and his body to atrophy.  It’s also meant intensive physical therapy under the direction of his wife’s niece Lauren Hoover, a physical therapy doctoral candidate in the Clearwater, Florida area near Palm Harbor, where the Leboeuf’s reside.
He’s also been on an oral chemotherapy regime, 21 days on and seven days off, that appears to be working.  He has no ill effects from his five sessions of chemo, hasn’t lost any hair or any of his energy.  He acknowledges that he’ll take chemo forever if it does the job and allows him to stay in baseball and appreciate his family and friends.  
“One good thing that came from this is that I’ve had the opportunity to watch my son Mac play baseball at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida,” said LeBoeuf.  “It was trying on Mac when we learned of my cancer.  He was preparing to leave for college and had to deal with this situation.”
“And thank God for Laura.  She’s been unbelievable.  It truly has been for better or for worse,” he said.
The Will To Win
LeBoeuf’s four years at Tourtellotte were surreal.  Four year of varsity baseball and basketball.  Probably the best hitter to ever grace the Tigers diamond and to top it off a much better than average basketball player.  One of the best baseball players to come from Eastern Connecticut University, although he only spent two years there before being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies.  He spent seven years in the minors as a player prior to becoming one of the most respected minor league coaches in baseball.
His professional career has spanned more than 30 years and is in its fourth decade.  Most of his time was in the Phillies organization where he spent 20 years.  He’s also been with the Mets, Royals and Toronto prior to coming to Milwaukee, where he’s been part of the Brewers staff for four years.
Al LeBoeuf has been a winning athlete all his life.  He’s had to battle for every job he’s earned along the way.  And now he’s facing yet another obstacle in the form of POEMS syndrome.  But just before we hung up and I assured him he had the prayers of the people of Thompson and Northeastern Connecticut, he said, “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m ready to get back on the field.”

Spring hides out under the melting snow: Top: Grass under fading, lacy ice. Above: Moss on a rock. Right: Snow drops.

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State Champs
The Woodstock Academy boys' basketball won the state championship March 16. Coach Greg Smith and the team and the whole Centaur Nation celebrate afterwards. More photos on pages 6 and 10 and all photos courtesy of Jimi Gothreau.

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Top left: Above: Chris Lowry coming through! Below: Ian Converse takes a shot. Right: Sullivan Gardner waits for pass.
Bottom right: Ian Converse in the middle of it all.

caption, page 10
Top and above: Fan mania. Left: Centaur John McGinn


By Ron Coderre

The dream of every high school basketball player who steps on to the hardwood is to win a State championship.  In reality, however very few ever achieve that dream.  For the members of the 2012-2013 Woodstock Academy boy’s basketball team they’ll always be able to say they accomplished that feat and won a State title.
In a game that started like it would be a runaway but turned into a nail biter, the Centaurs of coach Greg Smith captured the Connecticut State Class L championship in a game that gave the capacity crowd its money’s worth with a 52-49 victory over number 1 seed Trinity Catholic of Stamford.
As it’s been all season, Woodstock was led by the duo of Ian Converse and Chris Lowry, although the entire starting unit and the lone sub off the bench, Trent Peters, all had a significant hand in the victory.  Converse led the offense, posting a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds.  Lowry was the “head of the snake’ as the point guard is often referred to, dishing out 11 assists and controlling the tempo of the game with his ball handling.
The contest was tight throughout.  Woodstock’s largest lead of the evening came at the 0:46 point of the first period when they led by nine points.  The Centaurs, seeded number 2 in Class L, led by one at the half, 28-27, thanks to a Lowry three-pointer, which he hoisted with four ticks of the clock remaining.
The outcome of the game, which was tied twice and which saw four lead changes, was decided in the final 6:05 of the final stanza.  Tied at 38 all, baskets by John McGinn (five points) and Tristan Welch (eight points) put the Acads up 42-38 with 5:30 remaining.
Trinity Catholic responded with five consecutive points to snag the lead 43-42, one coming on a three-pointer by Tremaine Frasier, who was Trinity’s leading scorer with 17 points.  Schadrac Casimir, the Crusaders leading scorer was held to 15 points, on a 3-14 shooting night.  The Woodstock defense stifled the high scoring guard, who had a 50-point game this season, holding him well below his average of 26 points per game.  
Woodstock then reeled off a seven-point run of its own on a put back by Converse, two from Lowry, who hit both ends of a one-and-one and a huge three by Tristan Welch that put the nail in the coffin, as they forged ahead 49-43with 3:23 left to play.
Frasier kept Catholic in the game with another big hoop from beyond the arc and with 2:27 left it was a three point game 49-46 in favor of Woodstock.  After McGinn hit the front end of a one-and-one the Centaurs went cold at the charity stripe putting fear into the hearts of the hundreds of faithful who had made the trek to the Mohegan Sun Casinoland arena.
After McGinn missed the second free throw, Lowry missed two as Woodstock couldn’t capitalize on being in the double bonus situation.  With 1:05 remaining Brandon Wheeler (13 points) hit an inside shot to pull Trinity within two 50-48.  Once again Lowry had an opportunity to extend the Woodstock cushion but he was unsuccessful on two free throws with 1:02 to play.

The poor free throw shooting bug then hit Trinity as Wheeler could only make one of four in the final 37 seconds.  Converse settled matters, when he converted two from the stripe with 5.7 seconds on the clock giving the Centaurs a three-point cushion and the State championship.
Our goal was to control the tempo of the game and to play strong defense in order to hold their high scorer down,” said Woodstock assistant coach Mike Bourgeois.

Woodstock limited the Stamford team to 33.3 percent (19-57) shooting for the game while they posted 19-45 and 42.2 percent.

The Centaurs held a significant edge on the boards thanks to burly senior Sullivan Gardner who finished with 14 caroms to go with his eight points, outrebounding Trinity 41-33.  They went to the free throw line 18 times and converted 10, while Trinity was 3-9 from the charity stripe. 
“The Woodstock kids seemed to mature as the game went along.  I think, since this was their first experience in this type situation they gained confidence when they realized they had a shot at the title.  I’m pleased for all the team and coaches,” said Woodstock resident and former Centaur Dennis Kelly.
The victory brings the successful season and run to the title to a conclusion with a sparkling 24-3 record for Woodstock.  Trinity Catholic closes out its books with an identical record.

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