FITCHBURG -- A Deafening standing-room-only crowd at the Wallace Civic Center at Fitchburg State University was on hand for last week's Division 3A Central Mass. Championship between Lunenburg/Ayer Shirley and North Middlesex.
The Patriots won the thrilling affair, 3-2, but despite the loss, the night was a special one for Ayer Shirley Regional High School center, Danny Baldino. The junior scored his 100th career point rather quietly, and it did not occur to him until he went back to his family's Ayer home and researched his career statistics.
"Getting the point was obviously a little bit on my mind," Baldino said. "The championship game and winning it was more important than getting the point for me personally. After the game, it kind of settled in that we didn't really make it, but it is cool to look back on it and say I got a 100."
Baldino scored two goals in the Blue Knights sectional final loss to rival North Middlesex, but it was the second one where the phantom 100th point occurred. Baldino redirected a slap-shot by Josh DeFazio past North Middlesex netminder Ryan Twomey with under three minutes remaining. Baldino had a chance at career point 101 with 20 seconds left to tie the game, but Twomey shucked it wide.
"A couple days before I added up my stats when I was bored, I realized I was at 99," he said. "I told my coach and said 'hey, I am one away.'"
Since Baldino came into the program as a freshman, Lunenburg/Ayer Shirley head coach Eric Short has known that the kid from Ayer was special.
"It is extremely rare," coach Short said of scoring point 100 as a junior. "In my four years, I have never had anybody score 100. To me, it is a very huge accomplishment. There is a very small percentage who have achieved that milestone in their junior year."
Baldino is not only a pure-scorer, he isn't afraid to sacrifice his body to block shots on the defensive side of the ice. Baldino recorded 19 points as a freshman and as a sophomore, he tallied 31. Scoring number 100 typically takes two big seasons, but Baldino decided to go on the expedited plan.
"Danny is a tremendous two-way player," the coach said. "He is a great passer and defensive player. He is a fantastic set-up guy. He is definitely the total package. Tommy (Wagner) led the team in goals, but Danny was right behind him with 49 points."
Baldino has led his team the last two years in points, but he fell short behind senior forward Tom Wagner, who led the Blue Knights with 52 points.
Baldino is the seventeenth player in Lunenburg hockey history to score career point number 100. However, Baldino is all-alone in one category.
According to coach Short, Baldino is the first player from Ayer, since the merger, to score his 100th point. Scoring point 100 in hockey is very similar to scoring 1,000 in basketball.
"Danny has basically been our program leader since he got here," Short said. "We knew Baldino had 99 points going into the championship game, but obviously with the emotion and everything that was going on, the 100th point was not in the front of our minds at that point.
"It was afterwards," said Short, "that I actually thought about it. But he is all about the team and individual stats are not very important to him."