Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lear sees jersey retired by Temple

Courtesy of

PHILADELPHIA -- “I feel like I'm home.”

That's how Hal Lear began his speech before a crowd of his basketball contemporaries on Wednesday night, the eve of his #6 jersey's ascension to the rafters.

It was hard to argue with that logic, as he deliberately paused every so often throughout the course of his public address to acknowledge the various family members, friends and mentors who helped to shape his basketball career some 50 years ago.

Among them, Philadelphia basketball guru Sonny Hill, as well as former Temple greats Bill Mlkvy and Mark Macon.

They were spread out around the banquet hall -- his supporters, for many years, now supporting him in reflecting on a record-breaking career.

From the podium, Lear made sure that the ceremony was as much about them as it was about his storied Temple career.

“I'm deeply humbled by this occasion,” he began.

“Basketball, as you know, is a team sport. Life is a collaborative and team affair also. We get there with so much help you cannot believe.”

Lear certainly didn't need much help on the court in his heyday.

Named the 1956 NCAA Final Four MVP despite not appearing in the title game, Lear finished out his Temple career averaging 22 and 24 points per game in his junior and senior seasons, respectively. He is one of only three Owls to average 20 points per game in two different seasons.

Lear also continues to hold the single-season scoring record with 745 points -- and, even more impressively, he did so in an era before the establishment of the three-point line.

But as impressive as Lear's basketball pedigree reads, the genuine appreciation for the joys of life inherent in Lear's character is perhaps more evident.

“Hal told me that, of all the awards and accolades he received at Temple, nothing was more meaningful to him than the scholar-athlete of the year award he received in his senior season at Temple,” Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw said.

Current men's basketball head coach Fran Dunphy attested to Lear's character in his brief speech, recalling the first time he and Lear met.

“I had heard his name over and over and over again by many people who were older than I and had more understanding of what a great player he was. But I wanted to meet him,” explained Dunphy.

“I get over towards Hal and I went to introduce myself and he says 'Hey, Coach Dunphy, how you doing?' I couldn't have been more honored.”

“He was a true gentleman,” Dunphy said.

That's why, on Wednesday night, Temple pulled out all the stops to recognize Lear's legacy at Temple University.

At the halftime intermission, before a crowd honoring him with a standing ovation, he sauntered down a red carpet rolled out to the Liacouras Center's midcourt. At the other end, former Temple greats Mlkvy and Macon awaited his arrival.

As he joined them, the lights dimmed and a spotlight shone on the banner -- his banner -- bearing the #6, a number now retired from circulation in Temple basketball history, unfurled in its new home.

It hangs now in the upper rafters of the Liacouras Center next to, most appropriately, the banner bearing the late Guy Rodgers' name and number.

The duo often referred to as the “greatest backcourt combination in Philadelphia college basketball history” became united in eternity.

For a moment it seemed that time stood still.

Surrounded by some of his family and a few of his former teammates, Lear stood at center court and, in a moment where he was meant to be the center of attention, paid tribute to his dear friend and former teammate.

His gaze turned up to the banners, lingering on their shared space, the seemingly infinitesimal gap that separated his number from Rodgers' and smiled.

Sim returns to Phantoms on PTO

Glens Falls, NY -- A key component to the Phantoms’ last Calder Cup triumph returned to the organization on Thursday.
Jon Sim, a journeyman player who has skated at multiple levels both in and out of North America, was signed to a professional tryout contract (PTO) by the Adirondack Phantoms.

Sim was released from a similar deal with the San Antonio Rampage last week.

The 35-year-old native of Nova Scotia posted six goals and 13 points in 22 games for the Rampage this season.

Originally drafted by the Dallas Stars in 1996, Sim arrived in the Flyers organization early in the 2004-05 season, in a swap with the Utah Grizzlies for Peter White.

His addition helped galvanize a team-record 17-game win streak, and Sim ended up recording 35 goals and 61 points in 62 regular-season appearances — adding 10 scores and 17 points over 21 postseason contests which ended in a four-game sweep of the Chicago Wolves for the second AHL title in eight seasons for the Phantoms.

The next season, Sim got his shot with the Flyers, signing a free agent deal and netting seven goals and 14 points in 39 games before being dealt to the Florida Panthers in late January of 2006.

Sim had been playing in the Czech Extraliga after a failed stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the end of the 2010-11 campaign, before returning stateside this year.

Over 469 NHL starts for the Stars, Predators, Kings, Penguins, Flyers, Panthers, Thrashers and Islanders, Sim has totaled 75 goals and 139 points while collecting 314 penalty minutes and a minus-43 rating.

The Phantoms, currently in last place in the Northeast Division, hope that Sim’s experience will be a stabilizing factor in a locker room shaken up by injuries and the end of the lockout. He’ll also be counted upon to provide offensive spark.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hartnell: broken foot not Kimmo's fault

Voorhees, NJ -- Interesting news out of Flyers practice on Wednesday, as Scott Hartnell revealed that a shot from teammate Kimmo Timonen was not primarily responsible for the broken foot that will keep him out of the lineup for at least one month.

"It actually happened in the second period of that (January 22) game," Hartnell told a group of reporters outside the Skate Zone. "One of the Devils' defensemen took a shot and I blocked it with my foot and by the way it felt, I knew something was wrong. At the intermission, I took my skate off to have Jimmy [McCrossin, trainer] look at it, and when I went to take a step, it hurt so much I fell to the floor in the locker room."

Despite the pain, and the fact that x-rays taken didn't immediately reveal any telling damage, Hartnell was able to go in the third period and then felt the full brunt of Timonen's shot while attempting to screen Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Hartnell revealed that a similar injury occurred back when he played for the Nashville Predators: "It happened a few years back in Nashville...the same thing...I blocked a shot, x-rays came back negative. At home, I couldn't walk down stairs...and finally, a couple days later I was warming up for a game and the bone actually snapped. That was not the most pleasant the next day I told the trainers I need to get an was the same kind of feeling and sure enough, there was a break in there."

It's not in the nature of the 30-year-old to wallow in his misfortune, though.

"The worst part about being an athlete (who is hurt) is being on the sidelines, watching on TV and in the stands. It definitely gives you motivation to do the rehab and get back as quickly as you can."

In typical Flyers fashion, there's the will and desire to blast through the healing process and get back to playing as soon as he's medically allowed.

As for the plan going forward with rehabilitation if it happens to progress ahead of schedule, Hartnell said: "That's something between me and the doctors to decide. I'm not trying to run a marathon or anything like that...I'm trying to get my a skate and see how it is, how comfotably I can skate and how odd it feels. If it's three weeks, it's three weeks, if it's four it's four, and hopefully it's not too much longer than that."

Extra Points: Lewis PED denials are just lip service |

Extra Points: Lewis PED denials are just lip service |

Around the Rink: Distant Early Warning edition

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Just breathe.

That's the only real bit of advice I have for the weary, bleary-eyed Flyers fan after the seven-game mark of this abbreviated season.

Yes, 2-5-0 looks bad. A 1-4-0 road record looks worse, and the lack of production (2.0 goals-per-game) and punchless power play has you all on edge thinking about the organization's internal nuclear options to bring about change.

Still, we're only one-seventh of the way through this schedule. The goal differential is only minus-six. There's been one blowout loss and one blowout win. The January sked as presented was brutal at best. It's no time to be caught with paralysis by analysis.

The depth so touted by the front office will only be beneficial from this point forward. There will be another team, most likely in the Western Conference, also looking for a jolt, a trading partner on more equal footing who won't be trying to steal Paul Holmgren blind the way Keith Allen stripped lesser teams 40 years ago.

That reputation is hard to live down, because every other team wants a piece of a valuable Flyers player regardless of position.  Except, unlike other years where the lineup only needs to be bolstered, there is genuine need to right the ship. Comparisons to 1995 will be inevitable, so here goes...

Terry Murray's club was hovering in the depths, having started 3-6-1 and scoring only 22 goals (2.2 gpg) over 10 games. It was unthinkable with the top six forwards consisting of the Captain (Eric Lindros), a center coming off back-to-back 100-point seasons (Mark Recchi), the other member of the Crazy Eights (Brent Fedyk), two character guys with faceoff and checking skills (Rod Brind'Amour and Kevin Dineen) along with a snakebitter sniper teetering on the brink of respect (Josef Beranek).

Nonetheless, by process of elimination, Recchi was sacrificed to Montreal in early February for two franchise-changing players (John LeClair, Eric Desjardins) and a throw-in (Gilbert Dionne). Recchi was the most tradeable asset the club featured at the time, and Bob Clarke acknowledged this, saying he "wasn't down on Mark at all" in making the trade. 

Eventually, of the remaining five, only Beranek (swapped to Vancouver for an enforcer, Shawn Antoski, which didn't work out in the long run) was shipped away by the end of that memorable season.

Point is, the dream of touting depth on the front lines with all the youth the 2013 Flyers possess will be nothing more than a pipe dream unless there's a big winning streak coming. Mike Knuble, at age 40, cannot make up for the contributions Scott Hartnell made to the attitude, character and production of the team. Jake Voracek needs a playmaking center, preferably European, to light a fire under his ass. The defense, stripped of Chris Pronger and Matt Carle, is tenuous at best.

From the current top six forwards, Holmgren ain't getting rid of the Captain (Claude Giroux), the best overall player on the squad thus far (Wayne Simmonds), or a bona-fide two-way threat (Sean Couturier). That leaves Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Danny Briere as likely suspects. Briere is in the sixth year of his 8-year deal signed in 2007, Voracek's cap hit for his new contract extension may be a problem as well as his Beranek-like reluctance to engage in "Flyers-like hockey," and Schenn is someone with whom Holmgren may have to be dragged kicking and screaming to part ways.

Nonetheless, it has to be done. And the right deal has to come along for the right parts.

Once upon a time, the Quebec Nordiques had Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, Andrei Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky, Valeri Kamensky and Scott Young. Pierre Lacroix had the stones to jettison all but the first name and the last two in order to make the Nords/Avs a cup contender within a two-year period. He understood it was the value in filling the gaps that made virtually every player potential trade bait, and was lucky in that every deal worked out the way he intended.

I recognize that a cap-friendly world makes dealing a bit more complicated than it was 15 years ago, but Holmgren has to be emboldened to take the risk. With old Uncle Ed peering over everybody's shoulder, the mere smell of a key transaction should be enough for the boss to suggest pulling the trigger.


Which brings me to a larger point. Everybody just chill.

The NHL has been back for all of 11 days and emotions are running the gamut in such a short span. Fans in San Jose are sky high, thinking this is the year. In Washington, there's embarrassment and resignation. In Phoenix, they come dressed as empty seats.

So much for just enjoying things. Collectively, I have to hand it to you. The Show has been welcomed back with such an intense and consumptive feeling, the likes of which we haven't seen since Lenny went on his rampage in "Of Mice and Men."

We won't get to see how the year will shake out until we're halfway through, so please just enjoy it for what it is, because it could have been nothing. The start isn't what's important, it's the finish.

Marleau Down Dirty Shame

I guess it's better late than never for Patrick Marleau, the closest thing the San Jose Sharks have to a franchise icon.

He's on an insane tear thus far, with nine goals and 14 points in only six games to help his club go 6-0-0 for the first time ever. It's far and away the best start to his 16-year career, and he snagged a piece of NHL history for being just the second player in league annals to record three straight multi-goal efforts (he ended with four straight) to begin a season.

Not on the list: Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Phil Esposito, Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky or Brett Hull.

Marleau also began the season with five consecutive multi-point contests -- a team record, and has also scored at least a point in every single game for the Pacific Division leaders.

As impressive as the burst has been, you know it can't last. And with the way the Sharks have been on the cusp of contention for the last five years, you wonder if the 33-year-old will have enough in the tank to play consistently once this streak bottoms out. Where was this in 2008, 2009 and 2010 when San Jose needed it most? That's the most perplexing attribute of Marleau's career arc. Perhaps the oddity of a shortened schedule will keep him fresh for the playoff push.

The Old Master has been cheated

Unable to totally pull himself away from the game he loves, Buffalo Sabres telecaster Rick Jeanneret said in the offseason that 2012-13 would be his last one behind the microphone.

With the schedule cut down from 82 to 48 games plus playoffs, it's unfair if that remains to be the case. Jeanneret, who has been involved with Sabres broadcasts for all but one year of their existence, deserves the chance to go out on a full slate.

Local broadcasters aside, there have been few voices throughout all levels of hockey that energize this columnist when watching either at work or at home. Sure, like all partisan hires, Jeanneret is a homer, but he brings unusual dexterity when crossing game analysis with rooting interest.

Plus, he possesses THE finest volume and emotion of any current broadcaster when Buffalo scores, particularly at home, and has authored what I consider to be THE best overtime playoff call in modern NHL history -- which is approaching its 20th anniversary in late April.

I hope there will be some kind of petition floated to kep him one more year if Jeanneret decides to step aside later this Spring, because I'd have no problem signing it and encouraging hockey fans everywhere to do the same.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Former Phantom, Flyer White to be inducted into AHL Hall of Fame

Providence, RI -- The American Hockey League announced on Monday that former Philadelphia Phantom and Flyer Peter White will be one of the four members of its 2013 Hall of Fame class.

Born in Quebec City and a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 1989, White came to Philadelphia in 1996 as a member of the original Philadelphia Phantoms club.

He posted back-to-back 100-point seasons in his first two years here (44G, 105 pts in '96-'97, then 27 G and 105 pts. in '97-'98) and helped the franchise win its first Calder Cup in 1998 by going for nine goals and 18 points in 20 games that culminated in a six-game triumph over the Saint John Flames.

White, who may be most notable here as a son-in-law of former GM Bob Clarke, spent one whole season with the Philadelphia Flyers, recording nine goals and 25 points in 77 appearances in 2000-01.

After a stint in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, White came back to the Phantoms in 2002 and stayed until he was swapped for Jon Sim early in the 2004-05 campaign. All told, White racked up 153 goals and 472 points over 431 regular-season games with the Philadelphia version of the Phantoms in parts of seven seasons.

White, who played collegiately for Michigan State, ended his career as a three-time AHL scoring champion and also won a Calder Cup with the Cape Breton Oilers in 1993.

One other inductee has a Philadelphia connection.

Ken Gernander, who is currently the head coach of the Connecticut Whale, played for Moncton, Binghamton and the Hartford Wolf Pack and briefly in the NHL for the Rangers from 1991-2005.

His brother-in-law is former Philadelphia Flyers forward Trent Klatt -- who nearly ended Gernander's career with a hit that resulted in a severe concussion in the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals.

Bang the link for the full release.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hartnell goes under the knife, recovery time adjusted

The Philadelphia Flyers announced that forward Scott Hartnell underwent successful surgery on a broken toe.

"Scott Hartnell had successful surgery today to repair a broken first metatarsal in his left foot. The surgery was performed by Dr. Steven Raikin. Recovery is expected to be 4-6 weeks," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren in a statement issued Friday night.

Hartnell,  who  was coming  off a  career-best 37-goal  season in 2011-12, was felled  in the  second period of a 3-0  loss to New Jersey on Tuesday, when he was struck in the skate by a shot from teammate Kimmo Timonen.

The prognosis is slightly more promising than in Thursday's report, which had recovery slated anywhere between one to two months.. but we all know how the majority of Flyers players defy that and come back to play as soon as is humanly possible.

At a conservative estimate of four weeks, means Hartnell could likely return for a February 25 home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The far end sees a March 15 meeting between the Devils and Flyers in Philadelphia as a possibility.

Knuble returns, as does Lilja

The Philadelphia Flyers made it official on Friday afternoon, welcoming back forward Mike Knuble after agreeing to terms on a one-year contract.

The move was made necessary after the Flyers discovered Thursday that forward Scott Hartnell is expected to miss 4-to-8 weeks with a broken toe in his left foot.

"It's the first time I've double-dipped on a team," said Knuble, who will accompany his new teammates as they hit the road. "It's a place where you feel very comfortable with the staff, the people you see at the rink everyday; you know your way around; you know a few guys in the locker room who were still there when you were. It's a great organization and it's a place that I had to leave because of salary cap things and you didn't really want to go, and I said that at the time, but it's great to have that opportunity to come back and help out." 

Knuble spent the last three seasons with the Washington Capitals, recording six goals and 12 assists over 72 games last season as he was one of several veterans who feuded with interim head coach Dale Hunter on playing time. 

The 40-year-old, who previously played in Philadelphia from 2005-09, has collected 274 goals and 266 assists through 1,040 career games with the Red Wings, Rangers, Bruins, Flyers and Capitals. Knuble had been playing on a PTO with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL because no other NHL club expressed interest once his deal with the Capitals ran out. 

"We were all obviously waiting to see what sort of season was going to develop out of all of this – was it going to be 50 games, 60 games, until they settled on 48.  Everybody’s adjusting this year.  It’s kind of one of those years where everybody’s making the best of what they can do," Knuble added.

"I think it’s part of being a veteran guy.  You want to talk to guys and be a good guy and I guess act like a veteran player as far as things you’re trying to do or talk about on the ice.  Sometimes it’s 'do as I say, not quite as I do' sometimes.  But hopefully I can be somebody that the staff can count on to do the right things on and off the ice, take care of yourself, have fun with the guys and be a positive influence in the room.  So you kind of look at that as part of the role too."

Philadelphia also recalled defenseman Andreas Lilja from Adirondack on Friday.

A salary-cap casualty to the opening-day roster due to his "35-plus" deal, Lilja recorded two assists in four games in Glens Falls. His ascension back to the big club as they begin a four-game road trip in Florida tomorrow is the result of Andrej Meszaros' shoulder injury which will keep him out of the lineup for at least one month.

"Andrej Meszaros has a left shoulder injury. He's going to miss some time and right now we're hopeful it's going to be a four-week rehabilitation of the injury," said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. "It's a muscle injury in and around the shoulder joint and we just have to get it strong. We believe he's going to be out for about a month."

Meszaros left the arena following the Flyers' 2-1 win over the Rangers on Thursday with his arm in a harness. He left in the second period and did not return as a result of the injury. 

"You’re going to need players to play in a short season, a 48-game season like we have.  We believe we have depth in our organization," Holmgren offered. "We’ve seen some of our young kids up already playing.  We’re being tested obviously right now, which is good and bad, but we’d obviously like to get ourselves healthy because we know we’re in for a dogfight in what we have left of our schedule.  

Extra Points: Harbaugh family is already a winner - Football Wires -

Extra Points: Harbaugh family is already a winner - Football Wires -

Union bring in Harrisburg native Alex Mendoza

Chester, Pa. – Philadelphia Union today announced that the club has acquired Harrisburg native and Harrisburg City Islanders Academy product Alex Mendoza.  

A dual United States and Mexican citizen, Mendoza spent the last three seasons with Mexico’s Pumas, one of the country’s most popular teams, competing for all levels of the club’s system.  The midfielder will be eligible to play for the Union upon receipt of his ITC.  Per MLS and club policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

Mendoza, 22, joined Pumas in February of 2009, participating in the club’s first and second division teams, as well as the U-20 squad, for the ’09-’10 seasons.  In the 2011 season, Mendoza added the Morelos Liga de Acenso squad to his resume.

A graduate of Red Land High School, Mendoza played his club soccer for Red Land Soccer Club and was also a member of the LDC United U-16 and U-18 teams, as well as the Central Pennsylvania Youth Soccer League U-10 and U-15 Select and Alliance teams.  He also was part of the U-13 and U-17 ODP player pools.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Holmgren talks injuries, more

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren 

Q: Can you give us an update on Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere?

A: I haven’t heard yet how the x-ray went for Danny, but he’s getting better. I would say he’s maybe 50/50 on the weekend, I’ll know better after the game. 

Q: Is there a fracture?

A: Well we’re seeing the x-ray later, so then we will have a better idea after the game. 

Q: How about Scott Hartnell?

A: We sort of know what it is, a broken first metatarsal in his left foot. Right now we’re trying to decide, we’re talking to the doctor about the best way to proceed with it, in terms of how to approach it. I can’t give you a time frame, it’s probably, gonna be between four to eight weeks depending on how significant the injury is.

Q: Any update on Zac Rinaldo? 

A: He skated today, some tightness though, it feels like a charlie horse to him, the wound has actually healed up fairly quickly.  He’s unlikely to play at all over the weekend.

Q: Have you talked to any of your players about wearing those plastic shields regularly?

A: I’ve talked to them about it yeah, but it hinders the guys a little bit. Don’t know how to explain it other than you don’t want to mess with a player's skates, whether it makes them heavier or wider when they go to make a turn, you kind of slip on the ice, it’s a little bit of an issue. I know some teams use them, more players use them. Our players during power play work and practice they put them on, but it’s just one of those things that I can’t explain, it’s a superstition but obviously it’s an issue, we’ve had, I think over the last five years, a lot of guys injured -Simon Gagne, Brayden Schenn, Jeff Carter, Chris Pronger, and Scottie now. We’ve had a lot of guys who have been injured due to similar things, blocking shots. It’s an issue and we’re trying to deal with it. Whether they can make these protective devices smaller or lighter, i don’t know, but we haven’t found the right formula yet in order to get all of our players to wear them.

Q: With Hartnell out for so long will you explore trades? 

A: We’re looking around obviously. Scott, he’s a big loss, because of how he plays the game. And to have him out at any length of time is difficult. Whether it’s a month to two months it’s a tough pill to swallow but we’ll see what we can do. 

Q: Did you say he was hit in the laces or somewhere else? 

A: Well basically it’s his big toe, the extension of his big toe that’s broken in the foot. So I think, when I saw it, it looked like it hit him on the laces.

Q: Paul, will you have Scott see the doctor again before you decide on surgery? 

A: We’ll just have to have a conference between Scott and our medical staff. I should know sometime tonight. 

Q: Can you give us an update/discuss the contract situation, are you at 49 now?

A: Today, as we speak, we are at 49. 

Q: Regarding Hovinen and Laughton

A: If Hovinen is released we are at 48. Once Scott Laughton plays his sixth game he would be the 49th/50th. If today was game six, he would be the 50th. 

Hartnell down with broken toe; Knuble on the way

Philadelphia, PA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell will miss anywhere from 4-to-8 weeks with a broken toe in his left foot.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren confirmed the diagnosis and timetable prior to Thursday's home contest against the New York Rangers, and also confirmed that he will be exploring trade options now that another marquee name has been sidelined for the long term.

"We're looking around. Obviously Scott's a big loss because of how he plays the game and to have him out is difficult if you're looking at a month to two months… It's a tough pill to swallow, so we'll see what we can do."

Hartnell, who was coming off a career-best 37-goal season in 2011-12, was felled in the second period of a 3-0 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday, when he was struck in the skate by a shot from teammate Kimmo Timonen.

Holmgren initially pronounced his wild-haired top-six forward to be out indefinitely in an initial update on Wednesday. Of note, Hartnell appeared in all 82 games for the last two consecutive full seasons and hadn't missed one since January 14, 2010 -- having appeared in 330 of the previous 331 games over the last five years. 

One other bit of intriguing, yet unofficial news is that the Flyers have apparently brought back Mike Knuble.

The 40-year-old was playing in Grand Rapids of the AHL, after the team which originally drafted him, the Detroit Red Wings, signed him to a PTO. Knuble starred here from 2005-09, but left to take a lucrative free-agent deal with the Washington Capitals.

However, Knuble, along with several high-profile players, endured a falling out with interim head coach Dale Hunter last season over changing roles within a different system from the one former head coach Bruce Boudreau employed. Knuble was held to six goals and 18 points -- his fewest in something approximating a healthy, full season since 1997-98 -- in 72 regular-season games. 

The move cannot become official until the club rids itself of the contract of disappointing minor-league goaltender Niko Hovinen. The organization requested waivers for $125 in order to terminate his deal, which will open up a spot within the league-mandated 50-contract limit.

That is provided the Flyers keep junior prospect Scott Laughton. If Laughton is returned to juniors, then there will be two potential contract spots available.

Splitting Hairs: A Flyers-Rangers preview

With the Flyers staring down the barrel of another key divisional matchup and a fourth straight loss to open this lockout-shortened 2013 season, the question remains.

Just what is the worst commencement to a season in franchise history?

If the Orange and Black should lose tonight against the resurgent New York Rangers, they will have dropped the first four games in regulation for the first time in their 46-year NHL tenure.

However, there are a few other contenders for the crown of "worst-ever start."

Four and a half seasons ago, in John Stevens' second full season behind the bench here, the Flyers began without a win in six games. They lost them all, but managed to record three crutch points with overtime losses in Pittsburgh and San Jose and a home shootout loss to San Jose, making that poor start officially 0-3-3.

In the first season which included the new Millennium, 1999-2000, Roger Neilson's club limped out of the gate without a win in their first six games as well. The lone points in that 0-4-1-1 start came in a tie at Boston in the third game and an overtime defeat home against Montreal two contests later.

And of course, the 0-3-0 runs to begin the 1989-90 and 1995 seasons were quoted in full force after Tuesday's 0-3 loss in New Jersey.

One other sour note to tonight's proceedings is that the Flyers have lost eight straight times to the Blueshirts -- the longest winless stretch since losing a franchise-worst 10 in a row to New York from November 28, 1971 to January 14, 1973.

That spate of futility made up the majority of a 13-game winless run (0-11-2) which ran through December 26, 1973.

Karma from the hockey gods being what it is, things have come full circle in this rivalry.  Under Mike Keenan (with some earlier help from Bob McCammon, the Flyers owned the Rangers to the tune of 11 straight regular-season wins from March 17, 1984 until December 7, 1985. That included a perfect 7-0-0 record in 1984-85.

Only six players remain from the last time our home team beat up on the Manhattanites at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 2011: Braydon Coburn, Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros. Dan Carcillo was credited with the game-winning goal and Kris Versteeg posted an insurance tally.

The Flyers have also come up empty at home against the Rangers since a 4-1 win on December 18, 2010, going 0-3-1 since then.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hartnell felled by shot; Laughton at stake

Late word from Flyers camp is that Scott Hartnell will be out indefinitely after taking a Kimmo Timonen point shot off his left leg during last night's 3-0 loss at New Jersey.

In typically terse fashion for unexpected news, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said: "Scott will be out indefinitely with a left foot injury. We will know more on this within a day or two as we await results of tests."

That's not good. Judging by replays, the placement of impact and Hartnell's unsteadiness on the leg thereafter, he could be looking at a fracture.

Hartnell's loss, along with Danny Briere's continued absence and the subtraction of Zac Rinaldo due to his leg injury from Sunday and Brayden Schenn's suspension means the Orange and Black face near-insurmountable odds tomorrow night while hosting the New York Rangers, trying to avoid an 0-4 start for the first time in franchise history and a ninth straight defeat to their division rivals dating back to March of 2011. 

It also means that prospect Scott Laughton will almost certainly remain with the big club and not sent back to Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League. 

Under amended rules, junior prospects can only play in the NHL for five games before burning through a year of entry-level contracts. Game 5 will be Saturday night at Florida and the no-return Game 6 is late Sunday evening in Tampa. 

It is expected that Tye McGinn will also get an extended look before heading back to the Phantoms as well.

First Shanaban: Schenn suspended one game

New York, NY -- The National Hockey League handed down its first suspension of the truncated 2013 season on Wednesday.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn was given a one-game ban for an illegal hit against New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the second period of a 3-0 Devils win on Tuesday night. No penalty was assessed on the play.

"Having come onto the ice on a line change, Schenn skates down the boards directly towards Volchenkov. Rather than delivering a legal body check, Schenn launches up off the ice prior to contact and into Volchenkov, making contact with Volchenkov's head. This is charging," said NHL head of discipline Brendan Shananan in a video explanation of the ruling.

"While we recognize that sometimes a player's skates come off the ice due to momentum or the impact of a hit, we don't believe this is one of those instances. It's clear how high Schenn is lifted prior to the contact...and makes significant contact to the head to warrant supplemental discipline."

It is the first punitive action taken in the brief NHL career of the 21-year-old native of Saskatoon. He will forfeit $4702.70 in salary which goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Schenn is scheduled to miss Thursday's home game against the New York Rangers, and be eligible to return for Saturday's tilt against the Florida Panthers. The Flyers are in danger of going 0-4 to start a season for the first time in franchise history.

Phillies invite six more to Spring Training, including C Joseph

The Phillies have invited six additional players to major league spring training as non-roster invitees.

·         Cody Asche, 3B – In 130 games between single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading last season, Asche batted .324 with 33 doubles, six triples, 12 home runs and 72 RBI.  The 22-year-old led all Phillies minor leaguers in average and hits (168) and was selected to the Florida State League midseason All-Star team.  Following the season, he was named the seventh-best prospect in the Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.  A native of St. Charles, Mo., Asche was a fourth-round selection by Philadelphia in the June 2011 draft.

·         Justin Friend, RHP – Friend, 26, spent the majority of the 2012 season with Reading, where he allowed just one earned run in 39.2 innings (0.23 ERA) while converting each of his 24 save opportunities.  He also made 12 appearances with Lehigh Valley, going 2-1 with one save and a 4.40 ERA in 14.1 innings.  Originally selected by Oakland in the 13th round of the June 2007 draft, Friend was acquired by the Phillies in the minor league portion of the 2010 Rule 5 draft. In 253 minor league games, Friend is 17-22 with 71 saves and a 3.13 ERA.

·         Tommy Joseph, C – Joseph began the 2012 season with double-A Richmond in the San Francisco Giants organization before being acquired by the Phillies in a trade for Hunter Pence on July 31.  The 21-year-old spent the remainder of the season with Reading, where he was selected to the Eastern League Postseason All-Star team.  Overall, Joseph batted .257 with 24 doubles, 11 home runs and 48 RBI in 108 games in 2012.  The Phoenix, Az., native played for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League and was selected to the AFL Rising Stars roster.  Additionally, following the season, he was named the third-best prospect in the Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.

·         Joe Mather, OF – In 103 games with the Chicago Cubs last season, Mather batted .209 with 11 doubles, five home runs and 19 RBI.  The 30-year-old appeared at six different positions in 2012, including pitcher (0.1 IP), first base, third base, left field, center field and right field.  Originally selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round of the June 2001 draft, Mather has spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues with the Cardinals (2008, 2010), Atlanta Braves (2011) and Cubs (2012).

·        Adam Morgan, LHP – Morgan, 22, spent the majority of the 2012 season with Clearwater, where he posted a 3.29 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) for the Threshers and was named to the midseason and postseason Florida State League All-Star teams.   He was promoted to Reading in August and went 4-1 with a 3.53 ERA in six starts for the Phillies.  The Tampa, Fla., native led all Phillies minor leaguers with 169 strikeouts in 158.2 innings (9.59 SO/9.0 IP) between both levels.  Following the season, he was named the fifth-best prospect in the Phillies minor league system by Baseball America.   Morgan was originally selected by the Phillies in the third round of the June 2011 draft.

·         Kyle Simon, RHP – Simon, 22, began the 2012 season in the Baltimore Orioles organization, going 2-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 14 starts for single-A Frederick.  He was acquired by the Phillies in a trade for Jim Thome on June 30 and went 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA in 20 relief appearances between Clearwater and Reading.  The Long Beach, Calif., native was originally drafted by the Orioles in the fourth round of the June 2011 draft.

To date, the Phillies have invited a total of 18 players to major league spring training in 2013 as non-roster invitees:

Pitchers (7): RHP Aaron Cook, RHP Juan Cruz, RHP Justin Friend, RHP Rodrigo Lopez, RHP Zach Miner, LHP Adam Morgan, RHP Kyle Simon

Catchers (3): Tommy Joseph, Steven Lerud, Humberto Quintero

Infielders (6): Cody Asche, Andres Blanco, Josh Fields, Cesar Jimenez, Michael Martinez, Pete Orr

Outfielders (2): Joe Mather, Jermaine Mitchell

Devils, Brodeur blank listless Flyers

Special to the Phanatic

Newark, NJ --  Martin Brodeur stopped 24 shots to earn his 120th career shutout, as the New Jersey Devils blanked the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-0, in their home opener on Tuesday at Prudential Center.

Brodeur posted the 10th career whitewash against his long-time rivals, and it was his first since Mar. 1, 2009, also a 3-0 home triumph.

"I've worked really hard to get to where I am," Brodeur said. "The team's playing well and I'm just trying to play hockey. I'm happy to be back."

Ilya Kovalchuk tallied a goal and an assist, while Travis Zajac and David Clarkson also lit the lamp for the Devils, who opened their season with a 2-1 road win over the New York Islanders.

Ilya Bryzgalov allowed all three goals on 26 shots for the Flyers, who have dropped their first three games in regulation for the first time since the lockout-shortened 1995 season.

"I think we came out with the right attitude tonight just not the right result," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think there's a lot of little things (we can do) and we'll continue to look at it and work at it."

The Devils, who beat the Flyers in five games during the second round of the playoffs during their thrilling run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, raised their Eastern Conference championship banner to the rafters in a pregame ceremony.

New Jersey seemed to carry that momentum into the game, as Zajac got the Devils on the board just 67 seconds in.
Dainius Zubrus wheeled around the net before feeding it to Bryce Salvador at the left point. Bryzgalov sprawled out to save Salvador's point blast, but couldn't control the rebound, and Zajac jammed it home for a 1-0 lead.

Philadelphia controlled the play for much of the period, but an interference penalty against the Flyers in the final minute set up the Devils' next score.

Following a scrum behind the Philadelphia net, Clarkson came out with the puck and tried a quick wrap around attempt that deflected off the skate of Philadelphia's Ruslan Fedotenko and into the back of the net to double New Jersey's advantage with just 25 seconds left in the period.

Philadelphia picked up its third power play of the game early in the second, but it was New Jersey who took advantage, as a long pass from a defenseman sprung Kovalchuk on a breakaway.

Kimmo Timonen hooked Kovalchuk on the breakaway attempt, setting up a penalty shot, which Kovalchuk converted with a backhand that he lifted high over a sprawling Bryzgalov to make it 3-0 at the 2:44 mark.

The Flyers failed to pull any closer in the final frame, as Brodeur turned away all seven shots he faced in the period to send the Devils to victory.

Notes: Kovalchuk's successful penalty shot was the first for the Devils against Philadelphia since Doug Brown did so on Nov. 23, 1991 ... The Flyers finished 0-for-7 on the power-play and are now 1-for-16 on the season with the man advantage ... Tye McGinn was recalled from the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms and made his NHL debut for the Flyers ... New Jersey went 1-for-7 on the power play ... Philadelphia forward Danny Briere missed his third straight game with a wrist injury suffered while playing in Germany during the lockout.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Union select 5 in MLS Supplemental Draft

Chester, Pa.– The Philadelphia Union selected five players in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft held via conference call between all 19 Major League Soccer coaches on Tuesday afternoon.

The Union selected Eric Schoenle (West Virginia), Uriah Bentick (Liberty), Mark Linnville (Princeton), Jake Keegan (Binghamton) and Leonardo Fernandes (Stony Brook) in the four round draft.

The Union picked twice in the first round by virtue of a deal made in last week’s MLS SuperDraft when it traded its No. 29 pick to Real Salt Lake for Real’s 31st pick of the SuperDraft in addition to the No. 12 and 17 spots in the Supplemental Draft.

With the No. 12 pick, the Union selected Schoenle, a defender and local product from Yardley who attended Pennsbury High School and played for youth club YMS. Schoenle, 21, earned a plethora of awards while attending WVU that include: MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, Senior CLASS Award finalist, Senior CLASS Second Team All-American, NSCAA Third Team All-American, four-time NSCAA All-Region, two-time All-Big East and All-MAC First Team.  He graduated in December with a degree in business administration. Schoenle also was a Big East Academic All-Star, a member of the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll and Dean’s List while at WVU.

At No. 17, the club nabbed Bentick, a senior defender from Liberty. Bentick, 23, a native of Trinidad and Tobago is a member of T&T’s under-20 national team. He started all 18 matches in his senior season at Liberty, and was a three-time All Big South Conference first team selection.

Princeton’s Linnville was taken at No. 24 and is the third Tiger to be taken in the Supplemental Draft in consecutive seasons. Last season, the Union drafted forward Antoine Hoppenot with the 51st pick. Linnville, 21, is another defender who earned All-Ivy honors in four straight seasons, becoming just the eighth player all-time to do so. As team captain, Linnville anchored a defense that allowed only 0.96 goals per game last season.

Keegan, a forward from Binghamton was selected as the 43rd pick. At Binghamton, Keegan, 21, scored 28 career goals, the most goals since the school switched to a Division I program and ranks sixth overall in program history. A third team NSCAA Regional selection, Keegan ranked second in the America East Conference and 28th in the NCAA in goals scored with an average of 0.61 per game (18 games).

Fernandes, a 21-year-old midfielder from Stony Brook was a three-time America East midfielder of the year and is heralded as the program’s “most decorated player.” The 2009 America East rookie of the year is also the first player from the school to be drafted into MLS.

All five will immediately join the Union during its preseason training currently underway at YSC Sports in Wayne before a move to the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex on Jan. 28. The Union will then conclude its preseason training in Florida based out of the Orlando-Deltona region beginning Feb. 8.

Phillies sign OF Delmon Young

Outfielder Delmon Young has agreed to a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Phillies.  The contract includes performance bonuses.

Young, 27, batted .267 with 27 doubles, 18 home runs and 74 RBI in 151 games for the Detroit Tigers last year.  Against left-handed pitchers, he hit .308 (56-182) with a .500 slugging percentage and, defensively, made 29 starts in left field.  In 13 postseason games, Young batted .313 with three home runs and a team-best nine RBI and was named MVP of the American League Championship Series.

“Delmon is an experienced major league bat who will add some depth to our relatively inexperienced outfield and another layer of competition for playing time there as well,” said Phils GM Reuben Amaro.

The first overall selection of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, Young is a .284 career hitter with 89 home runs and 482 RBI in 880 games for the Rays (2006-07), Minnesota Twins (2008-11) and Tigers (2011-12).  He has made 526 career starts in left field, 156 in right field and 29 in center field.   Young has batted .310 (281-905) in his career with runners in scoring position and .336 (115-342) in 89 career interleague games against the National League.

Union sign two

The Philadelphia Union has signed forward Aaron Wheeler and defender Damani Richards. 

The 6-foot-4 Wheeler joins the Union from Finnish club FC KooTeePee, while Richards, 18, has been a regular with the Trinidad & Tobago U-17 and U-20 National Teams.  Richards will be eligible to play for the Union upon receipt of his visa and ITC.  Per MLS and club policy, terms of the deals will not be disclosed.

Wheeler, 24, played three years of college soccer at Lenoir-Rhyne University before transferring to Towson University prior to his senior year. While at Lenoir-Rhyne, he was a two-time NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region First Team selection and a three-time All-South Atlantic Conference First Team member.  In 2009, Wheeler starred for Union PDL affiliate Reading United (then Reading Rage), leading the league in scoring with 17 goals and earned the PDL Most Valuable Player award.  He has also seen time with FC Tampa Bay and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

While a member of the T&T U-20 team, Richards participated in the Caribbean zone of the Youth World Cup qualifiers last year, earning a 2-1 win over Guyana and a 1-0 loss to Curacao.  He also played in four U-17 World Cup qualifying matches in Jamaica, helping the team to a 2-1-1 record.  Formerly with the club, W Connection, Richards spent 10 days on trial with the Union in October, seeing action in the club’s Reserve game against DC United. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rinaldo hurt, McGinn called up

As if it weren't bad enough the Flyers fell to 0-2 with a 5-2 loss at Buffalo on Sunday, forward Zac Rinaldo will be out of the lineup for an indefinite period of time after suffering a 20-stitch gash on his right leg.

The feisty winger left the game in the first period and did not return after taking the worst of a collision with Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr.

It is expected that Tye McGinn, who impressed some at the abbreviated training camp last week, will be recalled from Adirondack of the AHL to take the open roster spot.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Penn State gets help in victory over Vermont

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Let's not kid ourselves. While the first-ever Division I college hockey game which took place at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night between Penn State and Vermont was a positive sign for the 2014 Frozen Four, it simply wasn't 19,529 fans good.

That was the number of tickets sold, roughly 4,000 more than who actually showed up, and the typical band-playing, mock-razzing atmosphere found in tight-knit campus venues was almost totally consumed by the size of the arena.

And you might not be able to look past the fact that Vermont (385 miles) was the home team and Penn State (193 miles) wasn't, but if college isn't about suspending disbelief and having a good time for once, what is?

Justin Kirchheval picked up the deciding goal thanks to some faulty work by the officiating crew, and the Nittany Lions emerged with a 4-2 victory over the Catamounts.

Already up by two, the Nits' margin stretched to three at the 9:43 mark of the second period. Kirchheval circled behind Vermont's Brody Hoffman from left to right, and tucked the puck inside the near post.

Though the disc squirted through a tiny space between the goal line and Hoffman's pads, and a replay freeze-framed the moment most (but not all) of the disc was over the line, what should have been an easy non-call turned into a valuable insurance goal for the Blue and White. 

Taylor Holstrom, David Glen and Casey Bailey also lit the lamp for PSU (9-12-0), which won for just the second time in their last six games. Matt Skoff was solid in net, turning away 34 shots.

The win was key, as Penn State now heads off to East Lansing for back-to-back road games at Michigan State next weekend.

Robert Polesello and Kyle Mountain provided offense for Vermont (6-12-4), while Hoffman made 28 saves in defeat. Nick Luukko picked up a primary assist on the first goal for the "home team."

Penn State brought a majority of fans to the contest, and their team gave them something to cheer about before the four-minute mark when Holstrom tipped in a Conor Varley pass from the slot.

Glen then doubled the advantage with 1:21 remaining in the first period, netting his team-best 11th of the season with some good work down low and a one-timer off a nice pass from Kirchhevel.

Eighty-five seconds after the tomfoolery which surrounded the third goal of the night, Polesello finally lit the lamp for the Catamounts, taking a Nick Luukko shot and ripping it past Skoff.

Bailey scored with 4:42 remaining for a three-goal margin, then Mountain closed out the scoring with his first of the year with 11 seconds to play.

The victory makes PSU 2-for-2 against Vermont in D-I play, as the Lady Nits beat the Cats by a 5-3 count at Burlington in October in their first-ever game.

Hear PSU head coach Guy Gadowsky's post-game comments below:

Penguins spoil Flyers' 2013 homecoming

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

So much for hype and expectations.

The first game of the lockout-shortened 2013 season passed on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, and the Pittsburgh Penguins seized early momentum with a pair of first-period goals en route to a 3-1 decision over the Flyers in front of a record crowd announced at 19,994.

Tyler Kennedy and James Neal picked up the crucial scores for the Penguins, who played their eighth consecutive game against their Eastern Pennsylvania foes including a six-game first-round playoff loss back in April. Chris Kunitz added a late insurance tally and Paul Martin added a pair of assists to back a 26-save effort from Marc-Andre Fleury.

Fleury added a bit of history to the proceedings, earning his 227th career win and surpassing Tom Barrasso for first on the franchise's all-time victory list.

"It’s flattering," Fleury said. "I think it shows I’ve played with a lot of good teammates and good players. Tom Barrasso was a guy I always looked up to. To pass him is an honor for me."

Claude Giroux celebrated his first game as team captain with the hosts' lone tally. Ilya Bryzgalov acquitted himself well in defeat, allowing only two goals on 26 shots.

"After the first 13, 14 minutes I think we started to find ourselves," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "I was more concerned with the way we played, the syle. We weren't getting many shots to the net. We seemed to be rushed out there, our passing wasn't crisp, wasn't on the mark, and we had a little bit of trouble skating."

The sides continued to battle each other into the final period despite obvious fatigue setting in, but the Pens appeared to be gaining the footing lost in the second and maintained their one-goal margin. In a sequence just after the midway point of the third, Pens defenseman Matt Niskanen hit the outside of one post, then Martin's point blast stuck inside Bryzgalov's equipment for a pregnant moment before trickling out beside him.

Philly was awarded a prime chance to even things when Deryk Engelland was called for interference with 5:33 left in regulation, but Craig Adams swept out one stuffer in the crease and another connection just missed wide to the long side from the right circle.

The hosts got a break again on Evgeni Malkin's high-sticking call with 2:27 left. Bryzgalov went to the bench to make it 6-on-4, and Wayne Simmonds' redirection slid along the goal line from right to left. That good feeling was negated on a very questionable tripping penalty to Giroux as 62 seconds showed, mere minutes after the closest of all close calls at the blue line prevented the captain from being sprung on a clean breakaway.

"It was a tough call. The referees did a good job out there for the most part," offered Laviolette.

Bryz was pulled once more as the Flyers went up ice, but to no avail as Kunitz iced it on an empty-netter with 14 seconds to go.

There's not much time to focus on what went wrong, as another national broadcast looms on Sunday afternoon, this one a 12:30 start, in Buffalo.

"If you don't take the points, you might find yourself in the bottom of the standings," the Flyers' starter offered about the quick turnaround.

Although the Flyers had the distinct advantage of a vocal home crowd urging them on, the Penguins got the first break of the game, when Braydon Coburn went off for interference against Sidney Crosby less than three minutes in. They got the second break during the advantage, when a passing deflection by Kennedy of a Martin point shot sailed home at 4:40. Further reviews indicated that the disc may have found the stick of Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn instead.

It was 2-0 for the visitors when Neal pumped one home from the left circle after Malkin won a draw with 7:20 played, and a crowd which was eerily quiet during a Flyers power-play in between the scores turned deathly silent.

It ranged from worried to critical to downright ugly during three power-play chances which only produced scoring opportunities on the latter.

Giroux provided a badly-needed wake-up call when he rolled up the right-wing side and slid a cross-ice feed by Scott Hartnell just under Fleury's pad at the right post just 23 seconds into the second period. It was a timing play which left the captain nearly offsides as he burst through the zone, and allowed for a bit of luck as Kunitz attempted to kick the puck away before it reached Giroux, but missed.

"'G' was fantastic out there," Laviolette offered about Giroux's first action as the designated leader.

His teammates began to pick up the pace and buzzed Fleury throughout the stanza, coming within a couple timely crease clears from knotting the score. Despite an 11-8 shot advantage, it was still a one-goal margin for the visitors after 40 minutes of play.

Notes: Saturday's game marked the seventh time the Flyers opened up an NHL season against the Penguins, and fell to 3-3-1 in those contests...Philly also dropped to 9-5-3 in openers at the Wells Fargo Center and 26-13-6 all-time in season-opening games...Jakub Voracek led the hosts with six shots on goal, and Zac Rinaldo was tops in total hits with seven in just 8:54 of ice time...Matt Cooke paced the Penguins with seven hits and Neal led the victors with seven shots on net...Philly failed on five power-play chances and 9:25 of man-advantage time...Pittsburgh scored twice in three opportunities...The Flyers also began the lockout-shortened 1995 campaign with a 3-1 loss on home ice, but to the Quebec Nordiques at the Spectrum on January 20 of that year...The Orange and Black welcomed back Ruslan Fedotenko after a 664-game absence, second-longest in franchise history behind Vinny Prospal, who went 715 games between stints from 1998 to 2008.

Penn State-Vermont preview

The Wells Fargo Center will host Division I college hockey for the first time in the building's 16-year history on Saturday evening.

At stake, bragging rights between the "local" Penn State Nittany Lions who will join the new Big Ten conference next year and the Vermont Catamounts of Hockey East.

It's an 8 PM puck drop, pushed back from the original start time due to the start of the 2013 NHL season.

The matchup will be an appetizer for the main course of the 2014 Frozen Four, and the dessert for tomorrow's heaping entree of NHL hockey between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins which kicks off at 3:25 PM local time.

Here's a quick sneak preview of both sides.

Penn State Nittany Lions
Head Coach: Guy Gadowsky
Record: 8-12-0 (3-4-0 home, 4-8-0 away, 1-0-0 neutral site)
Streak: Lost four of last five games
Key Win(s): December 29 vs. Ohio State (5-4) in Pittsburgh
Key Loss(es): Back-to-back vs. Union (0-2, 1-4 on Nov. 24-25); vs. US National Under-18 team.
Leading Scorer: Casey Bailey, David Glen (18 pts. in 20 games)
Leading Goal Scorer: Bailey, Glen with 10 goals each.
Last game: 3-2 loss at home to Neumann College...Bailey and Glen each light the lamp, but despite a 46-17 shot advantage, Jon Low won it awith 53 seconds left in the extra session.

Vermont Catamounts
Head Coach: Kevin Sneddon
Record: 6-11-4 (3-8-4 in Hockey East)
Streak: Lost three in a row, all in conference
Key Win(s): Catamount Cup (as host) on December 29-30, beating Union (2-1) and Princeton (6-3)
Key Loss(es): at Minnesota on November 23-24 (1-5, 1-3); UMass-Lowell at home January 11-12 (2-4, 3-6)
Leading Scorer: Chris McCarthy (18 points in 21 games)
Leading Goal Scorer: McCarthy, Jacob Fallon with six goals each
Last game: 6-3 loss at Gutterson Field House one week ago...Lowell led 4-1 in the third period before strikes from Kyle Reynolds and Caylen Walls pulled Vermont to one, but the RiverHawks scored twice more before the end of the contest.

These schools have never before met on the rink on the men's side. Penn State's women claimed a 5-3 victory at Vermont on October 6 in the first game in that program's history.

On Vermont alone, McCarthy, Nick Luukko, Colin Markison, and Kyle Mountain were born within the confines of the Delaware Valley.

Penn State boasts five players with local connections: Rich O'Brien, Connor Varley, Peter Sweetland, Dominic Morrone, and Brian Dolan.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Penguins talk season-opener in Philly

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma on beginning the 2013 season where his club ended their 2012 course:

“It’s going to be exciting. I think you’re going to find out really quick exactly how exciting it is. It’s going to start right off the hop in terms of the pressure and the importance of every game. You’re going to see that right through the schedule. Every division game is going to be fever-pitched. You’re going to see that with the 48 games.

"I know talking about our first game versus the Philadelphia Flyers, I think every fan in Pittsburgh and Philly is going to be tuned in to how important and how big this game is, given last year, given the divisional matchup and given that there’s 48 games, a lot of them are going to be vs. the division and the first one’s against Philly. We’re going to feel that rivalry right off the hop when we get to Philadelphia and when we get on the ice for warmups. It’s a big game. It’s the start of the season and it’s a divisional game vs. Philly. I think every player, new or guys that have been on this team for a while, know that rivalry, know what it is and are going to experience it."

And Crosby on recalling that first-round series:

"I remember at different points, just kind of being in shock. A lot of different flashes go through my mind when I think about the series. Basically, what it came down to was, we didn't deserve to win. We didn't play well enough, all the way through."

According to the club's website, the Pittsburgh roster will look like this:

Forwards: Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Eric Tangradi, Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy, Brandon Sutter, Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale, Craig Adams

Defensemen: Matt Niskanen, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, Deryk Engelland, Simon Despres, Rob Bortuzzo, Ben Lovejoy

Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury, Tomas Vokoun

Flyers announce season-opening roster

With one day remaining until their season-opener at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers announced their initial roster:

Ilya Bryzgalov
Michael Leighton

Kimmo Timonen
Luke Schenn
Braydon Coburn
Nicklas Grossmann
Kurtis Foster
Bruno Gervais
Andrej Meszaros

Scott Hartnell
Claude Giroux
Brayden Schenn
Max Talbot
Matt Read
Sean Couturier
Jakub Voracek
Wayne Simmonds
Ruslan Fedotenko
Eric Wellwood
Zac Rinaldo
Jody Shelley
Tom Sestito
Scott Laughton

Laughton, of course, has a five-game window to operate at the NHL level before the club has to return him to his junior club, or else risk burning a year on his three-year entry-level contract.

Danny Briere, Chris Pronger, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Matt Walker's respective statuses are uncertain at the moment. Briere could be placed on IR while his wrist heals, while both Pronger and Walker's long-term injury status is up in the air regarding the new cap rules.

Andreas Lilja and Brian Boucher cleared waivers and have been assigned to the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL.

Phillies avoid arbitration with Bastardo

Phils reliever Antonio Bastardo
Left-hander reliever Antonio Bastardo has agreed to a one-year, $1.4 million contract with the Phillies, avoiding salary arbitration.

In 65 games for Philadelphia last season, Bastardo posted a 2-5 record with one save, a 4.33 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 52.0 innings.  He ranked third among all major league relievers in strikeouts per nine innings (14.02), trailing only Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel (16.66) and Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman (15.32).  The 27-year-old also held opposing batters to a .207 average (40-193), including a .169 average (14-83) against left-handed hitters.

Originally signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in February of 2005,  Bastardo is 12-9 with nine saves and a 4.02 ERA in 160 career games.

Bastardo was the last remaining arbitration-eligible player for the Phillies this offseason.

Union draft Anding, Okai

INDIANAPOLIS   – The Philadelphia Union selected forward Don Anding and midfielder Stephen Okai with the No. 26 and No. 31 pick in the MLS SuperDraft inside the ballroom of the Indiana Convention Center.

The Union was originally scheduled to select with the No. 26 and No. 29 picks, but traded away its 29th spot to Real Salt Lake, for the No. 31 selection, in addition to two first round selections (No. 12 and No. 17) in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft next week.

Anding, 21, a senior forward from Northeastern University, was a 2012 College Player of the Year semifinalist and an NSCAA third team All-American. A native of Amity Harbor, N.Y., Anding was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year in his junior season (2011) and was the CAA Rookie of the Year in 2009. Anding is considered by scouts to have great speed but Union manager John Hackworth feels his strength is his versatility.

“Athletically he is very gifted but it was his character that won us over,” said Hackworth. “When you are looking for a guy to work in a couple of different positions, his personality and the fact that he’ll work hard along with the natural tools and gifts that he has he was a guy that we wanted and we feel fortunate to grab him.”

In Okai, 23, a native of Ghana who was drafted from the University of Mobile (Ala.), Hackworth believes he has a player that does need fine tuning but is MLS ready. The senior midfielder and former Ghanian youth international was the 2012 NAIA Player of the Year and was an NAIA All-America selection. He also played briefly under Union assistant coach Brendan Burke at Union developmental affiliate Reading United.  In 23 games for Mobile, Okai netted 10 goals and dished nine assists.

“Stephen is probably one of the most ready players in this draft that can step onto an MLS team and play right away,” said Hackworth. “He’s experienced beyond his years and having a lot of personal knowledge of him…it was hard to deny that he was going to be a guy that we weren’t looking at.”

Both draft selections are scheduled to appear in camp as the Union has begun its preseason for the 2013 MLS campaign at YSC Sports in Wayne. The Union will hold an open training session on Monday, Jan. 21 at YSC that is open to the public.

Cherry and White Game set for April 20

Temple coach Matt Rhule
PHILADELPHIA – Temple football, under first-year head coach Matt Rhule, will hold its annual Cherry & White Game on Saturday, April 20 at 1 p.m. at Edberg-Olson Hall.

Admission is FREE and details regarding tailgating and additional activities that day will be forthcoming.

“We are excited to have our annual Cherry & White Game back at Edberg-Olson Hall,” Rhule said.  “Our fans will get to see our beautiful, new building while enjoying our final spring scrimmage.  Playing on campus will also enhance the experience for our student body which has given us outstanding support. We are looking forward to an exciting day of Temple football.”

Last year, the complex underwent a $10 million renovation and expansion, forcing the Owls to move their spring game from its on-campus facility to Lincoln Financial Field, their home stadium since 2003, for the first time in school history.

Construction at EO was completed last summer. The complex now features a 10,000-square-foot strength and conditioning area, an enlarged sports medicine office with hydrotherapy, a full-service academic support area, and a 3,500-square-foot team function room. An observation balcony runs the length of the building.

The Owls begin spring practice on March 22 in preparation for their second season of BIG EAST Conference play in 2013.  Temple returns 46 letterwinners and 15 starters, including Freshman All-American and BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Tyler Matakevich.

Temple opens the 2013 slate at Notre Dame on August 31.

Extra Points: Out of the box means north of the border for Bears | NFL - The News Tribune

Extra Points: Out of the box means north of the border for Bears | NFL - The News Tribune

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Flyers speak about open practice, roster, schedule and more

The following is a selection of quotes from various Flyers players upon the completion of Thursday evening's open practice at the Wells Fargo Center.

A robust crowd reported to be 15,202 showed up for the session, after which Claude Giroux was officially presented with the "C" attached to his jersey.

Flyers center prospect Scott Laughton
What was it like playing in front of the fans at practice tonight?
“It was kind of like a game-like atmosphere and it was nice to get out there. It was my first time being at the Wells Fargo Center so it was nice to get in the room with all the guys and it was nice to get on the ice.”
Everybody’s been talking about 3:00 Saturday, have you been thinking about 3:00 Friday when rosters set… has that been on your mind all week?
“I just try to control what I can do. I mean, I can’t control what they decide and I just want to continue playing my game and hopefully it takes care of itself.”

Flyers LW Scott Hartnell

You filled up Boardwalk Hall a little awhile ago now you come out to see almost a full crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. What’s that say about your fans?

"Well, it’s a pretty nice welcoming that’s for sure. I think everyone was concerned about how the fans would react coming back from this lockout but if there were any doubts before I think they’re gone now with how loud they were cheering just for practice."

It’s been since May 8 since you played that last game and the day after tomorrow at 3 p.m. Pittsburgh is going to be here. Is it hard to believe it’s now?

"It’s going to be probably just like Game 3 of the playoffs last year. It’s going to be intense. It’s going to be jammed. It’s going to be the middle of the afternoon. Everyone is going to be fired up and ready to go. Fans are going to be rowdy. I can’t wait to get out there but I’m sure we’ll have some rusty shifts in there but you just got to calm their storm and just go after."

Flyers center Claude Giroux

Is it a good moment though, when the fans, they love you and this is their first chance, for a lot of them to cheer you on, since you became captain, was it kind of emotional for you that that was all for you?

"Well with the lockout and everything that happened you know, it’s good to see the fans came out and they’re pretty jacked up for the season. I mean I wouldn’t think anything less from a Flyers fan, they’re great fans, they’re behind us one hundred percent. You just saw it’s a practice and it’s basically sold out so it’s always some motivation to kind of do well."

Is it distracting to have 15,000 fans out there and you’re trying to get your work in?

"It’s a little weird, they’re kind of there and you’re waiting for an answer from a teammate or something and you’ve got to do breakouts so it was kind of weird but hopefully they enjoyed it."

You’re saying a lot that you’re not surprised at how the Flyers’ fans reacted, from the way it’s been this week, to have a day at the training camp which is probably the biggest turn on ever and to have this night, does it surpass your expectations of them?

"To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t know but it’s impressive to see all of the fans that came out and they’re excited for the season to start and when you see just gets you even more pumped up. It sounds like we need more motivation  to get ready for the new season but it definitely helps."

Gustafsson lone Phantom on All-Star roster

On Thursday, the American Hockey League revealed the rosters for the Eastern and Western Conference leading up to the 2013 All-Star festivities in Providence, Rhode Island.

Predictably, with the rough season the Phantoms have endured so far, there was only one name included: defenseman Erik Gustafsson.

In typical fashion, Gustafsson is hurt; he hasn't played since blocking a shot with his ankle during a December 19 game. Before the setback, the 24-year-old Swede tallied three goals and 14 points in 24 games this season.

However, for the young defenseman, who saw time with the Flyers in both the regular season and playoffs, it is his second such honor. "Gus" also made the list two seasons ago when the game was played in Hershey.

One other Flyers connection to the contest, is that former Philly defenseman and current head coach of the Binghamton Senators, Luke Richardson, will help coach the East. 

Below are the full rosters for the game, scheduled to take place on Monday, January 28:

2013 AHL Eastern Conference All-Star Team

Robin Lehner, Binghamton Senators
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Springfield Falcons

Curtis McElhinney, Springfield Falcons
Beau Bennett, W-B/Scranton Penguins

Niklas Svedberg, Providence Bruins
Alexandre Bolduc, Portland Pirates

Chris Bourque, Providence Bruins

Bobby Butler, Albany Devils

Mark Barberio, Syracuse Crunch
Peter Holland, Norfolk Admirals

Andre Benoit, Binghamton Senators
Tyler Johnson, Syracuse Crunch

Matt Donovan, Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Tim Kennedy, Worcester Sharks

Tim Erixon, Springfield Falcons
Chad Kolarik, Connecticut Whale

Erik Gustafsson, Adirondack Phantoms
Nino Niederreiter, Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Tomas Kundratek, Hershey Bears
Richard Panik, Syracuse Crunch

Zach Redmond, St. John's IceCaps
Tyler Toffoli, Manchester Monarchs

David Rundblad, Portland Pirates
Trent Whitfield, Providence Bruins ("C")

2013 AHL Western Conference All-Star Team
Barry Brust, Abbotsford Heat
Andrew Agozzino, Lake Erie Monsters
Petr Mrazek, Grand Rapids Griffins
Mark Arcobello, Oklahoma City Barons
Justin Peters, Charlotte Checkers
Matt Fraser, Texas Stars

Brendan Gallagher, Hamilton Bulldogs
Ryan Hamilton, Toronto Marlies
Victor Bartley, Milwaukee Admirals
Quintin Laing, Abbotsford Heat ("C")
Chad Billins, Grand Rapids Griffins
Gustav Nyquist, Grand Rapids Griffins
Adam Clendening, Rockford IceHogs
Kevin Porter, Rochester Americans
Mark Cundari, Peoria Rivermen
Martin St. Pierre, Rockford IceHogs
Michal Jordan, Charlotte Checkers
Mike Sgarbossa, Lake Erie Monsters
Mike Kostka, Toronto Marlies
Drew Shore, San Antonio Rampage
Brayden McNabb, Rochester Americans
Brett Sterling, Chicago Wolves
Jamie Oleksiak, Texas Stars
Jason Zucker, Houston Aeros