Monday, March 31, 2014

Stevens returns to action at Liacouras Center

Stevens in the Ring Against Majewski
Photo Credits:
Rich Graessle/Main Events
Philadelphia, PA: Curtis "Showtime" Stevens took a relaxing vacation after his first round knockout of Patrick "The Machine" Majewski on January 24 at Resorts in Atlantic City, NJ and now he is faster, stronger, rested and ready to take on Tureano Johnson Friday, April 4 at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA. Stevens, who vowed to stay busy this year, spent two weeks in Mexico and Jamaica following his fight at Resorts. However, even while he was having fun in the sun, he stayed in constant contact with Main Events' Matchmaker Jolene Mizzone, "While I was away Jolene kept in contact with me. She asked me if I wanted to fight and I told her I was off for two years so now I want to get right back into it. I wasn't playing around."

Stevens Against Findley
Photo Credits:  Rich Graessle/Main Events

Stevens, 29, just moved to a new place on the water in Queens and has been running stairs and on the beach as part of his new conditioning regime. He said, "I feel good. I have been training very hard. We wanted to make my legs stronger so I can get lower and weave his shots." However, Curtis does not think Tureano Johnson is going to be a problem for him. When asked about Johnson he said, "This guy likes to fight. He slaps a lot. He's got looping shots. But don't leave your seat when the TV lights come on because you might miss it. Don't blink. Have your popcorn and your soda ready beforehand because I am about to put on a spectacular showcase come April 4."

Showtime vs. Ayala
Photo Credits:  Rich Graessle/Main Events

When asked about fighting in Philadelphia, the Brooklyn native said, "Philly is the boxing capital so I am really excited to be fighting there. They like to fight in Philly and I love that. I have a lot of fans in Philly. I grew up with Karl 'Dynamite' Dargan, we were in the amateurs together, so I know all of his family. A lot of my fans from New York and Brooklyn are going to come out there and make the drive to show their support but I have fans in Philly too."

This will be Showtime's fifth Fight Night appearance and he is undefeated on the program (first round KO of Patrick Majewski on Jan. 24, first round KO of Saul Roman on August 3, 2013, eighth round UD over Derrick Findley on April 20, 2013 and first round KO of Elvin Ayala on January 19, 2013). When asked about fighting on Fight Night, Stevens replied, "I love NBC Sports. I love NBC because the world gets to see me. I am grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to perform for the whole world. Me and Cunningham were on Fight Night together when he fought Tyson Fury and I beat Derrick Findley so I am glad we get to share the spotlight again on Fight Night April 4."

Curtis Knocks Out Roman
Photo Credits:  Rich Graessle/Main Events

Main Events' CEO Kathy Duva said, "I love Curtis' attitude. There are few things better for a promoter than a fighter who will fight anyone, anywhere, anytime. Curtis has the heart of a champion, even if he doesn't have that belt just yet."  

Jolene Mizzone, Main Events' matchmaker said, "Fighting an up-and-coming undefeated opponent is always dangerous for a fighter so Curtis needs to be on point in order for him to get closer to a world title fight."

MO Radio Show on Sports LIVE w/NFL Insider John McMullen 03/31 by Mo Radio Show | Sports Podcasts

MO Radio Show on Sports LIVE w/NFL Insider John McMullen 03/31 by Mo Radio Show | Sports Podcasts

Sixers' Moultrie suspended

NEW YORK -  The NBA announced today that Arnett Moultrie of the Philadelphia 76ers has been suspended without pay for five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

Moultrie’s suspension will begin with tonight’s game between the 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks. Moultrie will also be ineligible to play for the Delaware 87ers during the period of his suspension.

Around the Rink: NCAA Playoffs Edition

The Frozen Four field is set, with Minnesota, Boston College, Union and North Dakota to grace us with their presences in less than two weeks on the Flyers' home rink.

It's no coincidence that the top three programs all year in the national rankings comprise the majority of the last four schools competing for the NCAA championship.

The following are my impressions of the action from the first 12 games, broken down by geography.

West Regional

It was repeated every stoppage of play on the broadcast in the third period and beyond on Saturday night, but the Fighting Sioux earned their 20th trip to the final weekend of the college hockey season -- and first since 2011 -- by taking down former rivals Wisconsin and then Ferris State in double overtime.

The Bulldogs, a surprise entrant to the Frozen Four two years go and surprising fodder for the smallish BC Eagles in the title game, decided to play a significantly less dynamic game in their two cracks at the national playoffs. FSU beat Colgate 1-0 in regulation, then needed almost five periods to lose a 2-1 decision to UND on Saturday night.

It was a stirring reminder that, in some ways, the college game can mirror certain team systems in the pros, and watching Ferris State's conservative take over the weekend mirrored my own frustration in witnessing Maine's neutral zone trap in the late 90s and early 2000s as a reflection of the Devils and the Dead Puck Era in the NHL at that same period. Ultimately, a North Dakota team that showed more offensive punch and the right amount of patience saw those qualities rewarded.

Meanwhile, the Sioux were paced by Rocco Grimaldi's hat trick, the first of the tournament, along with a goal and assist from Flyers prospect Michael Parks in a 5-2 thrashing of Big Ten champion Wisconsin. All credit due to Conor Gaarder, who scored the game winner from in close, the only kind of goal Ferris State was likely to surrender, as the stakes got higher.

East Regional

Perhaps the region which featured the weakest pairings of the eight first-round matchups, the Union Dutchmen, #1 in the rankings and holding the third overall seed heading into the tournament, emerged victorious and reached its second Frozen Four in the last three seasons after easy wins against consecutive Hockey East foes in Vermont and Providence.

For the upstart ECAC program, it was a case of several overlooked players who had led the team's resurgence all along, outshining the one who received the most hype and coverage. Max Novak, Mat Bodie, Daniel Carr, Daniel Ciampini, Matt Hatch and goaltender Colin Stevens came through with the valuable commodities: goals, assists and saves. Novak led the way with three goals and one assist, Hatch added three scores, Stevens stopped 60 shots, while Flyers defensive prospect Shayne Gostisbehere took a back seat with a plus-3 and no points.

The Friars, featuring USA WJC goaltender Jon Gillies, blanked an otherwise indifferent Quinnipiac team on Friday, which seemed to take more than the usual solace in knocking last year's NCAA champs and conference rivals Yale out of the ECAC playoffs. Providence didn't seem to have that same jump when Union played a more up-tempo style on Saturday.

One facet of play for all four teams which couldn't escape notice, and isn't exactly a boon for the future in hooking casual fans, was that the defensive play in each offensive zone was cluttered and resembled rec-league hockey rather than the usual speed and grace, even in physical contact, found at the D-I level. There was a lot of play around each net and not a lot of space to move the puck inside the attacking zone either east-west or north-south.

Midwest Regional

Overall play was typically open, as it has been for decades beyond the Ohio-PA border. The old CCHA and WCHA featured players with the typical height and weight of NHL skaters, and they were allowed to roam wild and free, hitting everything in sight and scoring a ton of goals.

Top overall seed and national No. 2 Minnesota awoke from its slumber from an early exit in the Big Ten tourney, turning on the jets and whipping AHA champ and tourney first-timer Robert Morris before taking down St. Cloud State by a combined 11-3 score. Don Lucia's squad earned its 21st trip to college hockey's final weekend ad have gone 8-2-1 since Valetine's Day.

Gophers backstop Adam Wilcox joined Gillies and CJ Motte (Ferris State) as the only goaltenders in the regionals to blank an opponent on Sunday evening, taking down a tired Huskies club which needed OT to overcome Notre Dame. He staked his claim to be one of the three Hobey Baker finalists with steady play the entire weekend.

Northeast Regional

Norm Bazin did his best to turn UMass-Lowell from second-division school in a major power conference to a national force, and he did it as the other of two coaches following Walsh footsteps from the late 90s. Last season, UML's trip to the Frozen Four was a direct result of playing a familiar system to stymie unfamiliar opponents. This year, while Minnesota State-Mankato couldn't deal and only broke a shutout in the final seconds, BC presented a team which had seen it all before and exploited that fact.

Jerry York's Eagles reached their 24th Frozen Four -- tied with Michigan for the most all time -- and ninth since 2000 by pasting a passive Denver squad, 6-2, on Saturday, then answered everything the RiverHawks threw at them on Sunday. BC's top line, which accounted for 13 points and were a plus-15 against the Pioneers, rested on Sunday. Badly-needed balanced scoring came at the right time from freshmen Ryan Fitzgerald and Ian McCoshen in the third period of a 4-3 victory.

A study in contrasts, the play between BC and UML was a lot more fluid and physical than their respective philosophies suggest. Unlike Ferris State, Lowell is a dynamic defensively-oriented team, and it had to be to limit Johnny Gaudreau to two assists. The nation's leading scorer by a wide margin, Hobey favorite Gaudreau came away with MVP honors after totaling three goals and five assists. He's recorded a point in 33 of the last 34 games.

Some Frozen Facts

This year's field marks the first time since 2010 that three #1 seeds reached the Frozen Four. In Detroit, Boston College (Northeast), Wisconsin (West) and Miami-Ohio (Midwest) made it along with RIT. BC eventually topped Wisconsin for their fourth national title.

Since the expansion of the tournament in 2003, that's only happened two other times: 2005 (Minnesota, Colorado College, Denver) and 2003 (Cornell, New Hampshire, Minnesota).

Boston College and Union have the early semifinal, with puck-drop shortly after 5 p.m, with the Gophers and North Dakota following at 8:30 p.m. or roughly a half hour after the Eagles/Dutchmen game has concluded.

It's a perfect storm for all four programs. BC is looking to avenge last year's first-round, first-game loss to Union, while Minnesota and North Dakota can't stay separated for too long, despite this season being the first in decades both schools didn't compete in the same conference. It was the first time since 1946-47 these neighbors in the Upper Midwest didn't meet in the regular season. The Dutchmen enter play on a scorching 14-0-1 clip, while the Eagles kept alive their streak of making the FF in every even year since 2004.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bruins manage to slip past furious Flyers in shootout

Philadelphia, PA -- There's no doubt that the Flyers wanted this one, and needed it, more than the Bruins.

The Orange and Black are jockeying with the Rangers for home ice advantage in the first round, and trying to erase the memory of an ugly 6-1 home loss to the Eastern Conference leaders back in late January.

Ultimately, Philadelphia did neither on Sunday afternoon, dropping a 4-3 spirited shootout decision to Atlantic Division champions Boston, who set a new franchise record with their ninth straight road victory.

Reilly Smith netted the winner in the fifth round of the breakaway round, while Tuukka Rask came up with 49 saves in regulation. Andrej Meszaros, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron lit the lamp for the B's, who moved three points ahead of St. Louis for the top record in the NHL and upped their record to 15-1-1 in March.

"I don't think anybody could ever imagine this," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. "It's been a real good month for us. If you check our schedule, we've had a lot of back-to-back games. That's where I give our guys a lot of credit."

Vincent Lecavalier scored twice, including his 400th career goal, and his tally with 24.1 seconds to go sent the game beyond regulation. Kimmo Timonen also hit the net and Jake Voracek added a pair of assists for the Flyers.

Steve Mason made 27 games in the first 65 minutes, but couldn't stop Smith's backhander at the left post to end the contest. Rask dove out and closed off the five hole to deny Voracek on the shot which opened the final segment. 

Nonetheless, with the Blues looming on Tuesday, the hosts improved to 6-2-1 during their challenging stretch of 12 games against the best teams in the league.

“I thought our team competed real hard,” Flyers head coach Craig Berube said. “They had an attitude today that they were going to go and show themselves and I thought that they did. I know the outcome wasn’t what we wanted but we attacked and had a lot of pucks on net. We competed hard. You’ve got to compete real hard against that team or you’re in trouble.”

Lecavalier opened the scoring with a wicked blast from below the circles off a dish from Adam Hall only 5:25 after the opening faceoff, but an old friend in Meszaros evened the score just after the midway point when he was allowed space up the slot and beat Mason through a screen with a high shot.

The hosts went to intermission up a goal. Voracek was walled off on the right wing, and made an inadvisable, but lucky backhand pass across the ice to a trailing Timonen, who hit the half-open net with 18 seconds remaining.

Chara tied things up again, only 11 seconds into a Hall hooking minor. He was allowed free rein at the left post, and scored with a backhander to the far pipe from in close at 5:44 of the second period. 

After each club failed to click on brief advantages, the Bruins emerged with a 3-2 lead, when Bergeron spun at the left circle near the boards and scored with a shot along the ice at 11:05.

"It shows a lot about our character and that guys that we have that we're able to pull this together," said Bergeron about the myriad players who went to Sochi but who came back and have fueled this late run. "We've all pulled together and we keep getting better."

The Flyers wasted 1:47 worth of a 5-on-3 after Dougie Hamilton and Chara were whistled for infractions inside the first 3 1/2 minutes of the third. Boston's penalty killers, without their captain, permitted one shot and blocked three others.

Carl Soderberg missed an open net from the left side as the clock ticked down inside of three minutes left in regulation, pushing the puck into Mason's arm with the upper quadrant of the cage free.

An extra attacker was summoned from the bench with 1:27 to play, and fortuitous bounces inside their offensive zone led to the tying goal. A failed clear by Loui Eriksson found its way to Voracek, who slid it across to Lecavalier with 24.1 seconds remaining.

Rask was forced to make eight saves in overtime, including an easy one when Brayden Schenn skated in alone with less than a minute showing.

“I think the guys worked extremely hard,” Mason said. “We had over 50 shots on net. It shows the kind of pressure we were putting on them for the majority of the game. Right now they’re the number-one team in the league, and the guys were going toe-to-toe with them.  It’s a good sign.”

There's only one chance for redemption after two losses to their New England rivals, back in Boston next Saturday afternoon. 

Notes: Lecavalier netted his 100th career goal, for the Tampa Bay Lightning, against the Flyers on Jan. 18, 2003 ...  His multi-goal effort was his second of the season and first since recording a hat trick on Long Island on Oct. 26 ... Rask won his 100th career NHL game with a season-high for saves in one contest, eclipsing his 43-save effort against the Rangers in a 2-1 win on Nov. 19 ... Claude Giroux was held without a point for just the third time in the month of March ...Bergeron's goal extended his scoring streak to seven games, only two off the Bruins' all-time record set by Phil Esposito ... The 52 shots were the most for Philadelphia since a 55-shot barrage at Winnipeg on Feb. 21, 2012 in a 5-4 overtime victory, and the most on home ice since peppering Nikolai Khabibulin with 55 shots in a 4-1 win on Jan. 28, 1997.

Union draw with Impact

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union (1-1-2) drew with the Montreal Impact, 1-1 at PPL Park Saturday evening.

Offseason signing Vincent Nogueira netted his first MLS goal on an assist from Jack McInerney and Brian Carroll to give the Union a point against the Eastern Conference opponent. After the Union went up a man in the second half by way of a red card issued to Andrew Wenger of Montreal, Marco Di Vaio scored late to level.

The 37-year-old Impact striker bit the Union yet again with a goal in the 80th minute, taking a cross field pass from Impact midfielder Justin Mapp, and utilizing the space given to bend a shot around Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. The goal was DiVaio’s first of season and in his first game played after having to sit out the beginning of the season due to a three-match suspension.

“There were a lot of breakdowns on that play, "Union manager John Hackworth said after the match. "We don’t defend Di Vaio very well. There was a lot going on in that play that we could’ve done to prevent to never get put in that situation. There were things even when we had the ball. We had a great attack a couple seconds before that. A lot of situations we have to correct this week.”

The goal sullied an otherwise dominant performance offensively from the Union, who was rewarded for great possession, control of tempo and good off the ball work with a goal in the 35th minute, when McInerney played a great curling ball around a Montreal defender and right into the run of Nogueira, who finished with around Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins. The goal marked Nogueira’s first in Major League Soccer.

“I was happy to be able to get a goal; it’s always good when you can get a goal with your new team,” Nogueira said postgame. “But I am just upset about the result. Scoring goals is not my main task but I am always happy to be able to [have an opportunity] to score.”

The final stat sheet again shows the Union’s knack to create chances and hold possession as Hackworth’s group held the edge in possession (57.9-42.1), shots on target (5-1) and corner kicks. In a final game before leaving for his U.S. men’s national team call-up, midfielder Maurice Edu had a solid performance, and nearly netted the game winner in the 85th minute after a deflection from a Brian Carroll shot fell to Edu and his driven curler took a deflection over the bar.

"I would have been happy to score another one as it would have made the score 2-0 instead of 1-0 at halftime,” said Nogueira. “We probably would have been able to hold that result if it would have been 2-0.”

Though the Union created a plethora of chances, postgame Hackworth was disappointed with the chances that weren’t converted into goals or forced Perkins to have to make a save. That will be the focus before next Saturday’s road test against Eastern Conference foe Chicago at Toyota Park (5 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).

“I thought we could've been more selfish,” Hackworth said. “We could’ve taken on guys 1v1 in many chances today…a lot of players were reluctant to go 1v1. That hurt us a little bit. We passed the ball an awful lot, but we passed it when we should’ve taken a guy on the dribble and getting a cross off."

Hackworth paused and added:

“We have to have more variety in our attack.  I just think its responsibility. I think players need to take responsibility for when they have it. When they have it they have to go for it. There were clearly a lot of situations when guys could’ve taken shots or gone 1v1. We just didn’t do that and you want that balance.”


Philadelphia Union 1, Montreal Impact 1,

Saturday, March 29; 4:00 p.m. ET

PPL Park       

Chester, Pa.


PHI: Nogueira 35’ (McInerney, Carroll)

MTL: Di Vaio 80’


MTL: Camara 26’ (yellow)

PHI: Fabinho 48’ (yellow)

MTL: Wenger 76’ (red)


MacMath, Fabinho, Okugo, Wheeler, Gaddis, Carroll, Edu, Nogueira, Maidana (Fernandes 57’), McInerney (Casey 71’), Le Toux (Hoppenot 82’).

Substitutes not used: Blake, White, Lahoud, Bone.


Perkins, Pearce, Eric, Camara, Ferrari, Warner (Bernier 74’), Martins (Ouimette 87’), Bernadello, Romero (Wenger 60’), Mapp, Di Vaio

Substitutes: Brovsky, Gonzalez, Smith, Bush.

Powerful Kovalev keeps title in Atlantic City

Sergey Kovalev -courtesy of Larry Levanti/Main Events
By John McMullen

ATLANTIC CITY (The Phanatic Magazine) - Powerful WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev retained his title on Saturday night, dispatching the previously undefeated Cedric Agnew with a seventh-round knockout on HBO's "Boxing After Dark" from the Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall.

It was the second successful title defense for Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs), who earned the crown in August of 2013 by topping Nathan Cleverly in the United Kingdom.

Typically Kovalev doesn't get paid by the hour and 15 of his 21 career knockouts coming in were recorded in the first or second rounds. Wary of that power Agnew (26-1) was playing defense early and content on player the counter-punch game.

Almost on cue, though, Kovalev connected with a powerful left which sent Agnew to the canvas late in the second round. The bell saved the Chicago native for the time being and he was able to hang in.

"Agnew was far tougher than anyone gave him credit for," promoter Kathy Duva said. "Sergey is just incredible."

Agnew, however, just doesn't have the power to afford to fall behind on the scorecards early so the plan seemed to be rope-a-dope and let Kovalev punch himself out. That may have changed in Round 4 when  Agnew opened up a nasty cut around Kovalev's right eye but if it did, it was false hope.

Kovalev put on a clinic in the sixth round with power punch after power punch and it was surprising the game Agnew even came out for the seventh. He did but only to crumple to the canvas after a crippling body blow which kept Agnew gasping for air many minutes after things had been waved off 58 seconds into
the frame.

"It was a difficult fight tonight because I got the two cuts. He has good defense," Kovalev said. "I found the key - the left to the body. This is very good for me. I was ready for 12 rounds - just to try. He is not a fighter, he is just a boxer. I tried to box with him. I found the key to the body. I found this open place in his defense and my last punch was more harder."

In the semifinal of the night Thomas Dulorme (21-1 14 KOs) proved to be too athletic for Karim Mayfield (18-1-1) and earned the vacant NABF light-welterweight title with a unanimous-decision victory.

If anyone thought a Friday weigh-in melee between the two would result in fireworks they were sorely mistaken. Dulorme's biggest problems in the uneventful fight came from an inadvertent head-butt, which opened up a small cut on his head, as well as a pair of low blows thrown in the eighth round which could have cost him a valuable point.

Mayfield's mechanics, though, were just not ready for prime time, The San Francisco fighter tried to press the action but was off balance throughout the fight, leaving his open to Dulorme's counter game.

The undercard was headlined by Bosnian light heavyweight Radivoje Kalajdzic (15-0-0, 10 KOs), who took a big step up in competition and remained unbeaten, topping contender Lionell Thompson (15-3) by split decision.

The judge who scored the fight for Thompson, Shafeeq Rashada, was clearly giving the higher-profile fighter the benefit of the doubt, however, and the 22-year-old Kalajdzic, who is from Zenica, Bosnia, but now lives in St. Petersburg, FL. took the other two scorecards, 78-72 and 76-75.

The 78-72 measure was the closest to reality as Kalajdzic, who turned pro in 2011 and has spent most of his time toiling in the Tampa area, clearly outboxed Thompson, the No. 8 ranked WBA contender coming in and a five-time Golden Gloves Champion in New York who has trained with stars like Chad Dawson and Carl Froch.

Also junior middleweights Wilky Campfort (17-1-0, 9 KOs) and Khurshid Abdullaev (6-1-1, 3 KOs) seemingly battled to a draw with each fighter taking one scorecard and the third reading 75-75. Moments later a retabulation gave Campfort a split-decision victory with a 76-75 edge on judge John McKale's

Either way it was an injustice for the far-less experienced Abdullaev, who clearly won five or six rounds of the eight-frame bout.

The opener went the distance as local favorite Ismael Garcia (6-0-1, 3 KOs), of Vineland, NJ, edged southpaw DuShane Crooks (6-1), of Brooklyn, NY, in a battle of previously undefeated junior middleweight prospects. Garcia took all three scorecards by a slim 58-56 margin.

Wellington Romero (3-0-0, 1 KO), who represented the Dominican Republic in the 2012 Olympics, remained unbeaten as a professional, handing Philadelphia's Gerald Smith (3-1) his first setback by dominating a four-round junior welterweight match. The 23-year-old Romero set the tone in the first round by putting Smith on the deck with a straight left, and pitched a virtual shutout from there, winning all three scorecards 40-35.

Popular Atlantic City-area super middleweight journeyman Rafael Jastrzebski (4-8-1) was no match for North Jersey's Mike Mitchell (3-3-3). The 36-year-old Mitchell knocked Jastrzebski down twice in Round 2 before referee Ricardo Vera was finally forced to waive things off with just seven seconds left in the

Finally, Brooklyn heavyweight Adam Kownacki (6-0-0, 6 KOs) remained unbeaten in his young career, easily topping Buffalo's Excell Holmes (2-3-1) by TKO, 42 seconds into Round 2. It was the sixth knockout in six pro fights for the heavy-hitting but no so well-conditioned Kownacki.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Giroux the man again as Flyers take down fading Leafs

Philadelphia, PA -- Inhale. Exhale. Repeat as desired.

The Philadelphia Flyers' two-game losing streak is over.

Claude Giroux responded from a disappointing Wednesday contest, finishing with a goal and two assists and Steve Mason made 32 saves, as the Orange and Black prolonged Toronto's recent stretch of misery with a 4-2 home decision on Friday.

The captain's splurge after two dry outings vaulted him into third place on the NHL list with 78 points. Only Sidney Crosby (97) and Ryan Getzlaf (80) rank higher.

Vincent Lecavalier, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell also provided offense for the Flyers, who snapped a two-game slide and have won six of their last eight overall heading into a Sunday afternoon matchup with Atlantic Division leading Boston.

After the Rangers lost in Calgary, there is once again a one-point difference between the clubs for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

“I think it bothered us the last couple of games. They were poor efforts, we were soft on pucks; I think everyone was just very, very tentative," Hartnell admitted. "Tonight we wanted to have some jump, get on their D, get some fore-checks going.  For 60 minutes, I think we did a great job of that and it showed at the end of the night.”

Dave Bolland and James van Riemsdyk tallied for the Maple Leafs, who suffered their seventh consecutive defeat. Jonathan Bernier allowed four scores on 29 shots as Toronto failed to pick up a point and gain ground in the race for a wild-card berth in the East.

In a one-goal contest, Mason began the third with two quick stops in close from Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, then Bernier countered by chasing away a Jakub Voracek chance.

"At times, there was some extra space.  They have some guys who can really fly on that team, especially their top line.  When guys are working for their space, they can create opportunities, and both ways it happened tonight," Mason said.

Giroux eventually provided insurance on a high, hard shot from the left wing at the 4:57 mark, but the Leafs came back on a delayed penalty as Bolland converted a Mason Raymond rebound at 6:18.

Phaneuf had trouble handling the puck in the high slot, and after Brayden Schenn came up with the strip, Simmonds scored to the far post with 7:21 to play and the Flyers established their winning score of 4-2.

“I’ve been saying it for the last two weeks at least. When you’re coming from behind you’ve got to open up a little bit and that obviously gives them a little bit more open space that you don’t want to give usually. It’s tough when you’re coming from behind and we’ve got to find a way to correct it," Phaneuf stated.

Seconds into a 5-on-3 advantage and only 5:35 after the opening faceoff, the hosts went up 1-0 after Lecavalier ripped a one-timer home from the right circle off a Kimmo Timonen dish.

Lecavalier was suddenly demoted to the fourth line after an unsuccessful stint on the left wing, an unnatural position. He ended up with three shots on goal and was credited with three hits in 13:32 of ice time, no doubt helped along by spending time on the club's second power-play unit.

"Well I think we played a great game as a line and being back in the middle, I felt very comfortable so I have to give credit to my teammates," offered Lecavalier. "I think Hallsy and Rino, I think we played really well together. I thought we were close a few times but I think we overall played a good game.”

Toronto had its first goal wiped out just before the midway point of the period as Joffrey Lupul made contact with Mason in the crease prior to a successful shot by Carl Gunnarsson.

Van Riemsdyk then managed to set a pair of records by scoring just four seconds into the second: fastest goal from the start of a period for the Leafs and fastest goal surrendered from the start of a period by the Flyers.

It bested the previous mark set by Mats Sundin, six seconds into OT in a 4-3 win against St. Louis on Dec. 30, 1995. Bengt Gustafsson scored five seconds into the third period of a 4-1 Capitals win against Philly on Jan. 18, 1983.

Hartnell restored his club's one-goal edge when he batted a Timonen point offering out of mid-air and past Reimer with 8:57 left.

Notes: Philadelphia improved to 19-2-1 this season when Giroux scores a goal ... Lecavalier's goal leaves him one shy of 400 for his career ... The Flyers have won eight of their last 11 home games against the Leafs since January of 2009 ... Toronto, Columbus, which lost in regulation against Pittsburgh, and both idle Washington and Detroit have 80 points and are vying for the final two postseason slots.

DeSean Jackson statement on his release

“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly. I would also like to thank coach Andy Reed [Reid] for bringing me in. Secondly, I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true . I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless.”


Eagles release Jackson

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have released wide receiver DeSean Jackson by issuing a quick statement, confirming the divorce.

"After careful consideration during this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson," the statement read. "The team informed him of his release today."

Speculation had been rampant concerning Jackson's future with the team, even after he came off his best season in 2013 with career highs of 82 receptions and 1,332 yards. He also tied a career best with nine touchdown catches.

Jackson spent his entire six-year NFL career with the Eagles, but reports earlier this week indicated the club was trying to trade the 27-year-old veteran and would indeed release him if a deal could not develop.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly met with Jackson earlier this week and a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday said the receiver called teammates to inform them that he was staying with the team.

On Wednesday, at the NFL owners' meetings in Orlando, Kelly would not tip his hand.

"I like DeSean, but we're always going to do what's best for the organization," said Kelly with rumors spreading that the player did not have a good relationship with the first-year coach in 2013.

Kelly went on to say on Wednesday that he had "no issue" with Jackson and that he got along with the Eagles' top receiver last season, but he would not commit to Jackson being on Philadelphia's roster by the start of organized team activities on April 21.

Now, he won't be and will be free to sign with any other team.

Jackson has caught 356 passes for 6,117 yards with 32 touchdowns in his NFL career. He has also been a dynamic punt returner and is a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

The move comes on the same day of a report on that said Jackson's off- field behavior is behind the decision. The story said a bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with Kelly were part of the reason the Eagles released Jackson. also reported that Jackson has association with Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to a pair of homicides since 2010.

Eagles make it official with Sanchez

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have signed former New York Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to a one-year contract which could be worth as much as $4 million.

“I’ve said many times that we will always look to add quality players at the quarterback position,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.

Originally a first-round selection (fifth overall) of the Jets in 2009, Sanchez (6-foot-2, 225 pounds ) started 62 career regular season games for New York, totaling 12,092 yards and 68 touchdowns on 55.1 percent passing while leading the team to the AFC Championship Game twice (2009, 2010).

Additionally, Sanchez orchestrated 10 come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter or overtime while with the Jets, which ranks tied for ninth in the NFL during the span. Sanchez, however, missed the entire 2013 season with a shoulder injury sustained during the preseason.

“We consider it a key position in this game, so having the chance to add Mark to that group was a no-brainer for us," Kelly continued. "Mark has started 68 games in his career and has taken his teams deep into the playoffs multiple times, so we really like what he brings to the table from an experience standpoint. I also had the chance to see Mark play in college and have always had respect for his game and athletic ability."

The sixth-year is expected to be Nick Foles backup ahead of second-year player Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne.

“You can never have enough talent at the quarterback position on your roster, so when Mark became available we immediately became interested,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman.

“He was obviously a very highly-touted player coming out of USC and has had valuable experience in this league," Roseman continued. "He’ll have the chance to come in and learn the playbook, and we feel he’ll be a nice veteran addition to the quarterback room."

Sanchez, 27, established career highs in completion percentage (56.7), passing yards (3,474), passing touchdowns (26) and passer rating (78.2) while rushing for a franchise-record six touchdowns as a quarterback in 2011. Sanchez’s six rushing touchdowns tied running back Shonn Greene for the team lead and stands as the second-most by a quarterback in team history. His 32 total touchdowns were tied for the sixth-most by NFL quarterbacks during the campaign, while his six touchdowns on the ground tied him with Tim Tebow for the second-most in the league. The six-year NFL veteran started 15 games for New York in 2012, throwing for 2,883 yards and 13 touchdowns.

In 2010, Sanchez started all 16 games while guiding the team to their second-consecutive AFC Championship Game, completing 278-of-507 passes for 3,291 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to a 75.3 quarterback rating. With a victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round (1/16/11), Sanchez tied quarterbacks Len Dawson, Jake Delhomme, Joe Flacco and Roger Staubach for the most road postseason wins as a starting quarterback in a career with four.

In his debut campaign, Sanchez set Jets rookie records for most passing yards (2,444) and most completions (196) in a season, and became the first rookie quarterback in team history to start the team’s opening game. He helped lead New York to their first AFC Championship Game since 1998, starting all three postseason games while completing 41-of-68 passes (60.3 percent) for 539 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions and a 92.7 passer rating. In addition, he set a record for the longest play in Jets playoff history with an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Braylon Edwards in the AFC Championship Game at Indianapolis (1/24/10).

A native of Mission Viejo, CA, Sanchez appeared in 27 games (16 starts) at Southern Cal and garnered first-team All-Pac 10 and honorable mention All-America honors in 2008 after leading the conference with 3,207 yards passing and 34 passing touchdowns – the then-second-highest total in school history.

Prior to his collegiate career, Sanchez attended Mission Viejo High School as a junior and senior, posting a 27-1 record as a starter. He was named the 2004 Parade All-American Player of the Year, completing 61.6 percent of his passes for 2,441 yards and 24 touchdowns with only four interceptions as a senior while leading his team to a CIF Division II title.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sixers sign Nunnally to a second 10-day deal

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia 76ers have signed forward James Nunnally to a second 10-day contract. 

Nunnally has appeared in five games for the Sixers this season.  In 35 games for the Bakersfield Jam and the Texas Legends of the D-League, Nunnally was averaging 18.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.  The D-League All-Star was also called up by the Atlanta Hawks on January 11, 2014 and appeared in four games.

Spike Eskin named PD at WIP

PHILADELPHIA – SportsRadio 94WIP and CBS Sports Radio 610 announced the promotion of Spike Eskin to Program Director effective immediately.

Eskin has been filling the role on an interim basis since Jeff Sottolano was named Director of Programming for CBS RADIO earlier this year.  Previously, Eskin served as Sports Editor for and did part time airshifts on 94WIP as well as on-air work on KYW Newsradio and CBS 3.

Marc Rayfield, Senior Vice President/Market Manager for CBS RADIO Philadelphia said “Spike is his own person. He is tenacious, strategic and a proven winner. We interviewed an extremely talented pool of national and local candidates. Spike was clearly our best choice.”

Eskin will report directly to Operations Manager Andy Bloom who added, “In the three months that Spike has served in the role on a day-to-day basis he has proved that he can handle any task presented to him, including literally saving a life.  I am confident that Spike’s diligence will play an important role in the stations continued growth.”

Eskin said, "My career in radio has taken me in many different directions, and has ultimately led me to a job that I feel like I was born to do, and am honored and humbled to have. I'm excited to work with the best air talent in sports radio, and our incredible staff to continue building the legend that is WIP."

Union's Edu called up to USMNT

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union has confirmed that midfielder Maurice Edu has been called up to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team in a match against Mexico on Wednesday, April 2 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Edu will depart for international duty this Sunday following the Union’s game vs. Montreal Impact and return to the club following the game vs. Mexico.

 “I’m very happy to be called back in to camp,” said Edu. “For different reasons, it has been a little while since I’ve been with the team. I’m excited to meet up with the group again and get back to wearing my country’s colors. The match itself will be a good one, as all the games against Mexico tend to be. I always enjoy playing them since they’re our biggest rival. This is a preparation for the summer, so it’s important that it’s approached with the right mentality.”

Edu added: “I’ve been very focused since I joined the Union and I feel that has helped me start the season off well. I’m going to take that same focus into camp and work hard. More than anything though, I’m going to just enjoy being back.”

Kickoff for the USA’s final match before the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup preparation camp is set for 8 p.m. Arizona Time (11 p.m. ET), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas and the ESPN Deportes Radio Network. Fans can also follow the match live on Twitter @ussoccer.

 “Maurice has done a fantastic job since becoming a member of the Union earlier this year,” said Team Manager John Hackworth. “We think he’s absolutely deserving of this opportunity to impress on the international level ahead of the World Cup and we wish him the best of luck next Wednesday against Mexico.”

 Edu, who last represented the U.S. March 26, 2013 in a historic draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca during World Cup qualifying, already has an extensive résumé as a U.S. Men’s National Team member, playing in over 40 matches since 2007. The native Californian made his first appearance in 2007 against Switzerland and notched his first goal in 2010 against Czech Republic. He was also a member of the 2010 FIFA World Cup squad for the U.S., playing in three matches and recording one start during the competition. Edu started in the final group match, a 1-0 victory over Algeria that saw the Americans advance on a stoppage time goal. He played 89 minutes in the following game vs. Ghana in the tournament’s Round of 16.

Temple adds three to coaching staff

PHILADELPHIA – The Temple Owls have announced the hiring of Chris Wiesehan as offensive line coach. The university also announced the addition of Brandon Washington as assistant strength and conditioning coach for football, and Matthew Delgado as director of video operations.

Wiesehan joins the Owls from the University of Hawaii where he spent the past two seasons. The 20-year veteran coach reunites with Owls head coach Matt Rhule; the two served on Craig Cirbus’ staff at the University of Buffalo in 1999-2000.

 “Chris is a very intense coach,” said Rhule. “He brings a great football mind to Temple. I’ve known him a long time and have always paid attention to the teams where he has coached and how tough he is to recruit against. He knows how to develop tough players.”

Washington will join head strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Scott, assistant strength and conditioning coach Shelton Gaffney and graduate assistant Kevin Kroboth, working out of Edberg Olson Hall, the football team’s practice facility.

“We are very fortunate to get someone of Brandon’s caliber,” said Rhule. “Brandon has lived SEC football for nearly 15 years as both a player and coach. He’s passionate about training top tier athletes and that’s what we want here at Temple.”

Delgado will oversee the video operations including a staff of several student managers.

“Matt comes to us with experience at the college and pro level,” added Rhule. “He’s a very creative, energetic guy who has been immersed in football his whole life.”

Vick makes things tricky for Jets' Ryan

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - On the surface, Michael Vick moving to the New York Jets seems like a very good fit.

The Jets needed a veteran presence to push Geno Smith after his uneven rookie season which neither proved the former West Virginia star was the long-term answer in Florham Park nor conclusively affirmed he wasn't. Meanwhile, there was just too much baggage to put Mark Sanchez back in the conversation even if the former Rex Ryan man crush was willing to accept the role of a caddy.

Vick, on the other hand, has his best professional season under current Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg when both were in Philadelphia and completed a major transformation with the Eagles, going from pariah to locker room leader in five short years.

"First off, you're getting a guy that is obviously a proven winner, a guy that is a dynamic player and for us, it's going to give us a guy that's going to provide great competition," Ryan said when talking about the signing of Vick at the NFL meetings earlier this week. "I think it's going to be a great thing for Geno and the end result will be good for the football team."

When you shape the argument like that, it seems like Jets general manager John Idzik hit a home run or at the very least doubled into the gap by luring Vick up the Jersey Turnpike.

"I'm real excited for him," Vick's former head coach, Philadelphia's Chip Kelly, said Wednesday. "I'm happy for him. He wanted to go somewhere where he felt like he had an opportunity.

"I know he's going to go out and compete. I think the familiarity with the system will help him. I don't think he wanted to go learn another system. That was part of what he was also thinking when he went through his decision. I think it's a great fit. I know he's got a great relationship with Marty."

There are issues, however.

Vick is simply a little too good to fit snugly into a backup role behind a flawed young QB like Smith, but he also will be turning 34 in June, signed just a one-year deal and has a significant injury history, meaning Gotham's other football team can't exactly move forward with Vick as a constant at the game's most important position.

"I still think he's got a lot of football left in him," Kelly continued. "He's got tremendous arm skill. I don't know too many guys in the league that have the arm that Mike does. There's still days in practice in December when he rips a couple and you're just like, 'Whoah.' He can throw the football. He still has the ability."

That ability is the reason a day earlier Vick said he believed he's still a "legitimate starting quarterback in this league," while Ryan has already admitted there is a chance Vick could be the Week 1 starter for the Jets.

"I think it's going to be really interesting to watch that competition unfold," Ryan said. "Geno Smith's going to be hard to beat out. I've said that for a long time and that's how I feel about it, but it is going to be great competition."

The "chance" Rex was talking about will turn into reality, however, if the team is truly intent on staging an open competition between Smith and Vick, something which seems likely. After all, despite his high-profile "extension," Ryan has little margin for error if he wants to remain a head coach in New York.

"You guys know me. I think I put my expectations and everything else have never changed, I want to win and I expect to win," Ryan said. "It's time to deliver. It's time to deliver for this community, for New York, for this entire area and we've got to step up and deliver. I expect a lot out of this football team. We want to have sustainable success. There isn't a one-shot deal. Our plan is to have sustainable success for the present and the future."

Unfortunately for Ryan, Vick gives him the best chance to succeed in a one- shot situation while Geno remains the better long-range solution.

"We have two guys that do a tremendous job and maybe three guys (including Matt Simms)," Ryan said. "They do a great job and you're sitting back going, in an ideal situation, well, they both earned the job. That's the best way to do it and then you can't go wrong."

The one football adage that has proven to be as certain as death and taxes, though, is the thought that if you think you have two QBs, you really don't have any.

So where are Rex and the Jets going?

Even at this stage of his career, Vick is arguably, at least at times, among the top 20 quarterbacks in the world and you can't really say that about Smith, at least not yet.

Last year, Vick clearly outplayed Nick Foles (the same Nick Foles who ended up leading the NFL with a 119.0 passer rating) in training camp and in the preseason before losing the gig due to a combination of injury and occasional ineffectiveness, along with Foles' stellar play.

Of course, as good as Vick can look at times, he's played a full 16-game season just once in his career and his notorious fumbling issues almost always become an issue in the guts of a season, making it likely that the Jets will have to turn back to Smith at some point in the 2014 season.

And that's where Ryan and the Jets are walking a tricky tightrope.

When they do give the ball back to Smith, they may find out that they have lost their promising, second-year signal caller.

"I definitely don't see that," Ryan said when asked if Vick could have a negative affect on Smith's development. "(Vick's) experience in the system, the fact that he's played that position for a long time I think will help. They're going to push each other."

Or perhaps push Ryan right out of New York.

Eagles' divorce with Jackson is inevitable

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - The impending divorce between DeSean Jackson and the Philadelphia Eagles isn't about irreconcilable differences, it's about tough love and one side throwing its hands up before things spiral completely out of control.

In the last week or so, multiple media reports have said trade talks for Jackson have escalated to a fever pitch and on Monday broke the news that the Eagles decided to move on from the three-time Pro Bowl selection well over a month ago.

On the surface, that all seems strange. After all, Jackson is coming off his best season, compiling 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in his first campaign under the offensive genius of Chip Kelly.

On paper, Jackson seems like a perfect fit for Kelly's innovative offensive mind, a versatile player who can line up all over the field and serve as the ultimate home run hitter for ascending young quarterback Nick Foles.

So what went wrong?

The Eagles are still playing up Jackson's potential 2014 salary cap hit, which is well into eight figures, as the biggest issue. The spin there is that the team has cheaper options at receiver like Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, who is returning from a torn ACL, and could draft a suitable replacement like Oregon State speedster Brandin Cooks.

And that's certainly a possibility because Kelly clashed with Jackson early in his tenure in Philly and most are not going to find it all that far-fetched to believe the second-year coach has the hubris to believe a player like Cooks could hit the ground running under his tutelage.

The real elephant is the room here, however, is Jackson's behavior and it's not about his diva-like attitude, his complaints about assistant coaches or his previous belly-aching over money.

Recently, TMZ Sports unearthed a picture of Jackson flashing gang signs with rapper Nipsey Hussle. In the photograph, Jackson was clearly shown throwing a hand signal for the Rollin' 40s Crips, a street gang from the west side of South Los Angeles, Jackson's hometown.

It was the second time in recent months the 2009 All-Pro made that mistake. He also was seen throwing up a Crips gang sign at Washington Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall on the field back in September of last season.

Jackson also paid homage to his gang by naming his record label "Jaccpot Records" with the Cs standing for Crips. Meanwhile, in the video of a song titled "Diamonds on My Neck," featuring another famous former crip, Snoop Dogg, DeSean repeatedly threw similar gang signs.

Jackson's apologists correctly say the mere appearance of impropriety means nothing and point to the fact that while his behavior can be described as boorish at times, the star receiver has never gotten into any major off-the- field incidents.

Two league sources, however, confirmed to The Sports Network that an early January burglary in which Jackson was robbed of about $200,000 in cash, $125,000 in jewelry and a handgun raised some serious red flags within the Eagles organization.

It's completely unfair to bring up the name of Aaron Hernandez when discussing the Jackson situation save for one fact -- the Patriots ignored Hernandez's reported gang affiliation for far too long and unknowingly enabled the behavior which eventually put Hernandez in prison, awaiting trial on murder charges.

It's possible and perhaps fair to say Jackson has moved past any real gang ties and only throws signs in an effort to retain some sort "street credibility" for a potential rap career.

His employer, however, is in the process of making a business decision and weighing the pros and cons of keeping Jackson around, a process that reached a tipping point weeks ago.

The Eagles see Jackson as an immature guy more concerned about earning the respect of his "friends" from L.A., a man who sees football as just a job in which his athleticism enabled the money to come far too easily.

In their minds, Jackson's unwillingness or inability to leave a maladjusted group behind despite having the means, opportunity and obligation to do so, was the last straw.

Flyers lose eighth straight in Manhattan

New York, NY -- Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 30 shots and the New York Rangers created some distance from the Philadelphia Flyers in the Metropolitan Division race by notching a 3-1 victory in a key late-season matchup.

Lundqvist's effort was supported by goals from Derek Dorsett, Ryan McDonagh and Dominic Moore and ran the Rangers' win streak to a season-high five games.

The result also moved New York three points ahead of the Flyers (86-83) for second place in the division, though Philadelphia still has two games in hand.

"I think both teams tonight knew the importance of this game, as far as we're battling for a playoff spot, battling for a playoff position," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault.

Lundqvist took a shutout deep into the third period before Jakub Voracek spoiled the bid with 1:53

Steve Mason stopped 26 shots in the loss, the Flyers' eighth straight in regulation at Madison Square Garden since a 4-2 decision over the Blueshirts on Feb. 20, 2011. Claude Giroux, who was held to a secondary assist on his club's lone goal by Jakub Voracek, acknowledged his team might be a bit tired given the stretch of seven games in 12 days.

"I didn't think in the second period we were nearly intense enough or strong enough on the walls or did enough little things out there," Philadelphia coach Craig Berube said. "They checked well, they were on us, and we kind of just let it happen. Not enough fight tonight."

The road doesn't get any easier, with the season's final 10 contests wedged into 17 days from Friday's home contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Berube least of all can't afford more results where he has to eat crow due to pregame comments.

Lundqvist was razor-sharp during an opening period in which the Flyers mostly dominated but the Rangers came up with the lone goal, despite being outshot by a 15-6 margin for the frame.

A strong shift from the fourth line sent New York ahead, as Brian Boyle got to a puck whipped around the boards by Mason and fired a shot that was blocked in front of the net. Dorsett raced in unguarded, however, to put in the rebound 8:41 in.

"It's great to see him get rewarded there," linemate Dominic Moore said. "A great play by Boyler to get the puck to the net right away and a good play by 'Dors' to be on the doorstep."

The Rangers then picked it up in the second period, peppering Mason with 17 shots and grabbing a 2-0 lead when McDonagh skated into the Flyers' zone and ripped a wrister into the top right corner of the net with 5:34 elapsed in the session.

Moore made it a 3-0 game with 12:21 left to play, redirecting Kevin Klein's long drive through Mason's pads after Dorsett knocked Philadelphia's Michael Raffl off the puck.

Voracek finally got the Flyers on the boards with a wicked one-timer over Lundqvist's glove off a Mark Streit give with under two minutes left. Philadelphia recorded two more shots on goal on a late power-play chance, but Lundqvist stopped both attempts.

Notes: The Rangers have outscored Philadelphia by a 31-9 margin during their eight- game home win streak in the series, with Lundqvist between the pipes for each of those victories ... This marks the longest stretch of futility for the Flyers in Manhattan since losing 11 in a row from Jan. 14, 1990 to Nov. 4, 1992 ... Prior to the game, the Rangers announced forward Chris Kreider will be sidelined indefinitely with a reported broken left hand. Forward J.T. Miller was recalled from Hartford of the AHL to take his place ... Voracek's goal was the 100th of his career and he's now scored in three consecutive games while recording a point in four straight ... McDonagh has three goals and four assists during a five-game point streak.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Abreu experiment over; former RF does not make 25-man roster

Bobby Abreu, who starred here from 1998 to 2006, will not make the club's 25-man roster as the Phillies prepare to head north.

"Bobby Abreu is still with the Phillies organization and he is currently weighing his options," said Phils GM Ruben Amaro following a 1-0 Grapefruit League home loss to the Detroit Tigers, a game in which Abreu had noticeable trouble while playing right field.

The 39-year-old Venezuelan was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training back on January 21.

Abreu batted .322 with a .416 on-base percentage, 16 extra-base hits and 28 RBI in 50 games with Leones
del  Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2013, including a .395 average with runners in scoring position.

Flyers dip into well of Hockey East talent, sign UNH's Goumas

Philadelphia Flyers fans will be placated, after the club has apparently decided to bring in a top-level talent from the premier Division I conference of Hockey East.

It's Kevin Goumas, a senior from the University of New Hampshire, whose season was ended this past Saturday when UMass-Lowell bested their northern neighbors by a 4-0 count in the conference final at TD Garden. The Wildcats, who, along with Boston College, Boston University and the University of Maine provided a fearsome foursome nationally over the last decade and a half, did not manage to snag an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament which begins later this week.

Broad Street Hockey was the first to report the faint traces of a deal late last night:

A Flyers insider confirmed the move on Wednesday afternoon, revealing Goumas has signed an amateur tryout contract and will report to Glens Falls today. He will also be inked to an AHL-only deal for next year.

For his final season in Durham, Goumas struck for team and career highs of 33 assists and 52 points over his 40 appearances to go with a plus-24 rating. His 19 goals, second to Nick Sorkin, also represent a personal best for the Long Beach, New York native. In addition, Goumas finished tied for third among players for in-conference scoring with 26 points (6G, 20A), tied with Maine's Devin Shore with only BC's Johnny Gaudreau (36 points) and Kevin Hayes (27) ranking higher. He ended his four-year sojourn having compiled 44 goals and 146 points in 146 contests for Dick Umile.

At 22 years old, 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Goumas isn't likely to do much more growing, which means he most likely won't end up playing for the Flyers -- who prize a little more size, weight, strength -- any time soon. That, and the fact that Goumas, tasked with playing half of his games on the Olympic-sized rink at the Whittemore Center, didn't have too much defensive responsibility. It remains to be seen how Terry Murray plans to deal with that hiccup.

Goumas is expected to provide a badly-needed shot in the arm to the Phantoms' offense, which currently ranks dead last in the Eastern Conference and tied for second-worst with Hamilton at 151 goals. Adirondack has 12 games remaining on its schedule during its last season in Glens Falls, including six at home.

The problem of high-octane UNH forwards making the transition to the NHL has been a persistent and notable one since the late 1990s.

Jason Krog (1995-99) finished his senior year with a national-best 85 points en route to the Hobey Baker Award and completed his career at 238 points in 152 games. However, Krog wasn't able to catch on with six NHL organizations, and though he became an elite AHL scorer in the 2000s, has spent the last three seasons in Sweden. His tally stands at 22 goals and 37 assists in 209 NHL games. Darren Haydar, another four-year star (1998-2002) under Umile, totaled 219 points over 158 games and has carved out a career as a prolific AHL sniper, primarily with Milwaukee and Chicago. He tallied one goal and eight points in 23 games for Nashville, Atlanta and Colorado.

Following Haydar was Jacob Micflikier (2003-07) with 150 points in 155 appearances. He did not suit up once for an NHL squad, instead bouncing between the AHL and ECHL before heading to Switzerland and then the Kontinental Hockey League this season. What links them all, was that they stood under 6-foot and weighed less than 200 pounds at the conclusion of their D-I tenures.

James van Riemsdyk was not. Though he only spent 67 games over two years with UNH, the Flyers' second-overall pick in the 2007 draft came almost ready-made for the Show at a robust 6-3 and 200 pounds. After 28 goals and 64 points, plus all of seven games in the AHL, we know how that story turned out.

Those who would like to point out Matt Read's success here after a career with Bemidji State as an "undersized" undrafted player, I'll point out this: in his senior season, the program participated in the WCHA, whose players size, weight and skill level came closest of all American college conferences to playing in the NHL, owing to its talent pool coming from the Midwest and Plains of the US, as well as the prairies of Canada. By contrast, Hockey East until very recently had a hard time corralling recruits from beyond New England and so favored a skilled game with players of lesser stature.

I'll also point out that given enough time, you'll be able to recite the number of successful college free agents the Flyers have gambled on and won on less than one hand.

The race is still on for the services of Lowell defenseman and 23-year-old sophomore Christian Folin. His RiverHawks could be eliminated this weekend, or travel to the Frozen Four in Philly the second week in April. Folin has yet to decide how to proceed with his hockey future.

Extra Points: Tricky times for Jets' Ryan | NFL (AP) | Latest news and video on the Dallas Co...

Extra Points: Tricky times for Jets' Ryan | NFL (AP) | Latest news and video on the Dallas Co...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Union come up short in Columbus

Columbus, Ohio – The Philadelphia Union fell to Columbus Crew, 2-1 on the road Saturday night as a second-half goal from Leo Fernandes wasn’t enough to come back from a 2-0 first-half deficit.

The Union totaled 19 attempts on goal for the night, with a majority coming during the second half.

“I thought we had plenty of chances to get the second one through and it just didn’t fall for us,” said team manger John Hackworth. “It was a little bit of a chess match because what they wanted to do was spread us out and every time they were able to break us down they took advantage of their chances and every time we were able to win the ball in a good spot, we at least had an opportunity to create a scoring chance…we have to take care of these turnovers because you can see that when it happens, we get punished for it. It’s something we will definitely touch on as a team and look to correct.”

A pair of first half goals from Columbus forward Bernardo Anor put the Union in a 2-0 hole that they were unable to overcome, despite the second-half rally and goal in the 62nd minute from Fernandes, a second-half substitution.

Fernandes netted his first goal in Major League Soccer, pouncing on a low driven ball across the box from Sebastien Le Toux and getting plenty of boot on it to get past Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark. Le Toux repaid the favor from a week earlier when it was Fernandes that beat his defender down the flank and found an onrushing Le Toux in the box.

“I am very happy that I got my first goal in MLS, but I’m very disappointed in the result,” said Fernandes, postgame. “I thought we should have at least tied the game up and we had plenty of opportunities to do so in the second half, but sometimes that’s just soccer.”

The Union kept the pressure on full steam ahead in the second half, and nearly earned the second goal in the 67th minute when Fernandes collected the ball into space and sent a driven ball of his own into the box that a streaking McInerney narrowly missed back post. From the 60th minute on, it was the Union creating the majority of the chances, sending as many as three as forwards to support the target striker on the attack.

“They had two chances in the first half and both of those chances were goals,” said Union midfielder Brian Carroll. “Both of them came off situations that we could have been a little bit cleaner with. Any time you go down on the road, two down and can come back from the half, pull one back and continue to fight through the end of the game that’s a good step forward.”

Converted central defender Aaron Wheeler filled in for an injured Austin Berry and, much like he did when the Union battled the Crew in preseason play, was strong in the air and made some big clearances out of the Union 18-yard-box.

Despite having a number of players missing in action for this one, the Union showed resilience and an ability to create chances. In a win over New England in the club’s home opener, Hackworth said that he wanted his club to play more of a complete match from start to finish. In the end, it truly was the Union looking to finish out Columbus and steal back points in the closing moments.

The Union look to return to winning ways on Saturday, March 29 in a return to PPL Park to face Eastern Conference foes Montreal (4 p.m.).


Columbus Crew 2, Philadelphia Union 1,

Saturday, March 22; 6:00 p.m. ET

Columbus Crew Stadium

Columbus, Ohio


CLB: Anor 24’ (Higuain)

CLB: Anor 45+2’ (Trapp)

PHI: Fernandes 62’ (Le Toux)


PHI: Fabinho 74’ (yellow)

CLB: Higuain 81’ (yellow)


MacMath, Fabinho, Okugo, Wheeler, Gaddis, Carroll, Edu, Nogueira, Maidana (Fernandes 55’), McInerney (Hoppenot 72’), Le Toux (Cruz 80’).


Clark, Williams, Gonzalez, Parkhurst, Francis, Jimenez, Trapp, Tchani, Anor (Meram 80’), Higuain (Barson 92’), Arrieta (Oduro 66’).

Sixers sign Ware to 10-day deal

PHILADELPHIA – The Sixers have signed guard Casper Ware to a 10-day contract.

Since graduating from Long Beach State in 2012, Ware has played in Italy.  He spent the 2012-13 season with A.S. Junior Casale and was named MVP of Legadue Basket.  This season, Ware played for Virtus Bologna of Lega Basket Serie A.

As a senior for the 49ers, Ware was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press.  He finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in assists.

In a corresponding move, guard Darius Johnson-Odom’s 10-day contract has expired.

Penn State eager to look ahead after first Big Ten season

Courtesy of USCHO
Mary Clarke is a junior at Penn State and an aspiring journalist. She spent copious amounts of time on site, covering both the men's and women's hockey teams.

The following is her account of the just-completed campaign for the Nittany Lions' men's program.

STATE COLLEGE, PA – The college hockey season came to an official end in Happy Valley, or Hockey Valley to die-hard locals in the heart of central Pennsylvania, this past weekend.

The Penn State Nittany Lions hockey team, led by second-year head coach Guy Gadowsky, completed their first season in the Big Ten Conference Friday night, losing out to the second-seeded Wisconsin Badgers by a 2-1 count in the semifinals of the inaugural Big Ten Tournament.

"We just didn't have any jump today at all,” said Gadowsky after the loss. “Maybe some of it is for playing a game, almost two games last night and then having to play a great team like Wisconsin.”

One night prior, the Nittany Lions shocked the hockey world by upending the Michigan, 2-1 in double overtime on a goal from Zach Saar, keeping Penn State’s season alive for at least one more day. It also ended the Wolverines' dreams of an NCAA Tournament bid. However, it was well rested Wisconsin, which earned a bye, that came away with the narrow victory, definitively ending Penn State’s second Division I season.

The Lions went 8-26-2 overall, and 3-16-1 in a conference filled with high-caliber opponents, two of which -- Minnesota and Wisconsin -- made it to the NCAA Tournament. That record falls well short of their 13-14-0 mark the team posted in the 2012-13 season, which was their first year of Division I play after holding status as a club team since the 1946-47 season. One thing that rang true throughout the season, according to opposing coaches who made their way through State College over the past season, was that Penn State’s record does not reflect their talent as a team.

More than 200 fans over the official building capacity of 6,014 filled the standing-room only sections on opening night against the Black Knights of Army on October 11 in the House That Terry Pegula Built, better known as Pegula Ice Arena. The government shutdown almost put the historical game in jeopardy but even that could not stop the Nittany Lions as the team rode their high-flying emotions to a 4-1 win. The buzz leading up to the game was ecstatic and almost had a football-weekend feel to it, an atmosphere no other sport until then has really been able to create as even shops downtown moved football jerseys to make way for hockey sweaters in their front windows.

Reality then kicked in. Penn State went 1-3-1 in the month of October, finishing off the opening month being soundly beaten by the Vermont Catamounts 5-2 in the second annual Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff. The Blue and White won only two games in November but ran into top ranked teams in 2013 Frozen Four entrant UMass-Lowell and ECAC champions Union, which halted their momentum.

Big Ten play finally kicked off in December on the road against Wisconsin, where they suffered their biggest losing goal differential of the season in a 7-1 setback, only matched once afterwards in an 8-2 loss to Boston College later in the month as they fell short in the Three Rivers Classic title game.

From there, the road only got tougher. Only one of the remaining 19 regular-season games starting in January was against a non-conference opponent, as this time the Nits hosted then-No. 2 Boston College but only lost by one goal in a 3-2 defeat on January 25.

"It was a marked improvement from the team we saw over Christmas. They were more cohesive as a team, played more physically. They're right in the mix against some quality teams, BC head coach Jerry York said in praise of his opponents.

It took until February 8 for the Nittany Lions to claim their first Big Ten conference win of the season. A 7-3 loss to the Michigan Wolverines the night before to kick off a weekend series at the 'Peg -- their ninth in a row -- lit a fire under the team as sophomore starting goaltender Matthew Skoff made 32 saves and the Lions blanked their first big hockey rival 4-0 thanks to a three-goal first period.

Two of their three remaining conference wins also came against the Wolverines, both in overtime, with a tying goal in the dwindling seconds by last season’s leading point scorer Casey Bailey which led to a 5-4 overtime victory (on a David Goodwin marker) at Yost Ice Arena on February 21. The Wolverines were the only Big Ten team that Penn State held a winning record against (3-2-0) for the season, including the playoffs.

Their only other conference win came against Ohio State in the final game of the regular season. That 4-2 win against the Buckeyes in front of a friendly crowd helped catapult the team into the Big Ten Tournament, where they held the sixth and last seed in the one-and-done quarterfinals. The job was simple, yet impossible: win out in order to secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament for a chance to make it into the Frozen Four. It was a long shot from the start, but PSU managed to put a scare into their fellow programs for one night.

The team fell short of their NCAA dreams in the 2-1 loss to Wisconsin but Gadowsky remarked after the loss on his team’s obvious improvements from the start of the season.

“This was a tremendous experience and we're very proud of the strides that our team took. I thought we improved a ton. It was a phenomenal year to compete in. It was an absolute honor,” said Gadowsky of the inaugural Big Ten tourney. “Disappointed we came up a little short today but extremely proud of how far we've come.”

Starting goaltender for most of the year and netminder in the 2-1 loss to the Badgers, Skoff echoed his coach’s sentiments on the team’s defensive improvement after the loss Friday: “From our first Big Ten game… we lost 7-2 to Wisconsin. That was a 2-1 game in the playoffs. That just speaks about how good we got defensively throughout the year with sticks on puck or just backchecking to the house. It was a full team effort.”

Gadowsky, who rebuilt programs at Alaska-Fairbanks and Princeton, feels “extremely optimistic” about the team’s future, saying they have “come a long, long way” from the start of the season.
“There's just a difference in confidence and a difference in our experience. And I feel like we're just a much, much different hockey team,” said the 46-year-old native of Alberta.

Gadowsky and Skoff have more reasons to be optimistic for the coming years. Penn State played in 16 one-goal games this season, finishing 5-11-0 and proving it can hold its own against many of the best teams in the nation. Every single one of the Lions' point-holders will be returning for the 2014-15 season, only losing senior Michael McDonagh while adding at least five recruits to the mix.

The Nittany Lions also have three capable goaltenders in rotation with Skoff, upcoming sophomore and 2013 New York Islanders draft pick Eamon McAdam, and rising senior PJ Musico. Skoff and McAdam shared most of the minutes this season but Musico is a competent starter and can fill the role of a backup just as easily.

Most of the problems Penn State encountered during the season was that its brand of aggressive play paved the way for too many unacceptable penalties at inopportune times, especially earlier in the season where the team was still trying to feel out the new Big Ten officiating style.

Two of the team’s leading scorers from the 2012-13 season, Bailey and David Glen, also got off to slow starts to open the year but were helped out by the resurgence of newcomers Eric Scheid and  Goodwin as the duo totaled 38 points on the season.

Penn State proved it will belong amongst a dominant and traditional class of major programs in their first year of Big Ten participation. They skated with the best teams in the country and galvanized a ready-made fan base that sold out Pegula Ice Arena in 16 of the team’s 18 home games. Placing last in the Big Ten seems like a step down from their almost .500 record a season ago, but to compare the two seasons would be a disservice to a team that has taken large strides on and off the ice in the past few months.

For a second-year Division I hockey program that was thrown into a conference full of big, established hockey schools with proud histories, I would have to say Penn State is well on their way to making some new history of their own.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Glens Falls still on AHL's radar

American Hockey League president David Andrews was in the house on Saturday night as the Adirondack Phantoms beat the Hartford Wolf Pack by a 4-2 count.

Even better, the game was played in front of an almost-packed house at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Official attendance was 4,602 and full capacity for the venue is just shy of 4,800 for hockey.

That's a positive omen in the city's quest to snag another AHL club once the Phantoms relocate to Allentown, PA following the end of this season.

"Glens Falls and the Adirondack region is an unbelievable hockey area and it has been for 30 some odd-years," Andrews said about the partisan crowd on its best behavior. "This is a really terrific fan-base for pro hockey. Hopefully there will be some solution here that we can keep American League hockey in this marketplace going forward. It is really a testament to the great fans you have here and to draw these numbers for a team that doesn't look like it's going to make the playoffs and near the end of the run here. A terrific crowd. It's really nice to see."

It's no secret that there's major trouble in Abbotsford, Alberta, where the Calgary Flames moved their AHL affiliate several years ago after failed stints in Nebraska and Iowa. The franchise is reportedly expected to make a move soon, and a team official toured the GFCC earlier in the week.

With the relative success of the Canucks' first-year affiliate in Utica, and the fact that there's more love, attendance and advertising for the Phantoms in the Capital District than there is for the Albany Devils, it would seem out of the ordinary for the AHL to bypass Glens Falls for very long.

Phantoms broadcaster Bob Rotruck sat down with Andrews, and you can catch the entire conversation by banging the link. 

The club's five-year "temporary" run at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains is in danger of passing without giving loyal fans a single postseason berth. Terry Murray has been unable to keep the club on track despite  hot streaks in late October/early November and around the start of calendar year 2014.

Heading into Sunday's home game against the Syracuse Crunch, the Phantoms have won two in a row for the first time since January 11-15, but that last of the two consecutive wins predated a dismal 5-17-3 stretch which persisted through last weekend.

The region had to wait 10 years, from the Red Wings' 1999 departure for Grand Rapids to the 2009 arrival of the Phantoms from Philadelphia, to host AHL-level hockey. Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond has been vocal in his support for snaring another franchise, and has decided to entice potential suitors with refurbishing of the GFCC.

Portland, which had to relocate to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee for home games this season, is out of the running. Pirates management and Cumberland County, Maine have reached an agreement for 2014-15 to return to the Civic Center.

In roster news, Tye McGinn will make yet another five-hour drive from New York to Philadelphia, as he was recalled by the Flyers to replace the injured Steve Downie. It's the fifth time McGinn will see action with the big Orange and Black. In four previous call-ups, he totaled three goals over eight games. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Blues run into Orange and Black storm

Philadelphia, PA -- Steve Mason stopped 32 shots and the Philadelphia Flyers outdueled the Western Conference's best team, taking a 4-1 decision over the St. Louis Blues in a contentious inter-conference battle on Saturday afternoon.

"I think we've proven that we're a good hockey club. We just beat the number one team in the NHL," said Mason. "That's something to be proud of but everyone in this dressing room realizes that this is going to be a long grind to finish out this year. Beating good hockey teams along the way is definitely a good sign."

Mason's positive result was his 30th win of the season. With three weeks left in the regular season, he'll almost certainly eclipse his career best of 33 wins, set in his rookie season and Calder Trophy winning campaign of 2008-09.

Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek each posted a goal and one assist for the Flyers, who have won five in a row and eight of their last 10 to solidify their second-place standing in the Metropolitan Division.

Claude Giroux added a pair of helpers as Philly went 3-for-3 this week against top-level Central Division teams.

Much has been made of the club's recent run of success, couched as a negative. As in, what team would want to face the Flyers right now, or in the playoffs? Well, there is one team who fears no one in the Eastern Conference and is on their longest win streak since the 1970s -- the Boston Bruins.

Craig Berube's team has three more games ahead: on Monday at home against the Kings, at the Rangers on Wednesday and home against Toronto on Friday, before they can welcome the #1 seeded B's next Sunday afternoon in front of a national audience. Much needs to be done before then. 

Jaden Schwartz provided the lone offense for the Blues, who could have clinched a playoff berth outright with at least one point, but instead lost two in a row for the first time since Feb. 26-28.

Ryan Miller came up with just 15 saves in his second regulation defeat as starter for St. Louis, which has only won twice in Philadelphia since 1997.

Mason loomed large during a St. Louis power play at the midway point of the third period. While seated in his crease, he denied an initial shot and two rebound tries by Derek Roy to keep it a 2-1 contest. He made eight more saves over the final 20 minutes to help the hosts stay in front.

"(He had) two or three whacks at it. It was kind of a weird shot that got through. I was able to kind of just reach back and just keep swatting at it," Mason said. "Big saves and I was able to hold it down and then we got the goal shortly after that. [They were] saves that needed to be made."

Voracek later provided a long-awaited insurance marker, a wrister inside the near post from the left wing off a Giroux pass with 4:19 to play.

Miller was pulled for an extra attacker with 3:12 on the clock and the move backfired as Simmonds hit the empty cage less than 30 seconds later for a 4-1 contest.

Giroux hit the right post and then the back of Miller's skate on the Flyers' opening power-play chance in the first five minutes of play, and it proved to be an omen as the Blues ended up capitalizing.

Vinny Lecavalier was slow to backcheck in transition, and Schwartz beat Mason from the left wing off a 2-on-1 break thanks to a pass from Kevin Shattenkirk at 6:23.

Hartnell pumped one home on the advantage after only 57 seconds elapsed in the second period, and the Flyers took the lead for good with 6:36 remaining after Schenn followed up a Simmonds rebound and beat a falling Miller up high.

"We were really good in the first and then didn't outwork the goalie in the third. You're down 2-1 and have the chances you get in the third period you have to outwork the goalie," offered Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. "I thought his level of compete was harder than ours in and around the net area and we couldn't get the second and third chances that we probably need to."

Notes: Philly's top line of Giroux, Hartnell and Voracek combined for six points but accumulated 16 of their club's 20 penalty minutes ... Giroux has picked up five goals and 12 assists over 10 games in the month of March ... Flyers forward Steve Downie left the game on the opening shift after taking a hard but accidental hit from Blues forward Patrik Berglund. He did not return and was diagnosed with an upper-body injury ... Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo played his first game since March 9 ... The Flyers have given up 11 short-handed goals this season, tied with Edmonton for the most in the NHL ... Entering play, the Blues were 26-0-3 when leading after the first period and 38-1-5 in games in which they scored first.

Flyers keep Raffl with contract extension

Following their 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the  Philadelphia  Flyers announced the signing of forward Michael Raffl to a multi-year contract.

No terms of the deal were disclosed by the team, but reported it's worth $2.2 million for two years with an average annual value of $1.1 million.

The 25-year-old winger has totaled nine goals and 12 assists in 56 games during his rookie campaign with Philadelphia. He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent following the completion of this season.

An undrafted player, Raffl participated in the Sochi Games as a member of his native Austria.

Raffl's signing -- and his versatility throughout all four forward lines -- most likely means a fond adieu to Steve Downie, who is an unrestricted free agent come July.

Downie, who has had it tough injury-wise since arriving here in late October, suffered an apparent head injury the club is calling "upper-body" early in the contest and he did not return. He seemed to click and be most comfortable with Sean Couturier and Matt Read on the third line.

Raffl, on the other hand, was the aggressive winger that Claude Giroux needed at times earlier in the season, is an effective penalty killer and has performed reasonably well with Vinny Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn. He's also been a stopper with Adam Hall on the fourth line when needed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Video: Vet demolition 10 years ago today

You know that parking lot across from the other parking lot on Pattison Avenue between Broad Street and 11th Street?

That used to be a ballpark. A multi-sport behemoth of concrete and Astroturf which hosted the Phillies, Eagles, Stars, two failed NASL soccer teams and Temple football.

Ten years ago today, Veterans Stadium was imploded, a relic of a bygone era passing into history.

It blowed up good.

For even the hardiest football fans, getting up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to see the place where you cursed out Cowboys fans for generations reduced to clouds of dust must have been a difficult thing.

Flyers bring Hagg into fold

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren locked up defensive prospect Robert Hagg on Friday morning.

The 19-year-old native of Sweden was given a one-year, entry-level contract.

Hagg, who was taken in the second round of last year's draft, has totaled one goal and five assists with 47 penalty minutes in 50 games for MoDo Ornskoldsvik this season.  

Bill Meltzer of Hockeybuzz stated this morning that Hagg may be further along the path to the NHL than fellow 2013 draft choice Samuel Morin, but that Hagg lacks some focus at times.