Thursday, December 18, 2014

Panthers Slip By Flyers

     The Florida Panthers began a two-game swing through Pennsylvania and topped the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in a shootout at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. The Panthers got their second straight shootout victory following an NHL record 20-round shootout against the Washington Capitals two days ago. The Flyers lost their 10th consecutive shootout game.
     Florida(14-8-8) struck first as former Flyer Scottie Upshall scored on a deflection by Steve Mason following a Tomas Kopecky shot on net at 9:37 of the first period. The Panthers outshot the Flyers 12-3 in the first 16 minutes of the game.
     Philadelphia(11-14-6) responded in the second period at 4:07. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare sent a forehand pass from behind the Panthers net to the slot area and Jakub Voracek hit a one-time shot by Roberto Luongo. There was no scoring in the third period and overtime.
     The Cats scored on their first shootout attempt as Brandon Pirri put in a backhand shot. The Flyers matched it in the third round as Voracek skated in and tallied a goal on a backhand shot through the five-hole. Dave Bolland gave the Panthers the win during the sixth round as he put a shot through the legs of Mason.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Panthers Win Longest Shootout Ever

     Two clubs set an NHL record with a 20 round shootout on Tuesday night as the Florida Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 at BB&T Center. It broke the record which was set between the Capitals and New York Rangers in November 2005 which went 15 rounds.
     After both teams missed on their first three attempts of the shootout, Alex Ovechkin went five-hole for Washington(14-10-6) against Roberto Luongo. Jussi Jokinen matched it for Florida(13-8-8) as he dragged the puck in on a one-handed backhand by Braden Holtby.
     Brooks Laich scored for the Caps on their seventh attempt with a backhand shot, but Dave Bolland responded with a wrist shot through the goalie's legs for the Cats.
     Both clubs hit the twine in their tenth attempts as Joel Ward snapped a shot over the left glove of Luongo and Derek MacKenzie ripped the puck over the right sholder of Holtby. They also made their 11th attempts when John Carlson sent a wrist shot glove side and Sean Bergenheim put in a backhand shot.
     They would score again in the 17th round. Brooks Orpik tallied on a forehand shot and Dylan Olsen went blocker side on a backhand attempt. Both clubs were allowed to have players who were not goalies make shootout attempts for the second time after the 18th round.
     Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin both failed in their opportunities for the Captials. Jokinen missed on his second occasion, however Nick Bjugstad won the game in the 20th round on a wrist shot.
     There were two goals during regulation. Florida scored in the first period at 9:36 to go ahead 1-0. Mike Green's backhand clearing pass from behind the Caps cage deflected off Scottie Upshall and into the slot area. MacKenzie blasted a shot from the edge of the right circle for his third game this season.
     The Capitals evened the contest on the power play with 5:25 left in the second period. Ovechkin fed a pass from the left wing to the slot area where Troy Brouwer has his first shot blocked by Willie Mitchell, but he pounced and scored on his second shot.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Panthers Get By Red Wings Again

     The Florida Panthers went to Joe Louis Arena for the second time in ten days and defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout on Friday night. The Cats won 4-3 back on December 2 in the same place.
     Florida(12-8-7) took the shootout as they scored on their only two attempts. Head coach Gerard Gallant changed up the order as he used two young players instead of seasoned veterans who had a good shootout percentage.
     After Detroit(17-6-7) missed their first attempt, Vincent Trocheck skated on Jimmy Howard as he put on a couple of fake releases until he slipped the puck in between Howard's left skate and the right post.
     The Red Wings failed on their second chance and Brandon Pirri clinched the game as he snapped a shot over the blocker of Howard for the victory.

Friday, December 12, 2014

St Thomas Aquinas And Osceola Title Preview

     The St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders take on the Osceola Kowboys in the FHSAA Class 7A state championship on Friday night at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The Raiders, who have captured seven FHSAA state championships, look to win their fifth state title in the last eight seasons while the Kowboys will try to reach the top the mountain and win a championship for the second time in school history. Both schools met at the Citrus Bowl in the 2007 Class 5A state championship where Aquinas won 35-20.
     St. Thomas Aquinas(13-1) will be playing in their eighth state championship game since 2004. STA, who have outscored their last 11 opponents 562-34, has hosted all of their FHSAA playoff games this year. They bashed Mater Academy 57-0 in the regional quarterfinal, topped district rival Plantation 38-6 in the regional semifinal, crushed Royal Palm Beach 52-7 in the regional final and beat East Lake 45-7 in the state semifinal.
     The Raiders will split their offense with a balanced amount of rushes and carries. Jordan Scarlett is expected to get more of the carries from the backfield followed by Deltron Sands and Devontae Henry-Cole. The have a number of wide receiver threats with Devante Peete, Sam Bruce, Jawuan Harris and Connor Fee who quarterback Jake Rizzo can throw the ball to.
     Osceola(13-1) comes into the title game with a 12-game winning streak following a second week road loss to Lake Mary 29-28. They also hosted all four playoff games on their road to Orlando. The Kowboys dumped Bartow 35-7 in the regional quarterfinal, barely got by longtime playoff rival Lakeland 35-28 in overtime during their regional semifinal, dropped Tampa Bay Tech 35-15 in a regional final and defeated 2013 Class 7A state finalist Niceville 42-14 in the state semifinal.
     The Kowboys will run the ball for the entire game and rarely can you see a passing play on offense. Running back Laderrien Wilson is expected to get most of the rushes from the Osceola backfield. It will be a tough task to stop the St. Thomas Aquinas front seven with defensive end Nicholas Bosa as their most recognized defensive player.

American Heritage And Godby Title Preview

     The American Heritage Patriots will look to repeat as FHSAA Class 5A state champions on Friday as they face the Godby Cougars at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. They dominated the championship game last year when they crushed Clay 66-8.
     American Heritage(11-3) had an easier on road to the state championship this year because they hosted all of their playoff games at Heritage Field in Plantation. They had three blowout victories with wins over Immokalee 51-0 in the regional quarterfinal, Lely 43-13 in the regional semifinal and Island Coast 56-8 in the regional final. The Pats got by Bishop Moore 20-17 last week in the state semifinal.
     The Patriots have scored at least 30 points in every game this season except for last week's game and an opening game loss to Class 7A state finalist St. Thomas Aquinas 38-7. They had road wins earlier this year against Class 8A state finalist Apopka 30-20 and Class 4A state runner-up Bolles 35-20.
     The offense is led by quarterback Torrance Gibson who can be a dual threat as he can throw the ball to anywhere on the field and run it out of the pocket anytime. They will be in trouble if they decide to throw deep passes all of the time like the Patriots did in Delray Beach when they fell to the American Heritage Stallions. Look for them to be more effective with short passes and screen plays.
     Gibson will have a strong core of wide receivers to connect with which includes Dredrick Snelson, Brandon Johnson, Janarvis Pough, Blair Barrow, Nick Eubanks and Laress Nelson. Running backs Travis Jackson, Kyshaun Bryan and Shaddrick Lowery will carry the ball from the backfield. Cornerback Tavares McFadden is expected to dictate the defense.
     Godby(12-2) has been successful all season except for their opening week loss to Georgia high school Marist 17-14 and a mid-season defeat to eventual Class 3A champion Trinity Christian 28-13. The Cougars currently ride an eight-game winning streak in which they have scored at least 35 points in seven of their last eight games. They have outscored their opponents 522-182 this season.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Strikers Ownership Adds Ronaldo

     The Fort Lauderdale Strikers have added Ronaldo as a minority owner of the North American Soccer League franchise. The club officially changed ownership following the NASL Soccer Bowl 2014 last month as several Brazilian businessmen took over the team.
     Ronaldo has been known throughout the world as a forward for the national team of Brazil. He won two FIFA World Cup titles for that nation in 1994 and 2002. He stands second all-time in goals scored for Brazil with 62 behind Pele. Ronaldo once held the record of most World Cup goals with 15 until it was broken by Miroslav Klose of Germany in July at the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil.
     He is one of the three players to capture the FIFA World Player of the Year Award on at least three different occasions. The others are Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane. Ronaldo also won the Ballon D'or twice in 1997 and 2002 for best soccer player in Europe. He had stints with several renowned European clubs which included PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and A.C. Milan.

Marlins Make Deals

     The Miami Marlins made several trades on Thursday as they continue to built their team. It is the biggest splash the club has made at the Winter Meetings since 2011.
     The Marlins pulled off a trade with the National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers. They picked up middle infielder Dee Gordon, starting pitcher Dan Haren and infielder Miguel Rojas for infielder Enrique Hernandez, catcher Austin Barnes along with pitchers Andrew Heaney and Chris Hatcher. The Dodgers then did a rare crosstown trade as they sent Heaney to the Los Angeles Angeles Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.
     The Fish also acquired starting pitcher Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds for rookie pitcher Anthony Disclafani and catcher Chad Wallach. Latos has been known as a workhorse in the starting rotation for the Reds and the San Diego Padres prior to that. Miami made one more deal as they sent middle reliever Dan Jennings to the Chicago White Sox for a minor league player.