Stanley Cup Finals: Are the Devils Making a Comeback?

Tonight is a great night for professional hockey fans! It’s the NHL Stanley Cup finals with the L.A. Kings and the New Jersey Devils battling for the Cup.  At the beginning of the series, it looked like the brooms were coming out and the Cup was going to the Kings in a sweep. To everyone’s surprise, the Devils had some energy left in the tank and have won the past 2 games!

The Kings dominated the first three games, leading the series 3-0 with game 4 looking like a easy win.  The Devils fought back – and hard. The Devils had taken control of the game in the third period, scoring three goals to the Kings only goal.  The leaders for the Devils, P. Ellias, A. Henrique, and I. Kovalchuk, finally cleared the cobwebs and were able to shine.   For the first time, the Devils had a hope for Lord Stanley’s cup.  Martin Brodeur, a veteran to both the game and Stanley Cup Finals, played phenomenally, ultimately helping the Devils leave victorious.

Game 5 was in New Jersey and I had a feeling that the Devils were going to pull off another victory.  Prior events have shown that, when the Devils play on their home turf, they definitely are at an advantage over the opposing team. Seeing the arena sold out was an awesome sight for any hockey fan to see.  The fans helped their team take game 5 with a 2-1 victory over the Kings with the Devils’ Zach Parise being the first to score.  As a team leader, he was able to keep up the momentum by helping Bryce Salvador tip in a goal during the second period. Winning this game now forced the series into a game 6.

This is something that every Kings fan is upset about. They were supposed to win in 4 games, not 6!  With the game being held in L.A., even with the momentum the Devils have, I don’t think they will be able to win this game.  My guess is that tonight Anze Kopitar, one of the Kings’ young stars, is going to lead his team to victory.  I would take this gamble because he scored a breakaway goal in overtime in game one of the series to win the game (and made it look like a simple walk in the park).  And with M. Brodeur, at the age of 40 (pretty old for the NHL), he will not be able to handle the pressure from the Kings’ young offense for much longer.   Place your bets folks. Who do you think is going to win?

Written  by Guest Blogger, Stephen Brooks

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Steve Johnson, NCAA Tennis Titan

A role model for every young tennis player (with nerves of steel) has been born – Steve Johnson, a senior at USC. Carrying the weight of the whole championship on his shoulders, with the chance to become NCAA team national champions for the fourth year in a row, Johnson has really made a name for himself in the world of collegiate tennis.

As a five-time All American and Singles National Champion for two consecutive years, this kid just doesn’t stop no matter what the challenge. The Orange, California native must have eaten his fruits and vegetables as a child – going into his senior year of high school, he was the national champion in singles and doubles and he finished his college career with a record of 112 wins with only 21 losses. To add some icing to this already amazing cake, he went his senior year with a 32-0 record, finishing his college career with 72 consecutive wins. I don’t think he even remembers what it feels like to lose; all he does is win (*Cue the DJ Khaled song*).

www.usc.edu

The road to the championship game for Johnson was wrought with fallen trees and multiple potholes. By the time he reached the championship game against Kentucky’s Eric Quigley, he had already been through a veritable marathon, battling through six weeks of shin splints (which were quickly becoming a stress fracture). I can tell you from personal experience – it is difficult to just walk on shin splints. Throw in a pulled abdomen and food poisoning during 9 consecutive days of play…Johnson is a tennis-playing MACHINE!

With all of this, he only lost one set throughout the entire singles tournament. Johnson won in a 6-4 victory against Quigley. According to ESPN, when Quigley was asked later about Johnson’s injuries, he stated, “he was stunned by the accuracy of his opponent’s serve.” Quigley added he “…didn’t know Johnson was in pain, particularly when bending his back on a second serve”. Johnson definitely deserves this second singles title in a row, and I cannot fathom why anyone would disagree. He was able to partake in all four consecutive team national championships that they won including 2012.

Steve Johnson, I believe, should be included in the top ten on Sports Center and all over ESPN headlines. He is the epitome of a role model for student athletes. Do you agree?

Written by Guest Blogger, Stephen Brooks

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NCAA Golf Swings Into the Riviera Country Club

It’s golf season – the best “off season” sport around.  Golf legend Arnold Palmer said it best, “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented”.  And Arnold, you’ll be happy to know that golf is prime time right now in the world of college sports.

The NCAA men’s Division 1 golf championship is underway at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. This internationally renowned course, designed by George C. Thomas, has had legends scoring birdies and eagles since 1927.  It’s a difficult course — the 18th hole has an elevated fairway that leads to a narrow green and surrounded by hazards. I am a scratch golfer; this course would definitely give me trouble. The hole I would be totally afraid of is number 17– the par 5 hole is all up hill, requiring a long second shot.

The beautiful Riviera Country Club.

The Riviera is the perfect course to host the tournament. Most of the players talk about how the majority of the holes are played into the wind, making the easy shots hard, and the hard shots twice as difficult.  With the multiple challenging holes strategically placed, the college players will really have to show true skill.

Want to catch the tournament?  Here’s a brief look at the schedule:

May 29-31– Three rounds played by each team with the top eight teams advancing.

June 1–3—Single elimination rounds

After the first round ESPN reported the best score belongs to UCLA Anton Arboleda. He scored a 67, 4-under par, and is followed closely by Tyler McCumber of Florida and Corey Conners of Kent State by a single stroke. Anton is keeping his team tied for fourth place currently and is expected to play just as hot as he did yesterday.

This is a very important tournament for each individual player since PGA tour officials will be there every day watching – watching and potentially making these students true PGA professionals.  Being in the top of this tournament will help their chances of becoming a member of the PGA.

When it comes to team performance, Alabama has a 3 shot lead. The key to Alabama’s success so far has been their low number of bogeys. They have had only 18 bogeys with 17 Birdies and one eagle to give them a top score. They are in front of their rivals Auburn and Florida, both not too far behind (so it looks like it’s going to be an intense couple of days for the golf community!).  I will keep you updated as the tournament proceeds!

Written by Guest Blogger, Stephen Brooks

 

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Ultimate Frisbee – More than Just “Catch”

Frisbee has gone extreme, growing into a phenomenon of competitive sports.  Ultimate Frisbee is now considered a nationwide team sport that is gaining recognition by both the NCAA and the Olympics.  The first time I heard about the sport was from my older sister when she was a freshman in college. I laughed at her and said, “Hey, don’t get hurt playing catch.”  I was so wrong about the “playing catch” part. When I went to see her play against Pitt University, I was astonished.  It was so much more than just “catch.”

Ultimate Frisbee is generally played on a football, soccer, or open field.  Two, seven-player teams play against each other to score points in the end zone.  The object of the game is to move the disc (Frisbee) to the opposing team’s end of the field without it touching the ground, getting intercepted by the opposing team, or going out of bounds.  You have to anchor one foot at all times when you are holding the disc as well (there is a more specific list of rules here).

The games I’ve seen have had as much intensity as any other collegiate sport.  However, one thing that I thought showed true sportsmanship, was that there are no referees.  The opposing team will call a penalty and be able to argue if it is a fair call or not.  When it comes to scoring points, and out of bounds calls, other players will help split the decision.  In the games I watched, no matter how intense the rivalry, there were very few calls.  And that’s no surprise, really.  The official rules state, “The integrity of Ultimate depends on each player’s responsibility to uphold the Spirit of the Game, and this responsibility should remain paramount.”

The rise in popularity has mostly happened in the past five or six years.  It has gone from a casual activity to a serious collegiate team sport, a recreation-run league, and now you can easily find pick up games at local parks.  At the collegiate Ultimate level, it has been spreading like wildfire.  The Syracuse Men’s and Women’s club teams (named Doom and Fox Force Seven, respectively), have been competing for 8 years.  They travel and compete in tournaments down in Georgia, Wildwood, NJ, and even Montreal.

I tried my hand at Ultimate.  I thought, as an athlete competing at a college level, I would be up for the task.  I embarrassed myself the first time out.  These players could catch and throw like magic.  Not to mention, they would dive for any disc traveling in a 10-foot radius.  The atmosphere around the game was competitive, but at the same time laid back.  Sure when a team lost they got upset, but then you sit around with other teams afterward and have a great time.

In the college divisions, they hold an annual Championship Tournament for the Title.  It was held in Colorado this year and was televised.  It was definitely more than just a casual tournament.  Ironically, it was one big party, too.  The Tournament in the Men’s D1 bracket had 19 teams in it.  The Championship game was between Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, with Pitt coming out on top for their first title in their history.  The Women’s D1 bracket consisted of 19 teams also.  The Champions were Washington beating Oregon in an epic game.

The NCAA has been asked to consider Ultimate Frisbee as a sport and I certainly believe it should be!  What do you think?

Check out this website (http://www.usaultimate.org/index.html) to search and find local leagues or games in your area!!

Written by Guest Blogger, Stephen Brooks

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May Madness Comes to a Close

Did you miss this weekend’s madness in the Lacrosse arena? We’ve got a full recap for you!

Women’s Lacrosse

Northwestern stormed past Syracuse University for their 7th NCAA Championship title in only eight years.  It was a close game right up to the finish with a final score of 8-6. On Sunday night, Taylor Thoron of Northwestern had her dream come true by scoring the game-winning goal. However, no one could have been played more impressively than Shannon Smith, a senior from Long Island, New York. Smith said she was more than happy she was able to begin her career on Long Island and finish it there as well, according to ESPN.  In the Semi finals game against Maryland, Shannon racked up four goals.  Not slowing down a bit, she scored 2 more goals and had 2 assists against Syracuse in the finals.  Now, to go along with her 3rd NCAA national championship trophy, Shannon was also awarded her second straight Most Outstanding Player award.   It is such a great thing to see Women’s Collegiate sports become so competitive and fun to follow. Thanks to all the great female athletes who bring sports to a new level.  Congratulations on your win and thanks for keeping it interesting!

Men’s Lacrosse

Memorial Day Weekend was full of hits, goals, and excitement for the Men’s NCAA Championship game.  #1 ranked Loyola took on the University of Maryland on Memorial Day for the Championship.  Loyola of Maryland came out on top with their first ever NCAA National Championship victory!  In the pre season, Loyola was not even ranked and it had been speculated that they would not reach the tournament.  Little did the naysayers realize they would finish the season ranked first and win the tournament. Unfortunately for Maryland, it was their second straight loss in the final game. The score was 9-3 with the fewest goals allowed in a game by Loyola’s goaltender Jack Runkel, ESPN reported. Loyola scored 7 goals beginning with the first quarter.  It wasn’t so much a domination by Loyola, as it was a lack of communication and confusion experienced by the Maryland defense.  Eric Lusby, a graduate student of Loyola, was able to score five goals in the semi final game against Notre Dame.  He also was able to secure the victory by scoring the final three goals in the Championship Game.  Even more impressive than his goal streaks, was when he was interviewed by ESPN, he gave credit to his teammates and the offensive unit, rather than himself… classy!  Congratulations and have a great off-season, you deserve it.  Remember, don’t throw off that lacrosse swing with too much Golf this summer!

Written by Guest Blogger, Stephen Brooks

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ACC Could Lose Clemson

It is now common knowledge that Syracuse University, Pitt, and West Virginia have all completed negotiations to leave the Big East college conference and move the ACC.

ESPN reported today that the Clemson Board of Trustees indicated that they would be willing to leave the ACC if they were given the right offer. No offer from other divisions have been made.

Despite the new arrival of three top schools, I don’t think some of the colleges are considering what the student body wants. Moving conferences could mean losing spirit.

Some of the most memorable moments and most school-spirited events revolve around key rivalries. At Syracuse, for instance, we will no longer face our basketball rivalries such as UConn, Georgetown, and Villanova. Students used to sit in line, camp out, and do whatever they could to get tickets just to attend these monumental games. These are the key things that bring schools, students, and fans closer together which ignites a passion for their school.

Which rivalries would you miss most if your school switched conferences?

Written by Guest Blogger, Stephen Brooks

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It’s May Madness!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for lacrosse fans. The moment of truth is upon us – some will be remembered as winners and others, not at all. The 2012 college tournament quarterfinals set the stage for new meanings of hard work, talent, and action-packed games. According to InsideLacrosse.com, the semifinals are shaping up to be edge-of-your-seat nail biters, with the occasional jumping and celebrating when points are scored (keep your surroundings in mind!).

#1 Loyola and #4 Notre Dame will be playing each other in one of the two semifinal games this Saturday, May 26th at 2:30pm EST on ESPN2 and ESPN3. These two teams will have a stimulating match up. On the defensive side, both teams are strong (also with the attack men) but the real competition in this game comes down to the midfielders. Loyola relies heavily on their very talented first line of midfielders Sean O’Sullivan, Davis Butts, and Chris Layne. These three hold most of the points for their midfielders and could be easily overtaken by the depth of Notre Dame. Notre Dame will have to do a good job of ball possession in order to wear out the top line. If Loyola’s first line is unable to stay hot the entire game, they don’t have a good chance at taking the W.

The must-watch game of the year is #3 Duke taking on the mighty unranked Maryland Terps on Saturday the 26th at 5:00pm EST on ESPN2 and ESPN 3. So far this year these two teams have faced each other twice with each team winning a game (making their record for 2012 1-1). Both teams are coming into the game with exuberant amounts of momentum. Duke recently embarrassed #9 Colgate with a victory of 17 – 6.

Duke advances towards the Final Four:

For 3 quarters, Duke dominated while going on a run of 13 unanswered goals streak with senior Rob Rotaz — he scored 5 goals and had 6 points and is looking to finish his college career with a ring and trophy to take home.

Duke will need to keep up the force on Maryland’s young, in-experienced defense like they did against #9 Colgate. Maryland is unranked and in the semifinals, just beating the #2 ranked Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals. This has given them plenty of momentum and they are looking to capitalize on it in order to take out their rivals. This is a rematch from last year’s semi finals in which Maryland came out on top. This game has definitely become a rivalry considering this is their 6th time meeting in the semifinals of the tournament. In addition, the basketball teams and fans are known for not exactly being the best of friends. Both games are looking like they are going to be a grudge match till the end!

Do you have any predictions? Share them with us below!

Written by Guest Blogger: Stephen Brooks

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