Category Archives: Sports

Dorau The [Sports] Explorer: Sporting Events Lack Forum Befitting National Anthem

Kyle Dorau / Sports Editor

As my beloved Boston Bruins were in the process of ending the Montreal Canadiens’ hundredth anniversary season last week, Habs fans were loudly booing the American national anthem before game three.

Initially enraged, I realized that not only were they well within their rights to boo it, but why should they show respect for what has become merely a pointless sideshow?

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is a beautiful song that truly represents what the United States of America is all about. 

When performed right, in can bring a tear to the eye of many. It can also be a coping mechanism, best evidenced in times of national tragedy or duress. We protect most other national treasures, why should the anthem of our country be any different?

So when we let disc jockeys and three-year-olds sing it, we’re actually doing a disservice to the anthem, as well as our country. 

Playing the song at sporting events just doesn’t make sense anymore.  Shirtless Vinny in the fifteenth row is double fisting beers and banging on a cowbell. Crowds chant out specific syllables or words that match their favorite team’s nickname. The starters for each team have their hats or helmets back on and are pacing around before the song is even close to finished. And let’s not forget my personal favorite, the moron who yells “WHOO!” right in the middle of it.

Obviously there are specific times in which playing the anthem would be appropriate: National holidays, international competitions involving true amateurs, and in times of extreme circumstance or tragedy. The mood has to fit.

Professionals making millions just doesn’t seem to inspire that type of mood.  Conversely, based upon my experience working in sports, I don’t think most college athletes are ready for the responsibility of treating the anthem with respect.

Additionally, most fans prefer to keep their sports and politics quite separate. I’m quite sure some of the boo-birds in the crowd at the Bell Centre in Montreal were booing simply from a politically motivated standpoint. While they certainly have the right to their free speech, there really is nothing more pathetic than that half-hearted kind of gesture. 

Instead of booing the anthem at a sporting event, why not do something worthwhile instead of attend the game? Translate that hatred into some sort of positive activism and make a difference instead of getting your face painted the hometown team’s colors and cheering minutes later. 

It also seems as if every anthem singer I see thinks they’re on “American Idol”, trying to put their own spin on it and drag it out to maximize their recognition. The end result is a performance far closer to those of Carl Lewis and Roseanne Barr than the classic Whitney Houston rendition from Super Bowl XXV.

I am well aware of the fact that people have gone to war and died for our right to attend such events. My brother is in the Air Force and my grandfather was a ball turret gunner in World War II. It’s not that the anthem isn’t good enough to be played at sporting events, in fact it’s quite the contrary. 

The atmosphere at sporting events are not nearly respectful enough of the anthem itself. Until we as a society are ready for the privilege of hearing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events, it should be taken away.

CCSU Duo Signed by Professional Soccer Club

Christopher Boulay / Asst. Sports Editor

Midfielder Yan Klukowski and defender David Tyrie, both staples in the CCSU men’s soccer team starting lineups for the past four years have been signed by the Western Massachusetts Pioneers to season-long contracts.

The Pioneers, a United Soccer League Division Two club, belong to the third level of the United States Soccer Pyramid below the MLS and USL-1.

The contracts last until the end of August and will continue if the Pioneers make the playoffs.

Tyrie, a Norwich-Norfolk, England native, was the 2007 NEC Defensive Player of the Year and All-NEC First Team member.

“It is very pleasing to sign with the club,” Tyrie said. “It is a real bonus to sign with the Pioneers and to play with Yan again. After playing with him for four years, it is great to get an extra season to play [together].”

Klukowski, a Wiltshire, England native, was the former CCSU men’s soccer captain, as well as a member of the All-NEC Second Team and NSCAA/Adidas All-North Atlantic Region First team, was thrilled with the chance to fulfill a childhood dream of playing professional soccer.

“Ever since I started playing soccer, it has been a goal to play professionally,” said Klukowski.

Klukowski had a chance to trial with the Pioneers during their match against CCSU on April 8, a match that the Blue Devils won, 3-2.

 But both Klukowski and Tyrie praised the CCSU coaches for helping develop them as players during their tenures with the Blue Devils.

“I want to thank Shaun for the opportunity to play here. It was the best four soccer years of my life. I have been to great places across America, namely Niagara Falls and reaching the Sweet Sixteen [in the NCAA Soccer Tournament],” Klukowski said. “I also want to thank Paul Wright. His enthusiasm is second to none.”

“I want to thank Shaun, Paul and Christian Benjamin. They helped us get the opportunities we have today,” Tyrie said.

Klukowski is also excited about the proximity of the Pioneers, which will allow him to partake in other soccer-related activities, namely coaching.

“In the summer months, I can do coaching. I can help kids in the community, which is what I like to do,” he said.

Tyrie and Klukowski are part of a long line of former CCSU players that have gone on to play professional soccer.

“There have been some great players that have made an impact on the pro level,” Klukowski said, “I am looking forward to hard work and to push my game even further.”

“It will be nice to play in the professional ranks and take it to the next level,” Tyrie said.

Though Klukowski praised the quality of CCSU’s soccer program and its newfound success at at both the conference and national level.

“The program has grown each year, and that is how it should develop,” Klukowski said. “I am wishing all the best of luck to the team and I will be coming back.”

Both players were also selected to play in the New England Intercollegiate Soccer League Senior All-Star Game at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. on May 2.

The Pioneers opened their season on the road in Harrisburg, Penn. against the Harrisburg City Islanders.

Klukowski and Tyrie will be graduating in May.

Blue Devils Skin and Wear Cougars in Fashionable Ensemble

Christopher Boulay / Asst. Sports Editor

Four Blue Devils scored as CCSU men’s soccer ripped Manchester Community College 4-0 at Arute Field.

CCSU dominated possession throughout the match, and the scoreline was modest compared to the opportunities created by the offense. The first 20 minutes of the match had many opportunities, but not many quality chances.

Coach Shaun Green praised his team’s effort and was optimistic about the immediate future of the team.

“I am extremely happy it has been a perfect spring season so far. Captains [Eddie] Floyd and [Robert] Cavener have led us on the field, we have had interest from the fan base and the players have responded,” Green said. “We are bang on target for what we will do in the fall.”

Midfielder Connor Smith opened up the scoring in the 27th minute on a pass from forward Chris Brown, and CCSU would never look back.

Floyd continued his spectacular play this spring with a rocket to the top corner in the 43rd minute, and the Blue Devils were making it look easy by halftime.

“We created some fantastic opportunities and we really took advantage of our opportunities, but we should have had a few more,” said assistant coach Paul Wright.

CCSU had numerous attempts on goal. The Blue Devils were in the attacking third for the majority of the match and the goalkeepers saw little work.

Cavener ran straight past the keeper and sunk the ball across the face of goal into the right corner to add the third goal to the tally in the 57th minute.

Cavener was visibly thrilled with the team’s play and the result.

“We played well. It has been more or less the same from us, but this time we took our chances and we got our third and fourth [goals],” Cavener said. “We kept the shutout, our first of the spring. We tried the new formation in the second half and it seemed to work. I am happy to score a goal as well.”

Forward Collin Nicholas completed the rout in the 73rd minute, his second goal in two matches after receiving a pass from midfielder Benjamin Barton and mimicking Cavener’s earlier effort by running past the Cougars goalkeeper.

“We try to encourage a little flair in the final third of the field. I felt we had that,” Wright said.

Goalkeeper Paul Armstrong had another clean sheet in the first half, bringing his total shutout streak to 135 minutes in the spring season.

“We’ve been playing well and have been steady at the back end. I can’t complain,” Armstrong said. “We have been working hard in training and it has paid off. The team is looking forward to games and having a couple hundred people watching [each match], it is nice to see and it is showing in the results.”

Though the team’s morale is high at the moment, Wright was still critical of some aspects of the Blue Devil’s play.

“I am never satisfied. I was disappointed with the last 25 minutes tonight. I felt we lacked a bit of patience, we could have built up more possession. But overall, it was a good performance.”

Persis Oware suffered a leg injury in the 80th minute. Though the extent is not yet known, it is believed to be a lower leg injury.

“We don’t know right now, but it looks to be a serious tibia or ankle injury,” Wright said.
“[Oware] heard a pop and the medic hasn’t been able to check because he is in so much pain.”

CCSU also played in a round robin tournament at Yale against the Bulldogs (0-0) and lost to Marist College (3-1) on Sunday.

“We have a couple of big tests left. Yale will be at home and it is a strong test. Hopefully we can bring confidence into the game,” Wright said.

The final game of the spring season for the Blue Devils is away on May 3 against the Hartford United FC.

NFL Draft Picks

Carmine Vetrano / Special to The Recorder

When the clock strikes zero on the scoreboard to end the Super Bowl, football fans close out their thoughts and feelings of the regular season, look past the Pro Bowl, and focus on the next big football event. The NFL Draft held in New York City. Each April, student-athletes from NCAA football try their luck in the draft to hopefully become the next big star for a franchise. Each year there seems to be a clear-cut number one and there is nothing different about this year’s draft as well. Here are my top 10 picks for this 2009 NFL Draft along with the Jets, Giants and Patriots (subject to change).

1. Detroit Lions – Matthew Stafford QB (Georgia)- After going 0-16 and having a carousel of quarterbacks, it was apparent what the Lions needed: another quarterback. Stafford has the tools to become a star but its up to the Lions offense and defense to help him out.

2. St. Loius Rams- Andre Smith OT (Alabama)- Holding the number two pick again this year, St. Louis already addressed their defense needs with selecting Chris Long in ‘08. They need an offensive lineman to protect running back Stephen Jackson and their QB. Oh yeah, he is 6-4 and weighs 340 lbs.

3. Kansas City Chiefs- Aaron Curry OLB (Wake Forest)- Kansas City got what they needed in trading for quarterback Matt Cassel. They also gained stock in their defense by picking up linebacker Zach Thomas to go with Mike Vrabel from the Patriots trade. One more line backer would not hurt.

4. Seattle Seahawks- Jason Smith OT (Baylor) – At first I would have put WR Michael Crabtree here but after his combine, his stock may have fallen. The Seahawks need to establish a line with an almost done tackle Walter Jones.

5. Cleveland Browns- Brian Orakpo DE/OLB (Texas) – It would not be a draft if a kid from Texas did not go in the top 10. Orakpo is a great at getting to the QB and is the type of player a defensive can be built around.

6. Cincinnati Bengals – Michael Crabtree WR (Texas Tech)- Hands down the best receiver in the draft. His stock fell after having surgery during the combine but that should not scare the Bengals in gaining this future Pro Bowler.

7. Oakland Raiders- Eugene Monroe OT (Virginia)- Oakland needs help to protect QB Jamarcus Russell this season if they want to compete in the AFC.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars- Malcolm Jenkins FS (Ohio State)- The best Free Saftey in the draft. He will help the Jaguars defense with his speed and ability to smother the receivers.

9. Green Bay Packers – B.J. Raji NT (Boston College) – I would not chalk this season up as a disappointment, but more of a step in the right direction. QB Aaron Rodgers did everything he could for Packers fans to try and forget about Favre. Raji could be the steal of the draft.

10. San Francisco 49ers- Marc Sanchez QB (USC) – The second best QB in the draft. Could go to Jacksonville but I believe (like the Lions) with their never-ending circle of QBs, Sanchez will stay in California.

16. New York Jets – Could go either way with Chris Wells, the running back from Ohio State, or Jeremy Maclin, the wide receiver out of Missouri. With Laveranues Coles gone the Jets need a WR but Thomas Jones (RB) is 31 years old.

23. New England Patriots- ILB Ray Maualuga (USC) – With Vrabel gone this would be a nice pick up to put him along side Tedy Bruschi.

29. New York Giants – Knowshon Moreno RB (Georgia) – With the departure of Derrick Ward, Moreno would give the Giants that one-two punch to go with Brandon Jacobs.

Ex-Epps-tional Performance: Pat Epps Drives in 11 Runs Against Bobcats

Kyle Dorau / Sports Editor

Pat Epps stared back at the home plate umpire after striking out looking on three pitches in the first inning of Sunday’s game at Quinnipiac.

The look on his face conveyed disgust and determination, as if saying “you just wait.”

The wait was worth it for the Blue Devils (16-12, 6-5) as Epps helped power Central to an 11-7 victory over the Bobcats (10-23, 3-9), collecting hits in each of his next five at-bats.

The CCSU designated hitter pounded out three doubles en route to five RBIs, adding to his team-high total of 33. “It was just our time to start hitting,” said Epps. “We hadn’t played well the last couple of weeks, and finally we’re just starting to click together like we should.”

CCSU head coach Charlie Hickey acknowledges the talent of Epps, but expects a high standard of performance out of him. “I may make it sound minimal, but that’s what you’re supposed to do,” he said.  “I’m not giving him more credit than he deserves. He’s supposed to get up there in the middle of the order and hit the ball hard.”

Despite the final score that might suggest otherwise, the game was a pitchers’ duel for the first seven innings. Central rode the arm of senior and New Britain native Derek Roberts for seven and a third innings as the lefty struck out a season-high eight batters. He mixed his fastball and slider well in order to limit Quinnipiac to just two runs heading into the eighth inning. 

“He’s a senior. There’s some accountability and some responsibility that goes with that,” said Hickey. “He had to come out here and give us a chance to play this type of game. And that’s what he did.”  With the victory, Roberts improved to 3-1 on the season. 

The southpaw allowed just two base runners in the first two innings, setting the tone for the rest of his outing. “I’ve been struggling in my last couple starts,” admitted Roberts. “It just gave me a lot more confidence.”

He would need that confidence in the fourth inning as shaky defense at the hot corner got him into a jam. With one out, Ben Farina hit a ground ball that took a nasty hop on Sean Allaire, resulting in a double down the left field line. The next batter, Brian Monack, hit a ground ball that would go right through Allaire’s legs for an error.  

“Errors happen, they’re a part of the game,” explained Roberts. “I really never lost confidence in my defense, they’ve picked me up all year, so I tried to pick them up for a change.” With runners on second and third and just one out, Roberts did just that. He induced a ground ball right back to the mound, followed by a flyout to right field to escape the inning unscathed.

The defense quickly improved when Roberts was bailed out of a jam in the fifth inning by a Casey Walko running catch in foul territory. The following frame, Michael Amanti laced a sharp ground ball towards Blue Devils second baseman Mitch Wells. It took a bad hop on the infield dirt and changed direction, but the freshman infielder made a barehanded stab and fired to first for a highlight-reel out.

Heading into the eighth inning, the game was 4-2 in favor of the Blue Devils. Both teams would go to their bullpen with one out, and the results were similar. Offense, and lots of it. 

Monack, who started in center field for the Bobcats came on in relief of starter Joe Duffy, who was saddled with the loss. He made an error on a come backer, and surrendered an RBI double to Epps.

Monack would face Epps again in the ninth with the bases loaded, and suffered a similar fate.  Epps crushed a double deep to right center field to clear the bases and give Central an 11-5 lead.  

Chris Chagnon came on in relief of Roberts in the eighth, but struggled to get outs. He gave up three hits in the eighth inning, and allowed a two-run home run in the ninth to Amanti, his second of the season. Despite the poor bullpen performance, Central was able to hang on for the victory.

CCSU dropped the first game of the four-game weekend series against the Bobcats 7-2, but rebounded to sweep Saturday’s doubleheader and take Sunday’s contest. This weekend, the Blue Devils head to Long Island University for a four-game set against the Black Birds. 

LIU currently sits at sixth in the Northeast Conference at 5-7 behind Central who is in a tie for third with Sacred Heart University. The weekend series will kickoff at 3 p.m. on Friday.

Wildcats Maul Blue Devils Lacrosse

Kyle Dorau / Sports Editor

The University of New Hampshire imposed their will upon CCSU Men’s Lacrosse Club, taking a 18-6 decision at Arute Field on Saturday.

Matt Herter and Matt House each led the way for the Blue Devils with two goals in defeat.

The Wildcats jumped out to a sizeable lead, scoring early and often. Trailing 5-0, Central was able to get on the board. Herter took a shot from a tough angle that snuck inside the far post past UNH goalie Matt Siskey.

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, they were unable to build momentum off their first tally, as New Hampshire would respond just 33 seconds later. 

Midfielder Steve Eurieck cut into the slot, took a pass from behind the net, faked high, then shot low to beat CCSU net minder Nick Gaeta.

Harter and the Blue Devils did not give up, as moments later he took a pass behind the net, and with a defender on his back, put in another shot from a difficult angle to cut the deficit back to four.

The Wildcats’ attack continued to put pressure on the Blue Devils, and defensive lapses certainly did not help Central’s cause.

Once again, after a Herter goal, CCSU got the wind knocked out of them as UNH answered right back. This time, Ian Osgood of New Hampshire raced in from midfield, made a 15-yard beeline for the net, and virtually unopposed fired a hard shot past Gaeta for another momentum-deflating goal.

The Blue Devils struggled to break out of their zone and mount offensive pressure against the Wildcats.

“They moved the ball faster, and our defense was basically watching the ball,” said CCSU midfielder Mike Gacek.  “They’re just a fast break team, and we’re not.”

The fast breaks resulted in a total of 52 New Hampshire shots over the course of the game. 

Matt House stood out for the Blue Devils late in the first half, as he had a pair of athletic goals to try and get Central’s offense going.

“I was just trying to beat my man and scramble their defense up, and it worked,” said House. 

For the Blue Devils, it was a tough game against a strong non-conference foe.

“We didn’t hustle as much in the first half as we did in the second,” admitted House.

CCSU men’s lacrosse looks to rebound this week, as they continue their lengthy homestand to close out the regular season.

Friday they face the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at 8pm, and Saturday they host the University of Maine at 6pm on Arute Field.

CCSU Defeats Assumption in Card-laden Thriller

Christopher Boulay / Asst. Sports Editor

What turned out to be a game-winning penalty kick by Persis Oware in the second half gave the CCSU men’s soccer team a well-deserved 2-1 win over Assumption College.

Oware was awarded the kick after being taken down inside the box, to which a yellow card was issued to the Assumption player at fault. He struck the kick into the top right corner, with the goalkeeper choosing the correct side, but the ball was still out of reach.

“The penalty kick was a special moment for me,” Oware said. “To be able to step up and do it was great. I just had to put it in.”

CCSU dominated possession for the majority of the game, and could have scored two or three more goals with the opportunities they had, but with a mix of questionable finishing and solid play by the Assumption back line held the scoreline to 2-1.

“This was a different type of challenge [compared to Western Massachusetts]. They made it difficult,” assistant coach Paul Wright said. “We were very well organized and we deserved the victory.”

Eddie Floyd opened the scoring in the first half after receiving a pass from midfielder Connor Smith, and calmly put it past the Assumption goalkeeper at the 12-minute mark.

Midfielder Robert Cavener, who received a yellow card in the match for dissent, praised his teammates’ efforts.

“We had a lot of confidence going into the game. We created chances and we expected to beat a Division II team,” he said, “We dominated possession and our defense was solid. I am happy with our performance.”

Blue Devils goalkeeper Paul Armstrong held a clean sheet for the first half, and was replaced at halftime by Chris Jones, who gave up the lone goal for Assumption.

Assumption was awarded a penalty kick after the referee ruled that defender Jared Spieker pushed a Greyhound player down in the box and was given a yellow for the action. The penalty kick hit off the right post before Greyhound midfielder Scott Buckholz knocked the rebound back off of the post and into the net.

“We were a little scrambled after they scored, but we came back together pretty well,” Oware said.

Assumption received two yellows for questionable challenges during the match.

“We are 2-0 for the Spring season with three games left to go. We want to make a statement. This is a challenge for ourselves,” Wright said. “Yes, we are a young team, but the future looks good.”

CCSU is in action again tonight, Wednesday night at 7 p.m. home against Manchester Community College.

Dorau the [Sports] Explorer: Athletes Need to Perform on the Field and Behind the Mic

Kyle Dorau / Sports Editor

To  score a goal, hit a home run, or set a new personal best is a tremendous accomplishment at the collegiate level, especially in Division I.  Watching the athletes here at Central on a daily basis has reinforced my thoughts on just how talented these students are.

Yet one thing still amazes me. For all their talent on the field and confidence in what they do, if I stick a microphone in their face after the game, they become a deer in headlights.

With Central Connecticut State being one of the smaller D-I schools in the Northeast, we won’t get as much media attention and recognition as some of the others in our backyard. Part of the issue may be the fact that our athletes did not get a lot of exposure as they came up through high school. Maybe the post-game interviews are a new, and almost shocking concept.

That’s what I’m here for. Welcome to Athlete Interviews 101. Today, I’m going to instruct all of you on the finer points of talking to us media types.

Obviously, you’re all exhausted and I’m sure mentally drained after a competition, and the last thing you want to do is have to sit down with us for 10 minutes. But the thing is, none of us are looking for you to speak that long. If you can tell us what we want to hear in a minute or two, that’s perfect for everyone involved.

The first lesson is to avoid technicalities. When we ask what’s been different for you as of late, don’t go into mechanics of your game. There are too many athletes for all of us to understand the intricacies of each one’s physical skills. And if it’s the god’s honest truth that your elbow has been flying out and that’s the only difference in your performance, use it as an opportunity to talk about the coaching staff and what a great job they did of helping you with it.

Secondly, show some personality. We see you guys joking, laughing, having fun on the field, so let your character show in the interview. Make a little joke to get comfortable. We’ll laugh. Just be yourself.

In our most important lesson of the day, don’t spout cliches. Please. I know you’ve heard other athletes say that they “give it 100 percent” and “take it one game at a time,” but you’re better than that.  Phrases like those are just meaningless buzzwords that professionals say so they can get home faster.

Our preferred athletes and coaches are the ones who don’t even have to be prompted to speak.  That’s why I love covering Men’s Basketball. When Howie sits down, you better have your recorder on, because he’s going to fly right into ten minutes of article-writing gold. If you can just give thoughts on your performance and the game in general when we point our microphone your way, you’ll quickly become one of our favorite athletes instantly.

The underlying theme here is that we, as the media, are here to help you. Sometimes we have to ask the tough questions when you fail. While it may be tough to acknowledge that you just didn’t have it today or your best just wasn’t good enough, it’s a great opportunity to show perseverance and maturity. If you can put it in perspective and handle it with grace and class, we’re going to make sure that you are recognized for doing so. Maybe it’s not true for every reporter out there, but I think that goes for the vast majority, myself included.

If we aren’t interviewing you and you feel you‘ve made an impact on the game, come seek us out.  Getting quotes from athletes fills a lot of space in our stories. We’re not going to turn down an opportunity at freebies. If it makes our job easier, we’re all for it.

Look at the interview as another facet of the game. Display the same amount of skill and talent that you show in the actual competition itself, and it will be a breeze.

NHL Playoff Preview

Carmine Vetrano / Special to The Recorder

The end of the regular season in the NHL is the most exciting time for hockey fans and other sport fans because it means only one thing. We get to embrace the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The 82 game schedule is finally done and now the remaining 16 teams only have to win 16 games to earn the most prized trophy in all of sports, the Stanley Cup.  Here are my first round predictions for both the Eastern and Western conference.

Boston vs. Montreal – The Boston Bruins seem to be cursed when facing the Canadiens in the playoffs, but Boston is way beyond Montreal this year. The Bruins are all-around better than Montreal and have the scoring, defense and goalie to pull this series out. Canadiens goalie Carey Price is not having the season they expected of him, and I think that he will be the Achilles heel for them. Boston is the top seed for a reason and will win this series. Boston in 5

Washington vs. New York Rangers- The Rangers snuck into the playoffs with big wins toward the end of the season. New York needs their top guns to come out in Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Nik Antropov if they want to move on to the next round. Washington, like Montreal, does not have the goaltending to make them as dangerous in these playoffs. Alex the great cant do it all by himself. Rangers in 6

Carolina vs. New Jersey- The Devils did not have future hall of fame goaltender Martin Brodeur for most of the season, but still found ways to win. Devils forward Zach Parise lights the lamp with help from guys like Jamie Lagenbrunner and Travis Zajac. With a playoff hungry Brodeur, the Devils can be dangerous. Carolina rides the offense of Eric Staal, and if goalie Cam Ward plays the way he did in 2006, Carolina can be just as dangerous. I like Carolina just for the fact that the Devils defense has been non-existent down the stretch.  Carolina in 7

Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia- The battle of Pennsylvania was not a likely matchup midway through the season. However, the beauty of hockey draws these two rivals together in a first round matchup. Both of these teams have great offense and goaltending, but it comes down to two men. No, not Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin; Flyers forwards Jeff Carter and Daniel Briere. If these two are clicking Philadelphia should have no problem dispatching the flightless birds.  Philly in 6

San Jose vs. Anaheim- San Jose just wrapped up the President’s Trophy for the first time in team history, and should be the team to beat in the West. They have the key ingredients to win it all with their scoring and goaltending. Anaheim squeaked their way into the last playoff spot with solid play in the last couple of games and should play San Jose tough. The Sharks are just too good though, and should take this series.  San Jose in 5

Detroit vs. Columbus- This is bittersweet for Columbus fans. Their team makes the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and they draw the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round. We all know how good Detroit is with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsuyk, but Columbus does have soon to be Rookie of the Year goalie Steve Mason. Detroit is too much for Columbus to handle, though.  Detroit in 5

Vancouver vs. St. Louis- Who would have thought of St. Louis to jump into the playoffs based on their early season performance? The Blues went from cellar-dweller to 6th in a blink of an eye. With the way they are playing combined with forwards David Backes and the return of Paul Kariya, St. Louis can make this series interesting. Vancouver has star goalie Roberto Luongo and the Sedin twins though, which should carry them through a tougher test than expected.  Vancouver in 6

Chicago vs. Calgary- Chicago makes the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and can thank the pair of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for that. Calgary has an X-factor goalie in Miikka Kiprusoff who can take his team on his back and carry them for several rounds. Jarome Iginla and newly arrived Oli Jokinen help Calgary move on as well.  Calgary in 7.

Stanley Cup Finals: Vancouver over Boston in 7.

Other staff picks:

Sports Editor Kyle Dorau:

Boston over Montreal in 5

Washington over New York in 6

New Jersey over Carolina in 4

Philadelphia over Pittsburgh in 6

Anaheim over San Jose in 7

Detroit over Columbus in 6

Vancouver over St. Louis in 5

Chicago over Calgary in 5

Stanley Cup Finals:

Boston over Detroit in 6

Asst. Entertainment Editor Michael Walsh:

Boston over Montreal in 6

New York over Washington in 7

Carolina over New Jersey in 6

Pittsburgh over Philadelphia in 6

San Jose over Anaheim in 6,

Detroit  over Columbus in 5,

St. Louis over Vancouver in 7,

Chicago over Calgary in 7

Stanley Cup Finals

San Jose over New York in 6

Blue Devils Baseball Suffers Two Losses

Kyle Dorau / Sports Editor

Giving up 36 runs in a span of 24 innings is generally not a recipe for success, even in a pitching-starved Northeast Conference.

The Blue Devils pitchers were rescued by timely hitting as they avoided a sweep at the hands of in-state rival Sacred Heart last weekend at Beehive Stadium.

Central was able to win the middle game of what became a three-game series with the Pioneers due to rain. After getting pounded 18-4 on Thursday afternoon, CCSU responded with a 10-9 victory in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader.

The nightcap went to Sacred Heart, as they once again lit up the scoreboard in a 9-5 win.

Pat Epps was the offensive star for the Blue Devils, going 8-11 over the course of the series with a double, triple, home run, and five RBIs. His two-run triple tied up game one on Friday in the bottom of the sixth, helping extend the game beyond the scheduled seven innings.

Following a Jeff Hanson home run in the top of the eighth, Epps’ RBI double once again tied the game and allowed Central an opportunity to win.

The Blue Devils had Richie Tri on first and Jay Schillaci on second with two out and the score knotted at 9-9 in the bottom of the eighth. 

Tommy Meade hit a ground ball to Pioneers shortstop Phil Tantillo, who opted to go the short way to second to try and force out Tri. The throw was late, and Jay Schillaci’s aggressive base running paid off as he rounded third and came home on the play, narrowly avoiding a tag by Sacred Heart catcher Jeff Heppner to give Central a 10-9 win.

CCSU Head Coach Charlie Hickey recognized the efforts of Epps, but was left unsatisfied by the offense as a whole.

“These guys, we need them to become better,” he said. “And more consistent to have days like today.”

Pitching struggles have been the focus of the season for Central, and this weekend’s efforts were representative of such.  The only hurler to escape the weekend without giving up a run was junior Tyler Riordan, who gave the Blue Devils two innings of relief, allowing no base runners and striking out two.

Junior Chris Chagnon was able to secure the lone victory on the weekend, improving to 4-0 on the season. The rest of the staff did not look sharp against a dangerous lineup, and they were aided by an inconsistent defense.

Tremendous outfield catches were juxtaposed against six errors by Blue Devil infielders. Those miscues resulted in 13 of the 36 runs given up by Central pitching on the weekend being unearned.

Half the runs given up by CCSU during the series came on Thursday night alone. The Pioneers combined for 22 hits off six different Central pitchers.  Sacred Heart went deep three times in the game, driving in nine of their 18 runs via the longball.

In one of the few bright spots in defeat, Blue Devils freshman infielder Angelo Buscemi notched his first collegiate hit in the loss.

The problem for Central was giving up one big inning in each contest. In the first game, a nine-run eighth was the nail in the coffin. In game two, a five-run sixth inning allowed the Pioneers back into the ballgame. In the series finale, a five-run second inning put the Devils behind the eight ball.

“When the game’s not coming that easy, you’ve got to out-work, out-hustle, and out-scrap the other team,” said Hickey. “We were fortunate to get one today. They were the better team today, they were the better team yesterday.”

The Blue Devils travel to Quinnipiac this weekend for another scheduled four-game set against their in-state rivals. 

The teams will play a nine-inning game at 3 p.m. on Friday, a seven-inning doubleheader at 12 p.m. on Saturday, and a nine-inning series finale at Noon on Sunday.

Quinnipiac is currently in last place in the Northeast Conference at 2-6.