Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's Saturday!

Welcome to the weekend. Here's what's happening....


Hockey Playoff Roundup ----


Last night --

Western Conference Semifinals

Chicago 7, Vancouver 4 (Chicago leads series 3-1)

Eastern Conference Semifinals

Philadelphia 5, Boston 4 OT (Boston leads series 3-1)

Tonight --

Eastern Conference

Montreal at Pittsburgh 7:00pm EDT (Series tied 2-2)

Western Conference

Detroit at San Jose 10:00pm EDT (San Jose leads series 3-1)


WHL Championship Finals

Last Night --

Calgary 4, Tri-City 1 (Calgary wins series 4-1

OHL Championship Finals:

Windsor beats Barrie 4 games to 0

(Note: Windsor, defending Memorial Cup Champions, open play at 2010 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Brandon, Manitoba against the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday, May 14th)

QMJHL Championship Finals:

Last night --

Saint John 3, Moncton 2 OT (Series tied 2-2)

Tonight --

Moncton at Saint John 7:05pm EDT

USHL Clark Cup Championship Finals:

Last night --

Green Bay 4, Fargo 3 3OT (Fargo leads best-of-five series 2-1)

Tonight --

Green Bay at Fargo 8:05pm EDT (Fargo leads best-of-five series 2-1)



For the third straight time in the best-of-five series, the road team won the game as Gamblers forward Ryan Furne scored 1:38 into the third overtime to keep his club alive in the quest for the Clark Cup. It was the first win of the series for Green Bay as Force now holds a 2-1 advantage in the Clark Cup Finals.

Fargo captain Chase Grant got the already energized capacity crowd on their feet when he scored a little more than three minutes into the first period. Again, Green Bay out-shot the Force in the first frame, 11-7, but the Force has scored first in each of the three games so far.

Anders Lee evened the game scoring his eighth of the playoffs at 1:38 of the second period. Gamblers captain Patrick McCadden then gave his club their first lead in the series when he netted his second of the postseason and Green Bay went into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead.

Matt Leitner tied the game at 2-2 when his pass attempt redirected and slipped past Gamblers goaltender Steve Summerhays. Four minutes later, Chase Grant netted his second of the night to re-gain the lead for Fargo when his shot from the side of the net bounced off Summerhays and trickled across the goal line. Fargo's captain now has three multi-goal games in the playoffs.

Fargo appeared to be on their way to celebrate their first ever Clark Cup title, but the Gamblers weren't finished. With their goaltender pulled in favor of the extra attacker, Anders Lee fired home his second goal of the game, with just 49 seconds remaining to tie the game at 3-3 and send it to overtime.

Force goaltender Ryan Massa continued his stellar play in the postseason turning away 17 shots through the first two overtimes, but it was to be Green Bay's night when Furne scored his sixth of the playoffs and send the series to Game Four which will be played on Saturday night at the Urban Plains Center. Summerhays made 29 saves to earn the victory for the Gamblers.

Force fans set a new attendance record at the Urban Plains Center as 5,191 people packed the building to witness a thrilling triple-overtime contest. Although 101:38 minutes of game action was played, it was not the longest game in playoff history. That was a four-overtime contest between the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Lincoln Stars on April 12th, 2002, which lasted 126:15.



OAKLAND -- If this keeps up, the Tampa Bay Rays might refuse to go home when their nine-game road trip officially ends Wednesday in Anaheim.

Left-hander David Price allowed just two hits and one unearned run over 7 2/3 innings, and the Rays remained perfect on this road trip with a 4-1 victory Friday night over the Oakland A's.

The Rays are 4-0 on this trip and 13-1 overall on the road this season. They became just the fifth team in Major League history since 1900 to start 13-1 or better on the road. The last team to do that was the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who won their first 17 road games, setting a Major League record. And by the way, at 22-7 the Rays own the best record in baseball.

"I remember that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the '84 Tigers' road streak. "I remember that well. It's wonderful to be compared statistically to that group. That was a pretty good ballclub. We're off to a good start. Our guys kind of like what's going on right now."

What's not to like?

After sweeping the Mariners in Seattle, the Rays won the opener of their three-game set with the A's.

The Rays' confidence level is higher than the federal deficit.

"We expect to win every game," Price said. "Bottom line. It doesn't matter who we're playing. That's the attitude you have to have, and that's the attitude we're taking right now. We're pressing that issue right now."

Price improved to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.91, outdueling A's starter Gio Gonzalez, who allowed three runs and three hits over seven innings. Price struck out six and walked four. He has allowed three runs or less in all six of his starts this season. The Rays' starters are now 18-3 overall.

"Of course David's the story," Maddon said. "When you get that kind of starting pitching once again. We only scored four runs because their guys were good, too. In the beginning a little bit shaky with the command, then all of a sudden he settles in and then he just takes off."

In his previous start against Kansas City, a no-decision, Price threw 52 pitches in the first two innings, allowing four hits and two runs as he struggled with his fastball command. But over his final four innings, he held the Royals hitless.

Against the A's, Price needed just 56 pitches through the first five innings. He gave up an infield single to Ryan Sweeney in the first, a sharp leadoff single to Adam Rosales in the second and an infield single to Cliff Pennington in the eighth that loaded the bases with two outs.

Rays lefty Randy Choate came on to face Daric Barton. He grounded to third baseman Evan Longoria, who threw high to first for an error, pulling Carlos Pena off the bag, as Jake Fox scored from third, cutting the lead to 3-1. Choate then retired Ryan Sweeney on a ground ball to shortstop Jason Bartlett.

"I wasn't too impressed with my pitching tonight," Price said. "I screwed myself in the eighth. I was thinking about the ninth when I was out there, and it got me tonight. It's frustrating. It's very frustrating. ... Choate did a great job. He's so tough on lefties. He's doing a great job for us."

Maddon did a great job filling out the lineup. He gave Sean Rodriguez a start at second base and kept Willy Aybar in as the DH after a two-hit game Thursday against Seattle.

Aybar drove in the Rays' first run in the fourth with their first hit off Gonzalez. Rodriguez smoked a two-run double in the seventh off Gonzalez, a pitcher he faced often in the minor leagues and in high school in Miami, putting the Rays ahead 3-0.

The Rays' hitters came into the game on fire. They had scored 168 runs, the most in the AL, and had racked up 23 in a three-game sweep of Seattle.

Gonzalez must not have heard. He held the Rays to one hit and one run through the first six innings.

Longoria led off the fourth with a walk then tagged up and took second on Pena's deep fly out to left-center. Aybar then lined a single to right, scoring Longoria.

"Good at-bat," Maddon said. "He didn't' try to pull the ball. I like that."

In the seventh, Gabe Kapler had a one-out single, and Dioner Navarro walked, bringing Rodriguez, the No. 9 hitter, to the plate.

Rodriguez had struck out in his two previous at-bats, but this time he ripped a two-run double over the head of center fielder Rajai Davis. He was thrown out at third, trying to stretch a double into a triple, but the damage was done.

"I played against him the last three years in the minor leagues," Rodriguez said of Gonzalez. "I played against him in high school. We get along well, though. We always have good battles against each other. He's going to definitely call me soon."

Rodriguez said he had missed some good pitches to hit his first two at-bats.

"I just told myself to stay aggressive," he said. "I got one of those good pitches that I had been missing."

This time, Rodriguez didn't miss, and the Rays, as usual, won on the road.

Eric Gilmore is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



TAMPA -- Aaron Garcia's 3-yard touchdown pass to Sale Key with 35 seconds left gave the Jacksonville Sharks a 46-43 with over the Tampa Bay Storm Friday in an Arena Football League game, but it was Dee Webb's defensive play with 22 seconds remaining that sealed the win.

Tyronnne Timmons' 11-yard reception from Brett Dietz had given the Storm (2-3) a 43-38 margin with 1:13 remaining.

A Tampa Bay onside kick saw the Sharks penalized, but on the second play from the 3-yard line, Garcia found Key for the game-winning score. Backup quarterback Bernard Morris off the snap on an extra point kick ran the ball in for a two-point conversion.

Jacksonville (4-1) took a 38-37 lead with 7:21 on the clock and thanks to linebacker Eric Ortiz' interception of the Sharks' two-point conversion, helped the Storm back in the game.

DeAndrew Rubin collected a 21-yard reception at 13:01 of the 4th period to give the Storm a 37-32 lead.

Storm defensive back Deonte Bolden had three pass breakups and an interception in the first half, but did not start in the second half because of dehydration. He play sparingly in the third period but then Rubin played the most defense of the season for the outstanding back.

Dietz had a pair of touchdowns at halftime, but added three more in the second half and collected 293 yards on 22 of 35 passes. He was intercepted twice in the first half by Webb and Micheaux Robinson.

Garcia, a perennial all-star in the 15 years he has been in the league, was 27-44 for 342, yards and 5 touchdowns. He was 12 of 19 in the first half with 159 yard.

Tampa Bay, now 2-3, are on the road next Saturday to face the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings. Kickoff on 1250AM WHNZ is set for 8:05pm EDT.


DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Talk about a glutton for punishment.

Less than six weeks removed from ACL surgery on his left knee, Denny Hamlin opted for a weekend double at the track he considers one of the most grueling on the NASCAR circuit.

So far, so good. Staying out on old tires while other contenders came to the pits under caution on Lap 123, Hamlin held off teammate Kyle Busch, who also stayed out, to win Friday night's Royal Purple 200 at Darlington Raceway.

Hamlin led the final 63 of 147 laps in winning his 10th race in the Nationwide Series in his second start of the year. On Saturday night, he'll start eighth in the Showtime Southern 500 Sprint Cup race.

"Great race car," Hamlin said in Victory Lane. "Congratulations to [crew chief] Kevin Kidd. This is his first win with Joe Gibbs Racing after taking over for Dave Rogers. When you have a car that drives as good as this one did [Friday], it makes your job a whole lot easier."

After tonight's Sprint Cup race, action shifts to Dover next weekend. The Nationwide Series races Saturday at 2:00pm EDT on ABC and the Sprint Cup Series races Sunday at 1:00pm EDT on FOX.

Coming up:

Nascar Sprint Cup Series at Darlington, 7:30pm EDT tonight on FOX

Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland A's, 4:07pm EDT on 620AM WDAE

USHL Clark Cup Finals Game 4, Green Bay Gamblers at Fargo Force, 8:05pm EDT tonight.


That's it for today. Have a great weekend!

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