Minor League Hockey Playoffs

hockey

It’s playoff time and here are the latest playoff results in the minor leagues:

ECHL (First Round – Best of 7)

  • Manchester Monarchs 2, Adirondack Thunder 0
  • Brampton Beast 1, Reading Royals 1.
  • Orlando Solar Bears 2, Florida Everblades 0
  • Greenville Swamp Rabbits 2, South Carolina Stingrays 1
  • Toledo Walleye 2, Kalamazoo Wings 0
  • Ft. Wayne Komets 2, Quad City Mallards 0
  • Allen Americans 1, Utah Grizzlies 1
  • Colorado Eagles 1, Idaho Steelheads 1

American Hockey League  (First Round – Best of 5)

  • Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. Providence Bruins
  • Lehigh Valley Phantoms vs. Hershey Bears
  • Syracuse Crunch vs. St. John’s IceCaps
  • Toronto Marlies vs. Albany Devils
  • Chicago Wolves vs. Charlotte Checkers
  • Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Milwaukee Admirals
  • San Jose Barracuda vs. Stockton Heat
  • San Diego Gulls vs. Ontario Reign

Federal Hockey League (Finals – Best of 5)

  • Danville Dashers 2, Berlin River Drivers 2

Southern Professional Hockey League (Semifinals – Best of 3)

  • Macon Mayhem vs. Pensacola Ice Flyers
  • Peoria Rivermen vs. Huntsville Havoc

Junior Hockey Leagues

North American Hockey League (First Round – Best of 5)

  • Aberdeen Wings 2, Minot Minotauros 0
  • Minnesota Wilderness 1, Brookings Blizzard 1
  • Aston Rebels 2, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights 0
  • New Jersey Titans 2, Johnston Tomahawks 0
  • Janesville Jets 2, Coulee Region Chill 0
  • Fairbanks Ice Dogs 2, Minnesota Magicians 0
  • Lone Star Brahmas 2, Wichita Falls Wildcats 0
  • Corpus Christi Ice Rays 2, Shreveport Mudbugs 0

United States Hockey League (Conference Semifinals – Best of 5)

  • Chicago Steel 2, Youngstown Phantoms 0
  • Dubuque Fighting Saints 2, Muskegon Lumberjacks 0
  • Sioux City Musketeers 2, Des Moines Buccaneers 0
  • Waterloo Black Hawks 2, Fargo Force 0

Western Hockey League (Round 2 – Best of 7)

  • Kelowna Rocekts defeated Portland Winterhawks 4-1
  • Seattle Thunderbirds defeated Everett Silvertips, 4-0
  • Regina Pats defeated Swift Current Broncos, 4-3
  • Medicine Hat Tigers 3, Lethbridge Hurricanes 3
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Nightwatch Drop Home Opener To Atlanta


The Nashville Nightwatch hosted the Atlanta Hustle in their American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) home opener on Saturday night at Hunter Lane High School in front of over 175 fans.  After playing even in the first quarter, 9-9, the Nightwatch had some key turnovers to allow the Hustle to open up an 18-14 lead at halftime which the Nightwatch could never overcome.  The Nightwatch fall to 0-2 on the season.  

The Nightwatch looked promising in the first quarter with some tight play but was unable to sustain it throughout all four quarters in the loss.  The team also looked out-of-synch at times and not the fluid play they had at the end of the 2016 season.

The Nightwatch will host the Jacksonville Cannons next Sunday at noon.

I’m not really a fan of the move to Hunter Lane High School in North Nashville.  The field is awful and the home side must deal with looking directly into the sun until the sun sets.  We ended up moving over to the shade on the visitors side.  It also seems a lot further away from downtown.  Last years’ Overton High School location was better but still too close to the interstate.  Let’s just say that I am glad I didn’t get season tickets.

Also, I was totally not a fan of the announcer and the music.  The music was almost unbearable and a terrible selection to play.  The Mario Brothers and Simpsons sound effects are totally outdated and would do better to calm it down.  Honestly, I almost left before the game even started because of the annoying loudness of the music.  

My observation after the first home game is that much improvement is needed on and off the field.  

Friday Flashback: Atlanta Braves’ New Home Openers

braves

For only the third time since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, they will open a new stadium tonight against the San Diego Padres at the 41,000-seat SunTrust Park located in Cobb County on the Northwest side of downtown.

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (1966-1996)

The Braves played their first game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on April 12, 1966.  A sellout crowd saw the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Braves 3-2 in 13 innings.    The Braves had threatened to win the game in the 11th inning when they loaded the bases against Pirates’ reliever, Don Schwall but Schwall got the last two batters out on a strikeout and force out at second base to end the threat.  Willie Stargell hit a two-run home run in the 13th to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead.  The Braves tried to comeback in the bottom half of the inning when Joe Torre hit his second home run of the game to cut the lead to 3-2 with one out but Schwall struck out Denis Menke and Lee Thomas grounded out to hand the Braves a loss in their first home opener in Atlanta.  The Braves went on to finish 5th with a record of 85-77.

Turner Field (1997-2016)

After the 1996 Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, Olympic Stadium was converted into the Braves’ new home for the 1997 season.   The Braves opened Turner Field on April 4, 1997 with a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs in front of 45,044 fans.

Trailing the Cubs, 4-3 in the eighth inning, Kenny Lofton got on base when his ball was misplayed by Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston which allowed Jeff Blauser to tie the game at 4-4.  Two batters later, Chipper Jones hit a two-out single which scored Mike Mordecai to put the Braves in front, 5-4.  Mark Wohlers shut down the Cubs in the ninth to give the Braves their first win at Turner Field.

The Braves finished the 1997 season with a 101-61 record for first place in the National League Eastern Division.  They lost the National League Championship Series to the Florida Marlins.

Facts about SunTrust Park:

  • Highest percentage of seats closer to the field than any other ballpark in Major League Baseball (MLB)
  • Expanded protection from foul balls
  • New playing surface called “Seahorse Paspalum, Platinum TE which is similar to Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Miami’s Marlins Park.
  • Instead of a stand-alone Braves museum, the new park will have a Monument Garden.
  • Water feature similar to Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field.
  • 5,500 more parking spaces than Turner Field

 

 

 

Can Predators Repeat Last Year’s Playoff Magic?

NHL: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators

I will answer that question in the first sentence:  No.  They will not have the kind of playoff run they had last year when they stunned the Anaheim Ducks in seven games and pushed the San Jose Sharks to game seven before being eliminated.

The Nashville Predators open the first round series with the Chicago Blackhawks.   I simply don’t think the Predators are good enough to beat Chicago or advance any further this year.  Everyone around here is talking Stanley Cup but I’m just being real about it.  Yes, I am a Predators’ fan but I refuse to get my hopes and emotions ramped up.  I learned my lesson from the Super Bowl.  Last year’s playoff run was fun but it is not reasonable to think it will the same this year.

First, the Predators are not consistent on defense.  They have too many breakdowns and turnovers in the defensive end.  P.K. Subban has not been the defensive star that I expected him to be when they traded for him last summer.  He spends too much time trying to rip shots from the point than getting back on defense.

Second, the team is not consistent on offense either.  They have some players that can put the puck in the net but too many times they take low percentage shots or make poor passes.  I have found myself yelling to them too many times to “shoot it” when they hold onto the puck too long or make one too many passes.  James Neal, Filip Forsberg, Mark Fisher, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson can score goals but there doesn’t seem to be consistency.   The Predators will often outshoot their opponents but have nothing to show for it.  This could also be Fisher’s last playoff run.  It is expected that he will retire at the end of the season.

You also can’t expect Pekka Rinne to stop everything.  Eventually he is going to get beat.  The defensive breakdowns are killing him.

Throughout the season, the Predators have played close games.  No lead is safe with this team.  They know how to play close games but they often know how to lose close games too.

As far as this series with Chicago, I am predicting the Blackhawks to finish the Predators’ season in five games.

 

 

Nashville Sounds Begin 40th Season In Nashville

nashville-sounds

The Nashville Sounds hit mid-life as they enter their 40th season in Nashville.  Today they have their home opener at First Tennessee Park against the Oklahoma City Dodgers.  Sounds fans will remember that the Dodgers eliminated the Sounds in the playoffs last year.  The Sounds today’s home opener with a record of 2-3 after a season opening series at Round Rock.

The Sounds began play in the Southern League in 1978.  They finished their first season with a 64-77 record as the affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds.   In 1979, the Sounds went 83-61 and won the league title over the Columbus (GA) Astros.

The Sounds have won three league titles in their existence.  In addition to the 1979 title, they also won the Southern League title in 1982 over the Jacksonville Suns.  They won the Pacific Coast League (PCL) championship in 2005 over the Tacoma Rainiers.  The Sounds have reached the postseason 14 times and have won ten division titles and two conference titles.

They have gone through several affiliations with Major League Baseball (MLB) teams.  They have been affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds (1978-1979, 1987-1992), New York Yankees (1980-1984), Detroit Tigers (1985-1986), Chicago White Sox (1993-1997),  Pittsburgh Pirates (1998-2004), Milwaukee Brewers (2005-2014) and Oakland A’s (2015-2016).

Stump Merrill had the best winning percentage as the Sounds’ manager from 1980-1981 with 178 wins and 108 losses.  The Sounds had their best record in franchise history (97-46) in the 1980 season.

Some of the most notable players to have played with the Sounds and went on to Major League careers are:  Rob Dibble (Pitcher, 1987-88), Doug Drabek (Pitcher, 1984), Trevor Hoffman (Pitcher, 1992/2009), Barry Larkin (Shortstop, 1989), Don Mattingly (First Baseman/Outfielder, 1981), Willie McGee (Outfielder, 1980-81), Otis Nixon (Shortstop, 1981-82) and many others.

The Sounds have had two homes in Nashville.  They began at Herschel Greer Stadium and moved to the new 8,500-seat First Tennessee Park in 2015.   The new stadium is really one of the nicest minor league parks in the country.

Although some have hinted at bringing a Major League team to Nashville, I really don’t see that happening anytime in the near future.  I would like to see a better alignment in AAA where there weren’t any separate leagues but just one AAA league.  The Sounds are definitely a “big league” minor league team as they begin their 40th season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Blast Rallies To Win MASL Title

blast

Trailing 6-3 in the third quarter of Game Two of the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) championship and already trailing the series 1-0 playing on Soles de Sonora’s home turf, the Blast made an amazing comeback when Adriano Dos Santos tied the game with 11 seconds left.  Juan Pereira scored the game-winning goal in overtime, 9-8, to tie the series.

The teams then played the series-deciding 15-minute mini-game where Vini Dantas clinched the winner in front of over 8,000 fans at El Centro de Usos Multiples in Mexico.

Goalkeeper William Vanzela was tough for the Blast in both games and made a huge save in the mini-game on a shot from Sole de Sonora’s Gustavo Rosales with 1:08 left.

With their second consecutive MASL title, the Blast have now won nine championships in franchise history.  After losing to Harrisburg at home in the first game of the playoffs, they went to Harrisburg and rallied from a 3-0 deficit in Game Two before winning in a mini-game.  Against the Milwaukee Wave in the Eastern Conference final, the Blast also won in a mini-game to advance to the Ron Newman Cup final.

Baltimore Blast Championships:

  • 1984:  Defeated St. Louis Steamers, 4 games to 1.
  • 2003: Defeated Milwaukee Wave 2 games to 1
  • 2004: Defeated Milwaukee Wave 3 games to 0
  • 2006: Defeated St. Louis Steamers 2 games to 1
  • 2008: Defeated Monterrey La Raza 14-11 (One-game final)
  • 2009: Defeated Rockford Rampage 13-10  (One-game final)
  • 2013: Defeated Missouri Comets, 2 games to 0
  • 2016: Defeated Soles de Sonora, 2 games to 0
  • 2017: Defeated Soles de Sonora, 2 games to 1

 

 

It’s Time To Pay The Man

irsOne of my favorite episodes from the Andy Griffith Show was the one where Andy continued to tell Aunt Bee to call the repairman in Mount Pilot to fix the freezer.  Thinking it was too expensive, she tried to get others like Gomer to fix it cheaper.  Andy kept telling Aunt Bee to “call the man”.

Today, I have come to the day where we have to “pay the man”.   The man is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  I’m not real happy right now to pay the man.  I had our taxes figured out back in late January but was floored by the amount we owed this year.  It totally knocked me out.  I put it off hoping that something would happen to help us in paying this bill.  As of this moment, that has not happened.  It appears we will be making monthly installments to the IRS however they deem it to be.

A couple of bad financial decisions doomed us this year.  It wasn’t until we received the tax bills for those decisions that I realized the mistake and it was too late.

So I keep hearing the talk about tax breaks for the middle class.  Is this ever going to become a reality or yet more talk that politicians make to get elected?   Instead, we get taxed more and higher each year.

I will be honest with you here and tell you that I delayed in paying because I prayed about it and asked for divine help.  Something.  I wasn’t necessarily looking for a handout but extra money in some way to help.  I hate to admit this but that help never came and, as of right now, my prayer has not been answered.  I do still believe God will answer it even after I have filed the taxes and begin paying  the installments.  I’m certainly not going to criticize Him or feel stupid about praying about this.  All I can do is believe and do the next thing.  Right now the next thing is to pay the man.

The biggest lesson learned that I will share with you, if at all possible, never take money out of your retirement early.  You will suffer some serious penalties for doing so.  If you withdraw any funds before you are 59 1/2, not only will you get hit with 10% on an early distribution but the taxable amount will also be included in your taxable income.

If you take it out now, the man will get it later.

I hear that some people do actually get refunds.  I need to figure out how to do that.  Will my homeowner’s association allow me to have a couple of cows on the patio so I can get a tax write-off for agriculture?  Can I count our cat as a dependent?  She sure acts like a child and I’m always having to scoop her litter box and buy her cat food.

Taxes are extremely unpleasant.  They make our paychecks smaller and we have to fill out these ridiculous forms that we can barely understand and hope we don’t make a mistake.

I just hope the man is happy.