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How big was that for the Stockton Thunder last night?

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on May 6, 2010 at 7:24 AM

Updated Thursday, May 6 at 10:20 AM


Thursday, May 6, 2010.
The drama mounted as the game chugged over the four-hour mark last night. Either the Idaho Steelheads were going to send Stockton to the brink, or the Thunder were going to have new life in the ECHL National Conference Finals. It was the latter, as Stockton’s Ryan Constant scored a power play goal 36 seconds into the third overtime for a 1-0 win to end the longest scoreless tie in ECHL playoff history. The Steelheads, who had piled up 29 goals in their first six playoff games, were held to zero in Game 3. A very rejuvenating turn of events for the Stockton Thunder.
The Thunder’s bad karma changed to good karma on their home ice. They recorded only 14 minutes of penalties in over 100 minutes of play—and just two roughing penalties—after letting their emotions get away from them in the first two games of the series at Qwest Arena. Stockton also inserted Bryan Pitton between the pipes instead of Andrew Perugini. Pitton made 49 saves in as impressive a shutout as he may ever have. The loss by the Steelheads ends their six-game postseason winning streak—and their six-game streak on the road in Stockton. Now both teams, exhausted after playing what almost amounted to a doubleheader last night, have to recharge in time for a pivotal Game 4 tomorrow night.
How was your Cinco de Mayo? It was indeed a very special day on the calendar. Ah yes, it marked the halfway point between the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Boise State’s Labor Day date with Virginia Tech. So the Broncos are comin’ down the other side toward their most prominent regular season game yet. And the heat can’t get here soon enough. Only 50 degrees yesterday? BSU needs to acclimate itself to the oppressive air it’ll experience at FedEx Field—the sooner the better. There’s no way to duplicate that humidity here, though. Not unless the coaching staff shuts the doors of the Caven-Williams indoor facility, cranks the heat up to 90, and turns on giant vaporizers during fall camp.
If you look at it this way, the made-for-ESPN game against Virginia Tech is exactly four months from tonight. So, where is the hype-o-meter for this event compared to Georgia five years ago and Oregon last year? I’d say it’s a little further along, since the national media have added the wild card of Boise State contention for the BCS Championship Game into the mix. In 2005, the Broncos were coming off an unbeaten regular season and a close loss to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl, and many experts were putting the cart before the horse in picking BSU to take down Georgia in Athens. In contrast, their musings looked a lot better a year ago. They predicted that, with a win over the Ducks, the Broncos would run the table and go to a BCS bowl. Now, are the pundits painting the Boise State-Virginia Tech game accurately? Four months, baby.
Former Idaho star David Vobora, claiming his image has been “permanently tarnished,” has sued the maker of a supplement spray he used that triggered a positive drug test for a banned substance last year. That brought Vobora a four-game suspension from the St. Louis Rams. He says he researched the spray and checked it out with colleagues and with the company that produces it, SWATS. Mitch Ross, the owner of SWATS, says there is no banned substance in his spray and suggests that Vobora may have ingested it through other supplements. Vobora goes into training camp this summer as a starting linebacker for the Rams, two years after being anointed “Mr. Irrelevant” as the final pick in the NFL Draft.
Received this just before posting today’s column: Idaho Stampede coach Bob MacKinnon has stepped down after just one season on the job. The press release from the Stampede says it’s “by mutual agreement between him and the team.” Managing investor Bill Ilett says he’d like to find a new head coach "in the next 45 days.” MacKinnon was 25-25 this season as the Stampede missed the D-League Playoffs.
Former Boise Hawk John Lackey faced his former L.A. Angels teammates last night for the first time as a member of the Boston Red Sox. And Lackey was just as the Halos remember him—very, very good. He went seven innings and allowed just one run on two hits as the Red Sox topped the Angels, 3-1. Lackey had spent his entire eight-year career with L.A. of the A.L. before signing with Boston as a free agent in December.  The 6-6 righthander hadn’t been that sharp at Fenway Park until last night, though. He went into the game with a home field ERA of 6.06.
Around the valley campuses: in college baseball, the College of Idaho meets Oregon Tech today in the first round of the NAIA West Postseason Tournament in Vancouver, BC. The 13th-ranked Coyotes are gunning for a berth in the opening round of the NAIA World Series. If the Yotes lose the opener, it will be three days of twists and turns, as it’s a double-elimination tournament. NNU’s baseball season is over, by the way. The Crusaders went 29-20 and were second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, their highest GNAC finish ever. In men’s golf, Boise State finished seventh at the WAC Championships in Henderson, NV. Idaho was fourth, while New Mexico State won its third straight championship.
It’s not an official major, but the Players Championship is often called “the fifth major,” and former Boise State star Troy Merritt has made the field. Merritt was the first alternate and was added to the tournament yesterday when two-time TPC champion Fred Couples withdrew. Merritt is looking to bounce back after missing the cut last week at the Quail Hollow Championship. He had a $435,200 payday the week before, though, finishing third at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Merritt’s former Bronco teammate and fellow tour rookie, Graham DeLaet, did not make the field.
This Day In Sports…May 6, 1931:
A day I make a note of every year—the day the “Say Hey Kid” was born. Willie Mays is 79 years old today. Mays broke in as a 20-year-old rookie with the New York Giants in 1951, made the most famous catch in World Series history in 1954, and had the best years of his career in San Francisco after the Giants moved West. He ended up with 660 career home runs—fourth on the all-time list behind godson Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Willie was the most complete player in the game’s history.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)