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Steelies have nothin’ on Stockton

Steelies have nothin’ on Stockton

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on May 3, 2013 at 7:19 AM

Updated Friday, May 3 at 7:19 AM

Friday, May 3, 2013.

You think the Idaho Steelheads have been resourceful with their 4-1 overtime record in the Kelly Cup Playoffs?  How about their opponents in the ECHL Western Conference finals beginning tonight in CenturyLink Arena?  Stockton coach Matt Thomas downplays the “team of destiny” label, but seven of the Thunder’s eight playoff wins have come in comebacks—all four of their victories against the top-seeded Alaska Aces and three in the first round against Las Vegas.  Stockton is also 4-0 in overtime and has won 10 straight OT games dating back to the regular season.  The Thunder are as confident as they come right now.

The last time the Steelheads made the Kelly Cup Finals three years ago, they also had to get past Stockton to get there.  So here we go again.  In fact, Steelies play-by-play man Will Hoenike points out that the ECHL Conference finals this year are a mirror image of 2010.  In the East it’s Cincinnati and Reading—three years ago the Cyclones rallied from a three games-to-nothing deficit to beat the Royals.  Cincy then topped the Steelheads to win it all.

Every football player at Boise State can be an NFL prospect today.  The Broncos hold their annual Junior Pro Day this morning at the Caven-Williams Sports Complex, and it’s open to the public.  It’s designed for players who are currently juniors and entering their senior season this fall, but all members of the team can participate.  They go through the same drills conducted at the NFL Combine, and it’s often an enlightening experience—for players and fans alike.

National college football writers just can’t wait.’s Chris Burke for one.  Burke has compiled a Way-Too-Early 2014 Mock Draft.  Yes, it is way too early.  But the point is, Boise State will be seeing two of these guys this season, just like last season.  We assume Washington tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins will have his legal woes worked out in time for the season opener against the Broncos.  Burke sees Sefarian-Jenkins going 15th overall in next year’s draft.  His pretrial hearing on DUI charges is May 20.  Burke thinks BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is worthy of the No. 22 overall pick in 2014.  Van Noy record 9½ sacks in the final three games of the 2012 season.  He had just two tackles in the Cougars’ 7-6 loss on the blue turf last September.

Part of the reason for the demise of WAC football was the conference’s inability to talk schools like Montana into moving from the division formerly known as I-AA to I-A.  The NCAA’s 2012 Revenue and Expenses Report released this week shows the Grizzlies must have some astute numbers guys.  Athletic spending at FBS schools last year rose by 10.8 percent, but revenue climbed by only 4.6 percent.  Net loss.  FCS institutions fared a lot better, increasing expenses 6.8 percent while jumping revenue by 9 percent.  Net gain.  When you consider how much money goes into the coffers when Montana sells out a home game with 25,000 fans, the status quo in Missoula is a no-brainer.  The Griz have been the Big Sky attendance leaders every season since Boise State left the conference 17 years ago.

Gary Stevens’ body told him to retire from horse racing in 2005, and it told him to come back in 2013.  And tomorrow he’ll be aboard Oxbow, riding in his first Kentucky Derby since 2005.  The AP story this week on the Idaho native’s physical condition was interesting.  It was chronic knee pain that drove Stevens out of horse racing—he had been taking anti-inflammatories daily for 15 years.  His weight had been on the rise, too.  Once he retired, Stevens got up to 134 pounds, a lot more than he had ever weighed in his life.  In preparation for a return to the saddle, he hired a nutrionist, a personal trainer and a sports psychologist.  The result: a svelte 113 pounds that doesn’t require a lot of monitoring.  “I couldn’t feel better,” said Stevens.

Boise State is a longshot at the 2013 Mountain West Men’s Golf Championships starting today in Tucson.  The 54-hole tournament features an 18-hole round each day and includes all nine conference schools.  The Broncos are led by senior T.K. Kim, who has finished in the top 25 in each of Boise State’s 10 tournaments this season.  Kim, the defending Idaho Men’s Amateur champion, will be back in the valley in time to play U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Ridgecrest Golf Club on Monday.

Graham DeLaet is off this weekend, gearing up for The Players Championship on the PGA Tour next week.  But DeLaet’s former Boise State teammate, Troy Merritt, is at work in the Tour’s Stadion Classic at the University of Georgia.  Merritt had a nice opening round going yesterday until a double-bogey on the 12th hole.  But he still ended up with a two-under 69 and is three shots off the pace.

Greg Patton has lost his top assistant with the Boise State men’s tennis team, as Clancy Shields has been hired as head coach at Utah State.  Shields was one of Patton’s all-time favorite players with the Broncos and morphed into one of his all-time favorite staffers.  Shields replaces Christian Wright, who was fired last fall over NCAA violations after 22 years as the Aggies’ head coach.  With USU moving into the Mountain West in a couple months, Shields will still be able to spend some quality time with his old friends.

This Day In Sports…May 3, 1997:

Gotta run this one.  Idaho native and former Les Bois Park jockey Gary Stevens wins his third and final Kentucky Derby, riding Silver Charm to victory at Churchill Downs.  The one-time Capital High wrestler would take the Preakness Stakes two weeks later, one of three times he won two legs of the Triple Crown in the same year.  Stevens retired from horse racing in late 2005 but returns to the Run For The Roses tomorrow.

(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 93.1 The Ticket.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)