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The Steelies are determined to keep their guard up

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 3, 2010 at 7:43 AM

 

Monday, May 3, 2010.
 
During the Boise Hawks’ heyday in the mid-1990’s, manager Tom Kotchman created a t-shirt for the team to wear in warmups, with “Complacency Sucks” on the back. The Idaho Steelheads took that thought to heart over the weekend. They were dissatisfied with their focus in the second and third periods of the 4-2 win over Stockton that opened the ECHL National Conference Finals Friday night. There was no second-guessing by the Steelies Saturday night, as they thumped the Thunder 4-0 in Game 2. You can start with the goaltending of Richard Bachman, who notched his first playoff shutout as a pro. Stockton came into the series averaging 4.78 goals per game. In the series against the Steelheads, the Thunder are averaging exactly one.
 
Hmmm, seems like I said something Friday about the Steelheads having not allowed a shorthanded goal the entire season. They still haven’t. But how about scoring two shorthanders of their own in the first period of a playoff game Saturday night? Brandon Kushniruk and Mark McCutcheon tallied them. That’s the ultimate penalty kill—and a significant deflator of Stockton’s balloon. The Steelies now head for Northern California for Game 3 Wednesday night, taking their two games-to-none lead along. And maybe some “Complacency Sucks” t-shirts.
 
As much speculation as there is out there about changes about to befall college football, we know this: nobody knows what’s really going to happen. Here’s Stewart Mandel in his College Football Mailbag at SI.com, responding to a question about Boise State helping the Mountain West if it was added before the next BCS evaluation period: “My guess is the Mountain West has long since studied such a move and would have made a move already if it felt doing so would have worked,” writes Mandel.  “The league has actually shown surprisingly little interest in adding Boise State, which tells me that adding the Broncos might hurt as much as help the league.  While it'd be adding another highly ranked team, that team would now be playing Utah, BYU and TCU.  Somebody's going to lose, which means someone's going to fall or even drop out of the rankings.”
 
There’s a perception that Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson is one of the primary naysayers when it comes to Boise State in his conference. But there are also those who say Thompson is a proponent of a BSU invitation and is trying to convince some reluctant presidents in the league to sign on. It’s not about BCS formulas or pre-emptive strikes against raids by other conferences. It’s about the Mountain West doing one thing it can control—making a move that makes sense. Regardless of what happens the next few months…or year…or two.
 
Coby Karl’s season ended Friday night with Denver’s 112-104 loss to the Utah Jazz in the NBA Playoffs. The former Boise State and Idaho Stampede standout, who was signed by the Nuggets three weeks ago, never did play for his dad George’s team—and never got to play for his dad, who has been away from the team battling throat and neck cancer. Now Coby turns full attention to his father, who was rushed to the hospital Friday afternoon with a blood clot in his right leg.   George’s partner, Kim Van Deraa, blogged that he is okay and could return home as soon as today.
 
The first former Boise Hawk to make his major league debut in 2010 is Josh Donaldson with the Oakland A’s. Donaldson’s first game in the bigs was uneventful—a pinch-hit appearance in Toronto Friday that saw him strike out swinging. But the second game was memorable, as his first major league hit was a two-run home run that helped the A’s end a four-game losing streak in a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays. Donaldson, a catcher, was called up when Oakland’s regular backstop, Kurt Suzuki, went on the disabled list. Donaldson had a big year with the Hawks in 2007, batting .346 with nine home runs. He was traded to the Oakland organization the following summer as part of the deal that sent Rich Harden to the Cubs.
 
Fresno State considers Boise State its main WAC rival in most sports (starting with football, of course). It’s that way in women’s tennis, too, so yesterday must have provided a bitter pill to the Bulldogs. In the WAC championship match on its home courts, Fresno State forged a 3-1 lead only to see the Broncos rally for an improbable 4-3 win and their first-ever WAC title and a second straight berth in the NCAA Tournament. That ended a streak of eight straight conference championships for the Bulldogs.
 
There’s been a transfer of power among Boise State’s Olympic sports. While the Broncos have come to expect titles in men’s indoor track, women’s gymnastics and men’s tennis, there was no hardware in those sports this year. Women’s swimming and women’s tennis ended up carrying the flag. The BSU men’s tennis team was ousted in the WAC semifinals Saturday by Fresno State, which then fell to Hawaii in the title match yesterday.
 
Someday former Boise State star Troy Merritt can tell his grandkids he beat Tiger Woods by a stroke in a PGA Tour event. Whether or not he tells them he and Tiger both missed the cut in the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship is up to him. Merritt posted a pair of 76’s in the first two rounds to earn his early exit. Woods suffered through the worst 36-hole score of his professional career to miss a PGA Tour cut for only the sixth time. 
 
This Day In Sports…May 3, 1936:
 
A big Yankee day, as Joe DiMaggio makes his major league debut. The Yankee Clipper had three hits as New York bombed the St. Louis Browns, 14-5. DiMaggio would play 16 seasons in the bigs, retiring after the 1951 season. His 56-game hitting streak in 1941 is one of sports’ unbreakable records.
 
(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.)

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