Wednesday, May 12, 2010.
How’s that for a rally? The Idaho Steelheads spotted Stockton a 2-0 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes in Game 6 of the ECHL National Conference Finals last night. That appeared to be a bad omen, as the Thunder had been 4-0 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs when leading after the first period. But the Steelheads exploded with four second period goals—three of them spelling “hat trick” for John-Scott Dickson—and they rolled into the Kelly Cup Finals with a 7-5 victory over the Thunder. Stockton staged a third period surge of its own and pulled to within 6-5 with less than 2½ minutes left, but an empty-netter by Marty Flichel sealed the four games-to-two series win. The Steelies are batting .429 for Kelly Cup Finals appearances…that’s three in seven seasons since joining the ECHL. The other two berths, of course, resulted in championships.
It was important for the Steelheads to get that one out of the way last night. Had the series gone to a seventh game (and had the Steelheads won it), they would have had to play four games in five nights, as the Kelly Cup Finals will begin Friday night in Qwest Arena. On the other hand, the Steelies will be hosting a tired bunch, whoever that bunch is. The Cincinnati Cyclones have recovered from a three games-to-none deficit to force Game 7 tonight against the Reading Royals. Cincy won last night, 6-3. The challenge will be in the stands, as Steelheads fans have to reach into their pockets at least two more times Friday and Saturday. Nice problem to have, though.
Rumors are rampant regarding the tipping of the scales in college sports. Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska and Rutgers to the Big Ten, anyone? But the fact that it’s just based on those proverbial “highly-placed sources” right now suggests you lend a cautious ear. Even if the Big Ten is about to take a big plunge, so many things can happen as the dominos fall, it’s way too early to get all worked up about what it means to Boise State. The Broncos’ eventual landing spot will depend on what develops at the higher levels—and there are too many scenarios to count. If what is being floated out there about the Big Ten is true, things will unfold at warp speed over the next six weeks anyway. And Boise State won’t have much control over it.
The initial story about the Big Ten making offers to the four aforementioned schools came from WHB Radio in Kansas City. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany then sent an e-mail to all his conference schools debunking the rumor, saying there was not truth to it. That doesn’t stop major outlets from reaching out to slurp up some of the wandering speculation. ESPN.com’s Graham Watson even reported on a far-fetched Newark Star-Ledger idea for five 16-team conferences, with Pac-10 expansion including Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, Colorado, UNLV, and San Diego State. It’s a fun read by someone with too much time on his hands, but it’s not anything to be taken seriously.
While Boise State’s performance on the football field doesn’t guarantee it a spot in any new college sports hierarchy, it does put cash in the school’s academic coffers. The Arbiter, BSU’s campus newspaper, reports that the Boise State Bookstore is returning $750,000 to the university this fiscal year in support of student scholarships and endowments. The bulk of that comes from merchandise sales spurred by the Broncos’ undefeated run through the Fiesta Bowl. The take is close to the $800,000 returned by the bookstore following the Broncos’ first Fiesta Bowl victory three years ago.
Now that former Boise State star Daryn Colledge has re-signed with Green Bay, fans back there want him to become “current Packer star.” When you get into NFL media and fan bases, it can get brutal. And that’s the way it is for Colledge, as impatient Pack faithful want to see some All-Pro glimmers out of him after the ups and downs of the 2009 season, his fourth with the team. Despite the new one-year, $1.759 million contract, Colledge will have to fight for his starting left guard job with Jason Spitz, and possibly T.J. Lang, and possibly incoming fifth round draft pick Marshall Newhouse out of TCU.
The College of Idaho has some more waiting to do. Is the Coyotes’ baseball season over, or is it not? The final NAIA Coaches' Poll has been postponed to today. It’s a critical indicator of the NAIA’s National Championship Opening Round (a precursor to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston). The nine Opening Round host sites are supposed to be announced tomorrow night, with the bracket to be released Friday.
There was a pitching matchup of former Boise Hawks in the majors last night. The Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco and the Cubs’ Randy Wells both threw solidly, and Nolasco got the best of it. Florida won 3-2, with the ace of the Hawks’ 2002 Northwest League championship team holding the Cubbies to one run on five hits over seven innings as he improved to 3-2 on the season. The Cubs wasted a strong effort by Wells, who pitched eight innings and allowed three runs on just four hits. He had eight strikeouts and issued just one walk, but fell to 3-2.
This Day In Sports…May 12, 1970, 40 years ago today:
Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub”, hits his 500th career home run in a game against the Atlanta Braves. Banks hit 512 homers all told—still one of only 25 players ever to go over 500. He led the National League in dingers twice: in 1958 and 1960. Banks loved the game; you can still hear him saying, “Let’s play two!”
(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.)