Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jamie McBain: Top 10 Hobey Baker Finalist, leaving the Badgers

I'm super behind on this - so much so that I didn't even see the news over the weekend and thought I was on the ball and told the boyfriend on like Tuesday and he thought there was new news because I asked if he'd heard. Ouch.

That being said, congrats Jamie, on being named to the top 10 list.

Thanks to 60 min. No Regrets. No Alibis. for pointing out this awesome highlight video of McBain's goals, assists and hits this season.

Here's another scouting video

Jamie is the eighth Badger -and the first defenseman - named to the Hobey top ten list and he's the only WCHA player on the list this season.

Along with that good news is the sad news that McBain will be leaving Wisconsin to go pro. He signed a contract and will be heading to Albany to join the AHL River Rats, the Carolina Hurricane's top affiliate, to finish out their season. story here on the departure.

According to this AP report, "The entry-level deal will pay McBain an average of $600,000 per year at the NHL level and $62,500 in the minors. There is also a $255,000 signing bonus for McBain, picked by Carolina in the second round of the 2006 draft."

There seems to be little doubt that Jamie will be a contributor in the majors. Carolina has to be happy with the player they're getting and his profile on their site is nothing but positive. Check it out here.
"Since he plays in college and hasn’t yet been able to attend a Hurricanes training camp, Jamie McBain tends to fly under the radar when considering the team’s brightest prospects.

That should change in an awful hurry, because McBain, who is a genuine Hobey Baker candidate for collegiate player of the year as a junior defenseman at Wisconsin, should be considered one of the best."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Congratulations Wisconsin Women's Hockey, 2009 National Champions

Congratulations to the Badger Women's Hockey Team on winning their third National Championship in fourth years!

They defeated the Mercyhurst Lakers 5-0 with five different players scoring those points.

I think it's ok to say that we've officially established a dynasty.

Brooke Ammerman opened the scoring early in the second period. She had the puck on a beautiful pass just to the left and outside the crease which she whiffed on, looking as though she'd missed a perfect scoring chance. However, in the melee that followed, she picked up the puck, took it around the back of the net and back-handed it into the other side around an out-of-place Mercyhurst goalie.

Megan Duggan than put in a rebound shot.

A few minutes later, Angie Keseley put in a beauty on a give and go from Erika Lawler.

Defender Malee Windermeier scored just her second goal on the season on a long shot in the third period and Hilary Knight scored her school record 45th goal of the season (which also leads the nation) to close out the scoring and put away the game for the Badgers.

Vetter had a career-high tying 37 shots and earned her 39th career shutout. It was also her 14th shutout this season, an NCAA record. She was named MVP of the Frozen Four on the back of saving 65 of 66 shots faced.

Breaking News: Dominic James to play today

It was on the front page of the Sports section today and now there's even more information on the Marquette blog on, so I'm just going to give you the whole thing...

Read the whole story here, but the gist is that he had no pain or swelling despite the fact that he kept intensifying his workouts. They allowed him to do a stationary bike and pool workouts from the get-go and he was cleared to play late yesterday.

"I knew it was going well, especially with how fast my strength was being regained," said James. "I thought Dr. Gertel was being a little bit too optimistic, saying that he still thought I could play. But just like any other time I bought fully into it."

With the possibility of his return a reality as the team headed out west, James pushed the limits even further once in Boise under the supervision of the medical staff. He graduated from pool work, stretching and cardio to two individual workouts on Friday, the second with assistant coach Dale Layer after MU's 58-57 victory over Utah State.

"It was a pretty brutal workout," James said. "He really tested me."

It looks like he'll be playing three minute spurts and will be helped by the longer timeouts that come from the NCAA tournament being televised.

Things are looking up for Marquette today.

Maybe I'm being sentimental, but I just think it's so cool that he is getting a chance to be a part of this in his senior year. You know McNeal will benefit from James' presence and the adrenaline should really help push MU against the fast-paced Missouri Tigers.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Women's hockey team to play for National Championship

The first women's team to ever play in the National Championship game four years running, the Lady Badgers will play for their third title in four years tomorrow afternoon.

They will face Mercyhurst, who beat Minnesota in the other semi-final match.

Hilary Knight and Erica Lawler each scored a power play goal and Patty Kaz winner Jessie Vetter had 29 saves in the 5-1 victory. Kyla Sanders added the fifth point.

UWBadgers.comBlogger: Cute Sports - Create Post story here

The women's Frozen Four is in Boston this year and much is being made about many of the UW ladies' roots in New England.

This article from The Boston Globe talks about Ericka Lawler, Megan Duggan and Hilary Knight.

From the article: "

It's been a nearly flawless run for Lawler, the fast, fierce forward from Fitchburg who left Cushing Academy for the Midwest four years ago, taking a risk in leaving everything familiar behind to go to the big university in Madison. The rewards have been great: This is the fourth Frozen Four for the 5-foot senior captain, and she scored a pair of power-play goals in the second period to jump-start the Badgers.

Knight, a sophomore from Hanover, N.H., also scored two power-play goals and added two assists to boost her nation-best point total to 81. She collected her 43d and 44th goals, setting Wisconsin record.

And Duggan, a junior from Danvers who followed Lawler from Cushing to Wisconsin, collected three assists."

The coverage started even before the win and Duggan had some really flattering things to say about UW: "

"I didn't know much about the school," Duggan said. "They fly you out for your official visit and I was kind of starstruck. It's an unbelievable campus, it's a beautiful city, I love Madison. They won the national championships the year before I got there. I knew the hockey was a powerhouse and it's just an unbelievable university.

"Anyone that goes out to Madison and gets the tour on the University of Wisconsin campus is going to think the same thing. I heard from a bunch of people from home that they didn't go out there because they were afraid they'd never come back.

"I guess that happened to me. It's hard to leave home and be away from my family but it was definitely the right decision for me."

Jessie Vetter wins Patty Kaz Award!

The story is here on the Badgers' website and includes a photo gallery.

From the story:

Vetter has had an illustrious career at Wisconsin that includes multiple NCAA records and nearly every UW goaltender record. Along with her individual accomplishments, Vetter leads UW into the NCAA title game for the fourth consecutive year, where she holds a 10-1-0 record in NCAA tournament appearances.

Although Vetter has proven her abilities throughout her career, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award recognizes the student-athlete for their performance that year. This season Vetter set a new NCAA record for career shutouts (38), season shutouts (13) and career victories (90). She ranks second in the nation with a 1.29 goals-against average and leads the nation in minutes played (2281:51) and save percentage (.940).

Off the ice, Vetter has been involved in the local community. She has made presentations at multiple schools including Taylor Prairie, Waunakee Arboretum Elementary and St. Jerome. Further, she participated in the Easter Seals golf fundraiser and visited the Ronald McDonald House.


Vetter is Wisconsin's second winner of the Patty Kaz - Sara Bauer won it in 2006.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What was MLS thinking?

Today is arguably one of the busiest sports days of the year. This year, it's even busier with the inclusion of the World Baseball Classic. But even the WBC was smart enough not to schedule the USA for tonight, knowing they'd get no ratings against the first night/day of March Madness.

In addition to those two, it's also the first night of college hockey tournaments. And while I know we college hockey fans are a small crowd, my guess is that we outnumber MLS fans nationwide. Think of this weekend as similar to conference tournaments in basketball where the winners get automatic bids to the 16 team tournament that leads to the Frozen Four and the National Championship.

So why, oh why did the MLS choose to open their season tonight of all nights?

A Thursday night opener is odd to me to begin with. It's as though they realized that Friday and Saturday this weekend were out due to the tournament, but didn't think about the fact that games are played on Thursday, too.

Here's a confession: I know very little about the MLS and I'm a life-long soccer player and fan. I just can't get into it. In an given week I watch at least one or two EPL or UEFA games from across the ocean, but I never, ever watch MLS games on TV. I've been to just one - the All-Star Game a few years ago in Chicago against Chelsea.

Frankly, it's late and I really don't care that much, so I can't be sure that there's not a precedent for this day, or the third Thursday of March, or Thursday's in general, but even if there were, I think I'd forgo all precendent to not play my season opener (and Seattle's very first MLS game EVER) the same night that everyone else in the country is busy watching someone else. I do know last season started on a Saturday, which leads me to believe that this year is special.

If you're going to do a weeknight anyway, why not do last night, Wednesday, when little else was going on?

And if I'm not a big soccer fan to begin with, this kind of lack of forethought just gives me more reason to think that soccer's not a real sport. I can hear detractors saying that if the MLS were for real and if soccer in America wanted to be taken seriously, they would know better than to try and find themselves an audience tonight.

You just don't mess with March Madness. No matter whether they've watched a single college game or not, every person in America gets swept into the whole tournament/bracket fever. Ladies who don't know a double-dribble from a travel and guys who don 't know Morehead State from North Dakota State suddenly fill out brackets and join pools.

March Madness is as universal as the Super Bowl in terms of wide appeal.

What was the MLS thinking?

Jamie McBain, WCHA Player of the Year

Congrats to Badgers junior defenseman Jamie McBain who was announced as WCHA Player of the Year today.

The conference announced their awards today. Obviously with McBain's POY title, he was also named first-team all-conference.

Here's the paragraph from their release:
"WCHA Player of the Year Jamie McBain, a junior from Faribault, Minn., was also named to the All-WCHA First Team. One of the nation's premier players at both ends of the ice, he led all WCHA defensemen with 28 points in league games and ranks among the nation's leaders in defensemen scoring. A two-time WCHA Offensive Player of the Week and an National Player of the Week, he is on pace to become just the fifth Badger in school history to lead the team in scoring as a rear guard. Heading into the Final Five, he had 7-29-36 in 38 games overall."

McBain's stock had fallen a bit in the final weeks of the season as he had failed to score, leaving many to say that he had disappeared when his team needed him most.

Jamie did score in the final weekend at home and, with this award, has once again solidified his place in the conversation about the Hobey Baker Award.

Additionally, freshman Jake Gardiner was named to the WCHA All-Rookie team

Memphis almost choked

I'll admit my vindictive side was doing a happy little dance with a few minutes left in the Memphis-Cal State Northridge.

I would have had a great time rubbing that loss in my brother's girlfriend's face (she attends Memphis). I would have gloated and laughed and generally enjoyed the huge upset.

Sadly, I can't do any of that.

But for a few minutes today, my vindictive side was living on the edge!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And I thought I was a big Brewers fan...

I was walking my dogs today here on the East Side and we saw this truck parked on one of the side streets. I hurried them back home so I could grab the camera and capture this, since words would not do it justice!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Badger Men defeat MN State 4-2, advance to WCHA Final Five

After last night's bombarding 7-1 victory, tonight's 4-2 win seemed like a grinder. Yet, aside from a late-game barrage, it felt like the Badgers had control of the entire match.

Midway through the final period, the announcers on my broadcast commented that Minnesota State had not changed their game plan. I think they were saying that the Mavericks hadn't panicked, but it also made me wonder why, when you lost 7-1 yesterday and were down 3-1 here, you would not change your game plan.

Either way, the Badgers sweep and head to Minnesota next week as the three seed in the WCHA Final Five.

Badger Women headed to Frozen Four

The Badger women's hockey team will be headed to their fourth straight Frozen Four starting next Friday in Boston after a dominating quarterfinal victory over Dartmouth today.

Afterward, the Dartmouth coach seemed a little stunned:
“Wow, Wisconsin is pretty good,” Hudak said with a nervous laugh. “We made seven or eight mistakes and they scored on seven of them.”

Patty Kaz finalist Jessie Vetter made 32 saves and helped completely blank Dartmouth's number two in the nation power play unit over five opportunities.

The shut out was Vetter's 38.

Hilary Knight had a career-high six points, scoring two goals and adding four assists.

Angie Keseley added a hat trick and two assists.

From the JSOnline recap:

"Knight, who entered the day second in the nation in goals per game (1.11) and points per game (1.97), scored two goals and added four assists. She had both goals and three assists in the first two periods as UW built a 5-0 lead.

Lawler, who entered the day No. 1 in the nation in assists with 39, recorded a goal and two assists.

Vetter stopped 32 shots to set an NCAA record for shutouts in a season with 13. She added to her two all-time NCAA marks, victories (89) and shutouts (38)."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Marquette loses in final second of Big East Quarterfinals

Marquette just lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, losing by one point in the final second to Villanova after having been down by 16 at half.

I listened on the radio, so I can’t tell you the possible fouls on our ballhandler in our final possession or how one gets a simple layup blocked in the final 12 seconds to give the ball back to the other team when you’re up by just one point.

All I know is that MU made a huge comeback, had plenty of opportunities to give themselves a little breathing room, and couldn’t do it. Villanova traveled in the final minute and gave Marquette the chance to have a three point cushion, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t do it.

Jimmy Butler had a career day and was the difference in the game. Once again, the team lived by the three and climbed out of a huge hole. Had they won, it would have been the biggest comeback in tournament history and would have been MU’s second history-making game in a row.

What could have been….

I read the other day that with the exception of two “Was Going to Win It All, Anyway” teams, the winner of the Big East conference tournament has not faired well in the NCAA tournament.

It’s safe to assume that the five or six straight days of high-level competition heading into the tournament is not the best way to prepare a team for a stretch run to the Final Four.
So I’ll take this near-victory as a taste of what this team is capable of and hope it means they can use it as motivation and pull things together for the NCAA tourney.

Plus, this was a great showing for this team and should leave a solid impression on the minds of NCAA Committee members when they’re seeding the Golden Eagles.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Memphis: No Really, We Played A Tough Schedule

Conference USA is SO deep, in fact, that no other team in the conference had a guy nominated for the conference's Sixth Man of the Year award.

The award went to Memphis' Wesley Witherspoon who missed six games and who's stats - 4 points-per-game and 2.2 rebounds-per-game - are less than impressive. It was such an underwhelming run for the award the Witherspoon himself said not only was it not a big deal, but he didn't deserve.

Seriously - no other team in Conference USA had a guy that came off their bench that they felt was worthy of a nomination against Witherspoons' behemoth stats?

But really, the Tigers want you to know that they deserve a number one seed.

Marquette making a statement?

Marquette just set a Big East tournament record by holding St. Johns to just 10 points in the first half of their game today. MU went to the locker room leading 38-10.

It's all the more impressive when you realize that Jerel McNeal played just 9 minutes in that half and had just 3 points. Even if he plays all 20 second half minutes, it will be his lowest minutes all season.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jessie Vetter Named in Final Three for Patty Kaz Award

The final three were named today for the Patty Kazmaier Award and Wisconsin's Jessie Vetter is on the list.

As the Sixty Min blog says, Jessie is the best goalie in NCAA women's history - period.

However, Hilary Knight and Erica Lawler, who were in the top ten, were snubbed and a legitimate argument can be made for Knight, who is one of, if not THE top forward in the country.

Sixty also points out that ladies from Minnesota - you know, the other top team in the land - also got left off the list.

I suppose it would be unlikely that two Badgers would make the list, but it still seems a little shifty that Vetter's the only player from the top two teams in the country to make the top three.

Here's the paragraph on Vetter from the Patty Kaz site:

Vetter has backstopped the Badgers to unprecedented success throughout her career. This season, she has been in net for all but one game and has posted 30 wins. Her 12 season shutouts, 37 career shutouts and 88 career wins all set new NCAA records. The Badger alternate captain holds a 30-2-5 record and ranks second in the nation with both a .936 save percentage and 1.33 goals-against average. Her .878 winning percentage is fourth in the NCAA, while her 2162:16 minutes are the second most. Vetter, a First Team All-WCHA honoree, garnered all-tournament team accolades and was named the WCHA Final Five Face-Off MVP en route to helping Wisconsin capture the WCHA playoff championship and the top seed heading into the NCAA tournament.

There's seriously no legitimate reason that Vetter shouldn't win this award. Her stats are undeniable, she holds all kinds of records and her team just beat the other best team in the country to win the conference.

Brewers Facts and Trivia

On October 12, 1982, Paul Molitor had a World Series game for the ages. Batting leadoff against the host St. Louis Cardinals, Molitor became the first player to tally five hits in a World Series game as the Brew Crew defeated the Cardinals 10-0.

What Paul Molitor tripled against the Royals' Jose Rosado for this 3,000th hit, he became the only player in history to reach the milestone with a three-bagger.

When Brewers Charlie Moore hit for the cycle against California on October 1, 1980, he not only recorded four hits against four different pitchers, he also stole two bases in the game.


Who was the first Brewers player to be named a starter in an MLB All-Star Game?

Who was the first Milwaukee Brewers player to appear in an MLB All-Star Game?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Badger Men's Hockey takes Third in WCHA

After an absolutely awful few weeks of the season, the Badger men ended on a spectacular high note, beating McNaughton cup winners North Dakota Saturday. Derek Stepan scored two short-handed goals in one penalty kill (and had more than one chance to make a natural hat-trick short-handed) and the Kohl Center was louder than I'd heard it in a long time - probably not since 2006's championship run.

With the win, Wisconsin gets home ice for the WCHA tournament.

The weekend changd the final standings

Alaska-Anchorage threw the biggest wrench in plans when it swept Minnesota-Duluth. Had Duluth done the sweeping, they would have been in a tie with Wisconsin and CC with 31 points. Had they merely split, they would have tied with Minnesota with 29 points and I don't know the tie-breakers, but could have possibly been looking at home ice.

Minnesota-Mankato won one and tied one with St. Cloud State, keeping St. Cloud off home ice by one point.

Final WCHA Standings
1. North Dakota - 38 points
2. Denver - 36 points
3. Wisconsin - 31 points
3. Colorado College - 31 points
5. Minnesota - 29 points
6. St. Cloud State - 28 points
7. Minnesota - Duluth - 27 points
8. Minnesota - Mankato - 25 points
9. Alaska - Anchorage - 23 points
10. Michigan Tech - 11 points

Badger Women's Hockey Wins WCHA

Congrats to the ladies for winning their fourth title in five years.

More than once this season I have said how much it sucks for the Badgers that in a season where they were undefeated more than halfway through the season and have just a few losses (I'm at work and can't access the internet to find the exact number - thank goodness Blogger's a Google company so I'm allowed access) that not only is another team in the country having a stellar season - but it's a team in the same conference.

The records that Minnesota and Wisconsin have compiled are incredible and not close to being matched anywhere else in the country. In any other season, either team would be dominating everyone else. Unfortunately for both teams, they're doing it in the same season.

The two teams met in a WCHA playoff yesterday that the Badgers won 5-3 to take the conference crown.

The Badgers were in the tourney no matter what, but now snag the automatic bid and will host someone at the Kohl Center, likely this Saturday afternoon, to start the NCAA tourney.

How hard is it to buy tickets for single games at Busch Stadium?

I have now been on the phone for over an hour attempting to speak with someone in order to purchase tickets to visit Busch Stadium in St. Louis over the weekend of May 15-17.

Apparently the Cards don't do single game tickets sales in house - they use After having sat on hold for 15 minutes I hung up and called back to the Stadium. I was then transferred to a ticket office where they told me that they couldn't help me, they only sell group tickets. They transferred me back to the same line where I sat on hold again.

I needed to speak to someone as the number of tickets I wanted were not available in the section I wanted and I was looking to see if I could get front and back as opposed to side by side.

I found it ridiculous that their ticket office told me "we can't help you." I told the guy that I couldn't believe how difficult it was for me to buy tickets to come visit them from out of town.

Maybe I'm overreacting, but I had an easier time buying tickets for Wrigley on the day single game tickets went on sale for the Cubs.

I think I'm just spoiled by the Brewers.

Between the poor customer service and the price of tickets, this whole experience made me appreciate what we've got going here.

For four people to go to two games in May, sitting way upstairs I paid $264.
Of course, for less than that I got a 20-game pack to see the Brewers....

While searching for information, I came across a article that talked about all the cheap tickets and deals the Cardinals had this season. Of course, all those deals are only available Monday-Thursday.

I already knew we had it good here in Milwaukee, but this just made me all the more thankful for Miller Park!

Who would have thought?

No one expected Marquette to win all five of their final games with the brutal schedule they faced, but no one expected them to lose all five, either.

I was hoping for two wins - one against Syracuse and one upset among the big four other teams.

Is there anyone out there who expected the loss of Dominic James to have this much of an impact? Of all the guys on the floor, I would have imagined his role would be the easiest for other players to fill. His speed is unmatched - pretty much anywhere but I certainly didn't foresee this complete drop off the face of the planet that the Golden Eagles have done.

It's unfortunate. This team had a lot of talent and a lot of potential, but it looks like the end of the line may have already been reached for this team. It's unlikely that they'll make noise in the Big East tournament and though they'll likely get into the tournament, I can't see them advancing past the first or second round.

It's a far cry from the promising start of the season...

Gagne released

The Milwaukee Brewers released veteran reliever Eric Gagne today. Gagne's injured shoulder is going to need rehabilitation and he has decided to pursue that rehab at a private facility.

While he was a long shot to make the roster, I was rooting for Gagne to make it back to Milwaukee.

Not only was Gagne another veteran presence in the bullpen, but his charity work was unmatched by any player on last year's team.

A team can't pay for the kind of community leadership that a guy like Gagne brought to the clubhouse. He led the team last season in charitable giving, including a single $50,000 donation to the MACC Fund, the largest single donation they've ever received.

That team-leading donation total did not include the large-scale ticket purchase he made for the Thursday night game during the final week of the season. This game will be remembered for Ryan Braun's walk-off grand slam and it was a sell-out thanks to Gagne.

With a team full of young, stud players who are likely to have long careers, its important to have veterans showing them how to be good community citizens.

It was clear after the season that Gagne was embarrassed by his performance and was looking to make amends this season. It’s a shame that he won’t get that chance. It seems unlikely that after injuries last season and this Spring Training, as well as his poor performance in 2008, that he’ll be able to make another comeback.

And that’s a loss for whatever community he would be pitching in.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Gallardo signs

Details aren't out yet, but with Yovani signing, all members of the 40-man roster are now under contract for teh 2009 season.

No more info, but the prelim. report here on the JS website

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Brewers Spring Training Updates

The Journal has had a string of articles highlighting individual players on the roster that's worth checking out.

Ryan Braun

Prince Fielder

J.J. Hardy

Mike Cameron

Corey Hart

Bill Hall

Rickie Weeks

Trot Nixon and Chris Duffy

Manny Parra

Bench Players - specifically Mike Lamb and Craig Counsell

Also, draft pick Brett Lawrie, who was a catcher when drafted, obviously realizes that Rickie Weeks' position is tenuous at best and the Brewers have no options behind him in the minors, because he asked the team to let him become a second baseman.
____ has a list of position battles and highlights Bill Hall's not-so-solid position as the team's second baseman, mentioning Mike Lamb, Craig Counsell and Mat Gamel has other options.
____ says Tony Gwynn, Jr. could be out for a month with his shoulder impingement.

The Brewers signed Carlos Villanueva and Mike Rivera to one-year deals, leaving Yovanni Gallardo as the only pre-arby (and really, the only guy on the 40-man) without a contract.