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The Binghamton Senators solidified their future and made some progress on the present last week.
The franchise announced a pair of five-year deals that should keep the team in its current state through the 2011-12 season. The National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators extended their affiliation through that period and the American Hockey League team reached a tentative five-year lease agreement at the Broome County Arena. The lease agreement still requires legislative approval.
Binghamton, mired in last place in the AHL East Division, extended its winning streak to a season-high three games. The Senators were also unbeaten in regulation through four games before falling to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 4-2, Saturday night.
The Senators are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. In the first three years after bringing the AHL back to Binghamton, they reached the playoffs.
The 2004-05 Binghamton team went 47-21-7-5, but was upset by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the second round of the playoffs.
Development has been successful with current Ottawa players Patrick Eaves, Ray Emery, Chris Kelly, Brian McGrattan, Christoph Schubert, Jason Spezza, Antoine Vermette, Anton Volchenkov and Chris Neil all passing through Binghamton.
The organization has struggled to restock Binghamton's roster after moving so many players to the NHL.
Saturday's game brought the rival Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton teams together for the first of five times in 18 days.
The Penguins dominated the shot totals, 47-22, but were stuck in a tie game with 2:20 remaining.
Daniel Carcillo fired the game-winner into the top corner of the net and Kurtis McLean added an empty-net goal in the final second as the Penguins scored on their last two shots after Jeff Glass had stopped 43 of the first 45.
The Penguins led 33-9 in shots, but just 1-0 on the scoreboard after two periods.
"These are the kinds of games that make you a little nervous," Penguins coach Todd Richards said. "We were all over them; the goaltender was playing great; we hit a couple of posts."
Connor James and Matt Carkner gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead, but Josh Hennessy and Neil Komadoski scored third-period goals for the Senators to force the late tie.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Mountain View needed a comeback against Susquehanna Friday night to preserve its perfect record in Lackawanna League Division III boys' basketball with an 85-77 victory.
The Sabers, who are just 3-11 in league play, opened a 44-36 halftime lead and still led by a point heading into the fourth quarter.
The Eagles used a 28-19 advantage in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.
Four players scored at least 20 points in the game.
Robbie Johnson had 29 and Joe Scanlon added 21 for Mountain View.
Brent Keyes scored 25 and Cody Scepaniak 24 for Susquehanna.
Forest City used a strong fourth quarter to pull away for its victory over Blue Ridge and remain in title contention with a 5-1 second-half record.
Jesse Walsh scored 19 points as the Foresters won, 46-31. They outscored the Raiders, 17-9, in the fourth quarter.
Forest City needed a rally earlier in the week to get past Montrose, 48-38.
The Meteors led, 11-9, after one quarter and, 23-22, at halftime.
Walsh scored 12 points and Steve Beautz added 11 in the win.
Dean Moore and Jared Olah led Montrose with 13 points each.
Forest City was scheduled to play Mountain View at home Tuesday night. A win by the Foresters would create a tie for the second-half lead going into the final game of the regular season.
In girls' basketball, Forest City suffered its first two losses of the second half.
Montrose kept alive its slim hopes of a third straight Division III title when it jumped out to an early lead in a 37-26 win over Forest City.
The Lady Meteors took a 10-1 lead after one quarter and built it to 19-7 at halftime while improving their record to 5-1 in the half.
Monica Turner scored 16 points and Caitlin Ely added 15 in the win.
Blue Ridge then knocked Forest City out of the championship race with a 35-31 victory.
Montrose posted an impressive non-league win Saturday when Caitlin Ely hit both ends of a one-and-one with seven seconds left for a 41-40 victory over Athens.
Caitlin Ely finished with 11 points while Monica Turner, who also had eight rebounds, and Brittany Ely had 10 points. Jessica Franklin scored eight points and blocked three shots.
Athens, a Class AAA team from District 4, fell to 17-6.
The District 2 committee received notice that six basketball teams, five girls' and one boys' team, will not be competing in the open district tournaments.
Both winless St. Rose teams declined the chance to participate.
West Side Tech and Mid Valley in Class AA and Freeland MMI in Class A will also sit out the girls' basketball tournaments.
Williamsport, a District 4 member which plays in what are technically District 2-4 Subregional Class AAAA tournaments, will not participate in the girls' event.
Four of the teams are winless in league play while Williamsport and MMI have losing records.
The decisions eliminate a round of competition in both of the small school girls' basketball tournaments.
Class AA is reduced from 18 to 16 teams, eliminating all byes and meaning that each team will go in needing four wins to take the title.
Class A goes from nine to seven teams, eliminating one preliminary round game and giving the top seed a bye in the quarterfinals.
There could be more meetings between Susquehanna County teams when the district tournaments get underway.
Based on records going into the final week of the season, Montrose appears headed for a third or fourth seed in Class AA and a first-round home game with Mountain View, Susquehanna or Lackawanna Trail. Blue Ridge is headed for a seventh seed and could wind up with a home game against Elk Lake.
Forest City currently holds the second spot in Class A, which would mean a likely quarterfinal game against Bishop Hannan.
In the boys' Class A bracket, the absence of St. Rose only reduces the field from 11 to 10 teams. There will be two preliminary round games to set up the quarterfinals.
Susquehanna appears headed to one of the preliminary games, possibly at Freeland MMI.
Forest City and Bishop Hannan are tied for the fourth and fifth spots. The fifth seed would play at the fourth seed in the quarterfinals.
Amanda Vitzakovitch played a key role in keeping alive West Chester University's hot streak in women's basketball.
West Chester has won six in a row to improve its Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference record to 6-1 and its overall mark to 12-10.
The fourth win in that streak came with a 62-61 victory over rival Millersville. Vitzakovitch, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, came off the bench with West Chester trailing, 18-6.
Vitzakovitch helped West Chester outscore Millersville, 21-8, the rest of the half. In the final minute of the half, she hit a 3-pointer then found Katie Kline underneath for the go-ahead basket. Vitzakovitch had seven of her nine points in the first half.
"I like her coming off the bench like that," West Chester coach Deirdre Kane said. "That's a role in which she is comfortable.
"Every player has a role to play on this team and she plays that role to perfection."
Vitzakovitch, who has one start and 21 appearances off the bench, is one of the team's top shooters while averaging 6.4 points. She is 57-for-131 (43.5 percent) from the floor, 18-for-41 (43.9 percent) on 3-pointers and 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) from the line.
While playing more than 18 minutes per game, Vitzakovitch also averages 2.4 rebounds. She has 21 assists and 16 steals.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Lackawanna League basketball season comes to an end this week.
The girls' season ends Wednesday with Forest City playing at Carbondale. Montrose can remain in title contention if third-place Forest City can hand Carbondale its first loss in Division III play.
Mountain View could be trying to complete a perfect season in Division III when it plays at Lackawanna Trail in a boys' basketball game Thursday.
In professional hockey, the Binghamton Senators are at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Friday night in the second of five meetings between the teams this month.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
The Racing Reporter
GILLILAND And RUDD On Sunday’s Front Row, Daytona Beach, FL – David Gilliland and Ricky Rudd, two Robert Yates Racing teammates, will start on the front row in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
What a driver contrast!
Gilliland, whose biggest win was a Kentucky Busch Series race in 2006, had never been on the Daytona track before last Wednesday. But when all 63 cars had finished qualifying, he and his No. 38 M&M’s Ford had earned the pole with a speed of 186.320 mph.
David Gilliland is all smiles after winning the pole for the Daytona 500.
“Man, I can’t believe it,” said Gilliland. “I’ve been pinching myself for the past eight months, and I’m not going to quit anytime soon. The car that all the guys in the shop prepared for me to come out here is just unbelievable.”
Rudd, on the other hand is a seasoned veteran, who came out of a year’s retirement to take over the No. 88 after it was vacated by Dale Jarrett when he decided to race for Toyota.
“What a great way to start the season off,” said Rudd.
This year’s Daytona 500, to be run Sunday, February 18, will have a total purse of more than $18 million, up nearly $3 million from 2006.
The winner will receive $1,443,250, while the runner-up takes home at least $1 million. Even the 43rd and last-place finisher receives $226,295.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is definitely unique. There are three elements: Sunday’s Budweiser Pole Day, which determined the front row, and next Thursday’s two, 150-mile Gatorade Duel at Daytona qualifying races – plus the factoring in of the final 2006 car owner point standings’ top-35.
Sunday’s top-two qualifiers (Gilliland and Rudd) are “locked in.” Everyone else must race for a starting position.
The top-35 teams from the final 2006 owner points also are assured spots in the Daytona 500, leaving what we’ll call a group of “non-35s” on the outside looking in, forced to literally race their way into the 500.
That includes five former Daytona 500 champions: Sterling Marlin, Michael Waltrip, Bill Elliott, Ward Burton and Derrike Cope.
From each of the two Gatorade Duel races, the top-two “non-35” finishers will earn starting spots.
To complete the field, positions 40-43 will be filled by the four fastest non-35 drivers from Budweiser Pole Day who didn’t qualify via their Gatorade Duel finishes. Or maybe… it’ll be the three fastest; if a past series champion has failed to qualify via pole day or the duel races, he’ll get the 43rd and final spot via the Past Champion Provisional.
This year starting spots for the Daytona 500 are going to be harder than ever to come by.
For those increasingly anxious non-35 drivers, the challenge is doubly daunting. Once the Gatorade Duel races begin, the pressure will be on to go flat-out no matter where you started.
Obviously, some very big names are likely to be on the sidelines for this year’s Daytona 500.
Aside from the former 500 champions, here’s a rundown of some others who must race their way into the sport’s biggest event.
Three series veterans with new teams in 2007 – Brian Vickers (Red Bull Racing), Joe Nemechek (Ginn Racing), and Jeremy Mayfield (Bill Davis Racing), all who have won Nextel Cup races.
A talented group of rookies vying for their first Daytona 500 experience – Paul Menard, David Reutimann and AJ Allmendinger.
Finally, 72-year-old driver James Hylton, the 1966 rookie of the year who boasts nearly 30 years of NASCAR racing experience, will try to qualify for his 17th Daytona 500. A Cinderella task, but not unprecedented. In 2006, Kirk Shelmerdine filled that role with his own, small team, earning the 42nd starting spot and finishing 20th in the Daytona 500. His winnings for that race (a career-high $272,008) enabled him to continue funding his team.
STEWART Gets Third Shootout Win, Daytona Beach, FL – Tony Stewart led twice for 11 laps to win Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout. It was his third career win in the 70-lap, non-points paying race, as he earned back-to-back Budweiser Shootout victories in 2001 and 2002.
One person who knew exactly how fast Stewart’s Home Depot Chevrolet could go was Kyle Busch.
Stewart was running second to Busch until lap 62, when the nose of Stewart’s Chevy was an eyelash away from Busch’s rear bumper as the pair raced around turns one and two of the 2.5-mile oval.
“Speed wise, we were unbelievable,” said Stewart. “I don’t think we touched him. It looked really close, obviously, but I don’t believe we touched him. I think that with the way this tire is, if we’d have touched him and sent him up the race track like that, I think he would have crashed for sure.”
After Busch was sent sliding to the top of the track, David Gilliland, who took over driving duties of Robert Yates’ No. 38 after Elliott Sadler abruptly left the team last year, moved into second.
“It was a lot of excitement and a great finish,” said Gilliland. “Our main thing is to get this thing started off with a little momentum, and I really feel like we have a great chance.”
Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, and Scott Riggs rounded out the top-10. Polesitter, Dale Jarrett finished 18th.
GERHART Claims Fifth ARCA Win At Daytona – Bobby Gerhart led 54 of the 80 laps to win Saturday’s ARCA 200 at Daytona International Speedway. The victory was his third consecutive on the 2.5-mile track, and the fifth of his career.
The top-10 finishers: 1. Bobby Gerhart, 2. Marc Mitchell, 3. Jeremy Clements, 4. David Ragan, 5. Frank Kimmel, 6. Timothy Peters, 7. Justin Allgaier, 8. Scott Lagasse, 9. Philip McGilton, 10. Michael McDowell.
NASCAR TV Schedule For Week Of February 14-18
Wednesday, February 14: 12:00 p.m. Nextel Cup Practice; 3:00 p.m. NASCAR Busch Practice Daytona; 4:30 p.m. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Practice.
Thursday, February 15: 11:00 a.m. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Practice; 1:00 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay Duels at Daytona; 2:00 p.m. Nextel Cup Racing Duels at Daytona; 6:30 p.m. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Qualifying.
Friday, February 16: 1:30 p.m. Nextel Cup Practice; 7:30 p.m. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250. All events are on Speed Channel.
Saturday, February 17: 10:30 a.m. Nextel Cup Final Practice; Speed Channel; 1:00 p.m. Busch Series Orbitz 300 on ESPN2.
Sunday, February 18, Nextel Cup Daytona 500, race 1 of 36, 200 laps, 2 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Who is the oldest winner of a Daytona 500 race?
Last Week’s Question: Who is the only driver in this year’s Budweiser Shootout with no previous starts? Answer. David Gilliland, driver of Yates Racing No. 38.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com.
When Elk Lake opened the season in December, sophomore Jeff Madrak was still splitting time between the junior varsity and varsity.
By the time January was over, Madrak was the highest-scoring boys’ basketball player among the 49 teams in District 2.
Madrak led the Warriors to a 9-1 record in January, making him the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
Elk Lake coach John Warnero said Madrak has used a variety of skills to post an average of 20.3 points per game.
“He’s a very good inside-outside threat,” Warnero said. “He can hurt a team from the outside and he also has a good first step. He’s long and lean and can get to the rack.
“He scores on a lot of put-backs. On his free throws, he struggled early, but now he’s up around 73 percent.”
Madrak worked to get better at the free throw line, but it was work he put in away from the gym that has paid off now that he is the type of scoring threat that other teams pursue.
“I’ve run cross country the last two years, basically for basketball,” Madrak said. “I’m not really a runner, but I get my miles in.”
Madrak notices the benefits on the court.
“I feel like I’m in perfect condition,” he said. “Now that teams are guarding me real tight, I’m running around everywhere.
“And, our team likes to get out and run on the fastbreak.”
Madrak is able to keep up the pace throughout the game, just as he has been able to keep up the surprising scoring pace that he first showed in an 18-point, 20-rebound effort against Carbondale during a one-point loss in the Red Wallace Memorial Scholarship Game. Madrak was named team Most Valuable Player in that game and soon became a varsity starter, ending his time on the JV squad.
Madrak also was a member of the JV baseball team as a freshman pitcher and third baseman.
Jeff is the son of Robert and Theresa Madrak of Meshoppen.
The regular meeting of the Susquehanna County Federation of Sportsmen’s Club (SCFSC) was held on January 25, hosted by the Central Conservation Club of South Montrose. The installation of officers was as follows: President, Bob Tiffany of the Central Conservation Club; Vice President, Bill Kasten of the PA Trappers Assoc.; Secretary Joe Morrison of the Harford Rod and Gun Club; and Treasurer, Bill Clark of the South Gibson Sportsmen’s Club.
Meeting agenda items included the reading of resolutions to game laws that had been proposed by various clubs throughout the state. The proposed resolutions were: statewide three-point antler restrictions; the closing of state game lands after dark to non-hunting and fishing activities; legalize the attachment of artificial lights to firearms for nighttime varmint hunting. Delegates will be reviewing them with their respective clubs so that they can be voted on by their membership and provide feedback to the county and state level.
Future agenda items include tentative dates of Federation of Sportsmen’s Club activities, global warming issues, and Youth Field Day.
Next meeting to be hosted by the Rush/Middletown Sportsmen’s Club on February 22, 7 p.m. in the Rush Fire Hall.
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