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Local Sports Scene

Athlete of the Month
Robinson Authors Two New Books

County Girls Help Northern To UNICO Soccer Cup Victory
By Tom Robinson

SCRANTON -Mountain View's Gina Cicco and Kristin Repchick and Forest City's Danielle Nebzydoski were all in the starting lineup for the Northern Tier team that defeated the Southern Tier in a shootout in Sunday's UNICO Soccer Cup girls' all-star game at Scranton Memorial Stadium.

The teams played to a 1-1 tie in regulation time before the Northern Tier won the shootout, 4-3.

Cicco started as an outside defender while Repchick was at midfield. Nebzydoski was the stopper.

Montrose defender Danielle Finch, Forest City midfielder Christina Kane, Blue Ridge defender Fallon Lawson and Mountain View's Katelyn Briggs also played for the winning team, which was coached by Mountain View's Patti Walker.

Honesdale's Kayla Hartley scored on a penalty kick with 10 minutes left in the first half to force the tie, then made the deciding shot in the shootout.

Delaware Valley's Hanna Kyle was selected as the game's Most Valuable Player after making 13 saves in regulation time and two more in the shootout.

All the Southern Tier scoring came from Abington Heights players.

Lori Matthews scored on a header off a Jessie Fox corner kick 4:42 into the game. Fox, Matthews and teammate Melody Lyon scored on the first three tries to give the Southern Tier a 3-1 lead in the shootout before the Northern Tier made its final three shots.

North Pocono's Emily Doyle, Western Wayne's Sydney Fahrenbach and Honesdale's Grace Manzione were the other players to connect in the shootout.

The Southern Tier fired off 15 shots in the final 20 minutes to finish with a 29-8 lead. It also led, 8-4, in corner kicks.

The game was interrupted with 1:54 left in regulation because of lightning and rain. It resumed and proceeded through the end of regulation to the shootout.

The weather problems continued, stopping the boys' game twice before it was called off, still scoreless with five minutes left in the half.

Montrose's Dan Lukasavage coached the Northern Tier boys' team which included Elk Lake's Beau Marshall, A.J. Lunger and Dan Copes; Forest City's Stanley Vitzakovitch, Matthew Powell and Stan Pizanski; and Mountain View's Jordan Davis.


WILKES-BARRE - The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins ended seven years of Calder Cup finals frustration and saved their season twice with wins over the Chicago Wolves Friday and Saturday night at the Wachovia Arena.

The Penguins, playing in the American Hockey League's championship series for the third time since 2001, are trying for their first championship. The title hopes seemed unlikely when the Penguins fell behind three games to none, extending a championship series losing streak to nine games, including the final two of the 2001 series against Saint John and a four-game sweep by Milwaukee in 2004.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton then became the first team in Calder Cup finals history to trail, 3-0, but recover to force a Game Six.

After losing twice in Chicago and getting blown out, 6-1, in their first home game of the series, the Penguins recovered to squeeze out a 3-2 victory in Game Four. They followed it up with a 5-1 win in Game Five Saturday.

"We really found out this team is not going to give up," Chicago's Bryan Little said after watching the Penguins rally Saturday.

The Penguins opened the series trying to erase 3-0 deficits in the first two games. They closed within a goal in each game, but never tied.

After the first game at home, the Penguins had to find a way to erase a 3-0 deficit in games. The consecutive wins also closed that deficit to one.

"You have to believe," Penguins coach Todd Richards said. "You have to have hope.

"That's what keeps you going."

Saturday's win was the team's first completed comeback of the series. It again kept the team going, all the way back to Chicago.

After being scoreless for more than 31 minutes, the game loosened up quickly with three goals in 3:16.

Little gave Chicago a lead that lasted just 1:15 until Tim Wallace made a strong rush up the right side to set up Dave Gove in front.

Connor James beat Wolves defenseman Brian Fahey up the left wing and went right to the net for the game-winning goal at 14:36.

"Connor James comes in about 2,000 miles per hour and makes a beautiful shot in the top corner," Chicago coach John Anderson said.

The Penguins needed less than five minutes to add to their lead when defenseman Mark Ardelan broke for the net on a power play and wound up in just the right spot for a rebound with 31 seconds left in the second period.

Luca Caputi scored at even strength and Ben Lovejoy connected on the power play in the third period to complete the scoring.

Curry made 33 saves in the win.

Dave Gove and Nathan Smith each had a goal and an assist on the power play in Friday's win.

Smith scored the game-winner 2:21 into the third period when he tried to send a pass through the crease from the goal line on the right side. Smith's pass hit the skate of Wolves defenseman Brian Sipotz and wound up behind goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

The game-winner resulted after Chicago's Darren Haydar scored two power-play goals in the second period to erase a 2-0 Penguins lead.

Chris Minard scored for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton nine seconds into a 5-on-3 advantage in the first period. Gove deflected a Ben Lovejoy wrist shot to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead in the second period.

After taking the lead, the Penguins held on by stopping the Wolves on two power plays in the final 13 minutes without allowing a shot on either.

"A big part of the game for us was the kills we had late in the third period," Richards said.

Chicago replaced its three-goal head starts with an even more effective streak in Game Three.

The Wolves put together a franchise playoff-record five second-period goals – all in succession, in a span of less than 11 minutes.

At that point, Anderson was hoping his team was on the brink of a title.

"Part of winning a championship is getting the other team down a little bit," Wolves coach John Anderson said. "I think we did that (Wednesday)."

Jesse Schultz helped the Wolves shake off a rough first period Wednesday by scoring two goals in the second period.

Pavelec kept the Wolves in the game in the first period by stopping breakaways 1:19 into the period and with 1:13 remaining. The Penguins had a 12-5 lead in shots but came away with just a 1-0 lead – on Kurtis McLean's power-play goal.


Keystone College's Kim Kwitoski was a second-team North Eastern Athletic Conference all-star selection as an outfielder.

The junior from Montrose was Keystone's second-leading hitter with a .337 average.

Kwitoski batted leadoff and helped the team defensively by committing just one error all season. She led the team with 19 runs scored while finishing second in hits (34) and tied for second in RBIs (nine). She stole five bases.


If a Game Seven is needed in the Calder Cup finals, it will be Thursday night at Chicago.

The Penguins needed a road win in Game Six, which was scheduled for Tuesday night, in order to force a deciding game.

In professional boxing, Lackawanna College, the former Scranton CYC, will be the site of an ESPN2 card Friday night.

Among the fights featured are: cruiserweights, Francisco Palacios (14-0-0, 7 KOs) vs. Ola Afaolabi (12-1-3, 5); welterweights, James De La Rosa (15-0-0, 11 KOs) vs. Jermaine White (16-3-0, 8); heavyweights, Jason Gavern (14-4-2, 7) vs. Muaiheed Moore (4-3-0, 3); and middleweights, John Mackey (9-0-0, 3) vs. Joshua Snyder (6-3-0, 3).

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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By Gerald Hodges

The Racing Reporter

Kahne Wins From Pole At Pocono, Long Pond, PA – Polesitter Kasey Kahne overcame a pit road miscue that sent him to the rear of the field to win Sunday’s Sprint Cup Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Kasey Kahne, winner of Sunday's Pocono 500.

Kahne had pitted for fresh tires, but a mix-up between his pit crew left him with some loose lug nuts and he had to pit for a second time. When he returned to the track, he was 38th.

“We had already knocked a couple lugs off the left side, and he had to come back in for us to put another set of tires on,” said crew chief Kenny Francis. “He did a great job of digging us out the hole we put him in.”

It was Kahne’s ninth career Cup win and the second of this season.

“I’ve never had a car that dominant,” said Kahne. “This car stayed the same and was so good all day long. I wanted to take my time there at the end, but I saw the 11-car coming and I knew how good he is, and it was time to go.”

Kahne’s margin of victory over runner-up Brian Vickers was nearly 4 seconds.

“I really thought we had the best car there at the end, but we just didn’t have any tires,” said Vickers. “The team did it all last night and today, because we were just a bucket yesterday in practice.”

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran near the leaders for most of the race, but as the laps wound down in the 200-lap race, he was unable to keep up and finished fourth.

Early in the race Kyle Busch, who was running back in the field, had an encounter with the outside wall. Busch attempted to move up the track, but the No. 26 car driven by Jamie McMurray was occupying the spot. Busch bounced off him and into the wall, damaging the front of his car. Busch had to pull his car into the garage area while his team made repairs.

He was able to return to the track, but finished last in the 43-car field.

Top 10 finishing order: 1. Kasey Kahne, 2. Brian Vickers, 3. Denny Hamlin, 4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 5. Jeff Burton, 6. Jimmie Johnson, 7. Kurt Busch, 8. Matt Kenseth, 9. Carl Edwards, 10. Mark Martin.

Top 10 Cup Chase contenders after 14 of 36: 1. Kyle Busch-2084, 2. Burton-2063, 3. Earnhardt-1939, 4. Edwards-1856, 5. Hamlin-1800, 6. Johnson-1799, 7. Biffle-1781, 8. J. Gordon-1767, 9. Kahne-1719, 10. Harvick-1690.

Keselowski Wins In Music City – Brad Keselowski, driving for car owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. raced to his first Nationwide series victory Saturday night at Nashville Speedway. He passed Clint Bowyer with five laps to go, and easily went on to win.

Top 10 Busch Series leaders after 15 of 35: 1. Bowyer-2198, 2. Reutimann-2032, 3. Kyle Busch-2010, 4. Edwards-2008, 5. Keselowski-2006, 6. Bliss-1899, 7. Ragan-1895, 8. Stremme-1789, 9. M. Wallace-1779, 10. Leffler-1719.

Top 10 Craftsman Truck leaders after 9 of 25: 1. Hornaday-1302, 2. Crafton-1257, 3. Benson-1247, 4. Bodine-1237, 5. Sprague-1231, 6. Crawford-1231, 7. Skinner-1202, 8. McCumbee-1176, 9. Cook-1164, 10. Starr-1145.

Are Independent Tracks On The Way Out? “The days of the independent NASCAR track owners have all but passed,” is the way a Dover Speedway stockholder described his track’s current situation

“Dover Motorsports will never be able to achieve the operating performance of International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motor sports, Inc. The combined strength of the industry leaders leaves the company at a permanent competitive disadvantage in regards to sponsorship dollars, operating margins and infrastructure. It is simply not possible for a single Sprint Cup series track to produce the results of a large portfolio of similar tracks. More time and additional patience cannot change this fact. Both ISC and SMI can operate the Monster Mile more profitably than Dover Motorsports will ever be able to.”

Apparently there is a lot of politics when it comes to deciding whether a race track stays or goes.

Who should make that decision, NASCAR or the individual tracks?

When the sanctioning body pulled the Cup race from Rockingham, the track had to shut down and was sold. It has since been bought by Andy Hillenburg, who plans to run smaller ARCA RE/Max events.

Jeff Gordon even got into the act last week when asked about the Pocono Raceway, another independent facility. Gordon said he loves the owners, Joe and Rose Mattioli, but he isn't in love with the track.

“It's outdated and needs a ton of upgrades,” Gordon said. “The fact that it's in the Northeast is a positive, but I'm shocked it has had two [Sprint Cup] races as long as it has. I'd be surprised if it stayed that way for the future, just because of other markets where we need to be.”

Bruton Smith, who now owns seven tracks with 11 Cup dates, announced last week he had purchased Kentucky Speedway. During the signing, he said the track would soon host a Cup date.

Smith wants to buy another facility that has Cup races so he can move a race to Kentucky Speedway. He also wants a second date for his Las Vegas Speedway.

In addition to 12 sanctioned tracks, the International Speedway Corporation owns and operates MRN Radio, the nation's largest independent sports radio network, and subsidiaries which provide catering services, food and beverage concessions, and produce and market motorsports-related merchandise under the trade name "Americrown."

In addition, ISC has an indirect 50 percent interest in a business called Motorsports Authentics, which markets and distributes motorsports-related merchandise licensed by certain competitors in NASCAR racing.

Is it any wonder that these two Goliath companies can call the shots on where a race track should be located?

Next Week: Richard Childress Racing Teams.


The Cup and Truck teams will be at the 2.0-mile Michigan Speedway, while the Busch teams are at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.

Saturday, June 14: Craftsman Trucks Cool City Customs 200, 2:30 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.

Saturday, June 14: Busch Series Meijer 300, 8 p.m. TV: ESPN2.

Sunday, June 15: Nextel Cup Lifelock 400, 12:30 p.m. TV: TNT.

Racing Trivia Question: Where is Robby Gordon’s home town?

Last Week’s Question: What year did Matt Kenseth win the NASCAR Winston Cup championship? Answer: He was the 2003 champion.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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Athlete of the Month
By Tom Robinson

After four years, three district championships and a state title, Erin Keene knew what it meant to be trusted with the responsibility of pitcher on the Blue Ridge softball team.

Keene said she considered the assignment of pitching for Blue Ridge – and  coach Bob Pavelski – to  be an honor.

Although a less-experienced lineup helped lead to the Lady Raiders falling short of their usual accomplishments, Keene's presence helped make sure the Blue Ridge softball team was still the most successful of the Susquehanna County spring sports teams.

The Lady Raiders won the Lackawanna League Division 3 title and were the last county team standing in the spring before losing, 1-0, to Old Forge in the District 2 Class A championship game.

Keene made sure she was a part of a division-championship team for the fourth time in her career by throwing a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season as the Lady Raiders avenged their only league loss and broke a first-place tie with a 4-0 win over Carbondale.

For her efforts, Keene is the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.

"Erin was definitely our team leader," Pavelski said.

Keene had the numbers to back that up. She was also a big part of the offense in the clinching win over Carbondale and throughout the season from the clean-up spot.

Her .575 batting average combined with six doubles, four triples and five home runs gave Keene a 1.075 slugging percentage along with 23 runs scored. As a pitcher, she was 7-2 with an 0.53 earned run average.

"I think it was necessary for us to feel that first loss to Carbondale," Keene said. "It made us that much stronger as a team."

In the district final, Keene held a powerful Old Forge offense scoreless for six innings before the Blue Devils scored the game's only run in the seventh.

"I never expected that at all," Keene said. "Last year, their first batter doubled and the second batter scored her with a double.

"I knew I couldn't have another inning like that this year. The defense played a great game, we just couldn't get the bats going."

Keene broke in as a varsity first baseman as a freshman and sophomore, waiting her turn as pitcher while Brittany Pavelski and Brittany Welch, the two pitchers who led Blue Ridge to state championships, finished their careers. When she wasn't pitching this season, she played shortstop.

"It's an honor, especially based on the past pitchers that came from Blue Ridge," Keene said. "Brittany Pavelski and Brittany Welch just completely dominated and had so much control over the success of our team."

Keene praised her defense and said that despite the dominant role of a pitcher in softball, the teamwork is what has made the Lady Raiders so tough to score against.

Erin, the daughter of Gerry and Sue Keene of Gibson, plans to continue her softball career on the Division I level while majoring in journalism at Cornell.

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Robinson Authors Two New Books

Enslow Publishers of Berkeley Heights, NJ recently released the eighth and ninth books by Susquehanna native and Susquehanna County Transcript sports editor Tom Robinson.

The latest releases are David Beckham: Soccer’s Superstar and Mark Martin: Master Behind the Wheel. The Beckham book is part of Enslow’s People to Know Today series. The Martin book is part of the Heroes of NASCAR series. lists the Martin book as one of the top 100 sellers among children’s books about motor sports.

Six of Robinson’s nine books have been sports biographies for Enslow. He has specialized in books for readers in Grades 5-8.

Enslow Publishers, Inc. has provided quality, nonfiction series for young readers in grades K-12 since 1976. Titles are available directly from the publisher, major book distributors, retail book stores, and online retailers. A complete list of titles is available online at

Robinson, who writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript, has completed four other manuscripts that are in the production stage and is currently working on his 14th book.

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