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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - The American Hockey League has arrived at its all-star break.
Binghamton goalie Chris Holt said the Senators are well aware that they cannot wait for the final weeks of the season to arrive to try to make a move in the East Division standings.
“We were 10 points out of the playoffs,” Holt said Friday night after his 28-save shutout stopped the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 3-0. “We need to start our playoff drive now. We don’t want to leave it for the last 10 games."
Holt helped the Senators head to their all-star break at 17-18-3-1 in fifth place, four points behind the third-place tie of the Adirondack Phantoms and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The combination of a missed tap-in goal by the Penguins in the first period and a Holt save on a second-period breakaway by Penguins all-star Dustin Jeffrey kept the Senators from falling behind.
Holt thought the Penguins had taken the lead just over four minutes into the game when Jeffrey sent the puck from the right wing to Nick Johnson alone at the left post, only to have the puck go off the heel of Johnson’s stick, just wide of the net.
“I had conceded the goal,” Holt said. “I came out to my left. He’s a goal scorer, coming in wide open and I went aggressive at him.
“When he threw it out of my reach to the back door, all I did was turn around and watch.”
Holt watched as a second chance at the shutout developed.
“No amount of desperation was going to get to it,” Holt said. “That may have been the turning point. If they score that on the first shot, it could have changed the entire game.
“It probably did change the face of the whole game. It was a lucky break for me and we kind of ran with it.”
Holt stopped Jeffrey on a short-handed breakaway about five minutes into the third period and, as the game wore on, was tested much less often.
“He made a good play to get the puck,” Holt said. “He tried to take me to the blocker then the glove side.
“I just read it at the last second. It was a creative move. A couple inches to the right, it would have been just inside the post.”
The Senators made their breaks in the offensive zone by spending a lot of time there. Ryan Keller scored off of rebounds in the second and third period. The Senators disrupted the flow of the Penguins line changes by drawing eight power plays, including one that produced Keller’s first goal.
“The shots don’t always tell the difference, but tonight they certainly did,” Penguins coach Todd Reirden said of Binghamton’s 38-28 advantage. “There was a little more from their team than our team in every area of the game.
“We had to kill off eight power plays because they were in our offensive zone so much. To their credit, they played a good game.”
The Senators also showed good timing.
Binghamton gained possession deep in its end and moved the puck out quickly just as Max Gratchev was escaping the penalty box, behind the Penguins defense, late in the first period.
Gratchev scored the game’s first goal on a breakaway.
“It happens throughout the season a few times and tonight they were able to convert,” Reirden said. “It’s awareness of the clock and a bit of a fortunate situation for them.
“It’s a combination of both.”
Denis Hamel hit Gratchev with the breakout pass for one of his two assists. Gratchev finished with a goal and an assist.
“We needed it,” Holt said. “It’s one of the better team efforts we’ve had this season.”
Keller had two goals before leaving the game when he hurt his left knee. Keller was able to come back the next night and score both Binghamton goals in a 5-2 loss to the Springfield Falcons.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose remained in front of Lackawanna League Division 3 boys’ basketball and extended its winning streak to 10 games.
The Meteors improved to 5-0 in the division and 10-1 overall by beating Western Wayne, 69-55, and Susquehanna, 72-36.
Montrose scored the first 13 points of its game against Western Wayne and led, 18-3, after one quarter. Rob Volk finished with 21 points while Colby Major had 13 and Jeff Liddick 11.
Defending champion Elk Lake also won twice to stay unbeaten in the division at 5-0.
In girls’ basketball, playoffs were needed to separate Forest City, Mountain View and Montrose last season.
The final week of the first half arrived with those three teams and Western Wayne all tied for the division lead at 4-1. That tie was set to be trimmed to two teams Monday night when Montrose played at Forest City and Western Wayne played at Mountain View.
Forest City created the tie for the lead.
The Lady Foresters clobbered Susquehanna, 49-16, then handed Mountain View its first league loss, 56-35.
Dallas Ely had a big week for Montrose. She had 26 points, including four 3-pointers, when the Lady Meteors held on for a 52-48 victory over Western Wayne then had 19 more in a 60-20 rout of Susquehanna.
In wrestling, Elk Lake ended the week tied for the Lackawanna League Division 2 lead with Western Wayne at 4-0.
Jacob Eastman won a tough decision at 215 and the Warriors got the maximum points out of the first six weight classes.
Eastman defeated Eric Laytos, 10-6.
Mason Maye had a pin at 103, then Frank Delesky Devon Moye and Keaton Bennett followed with first-period pins and Elk Lake followed with two forfeit wins.
CLARKS SUMMIT - The Montrose-Elk Lake rivalry was renewed when Marywood University met Baptist Bible College January 11 in a women’s basketball game.
Montrose’s Amanda Lass and Caitlin Ely are part of a deep bench that helped Marywood remain unbeaten in Colonial States Athletic Conference play with an 82-44 rout. Kimberly Caines and Karin Mowry, a pair of 5-foot-4 freshman guards for BBC are Elk Lake graduates.
The Marywood bench keyed a 26-6 run after BBC took its last lead, 13-12, and then helped produce a 30-7 advantage over the final 15 minutes.
The Pacers used each starter for either 20 or 21 minutes while using six subs for between 10 and 20 minutes.
“I love to be able to do that,” Marywood coach Tara Macciocco said after her bench outscored BBC’s 40-3. “Early on, we were able to use 10 or 12 players consistently.
“You get fresh legs and it gives you a chance to do some different things.”
Lass had eight points and six rebounds in 17 minutes. The 6-foot-1 senior forward/center averages 8.7 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds for Marywood (8-3 overall).
Ely had two rebounds and an assist and provided her usual defensive spark in 13 minutes. The 5-foot-6 junior guard has appeared in all but one game this season.
Mowry had two points and a steal in 15 minutes. She has played in all 11 games, starting once, and averages 4.7 points per game.
Caines was scoreless in nine minutes. She has played in 10 of 11 games and averaged 1.3 points.
Marywood and BBC were set to play again Monday night.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Montrose is at Elk Lake Friday night in a game that will be for the outright first-half title - if both teams managed to win Tuesday - or, at minimum, a share of the first-half title.
In girls’ basketball, a playoff is likely. If the two Monday winners among the four teams tied for the division lead then avoid upset on Thursday, they will need a tiebreaker for the title.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Dale Jr Going For Three In 2010
By Gerald Hodges; The Racing Reporter
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is looking for three Cup wins in 2010.
Perhaps no current driver receives as much publicity as the son of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. “Junior” as he’s called by many of his fans didn’t have a good season last year. It was really a terrible year, as he went winless. What made it even worse is he was with the best financed team in NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2004
After bringing on Lance McGrew as crew chief midway during the season, things picked up a little for Junior and his No. 88 team, but he still failed to make the 12-man Chase.
It’s been over two months since the end of the season, and Earnhardt Jr. said the entire team has been focusing on teamwork
“We’ve worked hard and our goal is to win as many races as we can, win a championship, challenge for the championship,” he said during the preseason Fan Fest. “I’d like to win - I think anything less than three races this year, I’d be a little bit disappointed.”
Earnhardt Jr. said McGrew has told him that the attitude in the shop is much different than it was last season and that his confidence with the No. 88 car will be improved.
Other changes have been made among the shop personnel. Hendrick Motorsports has committed to having the Mark Martin and Earnhardt Jr. teams work more closely in 2010, just as the Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon teams have done in the past.
After moving to Hendrick at the start of 2008 from Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team his father founded, Earnhardt Jr. had a good first half of the season with his new team, capped by a win in June at Michigan International Speedway. Since then, it has been pretty much a struggle.
“When I miss the Chase... I feel like I've let them (fans) down,” Earnhardt said. “They put up a fight with you all year long. They fight every week right there with you. They argue their way through every day of work with somebody who's pulling against you. So they fight their own battles just like I do out on the racetrack.
“So, yeah, you feel like you have let them down when you don't make the Chase at least. I mean - damn! - you hope to make the Chase. That's not really asking a terrible amount from your drivers. So you feel pretty bad. I think that's the thing that bothers me the most out of having a disappointing year.”
His teammate Jeff Gordon thinks all Earnhardt needs is one good finish to boost his confidence.
“It doesn't take much to get off track,” Gordon said. “I mean, it's so competitive out there. And I know that sometimes it looks like they're way off, but I don't think they're off as far as people think. ... I think it just is going to a take a fresh start - a few things.
“Hopefully, all the hard work they're putting in over the offseason will help them get started off in the right foot and be able to not break the confidence down too early - because once you get it broke down, it's hard to get it back.”
Casey Mears is the latest Cup driver to hit the unemployment line.
Richard Childress Racing announced they would not bring the No. 07 car, driven by Mears in 2009 to Daytona. The decision to shut down the No. 07 team is due to the lack of sponsorship. Original plans were to run Mears and the team in the season-opening Daytona 500 and possibly the four subsequent races since the 07 had a guaranteed starting spot by virtue of its position within last year's Top-35. But that idea was scrubbed by RCR, when a sponsor could not be found.
“Right now we're going to run three Cup teams out of our shop,” Childress told the Peoria (Ill.) Star Journal, “and possibly a rookie somewhere along the line, but, right now it's three teams. Casey, I'm hoping to try to find him something. He hasn't landed anything yet. He's a great guy and did a great job for us at the end of the year, and I just wish there was something we could do with him, but right now, I don't want to do anything with a fourth team that's going to take away from our other three teams.”
Sam Hornish Jr. still has his ride with Penske Racing, but 2010 will be a pivotal year for the former open-wheel star.
As he enters his third season in the No. 77 Dodge, the former IRL champ continues to struggle in the Cup Series. While seven top-10s were a huge '09 improvement, half-a-dozen wrecks led to DNF’s that kept him mired 28th in points.
With new teammate Brad Keselowski expected to up the performance of the No. 12 car and Kurt Busch returning, Hornish sits low man on the totem pole with a three-car team capable of challenging Hendrick for the championship. You wonder how much longer the owner will tolerate wrecked race cars and a troubling inconsistency that's plagued Hornish and his team.
NASCAR will replace the wing on the new Cup car, maybe as early as the Spring Martinsville race.
Teams were informed last week that an open test will be held March 23-24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to re-introduce the spoiler to the cars' rear-deck lids. And while no firm date has been set for the spoiler to replace the wing, it appears the earliest the change could be made would be the March 28 event at 1/2-mile Martinsville, the sixth race on the 2010 schedule.
Sprint Cup Director John Darby, in a memo issued to teams, said the wing would be replaced by an aluminum spoiler.
The wing was a major part of NASCAR's new race car - originally known as the Car of Tomorrow - that was used in 16 races in 2007 and full-time in 2008 and 2009. The wing never gained traction with fans, who said it detracted from what a NASCAR race car should look like, or drivers who complained it was a major part of an ill-handling package.
Racing Trivia Question: When is the first points race of the 2010 NASCAR Cup season.
Last Week’s Question: Who will drive the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota in this year’s Budweiser Shootout? Answer. Veteran Ken Schrader.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
Julia Koloski Named Athlete Of The Year
Julia Koloski produced a series of big performances in the biggest meets of the 2009 track and field season.
By the time the Montrose sprinter and jumper completed her junior season with a silver medal and two bronzes at the state championship, she had made up for missing the end of the previous year with an injury.
“I’m very happy,” Koloski said after the state meet in Shippensburg. “I could not have had a more successful season individually or as a team.”
Koloski, the 2009 Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Year, found success in other seasons as well.
She was one of the team’s top scorers while helping Montrose reach a playoff for the 2008-09 Lackawanna League Division 2 basketball title before giving up the sport this winter to concentrate on preparations for track season. In the fall, she was again one of the scoring leaders when the Lady Meteors won a District 2 Class AA soccer championship.
Koloski, a second-team division all-star in soccer, displayed other skills in basketball and soccer season while taking advantage of the running and jumping ability that makes her a star in track season.
Among the various school, meet and district track records she holds are some that she took away from her mother, the former Diane DiPhillips, who went on to set high jumping records at Syracuse University.
Koloski won District 2 titles in the 100 and the long jump as a freshman before missing much of her sophomore season with a leg injury.
In the 2009 season, Koloski won four gold medals at both the Lackawanna Track Conference Championship Meet and the District 2 Class AA Championships. She helped Montrose share the team championship at the league meet then set three records in the district meet.
At the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA state championships, Koloski finished second in the triple jump with 38-6 1/2. She was third, missing second by one-hundredth of a second - in the 100 and led the 400 relay team to a third-place finish.
Julia is the daughter of John and Diane Koloski of Montrose.
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