Brann...it's good for you.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Soccer fix, summer style



Tyler & I have been getting our soccer fix this summer via the Women's World Cup, currently being held in Canada.  Last night, we watched the US women beat the no. 1 ranked German team to advance to their 4th World Cup final vs. the winner of Japan or England (tonight).  Despite a rough start to the Cup, the women are rolling now heading into Sunday's final.  They played their best match of the tourney last night vs. an underwhelming German team.  

Germany had a chance to take over the game early in the 2nd half on a PK, but missed it.  Carli Lloyd, above, gave America the victory in the 69th minute with a converted PK and a beautiful pass to sub Kelley O'Hara in the 84th minute for the 2nd American goal of the match.

From the Post:


O’Hara sealed the outcome — and the Americans’ fourth trip to a World Cup final in seven tries — with her first international goal.

Lloyd took the ball deep into the box before crossing to O’Hara for a leaping one-timer from close range.

“Kelley was full-steam comin’, ” Lloyd said.

“The second goal made it that much more rewarding because it’s not like we skipped by on the PK everyone can argue about,” defender Ali Krieger said. “No, we won, 2-0. We deserved it.”

Despite their history of success, the Americans entered the match as a decided underdog. They had muddled through the group stage, struggled to put away Colombia, then made marked improvement in beating China in the quarterfinals.

“We knew we had this in us,” Ellis said. “This team had a lot of confidence. We had every belief we could win this game, and that is part of the spirit of the American player.”

Germany was doing crying and whining after the match after the two PKs, but the last goal by O'Hara sealed the victory.  

Congrats to the USA...let's win our first Cup since 1999 on Sunday.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Touch the Sky



I mentioned Hillsong United in my recent post on religion; this is their latest hit "Touch the Sky" from their "Empires" release.  I first heard the song a few months ago at Park Valley, and the band there played it again last Sunday on Father's Day.  Good stuff. 


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mason's newbies

George Mason released an official announcement yesterday of the newest Patriots to join Coach Dave Paulsen's program.  These guys will be key bench contributors for the men's team next year, and they should get plenty of time on the court early based on need.  Welcome to Mason Nation, DeAndre, Danny, Otis, and Kameron.

From the website:


FAIRFAX, Va. – First-year head men’s basketball coach Dave Paulsen announced the addition of four newcomers to the Patriots roster this fall. Joining the Patriots this season will be DeAndre Abram (Carrollton, Texas/Creekview High School), Danny Dixon (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich./Grosse Point South High School), Otis Livingston II (Linden, N.J./Linden High School) and Kameron Murrell (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly High School).

“We’re really excited about these four individuals who comprise our first recruiting class,” commented Paulsen. “It was very important to me that we sign young men of the highest character who had distinguished themselves academically as well as athletically. I couldn’t be happier with this group in that regard and I know that they will be great representatives of Mason both on and off the court.

“We also addressed some specific needs for our team with some excellent ball handlers and shooters and an additional ‘big’ who can give us added depth up front,” Paulsen noted. “I am excited to work with Kam, Otis, DeAndre and Danny as we begin in earnest our quest for the A-10 Championships.”

DeAndre Abram (Carrollton, Texas/Creekview High School)
6’7” Guard
The 2015 District 11-5A Offensive Player of the Year, Abram was also tabbed All-Region 2-5A and Team MVP after helping lead Creekview to its first playoff win in 12 years after averaging 16.9 points per game. A 6’7” guard, the Texas native scored a career-high 29 points in December against McKinney and less than a month later hit two triples, including the game-winner at the buzzer, to defeat crosstown rival Carrollton Newman Smith. A team captain his junior season, Abram was named First Team All-District 10-4A and Co-MVP. Twice-named the Student of the Week at Creekview, Abram also earned the Crimson Honor for Junior Representative for PTSA twice.


Danny Dixon (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich./Grosse Pointe South)
6’10” Forward
A multi-sport athlete at Grosse Pointe South High School, Dixon, a 6’10” forward, averaged 19.0 points per game, 11.0 rebounds per game and 4.0 blocks per game in 2014. The Michigan native shot 56.0 percent from the field and 72.0 percent at the free throw line. In 2014, Dixon was named to the Recreational Debut All-Tournament Team, Detroit Free Press All-East First Team and was a McDonalds All-American nominee. Voted the 2014 Most Valuable Player at Grosse Pointe South HS, Dixon also earned 2013 Best Defensive Player at Grosse Pointe South. Dixon also excelled in the classroom as a member of the National Honor Society and earned a spot on the All-Conference Academic Team in 2014. Dixon attended the IMG Academy Post Graduate program last season where he averaged 9.0 points per game and 8.0 assists per game, posting highs of 19 points versus Montverde Post Grad and 12 rebounds versus Impact Academy.


Otis Livingston II (Linden, N.J./Linden High School)
5’11” Guard
After averaging 17.0 points per game, 7.0 assists per game and 3.0 steals per game as a senior captain, Livingston was recognized as the 2015 Home News Tribune Player of the Year and First Team All-State in addition to First Team All-Union County and Second Team All-Metro. Livingston, a 5’11” guard, recorded season-highs of 36 points, 15 assists, 11 rebounds and eight steals his senior season and was named NJ Player of the Week during the season leading to a Union County Championship. As a junior, Livingston averaged 11.0 points per game and 5.0 assists per game, recording season-bests of 28 points, 12 assists and eight steals while helping the Tigers to a state title. In 2014, Livingston was tabbed Second Team All-State, Second Team All-County and Honorable Mention All-Metro. A member of the National Honor Society, Livingston also earned the New Jersey Connecticut Bridgeport Classic Scholar Athlete Award in 2015.


Kameron Murrell (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly)
6’2” Guard
A 6’2” guard and member of the 2015 Prep School National Championship Runner-Up squad, Murrell shot 66.0 percent from three-point range and averaged 16.0 points per game, 6.3 assists per game and 2.1 steals per game last season. Prior to attending IMG Academy this year, Murrell helped Long Beach Poly High School to a 2014 CIF SS Championship and 2011 CIF State Championship. Murrelll earned several accolades at Long Beach Poly including First Team All-Freshman, First Team All-Moore League, First Team All-CIF and First Team All-Defense. In 2014, Murrell averaged 16.3 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.3 spg and 2.0 rpg.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mason's non-conference schedule released



Mason's non-conference schedule for 2015-16 was released a couple days ago, and it's quite different than years past.  Instead of tough match-ups with teams from power conferences, it has a more mid-major or lower angle to it.  I'm fine with that philosophy in year one of Paulsen as this program rebuilds.  The match-ups with teams like Manhattan and No. Iowa should be dandies, and I look forward to playing old CAA rivals Towson and JMU again.  The tournament in Charleston could also get us a match-up with Virginia.  

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Still searching







If you've been reading this blog since the beginning in August 2006, you know there's been some constant topics.  Family.  Politics.  Sports.  More Sports.  Did I mention sports? 

One of the topics that I continue to struggle with is where I stand with my faith.  I know this:  I believe in God.  I believe in Jesus Christ.  I've just never been sure where I want to celebrate that belief, and it's a topic I've been struggling with for a couple years or more now.

I'll blame Facebook, which didn't help my struggles.  I'm "friends" on Facebook with both of the ministers at the Episcopal Church in Manassas where we've attended since October 2004.  We started going to an Episcopal Church, because at the time it seems like a good fit for us as a family.  I hadn't regularly attended church since I left my hometown for college.  Plus, growing up Southern Baptist, I knew I wanted something new, something different...something more aligned with my beliefs at that time in 2004.  It had a Catholic-lite feel that appealed to my wife as well, who grew up in the Catholic church.  

Well, back to Facebook.  Over the last ten years, I've changed a lot.  The liberalism of my teaching days faded away once I switched careers, and I saw my former community in Dale City destroyed by a liberal agenda of open borders (refer to any of my blog posts in 2007).  I also saw the Episcopal Church change, too.  A faith that seemed more moderate - like me - in 2004, gradually over the last decade became more and more liberal.  I started to see my ministers express more and more liberal viewpoints on Facebook.  I didn't agree.  Sometimes I voiced my opposition; sometimes I didn't.  But, it still ate at me that I was sitting in a church and being ministered to by men/women of faith that I didn't agree with each Sunday.  

Plus, I didn't want to go to church to hear about politics.  Over the last ten years, that part of me has changed as well.  You may have noticed on this blog; it's not worth it anymore getting upset over political topics that I can't control.  Still, I was hearing more and more about political agendas in the pews of our Episcopal Church; I left the pews angry instead of feeling better about my faith.

In the fall of last year, I returned to trying new churches solo when my family didn't attend church as a whole.  I went back to the National Community Church that meets at the local movie theater a couple times, but it didn't connect with me...maybe it's the setting...maybe it's watching a minister on a big screen.  

Eventually, I went back to Park Valley Church, which meets at Battlefield High School in nearby Haymarket.  I went there early in 2014, when they were still meeting at their regular church close to the school; fortunately for them, they've outgrown that location and have to rent out the school (again - they used to meet there before building their own building) until they build a bigger church in a couple years.  I thought it may feel odd to attend church where high school musicals take place, but I got over it. 

Sophia attended an afternoon Christmas Eve service there with me, and has gone with me on one other occasion.  Most of the time, I go solo.  The positives:  I prefer the music compared to the Episcopal Church,which always seemed too dirge-like for my taste.  Perhaps the music is a little too pop music-like, but it grows on you.  Sure, it was weird at first to see a young, blond singer jumping up and down in torn jeans while singing about Jesus.  But, I got over it.  The words in just a few visits moved me a lot more than ten years in the Episcopal Church (by the way, the Hillsong Church folks have grown on me a lot in the last couple months...an example of a song that I heard recently at Park Valley is above).

Another positive:  The minister.  Barry White (great name, eh?), who attended Liberty University, has blown away my presumptions of what I assumed an evangelistic minister from Liberty University to be.  He's funny.  He speaks from the heart about issues affecting families in the 'burbs.  He may wear a nice dress shirt and jeans instead of a fancy robe like an Episcopal minister, but he's the main reason I've been going back for many Sunday since the start of the new year.  I haven't heard him once give me his opinions on any political topics, too.  He simply talks about faith and family.  I leave there feeling positive about the week ahead, instead of feeling angry.

On a couple Sundays, too, I've felt something that I haven't felt since a Christmas Eve service at my small town Southern Baptist church when I was a young adult:  Moved.  I don't understand it, but when you feel a wave of emotion in a church setting - even if it's a high school auditorium - it makes you want to go back another week for the chance to feel it again...something more powerful than you can ever hope to be. 

Have I found the place where I'll attend for the rest of my life?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  My future may lead me back to the Episcopal Church or even another faith - I don't know what it holds (but, I'll admit it - I'm not favorable to denominations right now).  I read the book "Searching for Sunday" (above) by Rachel Held Evans for a different perspective - she grew up in a Southern evangelistic background, and eventually broke away from that faith for an Episcopal Church.  It's a book worth reading - not only because she's a darn good writer - but, she brings up some thoughts on faith that was worth considering.  Like me, she's still searching.  Like me, she's probably not done yet.

As a child in a small town Southern Baptist Church, one of the songs we used to sing again and again in the children's choir was a tune called "He's Still Working on Me."  As a child, I never fully grasped the meaning of those words, but as a man of 42 (almost 43), I do.  Every now and then, I'll catch myself singing that song to myself, just as I sing a lot of those other Southern Gospel songs of my youth.  I know I'm not perfect and never will be, but I keep striving to be a better person today than I was the day before.

Thanks for taking time to read this post.  Any words of wisdom from others are always welcome.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Sophia's 11th birthday



Thursday was my oldest's 11th birthday - it's hard to believe 11 years have gone by so fast.  I remember the rainy day in early June in 2004 when she came into the world at 12:15 pm so clearly.  The weather was very similar to yesterday.  Yesterday, Julie captured this image on her phone before the two of them went on Sophia's last field trip in elementary school to the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond.  I'll post more pics this weekend from her birthday eve, and her end-of-year dance recital.

Happy birthday, Sophia - I love you.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A-10 releases men's hoops pairings

This week, the A-10 released the schedule pairings for men's basketball.  It won't be easy for Dave Paulsen in his first year at Mason and in the A-10.  The pairings are similar to last year - two games against VCU (but, times are changing there, too...), Davidson, UR, and GW (they'll rebound after a disappointing season last year) will be incredibly tough.

Here's the link:

George Mason
Home: Dayton, Duquesne, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s, Davidson, George Washington, Richmond, Saint Louis, VCU
Away: Fordham, LaSalle, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Davidson, George Washington, Richmond, Saint Louis, VCU

Way to go, Mikey & BC





Congrats to my nephew Michael and his Bergen Catholic men's lacrosse teammates for their 15-14 victory over the Delbarton Green Wave late last night in the state title game.  A year ago, BC fell to the Wave 6-5 in 2 OTs in the state final after a 19-0 start.  After a 1-3 start to this season with losses to nationally-ranked teams, BC stormed back to a 17-5 record led by Mikey's play.  He had 1 goal and 5 assists in the win (likely more assists will be added) and now has 46 goals and 78 assists (!) on the season.  Mikey leads BC historically as their men's lax points leader, assists leader, and he's 4th all-time in goals.  

Way to go, nephew.  You led your team well, and showed being a team player pays dividends in the end.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mason stuff

I've been really slacking in terms of updates on George Mason basketball since new coach Dave Paulsen was hired, so I'll defer the GMU Hoops blog for all updates.  Here's the link.  Since Paulsen came on, here's the gist of what's happened:

  • Mason has hired three new assistant coaches
  • Mason has lost 2 prospects and 3 current roster players (biggest losses:  Gilbert & Jackson)
  • Mason has signed 4 freshmen to replace those losses (most intriguing:  Dixon & Livingston)
  • The Patriot Center has a new name
Check out the blog above for more details on everything that's happened.  Mason will have a very veteran starting line-up next year based on who's coming back, but our bench will be very young compared to this season.  Of course, coming off a 9 win season, does it matter?  This season will be about rebuilding and Paulsen starting to put his stamp on the program.  

GO MASON.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Done. Again.

I'll let the Washington Post do the talking for me this morning.  

From the Post:

The red equipment bags had been loaded onto a cart and wheeled through the bowels of Madison Square Garden, headed home for the last time this season. Sticks — those not cracked in anger — leaned against the wall, untouched, beneath the numbers of their owners. Crumpled balls of tape and empty water bottles were strewn about the dressing room, bones for the end of the Washington Capitals’ season, near the dry-erase board, empty except for this reminder: “Bus 11:40.”

When the doors swung open and the Capitals trickled from the showers, stone-faced and shipwrecked on the sands of their haunted history, they brought the fresh pain with them: the lost faceoff after a second straight icing, the juicy rebound flopped to a wide-open foe, their goaltender flat on his back, blurred memories of Wednesday night’s 2-1 overtime loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. 

As Derek Stepan stepped toward the puck on the weak side and cranked it past Braden Holtby, the New York Rangers celebrated their second straight berth in the conference finals, still unbeaten in 10 elimination games on this rink, the longest such streak in league history. The Capitals, meanwhile, trudged off the ice to begin another early summer, another round of vacations spent picking through their three straight defeats, wondering what could have been.

and...

“We’re learning from our history and we’re looking it right in the eye,” Trotz said. “We went after this game. There was no nervousness in our part. We went after the New York Rangers in their own barn and almost pulled it off. I said to them all year, defeat is not your undertaker, it should be your teacher. And I’ll tell you what, we learned a lot. . . . You’re going to see the Washington Capitals back here again.”
 
Once again, the Caps had the lead and the talent to do great things.  Once again, they blew it.   However, this team has the building blocks in place - great coach, star players, exceptional young talent - to be back or go further next year.  I just wonder if Ovechkin is snake-bitten; is he the type of player who annually puts up incredible stats, but can never win the big one?  (a.k.a. Dan Marino) 

Who knows.  We won't know until next postseason.  Until then, my hockey viewing is done.  Congrats to the NYR.  You were the better team this season, and in this series. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Here we go again



On Friday night, the Caps were only 1 minute and 41 seconds before advancing to the Eastern Conference finals when the inevitable happened:  They choked.  They gave up the tying goal, and eventually the winning goal in OT.  On Sunday night, they had another chance to wrap up the 2nd round series.  Once again, the inevitable:  Down 2-0 and also 4-1, they fought back...but, it wasn't enough in a 4-3 game loss.  

From the Post:


And when the miracles ran out, when a third-period siege fell short of breaching their blue-shirted visitors, they faced another winner-take-all for the second straight round, and with it more chewed nails and churned stomachs for a fan base desperate to see all this heartbreak go away. So here came Alex Ovechkin, held without a point in four straight games, ready to zap any lingering pessimism into dust. They would win Wednesday night in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, he declared at the start, even though the Rangers have won nine straight there when facing elimination. They would move onto the conference finals for the first time in his career, he reminded at the end. In his mind, there was no doubt.

“We’re going to come back and win the series,” he said. “We’re going to play our game, and we’re going to come back and we’re going to play Montreal or Tampa.”

and...

Two nights ago, the Capitals had stood 101 seconds away from sending the Presidents’ Trophy winners into an early summer, and now here they were, a two-game series lead zapped for the 10th time in franchise history. Ovechkin’s teammates were less declaratory in their assessments but still sprinkled their answers with words like “character” and “adversity,” pointing to the comeback for proof of their resolve. Now, against the shatterproof Lundqvist, in the building where he has maintained a 0.97 goals against average in nine games facing elimination, the puck will drop again, quite possibly for the last time this season. 

“It’s one game,” Trotz said. “Loser goes home. I don’t think you can say there’s more pressure on us than them. No matter what, someone’s going home.”


Game 7.  Wednesday night.  Again.  Ugh.

GO CAPS.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Wild's season comes to an end



The Minnesota Wild's 2014-15 season came to a close on Thursday night with a 4-3 defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-0 series sweep.  The Wild never led in this series, and just didn't generate enough offense after a strong first round series against the Blues.

From the Star-Tribune:



For a third consecutive season, the Wild ran into the Blackhawks in the playoffs. For the third consecutive season, the Wild’s offseason has officially begun thanks to the Blackhawks proving they’re the better team.


Two years after taking Chicago to five games, one year after taking Chicago to six games, the Wild took a step back and was swept Thursday night when the Blackhawks won 4-3 to end the Wild’s season quicker than anybody could have imagined.


“It’s not fun. We got swept. We didn’t do nearly enough,” said Wild scoring leader Zach Parise. “Just disappointing.”

and...

“I really thought we had something special going,” Vanek said. “We have a lot of character in here and had a great run. Obviously that’s not the way we wanted to end it.”


Added Dubnyk: “This was a special year and a special group. It just doesn’t feel right that we’re done playing now.”

Clearly, there's some pieces missing in order for the Wild to become a better team.  A sweep is a very disappointing way to end, but maybe it's the wake-up call this team needs in order to get to the next step.  I hope Tyler and I get to see this team next year in DC, since our one and only opportunity got snowed out this season.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Caps are one win away from the conference finals



The difference between a 2-2 series tie and a 3-1 series lead is huge in any sport, so it was crucial last night for the Caps to take advantage of a passionate home crowd and get the two-game lead going back to Manhattan.  Behind the stellar goaltending of Holtby, a top-notch defense willing to block a zillion shots, and another future star in young Andre Burakovsky, the Caps proved once again they are a lot more than a one man team.

From the Post:



Here came the baby-faced kid with the patchy playoff beard, his baggy red jersey flapping in the cool Verizon Center air, bobbing and shimmying and barreling toward glory. Too young to legally drink in these United States, too young to grasp the heartbreak his team had endured in past postseasons, Washington Capitals rookie Andre Burakovsky instead settled for turning Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals into a personal party. “Na├»ve confidence,” one teammate had called the 20-year-old’s demeanor, a balance of youthful exuberance and veteran swagger. Twenty-four seconds into the third period, it became synonymous with unsullied brilliance.

The loose puck had flopped into the New York Rangers’ zone, so Burakovsky shuffled his skates and tore ahead, captain Ryan McDonagh in hot pursuit. Nudging the puck forward, he shielded McDonogh with his back and converged onto Henrik Lundqvist, a fellow Swede and his favorite goaltender growing up back home. He shoveled the puck into the top shelf, sheathed his stick and celebrated. His second goal Wednesday night, the second of his young playoff career, would become the finishing strike in the Capitals’ 2-1 victory. It would dump them onto the doorstep of advancing into the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in franchise history. It would bring them so much closer to banishing all those demons.

Game 5 is Friday night in NY.  End this, Caps. 

GO CAPS.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Wild in trouble



The other team Tyler and me have been following in the playoffs, the Minnesota Wild, are in danger of exiting the Stanley Cup playoffs after another loss last night.  They fell 1-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks last night in St. Paul, which gives the Hawks a 3-0 series lead.  The Wild have lost to Chicago the last two seasons in the playoffs, and they've never had a lead in this series.  

It's going to take a miracle at this point for Minnesota to turn it around...or at least a few goals.  

GO WILD.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Caps get the key 2-1 advantage on home ice



Thanks to a lucky goal by vet Jay Beagle and the stellar goaltending of Braden Holtby, the Washington Capitals won 1-0 last night in their first game at home in their 2nd round series with the New York Rangers. Every game so far has been decided by one goal.

From the Post:

“I think we were lucky tonight,” center Nicklas Backstrom said. “We didn’t play our best hockey tonight, but we got away with a win anyway. That’s obviously nice, and we’ll take it any day.”

A win is a win.  The Caps  can get a crucial third win in the series on home ice on Wed. night.  Get it done, DC.

GO CAPS.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Yanks sweep Sox for the first time since 2006



Who are these Yankees?  Picked to finish 4th by most in the A.L. East, they sit in first in the A.L. East on May 4 after sweeping Boston in Beantown this weekend.  

From the Times:


“I’ll take every single one of those guys, every time out,” said the Yankees’ Andrew Miller, a reliever for those champion Boston Red Sox. “Everybody wants to go so young, but young players generally have a long ways to go, a lot of things to figure out. Experience certainly has value. I think, right now, there’s a tendency to overlook that.”

The Yankees got younger around the margins this off-season, but they remain, fundamentally, a team of players past their primes. That was enough for most analysts to dismiss them from serious consideration as a favorite in the American League East.

Yet the Yankees hold a three-game division lead and have won five series in a row, including a weekend sweep of the Red Sox that ended with an 8-5 victory Sunday night. There are no great truths to be found in a sample of just 25 games, and baseball players, in the era of steroid testing, rarely play better in their 30s than they did in their 20s. But that might be missing the point.

What if the Yankees’ older players still play well enough to win? Even if they never quite recapture who they were in their primes, could they at least be better than last season? Maybe. And that is a big reason the team is winning.

“Health is No. 1,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “I know if I can stay healthy throughout a long year that I’ll still be productive, and last year I wasn’t healthy much at all. That’s what I’m aiming for this year.”

Andrew Miller has been a gem as the team's main closer - he added his 10th save of the season last night.  Tex has come back since an injury-filled season last year (and the year before...) with 9 HRs after 20 RBI after last night's game in Boston.   The pitching staff overall has been a pleasant surprise, especially the dominating bullpen.  Despite the age of the key hitters, the bats have been alive since s listless 1-4 start to the season.  Not everything is perfect - Beltran is turning into a big bust - but, they seem to have the bats and arms to compete in a wide-open A.L. East.

Keep it up, Yankees.  There's a LONG way to go, but I like what I'm seeing early.

GO YANKEES.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Tyler turns 7






Happy birthday to my son Tyler, who turned the lucky 7 on Saturday, May 2.  He also had 2 goals and 1 assist in his soccer match.  The goals were in two totally different ways, too; one hit a high corner from the front of the net, and the other was a breakaway that he boomed in from a distance.  What a way to celebrate!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Way to go, nephew



Congrats to my nephew Michael (16, above) who became his school's ALL-TIME leading points scorer this week in a 18-7 win over Montclair.  Michael, a total team player, had 1 goal and 4 assists in the win.  (Since then, he's had a 3 goal/5 assist game in the first game of the Bergen County tournament, giving him 28 goals and 40 assists on the season).  Bergen Catholic, who went 19-0 last year before falling in the final game of the season, are now 8-4 in the 2015 season.  They're peeking at the right time after a 1-3 start vs. tough, nationally-ranked competition.  

Keep it up, Mikey.  We'll proud of you down in Virginia.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Caps beat the Rangers at the buzzer



The Caps and Rangers played their hearts out last night in the first game of their potential seven-game series, but it was the Caps who stole the game at the end.  With under 2 seconds to go, Ovechkin's pass to playoff hero Joel Ward sealed the victory for Washington in Game 1.  The Caps were leading 1-0 until the NYR tied it up with under five minutes to go.  

Stealing one on the road is a great way to start this series.  We'll see if the Caps can keep it going again at MSG on Saturday at 12:30 pm.  I know Tyler is excited about a Caps playoff game on his 7th birthday.

From the article:


Five seconds. Backstrom crunched Boyle and jostled the puck free. Four seconds. Forward Alex Ovechkin grabbed possession and tore around the net, three blue sweaters eying his move, anticipating a wraparound. Three seconds. Through the clamor of Madison Square Garden, Ovechkin heard his screaming teammate. Two seconds. He fired a no-look pass, across his body and toward the crease. Somehow, everyone had forgotten about Joel Ward.

“You just play toward the end,” Ward said. “I think you teach that in [youth] hockey. I didn’t even know there was time left. It was so loud. . . . When I saw that [puck], my eyes did light up a little bit.”

The chaos that followed, from the Rangers howling that Backstrom had boarded Boyle to the confusion over whether Ward’s blast had even beaten the buzzer, turned into a mad celebration for the Capitals, who with 1.3 seconds left snatched a 2-1 victory and the series lead. Ovechkin sprinted toward the bench, kicking up ice with every step. Ward welcomed his teammates and hollered, even louder than when he summoned the game-winning feed.

Behind them, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist hunched over, stunned. It was just the third time in Stanley Cup playoff history a game-winning goal had come inside the final two seconds of the third period.


GO CAPS.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wild and Caps both advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs




Congrats to the Minnesota Wild and the Washington Capitals, who both advanced in the Stanley Cups finals on Sunday and Monday, respectively.  The Wild defeated the Blues 4-2, and the Caps finished off the Isles in a thrilling Game 7 last night in DC.  Both teams have old rivals awaiting:  The Wild next play the Blackhawks (who have beat them the last two years in the playoffs), and the Caps take on division rival New York Rangers.  

Good luck to both teams - I'm hoping to see both in the Stanley Cup Final Four in a couple weeks.  Neither series will be easy; I'm expecting both to go six or seven games. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Yanks keep rollin'



To be honest, I expected a season of average to below-average play in the Bronx this season.  But, so far, the Yanks are playing good baseball - especially lately.  They won three in a row against the always good Detroit Tigers and have a 7-3 record in their last ten.  The pitching staff has been very good, and the bats are coming around.  At 9-7, they stand tied for first in the evenly-matched AL East.  Tonight, they start a big series with the surging New York Mets.  The Mets have won 11 in a row and bring an impressive 13-3 record into the Subway Series.  

There's a LONG season to go, but this is a good way to start.  GO YANKEES.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Caps even it up in OT thriller

The Washington Capitals had their backs to the wall in Game 4 of their first round series vs. the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, but underrated superstar Nicklas Backstrom came through for the Caps.  Backstrom scored the gamewinner in OT to give the Caps the win and 2-2 tie in the series.  If the Caps had lost this game, it would have been nearly impossible for them to advance to the next round.

The two others studs in their season - Ovechkin and Holtby - also did their jobs as well.  Ovie added a goal and an assist, and Holtby saved 36 shots.  

Keep it up, Caps...this series smells like 7 games, but we'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wild are halfway there



The Minnesota Wild are halfway to advancing to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after beating the St. Louis Blue 3-0 last night in the first game to take place in the series in the State of Hockey.  Kudos to the Wild, but they're not done yet.  Game 4 is Wed. night in St. Paul. 

Father/Daughter Dance



On Friday night, I got to take my daughter to the annual Girl Scouts Father/Daughter dance.  We went out to dinner first, before finishing up at our local school for the event.  I'll take her as long as she's a Scout, which I hope is a very long time. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring soccer begins for Tyler







The Spring season of soccer began yesterday for Tyler and his "White Lightning" teammates.  They opened up the season with a commanding 13-2 victory.  Next week's match against a more veteran team should be a bit tougher.  Tyler had 2 goals and 2 assists in the win.  I'm looking forward to coaching these young boys over the next couple months, too - it should be a fun ride until the season concludes on June 6. 

Caps and Wild gear up for a playoff run




I haven't written about hockey a lot this season, but this family (well, Tyler and I) have been following intently the games of the Washington Capitals and the Minnesota Wild all season.  We're happy both will get a chance to continue their stellar regular seasons with Stanley Cup playoff hockey.  The Caps begin playoff action on Wed. night vs. the New York Islanders; the Wild began playoff action on Thurs. night vs. the St. Louis Blues.  Both teams lost regular season finales on Saturday, but it's a brand-new season starting this week.  

Tyler recently added miniature hockey goalie helmets to his miniature helmets collection (he also has baseball helmets and football helmets), and he's been playing indoor hockey since he got a couple kid-friendly goals, sticks, and "pucks" for Christmas.  Bring on the playoffs.  It should be fun (and a tad bit stressful) to watch some games with the very interested son.


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Tyler's first hockey game(s)






Tyler's been really into sports over the last year, and one of those sports has been NHL hockey.  We were excited about going to his first pro hockey game on March 5, but the last snowstorm of winter 2014-15 prevented us from seeing a Wild/Caps battle.  So, we sold those tickets and bought some to the Devils/Caps game last Thursday, March 26.  

We had a great time, but I think we had an even better time last Sunday at Madison Square Garden.  My sister Susan gave us tickets to the Caps/Rangers game on Sunday afternoon (thanks, Susan!).  We were more alert as opposed to our sleepy eyes for the Thursday night game.  Plus, we got to see favorite player Alex Ovechkin score a couple goals in a 5-2 Caps win. 

 
The Caps are 2-0 when Tyler is in attendance.  I look forward to taking Tyler to many more pro sporting events in the future.  Pro soccer next?

Spring Break trip to NJ/NYC



























Last weekend and into this week, we headed north to NJ to visit my sister's family.  Some of the highlights include a trip to Manhattan, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and my nephew Mikey's first lax game of his senior season (a bummer 13-12 OT loss, but he had a great game with 1 goal and 3 assists).  It's a shame the weather couldn't have been more "Spring-like," but it was still good to get away and see family.  

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