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Mitch's Sports Report: St. Mike's Men Keep Share Of First In Hockey; Joe Bats Back To Blue Jays

In mens' college hockey the St. Michael's Purple Knights are having a strong season, and with a 6-3 win over southern New Hampshire last night, maintained their tie for first place in the Northeast-10 conference.

Sam D'Antuono scored twice in the first period and Josh Dickman's goal in the third period broke a 3-all tie before the Knights put the game away with two more. The Purple Knights are 5-1-2 in their last eight games and are tied with Saint Anselm for first in the conference with one league game left to play.

In mens' college hoops, the Middlebury Panthers used a 22-5 second half run to run away from Green Mountain college in a 104-75 blowout. Matt St. Amour had a game high 22 points to lead the Panthers to the win.

The Norwich Cadets cruised past Suffolk 73-42. Closer contests saw Johnson State fall to New England College 85-82 despite a game high 24 points by Marqwon Wynn, and Colby Sawyer edged Lyndon State 83-80.

In womens' college hoops, Kira Waldman had 16 points to lead the Middlebury Panthers to an easy 72-36 win over Potsdam. In other action, Colby-Sawyer beat Lyndon 80-56, and New England College topped Johnson 57-38.

One other local note. After a stellar 36-year career Joe Gonillo is stepping down as coach and program leader for the Essex high school track and field team. The Burlington Free Press reports the 58-year old Gonillo crafted a track and field powerhouse in Essex that captured 26 Division I girls titles since 1981, including a national-record 13 in a row, while the Hornet boys have won all 16 of their championships over the same time frame.

In the NHL the NY Rangers and Dallas Stars played a wild, see-saw game at Madison Square Garden last night, with the Rangers scoring on their first shot less than a minute into the contest, and the Stars rebounding to take a huge lead that they almost let slip away.

Derek Stepan got the Blueshirts on the board just 27 seconds into the game and it looked like it would be another long night for a Stars team that's made a habit of giving up early goals this season. But Dallas fought back, taking a 3-1 lead into the locker room after one period, then building up a 7-3 lead heading into the third. Patrick Sharp had two of the Dallas goals, and it looked like Dallas would coast to the win, but they sat on their lead in the third and the Rangers scored three unanswered goals in a span of just over four minutes to make it a 7-6 game, and Dallas coach Lindy Ruff decided his starting goalie Antti Niemi had to go, so he pulled him for Kari Lehtonen, and that did the trick as Lehtonen would keep the Rangers off the board for the remainder of the period despite a ridiculous 25-4 shot disparity in favor of New York.

The Stars finish up their road trip with a game tomorrow night against the NY Islanders, who fired head coach Jack Capuano yesterday, even though the Islanders last game was a 4-0 shutout win over the Boston Bruins. Coaches rarely get fired after a win, but the Isles are floundering in last place in the eastern conference. It's still a bitter pill to swallow for Capuano, who led the Islanders to their first playoff series win since 1993 last season. He's been replaced for now by former player Doug Weight, as general manager Garth Snow tries to spark the Islanders and get them back into the playoff hunt.

As for the Bruins, they skate against the Red Wings in Detroit tonight with that ugly loss to the Islanders dogging them all the way to Hockeytown. The B's sit currently in second place in the conference, good for a playoff spot if the post-season started tomorrow, but it doesn't, and they've got a whole bunch of teams right on their tails, with two of them, Toronto and Ottawa, winning last night and now just a point behind Boston with five games in hand. So really, that lead the Bruins have right now is completely illusory. Unless the Bruins can put together a consistent winning streak of five games or more in the next couple of weeks, a third consecutive no-show in the playoffs come spring is more than likely.

Some hot stove baseball news, and I really hope the Boston Red Sox don't regret passing on a big bat that was available for a free agent signing, and one that could have gone a long way in filling the void that will be left by David Ortiz next season. Yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays re-inked slugger Jose Bautista to a one-year deal, meaning Joey Bats will do his bat flip thing north of the border for at least one more season, even though he didn't disguise the fact that he wanted a longer deal with someone. But the market for middle of the lineup sluggers seeking giant contracts for multiple years was about as robust as the CD market is in music right now, and Bautista took what he could get with his current team. It's just a bit bewildering why the Red Sox wouldn't take a flyer on a guy who's always hit well at Fenway Park and is ideal for the park, and who could have been wrapped up for just one year. The Sox look good for pitching next year but the loss of Big Papi and the hope that a combination of Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland can make up the offense is a gamble I'm not sure will pay off.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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