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Mitch's Sports: Thomas Feels The Love, But Can Only Watch Celts Beat Cavs; Cadet's Natural Hat Trick

He requested that no video tribute be shown, but he couldn't stop his image from appearing on the Jumbotron as the second quarter began, and that was all Boston Celtics fans needed to rise as one and give former Celtics superstar Isaiah Thomas a standing ovation at TD Garden last night.

Thomas was back in Boston for the first time since the jaw-dropping trade that sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers for fellow superstar forward Kyrie Irving, a trade that seems destined to benefit both teams. But Thomas has played only one game for the Cavs since undergoing hip surgery in the off-season, and that game was Tuesday night against Portland, and Cleveland didn't want Thomas back on the floor the very next evening this early into his recovery and comeback. That meant IT was a sideline observer for the accolades of appreciation he received from the fans and his former team's 102-88 win over Cleveland.

With Thomas not on the court, all eyes shifted to the showdown between former teammates LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who's been nothing short of spectacular since taking Thomas' place on the Celtics roster, but the best player last night was Boston's Terry Rozier, who came off the bench to score 20 points in 20 minutes. Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum each added 15 and Al Horford had a fine night with 11 points and nine rebounds as the Celtics pulled away in the second half in a game that had more drama off the court than on with the love-fest for Thomas.

He hugged many of his former teammates after the game and even told reporters that he was "good" with Danny Ainge, the Celtics GM who pulled the trigger on the trade. That's a break from what IT has said previously about Ainge, remarking that he would never again speak to the former Celtic great due to the swap, but perhaps time and the wave of good will passing through the Garden last night helped reduce some of that bitterness.

One thing you can bet on. The Celtics and Cavs will meet again later in the season and could very well find themselves combatants in the playoffs for the eastern conference championship and if Thomas is playing in those games, it's highly unlikely the Celtics will dispatch the Cavs as easily as they did last night.

To the NHL, and perhaps the NY Rangers were feeling the effects of a New Year's Day hangover. Playing their first game since defeating the Buffalo Sabres in overtime in the league's Outdoor Classic, the Rangers were back indoors in the familiar surroundings of Madison Square Garden where they ran out of gas in the third period and suffered a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The game was tied at two heading into the final frame when Patrick Sharp scored the eventual game winner for Chicago and the Hawks tacked on two more to pull away for the win, while the Rangers couldn't get anything past Jeff Glass, who finished with 23 saves. Glass is an interesting story, a rookie who's 32 years old and has played a lot of hockey outside the NHL, starting for six different teams in the Kontinental Hockey League and three in the American Hockey League before being called up by the Hawks to fill in for Corey Crawford, who's out with injury.

On the college ice sheet, the Saint Michael's Purple Knights went to overtime in their first game of the New Year against Wesleyan University last night, but the Cardinals scored with just over 90 seconds left to go into the extra frame when junior Chad Malinowski put home the game winner. Sophomore John Barry and freshman Brandon Mitchell scored for the Purple Knights, who are now 6-6-1 on the season.

In women's college hockey, the fans in Northfield were treated to an ice hockey rarity, a natural hat trick, which is not just three goals scored by one player, but that same player scoring three goals in a row. That's what Sophie McGovern did for the Norwich cadets last night as the cadets routed Trinity 7-1.

The Saint Michael's men's basketball team was hoping to build on its three game winning streak, and took a lead into half time against regionally ranked College of Saint Rose the Purple Knights in Albany last night. But the Golden Knights pulled away in the second half for a 96-83 win.

Levi Holmes III has been having a career year for St. Mike's and last night reached a career high in points, scoring 31 in the losing effort. Senior Colin Richey also notched a career high with 18 but a 17-6 run by the Golden Knights to open the second half gave them a lead they would not hand back.

The result wasn't any better for the St. Michael's women, who also fell to their College of Saint Rose counterparts, a 73-54 defeat. Samantha Delaney was the only Purple Knight to score in double figures, pouring in 13 points in the loss.

Elsewhere in women's college hoops, UVM opened its first America East conference game with a victory, topping Umass-Lowell 63-55 on Tom Brennan Court. Before the game senior Sydney Smith was honored for becoming the 21st Catamount in program history to surpass 1,000 points for her college career. Smith added 15 points to that total in last night's game and teammate Hanna Crymble poured in 16 as UVM improves to 4-10 overall, but undefeated so far in America East play with that victory.

In New Hampshire, the Lyndon State Hornets scored a non-conference win over Plymouth State 67-58, led by Mikayla Hodge as she continues her stellar season. Hodge recorded a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Hornets improve to 6-4 with the win.

The result not as good for the Lyndon State men, who fell to Plymouth State 91-73.


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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