Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The Blue Jay Roller Coaster Ride-2011

The 2011 baseball season is well under way. The Jays have played 54 games and are currently hovering around the .500 mark. They have won 28 games, and have lost 26 games. They are a couple of games behind the Yankees and the Red Sox. What else is new?

That has been the case for many years. The parts change, but the result is usually the same.

For the local fan who seizes the opportunity and heads to the ball park a few times a year, there are always occasions that make the trip worthwhile. For the past two years, most of those bright spots have Jose Bautista’s name written all over them.

He has systematically figured out how to hit major league pitching better than any other player the last couple of years. He approaches the plate in his usual composed manner. He digs in, gets set, awaits the pitch. At that point, he does something that very few other batters have been able to manage: he begins his swing a fraction of a second before other hitters. In a nutshell, that is his secret.

Last year he hit 54 home runs and led the major leagues. He is on pace to hit at least that many this year. Understandably, he is accused of cheating quite often by a host of non-believers. Last year, near the end of the season, I stood, with a group of other baseball scribes, three feet away from Bautista. One of the writers suggested that he might be enhancing his numbers with external medication. He glared at the group and quietly denied the allegation. I believed him.

I am not about to compare him to other home run greats. I hope his picture does not appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. That is the ultimate jinx. But it is foolish to suggest that he is in the same company with Hank Aaron, Roger Maris, or Babe Ruth. Bautista is thirty years old. He had only 113 home runs to start this season, including the ones he hit last year. He will finish his career with decent numbers, but nowhere near the totals put up by the greats.

The surprise team of the early season was the Cleveland Indians. They flew out of the gate, distancing themselves from the rest of the pack. Then May arrived, and they are now 13-12 this month, with a couple of rain outs. They play well at home on the turf at Progressive Field, with 19 wins and 6 losses. They have a losing record on the road, and have given up the huge lead they established in April. Historically, that was to be expected.

Last Monday night, the Jays continued to pound the ball. They put eleven markers on the board, while the Indians could only manage a single run. The starting pitcher for the game was Jo-Jo Reyes, and he also finished the game---the first time he has done that in his career. He was also elated because he emerged victorious. It was the first time in 29 starts that he was able to win. He was mobbed by his teammates after the game. Always keep in mind that it is a boys’ game.

After the game, Reyes shared his message: “I was able to keep my composure, and stick with it”. When asked about his success, he continued: “Hopefully, I can start another streak. Hopefully, for the good!”

What will it take for the Jays to lead the Eastern Division of the American League? Solid pitching, which they get, for the most part. Timely hitting from all batters in the lineup, which has not always been the case. Strong bullpen support, again, leaves something to be desired.

Both the Jays and the Indians wore different caps for the game. They should be collected and placed in the nearest dumpster. Truly ugly, and unnecessary.

As long as the Jays wear their hitting caps, as they did last Monday night, Toronto fans will not care how they cover their heads. The three game series with the Tribe concludes Wednesday night.

James Hurst
May 30, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Memorial Cup 2011

This year’s version of the Memorial Cup is winding down in Mississauga. Last night, Jonathan Huberdeau scored at the 17:35 mark of the first overtime period to propel the Saint John Sea Dogs into the final on Sunday. The victory over the Owen Sound Attack was a heartbreaker, especially for Belleville’s Andrew Shaw.

Andrew has had an outstanding year. With his robust style of play, he is always at the forefront when it comes to action on the ice.

In Monday’s game against the Sea Dogs, he got his team off on the right foot by scoring a goal, and setting up another in the first period. That lead held up until the third period, when the Sea Dogs tied the score to send the game into overtime.

Shaw has never been known to shy away from the rough stuff, and contributed throughout the game with his feisty play. Occasionally, he pays the price for his exuberance. The Attack won the league title this year, with “Shawsie” in the press box. He had been given a holiday by league commissioner Dave Branch for his play.

I have chatted with Andrew on several occasions during this playoff run with the Attack. Naturally, he is thrilled to be participating in the Memorial Cup. “It was tough to sit and watch the guys during the Ontario Hockey League finals. But when we scored that final goal against the Majors, I knew it was all worthwhile.”

Andrew comes by his style of play honestly. His father, Doug, was a fine hockey player who came up through the ranks in Belleville. He took no prisoners when he played for the Junior “A” Bobcats in Belleville.

Andrew also got a taste for football in Belleville while playing in the Belleville Minor Football League. In 2003, he played on the Procter and Gamble Raiders with his brothers, Jason and Josh. Doug helped coach the team.

About a week ago, it was announced that Andrew had been selected as Belleville’s “Athlete of the Year”, the winner of the Robinson-Kelleher Trophy.

There are four teams involved in the hunt for the Memorial Cup: the Attack, the Sea Dogs, the Kootenay Ice, and the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, the host team. All games take place at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

The tournament is really a showcase for some of the fine hockey talent from around the world. There are scouts from every NHL franchise keeping on eye on the players. They like to see how highly regarded players perform on the big stage, at a critical time of the season.

The Majors have a storied hockey history that dates back to 1907. The Roman Catholic School in downtown Toronto iced its first team that year. In 1934, the team added the moniker “Majors”, and also added the second team the “Buzzers” to play at the Junior “B” level. In 2007, current owner Eugene Melnyk moved the franchise to Mississauga. Dave Cameron has served as the coach for the last ten years. He is a familiar face in the Quinte area, as his son Connor played for the Dukes. James Boyd, a perennial favourite with the Belleville Bulls, serves as his assistant coach.

The St. Michaels’ alumni is almost a “Who’s Who” in the hockey world: Tim Horton, Dick Duff, Senator Frank Mahovlich, Dave Keon, Ted Lindsay, Red Kelly, Gerry Cheevers, to name just a few. There are photographs of all alumni who have ever played in the NHL inside the old barn in downtown Toronto.

The Majors also have a couple of familiar faces on their roster: Kingston’s Cory Bureau was once a Duke, while Marc Cantin began his junior career with the Belleville Bulls.

The tournament wraps up this coming Sunday. As is always the case with the round robin format, anything can (and does) happen. The semi-final will determine who will face the Sea Dogs on Sunday. After that game, our focus will be held exclusively by the Stanley Cup playoffs. And the French Open. And baseball…..

James Hurst
May 24, 2011.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Playoff Excitement 2011

This is always a great time of year for sports fans. The Stanley Cup semi-finals are under way, as are the playoffs in the National Basketball Association.

The NBA began the season with a bucketful of hype surrounding the Miami Heat. The team convinced last year’s MVP, LeBron James, to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join his new teammates in Florida. Chris Bosh left the Toronto Raptors as well to play in Miami. They joined Dwyane Wade, certainly one of the most exciting players in the game today.

A significant amount of animosity was generated by the activity in Miami. Most Cleveland fans felt that LeBron had abandoned them. Toronto fans did not feel quite as strongly about losing Bosh. He had not exactly won the hearts of all the fans. He was the big fish in the small pond in Toronto. In Miami, it is a different story. Some basketball pundits south of the border have begun calling Bosh “Ringo”. This is in reference to the drummer from the Beatles. He just happened to be there when they became famous.

Bosh did not play the Ringo role in the first game of their series against the Chicago Bulls. He led the team in scoring, and pulled down a few rebounds. The rest of the Heat seemed confused on the court, and definitely did not play their game. The Bulls took full advantage, and completely outplayed the Heat, especially around the basket. The Bulls have home court advantage in this series, which may be the one key factor. In NBA history, the home team wins eighty per cent of the time.

Coach Tom Thibodeau may have the horses to stop the Heat. He is a defensive specialist, and he utilised his bench to perfection in the first game. Mind you, he also has Derrick Rose, this year’s MVP. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah also had exceptional games for the Bulls.

One click on the “Return” button on the remote led me back to the Canucks game in Vancouver. They have earned the right to play the San Jose Sharks, by virtue of their wins over the Chicago Black Hawks and the pesky Nashville Predators. The Sharks outlasted the Detroit Red Wings in their most recent marathon series. Joe Thorton led the Sharks in the opening game, but Roberto Luongo was almost unbeatable in the Canucks net.

There are two other NHL teams remaining in the hunt for the Cup: the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. This has been a turbulent year for the Lightning; however, they hired Steve Yzerman as their General Manager, and at this point in time, it appears that he has done all the right things. One of the first things he did was hire Guy Boucher as his head coach, and it appears as if they have great chemistry.

They are getting scoring from their stars: Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. But they are also getting wonderful results from lesser stars: Teddy Purcell, Steve Downie, and Sean Bergenheim, who leads all post season snipers with eight goals. It is only a matter of time before Steve Stamkos also finds the net.

The Bruins lost the first game against the Lightning, on home ice. They did attempt to intimidate the boys from the Gulf Coast, to no avail. I suspect that Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara will curb their enthusiasm slightly in the rest of this series, avoiding costly penalties. Tim Thomas will need to be sharp between the pipes for the Bruins.

The Oklahoma City Thunder earned the right to play the Dallas Mavericks in the other NBA semi-final. I am certain that the winner of that series will have a tough time against the Bulls in the final.

No matter. Just a fine time to enjoy the playoffs!

James Hurst
May 15, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Royal Bank Cup 2011

At the beginning of the Royal Bank Cup, one of the locals borrowed the title of a children’s book to describe the Wellington entry into the Canadian Championship: “The Little Engine That Could”.

After all was said and done, of course, the Pembroke Lumber Kings hailed as the Canadian Junior “A” Champions. They defeated the Vernon Vipers in a classic defensive duel in the tournament’s final game by a score of 2-0. Both tallies were notched in the final period, one an empty-netter.

The Vipers came into the final as two-time Canadian Champions. They had gone through the tournament undefeated, and had polished off the Dukes in one of the semi-finals. The Lumber Kings, on the other hand, had clawed and scratched their way into the final. In the major upset of the tournament, they defeated the host team, the Camrose Kodiaks, to gain a berth into the final.

The two finalists skated well, and passed the puck well in the first two periods. There were, however, few quality scoring chances. Players covered well for each other. The Vernon left winger, Marcus Basara, swept in on the Kings goalie Francis Dupuis several times, but could not find the net.

Then, at the 13:39 mark of the final period, a face-off took place in the Lumber Kings’ zone. The Vipers won the draw, scooping the puck back to the blue line to Ryan Renz. He momentarily fumbled the puck along the boards. That created the break the Kings required. Jonathan Milley stole the puck, raced untouched to the Vernon goal, and slid the biscuit into the basket under Halcrow’s left leg.

The marker energized the Kings. They checked voraciously, they raced back into their own zone to clear, they poured over the boards on line changes. They were not to be denied. Milley added an empty net goal to seal the deal.

The Lumber Kings had won their first National Championship. They had played ninety-two games, and emerged with the plum. Kings’ Coach Sheldon Keefe carried his baby son Landon around the rink on a victory lap. They accepted their medals graciously. “I was proud of our guys regardless of what happened, regardless of what the outcome was of this game,” he reported after the game.

There were more than a hundred Dukes’ fans at their final game in Camrose. Most had been there the entire week, with a large contingent holed up in Wetaskiwin, almost thirty kilometres from Camrose. The players constantly thanked their fans for the great support.

And so, for the second time, the Dukes have returned home proud to have been one of the top five teams in a league of 137 teams. In this case, the little engine that just came up a little short.

James Hurst
May 10, 2011

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Dukes Dumped in RBC Semi Final

If you felt the earth shake a little on Saturday night, it was because the Pembroke Lumber Kings upset the home town favourites---the Cambrose Kodiacs in the late semi-final game of the Royal Bank Cup. It was definitely not expected.

The Kodiacs had defeated the Kings in the preliminary round, and they were prepared to play the final on Sunday afternoon. The whole town expected nothing less. Camrose had been a gracious host to Wellington, Vernon, Portage, and Pembroke. Particpants had been through the formalities of anthems, awards, and banquets. Incidentally, the beef was delicious.

The Kings are now settling in for the night, preparing for their game tomorrow against the powerful Vernon Vipers. The Kings had defeated the Kodiaks 4-2, with their fourth marker an empty net tally.

The Vipers advanced to the final by defeating the Wellington Dukes in the other semi-final 4-1, also with an empty net goal. For most of the crowd at the Edgeworth Centre, the result was a foregone conclusion. The Dukes, however, were not prepared to throw in the towel at any point during the game.

Time after time in the first period, Jordan Ruby demonstrated why he is considered to be a premier goalie in this country. Darren Nowick raced in off the left wing, and was thwarted by Ruby. Kyle Murphy snuck in behind the Dukes’ defense, and was rejected by a brilliant glove save.

With only eight seconds left in the period, working on a power play, Bryce Kakoske teed the puck up at the blue line. The Vipers crowded the Dukes’ crease. Ruby did not see the puck as it creased the twine. The Dukes were outshot 17-7, and were outplayed.

Less than four minutes into the second period, Kakoske grabbed the puck on the boards, drifted into the slot, and ribbed another shot past Ruby that he did not see. The Dukes regained some momentum during a power play, and Steve Evans came close with a shot that was tipped over the net.
Kirby Halcrow made two fine saves in the Kodiak net when the Dukes had the man advantage. Credit must be given to the Kodiak defense: the Dukes were not able to get off second and third shots off rebounds, which were cleared. Several Dukes’ shots were tipped or blocked.

Halcrow had played well at the tournament. His goals against average was a sparkling 2.25, his save percentage was .910, and he led his team to four straight wins. The native of Grouard on Lesser Slave Lake had almost given up on hockey earlier in the season. “It was a dream come true,” he told me, when referring the trade that was made to land him in Vernon. He left his Kapow’eno First Nation home to attend school and play hockey in Grand Prairie, Alberta. He now intends to continue his hockey adventure.

Dukes’ Coach Abrams shuffled lines in the third period to attempt to achieve some results. At the midway point in the third period, Dukes’ blueliner Elliott Richardson lofted a shot from centre ice in the general direction of the Viper net. Halcrow crouched to play the puck. As is sometimes the case, it skidded to his left and entered the net.

Wellington’s joy was short-lived. Patrick McGillis gobbled up a rebound just out of Jordan Ruby’s reach, and ripped it into the net. With less than a minute remaining, David Robinson drifted a shot into the Dukes’ empty net to seal the deal.

Ruby was rewarded for his outstanding performance by being selected as the Dukes’ “Player of the Game”. Kakoske won the award for the Vipers.

The Vipers now face the Lumber Kings in the RBC final. On paper, it appears to be a mismatch; however, it is a one game, winner-take-all championship. Anything can happen.

Photo: Kirby Halcrow and Jordan Ruby after the game.

James Hurst May 8, 2011

Friday, May 06, 2011


Just another Bump in the Road

The Wellington Dukes went into last night’s game with their proverbial backs to the wall. Quite simply: win, and play again, or lose, and go home.
They defeated the Portage Terriers 6-3, earning a spot in the semi-finals of the Royal Bank Cup championships in Camrose, Alberta. The Dukes will play the Vernon Vipers on Saturday afternoon at 2:00pm Alberta time.

The Vipers defeated the Dukes in the preliminary round. It was not, however, as humiliating as the locals would have it. “VIPERS TOY WITH DUKES” read the headline in the Thursday, May 5th edition of the Edmonton Sun. Then a sub headline added: “Doyle Cup champs put serious crimp in Ontario rep’s playoff aspirations.”

The Dukes are in the playoffs following their dramatic victory over the Terriers. In a nutshell, the Dukes, the Terriers, and the Pembroke Lumber Kings finished the round robin with a win and three losses each. The number crunchers at Hockey Canada huddled, punched the data into the laptop, and declared the semi-finalists.

Joe Zarbo got the Dukes off to a quick start at the four minute mark of the first period. Sean Rudy had won a battle in the corner for the puck, and fed it to Zarbo, who demonstrated a nifty deke before beating the Terrier starter Jason Kasdorf. Two minutes later, Steve Evans fired a shot which hit Kasdorf on the shoulder, then carried into the net. Terrier coach replaced Kasdorf with Kirk Crosswell at that time.

A questionable goalie interference call nullified a third Dukes’ goal at the end of the period.

The Dukes added to their total in the second period on Evans’ second goal, a neat shot from the slot with helpers from Rudy and Zarbo. The Terriers got on the board when Tyler Moore banged in a rebound at the edge of the crease five minutes into the period.

On the next Dukes’ power play, Brian Bunnett fed a nifty pass to Darcy Greenaway who made no mistake in putting the Dukes up 4-1. Bunnett then added a marker of his own on a power play, with help from Greenaway and Murphy.

Jordan Ruby demonstrated his athletic skills for the next several minutes. He robbed Brendan Harms at point blank range as he slid across the front of the net. Tanner Walvogel and Tyler Moore also went to the Terrier bench wondering how to beat the Dukes’ netminder.

Sean Rudy again found himself in the corner fighting for the puck to start the third period. Again, he won the battle. And once again, his feed to Zarbo was on the mark, resulting in the Dukes’ sixth marker.

Cory Moore was credited with the Terriers second goal, a point shot that changed direction in front of Ruby. On another deflected shot, Yvan Pattyn’s blue line drive eluded Ruby to put the score at 6-3.

And that, said the barker, was “all she wrote”. The Dukes had just enough markers on the board to earn a playoff berth.

Sean Rudy was naturally excited after learning of the Dukes’ success. “We started this game full of energy. We were ready to go. We knew what we had to do.” Linemate Zarbo had a slightly different approach: “We weren’t thinking about moving on or anything like that. We just wanted to play basic hockey.”

Marty Abrams was not surprised at the Dukes goal total. “We have been hot and cold all year, in terms of scoring. Better late than never! But I was really happy with our power play today.”

Notes: The Dukes had held the lead for only 9:33 in their first three games. They had taken the most shots on goal (100), with the fewest goals (6). The game was the first ever for the Dukes against a team from Manitoba.

A relaxed and smiling Jordan Ruby leads his teammates through the phalanx created by Dukes’ supporters as the team boards the bus to the game. A tradition started in Charlottetown, in 2003, the rally seems to spur on the Dukes. Obviously, the result was satisfactory against Portage.

James Hurst
May 6, 2011
Camrose, Alberta.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


The Fields Will be Ready in a Month

There are great lakes in the middle of the wheat fields in central Alberta.

The Wellington Dukes have come up a little short at the RBC tournament, experiencing three straight losses for the first time in more than a year. For the most part, the games have been close. Last night’s loss to the Vernon Vipers was not reflected in the Edmonton Sun headline: “Vipers Toy with the Dukes!” Not in the slightest.

Steven Weinstein has been playing for the Vipers for three years. There are two Royal Bank Cups on his mantel. If he scores a third cup, it will be the first time in the history of the tournament that a team has done the three-pete. His father, a Detroit transplant to California, lives the game of hockey. He told me that his son, a diminutive defenseman, is on his way next year to Bentley, an NCAA Division One school in the Boston area.

A ticket to the NCAA is the ultimate goal for most players in Canadian Junior “A” hockey. Many of the players at this level, especially in this tournament, could be playing in the Canadian Hockey league. They lose their eligibility to receive an NCAA scholarship the instant they step on the ice in a regular season game in the CHL. So they choose to stay at the Junior “A” level.

Kyle Murphy opened the scoring for the Vipers on a rather weak shot from the left wing boards that seemed to handcuff Jordan Ruby in the Dukes’ net. To his credit, Ruby maintained his composure, and faced a barrage of shots in the next five minutes from the Vipers. At the half way point in the period, the Dukes were outshot 10 to 1.

With the Dukes a man short, Adam Thompson ripped a shot from the blue line that Ruby stopped, but lost in the traffic once the rebound hit the ice. Robinson was given credit for the goal that squirted into the net; however, it likely went in off the Dukes’ Rusty Hafner’s skate blade.

Jeff Stanton set up the Dukes first goal on a gritty effort along the right wing. He was crushed just over the Viper blue line, but managed to slip the puck onto the stick of Darcy Murphy. Murphy wrapped the puck around the net, saw the puck fly into the air, and trickle down behind the Viper goalie.

Later in the period, Joe Zarbo rang a shot off the post on a Dukes’ power play. Sean Rudy also had a good scoring opportunity as he approached the Viper goal in a two-on-one. He ripped a shot that singed the top of the crossbar

The Dukes were outshot 23-10 in the period, mysteriously changed from an original count of 18-8. The men in the striped shirts had too much to say about the outcome of the game, particularly in the early stages, calling far too many unnecessary penalties.
Just before the seven minute mark of the second period, the Dukes enjoyed a two man power play. The puck came back to the point in the Viper end, but trickled over the blue line. Patrick McGillis snatched the loose puck and headed for the Dukes goal on a two on zero break for the Vipers. Using Dylan Walchuk as a decoy, he fired the puck past Ruby to give the Vipers the lead they did not relinquish.

The Vipers made a habit of looking for scoring opportunities while playing short-handed. They had a couple of other similar opportunities late in the period, thwarted by Ruby.

The Dukes began the third period with a 5 on 3 power play, and a fresh sheet of ice, but could not convert the opportunity; however, with less than four minutes gone in the period, Joe Zarbo converted a pass from Rudy, to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Dukes were unable to find the equalizer, and saw two Viper pucks enter the net near the end of the game. Both could be attributed in failure to control the pucks in their own zone.

After the game, Vipers head coach Mark Ferner commented on his team’s performance: “We knew we were facing a great goalie in Ruby. We got our defense to get pucks to the net, and were able to convert from there.”

Dukes head coach Marty Abrams was left scratching his head after the game. “You have to play with a sense of urgency every single minute in a game like this. We lost some opportunities on our power play. It has gone south on us this week.” Assistant Coach Todd Reid described the short-handed goal against the Dukes as a “heartbreaker”.

At this point, the Dukes are looking for a small miracle to propel them into Saturday’s semi finals. Stranger things have happened, but it certainly is an uphill battle.

There will not be any “toying around” the rest of the way at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose.

Photo note: Jack Miller broadcasting from the upper level of the Edgeworth Centre, with OHA President Brent Ladds supplying the Colour for the game.

James Hurst
May 5, 2011

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Notes From Camrose-Royal Bank Cup 2011

The Wellington Dukes’ second game at the Royal Bank Cup in Camrose, Alberta, was dubbed “The Battle of Ontario”. The Dukes faced the Pembroke Lumber Kings, representing the eastern regions of Canada.
Both teams entered the game on a losing note, having lost their first game of the Round-Robin part of the tournament. With one team being cast aside after preliminary round play, the game with Pembroke appeared critical. The winner would leave the game with a one and one record, the loser winless in two games.
The Dukes had been upset in their first game against the host team, the Camrose Kodiacs. Always a critical factor in any short series, the Kodiacs’ goaltender stood on his head in the first period, allowing the Dukes but one goal on 18 shots. Joe Zarbo smacked a perfect pass from Sean Rudy and Steve Evans on a Dukes’ power play to put the Dukes on the scoresheet.
Camrose countered with a goal early in the second period, bringing the home crowd to life. The Dukes responded a couple of minutes later on a goal by Evans from Rudy and Bunnett. The Kodiaks notched a couple of goals before the end of the second period, and that was “all she wrote.”
Wellington fired everything but the kitchen sink at Flette in the Camrose goal, but could not beat him. Flette was selected as player of the game for the Kodiacs. Rudy won the award for the Dukes.
In the second game, the Lumber Kings opened the scoring on a goal by Gallant on a soft pass from Matthew Zay. It was the only goal in the period, leaving the Dukes to consider minor adjustments in the second period; however, at that point things took a nasty turn. The Lumber Kings refused to follow the script designed by the Dukes’ coaching staff.

They banged home two goals to take a 3-0 lead with less than six minutes gone in the period. Cam Yuill responded with his first goal prior to the half way point in the period. Yuill had picked up the puck as he trailed the play, and snapped the puck by Dupuis. The Lumber Kings replied less than a minute later when Matthew Peca beat Rylett, who had replaced Jordan Ruby in the Dukes’ net. Yuill notched his second goal at 17:08 of the second period, leaving the Dukes trailing 4-2.
While playing short-handed in the dying seconds of the period, Simon Bessette grabbed up a loose puck and raced in alone on Dupuis in the Kings’ goal. His shot grazed the post. From that point on, it appeared that the Dukes had little left in their tanks.

The Dukes had been saddled with eight minor penalties in the first two periods, forcing Coach Abrams to make adjustments to his lines. They played tentatively in the latter stages of the game. They took ill-advised shots, and passed up good shooting chances.
After the game, Coach Sheldon Keefe praised the efforts of Peca and Jonathan Milley. “Those guys led the way, We lean heavily on them, and they responded. Our goaltender played much better tonight. We challenged him after the first game. I also liked the play of our depth guys. Tonight’s game was a good step in the right direction.”
Dukes’ assistant coach Todd Reid felt that the Dukes lacked focus in the game. “We got away from our game plan. We will regroup and we will be ready to play on Wednesday.”

Hanging over their heads all this time was Don Cherry’s prediction on the Coaches’ Corner that the Dukes would win the Cup. The fat lady has not begun to sing, but at this point, it does not bode well for the Dukes.

Post script: The photograph at the top of the article is a picture of a large board listing all of the teams eligible to play for the Cup. All things considered, it is a great accomplishment to get this far.

James Hurst
May 2, 2011

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