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The Way UMaine Hockey Should Be.


By Jeff Solari




The sign proclaiming “Maine: The way life should be” is long gone from the turnpike. But I’m ready to put up a new one around here that proclaims: “The Alfond: The way hockey should be. Once again.”

This was the weekend for which loyal fans, boosters and alumni have been begging for years.

Red’s Army won both games of the Border Battle with rival New Hampshire in an atmosphere reminiscent of seasons long past. There were not many empty seats as almost 10,000 people total showed up for the two games. The fans were loud, the band was rocking and the student section was as amped up! 

Home sweet home.

Both nights the students brought plenty of energy to the old building and made life pretty hard for the opposing goalie. They came armed with signs including one that read “We’ve got two, how about you?” 

Maine fans of all ages love to razz UNH about being “ The University of No Hardware.” These kids care not that most of them were not alive for the last Maine hockey title in 1999, 20 years and 7 months ago. They may not know it was claimed with an 3-2 OT thriller over these same Wildcats? 

No matter. With their help the Black Bears are now 5-0-1 at home! In fact the they have not lost a game in Orono dating back to Feb 8th. They went 4-0 to wrap up last season at the Alfond which makes them unbeaten in their last 10 home games! (9-0-1) 

The two games this weekend were classics as Maine trailed both nights only to come back each time over the pussycats from UNH. At times looking around I kind of thought Paul Kariya might come skating out of the locker room. The Alfond had that vibe we all remember and want back for every home game.

Friday night when I arrived early to take part in a pre game event in the Alfond lounge, the line of students was stretched as far as the eye could see. Once inside my daughters were selected to be the Jr Black Bear Captains of the game and got to be on ice with the team during introductions and the anthem. 

Given my frequent critiques of the program it was not surprising that they were introduced only by their first names. (Saturday’s young Jr Captain did have his last name announced.) But that’s OK. I like to think my kiddos helped set the right tone for the series with their big screen appearance and waves to the crowd. 

Saturday night we saw the Black Bears held scoreless for the first 59 minutes and 10 seconds of the game, and still win 2-1. 

They scored a 6 on 4 goal with 50 seconds to play to tie the game at 1. Then scored early in overtime to send UNH back on one long, cold bus ride to Durham. 

The Alfond crowd was buzzing as we all poured out into the unseasonably cold November night, prepared to sit in traffic for an hour as we used to do after every game. Nobody was complaining. 

Too bad I didn’t have my sign posted on the highway yet. 


Solari's JR Black Bears
As I mentioned in the blog above my almost 11 year old daughters Caitlin and Ainsley were the JR Black Bear Captains for the Friday night game against UNH. It was truly a memorable moment for their sports daddy, and I hope for them.

Thanks to Laurie Cates of Dirigo Pines for inviting them.

The pictures left are them on the ice Friday night. The picture on the right is them at their first Black Bear hockey game 9 years ago.

I believe they have been to at least one UMaine hockey game each year they have been on this planet.
Patriots Notebook: Pats Win A Tough One To Go To 9-1

By Sterling Pingree


On a day when you’re going to hear a lot of “It ain’t always pretty” and “A win is a win on the road ” it’s important to remember that the Patriots improved to 9-1 with their 17-10 win in Philadelphia Sunday. But, that game was uglier than a driver’s license picture taken on July 5 th . The Achilles heel of the Eagles this year had been their dreadful secondary, it sure didn’t look like it on Sunday. The Patriots couldn’t get anything going in terms of a vertical passing game. In fact most of the time that the Patriots “shot it deep” (trademark Gil Santos) the receiver wound up having to make a play to avoid an interception. 

Mark me in the camp that t he line will be better when Isaiah Wynn returns, and I feel more confident in that thought process than ever before and it has nothing to do with Tony Romo’s constant assuredness for 4 quarters. My new angle is that: ANYTHING would be better than Marshall Newhouse. Is there anybody we can bring out of retirement? I saw Logan Mankins at the opener back in September, he looked pretty good. Max Lane played the right side, but I’d rather have an all-decade (1990’s) right tackle than Marshall Newhouse protecting Tommy’s blindside right now. Mercy sakes alive. If Wynn can merely stay healthy the line will get better. It simply has to. 

It’s hard to gauge the performance of anybody on the offense, because it seemed like so few were even involved. Where has James White been? One of Brady’s most reliable 3 rd down options has been missing for weeks. The only time he was used yesterday was on what I’ll call horizontal screen passes where the backs are running the line of scrimmage to the sideline, catching the ball and being tackled immediately. There’s just a lot that doesn’t look right about the offense right now. 

Tom Brady had the most incompletions in a half in his career during the first half in Philly . There’s no one thing to point to either, some were poorly thrown, some were rushed and some, as was the case with Jakobi Meyers, were just run the wrong way. Brady’s doesn’t look comfortable with his weapons right now and why should he? The only tight end he’s ever thrown to before this season is Ben Watson and their last completion was in 2009. Dorsett has been injured most of the year (and left Sunday’s game with a head injury sustained on his touchdown catch from Edelman) Harry & Meyers are rookies and Sanu has played 3 games in New England. Besides Edelman, none of these guys have been in the system long enough to build a knowledge of the offense. Jakobi Meyers the undrafted rookie has probably taken the second most snaps in New England of any pass catcher the Patriots suited up yesterday. 


Let’s end on a high note. After a sluggish start (aided by a bananaland PI call on Jason McCourty for 49 yards, and handed the Eagles a field goal) the defense was absolutely lights out. The Eagles were without their top receivers, but they still had Ertz and Goedert, plus Agholor, so they weren’t in as rough of shape as some would lead you to believe. The Patriots defense was terrific in coverage and applied pressure in the right situations, credit to Jerod Mayo and Stephen Belichick. The D perplexed Wentz the final 3 quarters. So much has changed in the last two years when Wentz was seen as a MVP in waiting and now boos are raining down on him at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Bold prediction: Philly sports talk radio will be rife with talk that the Eagles should have kept Nick Foles and dealt Wentz. I can’t say I disagree. 

9-1, tied for best record in the NFL and welcoming in Dallas next Sunday. That’ll be a fun one at Gillette. 


GET $5 IN "BARNEY BUCKS" FOR EVERY $50 SEA DOG GIFT CARD PURCHASED THIS HOLIDAY SEASON


Pick NFL Games Against
Shannon "The Shark"

WIN GIFT CARDS FROM STOMPERS AND HERO'S

Each week Shannon "The Shark" will pick five NFL games. No point spread, just straight up winners. 

You pick the same five games and e mail us your winners. If you beat or tie her, you'll be put into the random drawing for the $25 gift card from Stompers and a $10 gift card from Hero's!



The Shark was circling last week as she went an impressive 4-1! Many people ties her effort with only a few going a perfect 5-0. Through a random drawing we chose Adam from Bangor as our winner!


SHANNON'S PICKS FOR WEEK 12

Colts over the Texans
Dolphins over the Browns
Lions over the Redskins
Raiders over the Jets
Giants over the Bears


There Should Be More In State Kids Playing D-1 Sports For Their State Schools

By Jeff Solari

This blog originally aired as a Jeff's Take on
WABI TV 5 News

College sports have changed just a bit since the mid 1800’s when Harvard and Yale squared off in rowing. That is believed to be the first collegiate competition. That was boys being boys battling for school bragging rights.

Today there are almost a half million student athletes in this country.

The NCAA is a complex multi layered organization with a boat load of challenges and problems. Most of which don’t have easy solutions. If any. 

So what the heck, let me create one more.

I think state universities and colleges should be required have a minimum number of players on their teams rosters from that state. Today schools and teams recruit players across the country and around the world to come play sports for them.

For example 13 of the 15 players on the UMaine mens basketball team are from away.
Only two players are from Maine. There are also only two Mainers on the Womens basketball team.

This is not unique to Orono. Other schools in America East, U Maines conference, average between two and three in state kids per roster. Same as UMaine.

But The university of Vermont women’s basketball team has zero players from Vermont.
Zero! Doesn’t that just seem wrong?

Its the same at all levels. U Conn Womens basketball has been the premier program for years. Zero players from CT this season. The Virginia mens team won it all last year with only 2 in state players.

Look. I get it. Maine and other schools from small states cant win with just players from their own state. And it is all about winning. Fans don’t give a hoot where players come from as long as the programs win. 

This is not new. But I think it is an issue.

But telling a program that say 25% of the roster needs to be in state kids would put schools like Maine at a huge disadvantage. Scholarships are good as gold. They need to be protected.

But the NCAA brought in more than 1 billion dollars in revenue last year. Maybe they could throw a little back to schools to help pay for letting a couple of local kids get the chance to play for their hometown team?

That would be pretty cool. More in state kids playing for state teams is something for fans to cheer about.





Sign Of The Times From a College Football Game This Weekend


Edwards Named CAA
Special Teams Player of the Week


For the second time this season, and fourth time in his career, Earnest Edwards has been named the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Special Teams Player of the Week.

Edwards, who ranks third in the nation and first in the CAA in all-purpose yardage per game (175.9), leads the nation in kick return yardage with an impressive 30.0 yards per return.

In Maine's thrilling 34-30 victory over Rhode Island, Edwards registered 128 return yards, averaging 25.0 yards on four kick returns. His 28-yard punt return in the third quarter set Maine up for its first touchdown of the afternoon. He finished his Senior Day with 259 all-purpose yards, caught the game-winning touchdown with 34-seconds remaining in regulation and registered a tackle on Rhode Island's Hail Mary pass attempt to end the game.

From U Maine Athletics




Whine of The Week
Presented by Stompers
Through then years New England sports teams have been involved in some knock down-drag out brawls.

Sox-Yankees. Bruins-Ramgers. Celtics-Rockets and more.

Solari and Sterling take a walk down the beaten and battered memory lane in our Whine of The Week.






Awesome Weekend for UMaine Hockey.
Here's What's Ahead

By Ryan McLaughlin

It was an incredible weekend to be a University of Maine hockey fan.

Two near-sellout crowds watched the Black Bears send rival UNH back to Durham with a sweep, including a 2-1 overtime thriller Saturday in which Tim Doherty scored an extra-attacker goal to set the stage for Patrick Shea's overtime winner.

The Alfond was rocking, and it felt like the good ole' days. 

The sweep of UNH has the Black Bears just one point out of first place in Hockey East with a 4-2-2 league mark (7-3-2 overall). 

Nobody had thought the Bears would have those marks 10 days away from Thanksgiving.

It has undoubtedly been a great start for Maine, but the next seven games - all away from Orono - will tell us where this team is going.

Next weekend sends the Bears to Matthews Arena to battle Northeastern, with trips to St. Lawrence of the ECAC, UMass and Yale to wrap up the first semester.

While Northeastern has staggered to a 3-3-1 league mark out of the gate, the Huskies are always tough at home.

St. Lawrence is staggering a bit, having lost four of its last five and is 3-8-1, but the bus trip from Orono to Canton, New York is not an easy one. Maine will need to get its legs under them quickly in game one of that series, and better not get complacent against a team it should sweep on paper.

Then there's UMass, a Frozen Four team from a year ago, and the Minutemen will be unveiling a banner honoring Cale Makar's Hobey Baker award during the Maine series. The Bears also tend to struggle a bit on Olympic ice sheets.

If the Black Bears can somehow get four or five points out of those Hockey East road trips, they'll be in great shape heading into the second half of the season, which features a heavy home schedule, including series with league bottom-feeders Vermont, Merrimack and Connecticut. 

Coach Red Gendron also needs to keep riding the hot hand of Jeremy Swayman. It's clear who the Black Bears' best player is, and he's between the pipes.





Sports Chowdah Poll Results
Presented by Hero's
Last week we asked:



"Would you trade the 28-3 comeback win for the Pats vs. the Falcons for the 19-0 season to be restored by beating the Giants?"



NO: 66%
YES: 34%


Thoughts on Colin Kaepernick

By The Commish

A show of hands if you took time this weekend to update yourself on the Colin Kaepernick NFL workout? OK, if you’re honest, you raised your hand as there was some legit interest. 

I may have mentioned before that the Commish is a huge Niners fan. Yes, that very same team who shares the league’s best record with our beloved Patriots (also a fan). Mr. Kaepernick was full of talent and potential not that long ago. As a Niners fan, it was exciting to see what he could accomplish on the field with both his legs and arm. 
 
However, the appreciation of Colin’s abilities faded just as quickly as those on field talents were overshadowed by more political matters.  

I’m the grandson, uncle and son to those who have served our country. It doesn’t have to be Veteran’s Day for me to observe and respect the red, white and blue of our American flag. So in my opinion, when you disrespect something as important as a symbol of our country, I'm going to exercise my appropriate response.  

For entertainment purposes only, I equate what Kap is doing to himself with the movie The Waterboy , except with a bit of reverse reference.  

This time, his momma, along with the rest of the country, simply want this boy to play "fooze ball". He can even marry Miss Vicki Vallencourt if he wishes.

The details being that Mr. Kaepernick needs to change the delivery method of his message. He is entitled to his beliefs and opinions for sure. But there are so many other ways to voice it.

If he finds another way to use his fame to further his cause, the NFL could be waiting.
 





Travel Schedule
Presented by Bangor International Airport

The Celtics are out west all this week.

UMaine football wraps up the season Saturday at UNH.


Remember wherever your travels take you, FLY BGR!
Here's Just How Hard It Is To
Hit a Baseball


By Jordan Kobritz

 ( Jordan writes a weekly blog and delivers it through e mail. I receive the e mail and from time to time and share the blog here.)

In 1927, during a post-season barnstorming trip, Babe Ruth told a San Francisco reporter, "I couldn't explain the secret of it (hitting) to you if I wanted to. A lot of times, I never see the ball…when I sense the ball is coming in a certain place, I just close my eyes and swing." 

Ruth’s comments were accurate, even though they were doubted at the time. Studies have shown it takes 400 milliseconds from the time a pitcher releases the ball until it reaches the front of the plate. 

Humans perceive the world about 80 milliseconds behind reality, so for the batter, the 400 milliseconds are closer to 300. A Japanese study in 2016 determined the hitter has perhaps half that time to recognize the pitch - it takes normal people, in lab conditions, about five times as long to identify a pitch. Then he must determine its speed and spin, and predict where and when it will arrive at the plate, before he loses sight of the pitch for the last 150 milliseconds. In other words, batters swing where they “think” the ball is going to be.

In 1947, Yogi Berra, another Hall of Famer, was told by Yankees manager Bucky Harris to think before he swung the bat. Berra promptly struck out. Upon his return to the dugout, he asked rhetorically, “How can you think and hit at the same time?” 

In 2012, researchers at Columbia University measured electrical activity in hitters' brains as they tried to identify pitches. Their findings, published in an article in Frontiers in Neuroscience , "You Can't Think and Hit at the Same Time," confirmed Berra’s doubts. The authors concluded that hitting is essentially a leap of faith. In the last milliseconds when the hitting process is happening, hitters become, essentially, spectators. 

Without the benefit of science, Ruth, Berra and Williams all came to the same conclusion. Hitting is so difficult that batters, even home run hitters, essentially take a leap of faith when they swing.

"I know this," Babe Ruth concluded in that 1927 interview: "A man can't worry and hit home runs."

Jordan Kobritz is a non-practicing attorney and CPA, former Minor League Baseball team owner and current investor in MiLB teams. He is a professor in the Sport Management Department at SUNY Cortland and maintains the blog, sportsbeyondthelines.com. The opinions contained in this column are the author’s. Kobritz can be reached by email at jordan.kobritz@cortland.edu .




It Takes ALot To Get Through A Pats Bye Week Unscathed
By Sterling Pingree


The Patriots hadn't played a football game since November 3 rd , (even worse, they haven’t won a football game since October 27 th vs Cleveland. Gulp.)

The bye week couldn’t have come at a better or worse time. I say better because a week 10 bye is a prime time to have a week off during the NFL season and this year it was at another level because I was traveling for work, specifically on Sunday and I didn’t have to alter travel plans to accommodate kickoff. 

(One year, I took 4 college students to a conference and the Patriots kicked off at 1pm in Orchard Park and I had to drive to Bangor from Hartford. The students were NOT happy when I told them why they had to be down in the lobby at 5:30am.)

I was traveling through the bye week, but I spent plenty of time paying attention to other football. Did you know college football is great? Between conference sessions I watched Penn State at Minnesota which was a scene and a half as Minnesota went to 9-0 for the first time since Washington crossed the Delaware. Congratulations to PJ Fleck and former Black Bears HC Joe Harasymiak.

Saturday featured a game that commanded my attention so strongly that catching score updates on my phone or between session check-ins just wouldn’t do. No, LSU at Alabama demanded to be watched. After the mania in Death Valley last year, the fiber of my football DNA wouldn’t let me NOT watch the sequel in Tuscaloosa. 

I was able to talk my pal Dave (also at the conference) into adopting me into his Youtube TV family, so I could stream the game on my phone. So through the final sessions of the conference, the awards banquet and dinner, I was locked in on the steel cage match between Slick Nick and Coach O. With scoring that would make the Big 12 jealous and the Big 10 blush, the Tigers and Tide traded blows throughout the fading sunlight of the golden hour turned into darkness that blanketed the Bryant-Denny gridiron the way neither defense could.

In the end, Joe Burrow pulled Ed Orgeron’s wagon to the Promised Land. The LSU Tigers are #1 in the country and perhaps more important #1 in the SEC. November is here and November is the true start of football season.

The Patriots are in the midst of a 5 game stretch where they play nothing but contenders, every college game could end a team’s season and we’re just over a week away from Thanksgiving football. Add in the chance of snow flurries for almost any of these games (like we had in Green Bay last Sunday) and we are truly entering the most wonderful time of the year. 

And I don’t care of you think it’s too early to reference a Christmas carol, I’ve been listening to them since before Halloween anyway. 



Lots of opinions from our bloggers again this week. As always they are just that, their opinions, and not necessarily shared by Jeff Solari and The Sports Chowdah, or our sponsors. We also from time to time share articles from other publications and websites. Obviously sharing links is very common today but we also like to share great content in its entirety. The authors' opinions and content belong to them, not the Sports Chowdah or Rock Lobster Media LLC.
Who Is This Jeff Solari Guy Anyway?

Jeff Solari is the President and owner of Rock Lobster Media and The Sports Chowdah. Jeff is also a former co-host of the regions most listened to afternoon sports talk show, The Drive on 92.9FM The Ticket in Bangor.

He has been in sports media since he was 17. He is not shy with his opinions or unique perspective on the world of sports.

Jeff is a graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and the University of Southern Maine.

THE SPORTS CHOWDAH IS A PROPERTY OF ROCK LOBSTER MEDIA LLC
Jeff Solari | Sports Chowdah | (207) 735-7323 | jeff@sportschowdah.com  | www.jeffsolari.com