After a Backward Slide To End The Season, Maine Must Beat UNH This Weekend

In September, even the most diehard of University of Maine hockey fans would chuckled at the notion of the Black Bears hosting a playoff series at Alfond Arena. But the Black Bears, picked to finish in the Hockey East basement in September, will welcome the University of New Hampshire to Orono for a first-round series next weekend. Oddly, I had the Bears finishing somewhere around 6th or 7th and UNH finishing last. That's exactly what happened. While it's a step forward for this program, which finished a respectable 10-11-3 in Hockey East with a roster dotted with freshmen and sophomores, Maine did leave some league points on the table over the second half of the season, particularly at home

Where Would The Black Bears Be Without Swayman?

Any hockey coach will tell you that if you don't have talented goaltending, you're going nowhere. That was the case with UMaine the last few seasons, as the Black Bears finished near the bottom of Hockey East. Enter Jeremy Swayman. A sign that the Bears could've had their first blue-chip goalie since Scott Darling, who unfortunately had to overcome some personal issues before resurrecting his career, occurred when the Boston Bruins selected the Anchorage, Alaska, native in the fourth round of last summer's NHL draft. Early in the season, Swayman split time with junior Rob McGovern before deservedly winning the job. The 19-year-old posted a respectable 13-10-3 record, a .920 save percentage a

Tourney Time is About So Much More Than The Games

So tourney week has come and gone, and as I strolled down memory lane all week, here are some thoughts about why this week is so important. I have been covering this event in Maine since 1993 and it is by far one of my favorite things to do over my 27+ year career in television, but it may not be for the reason you think. Yes, I remember some of the amazing playoff and state title games that have happened over the years. Yes names like Blodgett, Bedard, Vachon and Pelotte bring back amazing memories. Just like teams from Calais, Jonesport-Beals, Lawrence, Brunswick and countless others provide an instant smile. But my favorite part of Tourney week does not have a specific sports memory attac

I Don't Know What The Bam is Talking About-I LOVE The Olympics

I love the Olympics. Especially the Winter Olympics. I got rid of cable about six years ago, but recently signed up for Hulu so that I could watch the games. Over the past two weeks, I’ve watched as much as I could. One of the reasons that I love the Olympics so much is that I’ve always been a fan of playing for the name on the front of your jersey, not the back. So often in professional sports it’s all about the athlete. They play for whomever will pay them the most. There is no allegiance to any particular team. It’s not that way at the Olympics. I’m a huge hockey person. Count me among the people who were wide awake at 1 AM as Team USA was going to overtime and the shootout against arch-r

Snuff The Torch! Mercifully the Olympics are Gone and Will Soon Be Forgotten.

So glad this nonsense is over. Normally I find the Olympics more boring than paint drying, but this year it was like paint drying on grass growing. Once again the games were held a billion miles away so they were aired at ridiculous hours of the night and early morning. So, on the off chance there was an event that you actually cared about, say Men's Curling, you had to stay up until 3 in the morning to see who actually won. To make matters even worse, if you somehow don't have certain cable stations as part of your TV package, you miss out entirely. NBC will no doubt cry and whine about ratings but they need look no further than the mirror. Putting marquis events like hockey and curling on

A Tourney Week Summary From A Guy Who See's More Than Just The Games

And just like that, it’s gone. No, I’m not talking about my money after playing the blackjack table at Hollywood Casinos, I’m talking about Tourney Week 2018, the best week of the year. I just finished my 23rd year working this event in some fashion. Most of my years have been behind the microphone working for various media outlets. I’ve seen it all; great teams, phenomenal players, crushing defeats, and amazing upsets. Some years are better than others, but after all these years, they seem to run together and all you have left are the great moments. So with this week wrapping up, here’s the best of the best from the Cross Center. (B/C/D Tourney) Cream always rises to the top. All boys #1 se

UMaine Women's Basketball Team…Story of the Year?

It takes a lot to upstage the drama of the high school basketball tournament, but the UMaine women's basketball team may have done just that Sunday afternoon. And for my money, they may have won the “Best Sports Story of the Year” in our region. Wrapped it up. Already. In February. At the Cross Insurance Center, in front of the biggest crowd of the season, Maine trailed rival Albany much of the game. But fear not, they completed a thrilling 16-point comeback to win 74-69 in overtime. The victory gives Maine the America East Regular Season Championship and the #1 seed in the upcoming conference tourney. That means as long as the Black Bears are prowling, the road to the “Big Dance” goes throu

No More Technical Fouls on Dunks in High School Hoops. Period.

Every season there’s debate on about why dunking is illegal in high school hoops here in Maine. Technically, it isn’t. Here’s the rule provided to me by a local official: NFHS Rule 10, Section 4, Article 3: "A player shall not grasp either basket at any time during the game, except to prevent injury; dunk or stuff, or attempt to dunk or stuff a dead ball." So, a player can dunk. In the game. Not during warmups. But grabbing or hanging on the rim is forbidden unless it’s for safety. Theres just too much open for Interpretation here. In the first few days of this year’s tournament a couple of technical fouls were called on dunks that seemed to abide by the above rule and social media exploded.

A walk down Tourney Time Memory Lane can be tough. I have the scars to prove it.

So, it’s tourney time, eh? A time for making memories (or scars?) that will last a life time….just ask me and my bro. Let’s step into the time machine borrowed from Dr. Evil (Austin Powers reference) and set the year for 1978. The Orono Red Riots hoop squad was cruising through the season, the odds-on favorite to claim the Class B gold ball. The team, led by an experienced and demanding coach, John Giffin, was trouncing most teams, including Class A powerhouse Cheverus during a holiday tournament. These hoopsters were replicating the success of the football team from earlier that year, who went undefeated while marching toward the state title. And before the class of ’78 would graduate, they

Black Bears Never Left Hibernation Saturday Night Against Boston College. What can they do now to sa

This is a movie we've seen all too many times during this University of Maine hockey season. Big rival comes into Alfond Arena. Sellout crowd. Chance to make more inroads in the Hockey East standings. But the Black Bears followed the same old script and laid an egg at home, losing 5-0 to a Boston College team that isn't your older brother's BC. BC came in to Orono playing its third game in six days. The Eagles didn't win a single game outside Hockey East play and would not make the NCAA tournament if the season ended today. Maine was celebrating it's Senior Night. The game had been sold out for a week. And yet the only drama in this game was who was going to take home some cold hard cash in

Boston Area About to Open Two New Axe Bars

Is your regular old sports bar not cutting it? Well these new Axe Bars might be just the place for you. Yup. In the greater Boston area you can now grab a beer, catch the Sox on TV, and if you have an axe to grind with an umpires call, you can throw an axe wicked hard at a target. It's probably a good thing these places were not open last week for the Pats Super Bowl loss, or any games John Farrell managed the past few years. Given our outdoor nature here in Maine, I'm sure one of these bars will be open here soon. Now I don't want to single anyone out, but I have, and I bet you have, some friends who sometimes need a chaperon in a regular bar. Somehow arming these folks with an axe doesn't

Behind The Scenes at Super Bowl 52 Here's a little of what & who I saw in Minnesota

First of all, man, I’m lucky! I’ve now been to three Super Bowls in four years covering the New England Patriots. I knew when I took this job in Providence, I’d get to do some cool things following the Pats. Did I think it’d be this good? I don’t think I could’ve predicted that, and I feel spoiled by it. It’s been a fun four seasons in Foxboro! This year when I boarded a plane with a three-person crew from our television station, and off we went for 10 days, I knew this trip was different. Instead of packing shorts and flying to warm weather, we had to pack more layers into our suitcases, headed for the “Bold North.” We didn’t get to enjoy 80 degrees like we did in Phoenix and Houston. We wo

If You’ve Been Ignoring the Bruins, Time to Pay Attention

Jeff Mannix is Host of WJJB 96.3 FM The Big Jab Studio Host/Producer, Maine Red Claws Radio Network If you’ve been lost in football season and the early season success of the Boston Celtics, you may not be clued in on the one of the great stories of the NHL this season. Entering the new week, the Boston Bruins have the fourth best record in the league. They recently went on a run of 18 straight games without a regulation loss, a streak that propelled them toward the top of the league. Most people around the team believed the team had potential when the season began. Coming off their first playoff berth after two straight years without a playoff appearance, many were hopeful the Bruins could

Who Can Watch The Olympics? Yawn. Plus Rants on U Maine Baseball and Hockey

I guess in the grand scheme of things, we should be grateful that there is news coming out of a Korea that doesn't involve a psychopath with nuclear weapons. I just can't get fired up about the Olympics. Mostly because of the mundane events that are simply as boring as watching paint dry, or should I say water freezing. Plus the time difference sucks. I'm not staying up until 3 a.m. to watch luge or women's hockey between Switzerland and Japan. (With all due respect to these two fine hockey programs.) Another problem is that unless you are a relative, you probably can't name three members of Team USA total. So, sign me up for a massive yawn until Men's hockey starts, or finishes. Without the

Sure, Friends and Family Are Fine, But There's Lots to Love About Sports During This Mushy Week

Ahhhhh. Love is in the air, isn’t it? Of course it is. The folks at Hallmark tell me it is every year around this time. It’s Valentine’s Day, the day you tell the one you love that you love them so much more than other days. Shouldn’t you do that everyday of the year? I guess flowers and chocolates make it seem better. Anyway, I love my wife and kid, I love most of my family...remember, you can’t pick them. Those are easy things. How about other things I love, when it comes to sports. Here are my thoughts on that subject. I love the upcoming high school basketball tournament. This year marks the 23rd year in a row I have been involved in the tourney on the media end. I started as a sports pr

U Maine Women's Basketball Team is Shocking the Hoops World

Despite several transfers and the Head Coach sitting out the season, Maine is #1 in America East To say that the University of Maine women’s basketball team has overachieved this year would have to be an understatement. What the Black Bears have done, and continue to do, is incredibly impressive. Last year was a great year for the Black Bears, making a run to the America East Championship game. After falling in the title game to Albany, several members of that team announced that they were transferring. Maine also lost all-star guard Sigi Koizer to graduation. Maine announced that Richard Barron would be out for the 2017-18 season on medical leave. Amy Vachon, who had done a remarkable job a

Musings on Screwing The Colts, Fireball, Old Cars, and Just Why Doesn't Bill Like Malcolm?

Let’s just talk about the Patriots. They lost the Super Bowl. It stinks. How did you take it? Was there a lack of pep in your step on Monday morning? It’s ok. An entire region of the country woke up hungover and in an awful mood. At least I tell myself that so I don’t feel guilty because I let the outcome of a game dictate my life. As the final seconds ticked away grief hit me. I have worked my way through the stages… Denial – they can still pull this out. All Tommy needs is a little time. Anger – a reverse on the kickoff? Are you joking me? Bargaining - maybe if drink all this Fireball it’s effects will karmically help the Patriots. Depression – the Patriots lost, I have to go to work and I

NASCAR Is Running on Fumes

(Each week Mr. Korbitz shares a sports blog. I am on his mailing list. On occasion I share these blogs with you here in the Chowdah and on opinions in this column are the author’s. Mr. Kobritz can be reached at NASCAR will open its 70th season on February 18 with the running of the Daytona 500, the sport’s premier race. Unfortunately, the excitement generated by the race is in sharp contrast to the business prospects for the once-thriving sport. Absent from last season’s lineup of drivers will be three stalwarts who were important to the sport’s demographics: Danica Patrick, a marketing machine and an inspiration to women; Matt Kenseth, a 45

U Maine Hockey Still Has Work To Do

It's quite simple. If you want to be a top-tier team, you have to take care of your conference's bottom-feeders in your building. The University of Maine hockey team failed to do that this weekend against a Merrimack club that came into Orono occupying the Hockey East cellar. The Black Bears needed overtime to defeat the Warriors 4-3 on Friday after allowing an extra-attacker goal late in regulation, while Merrimack frustrated Maine on Saturday and dealt the Bears a crushing 3-2 overtime defeat. If anyone had said before this season that Maine would be a better road team than a home club this season, I'd have thought you were crazy. But that's the case. The Bears just don't seem to play with

Pats Fans, Beware: There are Bumps in The Road Ahead.

In the interest of full disclosure, this article was written before the Super Bowl was over. That way I would not get accused of being a Monday morning quarterback. Next season is going to be a struggle for the Patriots, and even if that’s relative, it will still be harder than what we have been used to in a long time around these parts. Here’s what we do now, Matt Patricia is leaving, so is Josh McDaniels. Those may not seem significant, but in my opinion, they really are. The Patricia loss, I think will hurt less than McDaniels. The defense was the weakest part of this team over the last few years, so I think replacing him will be easier of the two. Replacing McDaniels will be a problem. T

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