Archive for December, 2010

Youngstown State Breaks Horizon Drought With 71-69 Win Over UIC

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The Horizon League is probably the most unrecognized conference in NCAA-DI basketball.  UIC was YSU’s opponent on this holiday evening, and UIC had just beaten then-ranked #12 Illinois a couple of games back.  The Horizon League is no slouch, ask Duke.  As the conference rises in prominence, Youngstown State is trying to evolve with it.  The Penguins had not won a conference game in their last 13 chances.  Throw out the records and chalk up a conference win for the Penguins, 71-69, over UIC.

The first half featured good shooting by both squads.  Youngstown State had a lead as big as nine points in that first half, but UIC marched right back into things before half and the Penguins only lead 34-32 at intermission.  The story in the first half was three-pointers.  Both teams shot over 40 percent with YSU connecting on 7-17 and UIC nailing 4-7.

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Ashen Ward had a career best night for the Penguins.  Ward was Mr. Instant in the first half connecting on 4-6 threes and finished the half with 14 points on his way to a career-high in points.  Ward hit another three in the opening minutes of the second half, he was on fire.  With 16:24 left in the game, UIC nabbed the lead, 40-39, when Robo Kreps hit a free throw to complete a three point play.  Ward responded with a deuce to give YSU the lead back on their next possession.

With YSU trailing 46-43, DuShawn Brooks hit a runner from the right side of the key coming in to cut UIC’s lead to one point.  Tre Brewer hit a finger roll to put YSU back up by one with just over twelve minutes to go in the game.  YSU was not getting many inside chances and had only attempted one free throw up to the 11:32 mark when Vytas Sulskis hit a pair to put YSU ahead, 49-47.

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With YSU ahead 57-53 with UIC’s Paul Carter hit a runner from the left side and was fouled by Sulskis.  Carter hit the free throw to complete the old-school three and the game was tied again with 8:18.  Ashen Ward then hit his sixth and seventh threes of the game to push YSU’s lead to 63-58.  With 3:24 left in the game, and YSU holding a very slim lead of 65-64, Brewer gathered an offensive rebound and was fouled trying to put it back.  Brewer was unable to connect with either charity toss and UIC ended up taking a two point lead when Carter was fouled while shooting a three.

With 1:41 left in the game, YSU trailed 67-65.  Sulskis hit a spinning layup to tie things up at the 1:31 mark.  UIC could not score on their end and with less than a minute to go and the score tied at 67 apiece, Ward was fouled and hit one of two to put the Penguins up a point at 68-67 with 41.3 seconds remaining.  Carter hit a 15-foot jumper with 24 seconds left to put UIC back up by one in this see-saw battle.

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Sulskis was fouled, a blessing for YSU fans because he nails his free throws, hit a pair to give YSU a 70-69 lead with 15.9 seconds to go in the game.  Kreps drove the hoop but threw up a wild prayer that barely drew iron.  Blake Allen hauled in the rebound with 2.9 seconds to go and was immediately fouled and put to the line.  Allen hit one of two to put the Penguins ahead 71-69 with 2.2 seconds to go.  UIC inbounded the ball but could not get better than a three-quarter court look and YSU held on for the dramatic win, 71-69.

Youngstown State (6-6, 1-2) was led by Ward, who posted a career-high with 26 points.  Ward answered every time the UIC seemed to gain momentum by hitting a huge bucket.  Ward finished the game 9-14 from the floor and 7-10 from three-point land.

UIC (5-9, 0-2) got 19 points from Carter who did all he could to keep the Flames in the game down the stretch.

After the game, Jerry Slocum commented on his team’s big conference win.  ”We got a huge boost from our bench tonight.  Ash [Ashen Ward] stepped up and hit some big baskets.  They were keeping a close eye on Vytas [Sulskis] and that freed Ash up to get some good looks.  We have been asking Ashen to do a little more offensively and to take more shots.  The whole team battled hard and we came out with a big win.”

Ward commented on his holiday success.  ”We took some extra shooting practice and it paid off tonight.  Give credit to our bench, they played well and everyone played hard.”

Phantoms Fall to Des Moines, 5-4, For Sixth Loss In A Row

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Embarrassment. It is a word that humbles, but has an upside in the way of motivation sometimes.  The Youngstown Phantoms, coming off of a 7-2 loss to Indiana were embarrassed.  Des Moines warded off an early flurry of goals and kept their composure to beat the Phantoms, 5-4.  It should be noted that Youngstown played much, much better against Des Moines than they did against Indiana one night earlier.  No embarrassment on this night, just a very hard-fought loss.

The opening face-off usually starts the “feeling out” period of a hockey game.  Teams will often try to detect the strengths and weaknesses of an opponent.  Just 33 seconds into this game, the Phantoms were done feeling out Des Moines.  Mike Ambrosia connected from close range for his fifth goal of the season to put the Phantoms up early.  Ryan Belonger fed Ambrosia for an assist and the puck had just enough on it to scoot past Buccaneer goaltender, Michael Shibrowski (next photo down).

Less than three minutes later, Cody Strang got himself in on the action for the Phantoms. Jiri Sekac, who missed last night’s contest due to inclement weather, picked up an assist when he set Strang up for his fifth of the season.  The goal, just 3:12 into the game, put the Phantoms ahead 2-0.

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Youngstown stayed hot and got a third even-strength first period goal.  Ty Loney took the team lead with his ninth goal of the year to put the Phantoms ahead 3-0.  Loney’s unassisted goal came at the 15:32 mark of the first, and the Phantoms looked to have things under control.  Before the period ended, Des Moines found the scoreboard when Kevin Irwin scored unassisted to cut the score at intermission to 3-1.

In the second period, Des Moines continued to fight back when Irwin recorded his second goal of the game, this time on the powerplay, something the Phantoms have really struggled against, to cut the lead to 3-2 in favor of the host Phantoms.  later in the second, the Buccaneers tied the game when Mitch Cain scored at the 10:47 mark of the second period.  Cain’s sixth goal was assisted by Justin Selman and Peter Stoykewych.

The Phantoms finally cashed in on a powerplay with just 39.2 seconds left in the second period.  Sekac took a beautiful pass from Strang to score from close range just outside of the goal crease.  Jordan Young also picked up his seventh assist of the season on the goal that gave Youngstown a 4-3 lead heading into intermission.

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In the third period, Des Moines scored a pair of quick goals to claim a 5-4 lead.  The first was a Doug Clifford powerplay goal.  Clifford got assists from Ethan Prow and Austin Coldwell.  The game-tying goal was scored 2:02 into the final period.  Cain picked up his second goal of the game, also a powerplay opportunity.  Chris Joyaux and Kevin Irwin claimed assists on the go-ahead goal for the Buccaneers.

The Phantoms got a two-man advantage in the last few minutes of the game and another one-man advantage to end the contest, but were unable to capitalize and tie the game.  With the 5-4 loss, Youngstown fell to 9-16-1 and lost their sixth in a row.  Des Moines improved to 11-8-2.  The Phantoms outshot the Buccaneers 32-28.  Give the home team credit for a better effort and really leaving it all on the ice.

Disastrous Second Period Hurts Phantoms, 7-2

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The Youngstown Phantoms needed a break.  Heading into this contest with the Indiana Ice, the Phantoms had dropped four contests in a row, all on the road.  It seemed like an eternity since the Phantoms had a home game (December 4), which incidentally was the last time this team won.  A three-goal second period doomed the home team as Indiana collected an even-strength, a powerplay, and a shorthanded goal over the last seven minutes of the frame to post a 7-2 win Tuesday.

Indiana scored at the 13:36 mark when Blake Coleman fired a shot that hit the post and apparently went in.  Coleman’s goal was a powerplay score and he was assisted by Brian Ferlin and Danlil Tarasov. For Coleman, it was the 11th goal of the season.

The Phantoms wasted little time knotting the contest at the 14:39 mark of the opening period.  Dylan Margonari connected for his third goal of the year, an even-strength chance.  Mike Ambrosia picked up an assist on the Phantoms game-tying score.  The first period would come to a close in a 1-1 deadlock.  The Phantoms and Ice were playing very physical hockey and there was no shortage of hits or near fights throughout the game.

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Youngstown would grab a 2-1 lead early in the second period when Ryan Belonger stayed hot and scored for the fourth time in the last ten games.  Ambrosia picked up his second assist of the night and sixth of the year.

The roof then caved in on the Phantoms.  Indiana scored three second period goals in the last seven minutes of the stanza to take a 4-2 lead into intermission.  Adam Erne connected for an even-strength goal with an assist from Peter Schneider to tie the game.  Sean Kuraly then broke loose for the Ice to net a shorthanded goal.  Kuraly gathered a loose puck near center ice and raced toward the net beating Matt O’Connor for the go ahead goal.  Tarasov put an exclamation point on the strong period connecting on another powerplay, this time Ferlin got the assist to put the Ice in front 4-2 after two periods.

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At the 18:32 mark of the final period, Indiana tacked on another goal to increase the lead to 5-2. Jarrod Rabey picked up the third powerplay goal of the night for the Ice.  Just over a minute later, Coleman got his second of the game, an even-strength tally, and the rout was on.  Chris Martin (not from Coldplay) tacked on a late goal to wrap the scoring up at 7-2 in favor of the Ice.

With the loss, the Phantoms fell to 9-15-1.  Indiana improved to 12-10-2 with the victory.  The Ice outshot Youngstown, 30-25.   Youngstown welcomes Des Moines for a rare Wednesday night game at the Covelli Centre.

“We have to come ready to play 60 minutes.  It seems like something goes wrong that we do not recover well, and we need to”, said Curtis Carr after the game.  ”We compete with the best teams in the league and what happened here tonight does not reflect what kind of team we have.”

Merry Christmas, Jerry Slocum!

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To sit at the media table at Youngstown State basketball games has been awesome.  To take pictures along the baseline at Beeghly Center when the YSU Penguins have a home game is a different kind of awesome.  You hear both sides of everything because you are real close to the YSU bench, but you hear the commentary of the fans also.   People are very critical of Jerry Slocum and quite frankly, I’m sick of hearing the criticism.  Here are some reasons why Slocum is the man, and hopefully stays at YSU for a very long time.

At a recent home game, a Penguin player threw a turnover, a horrible decision.  The Malone player finished the sequence by making a lay-up and then being fouled.  As Jerry Slocum paced the YSU bench area, I looked over and saw the disgust, from the very recent turn of events that just happened on the court,  obvious in Slocum’s face.

Then the heckling starts.  I hear people scream about how poor the coaching is.  I bite my tongue and shake my head and just glance at the stupidity around me sometimes.  Jerry Slocum is one of the most passionate coaches you will find in any sport.  He comes to the press conference drained, he leaves it all on the court just like he encourages his players to do.  Yet, there are hecklers.

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Let’s be realistic about a couple of things.  Slocum may not be winning championships, but for the most part his teams are competitive and well coached.  Last year he lost everyone except Vytas Sulskis, Ashen Ward and Dan Boudler.  This year, Sheldon Brogden has walked away and turned in his uniform.  Why?  I’ll tell you why.  Hard-nosed old-school coaching, that’s why.  Slocum works his guys hard.  The lazy players quit or become headaches refusing to conform to a stubborn man who is very set in his ways.

Youngstown State is a football school.  Eric Wolford is doing a great job rekindling the fire that once burned between goal lines at The Ice Castle.  Jerry Slocum has done something Eric Wolford has not done yet, he has won over 600 games. 

Slocum could live without media, in fact, I think he actually despises going to press conferences after a loss.  Go find some Bobby Knight footage on You Tube and tell me that he wasn’t the same way.   Slocum has been a joy to cover and he has never given me any negativity or distress.  I do, however, pick and choose times that feel more appropriate when asking a question.

Jerry Slocum is a very private, family man.  He takes great pride in his personal relationships and glows when he talks about his wife or extended family.  He also takes great pride in what kind of product shows up on the court each game.  He is constantly thinking and his scowl is priceless, he wears his heart on his sleeve.

If I were in charge, which I’m not, I would surely try to find out how much longer he wants to coach and throw the paper down for him to sign.  I suggest keeping an eye on him during the game, it is really entertaining because he is working on so many different things.  He is an ace at riding the refs.  Watch how soon YSU gets a make-good call when Slocum questions something less than a minute before, it happens every game.  When a YSU player misses a free throw, he will just look at the ground like his stomach just turned.  These are admirable qualities you don’t get from a coach.  Consider yourselves lucky YSU fans, and Merry Christmas, Jerry Slocum!

Akron Handles YSU Women, 70-56

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The much-improved Youngstown State Lady Penguins welcomed their longtime geographic rival, the Akron Zips, to town for a finals week matchup.  The game was tied at 55 with just under five minutes to play, but Akron was able to clamp down and improve to 6-4 on the season, as they posted a 70-56 win at Youngstown State.

Akron carried a 31-25 lead into the locker room at the half thanks in part to shooting 44% from the floor.  Rachel Tecca led a balanced Zips attack in the first half with seven points.  Youngstown State got eight first half points from Boki Dimitrov including a couple of threes that kept YSU at a single digit deficit.  The Penguins launched 18 threes in the first half, hitting five.  The Zips also held a 20-14 rebounding advantage at the intermission.

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The Penguins cut the Zips lead to 35-33 when Tieara Jones scored inside and was fouled.  Jones scored her tenth point to cut the Akron lead to one point at the 12:49 mark, but but Tecca responded on the Zips next possession to keep the lead at three.  Jones, a product of Rayen High School, again connected with 11:52 left in the game to make the score 41-40 in favor of Akron.  Jones was having one of her best nights as a Penguin.

Sina King gave Akron a 45-40 lead on a layup, but Kenya Middlebrooks hit a three coming back to keep the Penguins close.  Macey Nortey, who seems to hustle her heart out every game, had a steal and drove the court for a layup, and was fouled.  Nortey hit the free throw putting the Penguins in front for the first time in the second half at 46-45.

Middlebrooks was in a zone, hitting threes at will, she had three of them in a six minute span, including one at the 7:15 mark to put the Penguins back in front, 52-51.  Brandi Brown’s presence seemed like enough for Akron to really concentrate on shutting her down, allowing the role players like Middlebrooks, Nortey, and Jones ample chances to score.

Jasmine Mushington stepped up for the Zips and hit a couple of big baskets to give Akron back the lead at 59-55 with 3:54 left in the game.  Akron’s 9-1 run put the Penguins into fouling mode with 1:24 left in the game.  The Zips coasted home holding the Penguins to just one point over the final four and a half minutes.

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Akron was paced by Tecca’s 19 points and 11 boards.  Youngstown State got 15 from Jones and 14 from Middlebrooks.  The Penguins finished 9-39 from three-point land.  With the loss, YSU fell to 2-7 and will not play at home again in 2010.

After the game, Coach Boldon spoke about his team’s collapse down the stretch.  ”We look at film and see the things we do well, and the things we don’t do so well, and we are doing more things not so well right now.”

Tieara Jones talked about a piece of the machine giving way each possession.  ”We play good defense, but if four people are on the same page and one breaks down, it can hurt the whole team and we had some of that tonight.  It wasn’t any one person in particular, just one of the four on the court would break down and it cost us.”

Youngstown State Recovers To Beat Malone, 78-62

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Youngstown State returned home to play a game a few days after being trounced by Robert Morris, 90-60.  To make matters worse, one of the team leaders, Ashen Ward, would be inactive with back spasms.  The Penguins last played Malone in 1963, and won that game 117-81.  Monday night, parody showed 50 years of progress and the Penguins didn’t post such a lopsided number, but managed to win the game behind stellar efforts from Vytas Sulskis and Damian Eargle.

The first half saw a sluggish Penguins team establish their presence inside.  Only four Penguins managed to score in the first half. Damian Eargle and Vytas Sulskis combined for 25 of the Penguins 33 first half points.  The other two Penguins to get any points in the opening half were Tre Brewer with five, and Dan Boudler contributing three.  Malone held their ground and trailed by only two at the intermission with the score YSU 33, and Malone 31.

Coach Jerry Slocum was handed a pretty cheap technical foul (below) with 6:31 left in the first half to help Malone stay in the game on a four-point swing.  Malone was paced by Eric Coblentz’s 12 in the opening half.

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Coblentz gave Malone a 41-39 lead when he buried a three for his twelfth point as the Pioneers, who shot 45% from long distance in the first half stayed red hot.  Eargle responded with a bucket giving him 16 points, a new career high, to tie the game at 41 with 15:49 left in the game.  Sulskis and Eargle continued to propel the offense which pushed the lead to five with 12:00 remaining.  Sulskis hit a thunderous running dunk off of the right baseline to force the Pioneers to use a timeout to regroup.

Eargle was a man possessed and created problems for the Pioneers all night long.  He was blocking shots, making passes, and scoring. Sulskis hit his season-high 20th point to put YSU up 57-51 with 9:45 left.  The pesky Pioneers were surviving behind the arc hitting 50% for the game to this point.  YSU held a 64-54 lead with 7:53 remaining in the game.

The Penguins took their largest lead of the game with 6:11 left when Blake Allen hit a free throw giving YSU a 12-point lead with 6:21 left at 67-55.  DuShawn Brooks was starting to feel it hitting his second three of the night and recording his eighth point to push the Penguin advantage to 14.

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Sulskis (above) finished the game with 25 points, one short of a career high on 10-12 shooting.  He also gathered nine rebounds.  Eargle would have his best all-around game as a Penguin.  Eargle finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, posting his first double-double of the season.  Eargle and Sulskis were virtually everywhere and played scintillating basketball.  Tre Brewer also recorded a career-high in both points (13) and rebounds (14).

Eric Coblentz played very well for Malone and finished with 21 points.

With the win, YSU improved to 5-4 on the season, but more importantly, seemed to pick up the pieces after a disastrous road trip in preparation for North Carolina State and Kent State in the immediate future.

Coach Jerry Slocum was reflective on his team’s effort.  ”We got past the shackles of a hard loss and ran a lot of motion.  We played very well and regrouped.  That road trip we just came off of, every one of those teams did well in tournaments last season.  Heading to NC State and playing an ACC team will be tough, but I feel Kent State has their best team this season.  They will both be very hard games for us.”

Vytas Sulskis reflected on the night.  ”Me and Damian are roommates and we had good chemistry going tonight.  We were finding each other and it wasn’t planned, it just worked that way.  I was hot tonight.”

Slocum praised the efforts of both Sulskis and Eargle as well. “Vytas played really well on both ends of the court tonight.  He and Damian toughened up on defense and we found a way to get into a rhythm in the second half.”

The Top-10 Free Agents Being Sought By The Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Pittsburgh Pirates front office has been busy since the season ended in hopes of fielding a more competitive team.  Paneech.com was lucky enough to catch a few leaks about who could be a new Buc by opening day.  It is a pretty strategic list, and man, if Neal Huntington could nab a couple of these guys, the sky is the limit.  Without further ado, here is the list of free agents that the Pittsburgh Pirates are most actively pursuing. 

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Christopher Columbus

Who better to “start” than Christopher Columbus.  He started a new country, the Pirates should definitely be able to get six quality innings from this guy.  Reach out to the Italians in Pittsburgh and sign one.  Columbus has great location and mixes his three pitches (Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria) with great control.

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Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown has pitched through very adverse conditions throughout his career.  By adding Christopher Columbus and Brown, the rotation is pretty well set with Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, and Kevin CorreiaScott Olsen will probably hurt himself by the time Spring Training starts.  Brown brings a declining 12.26 ERA to the table, but much of that can be blamed on shoddy fielding behind him.  Lastings Milledge will make Chuck feel right at home, perfect fit!

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Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen is a mess these days, but so are the Pirates!  Sheen could help the one-man bullpen that is Evan Meek out with some quality innings.  There are a few good clubs in Pittsburgh that Sheen will fall in love with and when you see the rest of the list, you will appreciate the talent he may get to hang out with.  It will be a new fellowship of Pirates players called the Rum Bucket Tippers that Sheen will captain on great nights out after the games not seen since the likes of Dale Berra!

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Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan will co-captain the Rum Bucket Tippers fellowship for post-game celebrations.  Lohan, like Sheen, will add great stability to the “pen“.  Coming off of a very successful rehab assignment, Lohan’s stock can only rise.  The “pen” will have great depth (not to be confused with depth perception).  The last two pieces to a successful “pen” and definitely two more fellows to lead the Rum Bucket Tippers fellowship society are:

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Strawberry and Gooden

you guessed it.  Strawberry and Gooden, the Penn and Teller of sports.  One minute they are locked up, but they always seem to escape.  These two can easily round out the Rum Bucket Tippers fellowship of Pirates who want to move in a new direction.  The ”pen” would be loaded with Sheen, Lohan, Strawberry, Gooden, and Evan Meek.

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Ace Frehley

There were concerns when JJ Hardy signed with the Orioles earlier this week that the Pirates big plan fell through.  Frehley is poised to step right in, not only at short, but also the Rum Bucket Tippers fellowship.  Can you imagine him with those 12″ platform silver space boots sliding into second to break up a double play?  By crippling the rest of the shortstops in the league with the silver boots, Frehley could start the All-Star game for the National League by default. 

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Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz can add some punch to a light hitting Pirates offense.  Ortiz, no stranger to getting his ass kicked lately, could do what so many other retreads have done, find himself in a Pirates uniform.  The most attractive thing to the front office about Ortiz is that Dana White has offered to pay 75% of his salary just to keep him away from the UFC.

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James Harrison

James Harrison could be the next Bo Jackson by participating in two sports.  The deal is that he gets fined for hitting in one sport, but would get rewarded for it if he joined the Bucs this season.  Can you imagine all of the Steeler fans who would suddenly resurface as Pirates fans?

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Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr was the least talented Beatle.  That would qualify him for an instant contract with the Pirates.  Teach him how to catch, and if that fails maybe RF.  Oh, wait, the Pirates are already doing that with Ryan Doumit.  Oh well, use him as a utility player.  Can you imagine the popularity of Yellow Submarine as the new Pittsburgh Pirates seventh inning stretch song led by Starr?  Wow, the marketing department (do they have one?) better jump on this.

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Simon Cowell (Manager)

Simon Cowell had the managerial job locked up but his negative attitude (above) forced the front office to hire Clint Hurdle.  Cowell, not always popular with the fans, does have an eye for talent and is a winner.  Passing on Cowell to be the new skipper will surely come back to haunt the Pirates.

So there you have it, all of this talent is out there and the Pirates are just lurking in the weeds for the right moment to announce some of their new signees!  Hustle to the box office and order your season tickets before they are gone and be sure to mark August 12th on your calenders.  Not only is it Zambelli Fireworks night, but is also Clint Hurdle bobblehead night.  They were going to use a player, but the front office was unsure about who might still be around, so Hurdle gets the “nod”.

Youngstown Phantoms Profiles: Adam Berkle

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Adam Berkle knows that bigger things are in his future.  A scholarship to hockey powerhouse Northeastern University is the big prize, and he has earned it.  Berkle is a carryover from last season, so it was fun to prod him with comparison questions between the two years he has been in a Phantoms uniform.  The biggest difference is that Berkle is the captain of the team this season and his role as a leader has grown.  He is not a loud person, some would even categorize him as quiet, but I got him to talk a little at the Ice Zone when I had the privelage of interviewing him.

Paneech:  This year’s team seems like it is streaky.  You guys started out on fire, went into a terrible slump and are now playing at a high level again.  Should we expect these major swings all season?

Berkle:  We went into a pretty bad slump and we weren’t sticking together.  We have that fixed and are working hard as a team and really playing together again.  We are sticking together no matter what and not turning games into emotional rollercoasters, just staying even keel.

Paneech:  One of the best games I saw you guys play this season was a 1-0 loss.  What is more satisfying, winning ugly or losing a heartbreaker?

Berkle:  The one goal loss was really frustrating because we gave it up on the power play.  We played well and it was part of the losing streak although we were now moving in the right direction.  It is really frustrating to lose when you play that good of a game.

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Paneech:  Have you found a place in Youngstown that you can hang out and have fun, or are you happier with staying in and playing video games or watching television?

Berkle:  Basically, we have practice and then we will go out and grab something to eat.  Other than that we use the internet, play video games, or just hang out.  We play all of the EA Sports games on an Xbox.  Besides NHL 2011, we play Madden and Fifa and alot of us are into Call of Duty right now.  Everyone on the team is playing that game right now. 

Paneech:  Are the days of conventional stretching over and done?  When I get to the games early, I always see a circle of guys playing with a soccer ball or a hackey-sack.

Berkle:  I guess we do stuff like that to just pass the time.  It does get us warmed up instead of just standing around two hours before the game.  We are starting to play more wall ball and not as much with the circle.

Paneech:  If you could bring back a Phantom from last year who could really help this year, who would it be, and why?

Berkle:  Tom Serratore.  He was my roommate last year and is one of my best friends, and he brings a lot to the ice. 

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Paneech:  What are the strengths of this year’s Phantoms team?  I have yet to see a fight, is that a Curt Carr no-no?

Berkle:  Our strength this year is that we come out hard every game.  Last year, if we went down a goal, we would hang our heads and not try as hard.  Now, if we are in that situation, we are staying in it instead of being down.  Last year, we were a different type of team.  We were a lot bigger and we had actual fighters on the team.  This year, we are playing hard and we still hit a lot.  When we need somebody to step up and fight, someone will.  I don’t think that fighting is that big of a part of the game,  it distracts players and takes away from the game.  We will keep hitting and if there is a cheap shot, someone will step up and fight.

Paneech:  Let’s talk about your future plans and how playing in this league may have helped you secure a dream.

Berkle:  I feel very fortunate, and Northeastern was always my number one choice.  Ever since they started to talk with me a couple of years ago, I have wanted to go there.  I’m really excited about going there next season and this league has helped me a lot.  The speed at this level will definitely make my transition to college hockey easier.

Paneech:  Speaking of transition, Coach Carr has been in transition over the past year.  He has gone from an assistant to the head coach.  He went from being a newlywed to a married father.  An act that says plenty about him is that after every game before he approaches the scouts or the media, he kisses his wife and his baby daughter, showing his true character.   How is Coach Carr to play for?

Berkle:  It’s been really good.  He will give us some slack to a point.  We can be loose and joke around in the locker room before a game, but he will remind us why we are there and never lets things get out of hand.  He has helped me out since I got here in many different situations, on and off of the ice.

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One Word Answers

Favorite NHL Player:  Jeff Carter.  I model my style after him.

Favorite NHL Team:  Philadelphia Flyers.

Typical Fast Food Order:  Chik-Fil-A #1, no pickles, sweet tea and an extra sandwich.

Favorite Drink:  My go-to is water, but I love Mountain Dew.

What You Watch Other Than Hockey:  Baseball.

How Many Times Have You Watched The Mighty Ducks?  Too many times to count.

Favorite Movie:  Caddyshack.  ( I knew I liked Berkle for a reason).

Best Breakfast Cereal:  Lucky Charms.

As A Kid… Eat The Cereal or Dig For The Prize:  I ate the cereal.

Favorite Juice:  Orange Juice.

Toppings On A Pizza:  Just cheese, but sometimes sausage.

Favorite Music:  Everything – Rap, Country, and Rock.

Favorite Muppet:  Kermit The Frog.

Best Cartoon Character Ever:  Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin.

Brandi Brown Horizon League Player Of The Week

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Youngstown State sophomore forward Brandi Brown has been honored as the Horizon League Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week beginning Nov. 22, the conference announced Monday.

Brown averaged 20 points and 8.5 rebounds in helping Youngstown State snap a 34-game losing streak and win back-to-back games for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

Brown notched her first double-double of the season – and 15th of her career – in Youngstown State’s 71-57 victory over Bucknell on Wednesday. She scored 16 of her game-high 23 points in the second half in just 13 minutes. She added 11 rebounds and two steals, and she was 7-for-8 from the free-throw line.

Brown then scored a game-high 17 points while posting six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in YSU’s come-from-behind victory over Ohio on Saturday. One of those assists came when she grabbed a defensive rebound and hit Macey Nortey on a fast-break lay-up with 55 seconds remaining that gave YSU its first lead of the second half.

Brown, a native of Pomona, Calif., leads the Horizon League in scoring with 20.2 points per game. She also ranks seventh in rebounding and ninth in 3-point field goals per contest.

Youngstown State’s last Horizon League Player of the Week was Jen Perugini on Feb. 28, 2005.

Last season,  Brown was pretty much robbed for Horizon League Newcomer of The Year as she was voted runner-up despite leading the conference in more statistics than the eventual winner of the award.