After a thrilling first period, the ‘Canes phoned it in en route to a 2-0 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers. Two breakaway goals in the first half of the first period was all the offense it took to send the Thrashers to their fourth straight loss. Cam Ward turned away each of the 19 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season and the ‘Canes pelted Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen with 40.
Matt Cullen got the ball rolling (puck sliding?) when he scored the Hurricanes’ second shorthanded goal of the season in as many games The goal, which came at 7:41 in the first period, gave Cullen goals in back-to-back games. After Eric Staal took a tripping penalty, the Hurricanes took off on a penalty kill that strongly resembled a power play - on a very, very good day - and the Thrashers were helpless to stop Cullen as he charged in on a breakaway and put the puck past Lehtonen. Cullen had been getting these shorthanded opportunities all season, but this newfound confidence on the PK – along with some strong chemistry with Chad LaRose – is allowing him to finally bury those chances.
Aaron King, a second-team All-American his senior season at N.C. State, whose professional career seems to be picking up speed after early struggles to find his footing, signed with the RailHawks, the team announced today
King comes to the ’Hawks today after two productive seasons with the USL-1 Charleston Battery. Last year, he appeared in 35 of the team's 38 league and non-league games, starting eight of them. Over the same span, he scored six goals and finished fourth on the team in points.
His pro career began in 2006 when he was taken the Los Angeles in the fourth round of the MLS Superdraft, but was quickly dealt to the Colorado Rapids. He spent a season with the Rapids without a single game appearance before arriving at Charleston.
His signing means the ’Hawks have two confirmed striker signings, with the returning Hamed Diallo being the other. We await word on Dan Antoniuk, the tall, aggressive forward who struggled for much of his first season in Cary, after a superlative season in Atlanta in 2007.
Road victories are a precious commodity in the ACC. North Carolina can attest to that after Wednesday night’s shootout with Florida State, when the Seminoles gamely defended their home court and appeared to be on the verge of victory with just a couple minutes remaining.
A Danny Green steal and a strong defensive stop by Tyler Hansbrough changed that, however, and the Tar Heels had a chance to win with two seconds remaining. That still didn’t leave them with great odds of avoiding overtime, but Ty Lawson raced the length of the floor and lofted in a running three-pointer as time expired to give the Heels an 80-77 victory.
Believe it, folks. Not the beating the Lightning part – the Hurricanes have done that four times this season. But in the win, Chad LaRose scored that elusive first shorthanded goal to tie the score at one.
The ‘Canes benefitted from a few calls early in the game. Martin St. Louis deflected a shot into the net just after a ‘Canes power play for too many men on the ice expired, but after a brief review, his stick was determined to have been above the crossbar.
After Anton Babchuk and Tuomo Ruutu combined for one ugly giveaway a few feet in front of the net, Mark Recchi got the goal right back for the Lightning.
LaRose took a heads-up pass from Matt Cullen at the boards and deflected it past Mike Smith for Carolina’s first shorthanded goal since March 28th, when Trevor Letowski scored with his team a man down in a 7-1 win against Atlanta.
“He was the first person I played with when I first got called up, so we’re familiar with each other,” LaRose said of Cullen. “We work well together.”
The CanesVision crew complied a touching tribute to N.C. State’s women’s basketball coach, Kay Yow, who died on January 24. The video montage showed several highlights of her career and featured Kay Yow’s ceremonial puck drop before a Carolina-Vancouver game last year. Yow, dressed all in pink, embraced captain Rod Brind’Amour before being escorted off the ice.
What does this mean for the prospects of seeing him in Cary this year? We're not sure yet, but we hope to find out.
Meanwhile, the RailHawks announced three new signings today, all MLS and USL-1 veterans: midfielders Brian Plotkin and Luke Kreamalmeyer and defender John Gilkerson.
We note that three midfielders have been signed this week, leaving us to wonder about last year's co-offensive players of the year Fusilier and Nuñez, and the above-mentioned Watson. We'll stay tuned.
Here are the bios supplied by the RailHawks.
Brian Plotkin is arguably one of the most talented midfielders in the United States. He was drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2006 after spending his collegiate career at Indiana University where he won two back-to-back NCAA College Cups. While at Indiana he was also a finalist for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Award, one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate soccer. Between 2006 and 2008 Plotkin saw action in 23 games tallying one goal and one assist. In August of 2008 Plotkin transferred to MLS Cup Champions Columbus Crew.
Luke Kreamalmeyer is a midfielder who most recently played with the Rochester Rhinos. He was drafted by Salt Lake City of the MLS in 2005 and played in six matches before transferring to the Portland Timbers in 2006.He spent two years in Portland playing in 50 games and tallying nine goals. At the beginning of the 2008 season Kreamalmeyer was signed by the Rochester Rhinos. While at the Rhinos, he started all 30 games of the season and scored four goals and nine assists for 17 pts.
Defender John Gilkerson is a graduate from Winthrop University who was drafted by the New York Red Bulls in 2008. Gilkerson made his full professional debut for the Red Bulls on 1 July, 2008, in a US Open Cup third round game against Crystal Palace Baltimore.
The RailHawks announced today the signing of 26-year-old midfielder Josh Gardner, a veteran of three journeyman seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy and two considerably more productive seasons with the Seattle Sounders. With the latter squad over the last two seasons, Gardner scored 7 goals in 52 appearances, playing on the left side.
We asked the RailHawks if there are any updates on last year's midfield mainstays of Matt Watson, Martin Nuñez and Santiago Fusilier and were told to "stay tuned."
Here's Gardner's stats, copied from his wikipedia page.
|2001-03||Cincinnati 60 (14)|
|Houston Toros||5 (2)
By Staal standards, it was a fairly low-key affair at the 2009 All-Star game, held in Montreal on Sunday night. Eric Staal scored the second goal of the night to make the score 2-1, and his Eastern Conference All-Stars won the match in a shootout, 12-11.
Alexi Kovalev, the captain of the hometown Canadiens (now there’s a funny coincidence) kept Staal from adding to his car collection. He scored two goals and added the deciding tally in the shootout, earning the game’s MVP title and a 2009 Honda Ridgeline in the process.
Staal was conspicuously absent in the Skills Competition; in the only event he did compete in, the Elimination Shootout, his shot was stopped by a sprawling Tim Thomas. Although he played on the night’s most prolific line with Kovalev and league-leading point scorer Evgeni Malkin, Staal only registered one shot on goal of his team’s 54 during the All Star game, and it wound up in the back of the net. Staal, standing at the goalmouth, picked up a Jay Bouwmeester feed for his fourth goal in three All-Star games. He has scored at least once in every one he has participated in.
The ‘Canes return to action tomorrow night when they visit Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers. Carolina dropped its only game against the Rangers so far this season, a 3-2 shootout loss in December. They will return to Raleigh for a two-game home stand against Tampa Bay and Atlanta on Thursday and Saturday.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils rose to the top spot in the AP and Coaches Polls this week after soundly whooping Maryland 85-44 Saturday.
Duke marks the third ACC team to claim the top spot in the polls this season after Wake Forest and preseason favorite North Carolina.
"You don’t get anything from it except a big headline when you lose," Krzyzewski said about the rankings after the victory over the Terrapins.
It's the first time the Blue Devils have been ranked number one since J.J. Redick led the Blue Devils into the 2006 NCAA tournament, ending with an upset loss to a talented LSU squad.
But what's most important for the Blue Devils is a 5-0 ACC start, including a 69-44 win over Virginia Tech -- the current second placed team.
The Blue Devils were an afterthought in the ACC to start the season as expectations rose for the Tar Heels after a beatdown of Michigan State and Notre Dame early in the season.
“I said before the season started that I thought this was going to be the best Duke team since I’ve returned, " UNC head coach Roy Williams said Monday in a teleconference.
That's lofty praise considering in Williams' first season the Blue Devils made it to the Final Four only to lose to UConn, who was carried to the NCAA title by Emeka Okafor.
The upset of North Carolina by Boston College and then Wake Forest opened the door for the Blue Devils, who will travel to play the Demon Deacons Wednesday in a crucial ACC game.
The Blue Devils are facing the brutal part of their schedule with trips to Winston-Salem and Clemson over the next three games -- both teams are ranked in the top 15.
Coach K's squad then hosts Miami and UNC.
The rankings will be much more significant if Duke is stil No. 1 after these next five games.
Sad news today. After a courageous and public struggle with breast cancer, N.C. State's Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Kay Yow died this morning. She was 66 and died with her boots on: She gave up her coaching duties just over a month ago, on Dec. 22.
The News and Observer has extensive coverage.
Thanks to some commitments and a bit of wintry weather, I relinquished my spot in Cameron Indoor Stadium for the Duke’s Men’s Basketball games after the New Year break. Today, I made my return, the environment both before and after today’s 85-44 rout of the Maryland Terrapins felt radically transformed from its pre-ACC complacence: The kids are camping in Krzyzewskiville in droves now,
and they’re playing the parts of Cameron Crazies better—improved group outfits, sharper taunts, more energy all around—than when they overlooked great jokes against Presbyterian’s Blue Hose in November. And after the game, a horde of fans huddled in Cameron’s front lobby, holding basketballs, programs and ticket stubs, all awaiting the Sharpie swipe of the 14 players that might just emerge from this weekend as the top-ranked basketball team in the country.