Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

April 19, 2014

Czachorski: Time to catch Cup fever

EFFINGHAM — I woke up early Friday morning and did something I never do these days -- I flipped on SportsCenter.

It was the top of the 7 a.m. hour, and unshockingly, ESPN led with discussion of the playoffs.

What left me flabbergasted was they were leading with the NHL playoffs, as I was truly unaware ESPN remembered that hockey was a sport.

Hyperbole aside, Thursday night's slate of action was worth it. Colorado overcame a 4-2 deficit to beat Minnesota 5-4 in overtime thanks to two goals by Paul Stasny and three assists by 18-year-old Nathan McKinnon.

But the game that stole the show was the game that probably was of the most interest to the area fans, the triple overtime war between Chicago and St. Louis.

I watched the whole game. I'm a fan of neither team -- actually, until this season when my beloved Detroit Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference, it was a game between two teams I've been conditioned to root against.

But what a game it was. There was an early flurry of goals on both ends, a middle section where scoring chances were plentiful but unfruitful before Jaden Schwartz tied the game with under two minutes left.

And that was just regulation.

The first overtime was a clinic by the Blackhawks, putting the screw to the Blues' defense, only to be turned away time and time again by new goalie Ryan Miller, and once by center Maxim Lapierre in the crease.

The intensity continued to ratchet up, reaching a climax in the second overtime as Miller stoned the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp on a breakaway. They re-Zamboni'd the ice, the Blues came out and got the game winner from Alexander Steen in the longest game in Blues history 26 seconds in to overtime.

Right there, that whole game, is why I love hockey.

I've written a column to this affect before, weeks after arriving in Effingham. I'll bet I'll write one again at some point.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are the perfect time to jump in. Before I became a full-fledged, live-and-die-with-every-game fan, I basically just cruised through the regular season with little attention and turned it on for the playoffs. (It helps the Red Wings have made it 23 years running.)

The current field is amazing, with rivarlies abound and great storylines, like aforementioned McKinnon leading the Avalanche to the top seed in the Central Division after being the number one draft pick last year.

You've got young and old players, new and storied teams, great matchups across the board.

There's a reason it's bandied about that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the best in sports, with a level of intensity that can't be matched and a truly unpredictable ending every year.

The reason is because it's true.

Jump on board with a great series in your backyard, and maybe stick around awhile. ESPN might even get the memo.

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  • DSC_0725.JPG Newton Post 20 bests Belleville Post 58 in opener 6-1
    After a 9-3 loss to Breese Post 252 Gray Monday night, Newton Post 20 coach John Grunloh predicted the five-day break until the Junior Legion Fifth Division tournament would be good for his players, especially his pitchers. 
    Mitch Jansen proved his coach right, spinning a gem in Newton's opener Saturday afternoon as Post 20 made short work of Belleville Post 58 6-1. 

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • daughertyfootball.jpg Hearts to prep with Mattoon 7-on-7

    Two weeks ago, Effingham was supposed to start shaking off the rust with a 7-on-7 football tournament in Mattoon. Naturally, it rained and was canceled.
    So Saturday, the Flaming Hearts will head up to Mattoon and play their first 7-on-7 event of the season, taking part in an 10- team field with Mattoon, Rochester, Robinson, Marshall, Cahokia and Pleasant Plains from Illinois, with Terre Haute North and Northview coming from Indiana. Rochester is bringing two squads.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mammoser3.jpg Newton Post 20 plays Belleville Saturday

    With the District 23 tournament behind them, Newton Post 20 now knows its fate for the Fifth Division Junior Legion tournament this weekend in Bethalto.
    Newton will play Belleville Post 58 at 2:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Bethalto, in the third game of six on the day.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bateman.jpg Effingham's season comes to a close with 11-1 loss to Salem

    A 1-0 lead for Effingham Post 120 rapidly evaporated, and the post’s Junior Legion season came to an end with a 11-1 loss in five innings to Salem Post 128 Tuesday night.
    The game was for the final spot of District 23 in the divisional tournament, with Newton Post 20 and Breese Post 252 Gray punching their tickets by winning their district divisions.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bierman.jpg Newton Post 20 falls short against Breese Gray 9-3

    While the District 23 title ultimately exceeded Newton Post 20’s grasp, their season will continue in Bethalto.
    Newton took on Breese Post 252 Gray for the Junior Legion District 23 title as the two division winners, but Breese’s bats proved too much for Newton in an 9-3 loss for Post 20.
    “The innings where they put some runs on us, we gave them some extra outs,” said Newton coach John Grunloh. “You’ve got to make the plays when you play better teams.”

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Barnes3.jpg Barnes' one-hitter boosts Post 120; Effingham beats Dieterich 1-0

    Ryan Barnes hasn’t seen a lot of time with Effingham Post 120’s junior legion team this season, but he showed up in a big way Monday night in a 1-0 win over Dieterich Post 628.
    The win kept Effingham’s season alive one more day in the Junior Legion District 23 tournament, as the post will face Salem Post 128 at 5:30 p.m. today for the district’s final spot in the divisional round. Salem Post 128 downed Mt. Vernon Post 141 1-0 in the West Division loser’s bracket, setting up the final with Effingham today.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mammoser2.jpg Newton Post 20 tops Effingham Post 120 7-5 late

    Most of the games at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament have seen pitching take control, but the pitchers in Sunday night's Effingham Post 120/Newton Post 20 game faced an uphill battle.
    While Brock Mammoser started the game for Post 20 on the hill and struggled, he came through with the biggest hit in the game, putting Newton up for good in a 7-5 win over Effingham.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Campton.jpg Dieterich Post 628 eliminates Teutopolis Post 924 3-2

    Errors proved to be Teutpolis Post 924's undoing against Dieterich Post 628, as Dieterich's sixth-inning rally in an 3-2 win were boosted by three Teutopolis errors
    To lead off the sixth, Trenton Poe reached on an error by Brock Bueker, and came around to score on an infield single by Ryan Radloff with a throwing error on Bueker. Poe was already on third when the ball went in the Teutopolis dugout, awarding Poe home to tie the game.
    Bryce McClain followed with an RBI single to score Radloff and put Post 628 up for good. Dieterich scored again on a Briar Schmidt groundout where first baseman Brant Bueker tried to get an inning-ending out at second, but the throw was wild and brought home McClain.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teutopolis, Deters down Altamont Post 512 2-0

    TEUTOPOLIS — Lucas Deters didn't get a ton of run support from his Teutopolis Post 924 teammates, but he didn't need much in a complete-game shutout, and Teutopolis ended Altamont Post 512's season with a 2-0 win Sunday afternoon.
    Deters' efforts at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament kept Teutopolis alive in the loser's bracket to face Dieterich Post 628 immediately following the win.

    July 21, 2014

  • Poe.jpg Two-out rally pushes Dieterich to win; Post 628 beats Vandalia Post 95 4-3

    Down one with two outs and Vandalia Post 95 ace Zach Schaal coming in in relief, Dieterich Post 628 had a tough task to keep its season alive.
    But down 3-2, Cole Hartke and Charlie Thoele laced back-to-back singles to score Briar Schmidt and Flach, respectively, to take a 4-3 lead.
    Clayton Campton held the lead in the seventh, striking out two and getting Post 95 in order to keep Dieterich's season alive.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

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