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Each week sports reporters Matthew Lambert and Sam Thiel will face off on a hot topic in sports. The world of sports is changing quickly and constantly, but we want to slow it down and take a better look at the juiciest gossip, scandal, rumor or issue that is making headlines this week. Lambert and Thiel will take different sides and battle it out, telling you why you they are right.
This week’s topic: NHL preview: Who wins the Stanley Cup?
This Wednesday, the 2015-16 NHL season begins with four games. Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games, 4-2 to win their third Stanley Cup in six years. This week, Matthew Lambert and Sam Thiel voice their opinions about which team will hoist the Cup in June. Let’s talk about it…
(Recap by Sam Thiel)
While this Anaheim Ducks team doesn’t have Emilio Estevez or the “knucklepuck,” this team is still mighty and is my favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
The Ducks finished the 2014-2015 regular season with a 51-24 record, tying the St. Louis Blues for the best record in the Western Conference. The Ducks were busy this off-season after losing in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion, the Chicago Blackhawks. They brought in seven free agents and two coaches. The Ducks are all in and, from an ESPN article written by Pierre LeBrun, Ducks general manager Bob Murray says, “I’m not happy with how it ended.”
There is nothing better as a Ducks fan than to hear your general manager say those words.
Other than the free agents and huge commitment from the front office, the Ducks still have a strong team that was relatively untouched. Captain Ryan Getzlaf is coming off a 25 goal, 45 assist season and will look to continue his strong career with the terrific free agent acquisitions like Chris Stewart, Chris Hagelin and Mike Santorelli.
Obviously, the Western conference is still extremely tough with the Blackhawks, Blues and Vancouver Canucks, but the Ducks have done enough this offseason to make sure they are in contention for the Stanley Cup again. Watch for the Ducks to make more moves close to the trade deadline even if they are doing well or struggling.
If nothing else comes from the Ducks this season, just hope they wear their awesome alternative throwback jerseys. Maybe they’ll invite Estevez to coach one game and make every kid who grew up in the 90s wish come true.
The fastest-striking team to hit the ice last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning, surprised the world, finishing second in the Atlantic Division and ultimately losing to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup final.
Tampa Bay’s roster didn’t experience much change from last year to this year. Center Steven Stamkos is a potential candidate to win the Hart Trophy given to the league’s most valuable player. Their second line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kuckerov has the talent to play on the first line. Finally, Ben Bishop is one of the most underrated goaltenders in the NHL after leading the league in games played, wins, saves and shutouts. The Lightning definitely has the pieces to make another run to the Cup in 2016.
The only problems Tampa Bay is facing right now are the loss of backup goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and the contract of Stamkos. Vasilevskiy will miss at least a couple of months after having surgery to remove blood clots. Stamkos, on the other hand, wants a contract around the eight-year, $80 million range where Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks reside.
As for their competition, the Eastern Conference has some strong teams to take on the Lightning. The Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals all made the playoffs last season and will be Tampa’s main threats in their quest for another trip to the Stanley Cup.
One player to watch out for this season will be Jonathan Drouin. The third overall draft pick from 2014, Drouin is looking for a breakout sophomore campaign after getting injured in training camp. The scary thing is the left-winger is only 20 years old.
If they can stay healthy and maintain the same chemistry from a year ago, the Lightning will be raising the Stanley Cup next June.
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The Winona State University football team used a 38-0 lead at halftime to its advantage, earning a 51-17 blowout victory against Concordia-St. Paul Saturday, to spoil the Golden Bears’ homecoming.
“It was nice to steal a homecoming back. If we don’t get one no one gets one,” wide receiver Justin Bergeron said.
Winona State scored on eight of its nine attempts in the red zone on the game.
The Warriors, who entered the game as the conference’s top passing team, faced the league’s worst passing team in the Golden Bears. Winona State more than doubled Concordia-St. Paul in total offensive yards, compiling 532 yards by the end of the game compared to an opposing 255.
Junior quarterback Jack Nelson posted the 11th game of his career with over 300 passing yards, completing 20 of his 31 attempts for 333 yards and a trio of touchdowns. It was also the first game of the season where he did not throw an interception or was sacked.
After starting the game with a punt, Winona State’s second possession was an 11-play, 65-yard drive culminating with a seven-yard connection from Nelson to senior Josh Mikes for the 7-0 advantage.
On the next play, senior Kyle Coon intercepted a pass from Concordia-St. Paul quarterback Ben Schramski, allowing a two-play drive where Nelson connected with senior Fritz Rock for a 40-yard catch, putting the Warriors on Concordia’s five-yard line. Redshirt first-year Eric Birth then ran the ball into the end zone on the next play to extend the lead to 14-0.
Sophomore Carter McCauley tallied a 23-yard field goal right away in the second quarter before Nelson and Mikes found each other for their second touchdown of the day, a 65-yard pass that increased the advantage to 24-0 in favor of the Warriors.
A minute later, Birth found the end zone for the second time of the afternoon, scoring on a 2-yard rush to give the Warriors a 31-0 lead halfway through the second quarter. Nelson recorded his third touchdown of the first half on a 5-yard pass into the hand of junior Cameron Johnson with 1:18 to go, giving the Warriors a 38-0 advantage heading into the locker room.
Early in the third quarter, junior Paul Preston netted his only touchdown of the game on a 3-yard rush to push the Warrior advantage to 45-0. The running back ended the afternoon with 104 rushing yards on 17 attempts. McCauley made it 48-0 with a 35-yard field goal before the Golden Bears finally scoring on a 15-yard pass at the end of the third quarter to make the score 48-7.
The final points were made by McCauley on a 19-yard kick sealing the 51-7 victory for the Warriors.
Winona State stayed away from the penalty flag for the majority of the game, committing three errors for 30 yards.
Offensively, senior Alan May hauled in six catches for 64 yards while Mikes recorded six receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior Gage Ridenour paved the way defensively for the Warriors, posting seven tackles, while senior Collin Corcoran added five tackles, two of those going for a loss to go along with a sack.
Winona State (3-2) heads to No. 4 Sioux Falls (5-0) for a contest at Bob Young Field. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.