Holy Bemidji! Beavers score one for CHA

NCAA Bemidji St Cornell Hockey

Just as the Niagara men’s hockey team announced it’s skipping out on College Hockey America, wouldn’t you know it, the league has one of its finest moments.

Bemidji State, the Purple Eagles’ longtime CHA rival, pulled a stunner on Saturday by upsetting Notre Dame 5-1 in the NCAA Tournament. The Beavers did it again on Sunday, downing Cornell by the same score and earning a spot in the Frozen Four.

No CHA team had ever done that before — in fact, the only win the league ever got in the NCAAs was Niagara’s upset in the 2000 event.

It’s not really that surprising, all the power conference teams have long known not to toy with BSU or Niagara — both could hold their own in a Big Four conference.


Flynn’s run proves he’s worthy of NBA


During one of his ESPN podcasts, Sports Guy Bill Simmons challenged draftexpress.com’s 2009 NBA mock selections, which included Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin as the top pick.

“The one I totally disagree with is Jonny Flynn at 20. I think he’s much better than that,” Simmons said.

“He’s a lottery pick.”

Flynn, who was on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated that came out this week, coyly mentioned he’s planning to return to Syracuse for his junior year when his team’s NCAA run is complete.

Don’t count on it.

With lightning-quick moves and intense leadership skills, the former Wolverine keeps proving he’s ready for the next level. As he follows a huge Big East tourney with a trip to the Sweet 16, Flynn’s stock keeps rising.

Might go so high he’ll have to cash it in.

NU baseball needs to right ship


Good to see the Niagara University baseball team get a win on Sunday over reigning MAAC champ Siena, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. When Mike McRae switched ends on the Battle of the Bridge after the 2004 season, hopping from Niagara to arch-rival Canisius, the Purple Eagles were second in the MAAC and had just posted a program-high 27 wins.

Things went well when Chris Chernisky coached many of the players McRae recruited the next few seasons, and the Eagles put up 25 and 28 wins.

Since then, the bottom had fallen out. NU win just three games in the MAAC two seasons ago, and Chernisky quit just before the season started in what can only be considered a peculiar series of events. How peculiar? The program’s media guide has a bio on Chernisky, and he’s listed throughout as the coach. And the team just opened its home schedule Saturday at Sal Maglie Stadium. NU came into a series with reigning MAAC champ Rider with a 3-11 record.

Meanwhile, McRae has his Griffs poised for the best season in school history. Baseball America picked Canisius to win the league and lauded McRae as a guy who resurrected a program.

Siena’s game as good as Syracuse’s, maybe better

NCAA Siena Ohio St Basketball

Last week’s six-overtime Big East thriller between Syracuse and UConn was a riveting battle of attrition, but was it well played? Many have challenged that fact. Great theater, bad basketball.

In contrast, nothing about Siena’s double-overtime win over Ohio State was of low quality. The Saints got a huge pair of 3-pointers from Ronald Moore, but battled toe-to-toe throughout the contest. And give the Buckeyes their due — they by no means did the Big 10 a disservice.

But the magnitude of the game — the winner continued its season — made Friday night’s game even more important. Syracuse’s win was a thrill to watch, but didn’t change much in the grand scheme of things.

Siena’s win, meanwhile, gave a conference credibility and earned the Saints a crack at the nation’s top-ranked team.

Tourneys mean nothing, but Flynn’s effort still incredible

BEast Syracuse UConn Basketball

Six overtimes speak for themselves. You didn’t have to watch Thursday’s Big East quarterfinal to know it was a classic basketball game in every sense of the word. Emotions ran hot. Guys who don’t ever play were on the floor when the game was decided.
But while Syracuse’s win over UConn was the greatest I’ve ever watched, it really didn’t mean a thing. Maybe it knocked the Huskies out of a No. 1 seed, but it probably shouldn’t.
Nothing reminded me how ridiculous conference tournaments are as an innocent question my better half asked: Why was this such a big deal?
I didn’t have an answer.

Now that I’ve knocked the merits of a classic confrontation, to watch Jonny Flynn’s smile light up Madison Square Garden the way it did the Wolvearena was the highlight of the year.
We knew Flynn was special when he led Niagara Falls to a state title, but the moment when I realized how special he’d be was the Under-19 World Championships, where Flynn was the ringleader on a team that featured Stephen Curry, Michael Beasley and Deon Thompson.
Imagine how good he’ll be on a team of NBA stars?
I’ve got a feeling we’ll find out soon.

Give Rosenhaus credit … gulp …


Nobody saw this coming. Nobody. But before we delve into the logic behind why the Bills would sign Terrell Owens, let’s give a thought to why T.O. would want to come to Buffalo.

Is it possible the glare of the spotlight finally burned him out? Is he ready to settle in and play football, rather than plead for headlines? The media attention he’ll get here is a fraction of what he got in Dallas. The guys he’ll be in the locker room with are, for the most part, pretty low-key. There’s little chance he and Trent Edwards will become adversaries with Edwards’ humble nature. Same goes for Dick Jauron.

It pains me to say this, but give Drew Rosenhaus credit — he found a place for his client where he really should have a chance to success.

Kotalik: Won’t miss him for 65 minutes, but we’ll miss him


Color me confused about the move that sent Ales Kotalik to Edmonton for a second-round pick Wednesday.

Kotalik has been expendable for much of his career in Buffalo. Despite his size, he struggled to dig pucks out on the half-wall and was never the power forward his skill set teased us into thinking he might be.

But the Sabres are in a dogfight for a playoff spot. Every point will count down the stretch. And chances are a few shootout wins could tip the scales.

Kotalik, of course, has been lights out in shootouts this season, perfecting his top-shelf backhand.

Why hold a guy like that all this time, then dump him for a measly second-rounder just when you’ll need him most?