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Big crowd expected for New Castle-Beaver Falls ..... No lower seating at "Pete"

Written by Mike White on .

Some items that fell off my laptop

The crowd for tomorrow night's Beaver Falls vs. New Castle game is expected to be large. In fact, big enough that it forced the WPIAL to change a game site.

The WPIAL announced this morning that the Beaver Falls-New Castle contest in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals will be played as a single game at Geneva College, starting at 7 p.m. Also, Geneva College officials said that only a limited number of tickets would be available at the gate tomorrow night. Maybe a couple hundred at most.

The WPIAL originally scheduled the game as part of a doubleheader at Geneva, starting at 6 p.m. The second game was supposed to be a girls matchup between Carlynton and Seton-LaSalle. But WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said the presale for tickets was so good at New Castle and Beaver Falls that the league thought it would be best to move the girls game to a different site. Geneva said capacity will be about 2,800.

So, the Seton-LaSalle vs. Carlynton game has been moved to West Allegheny as the third game of a tripleheader. The first two games will be "play-in" games for the PIAA playoffs. Those games will be at 5 p.m. and 6:30.

Forget the good seats

The WPIAL basketball championships will be Saturday at Petersen Events Center. But if you're a fan, you can forget about sitting on the first level.

According to O'Malley, Pitt will not open the first-level seats where the "Zoo" student section sits for Pitt games. The first level on the other side of the court is private boxes. So that means there will be no first-level seating for any fans. That's terrible.

I addressed the situation on this blog a few wees ago, hoping things wouldn't be the same as when the WPIAL played championship games at the "Pete" once before (2006). Pitt did the same thing that year. It pushed back the first-level seats. It was like a cavern on that side of the court. It takes away a lot of the atmosphere.

The City League championships were played at the "Pete" on Saturday. The lower-level seats again were not available. I talked to someone who was there. They said it was like an empty feeling on the court.

O'Malley said it's Pitt's decision not to open the lower-level seats. O'Malley said Pitt's reasoning is who do they allow to sit in those lower-level seats? How do they separate students from different schools who want to sit in the lower-level seats?

Hogwash.

This isn't seating science. How about this: You don't let student sections sit in those lower-level seats. They sit in either the end zone or on the second level on the side of the court. For years, there was no problem putting the student sections in the end zone at Palumbo. You couldn't do the same at the "Pete?" 

And Pitt says it has a predicament on what fans should be allowed to sit in that lower level? C'mon, man. Here's a novel idea: Maybe the fans who come first and want to sit in the lower level should be allowed, no matter who they are. Is that really complicated? 

It worked fine at Palumbo. That place has lower-level seating on both sides and it was never a problem. Who sat there? Anybody who wanted. First come, first serve. So what if there were fans from competing schools mixed in the lower-level seats at the Pete.

Sorry, but any explanation of this doesn't hold up. It doesn't make sense. You offer to host the championships and don't let anyone sit in the best seats.

This and that

**** It's that time of year when the subject of players of the year comes up. I think it's pretty easy. For boys basketball, it's a two-horse race between Chartiers Valley's Matt McConnell and Hempfield's Kason Harrell. Who knows? Maybe they will meet in the championship. There is a possibility of that.

For the girls, I think it's also a two-horse race between Vincentian's Brenna Wise and Blackhawk's Chassidy Omogrosso.

**** Here's a good trivia question: Can you name a coach who has taken four different teams to the WPIAL semifinals? I've got one: Mark Jula.

Jula has Ambridge in the semifinals. In his career, he also took Moon, Butler and North Allegheny to the semifinals. He took Butler and North Allegheny to title games and won one championship with Butler.

Ambridge hasn't made it to the championship game since 1984.

**** North Hills plays Mt. Lebanon tonight in a quarterfinal game. Mt. Lebanon is trying to make the semifinals for the seventh time since 2002 and for the 16th time in school history. North Hills is trying to make the semifinals for only the third time in school history.

**** Turning to football, there has been a change in the Pennsylvania roster for the Big 33. Record-setting quarterback Ben DiNucci of Pine-Richland has elected not to participate in the game. DiNucci is a Pitt recruit. DiNucci's spot will be taken by West Allegheny quarterback Andrew Koester, a St. Francis, Pa., recruit.

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Mushroom club offers free walks and talks

Written by Doug Oster on .

Gilled-boleteAn edible mushroom called a gilled bolete found in the woods at Hartwood Acres. I shot this picture while spending the day with the club. Photo by Doug Oster

Wild mushrooms are a beautiful mystery and need to be treated with care because they can make you sick and even kill you. The best way for beginners to learn about them is hooking up with the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club.

It's important to have experts to teach what's edible in the forest and what's not. Chicken of the Woods is a mushroom I know well and harvest each fall. Even though I'm sure of what it is, I always ask for confirmation from an expert at the club.

Here's some upcoming events from the club which will keep you safe and provide you with the knowledge to find culinary treats in the woods.

The Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club announces the following walks and meetings for the months of March and April 2015:

WALK:  Saturday, March 14, 10:00 a.m. in South Park, Allegheny County. Meet WPMC mycologist La Monte Yarroll at the South Park Nature Center to collect mushrooms for our first meeting of the year.

MEETING:  Tuesday, March 17, 7:00 p.m. Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, 614 Dorseyville Road.  Topic: Morels and how to find them.  Speakers:  WPMC members Jim Wasik and Dick Dougall.

WALK:  Sunday, April 19, 10:00 a.m.  Hartwood Acres, Allegheny County.  Meet Jim Wasik at the Mansion parking lot to collect mushrooms for our next meeting.

MEETING:  Tuesday, April 21, 7:00 p.m. Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, 614 Dorseyville Road.  Guest speaker: Dr. Sarah Meiss from California University of Pennsylvania Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

WALK: Saturday, April 25, 12:00-3:00 p.m. at Ryerson Station State Park, Greene County.  Meet Brian Davis and La Monte Yarroll at the ranger station at Ryerson Station. There should be morels.

Admission to all walks and meetings is free.  For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit wpamushroomclub.org.

I had the pleasure of joining the club on a foray back in 2003 and wrote about it here. It's a great group of people and hunting with them is a lot of fun.

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Cold Crime

Written by Rob Rogers on .

A New Hampshire police department issued an arrest warrant for Punxsutawney Phil. Sadly, they are not the only ones seeking vengeance against the Pennsylvania groundhog. 

022315 Cold Crime

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Panthers at Penguins - 02-22-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

There aren't very many constants in hockey. Yeah, the ice is cold and the puck is rubber, but as far as what a team goes through over the course of a season, or even a week or a single game, just about anything is possible. That's kind the best way to describe what the Penguins have been through over the past 48 hours.

-After trouncing a very good but somewhat tired Blues team in St. Louis last night, the Penguins came out flat at home against another somewhat tired Panthers team. They were the inferior team for the first 49:33 of this game.  The Panthers controlled things in the Penguins' zone most of the first two periods. They put a ton of shots on net and a lot of them were quality. And despite having a 1-0 lead, the Penguins were hanging on for dear life.

-But with only 27 seconds left in the period, they took advantage of a neutral zone turnover and saw Evgeni Malkin break the Panthers' backs with a goal off transition. After that, the floodgates opened as the Penguins scored three goals and earned an impressive, but improbable, win.

-Malkin explained the Penguins' back-to-back wins:

"Every game big. We play back to back. Again, it doesn't matter what team we play. If we play right, play our game, we beat any team in the league. We show last two games, how we can play.”

-One of the few constants for the Penguins this season has been Marc-Andre Fleury. After the game, Malkin referred to him as the Penguins' MVP this season. Yes, the Penguins scored five goals but Fleury was the ONLY reason they pulled this game out. The Panthers had a ton of quality chances in the first two periods and Fleury had to perform acrobatics at time to deny them. He earned this win and then some.

-The Penguins were outshot, 16-8, in the first period and 27-16 after two periods. It was probably more lopsided than that in all reality in terms of how much momentum the Panthers had early.

-The Penguins took a 1-0 lead 9:18 into the game. After Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov lost the puck in the Panthers' right circle, Kris Letang pushed it deep into the right corner and played it to the crease. Kulikov blocked the puck with his stick but Patric Hornqvist barged in and pushed it behind Panthers goaltender Al Montoya for his 17th goal of the season.

-They made it a 2-0 game with 27 seconds remaining in the second period. Following a neutral zone turnover by former Penguins left winger Jussi Jokinen, Malkin recovered the puck, raced by Kulikov and lifted a backhander from the right circle through Montoya's five hole.

-It became a 3-0 game 19 seconds into the third. Taking a feed off the right half wall from Sidney Crosby, Paul Martin ripped a wrister from the left circle by Montoya's glove hand on the far side.

-They extended the lead to 4-0 with a power-play goal at the 3:53 mark. After Crosby fed a backhanded pass from the end boards, Hornqvist lifted a forehand shot on net from the right circle. Montoya made the initial save but couldn't deny Hornqvist's backhander on the rebound.

-It became a 5-0 game at 9:06 of the third. After Malkin stole a puck off Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic in Florida's left wing corner, he attacked the net and lifted a backhander off the right side of Montoya's helmet and into the cage.

-The Panthers finally got on the scoreboard at the 12:23 mark. Panthers center Vince Trocheck, an Upper St. Clair native, beat Maxim Lapierre on a faceoff in the Penguins' right circle. Trocheck pushed the puck forward and whipped it to the crease where left winger Scottie Upshall deflected it behind Fleury.

-While the game was kind of out of hand at this point, the Penguins' power play showed a little life. with the second Hornqvist goal. After two pretty lifeless power play attempts int he first two periods, the Penguins looked pretty dangerous with their third attempt. They finished 1 for 3.

-Prior to the game, Mike Johnston acknowledged Letang has been playing a lot of minutes in the absence of Christian Ehrhoff. In his previous five games, Letang had averaged 28:38 of ice time. Johnston said Letang had been averaging approximately three of four minutes of ice time per game due to Ehrhoff's absence and that he'd like to keep him in the 25-minute range. Tonight, Letang had 25:33 of ice time.

-After scratching Steve Downie last night, Johnston played him in place of Craig Adams. Johnston explained his reasoning for scratching Downie then Adams as

“We have one extra healthy body [at forward] right now and I wanted to get [Zach Sill] in. If we do have a healthy body, there will be guys in and out over the next couple of weeks. Steve brings a lot of energy. Actually, he had a couple of good games for us lately. It's a matter with the volume of games, keeping his energy up there.”

-After the game, Johnston made a point to laud Adams as being a valuable player on the penalty kill and as well as with the character he brings to the team.

-With Adams scratched and Maxim Lapierre in the penalty box late, Crosby logged 39 seconds of penalty kill time. Johnston acknowledged Adams' scratch and Lapierre's penalty as reasons Crosby got some short-handed time, but said he'd like to increase his team's depth on the penalty kill.

-Patric Hornqvist has come to life since being moved back to Crosby's wing. He had two goals and an assist tonight. Short of injury, we're not sure how anyone could justify moving him off Crosby's line.

-Crosby was one of the few Penguins who looked dangerous for the entire game. He had his skating skates on. He overwhelmed the Panthers at times with his speed. His passing was pretty crisp too as he set up goals for Hornqvist and Martin.

-The Panthers have to be wondering what went wrong. They dominated the game for 20 minutes and got trounced. Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and others all had quality chances in tight but couldn't beat Fleury.

-We wonder if this game would have been different with Roberto Luongo in net. Al Montoya just wasn't sharp.

-The Panthers led in shots on net, 35-26.

-The Panthers led in attempted shots, 52-51.

-Malkin led the game with five shots.

-Huberdeau and Scottie Upshall each led the Panthers with four shots.

-Ekblad was the only Panthers skater who failed to record a shot on net.

-Letang led the game with 25:33 of ice time.

-Brian Campbell led the Panthers with 22:12 of ice time.

-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 29-25 (54 percent).

-Crosby was 11 for 18 (61 percent).

-Barkov was 5 for 9 (56 percent).

-Martin, Rob Scuderi, Steven Kampfer and Kulikov each led the game with three blocked shots.

-The ice:

-Fans entering the barn:

-Some sights. Adams has a fan:

-Alexei Ponikarovsky:

-The third defensive pairing got some love. Scuderi:

-And Simon Despres:

-Speaking of Ulf Samuelsson:

-David Perron:

-Jordan Staal:

-Larry Murphy:

-Kevin Stevens:

-Jersey of the Night: On the 35th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, it has to be Mike Eruzione:

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

 

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About the Panthers - 02-22-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Panthers.

When and where: 6 p.m, EST, Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports, Fox Sports Florida.

Record: 26-20-12, 64 points. The Panthers are in fifth place in the Atlantic Division.

Leading Scorer: center Nick Bjugstad (right), 36 points (21 goals, 15 assists).

Last Game: 4-1 road loss to the Senators Saturday. Goaltender Roberto Luongo made 35 saves for the Panthers.

Last Game against the Penguins: 4-3 home shootout win Dec. 22. Right winger Jimmy Hayes scored two regulation goals for the Panthers.

Panthers Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Hayes.

Ex-Penguins on the Panthers: Left winger Jussi Jokinen, professional scout Peter Mahovlich, general manager Dale Tallon.

Ex-Panthers on the Penguins: Assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald, center Marcel Goc, senior advisor of hockey operations Jacques Martin, co-director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton.

Useless Panthers Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Jokinen (35) has the most career shootout goals for anyone who has played for the Penguins. Center Sidney Crosby (30) is second.

The last time the Panthers played the Penguins, this happened:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (26-13-6, 2.18 GAA, .924 SV%) for the Penguins. Al Montoya (4-5-2, 2.82 GAA, .899 SV%) for the Panthers.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (head) is out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and defenseman Olli Maatta (shoulder) are on injured reserve. For the Panthers, centers Davod Bolland (undisclosed) and left winger Jussi Jokinen (undisclosed) are questionalbe. Defenseman Willie Mitchell ("upper body") and center Brandon Pirri ("upper body") are on injured reserve

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not hold a morning skate. Their primary lines and defensive pairings against the Blues last night were:

39 David Perron- 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
14 Chris Kunitz - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 17 Blake Comeau
13 Nick Spaling - 16 Brandon Sutter - 19 Beau Bennett
38 Zach Sill - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 27 Craig Adams

7 Paul Martin – 58 Kris Letang
4 Rob Scuderi - 47 Simon Despres
41 Robert Bortuzzo – 51 Derrick Pouliot

-The Panthers did not hold a morning skate. Consider this a guess based off their primary lines and defensive pairings against the Senators last night:

11 Jonathan Huberdeau - 15 Aleksander Barkov - 24 Brad Boyes
12 Jimmy Hayes - 27 Nick Bjugstad - 36 Jussi Jokinen
14 Tomas Fleischmann - 63 Dave Bolland - 19 Scottie Upshall
82 Tomas Kopecky - 17 Derek MacKenzie - 22 Shawn Thornton

51 Brian Campbell - 5 Aaron Ekblad
3 Steven Kampfer - 44 Erik Gudbranson
72 Alex Petrovic - 7 Dmitry Kulikov

Notes:

-Defenseman Rob Scuderi has 98 career points.

-Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is eligible to return to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension.

-Right winger Brad Boyes has 199 career goals.

-Center Vince Trochek, a native of Upper St. Clair, was recalled from San Antonio of the AHL while defenseman Shane O'Brien was assigned to San Antonio.

-The referees are Kelly SUtherland (No. 11) and Grahm Skilliter (No. 24). The linesmen are Greg Devorski (No. 54) and Tony Sericolo (No. 84).

-We will not have a live blog post but will have a postgame post.

(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

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