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South Fayette hires Mislan ..... Woodland Hills finds success in baseball ..... other notes

Written by Mike White on .

This, that and the other thing in high school sports:

Dave Mislan resigned as boys basketball coach at Brentwood after this past season. But he wasn't out of a job for long.

This morning, South Fayette called Mislan and informed him that he is the school's new boys basketball coach. South Fayette did final interviews late into last night and Mislan had to go to bed not knowing if he had the position. He woke up to good news. 

South Fayette is a good job. Rich Bonnaure built a strong program before walking away after 16 seasons. South Fayette also is a growing district and the school certainly has athletes, evidenced by its success in football.

Mislan was a logical choice for the position. He has head coaching experience and he lives in the South Fayette district. He has a son in eighth grade who plays basketball.

Mislan did a nice job at Brentwood, his alma mater. Sure, he had some not-so-successful seasons, but he often didn't have much talent to work with. In 11 seasons, he made the WPIAL playoffs six times. That's pretty decent for Brentwood's program. His record was 113-131, but should the record matter that much in this case? It wasn't like Mislan was blessed with great talent.

Under the new six classification system in the WPIAL next season, South Fayette will play in 4A. Look for Mislan and the Lions to have plenty of success in their section, which includes Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Keystone Oaks, McGuffey, South Park, Uniontown and Waynesburg. That isn't exactly a loaded section. South Fayette should do very well. There are only 23 teams in 4A and three sections. Section 2 is the loaded section with New Castle, Beaver Falls, Ambridge and Quaker Valley, among others.

Rise of Wolverine baseball

One of the biggest turnaround stories in WPIAL baseball this season has to be the Woodland Hills Wolverines. They haven't played many games (only eight), but they are certainly game for the playoffs.

Woodland Hills is 4-4 overall and 4-3 in Class AAAA Section 3. The Wolverines are in third place behind Shaler (6-1) and Fox Chapel (5-2). Three teams make the playoffs and Woodland Hills has a one-game lead over Kiski Area (3-4) and Central Catholic (3-4). Woodland Hills is sitting nice because it has defeated Central Catholic twice and Kiski Area once.

A record above .500 in section play is a big deal for Woodland Hills. The Wolverines were 2-8 and 1-9 in section play the past two seasons and have not finished above .500 in section or overall games since 2009, the last time they made the playoffs.

Since 2000, Woodland Hills has made the playoffs only three times and finished with a record above .500 three times - in 2000 (12-7), 2002 (11-8) and 2009 (13-6).

Fortson in Ohio HOF

Former Shaler basketball player Danny Fortson will be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame May 21.

The Ohio HOF was started in 2004 to recognize individuals who made impacts on basketball in Ohio. Fortson played three years at the University of Cincinnati in the 1990s and was a first-team All-American in 1997. He went on to Dan Fortson and Strightplay 10 years in the NBA.

I'd say Fortson is the best player I've seen come out of the WPIAL in 25 years. DeJuan Blair came from the City League. Fortson was 6-7 and like a baby Moses Malone in the WPIAL. He transferred from Altoona to Shaler before his junior year but played only two games before he was ruled ineligible by the WPIAL and PIAA for transferring for athletic intent. He had a monster senior year at Shaler, though.

How good was Fortson? Well, remember this: He was a McDonald's All-American. That should tell enough. (Pictured is Dan Fortson and close Shaler friend, Justin Stright, holding up a framed Sports Illustrated cover of Fortson from his Cincinnati days. This was taken shortly before the 1997 NBA draft).

NFL draft and the WPIAL

Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd (Clairton graduate) will likely be the first former WPIAL player taken in this year's NFL draft. Boyd is projected to go in the first three rounds.

After Boyd, the next WPIAL player to be drafted will probably be West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (Bethel Park graduate). Today's Post-Gazette has a story about Kwiatkoski and whether any other former WPIAL players fit into the NFL draft. 

Check out the THEN and NOW photos of Kwiatkoski from his Bethel Park days to his West Virginia days. Just a little change, huh? He was a 190-some pound DB-WR-TB at Bethel Park. Now he's a 240-pound inside linebacker waiting for the draft.

Then ....

(making a tackle on Central Catholic's Anthony Nixon)

Now ...

(at West Virginia)

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Empty Netter Assists - Schedule finally released - 04-27-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins

-The NHL finally got around to releasing a schedule for the second round

-“You know what’s coming. You know what to expect. You can scout it as much as you want. But they have one more guy on the ice, and it makes it pretty tough to cover everyone.” - Center Eric Fehr on facing the Capitals' power play.

-“Defensively, they’re a lot more disciplined. I think they’re more comfortable playing those low-scoring games. They’re not necessarily always just looking to get a ton of goals and outscore teams that way.” - Captain/center Sidney Crosby on the Capitals.

-Goaltender Matt Murray doesn't know much about former goaltender Denis Herron. But he sure likes his mask.

Calder Cup

-AHL rookie forwards Jake Guentzel (right) and goaltender Casey DeSmith played a big role in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' first round win.

Kelly Cup

-The Wheeling Nailers will face the the Reading Royals in the Eastern Conference's quarterfinal round. The schedule:

Game 1 - Friday, Apr. 29th at Wheeling, 7:35 p.m.
Game 2 - Monday, May 2nd at Wheeling, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 - Wednesday, May 4th at Reading, 7:00 p.m.
Game 4 - Thursday, May 5th at Reading, 7:00 p.m.
*-Game 5 - Saturday, May 7th at Reading, 7:00 p.m.
*-Game 6 - Monday, May 9th at Wheeling, 7:05 p.m.
*-Game 7 - Wednesday May 11th at Wheeling, 7:05 p.m.

*-If necessary.

Capitals

-Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik resumed practicing for the first time since suffering a suspected head injury April 18.

-"No matter what I did on any given day, he always had my back, or at least seemed to have my back. Around the guys, he always took my side and kind of defended me. I’m sure he walked out of the room and said otherwise, but as a young guy coming in and you have a guy like that who’s always helping you out, it’s kind of nice." - Capitals forward Tom Wilson on Fehr as a teammate.

-Capitals defenseman John Carlson made the most of the 25 games he missed this season due to injuries by watching a lot of video.

Lightning

-Lightning captain/forward Steven Stamkos (right) resumed practicing - in a non-contact jersey - for the first time since undergoing surgery to alleviate a blood clot.

-“It’s going to be a big challenge — and that’s what I want. I want to play against world-class players and we’re going to do our best to limit his scoring chances and his time in the offensive zone.” - Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman on facing Islanders captain/forward John Tavares.

Islanders

-Injured Islanders forward Josh Bailey ("upper body"), Ryan Pulock ("upper body") and goaltender Jaroslav Halak (groin) each traveled to Tampa for Games 1 and 2 of their second round series.

Stars

-Stars forward Tyler Seguin is still sidelined from even skating as a result of his cut Achilles tendon.

Blues

-“Dallas is a high-flying team that, watching a few of their games against Minnesota [in the first round], there is not a lot of ice out there. They make you pay for all of your mistakes. We are going to have our hands full in that regard. We have to continue to play our game.” - Blues captain/forward David Backes on facing the Stars in the second round.

Ducks - Predators

-“You’ve just got to go out and play hockey and not worry about all the other extra [stuff]." - Ducks forward Corey Perry (right) on approaching tonight's Game 7.

-"Safe is going to get you nowhere. Being … timid, or hoping for something, is going to get you absolutely where it does, and that's where we've lost the last couple of years. We need to come out and be willing to out-compete them." - Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano.

-"[Defenseman Anthony Bitetto] asked me last night what Game 7 is like. I just told him it's a lot of fun. Each shift is going to be kind of do-or-die, play as hard as you can and don't have any regrets when you're done." - Predators defenseman Barrett Jackman.

Sharks

-“You would never complain about not playing right now, but it’s definitely a fine line – you can get rusty, you can get a little soft. The way these series work we can’t afford that. We can’t afford to come out and be off the first couple games. That’s the line we’re trying to walk.” - Sharks forward Pete DeBoer on his team going a full week between games.

Non-Playoff Stuff
Penguins

-Happy 29th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Taylor Chorney. A free agent signing in 2014, Chorney appeared in seven games for the Penguins in 2014-15 and had no points. In five postseason games, he had no points last spring. This past offseason, Chorney, the son of former Penguins defenseman Marc Chorney, joined the Capitals as a free agent.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle had a profanity-laced tirade on two New York Post reporters at his team's exit interviews Tuesday:

-What is Rangers' forward Eric Staal's future as a pending unrestricted free agent?

-Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi revealed he was dealing with concussion-like symptoms during the first round.

-“We’re at the stage now where we need to look at some changes. For any NHL team, status quo is not possible and it’s not what’s needed. We want to bring in different players to add to the dynamic. The core guys have been together for a while. It’s time to look at what we can do to improve . . . I think we look at everything.” - Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on potential changes to the team.

-Flyers forward Brayden Schenn was suspended for the first three games of the 2016-17 season for a leaping hit to the head of Capitals forward T.J. Oshie in Game 6 of their first-round series Sunday. The NHL's video explanation:

-EN Says: It's hard to imagine the NHL was going suspending Schenn for three playoff games with the warped mindset too many power brokers within the league have which dictates playoff games are more valuable than regular season games as it pertains to supplemental discipline. 

-Flyers forward R.J. Umberger, a native of Plum (No, really!), said he expects to have the final year of his contract bought out

Atlantic Division

-Former Penguins captain/forward Jaromir Jagr (rightsaid he wants to return to the Panthers as a pending unrestricted free agent

-“You could see the team and the fan base getting stronger and bigger. You like to see that. The fans are coming to the game because they followed and believed in our team.” - Jagr on the Panthers seeing a 40 percent increase in attendance this season.

-Panthers captain/defenseman Willie Mitchell, sidelined the final 42 games of the regular season due to a concussion, is not expected to resume his career

-The Panthers will retire their "Spacey in Space" sweatshirt which was awarded to game MVPs.

-The Bruins signed goaltender Daniel Vladar, a third-round pick in 2015, to a three-year entry-level contract.

Pacific Division

-The Canucks signed restricted free agent forward Markus Granlund to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.8 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $767,500, Granlund's new deal will have a cap hit of $900,000. Granlund, 23, appeared in 47 games last season and scored 10 points (six goals, four assists).

-EN Says: This is a bridge contract. Granlund is a former second-round pick who is a creative playmaker but has never put up huge numbers at any level of his career. With the Canucks in the midst of a slight rebuild, Granlund could be a part of this team's future. 

IIHF World Championship

-Red Wings forwards Luke Glendening, Dylan Larkin and Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei were each added to the United States' roster. Sabres forward Hudson Fasching will also join the United States.

-Rangers forward Derick Brassard will play for Canada.

(Photos: Harry How/Getty Images, Christian Petersen/Getty Images, Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press, KDP Studio/Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Post-Gazette archives

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Brewed On Grant: Unbound Delegates

Written by Rob Rogers on .

The story of the unbound delegates in Pennsylvania was a nice distraction while it lasted. Unfortunately for Cruz and Kasich, Trump swept 5 states last night (including Pennsylvania) and it looks like the "Stop Trump" folks may not have a real play in Cleveland. 

20160427 Unbound Delegates

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Lightning - Islanders preview - 04-26-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Lightning vs. Islanders

Lightning Leading Postseason scorer: Right winger Nikita Kucherov, 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists).

Islanders Leading Postseason Scorer: Center John Tavares, 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists).

Lightning Expected Starting Goaltender: Ben Bishop, 4-1, 1.61 GAA, .950 SV%.

Islanders Expected Starting Goaltender: Thomas Greiss (below), 4-2, 1.79 GAA, .944 SV%.

Lightning Postseason Statistics

Islanders Postseason Statistics

Lightning Injuries: Right winger J.T. Brown ("upper body"), center Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and defenseman Anton Stralman (broken fibula) are out. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund (knee) is on injured reserve.

Islanders Injuries: Left winger Josh Bailey (undisclosed) is questionable. Center Mikhail Grabovski (head), goalender Jaroslav Halak (groin), left winger Anders Lee (broken left leg) and defenseman Brian Strait ("upper body") are out. Defenseman Ryan Pulock (undisclosed) is on injured reserve.

Lightning with Stanley Cup bling: Center Valtteri Filppula.

Islanders with Stanley Cup bling: Defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy.

Something worthwhile about the LightningThe Lightning has the NHL's top postseason penalty killing success rate (96.0 percent).

Something worthwhile about the IslandersThe Islanders lead the NHL in postseason shots allowed per game (39.2).

Something useless about the Lightning that is vaguely connected to the PenguinsFormer Penguins center John Cullen scored the first road short-handed goal in Lightning postseason history. He scored in a 4-1 loss to the Flyers in Game 5 of a 1996 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Something useless about the Islanders that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins center Bryan Trottier is the Islanders' all-time leading postseason scorer with 170 points.

Former Penguins on the LightningAssistant coach Brad Lauer.

Former Penguins on the IslandersDirector of player development Eric Cairns, Greiss, general manager Garth Snow and Strait.

Who needs to be the difference for the Lightning: Victor Hedman (top), Jason Garrison, Braydon Coburn, etc. The Lightning's blue line needs to contain the Islanders' top forwards such as Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.

Who needs to be the difference for the Islanders: Greiss. Much as he did in the first round, Greiss needs to steal some games for the Islanders to beat the Lightning.

Best Lightning YouTube Video We Could Find: Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier's overtime goal in a 3-2 win against the Capitals in Game 2 of a 2011 Eastern Conference semifinal series:

Best Islanders YouTube Video We Could Find: Islanders left winger David Volek's overtime goal in a 4-3 win against the Penguins in Game 7 of a 1993 Patrick Division final:

EN Prediction: Even with some considerable injuries, the Lightning has too much depth for the banged-up Islanders to truly compete with. Additionally, Bishop gives Tampa Bay an edge in net. Lightning 4-2.

(Photos: Mike Carlson/Getty Images and Rich Schultz/Associated Press)

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Murray's mask inspired by Herron - 04-26-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Like a lot of Penguins fans in his age group, rookie goaltender Matt Murray doesn't know who Denis Herron is. 

But he sure likes his mask.

In his first career home playoff game Saturday, a series-clinching 6-2 rout of the Rangers in Game 5 of a first-round series, Murray, 21, debuted a very retro and familiar looking mask to match the Penguins' throwback black and yellow jerseys. 

It was inspired by one of the masks Herron wore during his multiple stints with the Penguins. While Herron's had an old-school "face-hugging" mask (AKA "Jason mask") and Murray sports a modern fiberglass mask with a cage, the artwork is basically the same; Four sets of black and yellow "triangles" pointing at one another.

A third-round pick in 1972, Herron spents parts of 10 seasons with the Penguins over three different stints in the 1970s and 1980s. Considered a good goaltender on mostly bad teams in Pittsburgh, Herron appeared in 290 games for the Penguins, third-most in franchise history. 

Earlier today, Murray talked about his mask.

---

How did you choose that design?

“I was actually just 'Google-ing' pictures before the season started. They told me I needed a helmet design for the third jersey. I thought it would be cool to do a little throwback so I just 'Googled' some old Pittsburgh jerseys and I saw he had a similar design to that one. I thought it looked pretty good."

Do you know anything about Herron?

"I don't, no. Just to be honest, I was just looking at pictures online."

It's a pretty basic design. Did that appeal to you?

"Yeah because it's a throwback. I was looking for an old-school looking kind of helmet to match my gear. I just liked the simplicity of it I guess."

You probably aren't going to adopt brown pads anytime soon.

"No, I don't think so. I know some guys do for an outdoor game or something. I like how it looks. I've never worn brown pads so I don't know if I'd be going to that soon."

Note: Thank you to EN Reader Matt Shaffer for alerting us to this.

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images and GameWornAuctions.net)

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