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Ambridge coach Jula wins 500th

Written by Mike White on .

Mark Jula joined an elite group of WPIAL boys basketball coaches with a win Tuesday night.

Ambridge defeated Ellwood City, 69-37, to give Jula his 500th career win.

Fewer than 20 WPIAL coaches have 500 career wins. The only active coaches known to have 500 wins are Ringgold's Phil Pergola, Monessen's Joe Salvino, Central Catholic's Chuck Crummie and Sewickley Academy's Win Palmer.

Jula is in his third season at Ambridge but he has been a head coach for 34 seasons. His record is 500-321.

Besides Ambridge, Jula has coached Center, North Allegheny, Butler and Moon in the WPIAL, and Solanco and Boyertown in eastern Pa. 

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Empty Netter Assists - 12-17-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Beau Bennett has officially been diagnosed with the mumps. He joins Sidney Crosby as the only two members of the Penguins who have been diagnosed.

-Bobby Farnham has thrown a body check or two during his professional career.

-Former Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun was popular and also "silly."

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are taking precautions against the mumps.

-Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Warren Peters has joined SønderjyskE of Denmark's Metal Ligaen.

 -Happy 31st birthday to former Penguins forward Erik Christensen (right). A third-round pick in 2002, "Crusher" spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2005-06, Christensen appeared in 33 games and scored 13 points. He followed that up in 2006-07 by playing in 61 games and recording 33 points. He saw action in four postseason games that spring and failed to score a point. After 49 games and 20 points in 2007-08, Christensen was at the trade deadline along with Colby Armstrong, Angelo Esposito and a draft pick to the Thrashers in exchange for Pascal Dupuis and Marian Hossa. In 143 regular season games with the Penguins, Christensen scored 66 points. Arguably the greatest shootout artist in franchise history, Christensen's success rate of 60.9 (14 for 23) percent is the best in franchise history among those with more than five shot attempts. Christensen is currently a member of HV71 of Sweden's SHL.

-Happy 35th birthday to former Penguins forward Matt Murley. A second-round pick in 1999, Murley spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2003-04, Murley appeared in 18 games and scored two points. Following the 2004-05 lockout, Murley saw action in 41 games in 2005-06 and scored six points. In the 2006 offseason, Murley joined the Avalanche as a free agent. In 59 games with the Penguins, Murley scored 11 points.

-Happy 50th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Frank Pietrangelo (right). A fourth-round pick in 1983, Pietrangelo spent parts of five seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1987-88, he saw action in 21 games, had a 9-11-0 record with a 3.98 goals against average, .867 save percentage and one shutout. He followed that up in 1988-89 by playing in 15 games, going 5-3-0 with a 4.04 goals against average and a .890 save percentage. During 1989-90, he appeared in 21 games, compiled a record of 8-6-2 and had a 4.33 goals against average and a 867 save percentage. Arguably, Pietrangelo's finest NHL season was 1990-91. He set career highs in games (25) and wins with a 10-11-1 record while sporting a 3.94 goals against average and .880 save percentage. During the 1991 postseason, Pietrangelo stepped up in place of injured starter Tom Barrasso. Facing elimination in Game 6 of a Patrick Division semifinal series at New Jersey, Pietrangelo made 27 saves, including a dazzling stop on Devils forward Peter Stastny which simply became known as "The Save," and led the Penguins to a 4-3 victory which tied the series, 3-3 (below). In Game 7, Pietrangelo made 27 saves in a 4-0 home shutout win to clinch the series. All together, Pietrangelo played in five games that postseason, went 4-1 and had a 3.12 goals against average, and .899 save percentage and helped the franchise claim its first Stanley Cup title. After five games, a 2-1-0 record, a 5.33 goals against average and .880 save percentage in 1991-92, Pietrangelo was dealt at the trade deadline to the Whalers in exchange for two draft picks. The first player in franchise history to wear No. 40, Pietrangelo played in 87 games for the Penguins and had a 34-32-3 record with a 4.13 goals against average, .873 save percentage and one shutout.

-After the Jump: The longest shootout in NHL history.

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Knights In Steelers' Service

Written by Dan Gigler on .

In what was a particularly inspired showing Sunday by Steelers fans at a road game (which is really saying something given Pittsburgh fans' propensity for taking over stadia across the land) even head coach Mike Tomlin took a moment to acknowledge postgame, saying,

"I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Steeler Nation. They were special in the building today, just love and appreciate the support that we get from our fans on the road, we are used to seeing it but it never gets old, we really appreciate it. ”

On that note, check out the Nick Tolomeo and Bethany Novak of Pittsburgh's South Side and Jessica Wolfson and Chad Holcomb of Atlanta who melded the Steelers Nation with the KISS Army to great effect: 

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kiss lers

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Popular Vokoun was 'silly' - 12-16-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Tomas Vokoun's professional career began in 1995-96 with the Wheeling Thunderbirds, the precursor to the Nailers. As a 19-year-old Czech who spoke little English and didn't have a drivers license, he had to take special measures to get to the rink from his apartment.

I had to sit every morning by the window,” Vokoun said in a 2013 interview with the Post-Gazette. “Wait until [teammates] were leaving so they wouldn’t leave me because I wouldn’t have any way to get to the rink. “

Vokoun, 38, announced his retirement Sunday after 19 professional seasons, including 16 in the NHL. A free agent signing in 2012, he spent two seasons with the Penguins. Serving as a backup for the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he took over for struggling starter Marc-Andre Fleury and led the Penguins to the Eastern Conference final.

Tomas has always been a great teammate,” said defenseman Kris Letang. “Obviously a veteran in the room. So many good memories. He's a fun guy to be around. Obviously, every time that he stepped in, especially in the playoffs, he did really well for us. He had a great career I think.”

In 700 career games with the Canadiens, Predators, Panthers, Capitals and Penguins, Vokoun had a 300-288-78 record with a 2.55 goals against average, a .917 save percentage and 51 shutouts.

I remember a lot playing against him in his years down in Florida. You'd throw a whole bunch of shots at him, 40 or 50 shots at him , and you'd maybe get one goal.”

Well schooled in the details of the game, Vokoun wouldn't hesitate to aid a teammate

He was the No. 1 [goaltender] there [with the Panthers],” said Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison, a teammate of Vokoun in Florida. “It was good to have him there as a mentor for a defenseman. He's been around obviously. He'd kind of show you your positioning on the ice and how to defend and what goalies expect of you.”

Vokoun was something of a rarity in that he caught pucks with his right hand. Of the 710 goaltenders who have played in at least one NHL game, only 79 (11.1 percent) of them have been - to use the sport's slang - “silly siders.”

It's odd,” said Lightning left winger Brenden Morrow, a former Penguins teammate of Vokoun. “As a left shot, you kind of thinking low blocker. That's your shot. When there's a silly goalie like that, it changes things up a little bit. It probably gives a little bit more of an advantage to him.”

It was always tough to read him [in practice],” said Letang. “He had that step on us like he was reading what we were going to do. So you kind of looked bad every time you were going to take a shot on him.”

Vokoun's 2013-14 season was spent on injured reserve as a result of a blood clot in his groin. Aside from a two-game conditioning assignment with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Vokoun did not play at all last season. An unrestricted free agent this offseason, he turned down a handful of free agent offers and training camp invitations before deciding to retire.

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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My 2014 AP All-American ballot

Written by Sam Werner on .

I know everyone is in coaching search mode, but I just wanted to take a second to post my AP All-American team for this year. Here's a link to the full team, and here's my ballot:

FIRST TEAM:
Offense
QB - Marcus Mariota, Oregon
RB - Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
RB - Tevin Coleman, Indiana
OT - Brandon Scherff, Iowa
OG - Arie Kouandjio, Alabama
C - Jack Allen, Michigan State
OG - Shaquille Mason, Georgia Tech
OT - Andrus Peat, Stanford
TE - Nick O'Leary, Florida State
WR - Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR - Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
All-purpose player - Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
K - Roberto Aguayo, Florida State

Defense
DE - Vic Beasley, Clemson
DT - Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DT - Malcom Brown, Texas
DE - Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington
LB - Scooby Wright, Arizona
LB - Eric Kendricks, UCLA
LB - Paul Dawson, TCU
CB - Senquez Golson, Ole Miss
S - Gerod Holiman, Louisville
S - Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
CB - Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
P - Tom Hackett, Utah

SECOND TEAM:
Offense

QB - J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
RB - James Conner, Pitt
RB - Jay Ajayi, Boise State
OT - Cameron Erving, Florida State
OG - Laken Tomlinson, Duke
C - Reese Dismukes, Auburn
OG - A.J. Cann, South Carolina
OT - Spencer Drango, Baylor
TE - Clive Walford, Miami
WR - Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
WR - Kevin White, WVU
All-purpose player - Shaq Thompson, Washington
K - Josh Lambert, West Virginia

Defense
DE - Joey Bosa, Ohio State
DT - Danny Shelton, Washington
DT - Michael Bennett, Ohio State
DE - Shane Ray, Missouri
LB - Denzel Perryman, Miami
LB - Mike Hull, Penn State
LB - Zach Vigil, Utah State
CB - Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
S - Landon Collins, Alabama
S - Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
CB - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
P - Austin Rehkow, Idaho

 

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