Super selection

No time for bragging this week, for two reasons.
One, I should have known Tampa Bay was going to shut down the Eagles’ offence. Fooling the Falcons is one thing. Solving the Buccaneers’ defence is quite another, as Donovan McNabb found out.
Two, I’ve got an avalanche of tidbits to cram into this space this week, and 40-inch columns are unacceptable beasts in my editor’s world.
So without further ado (while still trying to figure out where I stashed the previous ado), it’s show time.
< *c>Super Bowl
< *c>Oakland (13-5) vs. Tampa Bay (14-4)
TV execs couldn’t have dreamed up a better championship match-up than the Raiders, with their No. 1-ranked offence, against the Bucs’ top-rated defence.
Tampa Bay’s offence made Philly look dismal, and finally proved itself a suitable companion for its usually staunch defensive unit. The Bucs also got rid of both their Eagles’ jinx and lousy cold-weather reputation in one fell swoop.
Meanwhile, Oakland is riding high, having rung up 71 points against two very hot teams in the N.Y. Jets and Tennessee over the past two weeks. But if the Titans hadn’t gift-wrapped 10 points in the form of two late first-half fumbles, it could have been a different story last Sunday.
The bottom line in this game: defence wins championships. Jon Gruden is one season removed from running the silver and black attack. He knows their strengths—and their weaknesses.
He’ll be ready. So will his team.
I’ve doubted Tampa two-straight weeks. I’m not making the same mistake again.
Buccaneers 24, Oakland 17
• • •
I thought the big rivalry in high school hockey around here was the Muskie boys versus the International Falls Broncos. Well, somebody got the right schools, but gave me the wrong teams.
Two Muskie/Bronco clashes earlier this season provided good entertainment, but a minimum of ill will. Such was not the case here last Friday night between the female combatants in the on-ice border war.
I have never seen a girls’ hockey fight, but I thought I was on the edge of witnessing my first one given all the bad blood that boiled over several times during the Muskies’ gritty 3-1 victory.
I didn’t hear what went on in the Falls’ huddle during their second-period timeout, but I hope it had nothing to do with what followed.
The Broncos took four-straight penalties in two-and-a-half minutes, capped by a blatant elbow from Brittany Corrin to the head of Muskie Stephanie Strachan, who was left temporarily unconscious on the play after banging her head on the ice.
The Muskies weren’t completely blameless, even in the eyes of their own coaching staff. But there’s no call for head-hunting—especially in an exhibition game.
Let’s hope we’ve seen the last chapter of this ugly story.
• • •
As first noted in last Friday’s Daily Bulletin, OPSEU Local #735 donated a total of $1,000 to separate and commendable local causes.
The union earmarked $500 to help local Special Olympics athlete Ray Bedard cover the cost of his trip to Dublin, Ireland in June for the World Summer Games.
The other $500 was put toward construction of the proposed skateboard park here.
Joe Catroppa and James Toker, with OPSEU’s executive board in Thunder Bay, were in town for the cheque presentations.
• • •
Voting ends today for fans to choose the starting lineups for the SIJHL all-star game next Wednesday at the Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay.
Players from the Borderland Thunder, Dryden Ice Dogs, and Northwest Wisconsin Knights will make up the Western All-Star Team, which means a fair number of purple-and-white performers should be Thunder Bay-bound.
There has to be room on the first line for Matt Johnson (seventh in league scoring with 49 points), who has been the league-leading Thunder’s most consistent forward all season.
Goalies Dan Hoehne (9-3, with a league-best 2.31 goals against average) and Jamie Munro (8-2-1, 2.72 GAA) both deserve spots on the Western All-Star Team.
Ryan McGillis of Dryden has more wins (11), but many of them were recorded during games the Ice Dogs used ineligible players.
Forwards A.J. Tucker, Kyle Prystupa, Kevin Webb, Chad Baldwin, and Josh McAndrew also deserve nods for their accomplishments this season, along with defencemen Jay Phillips and Chris Shaen, who have anchored the team’s blueline corps admirably.
The more Thunder players in Thunder Bay, the better.
• • •
The Borderland Racing Association will hold its annual general meeting this Sunday (Jan. 26) at 1 p.m. at the Emo Inn. All members are invited as the association plans what should be another excitement-fuelled season at the Emo Speedway beginning in May.
If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to skip the interminable Super Bowl pre-game show before the actual game starts at 5 p.m. How much analysis can one human being possibly stand?
• • •
Local angler and guide Denis Barnard, who has been plying his trade on Rainy Lake for more than 30 years, will be nationally known before much longer.
Barnard and his Lund 1900 Pro-V SE dual console boat, which was professionally rigged locally by Pinewood Sports and Marine, are featured in the upcoming annual Test Issue of “Boats and Places” magazine, a Canada-wide publication focused on recreational boaters.
Writer Peter Wilson commends the boat for, among other things, its wide gunwales that allow for easy boarding and disembarking as well as its extremely safe cockpit area.
Sounds like a watercraft built for a bountiful harvest.
If you are planning any sporting events, or have some sports-related information or scores, feel free to contact me at 274-5373 ext. 237 or by e-mail at jpayeur@fortfrances.com

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