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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: An All-Star thriller

      January 24, 1978 -- This may be remembered as the last time that Buffalo ever hosted the NHL All-Star Game.

      For sure it was the first. It was a very good game, too, as these things go. The Wales Conference beat the Campbell Conference, 3-2 in overtime. Back in those days, All-Star Games actually featured some defense, hitting and checking.

      Buffalo's representatives to the game, Gil Perreault and Rick Martin, played well. In fact, Martin tied the game with a goal late in the third period. Then Perreault won it for the Wales at the 3:55 mark of overtime.

      Billy Smith of the Islanders won the Most Valuable Player award for the game, which drew boos from the sellout crowd in Memorial Auditorium. The game set an NHL record for fewest shots in a game - 52, with 40 of them from the Wales Conference.

      Sadly, all-star games have turned into virtual trade shows for the industry, and Buffalo isn't considered big enough (in terms of hotels and convention space) at the moment to host such a game. That's why Buffalo has been awarded the NHL Entry Draft -- compensation, in a sense.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A four-bagger

     January 23, 1994 -- Will we ever see their likes again?

     The Buffalo Bills already had played in three straight Super Bowls. It would be difficult to imagine any team making it four in a row.

     The Bills, though, weren't just any team in that era. They finished off an accomplishment that may never be duplicated, beating the Chiefs, 30-13, in the AFC Championship to qualify for another Super Bowl.

     The Bills advanced to Super Bowl XXVIII against Dallas at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. There they had the task of trying to avoid becoming the first team to ever lose four straight Super Bowls.

     Just getting to the Super Bowl again was an amazing accomplishment, but the Bills knew they needed a win to help their legacy.

     "This is our fourth straight AFC championship, but the job is not over yet," said running back Thurman Thomas, who ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns. "We are 0-3 in Super Bowls, and we definitely have to get that monkey off our back. We don't want to be 0-4, but if we play like we played today, I think we've got a great chance to win in Atlanta."

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits vs. Toronto - Live from HSBC Arena

7:26 p.m. -- We're ready for another home season for the Bandits, as they are being introduced to a crowd of about 15,000 in HSBC Arena. I'll be around to make a few comments as this one goes along.

There's not much news to report going into the game. Everyone is healthy, so it's the same starting lineup as last week. Toronto figures to be a little tired tonight. The Rock won an epic overtime game last night against powerful Boston. You'd have to think Toronto might be a little tired going into this one, but that never works out the way you'd think it might.

7:30 p.m. -- There's a lot going on in the NLL this week. I wish I could write an "Inside the NLL" column for the paper. Short version -- the local and national television exposure can only help the league. Playing the All-Star Game at Turning Stone Casino strikes me as odd. R-rated halftime shows in Boston probably aren't what the league has in mind for attracting fans.

The Kilgour brothers are being honored right now for making the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. I'm on the media advisory board for the Hall, and there wasn't much argument that these two men have done as much as anyone for lacrosse in this area.

7:38 p.m. -- The Bandits have scored two goals in five seconds (John Tavares and Chad Culp). It's 2-0 Buffalo after only a minute.

7:42 p.m. -- It took a long, long review, but the Bandits won a challenge on a Brett Bucktooth shot-turned-goal. It's 3-0, Buffalo, after only 1:56 in the first quarter.

7:54 p.m. -- Lacrosse is a game of runs, and the Rock has gone off on one. Toronto has the last three goals, so we're tied at 3. You didn't think it would be easy, did you?

8:05 p.m. -- Both teams have added a goal in the final five minutes of the period, so Buffalo and Toronto are tied, 4-4, after 15 minutes. One impression about the Toronto offense: These guys are good. They move the ball around very well. That's not to say the Rock will win, but it's easy to see why it was a preseason pick to contend for the league title.

8:12 p.m. -- The teams continue to trade goals. Tom Montour has scored his second goal of the night to tie the game at 5, after Garrett Billings had given Toronto its first lead of the night. Based on what I've seen so far, you don't want to give the Rock many power plays.

8:17 p.m. - Colin Doyle has Toronto's second power-play goal of the night. It's 7-5, Toronto.

8:21 p.m. -- It's going to be one of those nights. Buffalo has responded with three goals in less than two minutes. Kyle Clancy scored to end the run; the Bandits have an 8-7 lead.

8:30 p.m. -- These teams are playing at an amazing pace, resulting in a very entertaining game. Mike Thompson has actually played very well, and it's 8-8 late in the second quarter.

8:38 p.m. -- Roger Vyse's goal is the difference in the first half as the Bandits go into the locker room, 9-8. Whew. We all need the halftime break.

8:58 p.m. -- Play has resumed in HSBC Arena. Toronto had a 29-23 edge in shots in the first 30 minutes, which shows how well Thompson played on a difficult night for goalies.

9:01 p.m. -- It's another good start to the half for the Bandits. Vyse and Frank Resetarits have increased the lead to 11-8 and chased goalie Bob Watson. Pat Campbell is the new Rock netminder.

9:12 p.m. -- Tavares has netted another (#696, if you are counting) to make it a 12-8 game. We have 4:46 left in the second half, and the Rock has shown a little less jump after halftime. Hard to say if Toronto might be out of gas a bit, but the Bandits -- as the fresher team -- probably didn't mind getting into a high-tempo game with the Rock having played last night.

9:20 p.m. -- The Bandits kept the Rock off the scoreboard for the entire third quarter. That gave them time to build up a 12-8 lead after 45 minutes.

9:31 p.m. -- It's tough to keep the Rock off the scoreboard forever. Toronto has tallied a couple of goals to cut the margin to 13-10 with 9:49 left. In other words, we're not done yet.

9:43 p.m. -- No, we're not. The Rock keeps coming, having cut the lead to 13-12 with 5:18 left.

10:01 p.m. -- Overtime. Stephan Leblanc's goal with 10.1 seconds left ties it, 14-14. A thriller.

10:10  p.m. -- Scott Self scores on a breakaway to win it for the Bandits, 15-14.

11:43 p.m. -- I had to ask. When Scott Self came out into the hallways after the game, I said I hadn't memorized his lacrosse career, so I needed to know if the goal tonight was the biggest of his career.

"For sure," he responded.

Self bailed out the Bandits on a night where they might have been left muttering about a five-goal, fourth-quarter lead that got away. Instead, they picked up a full game on Toronto and Boston in the East. This has the makings of a fascinating season.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Thanks, Ollie

     January 22, 1942 -- There will never be another Ollie Carnegie in Buffalo's sports history.

     Carnegie is one of the greatest players in the history of the city's baseball legacy. He arrived in a deal with Hazelton of the New York-Penn league in 1931. The cost: $500. It was a bargain, squared.

     Carnegie wasn't considered much of a prospect at the time, as he was 32 years old. Carnegie stayed for the next 11 seasons. He played 1,273 games for the Bisons, and finished with 1,362 hits. Carnegie had 45 homers in the 1938 season. Those are all Bison records to this day.

     Carnegie was released on this day, although he did come back and play during the 1945 season as teams scrambled for players during World War II.

     He's in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, as you'd expect. Back in those days, minor league teams were independent operators who sold players to other organizations to help make ends meet. Their primary role was not to prepare players for the majors. So someone like Carnegie who was thought to be too old for the big leagues could stay in one place and become a fan favorite.

    Ollie certainly was that. Those days are over, but we still remember him.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: An All-Star performance

   January 21, 1990 -- When Pierre Turgeon was drafted in 1987, the Buffalo Sabres hoped he'd be appearing in All-Star Games for years to come. He did represent them in 1990 in Pittsburgh in such a game, and he represented them well.

   He even had a little help from his friends.

   Turgeon joined Dave Andreychuk, Phil Housley and Daren Puppa in helping the Wales Conference
to a 12-7 win over the Campbell Conference in the 41st annual NHL All-Star Game. Turgeon had two goals, Andreychuk a goal and an assist, and Housley had an assist. Puppa was brilliant in goal, at least until he was worn down by a number of shots.

   However, the day really belonged to hometown hero Mario Lemieux. He scored four goals in a game, joining Wayne Gretzky as the only players to do that. Lemieux was the game's most valuable player.

   Turgeon went on to play in four NHL All-Star Games in a career that went from 1987 to 2007. Two of them were with the New York Islanders - Buffalo traded him there in the deal that brought Pat
LaFontaine to the Sabres - and one was as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. He finished his career with 1,327 points, one more than Gil Perreault.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A Super warm-up

   January 20, 1991 - It might have been the happiest day in Buffalo's sports history.

   The Bills played a game for the ages in the AFC Championship, beating the Los Angeles Raiders, 51-3, in Rich Stadium. A crowd of 80,324, a building record, enjoyed every single minute of it.

    What's more, the one-sided score could have been worse. Buffalo was ahead, 41-3, at halftime. That gave the fans the entire second half to enjoy the fact that the team was headed to its first Super Bowl.

   "Our goal is to win it, not just to show up," Jim Kelly said of the upcoming meeting with the New York Giants.

   The Bills' shotgun offense was never better, rolling up 502 yards of total offense. On defense, the Bills forced Los Angeles into seven turnovers.

   "Fifty-one points -- I wouldn't have even dreamed that in a fantasy," said Bills center Kent Hull.

 --- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: Getting ready for the home opener

The Buffalo Bandits are only three days away, as of this writing, from Game One of the home season. The Toronto Rock, a favorite in the East and undefeated this season at 2-0, will play the Bandits in HSBC Arena.

Here are a few notes collected as we wait for the first home faceoff of the season:

* The Bandits will show off their new/old uniforms in the game. Buffalo has a 20th anniversary retro jersey ready for 2011, and it will debut on Saturday. The jerseys also will be used on Feb. 19 vs. Philadelphia, March 5 vs. Rochester, April 8 at Toronto, and April 16 vs. Boston.

* Mark Steenhuis has been picked as the NLL's Transition Player of the Week. He had a goal and two assists in Saturday's win in Philadelphia. Steenhuis is tied for the team lead in goals with three with John Tavares and Tracey Kelusky.

* On today's conference call involving NLL coaches, Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said he didn't expect much of a carry-over from the preseason brawl between his team and the Rock. That incident in Six Nations, Ont., created quite a bit of discussion; the game had to be stopped in the third period and there were suspensions issued.

"It's on the media's mind more than ours," Kilgour said.

Most of the players in that game didn't make the final roster, so it's not as if there are many scores to settle. But ... games between Toronto and Buffalo have been spirited in the past, so we'll see what happens when the games really count.

* The Bandits have been posting a series of videos reviewing the start of the 2010 season, complete with behind the scenes footage. You can check out part three by going to the Bandits' site. The four parts eventually will add up to a 22-minute segment.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The best ever

   January 19, 2008 -- We've known John Tavares is a special indoor lacrosse player for well over a decade. We received more proof of that a year ago on this date in 2008.

   Tavares scored the 597th goal of his great career, becoming the top goal-scorer in NLL history. That went well with his NLL records in career points and assists.

   The record fell as Tavares' Buffalo Bandits defeated the New York Titans, 17-13, before 12,961 in HSBC Arena. He had four goals and two assists to run his goal total to 597 in a 17-year career that spanned 197 regular-season games at that point. Gary Gait was the previous record holder at 596.

   "I realized they were kind of sagging in and I was going to take my chances and shoot it," said Tavares, who had scored three times in the first 18 minutes, on the record-breaker. "I got kind of a shooter's goal on it. . . . But it would have been anticlimactic if we hadn't won the game."

   Tavares has played more than two full seasons since then. He tied for the league lead in goals in 2009 with 51.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Third Time’s a Charm for Zenyatta

By Gene Kershner

While he got the best of the big mare on the track in November at Churchill Downs in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Blame could do no better than runner-up to Zenyatta in the final vote tally for Horse of the Year.  After finishing second in consecutive Horse of the Year votes to Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, respectively, the distaffer carted off the sport’s biggest award Monday night at the 40th annual Eclipse Awards.

Both Zenyatta and Blame won their respective divisions of older female and older male, respectively.  The Horse of the Year vote was close, Zenyatta edging out Blame 128-102, with third place finisher Goldikova receiving 5 votes.  Goldikova was awarded champion female turf horse earlier in the evening. 

 Zenyatta retired after losing the Classic to Blame after 19 consecutive victories including a Classic victory at Santa Anita in 2009.  The Classic marked her only loss after five Grade I victories against restricted company.  She is currently at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky where she will start her next career as a broodmare.

 Other Notables:

Todd Pletcher took home his fifth Eclipse winning the Outstanding Trainer award after winning his first Kentucky Derby during 2010 as well as three Breeders’ Cup races.  He trains the 2-year old male champion Uncle Mo, the early favorite for the 2011 Derby, who won his category receiving all but two votes en route to his Eclipse award.

WinStar Farm won an Eclipse for Outstanding Owner after winning both the Kentucky Derby (Super Saver) and Belmont (Drosselmeyer) in one of the closest votes of the night (100-81) over Zenyatta’s owners, Jerry and Ann Moss.

The 3-year old Male Eclipse went to Preakness and Haskell champion Lookin at Lucky.  The award was his second after garnering the 2-year honors in 2009.

New York-based rider Ramon Dominguez won his first Eclipse Award as Outstanding Jockey amassing 369 wins during 2010 and over $17million in mount earnings.

In a vote that was much wider than projected, Big Drama won the Eclipse for Male Sprinter over Majesticperfection (170-61).  He’s started 2010 right where he left off, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint champ set the track record for six furlongs on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Kentucky Oaks champion Blind Luck won the 3-year old Filly Eclipse in a landslide receiving all but one of the 238 votes cast.

With the Eclipse Awards in the books for 2010, Post Time will turn our attention towards the Triple Crown trail and start analyzing who has a chance to win on the first Saturday in May. 

Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer, handicapper and member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Saban gets promoted

     January 18, 1962 -- The future of the Buffalo Bills started to look a great deal brighter on this day.

     The Bills had stumbled through their first two years under coach Buster Ramsey. When the team decided to make a change at that point, it didn't take long to find a replacement. Lou Saban was already in town.

     Saban served as the head coach of the Boston Patriots in that team's first season in 1960. He went 7-12 there, but lost his job after five games in the 1961 season. Saban landed in Buffalo's front office.

     Saban started making moves immediately. He hired a brand-new coaching staff, including assistant Joel Collier, and started making deals in order to put together an improved team.

     Saban needed a little time to build a winner, but by the end of 1963 the Bills were contenders in the AFL's East. From there, Buffalo won AFL titles under Saban in 1964 and 1965.

     The coach left for the University at Maryland, but as we know he wasn't quite done with Buffalo.

--- Budd Bailey

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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