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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A terrible night

      February 10, 2008 -- Once was supposed to be enough when Clint Malarchuk suffered a severe injury when his throat was slashed during a game in Memorial Auditorium. However, history repeated itself when Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers suffered a similar injury almost two decades later.

     Zednik had his jugular vein severed during the Sabres' 5-3 win over Florida. He left a stream of blood on the ice as he skated to his bench.

     "The worst that went through my mind is, 'Somebody better get him help, or else . . .' I don't even want to say it," said Florida's Stephen Weiss, still shaken after the game, to The News' John Vogl. Just his face coming off was something you don't want to see. I don't know how to explain it, but it was a scary look. It looked like he was very scared."

     Zednik was taken to Buffalo General Hospital, where he had surgery immediately. The operation was success and Zednik eventually returned to hockey. Dr. Leslie Bisson was honored with the 100 Club of Buffalo's Hero Award.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A record night

     February 9, 1974 -- Canisius College had the nation's leading scorer in the 1973-74 season. He showed why during a game against St. Peter's on this date.

     Larry Fogle scored 55 points in Memorial Auditorium to set a facility that was never broken. Fogle had 20 field goals, a Golden Griffin record, and Canisius scored 129 points in a 129-109 victory.

     It's the only time in Canisius history that it allowed at least 100 points, and won. The game also set a school record for combined points.

     Fogle's story isn't exactly a typical one for local college basketball. He began his career at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and transferred to Canisius when USL dropped basketball after going on probation.

     "Houston, Tennessee, Austin Peay and UCLA called me," Fogle told Sports Illustrated that season. "I was all set to go to Houston, but the day before I went to sign there [Charlie] Jordan called and told me what I'd be missing. I like it here, even if Buffalo isn't the warmest place in the world."

      He averaged 33.4 points per game in 1973-74. Fogle, a 6-5 forward, was drafted by the New York Knicks in the second round in 1975. He played in only two NBA games. 

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A win in Banditland

     February 8, 1992 - It took the Buffalo Bandits a little while to get the hang of winning. Once they did, they didn't stop for a long, long time. 

     The Bandits recorded win number one, after three straight losses, in a 23-13 decision in Pittsburgh. From there the Bandits went on to win 22 straight games and two championships. But let's put first things first.

     The Bandits saw Jim Veltman and Derek Keenan score five goal each for the Bandits. Veltman only had scored one goal in the first three games. He added two assists and grabbed seven loose balls.     Keenan had five goals on nine shots and added three assists. Bob Hamley chipped in with four goals and an assist, while Brian Hall had two goals and five assists.

     "Our goal is to win our final five games," Veltman said. "It may sound impossible, but we know we have the confidence to win games because we played some of the league's best teams (New York and Detroit twice) close in our defeats."

     It wasn't impossible. Darris Kilgour later said that team had the most talent in the league; it was just a matter of figuring out how to play together. The win was Les Bartley's first as the Bandits' coach.

   For more on the Bandits' first season, click here.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Some fight in the Irish

     February 7, 1946 -- The words "Notre Dame" always have had a little magic attached to them in sports. That's been true for more than 50 years.

     The Fighting Irish came to Buffalo to play Canisius in Memorial Auditorium, and the fans of Western New York came out for the game. A crowd of 10.038 was announced, which set a college basketball record for the facility.

     They saw Notre Dame handle Canisius quite easily that night, 69-47. Art Powell was coach of the Griffs while Tom Niland served as captain. Canisius finished the season with an 8-11 record.

      By the way, Canisius didn't play all of its home games in the Aud back then. Five games were staged at Canisius High School on Delaware Ave. The opponents were Oswego State, Albion, McMaster, Gannon and Assumption.

     Notre Dame came back to Buffalo and HSBC Arena on Dec. 22, 2001. The Fighting Irish took a 84-73 win.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Welcome, NBA

   February 6, 1970 -- This turned out to be a big winter for the sports fans of Buffalo. In December 1969, the NHL awarded an expansion franchise to Buffalo. The city had promised to raise the roof of Memorial Auditorium to accommodate the new hockey team, thus increasing the facility's capacity to a big-league total of more than 15,000.

   The NBA was paying attention. The league was involved in a war with the American Basketball Association, and expansion fees were a great way to put money in the pockets of the established teams.

   A few weeks before this, the NBA had announced it planned to give teams to four cities - Buffalo, Cleveland, Portland and Houston. That would get the league membership to 17 teams. From there, it was simply a matter of finding an ownership group.

   Philip Ryan and Peter Crotty headed such a group, and Buffalo was in. If there was any doubt that Buffalo had become a "big-league city," it was now gone. Interestingly, Houston didn't meet the requirements, so it was dropped from the expansion plans - meaning the NBA would have 17 teams in the 1970-71 season.

   The Braves' original owners never did see a game played with that title. Paul Snyder took over the team a day before its first regular-season game.

   There wasn't much time to put together a front office, and it seemed as if the Braves were always a stop behind the hockey team - especially in the area of lease terms. The soon-to-be-called Braves had to struggle throughout its life and finally moved to San Diego in 1978.

   For more on the process, click here.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A dandy day for Randy

   February 5, 1978 - The NBA All-Star Game in 1978 was filled with a who's who of professional basketball. Some of the names on the two rosters were David Thompson, Bill Walton, Rick Barry, Bob Lanier, Julius Erving, John Havlicek, Moses Malone and Elvin Hayes.

   On this day, Randy Smith was better than all of them.

   It was the last appearance by a member of the Buffalo Braves in an All-Star Game, and Smith put on a show for the ages in Atlanta. Smith had 27 points while going 11 for 14 from the field. He threw in seven rebounds and six assists in only 29 minutes. By the way, he also picked up five personal fouls in a half - just to fill up the stat sheet a little more.

   If that weren't enough, Smith hit shots from 30 and 40 feet at the end of quarters, and he had eight points in a row down the stretch to lead the East to a 133-125 victory.

   As you might expect, there wasn't much debate about the winner of the MVP award that day.

   "Randy may have been the fastest player in the entire NBA at his peak and he was one of the really great guards," former Braves owner Paul Snyder once said.

   For more on the 1977-78 season, click here.

--- Budd Bailey

Live from HSBC Arena: Bandits vs. Swarm

7:04 p.m. -- Greetings from HSBC Arena. The Bandits and Minnesota Swarm are warming up as we speak as they get ready for the 7:30 p.m. start.

Scott Self is not on the active roster tonight. It is believed he is serving a one-game suspension for a hit during the Toronto game two weeks ago. James Purves has been called up from the practice squad to take his place on the roster.

Mike Thompson is slated to be the starting goalie. Just heard around the press box that Ken Montour has been cleared for activity as he battles a long-lasting concussion. He's obviously a long way from being game-ready, but it's good to know he's taken that step.

We'll have to see what scratches are made tonight. Coach Darris Kilgour said there would be some changes in the playoff roster for this one. He was very disappointed in the team's offensive output against Toronto last week. He had reason to be; one goal in the first three quarters is not good enough.

7:10 p.m. -- The stat of the week, according to a website: There have been 12 game misconducts handed out in the NLL this season. The Bandits have five of them.

Tonight's game is shown on nll.com, and also on Time Warner Cable 87.

7:20 p.m. -- The scratches for tonight are Kyle Clancy, Tom Montour and Ian Llord. Since he hasn't played in the first five games, it's easy to wonder what's up with Llord's status, as he was a regular for the past couple of years.

7:32 p.m. -- The Swarm has taken the field. Make sure you take a look at Minnesota's uniforms sometime. They are black with gold stripes down the sleeves and sides of shorts. It's supposed to be bee-like, I guess, and they are distinctive. Attractive? Um, an individual call.

7:41 p.m. -- John Tavares has the first goal of the night. It's number 698 for his career. Will we see #700 this evening?

7:44 p.m. -- I'm not sure what the record is for most illegal picks in a quarter. I have little doubt that we're headed for it.

7:53 p.m. -- The Bandits have turned it up a few notches and are getting really good shots. The goals have followed. It's 4-1, Buffalo.

8:01 p.m. -- Rory Smith and Brandon Francis just squared off in a fight. It took them quite a while to get to work; all we needed was the National Anthems. Buffalo has a 5-2 lead after its first short-handed goal of the season (Chris Corbeil).

8:08 p.m. -- And that's the way it ends up after 15 minutes. I think the first quarter ended about this time last week, even though it started 30 minutes earlier.

8:19 p.m. -- No scoring so far in the second period, and chances haven't been that common. Buffalo had 17 shots in the first period, but only two in the first 4:40 of this one. Play has turned chippy, and the officials seem anxious to keep control of this one.

8:28 p.m. -- Chad Culp has completed his first hat trick as a Bandit. It's 7-2, Buffalo.

8:47 p.m. -- The Bandits played a very solid half in taking an 8-4 lead. Odd to see Culp and Corbeil as the offensive leaders,  but everyone has chipped in.

9:05 p.m. -- We're back for third quarter play, and the teams have already traded goals. Jon Harasym scored on a breakaway to open the second-half scoring. I thought Harasym had a fine game in Toronto last week in terms of being around the ball.

9:10 p.m. -- The attendance tonight is 15,001. Wonder who the one is? Bandits lead, 9-6, with 9:45 left in the third quarter.

9:19 p.m. -- The Bandits are in the midst of a four-minute power play, but they have been outscored, 1-0, in it so far. If Minnesota comes back to make it interesting...

9:33 p.m. -- ... but they have a long way to go to do that. John Tavares got #699 to make it 13-8 with 15 minutes left to play.

9:50 p.m. -- I'm typing up my story for the newspaper, but you haven't missed too much. The Bandits are up, 14-10, with 6:17 to go. Plus, they are on the power play.

10:00 p.m. -- The Bandits are up 3 with 70 seconds left.  And they go on to win 15-12.

11:33 p.m. -- We give the traditional last word to Mark Steenhuis, who was happy to see the team rebound with a good offense performance after a dreary night last week:

"When you only get five goals and get your [butts] chewed out pretty good, you're going to start
moving," Bandits' Mark Steenhuis said. "We all heard it … the defense needs to be 10 times better, the offense needs to keep cutting and moving. We wound up being pretty stagnant in Toronto, and if we had done that tonight we all probably would have lost our jobs."

And so, good night from HSBC Arena. 

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A stunning change at the top

    February 4, 1993 -- It was a jaw-dropper of an announcement from One Bills Drive in Orchard Park. Bill Polian had been dismissed as general manager of the Buffalo Bills.

    Polian had been the prime architect of the Bills' team that at the time had played in three straight Super Bowls. More importantly, he played a key role in raising the team from a step up from dead in the mid-1980's. He was the type of emotional leader who, when negotiations with potential first-round draft pick Bruce Smith has had a rough spot, went into a three-point stance in a hotel room to demonstrate a football point.

    That included outbursts against all comers at the time, and that's what got him into trouble. Owner Ralph Wilson once said that he didn't feel welcome in the Bills' office with Polian around.

   "Polian didn't discriminate between press, fans and owners," an NFL associate of the former Bills' general manager told The News' Larry Felser. "Ralph Wilson is at a point in his life where he doesn't want to put up with being screamed at by an employee of his."

    Polian went on to put together winners with the Carolina Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts. He's certainly headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. John Butler replaced Butler in Buffalo a
day later.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Super race

Races always try to find their own little niche on the calendar, and the Mr. Ed's race has done that. It's been held on Super Bowl Sunday for more than two decades.

The latest installment comes up on Sunday. Registration is held in the Middleport Fire Hall on Main St. in Middleport, and the race starts across the bridge. It's noteworthy for a couple of things. The first half of the course goes into the wind that on a certain day feels like it started in about, oh, Winnipeg. Brrr. Then the course goes up a severe, brief slope to get to the path along the canal, where it turns around and heads east. You never know what the footing will be like, which is part of the fun.

Starting time is 11:30 a.m. Call (585) 798-3283.

By the way, the Penguin Run attracted a record turnout on a cold but sunny, calm day last Sunday morning.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Solid seven try Whirlaway at the Big A

By Gene Kershner

Saturday's feature race at Aqueduct Racetrack is the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes, where seven solid horses go two turns as prep race for the final two graded stakes for 3-year-olds in New York before the Kentucky Derby.

The Whirlaway is run at a mile and 1/16 on the inner dirt track at the Big A, and was won two years ago by last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield. It's hard to believe it was five years ago when Achilles of Troy, a horse featured in the motion picture "The First Saturday in May" as a Derby hopeful, won this race going away for trainer Frank Amonte Jr.

The race is named after the 1941 Triple Crown champion Whirlaway, who was bred at the world famous Calumet Farm in Lexington, Ky. Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode him during his entire 3-year old season, and George Woolf of Seabiscuit fame rode him during his 4-year-old season while Arcaro sat out a suspension. He was sent to stud at Calumet at age 6. Whirlaway was voted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1959, and is one of only 11 Triple Crown winners in history.

On to the race on Saturday, here's our Post Time analysis (trainer, jockey, ML odds in parentheses):

1 -- Toby's Corner (Motion, Castro, 6-1) -- One of the first Bellamy Road colts to hit the track, he ships in from Laurel Park, where he broke his maiden and won an optional claiming allowance race going a mile. He picks up the talented Eddie Castro in the irons. This is definitely much tougher competition than he's faced to date. Potential to pick up a piece of the tri or super, but we're going to pass on him.

2 -- Arthur's Tale (Albertrani, Lopez, 6-1) -- Bernardini's have been successful over the past year; unfortunately this one hasn't proved much on the track so far. Has the ability to improve and the pedigree to be included in this crew. Darley spent a fortune on him ($750,000) and he gets a couple pounds of weight break against the more formidable foes. Long-shot play if the odds drift up over 15-1.

3 -- Rescind The Trade (Violette Jr., Garcia, 2-1) -- Trainer Violette is red hot at the Big A, winning at a 33 percent clip and you can't argue with that. Talented jock Alan Garcia has the reins and has won 40 percent (4/10) when riding Violette's horses during the current meet. He touts the highest speed figure and the big question is can he duplicate his last? He beat Pants on Fire, who finished second in the Lecompte last weekend against a strong field, last out. Is he ready to ascend as a Triple Crown contender? I think so.

4 -- Norman Asbjornson (Grove, Acosta, 20-1) -- Interesting shipper from Pennsylvania, who ran an excellent race at Parx Racing at the 8.5 furlong distance winning at 14-1. He has won his last two after stretching out. His sire, Real Quiet, just missed winning the Triple Crown. Trainer Christopher Grove hinted that this horse likes to route. "He didn't show a whole lot going short. It's a little ambitious, but he keeps improving." Considering.

5 -- Preachintothedevil (Contessa, Alvarado, 4-1) -- This son of Pulpit comes out of a non-graded stakes win over the inner dirt. His dam, Acey Deucey, won the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct. Improving speed figures a good sign that he's ready to step up his game. "He's continuing to impress me," said trainer Gary Contessa during a NYRA news conference. "And if we have even the remotest idea this horse has a chance to go to the Triple Crown, this is the place to find out." Contender.

6 -- JJ's Lucky Train (Anderson, Ferrer, 5-2) -- Runner-up to the late closing Monzon in the Count Fleet, he just couldn't hold onto the lead late in the one-mile race. His sire, Silver Train, liked it shorter than 8.5 furlongs, although his dam did win once at a mile and 1/16. While his speed figures indicate he's fast, I'm not so sure he can get the distance -- he will be fading late.

7 -- Sky Music (Pletcher, Cohen, 10-1) -- Closed late to finish third to Preachintothedevil in the Champagneforashley Stakes, where he was the post time favorite. Shows a solid workout last Sunday that could mean he's in decent shape for this race. His connections point to traffic trouble in his last two races, getting caught wide in the Champagneforashley. Could factor in the exotics.

Post Time selections:
 1 - Rescind The Trade
 2 - Preachintothedevil
 3 - Norman Asbjornson

Good luck and let's go cash some tickets!

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.

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