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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: He keeps going and going

     June 26, 1994 -- You could argue that the Sabres gave up defenseman Sean O'Donnell just a little bit too soon.

     The Sabres took the big defenseman in the sixth round of the NHL Entry Draft in 1991. He spent three years with the Rochester Americans, piling up an average of more than 200 penalty minutes per season.

     Then on this day, Buffalo traded him to the Los Angeles Kings for Doug Houda. The Sabres needed a spare defenseman, and Houda was a veteran of 10 years of pro play who could fill that role. Houda even came back to the organization a few years after that to help out in Rochester.

     O'Donnell reached the NHL after some more time in the minors. Once he arrived in the big time, he stayed ... and stayed and stayed.

     O'Donnell spent six seasons with the Kings. Then it was on to Minnesota. And New Jersey. And Boston. And Phoenix. And back in Los Angeles. Finally, he spent the 2010-11 season with Philadelphia.

     The rugged defenseman has played more than 1,100 games in the NHL. It's been an impressive, and long, career.

--- Budd Bailey

Breaking down the third round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship

At the top: The world's No. 1, of course. Yani Tseng of Taiwan continues her exquisite play, tying for the low round of the day after shooting a 5-under 67 that featured six birdies and just a single bogey. Tseng, 22, is five shots ahead of Americans Cindy LaCrosse and Morgan Pressel, both of whom are at 8-under 208 through the first three rounds.

Major experience: Five players among the top 10 on the leader board after the third round have won majors. Tseng, Pressel, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer have combined for eight major championships.

Moving Day: Kerr, the defending champion in this event, made the biggest jump. She matched Tseng at 67, jumping her fro a tie for 38th into a tie for fifth.

She's consistent: Creamer's even-par 72 Saturday featured 18 pars. She's part of a group of four players tied for fifth at 5-under. The fan favorite might very well have had the largest cheering section, though.

Toughest hole: It was the finishing one, the par-4 18th. Playing 396 yards, the hole demands an accurate tee shot to a narrow fairway. Players averaged 4.33 strokes. There were just two birdies on the hole all day.

Easiest hole: The par-4 second yielded just two bogeys all day and saw 26 players make birdie. It had a 3.667 stroke average.

Numbers game: Pressel hit 12 of 14 fairways a day after hitting all 14. Her driving accuracy so far is .786. Tseng hit 14 of 18 greens and is 42 of 54 (.778) for the tournament.

Quotable: "It's not easy to shoot low score on a Major golf course. So that's already in my mind, so I don't put too much expectations [on myself], like to shoot 20-under on a Major course. I need to be patient and that's going to work out well." -- Tseng.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The last win

     June 25, 1990 -- Warren Spahn was one of the greatest athletes in Buffalo's sports history. How appropriate it was, then, for him to bookend his career with a performance in his home town.

     Spahn, who won an amazing 363 games in major league baseball, pitched National Old Timers baseball classic on this day. Fittingly, the Bufflao native was the winning pitcher in a 3-0 victory by the National League.

     Lou Brock supplied all the offense that was needed when he led off the game with a triple off Bob Feller. Brock then came in to score when Enos Slaughter grounded out against Early Wynn.

     The National League team added two more runs in the second on singles by Don Kessinger and Don Blasingame followed by a double to Charlie Neal and a bounce out by Andy Pafko.

     Sandy Koufax started the game and pitched to one batter, and got an out. Then Spahn came on in relief, and earned the win.

     It was the last time Spahn ever took the mound in "competition." More than 17,000 fans in Pilot Field got to see it.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Wait and see

   June 24, 2006 -- The Sabres had to go all the way to Vancouver for that year's NHL Entry
Draft. Even five years later, it's tough to know how well they did.

   The team's first pick overall was Dennis Persson, a defenseman who is still waiting to play
in his first NHL game. Persson actually came up to the NHL from the minors, but wasn't needed
in the Sabre lineup so he never did get to put on a uniform.

   The second round paid more immediate dividends. Jhonas Enroth was a top-ranked goalie, and
he made a major contribution to the Sabres' playoff push. Mike Weber has been with Buffalo for
parts of three seasons.

   General manager Darcy Regier didn't know any of that at the time, but he was pretty happy
with how the top picks worked out at the time.

    "We came away with a solid defenseman, one of the four goalies we considered upper-echelon
in this draft and a gritty-type defender with size," he said.

   St. Louis had the first pick in that draft, and used it on Erik Johnson, a defenseman.

--- Budd Bailey

Running Notebook: Off and running

We're almost to the halfway point of the year, which means it's time for a quick look at the News' runner of the year series. Dan Giza has jumped out to a good-sized lead already in the men's competition. Too bad for him that his dominating performance in the Corporate Challenge didn't help him. He's in great form. In the women's division, Aileen Hoak has a narrow lead over Allison Carr. Allison is always good at the shorter races, so you can bet she'll be ready as we head down the stretch.

The complete results can be found here from buffalorunners.com. The next race is the Fourth of July 10K event in Lancaster.

It was nice to do a little racing Wednesday in Niagara Falls after a week of vacation -- although a little less heat would have been appreciated. It's supposed to be cooler this weekend. Here's the schedule from buffalorunners.com:

* Diner Dash, 4 miles, 875 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 874-1707. This uses the Subaru course, and organizers moved the date this year. They were lucky to have the morning to themselves.

* St. Mary of the Lake 5K, 4737 Lake Shore Road in Hamburg, 6 p.m. Saturday, 570-6316.

* Bemus Point 10K, Long Point State Park Bath House, 9 a.m. Sunday, 488-0788.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: An award-winning night

  June 23, 2010 -- The Buffalo Sabres haven't won a great many of individual awards over the years. Therefore, this was a darn good day in the history of the franchise.

   Goalie Ryan Miller took home the Vezina Trophy from the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas as the league's best goalie. He thus joined such names as Dominik Hasek, Ken Dryden, Jacques Plante and Martin Brodeur as winners.

    "I'm looking at all these names, and it's pretty amazing, the history on this trophy," Miller said. "To get my name on there is pretty cool."

   Meanwhile, Tyler Myers picked up the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. Tom Barrasso and Gil Perreault were the only other Sabres to take home that honor.

   "It's definitely nice to be put in that group of guys," Myers said. "Even to be put in the group of rookies this year is enough for me. I was just happy to come and be in Vegas, win or lose. So far it's been a great experience. To be able to walk on stage, I'll never forget it."

   The awards were rewards for Buffalo's excellent regular season, which featured a division championship.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Plate Contenders Parade for Media

By Gene Kershner

REXDALE, Ontario -- On Monday afternoon was Queen's Plate Media Day where 11 of the probable starters paraded in front of a few hundred media member in the walking ring outside Woodbine Racetrack in suburban Toronto. The first leg of Canada's Triple Crown has a purse of $1 million, and will be contested by a crowded field, with potentially 17 starters, although that number could be reduced by post time Sunday afternoon.

Sunday's 152nd edition of North America's oldest continuously run stakes race will be contested on the Woodbine polytrack over 1 1/4 miles. Since the inaugural Canadian Triple Crown of 1959, seven 3-year-olds have captured the prestigious triple, the last being Wando in 2003.

Here's a sneak peek at the probable starters in alphabetical order (trainer, jockey and sire in parenthesis):

Bowman's Causeway (Chad Brown, Eurico Rosa da Silva, Giant's Causeway) -- Finished third in Plate Trial after being claimed at Gulfstream from Patrick Biancone in his first try on the polytrack. He has hit the board in six of seven career races. Has the pedigree to get the mile and a quarter and should improve in the second start for the Brown barn.

Check Your Soul (Roger Attfield, Patrick Husbands, Perfect*Ire) -- It is highly likely that this one will most likely be your morning line favorite after his dominant performance in winning the Plate Trial. Should he win the Plate he would have a legitimate shot at sweeping the Crown due to his breeding for both the poly and the turf. Trainer Roger Attfield will be looking to notch a record ninth Plate victory.

Curgone (Greg De Gannes, Garrett Gomez, Niigon) -- Gomez makes the trip in to ride for De Gannes, for whom he has ridden at Del Mar. The son of 2004 Plate champion Niigon will most likely be forwardly placed in the early stages and should be a big price.

Enduring Star (Mark Casse, Robby Albarado, Sir Shackleton) -- West Point Thoroughbreds puts its Plate hopes in Robby Albarado's irons. While he just broke his maiden in April, he's been off since then after an illness slowed his progress. His work tab indicates he's fit and ready to roll. His third-place finish in a maiden special weight over nine furlongs at Gulfstream was flattered by the winner of that race, who won the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont last weekend.

Head Honcho (Catherine Day Phillips, Jono Jones, Strut the Stage) -- He has not started well in all four of his starts, but has finished strong in each, winning two and placing in another. Seems to be somewhat outclassed here, but stranger things have happened.

Hippolytus (Mark Casse, Tyler Pizarro, Philanthropist) -- Casse puts on the blinkers based on recommendation from his jock. "You don't usually do that going farther but Tyler feels he really gets intimidated by other horses and he was on and off the bit the whole way in the Plate Trial," Casse said. He defeated other Plate hopefuls Curgone and Head Honcho in a May allowance race and comes in third off the layoff.

Imhotep (Todd Pletcher, TBD, Giant's Causeway) -- It was announced at Media Day that Pletcher will most likely enter the maiden in the Plate. Only having raced three times, he suffered a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Plate Trial after failing to break his maiden earlier in the winter at Gulfstream and Keeneland, respectively. His best effort to date was a turf race in his racing debut in which the winner just came back to win the aforementioned Hill Prince, and he finished just ahead of Enduring Star.

Inglorious (Josie Carroll, Luis Contreras, Hennessy) -- The lone filly to start in this year's Plate is trained by 2006 Plate winning champion Carroll. The filly comes off a Woodbine Oaks victory with red hot jockey Luis Contreras in the saddle. She finished second to highly regarded Kathmanblu in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds in February. She also comes in third off the layoff on the form cycle.

Maple Leaf Kitten (Joe Woodard, Ben Creed, Kitten's Joy) -- Claimed from Ken and Sarah Ramsey at Gulfstream for $75K this winter, this colt was unraced at age two. He should be a big price on Plate day where he'll try the poly for the first time. He had a bad trip at Churchill on Derby day and came back in a nine furlong effort and narrowly missed against one of Al Stall's top trainee's, Shrill. Added blinkers in breaking his maiden in a turf effort June 8 at Indiana Downs.

Oh Canada (Robert Tiller, Emma-Jayne Wilson, Proud Citizen) -- His sire finished second in the 2002 Kentucky Derby behind War Emblem, so getting the distance shouldn't be an issue. "If I win, I'm going to sing 'O Canada' and then jump into the infield pond," said trainer Tiller, who is still looking for his first Plate win since starting his first runner in 1975. "Well I won't do that, but I'll just cry," Tiller exclaimed. The gelding has never missed the board in five career efforts. Contreras jumped off this horse to ride the filly.

Ojibway Signal (David Bell, Justin Stein, Niigon) Another son of Niigon, he has only one win in 10 starts. His speed figures don't seem to match up with the better contenders.

Okiyama (John Mattine, Jesse Campbell, Old Forester) -- This lightly raced gelding came off a six-month layoff to win an allowance race on the Woodbine poly June 3.  "He had a real quiet winter in Ontario," said Mattine. "He's a horse that was growing. I thought we'd let him grow up a wee bit. I've done that with a couple other horses and it seemed to work out."  Not convinced he'll handle the additional distance based on his pedigree.

One Big Gator (John Ross, Jim McAleney, One Way Love) -- After removing the blinkers, he broke his maiden impressively in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight under Patrick Husbands. Veteran McAleney inherits the ride as Husbands will be on the likely favorite. He's hit the board in four of six outings and has never been further back than four lengths at the wire.

Pender Harbour (Mike DePaulo, Chantal Sutherland, Philanthropist) -- Chantal flies in from California for the mount on the chestnut gelding. He has fared well in his two route races, winning the Kingarvie Stakes last November over Plate starters Hippolytus and Ojibway Signal and finishing fourth in the Victoria Park Stakes only two lengths back June 12.

Queen'splatekitten (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, Kitten's Joy) -- He figures to take some money at the windows due to the name as well as the Pletcher/Velazquez combo. The Toddster has won the Plate before in 1998 with Archers Bay. The horse has solid speed figures and hasn't shied away from top-notch competition over the Derby prep season.  "When we bought him (from Ken Ramsey this winter), we had this race in mind. It's always been our primary focus, so we feel like we've gotten to this point the way we had planned," said Pletcher, who is on his way home from spending a week at Royal Ascot.

Seawatch (Josie Carroll, TBD, Woodman) -- At this time, Carroll is still undecided whether they will go. He finished just behind Pender Harbour in the aforementioned Victoria Park Stakes. It is highly likely that this one doesn't make the gate Sunday.

Strike Oil (Mark Casse, Willie Martinez, Forest Wildcat) -- The colt finished third in the Plate Trial behind Check Your Soul and Bowman's Causeway after being wide most of the race. Won the Coronation Futurity as a two-year old last November, but was waxed by Preakness champ Shackleford in his three-year old debut at Gulfstream finishing 22 lengths behind. He's another horse that Contreras was on before jumping off to ride the filly.  The Forest Wildcat colt will need some pace to fully utilize his late closing style.

We'll be up to attend the Post Position Draw breakfast Thursday and will have a full print advance in Saturday's paper to keep you up to date with all of the happenings north of the border as we kick off the Canadian Triple Crown season.

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: Keep your shirt on

   June 22, 1991 -- The start to the National Hockey League's Entry Draft is always a time for celebration. The team with the first pick takes a player, who is brought on to a stage. The player puts on the team's jersey, smiles a lot, and poses for pictures.

   It didn't go quite that way when Eric Lindros went first to the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 draft, which was held in Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo.

   Lindros was considered the next big star in hockey circles, but there was some question about whether he'd be willing to sign with the Nordiques.

   "Money is one thing; it isn't the only thing," Lindros said about his chances of joining Quebec.

   Pat Falloon went second overall to the San Jose Sharks, and got a hearty cheer when he put on the Sharks' uniform. The Buffalo Sabres took defenseman Philippe Boucher.

   The selection of Lindros led to a Stanley Cup, but not in an expected way. Lindros was traded to the Flyers for a boatload of talent that included Peter Forsberg. Quebec moved to Colorado and won a championship there.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Caught in a draft

     June 21, 1997 -- Draft day is usually an interesting time in the National Hockey League, sometimes in hindsight more than at the time.

     The 1997 NHL Entry Draft was held on this day in Pittsburgh. Buffalo had the 21st pick in the first round, which meant it had to do some sitting and waiting.

     The first five players turned out to be good ones. Joe Thornton went to the Bruins first overall. Roberto Luongo was the fourth player selected (Islanders), and Marian Hossa went 12th (Senators).

     When it was the Sabres' turn, they pulled a bit of a surprise by taking goalie Mika Noronen from Finland.

     "The staff did not feel he would be available in the second round," Sabres GM Darcy Regier said at the time about the pick.

     Henrik Tallinder went second, and the defenseman made a good contribution to the Sabres during his time here. But Buffalo wasn't done yet.

     Maxim Afinogenov of Russia was taken in the third round, and then Brian Campbell went to Buffalo in the sixth round. They both were notable players for the franchise eventually.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: Closure in Calgary

It's a little tough to keep up on indoor lacrosse news while vacationing in Wisconsin. The closest I came was when I was at a vending machine in Milwaukee on Saturday night, and a woman walked by wearing a Minnesota Swarm t-shirt. She said she loved the game and was even a season-ticket holder.

However, in catching up with the news upon returning, I found that the Calgary Flames of the NHL have purchased the Calgary Roughnecks of the NLL. While this has more or less been expected for some time, it is very good news for the lacrosse league.

There seems to be a business model that works in the NLL, and Buffalo pioneered it. The Bandits are owned by the Sabres, so the lacrosse team doesn't have to worry about such pesky things as rent, and hiring an entire staff for marketing, ticket sales, etc. Want to buy an ad for the Sabres? A radio spot in the Bandits' broadcasts is available for a few extra dollars. The same formula is used in Colorado.

Care to guess which two cities lead the NLL in attendance? You got it.

I would suspect that Calgary now has every opportunity to follow the lead of Buffalo and Colorado. When the Roughnecks were almost out of business during the season, I wondered about the health of the league if that franchise went under. After all, nine teams for an international league is a low number. But the Flames should offer some needed stability, so it's a huge step forward for the NLL.

--- 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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