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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A first step

   October 11, 1991 -- In the fall of 1991, Sabres general manager Gerry Meehan started to make major changes in his roster. The first shoe came with a deal with the Winnipeg Jets.

   Buffalo acquired speedy forward Dave McLlwain and tough veteran Gord Donnelly for wingers Darrin Shannon and Mike Hartman and defenseman Dean Kennedy.

   Or, as Sabres' executive John Muckler put it, "I guess the deal really comes down to McLlwain for Shannon."

   The Sabres were looked to get faster, and McLlwain was known as a very good skater. Donnelly, who could play wing or defense, added a little toughness to a team that already had plenty of that quality.

   Meanwhile, Shannon was considered a top prospect when he was acquired from Pittsburgh in the Tom Barrasso deal. However, his offense never came around.

   "That doesn't mean he can't play well in the National Hockey League with another hockey club whose format is a little bit different," Muckler said.

   As it turned out, Meehan was hardly done. A bigger trade for someone named Pat LaFontaine was on the horizon.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: 292 in a row

   October 10, 1987 -- It's not usually news when a team loses, but it was on this day. The longest winning streak in high school team sports history came to an end.

   Sweet Home's girls volleyball team lost to Horseheads, 15-8, 14-16, and 15-11, in the Eden tournament. It snapped Eden's winning streak at an amazing 292.

   "I'm glad, and I know our girls are glad, that we lost to a program similar to ours, one that starts girls in the seventh grade and is a very technical program" Sweet Home coach Sally Kus said to the News' Mike Harrington.

   Sweet Home faced four match points in the second game, but fought them off to force a third game. But Horseheads wsa too good from there, giving Kus only her 13th career loss since 1974. She had 379 career wins at the time.

   "We love the competition of playing them," Horseheads coach Tom Skidmore said. "You always go aganist them with the thought -- and the hope-- that you can beat them. It's really amazing to think about this. That streak is unbelievable. When the match ended, it was strange because we felt bad for them. They've accomplished something to be proud of forever. Sure, we were happy to win but we felt bad they had to lose."

   Two days later, the Sweet Home boys volleyball team came to the girls practice and gave each player a rose in honor of the streak.

--- Budd Bailey 

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Oh, brother

   October 9, 1970 -- The Buffalo Sabres were getting ready for their first NHL season, but there was still time to improve the team's roster.

   General manager and coach Punch Imlach apparently subscribed to the theory that you can never have enough goaltending. The Sabres purchased the contract of Dave Dryden from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

   This was probably considered a footnote at the time. Dryden had played his first NHL game for the New York Rangers during the 1961-62 season at the age of 20. He bounced to the Chicago Blackhawks for most of the Sixties, seeing some action in the NHL but mostly staying in the minors. Dryden was a Buffalo Bison for four games during the 1964-65 season.

   The netminder only played 10 games with the Sabres in their first season. He finished 3-3 with a 3.37 goals-against average. His workload increased over the next four years. In fact, Dryden played in 53 games for the 1973-74 team.

   From there, he jumped to Chicago Cougars for a year, and then landed with the Edmonton Oilers. Dryden stayed there until the 1979-80 season.

   The goalie finished with 445 games in either the NHL or WHA. He should be remembered for being more than Ken Dryden's brother.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Main St. debut

   October 8, 1992 -- Here's a game that looked a great deal more significant than it did at the time.

   The Sabres lost to the Quebec Nordiques, 5-4, on opening night in Memorial Auditorium. It was the first start in a Buffalo uniform for a goalie who had been quietly acquired in the offseason: Dominik Hasek.

   The netminder had to take a back seat to another exciting player on the Sabres' roster, Alexander Mogilny. The winger had three goals to lead the Sabres, while Pat LaFontaine had the other Buffalo goal.

   However, Joe Sakic (two goals) and Mats Sundin (one goal) helped the Nordiques look as if they were ready to end a long dry spell.

   "They're a good offensive team," Dave Andreychuk of the Sabres said. "And if you give them a chance to wheel with it they're going to get a lot of chances to score. They proved it tonight. If you don't shut them down in neutral ice, they're going to come through neutral ice with lots of speed."

   News' reporter Bob DiCesare said Hasek's performance that night was "OK, nothing more." Hasek would be getting rave reviews in the future.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Champagne to flow Saturday

By Gene Kershner

Once again this weekend, Belmont Park will be the scene for a critical “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup (BC) Challenge race, this time featuring 2-year-old colts. The 141st running of the $300,000 Grade 1 Champagne Stakes will be run over a one turn mile in Elmont, New York. The winner qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to be run at Churchill Downs on November 5.

Last year, Uncle Mo pulled off the Champagne-Juvenile double on his way to 2-year-old Male honors. The list of past winners is impressive with names like Spectacular Bid, Seattle Slew, Alydar, Easy  Goer and Foolish Pleasure gracing the history books.

Current New York steward Braulio Baeza won the race five times as a jockey and Johnny Velazquez can equal that mark with a victory on Takes the Gold.  Belmont Stakes winning trainer Tim Ice attempts to win a big race at Belmont for the first time in three and one half years since winning the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup with Summer Bird. He will saddle No Spin, whose sire Johannesburg won the 2001 BC Juvenile on this very Belmont Park strip.

 Let’s take a look at the nine challengers hoping to hoist the Moet at the end of the day.

 1 – No Spin (20-1)Sports an impressive bullet work (1/49) at Hawthorne where he breezed 5-furlongs for Ice. It will be his first try on dirt after racing three times on the Arlington polytrack. Has the right breeding, but I’m not sure that will carry him in here.

 2 – Speightscity (10-1) – This Speightstown colt won impressively at Saratoga breaking his maiden over 9 furlongs where he crushed the field by 11-1/2 lengths. Corey Nakatani will ride him as Castellano jumps off to ride the favorite, Union Rags. Well-bred, his damsire, Quiet American won the NYRA Mile and Woodward in his illustrious career. Interesting.

 3 – Takes the Gold (6-1) – Babe Dutrow lured Johnny V to ride this Corinthian colt after breaking his maiden on him three weeks ago at Belmont in a one mile race. Only one other horse in the field has a race over Big Sandy. Velazquez also rode Speightscity, so both he and Castellano pass on the #2 horse in favor of others. His sire, Corinthian was first BC Dirt Mile at Monmouth in 2007. Considering for a big piece.

4 – Power World (8-1) – You can throw out his last, a dull effort in the slop in the  Grade 1 Hopeful after finishing a well beaten second in the Grade 2 Sanford behind highly regarded Overdriven. Will probably look elsewhere.

 5 – Alpha (5-2) – Uber-impressive winning a $55K maiden special weight on the Woodward undercard at the Spa. He also has a solid breeze on the latest work tab. Looks fit and ready to explode. “Union Rags is the horse to beat but we like our horse,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin of Alpha, who will sport the blue Godolphin silks Saturday. “He’s doing great and the one mile should suit. We just broke his maiden, so it’s a big step to a Grade 1. The timing is good, with him having had his first race a month ago. As racing goes, you’d like to start them a little earlier, but we’re here now. We think he fits well.” The pick.

 6 – Union Rags (7-5) – Impressive win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special propels him as the chalk. Trainer Michael Matz enters his unbeaten 2-year-old with hot jockey Javier Castellano who is winning at a 23 percent clip at Belmont. The Dixie Union colt won in the slop by 7-1/4 lengths in mid-August and shouldn’t have any problem stretching out to a mile. Should be in contention throughout.

 7 – Right to Vote (12-1) - Won at Belmont three weeks ago, breaking his maiden with Castellano aboard. Alex Solis takes over the mount for trainer Eoin Harty who has struggled with 2-year olds this year. Not sure he’s quite fast enough after shipping in from Kentucky.

 8 – Invocation (20-1) – A distant second to Alpha in the maiden race at the Spa. Trainer Kimmel has a $4.03 ROI in graded stakes, so has been known to win with a bomb every now and then. Young David Cohen has had a decent meeting so far and gets the mount. Leaning elsewhere.

 9 – Laurie’s Rocket (30-1) – Bluegrass Cat colt didn’t like the slop in the Hopeful, was caught five wide and finished a distant fourth. Will be the longest shot on the board, and rightly so.

 Post Time Outlook: 1 – Alpha; 2 – Takes the Gold; 3 – Union Rags

Long shot: Speightscity

The field for the Grade 1, $300,000 Champagne:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

No Spin (KY)

R Maragh

122

T A Ice

20-1

2

Speightscity (KY)

C S Nakatani

122

G C Contessa

10-1

3

Takes the Gold (KY)

J R Velazquez

122

R E Dutrow, Jr.

 6-1

4

Power World (KY)

E S Prado

122

N J Howard

 8-1

5

Alpha (KY)

A Garcia

122

K P McLaughlin

 5-2

6

Union Rags (KY)

J Castellano

122

M R Matz

 7-5

7

Right to Vote (KY)

A O Solis

122

E G Harty

12-1

8

Invocation (KY)

D Cohen

122

J C Kimmel

20-1

9

Laurie's Rocket (KY)

C H Velasquez

122

D Stewart

30-1

Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer and handicapper who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Don't waste time

     October 7, 1990 -- The Bills were known for their quick-strike scoring ability at this point in their history. On this particular night, they might have outdone themselves.

     The Bills put on a memorable burst in the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Raiders, 38-24 before 80,076. They scored 24 points in six minutes and three seconds to turn a possible defeat into a sure victory.

     J.D. Williams returned a blocked punt 38 yards for a score. Nate Odomes scored up a fumble and ran 49 yards for another touchdown. Jim Kelly did the rest, throwing for three touchdowns.

     The Bills improved their record to 4-1 with the win. Coach Marv Levy didn't think the Bills were lucky to take four of their first five games.

     "I consider that we earned 4-1, every inch of it," Levy said. "Our players have earned it. Earned it ...""

     Buffalo stayed in a tie for first in the AFC East with the Dolphins with that victory. They joined Cincinnati at the top of the conference standings.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Defending champions

   The competition for The Buffalo News runner of the year looks like it is going to end up just like last year's race.

   That is to say, we'll have the same champions.

   Dan Giza is way ahead in the men's competition. He can't be caught with two races left. Allison Carr could be caught by Aileen Hoak and Tracy Kelly, but it's unlikely. Carr only needs six points (a fifth-place finish) in the Bob Ivory Run or the Turkey Trot in November to make the math work for her.

   Here are the complete results, courtesy of buffalorunners.com.

   Last Saturday was a rather raw day for running; I even got out the long pants for the first time this season. Let's hope for better conditions this weekend. Here's the schedule, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

   * Breaking the Sound Barrier 5K, 2253 Main St. in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Saturday, 834-7200 x175. This is always a nice, low-key race with plenty of heart.

   * Ellicottville Fall Festival 5K, Holiday Valley Creekside Lodge in Ellicottville, 10 a.m. Saturday. As they say, save something for the end of this one.

   * Crystal Beach 5K Run, 3878 Erie Road in Crystal Beach, Ont., 11 a.m. Saturday, (289) 292-3100. Since I measured this course for a story, one of these days I'll have to run it.

    * Olivia's 5K Wish Run, Evangola State Park in Irving, 11 a.m. Saturday, 934-7499.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The future arrives

   October 6, 1982 -- The Buffalo Sabres made a huge splash at the NHL Entry Draft in the summer of 1982 with some serious wheeling and dealing. A few months later, it was time to see what the Sabres had done.

   Buffalo opened the season with a home game against the Quebec Nordiques. The Sabres put all of their first-round draft picks that year in the lineup.

   What's more, they all turned up on the scoresheet. Interestingly, Paul Cyr, who had the least distinguished career of the three of them, was the first to score. He had a goal at 11:40 of the first period.

   Dave Andreychuk added a goal in the second period, and Phil Housley added an assist a few minutes later. It didn't help, as Quebec took a 6-4 decision. By the way, future Sabre Real Cloutier had the first goal of the game for the Nordiques.

   We heard a lot about the potential of those three players at that time, and it more or less came true. Andreychuk is a future Hall of Famer, and Housley probably will join him some day. Only Cyr didn't work out.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Only eighteen

   October 5, 1983 -- Bob Sauve was coming off the best playoff of his life when the 1983-84 season started. He had blanked the Canadiens twice in back-to-back games, and helped Buffalo reach the seventh game of the second-round series with Boston.

   He was surprised, then, when he started the 1983 season on the bench.

   Sauve made way for Tom Barrasso, an 18-year-old who was the team's first draft choice the preceeding summer. Barrasso left the U.S. Olympic team to sign with the Sabres, and Buffalo didn't waste any time in seeing what it had.

   Barrasso gave up three goals on 27 shots in the opener against the Hartford Whalers. At the other end, Mike Veisor only stopped 22 of 27 shots by Buffalo. That added up to a 5-3 victory by the Sabres.

   Barrasso went on to go 5-1-1 in the month of October to earn rookie of the month honors in the NHL. He finished the season with 26 wins and a 2.84 goals-against average, and won the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie.

   At the time, it was thought that Barrasso was the best 18-year-old goalie in the history of the National Hockey League. Nothing has changed since that initial impression.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Requesting quiet

   October 4, 1981 -- No one has gotten around to doing an "all-underrated Bills' team." At least as of this writing. Would it be proper to publicize such a team, or should they just quietly be ignored?

   In any case, sometimes it's easy to forget that Joe Cribbs was a pretty good running back for the Bills during the early 1980's. He lost some popularity points locally when he jumped to Birmingham of the USFL, but he was a big contributor.

   On this day in 1981, Cribbs had one of the best games of his NFL career. He ran for 159 yards on only 17 carries, including a 35-yard romp. He also caught three passes.

   The Bills jumped out to a 14-0 lead and went on to a 23-17 win over the Baltimore Colts. Joe Ferguson threw a touchdown pass to Jerry Butler, Roosevelt Leaks ran for another score and Nick Mike-Mayer kicked three field goals.

   The Colts had improved since a 35-3 loss to the Bills earlier in the season, but not enough.

   "The secondary tightened up its coverage," Indianapolis coach Mike McCormack said. "But now we need more aggressive play out of the linebackers."

--- 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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