Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Good luck to Tim Whitehead, Congratulations to Steve Abbott

Tim Whitehead is a good guy; let’s just get that out of the way right now. If being a nice guy won hockey championships, Tim Whitehead would have been the best hockey coach Maine ever had. Unfortunately, in college sports (much like in life), nice guys finish last. Today, UMaine athletic director Steve Abbott pulled the trigger on his second firing since taking over the helm from Blake James, sending Whitehead packing after getting enough money from the “Friends of Maine Hockey” to pay his buyout for his final year.

This wasn’t about being a nice guy. Tim Whitehead did not get fired because he was an a-hole (which he wasn’t). He was fired because a once dominant hockey program had begun to deteriorate on his watch. He was far from Ray Handley (who replaced Bill Parcells as coach of the New York Giants), but he was definitely along the same lines as Frank Solich (who replaced Tom Osborne as head coach for Nebraska football) and Pete Carroll (who replaced Bills Parcells as head coach of the Patriots). The farther you got from the end of the golden era, the worse things got.

Recent seasons of lackluster regular season play and a dreadful home record (something completely ridiculous with a home ice advantage at the Alfond) finally wore on a fan base and alumni base who considered losing in the tournament a bad year before 2008. It wasn’t just the record on the ice that sounded the gong for Whitehead. There were the off-ice antics of Scott Darling and the on-ice antics of Joey Diamond. There was the failure to successfully recruit Brian Dumoulin or Jon Gillies, both Mainers, both standout college hockey players, both of whom chose to leave their home state and found success at BC and Providence, respectively. Could you imagine if a Maine kid the quality of Gillies had picked Providence over Maine during the Walsh Era? In the Whitehead Era, it became the status quo.

Tim was always great with the media. Was always great with me and everyone I ever worked with. Wish him well, but don’t feel bad. He gets one year of severance pay and will take over another program somewhere. Tim Whitehead is going to be just fine. The question is: will UMaine be fine?

As much as it’s easy to applaud the change, this is a school that chose homegrown product Cindy Blodgett over Lindsey Gottlieb to be women’s basketball coach. Blodgett went 20-69 in four years. Gottlieb got California to the Women’s Final Four this year. Ostensibly Blodgett had the inside track due to her alumni status. Is having a tie to UMaine a good thing or a bad thing? Is Scott Pellerin or Jim Montgomery a better option than someone who didn’t play here simply because they are a tie to the Walsh era? The Black Bear-shaded glasses can make the magic eight-ball hard to read.

Congratulations to Steve Abbott. He has held the coaches to a higher standard than those before him. Cindy Blodgett and Tim Whitehead both found that out (Ted Woodward should be on deck, but that is a story for another day). He now has to find the right man to right the UMaine ship. When Nebraska fired Frank Solich for Bill Callahan, they downgraded, which is something Maine hockey cannot afford to do. The flagship must not sink.

Friday, February 15, 2013

2013 Maine High School Basketball Tournament Game Links


Friday Feb 15th Girls Eastern A Quarterfinals:

- MBR Radio: Mt. Blue vs. Lawrence 7p
Listen online: click here Listen on Smartphones: Download the Tunein Radio app, Search MBR.. select Central Maine channel. lock it in as a favorite

- MBR Radio, WOXO 92.7 FM, WEZR 1240 AM (L-A): Cony vs. Edward Little 8:30p
Listen online: click here Listen on Smartphones: Download the Tunein Radio app, Search MBR... select Central Maine channel. lock it in as a favorite

Saturday Feb 16th Boys Western D:
-MBR Radio: Greenville vs. Valley 8:30a
Listen online: click here Listen on Smartphones: Download the Tunein Radio app, Search MBR.. select Central Maine channel. lock it in as a favorite

-MBR Radio, WOXO 92.7 FM: Richmond vs. Forest Hills 1p
Listen online: click here or click here Listen on Smartphones: Download the Tunein Radio app, Search MBR.. select Central Maine channel. lock it in as a favorite

Saturday Feb 16th Boys Eastern A:
-MBR Radio: Brunswick vs. Lawrence 4p
Listen online: click here Listen on Smartphones: Download the Tunein Radio app, Search MBR.. select Central Maine channel. lock it in as a favorite

-MBR Radio, WOXO 92.7 FM, WEZR 1240 A: Messalonskee vs. Edward Little 5:30p
Listen online: click here Listen on Smartphones: Download the Tunein Radio app, Search MBR.. select Central Maine channel. lock it in as a favorite

-WEZR 1240 AM L/A A: Bangor vs. Lewiston 7:30 p
 Listen online: click here Listen on Smartphones: Download the Tunein Radio app, Search MBR.. select Central Maine channel. lock it in as a favorite

Monday 2-18 Boys Western C:
MBR Radio: Hall-Dale vs. Madison 7:00p
Listen online: click here Listen on Smartphones: Download the Tunein Radio app, Search MBR.. select Central Maine channel. lock it in as a favorite

Sunday, October 07, 2012

MSM: Oxford Hills gets big win at Bangor (with game replay)

Before their game against Bangor last Friday, Oxford Hills head football coach Mark Soehren sat down for his usual “Coach’s Corner” segment. He went back to the Lewiston game and Ben Bowie’s interception that changed the tide of the game.

“We believe we’re trending upward,” said Soehren. “The biggest thing from last week wasn’t just the win; it was the fact that at some point, we refused to lose. The defense made a play (Bowie’s interception), the offense responded with a drive to put it of reach. Good teams find a way to win.”

Down 15-14 to Bangor with seven minutes and fourteen second left at their own 34 yard line, the Vikings went on the biggest drive of their season. It got off to an inauspicious start, as the Vikings were facing a fourth down and seven after Ryan Godin was stopped on third down.  A flag for a facemask was thrown on Bangor, making it fourth and two. The Vikings went for it and got the first down a five yard run from Malik Geiger, and they were off. When the smoke had cleared and the dust had settled, the Vikings found themselves at the three yard line of Bangor, facing a fourth down with the game and possibly their season the line with 42.7 seconds remaining.  Soehren called timeout to call the play, but it was quarterback Ryan Godin who made the call.

“I wanted to call something we could, but wanted to call something the kids believed in,” said Soehren. “We haven’t had a lot of success in the kicking game, which is why we’re a two-point conversion team. Ryan said to me ‘Coach, 32 (play number)’. That’s his number, so I gave it to him.”

“Coach told me (play number) 14, and I told him no ’32, 32’,” said Godin after the game. “I knew had Dexter blocking for me, it was a great feeling. All of our backs run hard and we’re not going to go down on first contact.”

Godin was met in the backfield, but kept his legs moving and churned forward for the touchdown. Davis Turner added the two-point conversion, making it 22-15 Vikings with 36.1 seconds left. The defense turned away a last-gasp drive from Bangor, and left town with their third win on the season, tripling their output from last season, evening their record at 3-3 and keeping their playoff hopes alive.

“This is why we play the game,” said Soehren. “This is why we put in the hours watching film and being in the weight room. That’s the design, minus relying on the facemask penalty, to dink and dunk and get down to the end zone. I have to credit the kids and the staff for everything that has happened so far. This is why we do it.”

Down 9-0 to Bangor early in the second quarter, the Vikings looked to be getting on track with a solid drive. A block below the waist penalty put the Vikings back at their own 38 yard line, 25 yards away from a first down. Malik Geiger, who had a huge first game against Skowhegan and bounced back with a good day against Lewiston, went up the middle virtually untouched for a 62 yard touchdown. Davis Turner ran in the two point conversion and the Vikings found themselves within one.  On the next drive, Godin gave the Vikings the lead with a one yard touchdown run, and the Vikings went into halftime with a 14-9 lead, which held up until Bangor’s Matt Cosgrove, son of Maine head football coach who finished with 10 catches for 113 yards, caught a 32 yard touchdown pass, giving the Rams a 15-14 lead with 7:21 remaining in the game.
Godin rushed 19 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Malik Geiger had a big game himself with 118 yards on 13 carries, and the Vikings had 302 rushing yards on 52 attempts (5.8 yards per carry) as team. The defense kept the Rams to 95 yards, but did allow 152 yards passing to Bangor’s Carl Farnham.  Linebacker Jordan Croteau had 10 tackles, and got six more each from Wolfe Raasumaa and Tony Taylor, who had a great night disrupting Bangor's offensive backfield.

Bangor jumped out early with a 9-0 lead, opening the scoring with a safety on the second Oxford Hills offensive play, then going 39 yards on the ensuing drive, getting a four yard run from Zeb Tuell to go up 9-0.
When asked if he would have believed it if told before the season that Oxford Hills would head up to Bangor and leave with a .500 record, Godin exhaled.

“Honestly, probably not,” he said. “But it feels so good.”

Coach's Corner Week 6:

Full Game with postgame interviews:

Sunday, September 30, 2012

MSM: Plays of the Day (If Gambling Were Legal)

If gambling was legal, I would take: St. Louis + 3 Oakland + 7 Philadelphia -2.5 Again, I would do this only if gambling was legal

Saturday, September 29, 2012

MSM: Oxford Hills football gets back on track against Lewiston

Coming into Saturday’s contest with Lewiston, the Oxford Hills Vikings football team was struggling offensively. With a record of one win and three losses and coming off back-to-back struggles against conference powerhouses Lawrence and Messalonskee, Oxford Hills first year head coach Mark Soehren turned the focus in practice this week on to getting the offense to function properly.

 “The preparation for this week was a little different,” said Soehren on Thursday’s “Coach’s Corner” for WOXO's pregame. “We had a chance to look at some film and really show the kids they do know what they’re doing on offense.”

After Saturday’s 24-6 win, it’s safe to say they do know what they are doing. Senior Ryan Godin had his best day so far as the starting quarterback, with an early touchdown from a yard out to give Oxford Hills the lead in the first quarter at 8-0.

 “I know our linemen have been working on executing and finishing blocks, and they did today”, said Godin. “He really understands what we’re trying to do out there,” said Soehren. “He’s like a coach on the field.”

The Oxford Hills offense clicked behind that offensive line, as they dominated the first half yardage against Lewiston, outgaining them 187 yards to just 11 for Lewiston. After a 17 play drive in the second quarter stalled out, Oxford Hills managed to get more points on the board on their next series with a 44 yard touchdown run from Nick Bowie to give them a 14-0 lead going into the half.

 “It was the blocking,” said Bowie after the game. “I didn’t have to do anything. Running with no one in sight is the greatest feeling ever.” “We had a 17 play drive today,” said Soehren. “Even though we didn’t score on it, it’s a great sign for this team.”

After the half, it was a whole new ballgame. Lewiston scored on the opening kickoff, as Quintarian Brown returned the opening kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 14-6. Oxford Hills fumbled on the next possession, but sophomore Brennan Gillespie sacked Lewiston quarterback Ace Berry in the end zone for a safety, extending the lead to 16-6. Lewiston answered with a long drive, but when it looked as though they were going to seize the momentum, Oxford Hills’ defensive back Ben Bowie intercepted an Eddie Emerson pass in the end zone with 2:14 remaining in the third quarter.

“We talk to the kids at the half and tell them it’s a 0-0 game,” said Soehren. “Sometimes when you aren’t winning games, it’s tough to find ways to win. That’s what Ben did on that play: he found a way to win.”

Dexter Turner added a 20 yard touchdown run with six minutes left to extend the lead to 24-6 and wrap up the scoring. In the postgame, many of the seniors were very emotional, as they realized this was their last homecoming. Bill Leahy, a 6 foot 5 inch and nearly three hundred pound tackle, decked out in a pink Mohawk, was holding back tears listening to his coach talk after the game.

“(The seniors) have been playing together since we were in fourth grade,” said Leahy. “We’re trying to rebuild a program here and get Oxford Hills football back on top.”

Up next for Oxford Hills, who has now doubled their win total from last year: Bangor, who has struggled so far this season, getting their first win of the season on Friday night with a victory over Mt. Ararat. The two teams square off on Friday night.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

MSM: NFL Network on TWC channel numbers (New England)

New England TWC NFL Network and Red Zone Channel Listings:

NFL Network - SD 1524, HD 1526
Red Zone  SD 525, HD 1527


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