Fiddler's Facts: Test time for Panthers

Fred
Fred MacDonald
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The UPEI hockey Panthers complete the second of two weekend games when they meet nationally ranked UNB tonight at 7 p.m. at the MacLauchlan Arena.

The Panthers (4-3-1) visited second-place Moncton (5-2-1) last night and they need a win tonight over always-tough UNB (5-3) if they wish to finish the regular season among the top four, which means an extra home game come playoff time.

The Panthers are a well-coached and fast team, but they are noticeably small compared to teams like Saint Mary’s, Acadia and UNB.

I watched the St. F.X. game last Saturday, a 3-2 overtime win, and it took three or four spectacular saves late in the third period by Wayne Savage to salvage the win.

Charlottetown’s Matt Boyle has been solid defensively in the games I’ve seen and he, and his defensive mates, will have to be at their best against a tough, tough opponent.  The local club is not overloaded with talent but they have sensational goaltending in Mavric Parks and Savage, arguably the two best ever to play at UPEI. When you have that kind of goaltending, you have a chance to win every night. Let’s hope this evening is one of those nights.

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Doug Williams may not be a name familiar with today’s hockey fans, but for those who closely followed senior hockey here in the 1960s, he was a standout defenceman. He was a great skater, powerful and had a big shot.

Williams, a native of Tyne Valley, starred with Old Spain Penguins with guys like Billy and Vince Mulligan, Jack Kane, Merrill Pineau and Jimmy Duffy. He also starred with Summerside senior teams with the Grady forwards, Coke, Benny, and Gord, and defence buddies Vance Harris, Grant Grady and Eustace Reeves. Doug was also a great harness racing fan and a close buddy with legendary horseman Keith Waples. Sadly, Williams passed away earlier this week in Guelph, Ont.

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Kris MacPhee, director of sport conditioning for Andrews Growth Programs, has been making quite a name for himself in the hockey fitness world.

This past week ex-UPEI Panthers star and current Washington Capitals standout Joel Ward has been working out with Kris at the Andrews facility on campus. Ward is going to drop the puck at tonight’s Panthers’ game. This past summer, Kontinental league players Mark Flood and goaltender Drew MacIntyre as well as American league veteran Jim Bonneau were regulars with MacPhee. Great to see the ex-Panthers sniper and a North River native excel in the hockey business.

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The West Prince peewee AAA Warriors will represent Prince Edward Island at the prestigious Quebec International Hockey Tournament in February along with teams from 16 other countries. Guy LaFleur, Marcel Dionne, Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros and Wayne Gretzky have all starred in this tournament, which has top teams from Russia, numerous European countries and the USA competing in the 11-day event.

To help offset costs, West Prince has sent letters to Island businesses looking for support. If you would like to help, make cheques payable to Community of Tignish and send to Tignish Community Office, Tignish, P.E.I., C0B 2B0 or contact Nicole Morrissey 856-1539 or 882-2007.

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Live harness racing continues at 1 p.m. today and tomorrow at Red Shores Charlottetown.

Sunday afternoon, the feature attraction is the $8,475 David Rose Memorial as well as the $3,000 consolation. Proven Lover, who posted that terrific 1:53:2 mile last week for trainer-driver Terry Gallant, is back again in the $2,400 top class. I don’t think anybody can handle this horse right now.

A big race tonight at Yonkers where Mark MacDonald sends Bolt the Duer from Post 5 in the $415,000 Messenger stakes. If the Bolt is 100 per cent healthy, he wins. MacDonald also has Rockaround Sue in the $229,000 Lady Maud for three-year-old fillies. Eighteen, who won last week in 1:52:2 for trainer Mark Ford and Mark Mac, is entered in the $35,000 race tonight at the New York track.

In action Tuesday in Ontario, James MacDonald won the $57,000 Graduate for three-year-old trot mares in 1:58:1 at Georgian Downs. James co-owns with Johnny McKinnon of Charlottetown and Peter Porter.

In the $55,000 graduate for Ontario-sired sophomore colts, Anthony MacDonald posted a sizzling 1:53:2 victory with GiddyUpBlackfly for trainer Joey Shea and owner David Shea. Tonight, there’s a sensational card at Woodbine with eight races at $300,000, the Ontario Super Gold finals. Anthony MacDonald was sixth in these races, his best shots with It’s No Secret from Post 10 and Mach Pride from Post 5 for freshman colts.

James has two shots, a real live one with the Jeff Gillis-trained Jet Wash versus three-year-old fillies.

There are lots of big prices at the Harrisburg Black Book Yearling Sales. Dr. Ian Moore collared two Shadow Play colts, one for $37,000 and the other for $135,000 – the highest he’s ever paid for a colt, so he must be a looker. Jeff Gillis was also active: $59,000 for a Well Said colt, $45,000 for an Art Major colt and $65,000 for a SomeBeachsomewhere colt. Wayne MacRae shelled $24,000 for an American Ideal colt while Carl Jamieson parted with $57,000 for a Rocknroll colt, $3,000 for a Muscles Yankee colt and $4,000 for a Muscles Yankee filly. These purchases took place the first two days. More next week.

Pigskin Picks

The National Football League heads into Week 10 and the games get tougher and tougher to handicap.

New York Giants (6-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) The Bengals were supposed to be a contender this year but boy have they disappointed. The G-Men are coming off a tough loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and they’ll be hungrier than The Guardian’s Teresa Wright on the PNP file. The Bengals pass defence is weak and Giants QB Eli Manning has a great cast of receivers. Sounds like a Giants victory by a TD.

Tennessee (3-6) at Miami (4-4) The Fish are at home and they’re much tougher in Florida than when heading north. The Titans were badly roughed up by the Chicago Bears last week, and against a very stout Miami run defense, they will be hard pressed to generate points. Love the Dolphins at home by four .

Atlanta (8-0) at New Orleans (3-5) The Falcons are unbeaten and are able to feast on teams with a losing record, just like New Orleans. The Saints beat Philadelphia last Monday night, but I’m not sure if it was a case of the Saints being that good or the Eagles being that bad. The Saints can score but they have a poor pass defence and that will make Atlanta an easy winner.  I’m surprised by the one-point spread.

Denver (5-3) at Carolina (2-6) Denver is displaying better defence in recent games because QB Peyton Manning can control the time of possession. In earlier games, the Broncos were behind early, but now Manning gets ahead and the Broncos are charging downhill. Denver has played better defence as well. Carolina’s Cam Newton will score points but Manning is still Manning. Bet Denver by four points.

New York Jets (3-5) at Seattle (5-4) The Seahawks are unbeaten at home with wins over Minnesota and Green Bay Packers. The Jets just can’t seem to be able to generate any offence and if Mark Sanchez falters early, we could finally see Tim Tebow. Regardless, it’s a Seahawks victory by at least a field goal. As always, pay the mortgage first, the picks are for fun.

Fred MacDonald’s column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at fiddlersfacts@hotmail.com.

Organizations: MacLauchlan Arena.The Panthers, Andrews Growth Programs, Washington Capitals Cincinnati Bengals Tignish Community Office Harrisburg Black Book Yearling Sales New York Jets American Ideal National Football League New York Giants Pittsburgh Steelers Chicago Bears Green Bay Packers

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Moncton, Saint Mary Tyne Valley Tignish Guelph Ontario North River Prince Edward Island Quebec Denver Russia USA Yonkers New York Miami Atlanta New Orleans Florida Philadelphia Seattle Minnesota

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