The annual Super Bowl poll is split almost evenly as the debate on the outcome of the Super Bowl will likely continue right up to game time.
The Baltimore Ravens are riding the emotional wave and since this is the last game for storied middle linebacker Ray Lewis, there are those that believe Baltimore is destiny’s favourite tomorrow in New Orleans.
Let’s take a look at what the panelists had to say:
Fred Ripley: Summerside resident and ex-St. Dunstan’s great quarterback thinks Lewis and company will shut down the San Francisco run game.
“Flacco is a better quarterback, so I like the Ravens by eight points.“
Gary Kennedy: One of the best linebackers ever at UPEI and a thumper with speed, who enjoyed punishing opponents, thinks the Ravens defence of Lewis, Terrell Suggs and company will shut down the 49ers run game. Baltimore by a touchdown.
Tex MacDonald: A running back at UPEI and Colonel Gray football coach for two decades loves Flacco. He is a better passer than Kaepernick and has a better cast of receivers. Toss in Baltimore’s stout defence and you have an upset, Ravens by a touchdown or better.
Mike Lyriotokis: One of the all-time greats at UPEI is convinced Baltimore will win. “Defence wins championships and the Ravens have the best D. Baltimore by a field goal.”
Jim Revell: “The Baltimore defence shut down Peyton Manning one week and Tom Brady the next week. And they’ll shut down Colin Kaepernick too,” said the ex-UPEI quarterback. “In addition, watch for Ravens QB Joe Flacco to combine with receiver Anquan Boldin for big plays. Ravens by at least a field goal.”
Premier Robert Ghiz: Since the premier picked San Francisco from the start of the playoffs and he’s hot, we’ll give him gets his chance at sports handicapping. Robert says San Francisco is the better team on both sides of the ball and more consistent, 49ers by a touchdown.
Roger Outhouse: The Souris native was fast and a big hitter from his safety position at UPEI. San Francisco’s running game is too much for Baltimore’s aging defence, 49ers by 10 points.
Paul MacWilliams: One of Summerside’s best all-around athletes in his playing days and a QB at Summerside High thinks San Francisco’s duo of Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick will be too tough for Baltimore to defend. San Francisco by at least a touchdown.
Shane Dowling: Another ex-bruising Panthers linebacker who could fly is surprisingly not going with the defensive-minded Ravens. Shane thinks San Fran’s running game of Gore and Kaepernick will be the difference with the 49ers winning by seven points.
I asked pharmacy baron Ray Murphy who he thought would take tomorrow’s Super Bowl, “New Orleans by a TD.”
I said before the playoffs started that San Francisco would win the Super Bowl. The Ravens were able to stop Manning and Brady, who are pocket passers and not likely to run.
Kaepernick presents a much different package. He can tuck the ball away and can score from anywhere on the field. San Francisco wins the Super Bowl by seven points and counting.
The red-hot UPEI hockey Panthers are in Fredericton tonight to play the UNB Varsity Reds after playing the arch-rival Blue Eagles last night.
The P.E.I. Rocket’s next home game is Friday, Feb. 8 against Rimouski, and two days later on Sunday at 4 p.m. against Moncton. Rimouski and Moncton are two of the best clubs in the entire Quebec league, so lets get out and enjoy the best clubs in the Q and support the Rocket.
Prior to the Rimouski game next Friday, a reception will be held upstairs from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Civic Centre where a tribute night for Ev White will be held.
Ev, regarded in many circles as the Father of Old Timers Hockey on P.E.I., started out playing in the old Island Senior Hockey League of the early 1960s with teams like Cape Traverse Evinudes and Summerside Pope Motors Aces.
He moved back to the Island in 1975, and ever since has been a player and a crusader for oldtimers hockey right across the province. White, who survived cardiac arrest on the ice immediately following a hockey game in November at Simmons arena, has recovered but I doubt he’ll be playing hockey for the remainder of this year. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is also planning something special this night and many of Ev’s oldtimers teammates like Gord Tweedy, Alf Flanagan, Fred Burke, Don Chandler, Frank Morrison and many others will be on hand.
One oldtimer told me yesterday if Ev White is the father of oldtimers hockey, wouldn’t that make Gordon Tweedy, “the grandfather of oldtimers hockey?”
The fun is starting already. Not only will this be an entertaining event, but hockey fans get a chance to see Rimouski, one of the top teams in the east division, and a team that many believe is the one to beat in the Quebec league.
There is no live harness racing but there is plenty of simulating available from Ontario tracks, the Meadowlands and at Yonkers Raceway.
Flamboro goes today at 2 p.m. and Woodbine tonight and many of the Islanders are in action. Gold Cup and Saucer starters Mystician goes in the $34,000 top class at Toronto while Silent Swing tackles the $35,000 top class at Yonkers and Eighteen, last year’s Gold Cup and Saucer winner, is entered in the $24,000 overnight also at Yonkers.
The Meadowlands continues to realize a big parimutuel handle and that’s good for business. The letter classification system is making for more competitive racing and driving the handle. Tonight’s Big M $22,500 top class has Silver Eagle on the rail and Islanders will want to see this fellow as he’s by Island sire and Meridian Farms-owned Brandons Cowboy.
Eagle luck, who raced here in our top class three weeks ago, was in to qualify Thursday morning at The Meadowlands and will most likely surface next weekend at Yonkers, a half-mile track same as here.
Great to see Marc Campbell win the O’Brien Award for Horsemanship at last Saturday’s big awards night in Toronto. The qualifying rounds for the $100,000 World Handicapping Challenge set for April at The Big M starts Thursday at Red Shores Charlottetown. Contestants are required to post a $10 entry fee every Thursday and wager on three races from the Woodbine card. This competition runs until March 28 when an overall winner will be declared. They will represent Charlottetown at the handicapping challenge at The Big M. In addition, the overall winner will be granted a seat in the Poker Challenge set for the same track next June.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears in The Guardian each Saturday. He can be at email@example.com.