In womens' college hoops, Heather Leblanc continues to have a great season for the Norwich Cadets, but even her 18 point effort last night couldn't slow down the Emmanuel Saints in a 72-47 defeat in Boston.
The loss snaps the Cadets' three-game winning streak, but Norwich is still well above .500 at 12-8 on the season and 7-5 against opponents in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. No shame in falling to the Saints, who sport a 15-6 overall record and have lost just once in twelve GNAC games this season. Leblanc did garner an individual award, named the GNAC player of the week, although I'm sure she'd gladly have traded that in for a win against the Saints.
Some big college basketball games set for this weekend. The Castleton Spartan womens' team sits in third place in the Great Northeast Atlantic Conference and have won three of their last four. They face Thomas College tonight and Maine-Farmington on Saturday.
In Castleton men, meanwhile, will try to break out of a four way tie in the GNAC, hosting two of the teams they're deadlocked with now, and the same schools the women will be facing also, with a tip off tonight against Thomas College and then Maine-Farmington Saturday at Glenbrook Gym.
If hockey is more your game the Spartans have a home and home against Skidmore that will have a big impact on the standings as the teams wrap up regular season play. Castleton is currently in fourth place in the NEHC, just one point ahead of Skidmore, and the Castleton women face off against to nationally-ranked teams in Norwich on Friday and New England College Saturday.
Other womens' weekend games include New Hampshire at UVM tonight , Manhattanville at St. Michael’s, and Middlebury on the road at Wesleyan. In mens' college hockey UVM visits Notre Dame. St. Michael’s travels to Boston to skate against UMass Boston, Norwich is at Babson, and Middlebury hosts Wesleyan.
To the pro game on ice, and in the NHL last night Matt Read of the Philadelphia Flyers broke out of a scoring drought stretching back to early November, netting the goal that broke a 1-1 tie in the third period on a blistering slap shot to lead Philly to an eventual 3-1 win over the visiting Montreal Canadiens. The recently acquired from Tampa Bay Nikita Nesterov scored the lone goal for Montreal.
In Buffalo, the NY Rangers went to overtime against the Sabres and won it on a goal by Chris Kreider, the 2-1 win snapping a two-game losing streak for the Blueshirts.
And apparently there's a football game this weekend. Kind of a big one, I guess. Some are describing it as super, but we'll see. One way or the other, history will be made. If the New England Patriots emerge victorious Tom Brady will become the first quarterback in NFL history to win five Superbowl rings, breaking a tie with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana. Ditto for Pats coach Bill Bilichick, who has four rings as a head coach and with a win could try to fit one over his thumb and surpass former Steelers coach Chuck Knoll. If the Falcons win, it'll be Atlanta's first ever NFL championship, and this game really should be super, with Atlanta coming in with the league's highest scoring offense and the Patriots defense having allowed the fewest points in the league, although they're better known for offense. It's a tough call prediction-wise, and the Pats as three point favorites seems about right, and it does have the feel of a game that could come down to a make or break field goal to win it, which might make patriots fans nervous because Stephen Gostowski has not been quite as reliable this season as in years past, and has even missed on more than point point-after-touchdown kicks. But despite the Falcons having a quarterback having an MVP season in Matt Ryan, the game's most dangerous wide receiver in Julio Jones, and a defense that's gotten better with each passing game, I'm cautiously optimistic the Pats will win. Chris Hogan had a monster game against the Steelers and will likely garner a lot more attention in the Atlanta secondary as a result, but the ground game may be more significant for New England in this one than expected, with the potential for Lagarrette Blount to have a big game and little Dion Lewis, who's had some bad luck with injuries the past couple of years and is likely licking his chops at a chance to make up for it with perhaps the biggest game of his career. We'll find out how it all shakes out Sunday night.