The Time Team Richards Downed Team Hartnell at Boardwalk Hall In Front of Most Eclectic Spectators Ever

The Time Team Richards Downed Team Hartnell at Boardwalk Hall In Front of Most Eclectic Spectators Ever


There were almost equal parts Flyers and Rangers fans, mixed
with a healthy Devils contingency, then your token smattering of Penguins jerseys.
There were Capitals fans, Bruins fans, Maple Leafs fans, Canucks fans. There was
even a dude wearing an NHLPA sweater, apparently showing his support of union
workers.

Hockey fans from all walks descended on the Jersey Shore,
making Atlantic City the Hockey Capital of the World for one night on Saturday.
In the end, 10,792 people were unable to agree on which team to root for, but
they were almost unanimously aligned on one key point.

Sidney Crosby sucks.

It was a diverse crowd, and everybody wanted to represent. As
soon as we walked through the doors inside the great venue that is Boardwalk
Hall, we were greeted by a raucous Let’s
Go Rangers/Rangers Suck! chant. When Team Philly scored a goal, our fans
stood and cheered, waving white towels. When Team New York scored a goal –
which I’m sorry to say was far more often – their fans stood and cheered,
waving those same white towels.

Scott Hartnell’s squad fell to that of Brad Richards, his
Rangers counterpart, by a final of 10-6 in Operation Hat Trick, but that was
hardly of consequence. Sure there was a feeling of pride at stake, at least in
the stands, although that even took a backseat as well. How often are Flyers
and Devils fans in a room together, pulling for the same side?

The really cool thing was everybody in attendance actually came
together to assist the many communities still reeling from Hurricane Sandy. In
that respect, the exhibition game for charity was an overwhelming success.

The other common bond linking the motley crew that packed a
makeshift ice rink at the beach is they all miss the sport. Within minutes of
the opening puck drop, a powerful We Want
Hockey chant broke out. Then another as the first period wound down. And a
few more times for good measure. Hartnell spoke to reporters about the emotional
fan reaction following the contest.

“It was great, I love it and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I
got a little choked up when you had 11,000 people cheering they want hockey
back,” Hartnell said.

As the final minutes ticked away, We Love Hockey eventually gave way to a couple inevitable rounds of
Crosby Sucks, despite the fact No. 87
didn’t skate. Pittsburgh’s James Neal did participate however, his presence resulting
in arguably the loudest reaction of anyone during player introductions – a most
thunderous chorus of boos.

I guess Flyers, Rangers, and Devils fans do have something
else in common after all. We all despise the Pens.

Yet the Penguins were not the only subjects of ridicule. Unpopular
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was roasted accordingly. Bettman Sucks! and Fire
Bettman were songs even the Pittsburgh faithful could join in on, so there
was truly something for everyone.

As for Neal, he wound up having the last laugh. The 2012 All
Star already had a hat trick by the second period, finishing the game with four
goals. It didn’t help that Team Philly goaltender Martin Brodeur didn’t have
his best stuff. The longtime Jersey netminder and future Hall of Famer looked
like a 40 year old who hasn’t been seeing many minutes lately, letting by a
handful of scores he would probably like to have back.

The player who stole the show was standing 178 feet across
the ice from Brodeur. Henrik Lundqvist, who reportedly flew back to the States
from Sweden to be at the event, was absolutely on fire in net for Team Richards
– no huge shock given he’s had Philly’s number for awhile now. He wound up
stopping 56 out of 62 shots, foiling multiple complex, combination chances
along the way.

Among those denied from finding twine were Hartnell, a real
shame because the building was poised to erupt regardless of how or what it
meant on the scoreboard. Hartsy stuck out some tough times in Orange and Black
before eventually ascending to the top line and becoming an All-Star performer
last season, turning into a serious fan favorite in the process. Most
importantly, he was instrumental in putting OHT together, which was done in
little more than a week’s time from inception to implementation. Outstanding
job by Hartnell as his legend only continues to grow.

Ultimately, the game was just an exhibition, played without
hitting and at half the speed. By midway through the third period, you could
tell some of the guys were gassed, clearly not quite in hockey shape. It didn’t
help the effort that New York was able to knock the air out of Philly’s
second-period comeback run with a couple of soft goals late, taking a 7-4 lead
into the dressing room.

There were moments though. Brodeur received a few sets of
Bronx cheers when he actually managed to get some stops. Dan Carcillo and Aron
Asham teased a fight that never happened, instead trading penalty shots. Simon
Gagne, Steven Stamkos, and P.K. Subban were skating with Flyers. It was a truly
once-in-a-lifetime event.

Neal and Lundqvist played great, and what Hartnell did was
special, but corny as it might sound, the first star of the game was the fans.
We’re talking a total sellout, folks, not only for an amazing cause, but in a
calculated demonstration for an amazing sport. The fans in attendance weren’t
always in agreement on what they wanted to root for, yet the atmosphere was
festive, not hostile. This one time, clearly we were all on the same side.

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Eric Paschall's game rounding out when Villanova needs it most

Eric Paschall's game rounding out when Villanova needs it most

Those on the outside are now starting to see what those on the inside of Villanova basketball program have seen for the last year and a half.

Eric Paschall can play.

Paschall on Saturday had the biggest game of his career – at least his Villanova career – with 19 points, six rebounds and two steals in the Wildcats’ Big East-clinching win over Creighton at the Pavilion.

With Darryll Reynolds sidelined since early February with a rib injury, the Fordham transfer has been starting and playing at a high level. But he was at his best on Saturday when his team needed him the most.

Paschall was essentially a guard at Fordham, but with Reynolds out and Omari Spellman forced to sit out the year, Paschall has been playing a lot of the 5 for Villanova, and against Creighton, he effectively neutralized 6-foot-11 Blue Jays center Justin Patton, who managed just four points – 9 ½ below his average.

“He’s getting better, that’s the biggest thing,” teammate Josh Hart said of Paschall. “He’s down there battling with Patton, a 7-footer, he’s down there battling with 6-10, 6-11 guys just about every night, and he’s battling and battling and we just tell him, keep working like that. That’s more important to us than him going out there scoring 20.

“We know he’s talented enough to score 20, you saw that (Saturday), but the way he’s battling and the way he’s not being frustrated and just keeps getting better, for us that’s the best part.”

Paschall averaged 15.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game two years ago for the Rams, earning Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year honors.

He was one of only three NCAA Division I freshmen who averaged at least 15.9 points and 5 ½ rebounds per game. The others were D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State and Jahlil Okafor of Duke, who are both now double-digit scorers in the NBA.

But to play at Villanova, you have to play defense, and that’s where Paschall has shown the most improvement.

“Eric is developing as a Villanova basketball player defensively in terms of executing far better than anyone knows,” coach Jay Wright said. “We know. When he’s in the game, we are executing at a high level. We’re just starting to see what he can do offensively, but in our program, you’ve got to be able to (play defense) first and he’s been doing that all year.

“(He’s) getting better and better, and today you just saw a glimpse of what you’ll probably see next year, but you’ve got to get the basics down first, which he’s done an incredible job of this year. It’s like I tell you with Dante (DiVincenzo), these guys play against him in practice, they’re not surprised when they see him do that, but I know everybody else is, because they don’t get to see it all the time.”

It’s not easy to transfer into a new program and get used to new players, a new coach, a new system, a new philosophy.

“It was a process,” Paschall said. “The biggest thing was getting used to what they wanted, and that’s defense and rebounding. That took some getting used to, but once I understood what they were looking for from me and what they wanted me to do, that just made it easy.

“The guys welcomed me with open arms. It’s a brotherhood here and we’re all brothers and they made me feel like I was a part of it from Day 1. It can be hard sometimes as a transfer coming in, but they made it easy. It’s just a matter of focusing on my job.”

Overall, Paschall is averaging 7.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and shooting 50 percent from the field in an average of 21 minutes a night. But during these last five starts, he’s 21 for 32 from the field (66 percent) and is averaging 9.8 points per game.

“Eric, he came in knowing what coach wanted, knowing what coach’s philosophy is and how coach wants things, and he’s come and in done what’s expected,” Jalen Brunson said.

“He’s done a great job for us and we’re extremely confident in him. It’s hard coming in front a different school, coming in and learning a new system, learning the philosophy, but he’s done a good job.”

Paschall can play the 2 through the 5, so he gives Wright a lot of versatility.

His 19 points Saturday were his most as a Wildcat and his most in any game since he scored 21 for Fordham vs. George Mason on Feb. 18, 2015.

When asked about his role, he just pointed at Hart and Kris Jenkins.

“Just listen to these guys, making sure I have my head clear every game,” he said. “They do a great job of telling me what to do during the games and having my attitude right during the games so I can just go out there play hard, play together, play smart, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

As thin as Villanova is – Wright has played just six guys in his regular rotation since Reynolds got hurt – Paschall has been a life-saver.

It’s hard not to imagine how talented Villanova will be next year with Spellman, Paschall, Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth, Brunson and DiVincenzo.

But first there's a game Saturday against Georgetown, the Big East Tournament in New York and then the NCAA Tournament.

“We see him getting better every day with his decision making,” Hart said of Paschall. “Last year he definitely kicked our butt a lot when he was on the scout team.

“One thing we always had a question about was how was he going to fit in with just playing hard the way we play defense, and he’s doing the best job, and he keeps getting better, and seeing him develop and seeing him grow has been amazing. Looking forward to seeing what he’s going to do in the future.”

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies pitching prospect Nick Pivetta had one of those pinch-me moments Saturday.

He met his boyhood idol, Roy Halladay, at a charity event.

Someone had filled in Halladay that Pivetta had grown up in Canada and had regularly watched Toronto Blue Jays games on television. Pivetta loved watching Halladay pitch, as he talked about a few weeks ago here.

“I got to briefly shake his hand,” Pivetta said Sunday morning. “He knew I was like a stalker. He said, ‘Oh, right, you’re the guy from British Columbia.’ “

Halladay, who pitched for the Phils from 2010 to 2013, lives in the Clearwater area. Pivetta said he expected to speak more with Halladay in the coming days.

Halladay was honored at the 44th annual Clearwater For Youth banquet and Pivetta attended with a number of his teammates and Phillies officials. Phillies chairman David Montgomery and his wife Lyn were also honored for their charitable works.

Pivetta will pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March.