Sports Notes: IceHogs start playoffs this week

‘Hogs Start Playoffs: The Rockford IceHogs and Kalamazoo Wings will open their UHL Colonial Cup Playoffs series Friday, April 15, in Kalamazoo, Mich. Game Two of the best-of-seven series also will be played in Kalamazoo April 16 before the two teams move to Rockford for Games Three and Four April 19 and 20.

Those games, of course, will be played in the MetroCentre, both starting at 7:05 p.m. For tickets for the IceHogs’ third appearance in the playoffs, call the MetroCentre box office at (815) 968-5222.

Games Five, Six and Seven, if needed, will go back and forth between Kalamazoo, Rockford and Kalamazoo on April 22, 23 and 26.

The most successful regular season in IceHogs history came to a close April 10 in a lame-duck 1-0 loss to the Missouri River Otters in front of 3,418 at the MetroCentre. The ‘Hogs were 46-25-9, 101 points.

In a preview of the playoff series April 8 in the MetroCentre, the IceHogs clipped the Wings 4-1 in front of 4,721 fans in the sixth annual Muscular Dystrophy Jersey Off Our Backs Auction game.

Winger Brandon Segal chipped in three assists, and goalie Michel Robinson made 35 saves to help the IceHogs eclipse the 100-point plateau for the first time in franchise history. Rod Aldoff (sixth) Ryan Carrigan (first), Nathan Lutz (14th) and J.F. Dufour scored Rockford goals in the rough-and-tumble game that had 38 penalties for 132 minutes (Icehogs 64, Wings 68).

The win stopped a two-game Rockford skid and also stopped the Wings’ 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1). The Wings had set a UHL record with their 12th consecutive road win April 3. That victory also marked Kalamazoo’s 28th road win of the season, which broke the UHL record.

Afterwards, the MDA Rockin’ the ’80s jersey auction raised more than $50,000, bringing to more than $300,000 the total raised in six years. All proceeds benefit the MDA Chapter for the Rock River Valley.

The No. 44 jersey of defenseman Nathan Lutz brought the highest amount, $12,000. Other special jerseys are listed in the order in which they were auctioned off: $1,100 Steve Martinson, $2,300 No. 9 Olivier Proulx, $1,600 No. 25 Vince Malts, $1,700 No. 33 Reid Simpson, $1,000 No. 3 Ryan Carrigan, $1,800 No. 29 Steve Pelletier, $2,500 No. 47 Bruce Watson, $1,000 No. 18 Alex Kim, $1,000 No. 5 Rod Aldoff, $1,600 No. 28 J.C. Ruid, $2,300 No. 10 Brandon Segal, $1,600 No. 30 Grady Hunt, $1,200 No. 23 Serge Visegorodcevs, $1,400 No. 11 Terry Harrison, $2,500 No. 37 Michel Robinson, $1,200 No. 4 Scott Hotham, $1,600 No. 22 Eric Labelle, $1,500 No. 14 Jason Ralph, $2,200 No. 27 Chris Gobert, $1,700 No. 20 Miguel Lafleche, $2,500 No. 16 J.F. Dufour, $3,590 silent auction/raffle, $50,890 unofficial total.

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Yanni To Get WNBA Shot: Aminata Yanni, former Machesney Park Harlem and University of Illinois basketball standout, told WTVO-TV-17 April 7 that she signed a contract with the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Speaking by phone from Switzerland, where she’s currently playing pro ball, Yanni told Scott Leber: “I got an e-mail from my agent, and he explained to me that the GM (of the Liberty) had contacted him and coach Grentz (Illini coach Theresa Grentz), and they said they were very interested. They wanted to negotiate, and they finalized everything.”

The Liberty has been a successful WNBA franchise, making the playoffs six times in the last eight seasons. But four of its five starters are older than 30, and Yanni might be able to inject some young blood into the mix, said Leber.

“They’re looking to go younger and more athletic,” said Yanni, who will have to make the team out of training camp, which starts April 24.

Yanni said she will report to the Liberty after her team in Switzerland completes its season. Her team is in the Swiss Cup finals for the first time in 20 years later this month. She is leading the Swiss league in scoring at 30 points per game.

When Yanni was at Illinois, she had major surgery on both of her knees. She said her knees haven’t given her any trouble while she has been in Switzerland.

“I’ve had no swelling since November and that’s great,” said Yanni. “My mobility is back. My speed is back. I’m rebounding again and running up and down the floor like Speedy Gonzalez. Everything is back intact. I’m just ready to see how everything will work out this summer.”

If Yanni makes the Liberty, she’ll become the first Rockford-area woman to play in the WNBA. Belvidere’s Amanda Levens had a tryout with the Charlotte Sting in 2002, but didn’t make the team.

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AA Teams Win: The Class AA boys and girls senior teams both won April 9 in the ninth annual Rising Stars Classic at Rockton Hononegah. About 1,000 fans attended the all-star doubleheader presented by Access Services of Northern Illinois, reported the local daily.

Machesney Park Harlem senior Eric Palm, who was named MVP, scored 18 points to lead the Class AA boys to a 115-109 win over the Class A team. It was the eighth time in nine years the Class AA team has prevailed. Lanark Eastland’s Perry Welch and Stockton’s Kyle Korth led the Class A team with 21 points apiece, while Rockford Christian Life forward Jeremiah Box chipped in 20.

Lexi Algrim of Hononegah, who was named MVP, hit 18 points to lead the Class AA girls to a 117-80 win, first for Class AA since 2003. The team set a record for most points by a winner. Jenna Mooberry of Byron led the Class A team with 20 points.

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Box All-American: Former Rockford Christian Life standout Joel Box was named a National Junior College Athletic Association Division II First Team All-American. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound sophomore at John Logan College averaged 18.9 points and 11.8 rebounds a game.

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Bulls in Playoffs: How about those Chicago Bulls, who started the season 0-9? They are in the NBA playoffs for the first time since the Michael Jordan era in the 1990s after a 110-97 win April 9 over the Toronto Raptors.

Actually, it’s the first time since the 1997-98 season when Jordan led the Bulls to their sixth NBA title. The win was the Bulls’ third straight and 12th of their last 13, putting them in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, two games ahead of idle Indiana.

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Ketter Honored: Rockford College’s Steve Ketter (Eden, Wis./Campbellsport H.S.) was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference player of the Week for March 28-April 3. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior returning All-American catcher belted 3 homers (including one grand slam), 2 triples, 2 doubles and tallied 16 RBIs with 9 runs scored as he hit .590 on the week (13-for-22). He hit safely in all six games (5-1 RC record), generating multiple hits in five games.

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Lewis’ Martz Cited: Lewis University junior Robin Martz (Lanark/Eastland H.S.) earned Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week accolades April 4. She batted .818 (9-of-11) for the week and posted an .867 on-base percentage. She also scored eight runs, drove in four, walked three times and stole five bases in Lewis’ four GLVC road victories. She has 50 career steals to break the Lewis record.

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association also named Martz Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II National Player of the Week. She becomes the first Lewis player in the 26-year history of the program to earn the award.

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“Coach K” at RVC: Melanie Kwasniewski, a sports coordinator at Rock Valley College, Rockford, and head coach of the Golden Eagles women’s soccer and softball programs, will trade soccer for basketball starting next season.

She has been named head women’s basketball coach, replacing Justin Geiger, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach last June, when Charlie Franklin was forced to resign because ill health. Geiger resigned, citing family and work-related reasons for a move to Milwaukee.

Geiger took over a program that had not fielded a team in the 2003-04 season. After losing 13 of its first 14 games to start the 2004-05 season, RVC finished with a 7-21 record, 5-5 in the N4C Conference and won its first postseason tourname

nt game since 2001, only the second since 1997.

Kwasniewski is no stranger to basketball. She was an All-American at RVC’s rival Harper College and led Harper’s 1998 squad to a fourth-place finish at the national tournament. She went on to be an all-conference player at Iowa Wesleyan, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in sports management.

Kwasniewski came to RVC from Harper where she was the head softball coach and assistant volleyball coach. She has basketball experience coaching sophomores at Fremd High School.

With that name, she’s a lock to be called “Coach K”—like the more famous “Coach K” (at Duke).

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Record Shot Put: Green Bay (Wis.) Preble senior shot putter Steve Marcelle unleashed a throw of 67 feet, 4 inches April 9 in the WTFA State Indoor Championships at Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center, Madison, reported the Wisconsin State Journal.

Marcelle, a Georgia Tech recruit, bested former Madison West standout Stu Voigt’s 39-year-old meet record of 64-9. The throw also surpassed Voigt’s state record of 66-7 set in 1966—but state marks can only be set at the WIAA state meet.

Marcelle’s previous personal best was 61-6, making his record throw even more amazing. Said Marcelle: “I think this is the ultimate goal of every thrower in Wisconsin. I’ve never even met (Voigt), but he’s one of my idols. He’s like the shot put god of Wisconsin.”

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Rec Path Open: A portion of Mel Anderson Rec Path reopened April 8 after a walkway bridge was replaced over Kent Creek near Bressler Park in the Auburn-Central area. The bridge was found to be unsafe in a routine inspection last year.

The three-mile Mel Anderson Rec Path, dedicated in 1987, runs from Lockwood Park to Talcott-Page Park. For more info, call the park district at (815) 987-1650.

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Players Sought: The Bandits, a Rockford Park District 28-and-over baseball team, still is looking for players. Games are on Sunday afternoon, and Tuesday and/or Thursday evenings. New teams also are welcome. League play begins April 26, with games at Searls and Marinelli fields. Contact “Cap” Prescott at (815) 218-5371 or Bryan Redington at (815) 558-1325 for more info.

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NFL Flag Football: Online registration started April 1 for the Rockford Park District’s NFL Flag Football program for boys and girls 6-14 at

Registration also will be April 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Carlson Arctic Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Rd., and April 30 from noon to 3 p.m. at Brown Park, 2010 N. Main St. Fee is $55, due at registration. Greg Taylor (815-633-4383) and Lamont Jones (815-979-3281) run the program.

The season starts June 11, with all games played at Brown Park on Saturdays starting at 9 a.m. A football camp is slated May 28 at Brown.

From the April 13-19, 2005, issue

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