Utica Comets 1 vs. Oklahoma City Barons 2 (All Tied Up 3-3)

The Western Conference semifinals will come down to a winner-take-all Game 7 after the Utica Comets fell 2-1 to the Oklahoma City Barons on Monday night at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Barons have now forced a Game 7 after tying up the best-of-seven series at three games apiece.

Sven Baertschi (1-0-1) was the only Comet to score in the contest. Richard Bachman once again proved his worth in the crease by stopping 33 of the 34 shots the Comets barraged him with.

With elimination lingering in the back of their minds, the Barons scored the first goal of the game just 5:23 into the opening period. Brad Hunt made a one-goal lead a reality after singlehandedly barging in towards the left of Jacob Markstrom and flipped a shot that snuck through Markstrom’s legs and trickled past the goal line.

It wasn’t until the third period, but Oklahoma did it again at 8:26 on what the Comets misinterpreted as a potential icing call. With defense on the lax, Ryan Hamilton quickly popped the puck over Markstrom’s glove hand. The puck darted over Markstrom’s glove for the two-goal lead and his fifth of the playoffs.

It was a little delayed but the Comets finally answered back with less than six minutes left in the game. Alex Friesen gave his team some hope after releasing a shot from the upper slot that initially looked as if Bachman swallowed it up. With Baertschi closing in on the blue paint, the puck re-appeared and the left-winger got a piece of it just before it trickled past the left post to make it a 2-1 game.

Even after chopping their deficit in half, the Comets couldn’t find another one and ended the game with their eighth one-goal game of the playoffs.

The series will finally be decided this Wednesday night at The AUD with the puck slated for 7 p.m.


Rory McIlroy Conquers Quail Hollow, Wins Wells-Fargo Golf

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rory McIlroy was more methodical than electrifying Sunday.

It was still effective.

Always in control, the top-ranked McIlroy became the first two-time winner in the Wells Fargo Championship with a seven-shot victory over Webb Simpson and Patrick Rodgers.

McIlory closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 21-under 267, shattering the tournament record by five strokes. He entered the day with a four-stroke lead over Simpson after a course-record 61 on Saturday.

“Everything is firing on all cylinders for me,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy also won the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play this month in San Francisco two weeks ago. Today’s win marks his 11th PGA TOUR title. He has six top-10 finishes in his last eight PGA TOUR starts.

McIlroy also won at Quail Hollow in 2010 for his first PGA TOUR title, shooting 15 under. Anthony Kim set the previous tournament record of 16 under in 2008.

“The golf course just sets up really well for me,” McIlroy said.

Phil Mickelson called McIlroy’s performance this week “impressive.”

Rodgers, playing on a sponsor exemption, was the only player to mount a serious challenge, getting within three shots after a birdie at No. 15. He played the final two holes in 3-over and finished with a 68. Simpson shot a 72.

McIlroy got off to a shaky start with a three-putt bogey on No. 2 — his first in 167 holes — but quickly pulled it together. He didn’t have another bogey until the 17th hole, when he had built a seven-stroke lead and outcome was already decided.

Simpson failed to capitalize on McIlroy’s early mistake, shooting 37 on the front nine that included a double bogey on the par-3 sixth when he three-putted from 8 feet. That dropped the Charlotte resident six shots back and he was never in contention again.

“He’s our best player right now and I wish more than anything I could have shot a couple under on the front to make it more exciting,” Simpson said. “Just didn’t have it today.”

McIlroy reached 20 under on No. 12 when he knocked his approach shot from 132 yards to 2 feet of the cup for a tap-in birdie and it looked as if he might coast the rest of the way.

But Rodgers, who earned his first top-25 finish on the PGA TOUR, made it interesting when he played a seven-hole stretch in 6-under par, sparked by an eagle on the par-5 10th hole. But McIlroy didn’t flinch when Rodgers drained a 15-foot putt on No. 15 to pull within three shots of the lead.

Instead, McIlroy countered by rolling in a birdie putt on his own on No. 14, moving to 21 under and regaining a four-shot cushion.

McIlroy then put an exclamation point on the win by drilling his approach shot from 145 yards to 3 feet on No. 16 for his tournament-record 27th birdie.

“I had a goal to go out there and birdie the par 5s and the two drivable par 4s and I knew if I made six birdies there was pretty much no chance that anybody could catch me,” McIlroy said. “With my length and the way I’m driving it, it’s a big advantage around here and it showed this week.”

Rodgers ran out of gas when he dunked his tee shot in the water on the pesky par-3 17th and took a double bogey to fall seven shots back. Still, it was a solid finish for Rodgers, who earned an automatic berth in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial next week by virtue of his top-10 finish.

“It has given me a lot of confidence moving forward,” Rodgers said.

Mickelson finished in a three-way tie for fourth place at 12 under with Gary Woodland and Robert Streb.


Coast Guard Tests Drawbridge Plan for Boaters and Trains


A full-time bridge tender may soon be stationed at Jupiter’s Loxahatchee River drawbridge as the U.S. Coast Guard tests whether manning a similar span in Fort Lauderdale decreases boater backups caused by passing Florida East Coast Railway trains.

The experiment began last week at the New River Bridge where mariners can now call the bridge tender to find out if a train is on its way and whether they should reconsider their departure times.

Barry Dragon, director of the district bridge program for the 7th Coast Guard District, issued the proposal following hours of public meetings with anglers in the fall and a review of 3,000 comments bemoaning wait times at three railroad drawbridges, including those over the Loxahatchee, New and St. Lucie rivers.

The bridges remain in the up position, allowing boats to pass through, but lower when a train approaches. At 90 years old, boaters complain theLoxahatchee bridge…

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Amtrak Philadelphia Accident: How Do I Get to New York From Washington??


Federal investigators were on the scene of an Amtrak Northeast regional train derailment north of Philadelphia that occurred Tuesday night. The incident left six people dead and more than 140 injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched a go-team to the site and was expected to announce additional details about the accident later this morning. The cause is not yet known.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will assist the NTSB in the investigation, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a prepared statement.


Modified Amtrak service will be provided between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pa., and Philadelphia, and New York City and Boston. Amtrak trains will not be running between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton, N.J., Amtrak announced.

About 238 passengers and five crew members were on board Amtrak Train 188 when it derailed on a curve around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. At a press conference later in the evening, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Netter described the scene as “an absolute disastrous mess.”

We have written before on alternate routes, but not in anticipation of an accident.A few years ago, we wrote a story on going up the Northeast Corridor from Delaware to Old Saybrook using commuter lines. Here’s an update

Yes, with a little thinking, Amtrak could have had a “disaster plan” to work around this accident. There should have been several by passes arranged

1. Hispeed line to Camden then River line to Trenton (not an easy task.  Need to use SEPTA regional rail, a bus, or a streetcar and walk.  Easy to get lost and hard with luggage).

  1. SEPTA to West Trenton and short bus to Trenton with AMTRAK turning at Trenton. This is somewhat like what is being done: NJT is honoring Amtrak tickets between NYP and Trenton and running shuttle bus service to West Trenton.3. Shuttle train From 30th St Via the West Trenton line to Newark on the old Crusader route. (Line is single track between West Trenton and Bound Brook, too busy with CSX freights, and would need CSX engineers as pilots.  Complicated track connection there to NJT Raritan Valley Line, so you’d need NJT engineers as pilots there.)
  2. NorthPhiladelphia Station
  3. 4. AMTRAK to North Philadelphia and bus to 30th St. (A bad neighborhood, and the wreck is east of North Philadelphia, so you can’t get there from New York. Would have to quickly establish an emergency station and call in Philadelphia “Highway” police to protect the scene).

Utica Comets 3 – Oklahoma City Barons 1 (Series 3-2 Utica)

A trip to the Western Conference Finals is just one win away for the Utica Comets after they took a 3-2 series lead over their second round opponent, the Oklahoma City Barons on Thursday night. The Comets 3-1 victory at the Cox Convention Center was just their fourth game of the playoffs that was decided in regulation.

“We were really good to start the game,” said Head Coach Travis Green. “When we went up 2-0 they (Barons) pushed and we stuck to our game plan and didn’t panic. I thought we played a really good game tonight.”


Wacey Hamilton (1-0-1), and

Peter Andersson
Peter Andersson

(1-0-1) both lit the lamp for the first time this postseason as they helped the rest of their team rebound from dropping Game 4 in Oklahoma City. Alexandre Grenier (1-0-1) also helped secure the win as he scored his third goal of the series. Jacob Markstrom carried his team through the thick of it all including saving 15 of the 16 third period shots thee Barons peppered him with, for a total of 33 saves.

 The first period was all about possession for the Comets and it worked to their benefit after they found the first goal of the night at 12:13. Bobby Sanguinetti set up Hamilton after his shot from the right boards resulted in a rebound. Bachman stopped the initial blast, but Hamilton was there to collect and score the rebounded puck to give the Comets the early lead.

“It was a monkey off my back and our line’s back,” said Hamilton. “We’ve worked hard and finally got rewarded for our hard work.”

The Comets offensive dominance carried over into the second period. Alex Friesen created a great heads-up play and dished the puck over to Andersson who was left wide open on the left side of the ice. Andersson proceeded to walk in closer, picked his spot, and snapped it past Bachman to double Utica’s lead. Nicklas Jensen tallied the secondary assist on Andersson’s eventual game-winning goal.

With only a combined total of six penalty minutes taken before the final three minutes of the third period, the Comets hit an unlucky patch as Nicklas Jensen was called at 17:04 for a holding penalty. With Jensen in the box, Brad Hunt hammered a slapshot from the left point that ripped through a screen and into the net to break up Markstrom’s shutout bid.

At 19:44 Grenier put the game to bed as he broke free of the defense and guided the puck all the way to the empty net for the final score of 3-1. Kent Huskins found the scorer’s sheet with an assist on the Grenier goal, as well as Brendan Gaunce, who tallied his fifth point of the postseason with his second assist of the game.

Jacob Markstrom
Jacob Markstrom

“Today was huge for our team,” said goaltender Jacob Markstrom. “Yesterday was not our best game but good teams respond and our whole team responded tonight.”

The Comets are now a perfect 4-0 in games following a loss in the playoffs.

Now with the series lead, the Comets will be looking to close it out and put this series in the past once they return to The Utica Memorial Auditorium this coming Monday for Game 6 at 7 p.m.

Utica Comets 4 – Oklahoma City Barons 7 (Series Tied 2-2)

The Oklahoma City Barons’ power play was the difference-maker as the Utica Comets dropped Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals 7-4 Wednesday night at The Cox Convention Center. The Barons capitalized on four out of their six power-play chances, which enabled them to tie the second round series 2-2.

“They have a good PP,” said Head Coach Travis Green. “We are going to give up power-play chances but we can’t give up six of them. We have to play with more discipline.”

Alex Friesen (1-1-2),

Hunter Shinkaruk
Hunter Shinkaruk

(1-0-1), Brendan Gaunce (1-0-1), and Sven Baertschi netted the Comets’ goals during Friday night’s game. Travis Ehrhardt (0-2-2), along with Friesen enjoyed multi-point nights.

Darnell Nurse, in his first appearance of the postseason for the Barons, made an impact early on during the first stanza. Nurse recorded his first assist 9:30 into the game after he raced down the left wing boards and fed a pass through a defender’s legs and directly onto Jujhar Khaira stick for the one-goal lead.

At 16:21 of the first period, the Comets found the equalizer after Shinkaruk released an innocent looking shot from the left circle. The puck rang off the left post, off Richard Bachman’s back, and just barely squeaked across the goal line for Shinkaruk’s third goal of the playoffs.

The second period saw a combined total of five goals which the Barons kicked off just 1:16 into the period on the power play. Brad Hunt made the goal possible with a shot from the right point, but it was Andrew Miller who buried the rebound for the Barons’ 2-1 lead.

Utica didn’t keep quiet as they answered back on the power play just short of six minutes later after Bobby Sanguinetti took a blast from the center point. After Alexandre Grenier deflected the Sanguinetti blast, the puck bounced to Baertschi who popped it into the net to erase the one-goal deficit.

Brendan Gaunce
Brendan Gaunce

An odd center ice collision led to the Comets next goal. The collision led to a two man breakaway for Friesen and Ehrhardt. Ehrhardt fired the initial shot which Bachman saved, but Friesen was there to backhand it past the sprawled out goaltender to give the Comets their lone lead of the night.

“Sometimes the bounces come,” Friesen said on his two game goal-scoring streak.

The game began to unravel for the Comets as Jacob Markstrom took a delay of game penalty after knocking his goal off of the moorings. Oklahoma beat Markstrom on a controversial goal just ten seconds into the power play after Matthew Ford batted the puck out of the air and into the right side of the net for their second power-play goal to make it a tie game once again. The goal was immediately waived off due to a high-stick by referee Terry Koharski who was positioned on the goal line. He changed his mind and deemed it a good goal after he convened with the rest of his crew.

Oklahoma’s Khaira closed out the second period’s scoring frenzy after a shot from Nurse led to a tip in front of the net as Khaira made it a 4-3 game with 2:26 left in the period.

The Barons’ power play kept rolling in the third with a fortunate bounce. Markstrom left his cage to play a dumped in puck, but the puck had other plans as it took an awkward bounce off of a stanchion and right onto Ryan Hamilton’s stick in the slot. Hamilton did not miss the gaping net and gave the Barons their first two-goal lead of the series.

The Barons’ fourth power-play goal came just two minutes later as Brandon Davidson tried to pass the puck but was blocked by a Comets defensemen. Davidson improvised as he quickly picked the puck back up and shot it only to catch Markstrom off guard and sneak past him at 11:29 to make it 6-3.

After pulling Markstrom with 6:29 left in the game, Brendan Gaunce went on to score another goal for the Comets at 16:56 but an empty net goal from Brad Hunt finished the game off with a final score of 7-4.

Wednesday night’s game saw a combined total of 18 minors, which equates to a total of 36 penalty minutes.

With the series tied, the Comets and Barons are guaranteed at least two more games with the next being played this Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET at none other than the Cox Convention Center before the best-of-seven series shifts back to The Utica Memorial Auditorium.


Suppliers Gain From Understanding POS Data

Cloud computing and Big Data technologies have created new options for retailers to get their suppliers involved sharing inventory and sales information (POS or Point-Of-Sale) with their vendors. Everyone can get on the same page regarding the business initiative and  bring benefits to both the retailer and to its vendors.
The business case for retailer/supplier collaboration is simple: Cost savings and increased Revenue

The correct retail intelligence platform will save money on infrastructure costs and deliver operating improvements. Operations will see improvements from: reducing out of stocks and from increasing inventory turns.

Yes, all systems will require some degree of customization. There will always be unique product offerings or other quirks that must be handled. No two companies are identical, but the secret is to have software that accommodates customization. Downstream data sharing between retailers and their suppliers continues to grow, and along with it unique approaches and executions.

Sharing POS sales data sees both suppliers and retailers who have committed realizing ROI benefits from controlling out of stocks, managing inventory, forecasting and in the replenishment process. Now the data sharing is expanding outside the supply chain into sales and marketing. This may be because of more involvement by higher level executives, meaning the enterprise and the corporate strategists are becoming more comfortable with data sharing.

Utica Comets 3, Oklahoma Barons 2 (Series 2-1 Utica)

Rickie Fowler Takes Players Golf – Rickie has Come A Long Way


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Nothing was overrated about Rickie Fowler at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Not the way he rallied from a five-shot deficit with the greatest finish in the 34-year history of the TPC Sawgrass. Not the two tee shots he smashed down the daunting 18th fairway Sunday when a miss to the left or right spelled trouble. And certainly not the three tee shots — yes, three — he stuffed on the island-green 17th hole for birdie each time.

The last one made him a winner, the best answer to that anonymous player survey that he was an underachiever.

At a tournament that dresses up like a major, Fowler sure looked the part in beating the strongest field in golf.

“I’d say this was a pretty big one,” Fowler said.

It certainly wasn’t easy. Fowler’s record-setting finish — birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie on the last four holes for a 5-under 67 — looked like a winner until Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner delivered big shots of their own.

In the first three-hole playoff at THE PLAYERS, Kisner hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th to 10 feet and rolled in a breaking birdie putt to keep pace with Fowler, who had hit his tee shot to 6 feet and converted the birdie. Garcia, who in regulation made a 45-foot birdie to give him new life, failed to repeat the putt from about the same range in the playoff. All three players made par on the final hole, which eliminated Garcia.

Fowler and Kisner, who closed with a 69 and is now 0 for 102 in his PGA TOUR career, headed back to the 17th hole for the third time. The great shots kept coming. Kisner barely cleared the mound and the ball settled 12 feet away. Fowler answered by taking on the right side of the green and sticking it just inside 5 feet.

Kisner finally missed.

Fowler never seemed to miss over the final two hours, and he calmly clutched his fist to celebrate his first PGA TOUR victory in three years.

Garcia, who had a two-shot lead heading to the back nine, closed with a 68. He had a 20-foot birdie putt to win in regulation that missed badly to the right.

And it would set the stage for Fowler.

One of the questions in SI Golf’s annual player survey — players do not give their names — was to pick the most overrated player on the PGA TOUR. Fowler and Ian Poulter shared first place at 24 percent. Fowler has never faced this level of criticism, a favorite among fans and most players for his considerate behavior.

He tried to play it down, though he said on more than one occasion this week that it would motivate him.

He was at 6 under, five shots behind Garcia, when he hit a 9-iron to 12 feet on the 13th hole and “hit the button.”

What he hit was warp speed.

Fowler made a 15-foot birdie on the 15th hole. He took on the water at the par-5 15th with a shot into a slight breeze to 30 inches for eagle. Not at all daunted by an island green, he went at the flag and made it for 6 feet to take the lead for the first time. And then he blasted a tee shot 331 yards and made a 15-foot birdie on the 18th hole to be the first player to reach 12-under 276. And then he had to wait.

The Stadium Course has rarely lacked for greater theater over the last three decades.

This topped them all.

Over the final hour, six players had hopes of winning the richest prize in golf. Four of them were tied for the lead.

Ben Martin raced into the picture with three straight birdies, the last one an 8-footer after taking on the corner of the island on the par-3 17th. But he pushed his tee shot into the woods on the 18th, pitched out and missed his par putt for a 70 that knocked him out of the playoff.

Bill Haas had a chance to tie for the lead twice — first with a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th that just missed to the left, and then with a long birdie putt on the 17th that stopped one turn from falling in on the left side. Needing a birdie on the 18th to join the playoff, he had to play a runner to the green because he was blocked by trees. It came up short and he made par for a 70.

Fowler was the most sensational.

The finish by Garcia and Kisner would have been talked about for years. On this day, thanks to Fowler, it was nearly an afterthought.

Garcia two-putted from 70 feet from the fringe for a birdie at the 16th, and then rolled in his improbable birdie at the 17th. He missed from 20 feet on the 18th. Kisner, who twice made big putts in a losing effort to Jim Furyk at Hilton Head last month, got up-and-down for birdie on the 16th and holed a 10-footer for birdie on the 17th.

He had a 10-foot birdie putt for the win, and it touched the right side of the cup.

Tiger Woods had a 72 and tied for 69th, his worst position ever in THE PLAYERS Championship. Rory McIlroy, who started the final round four shots behind, didn’t get going until it was too late. He closed with a 70 and tied for eighth, four shots behind.

Hook into Utica Comets Hockey Hoopla

A “Let’s Go Comets” slogan painted on the back of a vehicle during a Utica Comets fan party outside of the Utica Memorial Auditorium last week demonstrates the community spirit that has enveloped the region during the Calder Cup playoffs. The Comets begin the second round of that quest tonight when they face off against the Oklahoma City Barons at the Aud

You needn’t be a hockey fan to feel the energy sizzling through town this week. Plug into it. That energy has actually been percolating all season long as an on-fire Utica Comets team has treated local fans to some of the best hockey seen around these parts in many years.

Last weekend, the Comets made it interesting during a Saturday night showdown with the Chicago Wolves before an overcharged crowd bathed in white at Utica’s grand Memorial Auditorium. Unlike the past squeakers in the series, the Comets didn’t need overtime to knock off the Wolves, and did so in regulation time with a score of 4-2. The win sent the Comets into the second round of the playoffs in the quest for the Calder Cup.

For local fans, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Well, maybe it does. Tonight. That’s when the Comets will take on the Oklahoma City Barons in a best-of-seven series at the Aud. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

There are many pluses in the Comets’ success. First is the hometown pride this team has managed to generate throughout the community. Part of it is the fact that the team is headed by two guys — Frank DuRoss and former National Hockey League goalie Rob Esche — who have made a real commitment to their hometown. These aren’t your typical take-the-money-and-run investors, but two area natives who are here because they love this town and want to make it better. And their investment goes beyond hockey. That in itself should fire up fans.

The economic impact the Comets have had on the community is another plus. Downtown investors have hitched their wagons to these rising stars, and the playoffs are an added bonus for business.

And finally there’s the genuineness of the Comets players. Their presence on the ice is quite clear, but their community presence off the ice, too, has been noteworthy. In a recent meeting with the O-D editorial board, Esche said that the players truly like it here. That says a lot about a community whose welcoming spirit has been undeniable, especially during these playoffs.

So put on your game face and turn up the heat.

Let’s go, Comets.



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