From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
It was refreshing to see both the St. Lawrence University and Clarkson University mens hockey teams win ECAC first-round playoff series this past weekend, marking the first time since 2007 that the two storied programs are in the quarterfinals.
The road becomes more difficult this weekend, when the Saints and Golden Knights are both underdogs in the best-of-three format that starts Friday.
Eighth-seed St. Lawrence (15-17-4) plays at No. 2 Colgate (17-12-5) in Hamilton, and No. 5 Clarkson (20-15-4) meet No. 4 Cornell (15-8-5) in Ithaca.
Seven seasons ago, St. Lawrence and Clarkson were respective No. 1 and No. 2 seeds and made the final four in Albany, before Clarkson beat No. 5 Quinnipiac in the title game.
It would be a terrific, late-winter energizer if either or both north country teams could advance to the final four March 21-22 at Lake Placid, hosting the event for the first time since 2002.
n With baseball in full gear during spring training, lets take a look of notable key dates once the regular season begins when former players make their first return visit to the stadium they had called home in 2013.
Jacoby Ellsbury (ex-Red Sox, now Yankee) going to Fenway Park: April 22;
Robinson Cano (ex-Yankee, now Mariner) going to Yankee Stadium: April 29;
Tim Hudson (ex-Brave pitcher, now Giant) going to Ted Turner Field: May 2-4;
Curtis Granderson (ex-Yankee, now Met) going to Yankee Stadium: May 12;
Prince Fielder (ex-Tiger, now Ranger) going to Comerica Park: May 22;
Carlos Beltran (ex-Cardinal, now Yankee) going to Busch Stadium: May 26;
Nelson Cruz (ex-Ranger, now Oriole) going to Rangers Ballpark: June 3;
Ian Kinsler (ex-Ranger, now Tiger who was quoted as saying last week that he hopes Texas goes 0-162 this season) going to Rangers Ballpark: June 24.
Ex-Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, signed to a 10-year contract by the Angels after the 2011 season, may be in line to play against St. Louis in 2015, based on the current interleague divisional rotation.
nChannel surfing: The NBA needs to adopt a late-season, flex scheduling policy similar to the NFL.
It appears that too many league also-rans though still popular franchises, a la the Lakers, Celtics and Knicks, have their games (ABC/ESPN and TNT) on national TV at least once a week. The Thursday TNT package is limited because the league schedules only two to three games; however, there are more attractive games to choose from on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays when ABC/ESPN televises.
The Pacers, Rockets, Warriors, Trail Blazers and Suns, teams that have upsides, should be seen more on national TV, especially on Sunday afternoons.
Richie Richs Top 10 in College Basketball: 1. Wichita State; 2. Florida; 3. Villanova; 4. Louisville; 5. Arizona; 6. Virginia; 7. Duke; 8. Michigan; 9. San Diego State; 10. Syracuse.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org