SIOUX CITY | Emotions are already running high in this first-round Clark Cup Western Conference series between the Sioux City Musketeers and the Des Moines Buccaneers.
First-period fisticuffs barely two minutes into the game between the Musketeers’ Phillip Knies and the Buccaneers’ Brendon Demler set the tone. Musketeers Coach Jay Varady hopes his team can manage emotions better in Game 2 tonight at the Tyson Events Center.
Varady felt his team spent too much time in the penalty box during the 4-1 victory. Fourth-place finishers with an 88.0 percent penalty kill in the regular season, Sioux City killed two penalties long before the first period ended and five for the game.
“I wasn’t really happy with our discipline,” said Varady. “I thought we had to kill too many penalties. A lot of that has to do with emotion. I think we as a group have to learn how to manage our emotions throughout the course of the game.”
Though it didn’t score a goal, Varady was impressed with the Buccaneers’ power play, which during the regular season, converted 16 percent of its chances. He added that the top line of David Keefer, Matt Jones and Julian Napravnik, players during a 36-20-4 season who combined for 44 goals, pressured the Musketeers.
Des Moines Coach Dave Allison maintained that the Musketeers worked harder than his squad and it began with the penalty kill.
“Sioux City just worked hard, they just outworked us,” he said. “None of us expected that. Not for them to outwork us, but you know, we’re going to be better. For a lot of our guys, that was their first taste of playoff hockey. We have to get our game back.”
On the other hand, center Tarek Baker said the Musketeers can’t let their guard down. Baker played for the Bloomington team that was seeded fourth in last year’s Clark Cup Eastern Conference Playoffs first-round series against Anderson Cup-winner Cedar Rapids.
Bloomington rallied from a 2-1 games deficit to win the final two games of the series. The Thunder eventually lost the Eastern Conference Finals in five games to Dubuque, a team that included Carson Vance, who was among this season’s USHL’s defenseman scoring leaders for Sioux City.
“Honestly, I think it comes down to the team that has the most grit at the end of the day,” said Baker. “I think the skill starts to fade. I think the team with the most grit and the willingness to work, then combine that with the skill, that’s where you make your chances and you get some wins.”
Baker plays on a line that included one of the Musketeers’ most improved players toward the end of the season, right wing J.C. MacLean, who had scored goals in two of his final three regular-season games. MacLean tallied Sioux City’s first goal of the playoffs on the unusual kick pass from Baker which received air time on ESPN.
“J.C. is like another coach on the bench,” said Varady. “He’s talking. He manages line changes. He’s ready for everything. He talks to me about everything that’s coming. He understands the game.”
Charlie Kelleher is coming off a two-goal performance for the Musketeers while Eeli Tolvanen tallied a key third-period power play goal. Kelleher said the team’s mindset is wanting more.
“We’re not satisfied, we keep wanting more,” said Kelleher. “We expect (Des Moines) to come out full till. They’re a great team that has really great skill players. They’re really tough defensively. It’s tough to get chances. When you get chances, you have to bury them.”
SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City Bandits defense allowed seven touchdown passes, but came up with the game-changing play in a tense 62-56 Champions Indoor Football win over the Bloomington Edge Saturday night at the Tyson Events Center.
The Bandits not only remained unbeaten with a 6-0 mark, but put themselves in the driver's seat in the CIF North Division. No other team in the division has less than two losses, but the Bandits had to overcome a nine-point halftime deficit to pad their lead.
“They were doing some things to try and take away (Jeremiah) Oates so we made some adjustments at halftime and the rest of the guys came to play,” Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen said. “We ran the ball really well in the second half. Our goal was to try and establish a ground game and we did that with the big boys up front.
“We had (Frederick) Bruno laying some good blocks on the linebacker and the rest of the guys did the job with the ball in their hands.”
Dominique Carson – the smallest player on the field at 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds – rushed for 93 yards and three touchdowns, while Jeffrey Mack added 57 yards and two scores. The Bandits finished with 189 yards on the ground.
And, even though it was torched for seven touchdown passes by Bloomington's Caleb Holbrook, the defense saved the day late in the game.
The Bandits were clinging to a 55-49 lead when Bloomington's Mitch Moore intercepted a Taylor Genuser pass at the 13-yard line with 2:55 remaining in the game.
Bloomington ran a couple of plays to get near midfield, but Sioux City's Devin Groenhagen stripped the ball from Holbrook on a keeper and Cliff Stokes Jr. scooped it up and rambled 25 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
Thanks to a couple of personal foul penalties, the Edge added a late score, but the Bandits were able to run out the remaining seconds on the clock.
“Devin Groenhagen stripped the ball just like he did the last time we played here,” Strohbeen said. “It was the turning point of the game. It was just like last week, the defense bent but didn't break. I know there are some things they can work on and offensively there are things we can work on but overall it was great team win again.”
The first half amounted to a shootout with the Bandits scoring three touchdowns on their first four plays and Holbrook passing for four scores and running for another. The Edge broke for intermission with a 36-27 cushion, but scoring runs by Carson and Mack put the Bandits back in front midway through the third quarter.
“We didn't make enough plays in the first half and had too many errors,” said Carson, who had eight carries. “We fixed that at halftime and got it back.”
Although he broke loose for scoring runs of 7, 32 and 8 yards, Carson was his own worst critic.
“I played very poorly, I tripped and fell a lot so I need to work on running in space right now,” Carson said. “Our team came together at the end and it all worked out for the best.”
Genuser had touchdown passes to Oates, Bruno and Maurice Young while staying unbeaten as a first-year starter.
“The team has not reached our full potential yet,” Strohbeen said. “We turned the ball over and had some dumb penalties that almost cost us and those are things we have to clean up. I've been preaching about it for three weeks and I don't know how I'm going to get it through to them but we're going to somehow.
“But this was a huge win, it puts us in the driver's seat in the division and that's what we talked about before the game and at halftime. It's a one-game series against these guys (the Bandits don't play Bloomington again) and we own a tiebreaker over them so that's huge.”
SIOUX CITY -- At one time looked on with journalistic disdain, think I'll put together my own Book of Lists.
That way I can be appraised of some wonderful little factoids about Our Town's athletes, past and present.
Recently you read a partial list of local and area student-athletes connected with the University of Iowa.
It was a partial list, not, as mentioned, to be a complete list.
One athlete left off the list was North High and Iowa grad Kyle Thousand.
Proud papa and insurance guru Greg Thousand reminds us that his son, Kyle, enjoyed an outstanding baseball career at Iowa after starring in multiple sports at North.
Along with baseball -- Kyle was a third-team All-Big Ten outfielder in 2002 and a second-team selection in 2003 -- his classroom work in finance has enabled him to flourish in the sports agency business.
He's now the managing director of the baseball division at Roc Nation Sports.
Roc Nation Sports is a division of Roc Nation, which was help launched by rapper Jay Z.
The company is an exclusive sports agency that is home to some of the world's best athletes in baseball, football, basketball and boxing.
Kyle earned a law degree from Creighton University in 2007 after his professional baseball career ended in 2003 because of continuing shoulder injuries.
He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 26th round of the Major League Draft. He played for Toronto's Class A Pulaski Blue Jays.
Among Roc Nation's clients are Robinson Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.
Thousand, who lives in New York City, was the point man negotiating a three-year, $75 million contract for the New York Mets' Cespedes in 2016.
The $25 million average annual value of the deal matched the highest average annual value ever for an outfielder.
Eventually, sources say Cespedes was guaranteed $137.6 million over five years.
In 2003, the younger Thousand led the Hawkeyes in batting average (.355, .370 in the Big Ten), hits (59), doubles (17), runs (42) and stolen bases (20).
| If you're among those who relish cheering for homegrown Division I student-athletes, extra high fives should go to University of Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller.
Heller, himself an Iowan from Eldon, down there in harness racing territory in the southeast part of the state, has fashioned a rejuvenated Hawkeye program that relies heavily on Iowa kids.
You're already familiar with two from Our Town -- Tyler Cropley and Robert Neustrom -- who have played key roles for the Hawkeyes this season.
Both contributed to Iowa's win over rival Nebraska Friday.
The Iowa roster includes 24 graduates of Iowa high schools, including Bishop Heelan's Cropley and North's Neustrom.
It needs to be mentioned too, that a player from extended Siouxland, powerful 6-foot-2, 250-pound Jake Adams, slugged his Big Ten leading 14th home run in a 7-6 win over Nebraska Friday.
Adams, from Brandon, South Dakota, was a multisport athlete at Brandon Valley High School, played at Des Moines Area Community College in Boone before joining the Hawkeyes.
Another former DMACC star is Scott Schebler, the starting rightfielder for the Cincinnati Reds.
Schebler is from Shueyville, Iowa and you're probably wondering where the heck is Shueyviille, Iowa (as the town's commemorative T-shirts proclaim) is Shueyville, Iowa?
Just south of Cedar Rapids, where Schebler played at C.R. Prairie High School.
Schebler is a relative of Pete Schebler, a former Hawkeye basketball teammate of Siouxlanders Dennis Runge (Paullina) and Dave Gunther (Le Mars), and a starter on the 1959-60 Hawkeye squad.
| Back in the halcyon days, a letter to the Journal's editor, contained caustic remarks admonishing disgruntled fans of an unsuccessful area team to, in so many words, "Last one out the door at (blank), turn out the lights.''
Unfortunately, that may be a siren call for University of Nebraska men's and women's basketball.
A stream of athletes are transferring from both programs.
The very good news is that 80,000 or so Husker faithful showed up Saturday to watch the opening game of the football season.
| A reminder. The annual Noon Sertoma Club confab, 49 years young on April 19, will welcome one of Our Town’s own, Kirk Speraw, to the No. 1 chair on the dias this year.
The North High grad and right-hand man for University of Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery, will be the featured speaker at the event in the Siouxland Convention Center.
Speraw, a 1980 Iowa grad, was a two-year letterman in basketball, playing for Coach Lute Olson.
A favorite of Iowa fans, he returned to his home away from home in 2010 to join McCaffery’s staff.
Previous to that he was the head coach at the University of Central Florida for 17 seasons, guiding four NCAA tournament teams while posting 247 career wins.
He was also an assistant at Denver University, Florida and Florida Southern and as head coach at Pensacola Junior College in 1989 guided that school to 31 wins, fifth place in the national JC tourney and was named NJCAA coach of the year.
For further information on the Sertoma outing telephone 712-274-8769.