No second year for Thunder

| Thursday, May 15, 2008

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Mon Valley Thunder won't be back for the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League's second season in November.

The league's first campaign was halted with seven weeks remaining due to attendance and financial problems.

Like most of the six teams in the league, the Thunder -- which played its home games at the Ice Garden in Rostraver Township -- didn't have much success attracting fans.

The Indiana Ice Miners, who were 31-1 and riding a 26-game winning streak when the league pulled the plug, is the only team remaining in its charter city.

While the Thunder may be history, two of its better players will be coaching in the Class A loop.

Defenseman Christian Panaia will guide the Ice Miners with former player and assistant coach Darren Seid, the all-star game MVP with seven points, taking over the new South Side Shooters out of Dyer, Ind., 35 miles south of Chicago.

Besides Panaia, the Ice Miners grabbed the Thunder's director of operations Bob Yusko and named him general manager.

The Ice Miners expect to schedule their home games on Fridays and Saturdays so they won't have to go up against the Steelers on Sundays.

The league also will have a new commissioner since Jim Riggs took the same post with the new Eastern Professional Hockey League which presently has three teams -- Danbury (Conn.) Mad Hatters, Rome (N.Y.) and West Orange (N.J.) -- and will add three others.

- This softball season didn't have much in common with last year for Ohio State and former California University coach Linda Kalafatis.

A year ago the Buckeyes won the Big Ten and hosted the conference tourney, which Ohio State won with a 2-1 victory over sixth-ranked Northwestern in the title game.

This season the Buckeyes started out 22-6, but finished 11-17 including an 8-0 first round loss to eventual champion Northwestern in the Big Ten Conference tourney.

Kalafatis, last year's Big Ten Coach of the Year, has an overall 407-273 record in her 12 years in Columbus, Ohio.

Kalafatis started her coaching career at her alma mater, California, in 1989 going 175-53-1 with five PSAC titles in as many years before moving up to Division I University of Akron and going 98-63-1 in three years.

- Add softball: Barry University, coached by former Cal U All-American pitcher Danielle Penner, entered the NCAA Division II championship in Houston, Texas, Wednesday as the country's No. 3 team and one of the favorites.

The Buccaneers, however, were knocked off by No. 22 St. Edwards (Tex.), 5-4. No. 1 and PSAC champion Lock Haven also lost, going down to No. 8 Humboldt (Calif.) State, 2-1, in 10 innings.

Lock Haven's Kristin Erb and Humboldt State's Lizzy Prescott matched eight-hitters.

- And thanks to Mark Cook, of Belle Vernon, who says time is the most valuable thing a man spends!

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