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Hokies looking to snap road skid at Boston College

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Hokies looking to snap road skid at Boston College

Virginia Tech once dominated on the road, but not anymore.

The Hokies have lost their last seven games away from Lane Stadium, and now face one they can't lose if they hope to extend their bowl streak to 20 seasons. They play at Boston College on Saturday.

Virginia Tech (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) entered this season 27-5 in conference road games, and has lost all three league road games this year. The Hokies' 48-34 loss at North Carolina on Oct. 6 ended a string of 13 consecutive victories in the Tar Heel state, and now they have no margin for error. One more loss and their bowl streak will end.

Cornerback Antone Exum thinks even modest postseason hopes will be motivation enough to end the slide.

``I don't think that will be an issue,'' he said, ``just for the simple fact it's one of those games we have to win. Whether it's at Boston College, Tech, the practice field, parking lot, we're going to have to win the game. I think guys will be energized and ready to play because they know what's at stake.''

The Hokies' other league road losses came at No. 11 Clemson and Miami, and they also lost at Pittsburgh and to Cincinnati at FedEx Field this season. Players have offered theories, ranging from taking Pitt lightly, to playing good teams, and playing in front of crowds that didn't seem passionately connected to either team.

Even the crowd at the Washington Redskins' home stadium, which presumably would have been very slanted in the Hokies' favor, left players feeling as though they were far removed from their fan base.

Sophomore safety Kyshoen Jarrett doesn't think any of the reasons are acceptable.

``I don't even know what it is as an overall team,'' he said. ``I don't know if there is like a mental block. I don't know why there would be. We go through the same routine whether it's a home game or an away game, because the coaches, they want to make sure our heads are in the game at all times.''

Even with the Eagles in the midst of a very poor season (2-8, 1-5), and the New England Patriots and Boston Celtics in season, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas thinks fans will show up on Saturday. This rivalry stretches to the teams' time in the Big East, and they have twice played for the ACC title.

``Last time I played there, the fans were in the stands ready to go,'' Thomas said. ``I kind of expect that to be the same when we go play them this week because we've kind of developed a rivalry with them the past couple of years. Their fans always love to see us come into town, kind of like our fans like to see them come into town.

``If they don't show up, then that's fine. We've still got to go handle our business.''

Coach Frank Beamer hopes they do. He remains puzzled by how it all turned so quickly.

``Before that streak, I thought we had a pretty good streak of wins away from home,'' the coach said of the seven losses in a row, which include the final two games of last season. ``We really don't do anything different. We have talked this season about mental toughness and physical toughness away from home. I think there's something to that.

``Other than that, I think the effort has been good. We just haven't gotten it done.''

The Hokies have been among the elite teams in the country for more than a decade, and were picked to win the ACC's Coastal Division again this year. They also tend to draw an opponent's best effort.

``I think we've played some good football teams away from here and got teams who played extremely well against us,'' Beamer said. ``Again, we haven't played as well as we need to, that's for sure.''

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Three reasons the Capitals lost to the Panthers

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USA Today Sports

Three reasons the Capitals lost to the Panthers

Friday’s game had a little bit of everything. After spotting the Florida Panthers a 4-1 lead, the Capitals furiously battled back to tie the game at 4, then tied the game at 5 with just 1:25 remaining in regulation to earn an improbable point. The comeback ultimately fell short, however, as the Panthers earned the 6-5 shootout win.

Here are three reasons the Caps lost.

Bad puck management

A disastrous first period saw the Panthers score four goals and the biggest reason for that was the Caps’ puck management. They were sloppy with the puck leading to a number of costly turnovers, and Florida took advantage.

A good illustration of this game with Washington already trailing 2-1: Jakub Vrana made a lazy pass in the defensive zone that was easily intercepted by Jonathan Huberdeau, who forced a really nice save from Braden Holtby.

Whew, bullet dodged. Actually, not so fast.

Brett Connolly won the resulting faceoff, but Michal Kempny attempted a backhanded pass behind the net that was easily stolen away by Vincent Trocheck. Florida went tic-tac-toe with Trocheck to Huberdeau to Colton Sceviour who finished off the play for the goal.

No control in front of the net

Trocheck scored a rebound goal from the slot that bounced off of Lars Eller and into the net. Evgenii Dadonov scored from the slot on the power play. Sceviour scored from the high-slot after what was a generous pass from Huberdeau who looked like he could have scored from closer in…from the slot. Jared McCann pounced on a loose puck in the slot to beat a sprawling Holtby and Huberdeau scored off a rebound right in front of Holtby.

See a pattern?

The Panthers had complete control in front of the Caps’ net and all five of their goals came from in close.

Penalties

The Caps had a pretty good start to the game, but that was derailed by a Jakub Vrana penalty just 6:10 into the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for hooking about 10 minutes later and Dadonov scored to put Florida up 2-1.

Despite the penalties and going down 4-1 in the first, the Caps battled back to a 4-4 tie in the second. Then the penalties popped up again.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad late in the period. It was a tough call as the puck as was at Ekblad’s feet, but Ovechkin made no attempt to play the loose puck at all and simply hit Ekblad, drawing an interference call. Less than a minute later, the Caps were called for too many men giving Florida 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with and Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal.

After three-straight goals, the Caps’ penalties completely derailed them and swept momentum back in the Panthers’ favor.

But wait, there’s more.

With the time ticking away on the too many men penalty, Kuznetsov was tossed out of the faceoff dot. He argued with the linesman and apparently argued a bit too hard because the linesman went to the referee and Kuznetsov was booked for unsportsmanlike conduct giving Florida another 10 seconds of 5-on-3.

Despite all of that, the Caps still managed to tie the game with just 1:25 remaining in the game. Matt Niskanen, however, took a penalty with just 23 seconds left. With a 4-on-3 power play to start overtime, 

Overall, Washington gave the Panthers seven power play opportunities including two 5-on-3s, gave up two goals on the man advantage and completely killed their own momentum.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

10.19.18 Rick Horrow sits down with Zach Leonsis of Monumental Sports

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USA TODAY Sports

10.19.18 Rick Horrow sits down with Zach Leonsis of Monumental Sports

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

Top 3 sports biz items of the week:

1) The NHL’s new season has been infused with a bit of flare and fun that it is not used to. According to The Hockey News, players across the league have started to show a bit more personality on the ice, something that fans have been “begging for” for years. The highlight of the first week came during a wild 7-6 win for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Chicago Blackhawks. Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews and Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane exchanged jeers after each scored a goal within the final minutes of regulation. Meanwhile in Raleigh, the Hurricanes now have one of the league’s best post-game celebrations. After a win, the whole team applauds the crowd before “skating from their own blueline to the other end of the ice and jumping into the boards.” This playful nature is one thing that the NHL has lacked compared to its NBA and NFL counterparts. With more fun, expect more fans. And to the fun mix add Gritty, the startling new Muppet-like orange Philadelphia Flyers mascot, who calls his fans “Gritizens,” has been on with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, and after mere weeks has amassed over 136,000 Twitter followers.


2) E-commerce giant Amazon is used to disrupting industries in a quick and swift fashion, but its dive into sports broadcasting has been described as “humble.” According to SportsBusiness Journal, Amazon has been linked with some of the world’s biggest leagues and tournaments, such as the NFL and Premier League, despite not being a longtime player in the sports broadcasting industry. “There is more to come from Amazon, full stop. We are in it for the long-term, that’s for sure,” said Amazon Prime Video European Managing Director Alex Green. “We just get our heads down and try and do the best possible job. We are quite humble about it. Amazon may be a big name but in sports broadcasting we are not. Let’s face it.” Amazon recently celebrated its first exclusive sporting event broadcast when it streamed the U.S. Open to tennis fans in the U.K. as part of a $40 million, five-year deal. While that effort did not go smoothly, with thousands of fans unable to access the livestream, Amazon has assured its current and would-be broadcast partners that their humbling performance would only improve.


3) NFL owners are preparing for a big vote at their fall meeting this week regarding cross-ownership. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the decades-old rule currently prevents “owners of other big four sports teams in NFL markets from buying a football team,” while also preventing NFL owners from buying non-NFL Big Four sports teams in an existing NFL market. The ballooning of franchise valuations has led owners to reconsider the rule due to the shrinking pool of potential buyers for clubs. To illustrate this, when the Carolina Panthers came up for sale earlier this year, only three bidders emerged before David Tepper bought the team for $2.275 billion. Even that NFL record setting sale came in under expectations. However, the league has not strictly upheld the cross-ownership rule. Back in 2010, Stan Kroenke exercised an option to buy the then-St. Louis Rams despite owning the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Kroenke skirted around the rule after he handed off the Colorado teams to other family members, setting precedent and setting up the NFL for a sensible rule change.