Garfien: Irish return home to heroes welcome

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Garfien: Irish return home to heroes welcome

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, at a quiet airport outside of campus, the football team that has made the loudest noise in college football arrived back home.At 5:41 a.m. ET, 4:41 in Chicago, Notre Dame was back in South Bend after proving that this, in fact, might be their time. Its 22-13 victory over archrival Southern Cal clinched a spot in the BCS Championship. If any doubters still remain about the 12-0 Irish, they are like the darkness in this early November morning. Notre Dame has refused to acknowledge or even recognize the cynics and non-believers since it began the season unranked.But who could have believed this?With most of the town fast asleep--or still up celebrating the monumental victory--a police escort drove the team buses through South Bend. There was the occasional honk, but for the most part South Bends version of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, U2 and Bruce Springsteen combined rode through town completely unnoticed.That was until they arrived on campus at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, where roughly 75 rabid Notre Dame fans braved the frigid cold to welcome their heroes back to town.Ive been a Notre Dame fan all my life, said Ed Wogoman, decked out in a Notre Dame winter coat and hat. Ive been waiting for them to get back to this point for a long time.Bridget Mooney didnt have to wait long. Shes a freshman. Talk about the luck of the Irish.My brother is very jealous. Hes from the class of 2010, said a smiling Mooney.But she stayed up all night to greet the players who made this inconceivable dream become a reality.The first guy I saw was Manti Teo walking up, the leader of our team, Mooney said. The best moment ever.Dave and Amy Sayers, a married couple who usher at home games, drove an hour from Sturgis, Michigan to be there for this special occasion.
They were still very much soaking in the victory.They were great tonight, said Dave.Actually, the game was last night.Well, we havent gone to bed yet, so its still tonight for us.Up next for the Irish is the BCS Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami against an opponent to be determined. In the meantime, a lone digit stands illuminated above Grace Hall on the campus of Notre Dame.It states quite simply: No. 1.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.