Afternoon State Sports Briefs: UW pucksters host weekend series with RITWisconsin Sports
-- The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team will play its first series of the New Year, as the Badgers host the Rochester Institute of Technology tonight and tomorrow night.
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team will play its first series of the New Year, as the Badgers host the Rochester Institute of Technology tonight and tomorrow night.
The Badgers are 7-9-2 overall. That does not include a 4-3 exhibition victory over the U-S Under-18 team on New Year’s Eve. RIT is 10-6-2. They played Wisconsin in the semi-finals of 2010 NCAA Frozen Four, when the Badgers advanced to the title game with a 8-1 romp. The next win will be the 200th for Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. He’s 199-147-44 after nine-plus seasons at the UW.
Jason Wied has resigned as the Green Bay Packers’ administrative vice president and general counsel. He was regarded as a rising star by many in the Packer front office. But the 40-year-old Wied said he’s had sleep apnea and insomnia for the past couple years – and his long-term health became an issue when he developed a dependency on an herbal remedy that was suggested. Wied said he entered a treatment center on November seventh, and he needs time to make the required changes he needs to make in his life. He said he was proud of what the Packers have accomplished in the 11 years he was there. Most recently, Wied was involved in talks toward a new NFL collective bargaining agreement. He was also involved in the Packers’ improvements of Lambeau Field, and the purchase of land around the stadium for future development.
Aaron Rodgers added another title to his resume today – All-Pro. The Packers’ quarterback was named to his first Associated Press NFL All-Pro team. Rodgers easily out-polled Drew Brees of New Orleans 47-and-a-half to two-and-a-half in voting by AP sports-writers and broadcasters. Also, Packers corner Charles Woodson was elected to the All-Pro squad, along with former Green Bay fullback Vonta Leach of Baltimore. Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson and Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen were the AP’s top vote-getters. Both were received 49-of-their-50 possible votes.
Having a week off to start the NFL Playoffs is not the advantage that it used to be. In the last 11 years, teams that earned first-round byes and home-field advantage were 28-and-16 in their second-round games. But in the last five years, those teams were just 10-and-10. And it’s something the Packers are mindful of, as they get ready for their playoff opener a week from Sunday against one of three NFC Wild Card teams playing this weekend. Green Bay defensive end Ryan Pickett says playing at home does not guarantee a win – and his team proved it a year ago when they won three straight road games in the post-season to make the Super Bowl. Players who rested during their regular season finales will go three weeks without playing at NFL game-speed. And that can make teams a bit rusty. But Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy says the extra week also gives a team a chance to get healthy – and that was one of his main goals this week. The team practiced on Wednesday and Thursday, and McCarthy put more of an emphasis on fundamentals. Receiver Greg Jennings said it also gave the Packers a chance to keep some of their momentum going. They’ll return to practice on Monday, after they learn who their next opponent will be. It’ll be Detroit if the Lions can upset New Orleans tomorrow night. Otherwise, it will either be the New York Giants or Atlanta.
The Chicago Cubs appear to be out of the running to sign Milwaukee free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. The Cubs acquired a first base prospect today in a four-player trade with the San Diego Padres. The Cubs received Anthony Rizzo and right-hander Zach Cates from the Padres for right-hander Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min-Na. Rizzo hit .331 at Triple-“A” Tucson last year with 26 homers, 101 RBI’s, and a slugging percentage of .652 in 93 games.
For the second year in a row, no former Milwaukee Brewers and Braves were elected to the Walk-of-Fame at Miller Park. A player must be named on 75-percent of the returned ballots in order to be inducted. Braves’ shortstop Johnny Logan came the closest. He received 24 votes, or 61-and-a-half-percent of the ballots returned. Teddy Higuera was on 51-percent of the ballots, and Geoff Jenkins on 49-percent. This was the first year that Jenkins was eligible. Former Braves pitcher Lew Burdette was the last one elected to the Miller Park Walk-of-Fame, and that was in 2010. Fifteen others have been chosen since the Walk was established in 2001, the year Miller Park opened.
The Milwaukee Wave will host the Missouri Comets tonight. The Wave is coming off its first loss of the season to Baltimore on New Year’s Eve, which snapped a 12-game home winning streak. But Milwaukee still leads the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Central Division by two-and-a-half games over the second-place Comets. The Wave is 8-1, while Missouri is 8-6.