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WISCONSIN SPORTS BRIEFS: UW men's hockey team to scrimmage in Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE - The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team will hold its annual public pre-season scrimmage in Eau Claire this fall.

About 1,500 tickets started going on sale today at Hobbs Icea Arena. All proceeds will benefit the UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey program. The scrimmage will take place on the Badgers’ first official day of practice – Saturday, Oct. 5. The event will consist of a 30-minute practice, followed by two 20-minute periods of an officiated scrimmage. Eau Claire is the home-town of Wisconsin assistant captains Jefferson Dahl and Jake McCabe. 


UW-Oshkosh said no today to giving former baseball coach Tom Lechnir his job back. In a letter, Chancellor Richard Wells told Lechnir he was unwilling or unable to quote, “work cooperatively and effectively with your colleagues in the division in addressing challenges, overcoming obstacles, and pursuing opportunities for progress.” Specifically, the chancellor said Lechnir failed to raise just over a quarter-million dollars to satisfy the debt for a new baseball stadium. Lechnir said his contract was not renewed after June 30th because he blew the whistle on the school’s alleged mismanagement of funds. The former coach said the contractor for the baseball stadium was paid-in-full, and officials diverted donations from that project to another sports facility on campus. The university said the claims were investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. Lechnir coached for 25 years at UW-Oshkosh with a record of 798-292-1 with a national NCAA Division III title in 1994. 


UW-Stout has named Paul Mitchell as its women’s tennis coach. He was an assistant in Menomonie from 2004-to-’06. He later coached at Winona State and at UW-River Falls. Since last November, Mitchell has been the food-and-nutrition for the Mayo Health facility in Menomonie. 


A former Milwaukee friend of Ryan Braun said the Brewers’ slugger asked him to make prank phone calls to ESPN, to throw the network off as it was reporting on his positive drug test result from 2011. Ralph Sasson said he wouldn’t do it. Last month, he filed suit in Milwaukee County against Braun, alleging that the player slandered and defamed him after their friendship ended last year. More details about Sasson’s lawsuit were released today by the Journal Sentinel. Sasson – a law student – said most of the tensions involved his demand to be paid five-thousand dollars to help Braun win an appeal of his 2011 positive test for synthetic testosterone. After Braun won his case, Sasson said he was not paid as promised. He eventually did get his money, but he said had to promise to stay quiet. Meanwhile, Sasson said Braun was bad-mouthing him at Miller Park, calling him “crazy.” The suit also mentioned that Braun defamed him to Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers – who owns a restaurant with Braun in suburban Milwaukee. The lawsuit also said Braun engaged in quote, “academic misconduct” while the player was attending the University of Miami – and that Braun accepted money against NCAA rules.


Milwaukee Brewers’ starter Marco Estrada has been sharp since returning from a bad hamstring – and he hopes to keep the success going tonight, when the Crew hosts Saint Louis. The right-handed Estrada has had a pair of starts since spending two months on the disabled list – and he has only given up one run over 11 innings in those appearances. Estrada is 5-4 on the year with a 4.71 ERA. Rookie right-hander Shelby Miller will start for the Cardinals tonight. He’s 11-8 with a 2.97 ERA -- but Miller has struggled as of late, giving up 11 runs in his last four starts covering 16-and-two-thirds innings. The Brewers have not figured out Miller yet. They struck out eight times against him on April 12th in Saint Louis, and then scored one run in six innings against Miller on May third at Miller Park. Miller has an ERA against Milwaukee of 0.69. 


The Milwaukee Brewers are just 2-8 against the Saint Louis Cardinals this year. The Crew hopes to start cutting into that deficit tonight, when it opens a home series against the Cards. Saint Louis is trying to get back into first place in the National League Central, while the Brewers are trying to stay out of last in the division. Over the weekend, Milwaukee moved past the next-to-last-place Chicago Cubs in the standings for the first time since June 25th. The Brewers remain a half-game ahead of the Cubs, despite getting crushed 9-1 by Cincinnati yesterday. The Cubs have a two-game losing streak, after falling to the Cardinals 6-1 yesterday. Saint Louis is a game behind first-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central.


In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will continue their series at cross-state rival Beloit tonight. The Rattlers are coming off a 4-to-3 win over the Snappers in 10 innings yesterday. Also tonight, Peoria hosts Cedar Rapids. Burlington is at Quad Cities. Kane County entertains Clinton. Fort Wayne plays at Great Lakes. Lake County is at Lansing. South Bend hosts Bowling Green. And West Michigan plays at Dayton. With two full weeks left in the regular season, Cedar Rapids continues to lead the Western Division with a five-and-a-half-game edge over Quad Cities for the second half. Wisconsin has moved ahead of Beloit in the West standings. The Rattlers are in fifth place at 10 games back, while the Snappers – the first half champions – are 13 back. Bowling Green and South Bend start the new week tied atop the Eastern Division. Great Lakes is in third at a game-and-a-half back.


Former Green Bay Packers’ safety Nick Collins continues to work out, hoping he’ll be healthy enough to get picked up by some NFL team. It’s been almost two years since the 30-year-old Collins played. That’s after he suffered a devastating neck injury in September of 2011, when Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart tried to leap over Collins and got his hamstring caught in the defender’s helmet. Collins was carted off the field and later had neck fusion surgery. Doctors never cleared him to return, and no NFL team has expressed an interest in picking him up. Collins tells Green Bay Press-Gazette Media that he still calls his agent on occasion, to see if anybody’s interested in him. He’s also been thinking about several possible avenues to stay in football, either in coaching or as a trainer. Collins made three straight Pro Bowls and helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV in the 2010 season. Meanwhile, today’s Packers were to return to practice today, after beating Saint Louis in an exhibition on Saturday night.


Steve Stricker won’t play, but Wisconsin will have two other golfers in the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs that begin on Thursday. Jerry Kelly of Madison qualified with a 79th-place showing in the Fed-Ex season point standings. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson also made the field at Number-102. The Top-125 players will open the four-week playoff series with the Barclays tournament starting Thursday at Liberty National in Jersey City New Jersey. Stricker, the state’s top-rated golfer from Madison, is on a limited schedule this year so he could spend more time at home with his family. He announced several months ago he would not compete in the Fed-Ex Playoffs, even if he qualified – which he did easily. Stricker is 20th in this week’s Fed-Ex point standings. He had playe


Green Bay golfer Ricky Hearden is turning pro today, as the Wisconsin State Open gets underway in Franklin. Hearden recently graduated from Illinois State, and he’s had some strong performances so far this summer. He took won the amateur division at Waterloo Open and placed second in the Badgerland Invitational. Hearden also took seventh at the State Amateur, and he advanced to the match play rounds at last week’s U.S. Amateur Championships before losing in the Round-of-64. Hearden says he plans to move to Scottsdale, Arizona this fall, and work full-time with a swing coach. His goal is to make the Tour next year, a second-tier circuit under the PGA.