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Mitch's Sports Report: UVM Trounces Hartford; Rodgers Goes Hail Mary Happy In Packers Win

Several members of the University of Vermont womens' swim and diving team were injured amid the panic and rush of people that followed the deadly shootings at the Fort Lauderdale airport on Friday.

UVM athletic director Jeff Schulman said all 44 members of the swim and diving team are safe and returned to Burlington yesterday. The team was in a different terminal from where the shooting took place, but when news spread of the shooting many people panicked and in the ensuing rush one team member suffered a broken foot, and a team coach told the Burlington Free Press that some team members suffered concussions as well as emotional trauma in the melee.

The UVM mens' basketball team rocked  the Hartford Hawks in an 85-54 rout at Patrick Gymnasium yesterday, improving to 2-0 in America East play. Darren Payen led the way with 18 points for the Catamounts, who led wire to wire in this one, a game that also saw the return of Payton Henson to the line-up. He's been out the past four games with an injured knee but looked good contributing 11 points to the effort yesterday as UVM improves to 12-5 overall with the victory.

UVM was also successful on the ice yesterday as the Catamounts beat Maine 3-1 in womens' hockey. Bridget Baker scored the game-winner as the Catamounts improve to 10-7-5, overall and have now won six of their last eight and are tied for third for third place in the Hockey East standings. Alyssa Gorecki and Saana Valkama also scored for UVM.

And the top-ranked Plattsburgh State Cardinals won the annual East-West Hockey Classic championship game at Kreitzberg Arena yesterday in a 3-1 win over the fourth ranked Norwich Cadets. Plattsburgh State defended their title, and improve to 12-1 on the season, while Norwich slides to 9-2-1. Courtney Moriarty scored twice for Plattsburgh while Erin Joyce scored the lone goal for the Cadets.

The Castleton University women's ice hockey team scored a season-high seven goals, including five in the third period, to beat SUNY Canton 7-1 in the consolation game of the Rutland Herald Invitational Sunday afternoon at Spartan Arena. Hannah Rose scored twice for the Spartans in the rout. Holy Cross won the championship in a 4-0 shut out of Endicott.

I have no idea if Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a religious man, but he has an uncanny record of success when it comes to the football equivalent of a prayer--the Hail Mary pass.

Rodgers has connected on three long-range, throw it up, hope for the best and see if it comes down in the arms of a teammate passes in his career, and did so again yesterday on the last play of the first half in the Packers' 38-13 wild card playoff win over the NY Giants at Lambeau Field. With just 6 seconds to go in the half Rodgers sent a 42-yard Hail Mary into the waiting arms of Randall Cobb, a touchdown that thrilled the home town crowd and seemingly took all the fight out of the Giants in what had been a close game to that point, turning a 7-6 Packers lead into a 14-6 game that psychologically to the Giants must have felt like three touchdowns in one. The Pack outscored NY 24-7  in the second half to book a date with the Dallas Cowboys next week. The concept of karma might come into play here as well, since it was on that same Lambeau Field five years ago that Eli Manning threw a Hail Mary touchdown in the Giants win over the Packers that deflated that Rodgers-led team and ultimately propelled NY to the superbowl.

In other playoff action yesterday the Pittsburgh Steelers built an early lead and used clamp down defense the rest of the way to hold off the Miami Dolphins 30-12 in Pittsburgh.  Le'Veon Bell ran for 167 yards, a playoff franchise Steelers record and the Steelers defense sacked Miami quarterback Matt Moore five times. The Steelers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday.

In the NHL the Boston Bruins are trying to gain some traction and separate themselves from the logjam of teams in the Atlantic conference jockeying for the top three spots and a safe playoff haven, but the wheels keep spinning. After getting their current road trip off on the right skate with a win against Florida the Bruins played the next day in Carolina and came up short in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Hurricanes. The Bruins do gain a point for the regulation tie and got a decent performance out of rookie back up goaltender Zane McIntyre, who was giving Tuukka Rask a much-needed rest.

Finnish winger Sebastian Aho got the game winner in overtime, his second goal of the night, taking advantage of a sloppy turnover in his own end by Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles, who, to be fair, was a bit rusty, playing in his first gamne in six weeks since recovering from concussion related symptoms. Tim Schaller, David Backes, and Brad Marchad scored for the Bruins, Marchand getting one to tie the game at three in the third period less than half a minute after Carolina had gone ahead by a goal. The trip gets tougher for the Bruins tomorrow night when they visit the Blues in St. Louis. The B's currently sit in second place in the Atlantic, but they're just one point ahead of third place Ottawa and three in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs with other teams within striking distance as well.