Local Sports & Brew Links in the 303

Avalanche, Stars off to unexpected starts this season
DALLAS — A team sitting at 1-3-0 will take on a 4-1-0 team Saturday at the American Airlines Center, which is pretty much how many hockey pundits had it before the season started. They just didn’t know it would be the Dallas Stars looking for their second win of the season and the Avalanche looking to notch its fourth consecutive win to stay atop the Central Division. The Avs have eight points through five games, tied with the Blues (who just lost their first game of the season) for most in the division. It’s their best start to a season through five games since the 2013-14 season when they started 5-0-0. Colorado won the division that year before falling to the Minnesota Wild in a classic seven-game first-round series. On the other hand, the Stars are in the cellar of the Central Division at 1-3-0. After having an offseason that had expectations sky-high, the team has failed to put things together as they continue to figure things out under coach Ken Hitchcock. The Avs will want to start fast right out the gate because the Stars’ lone win came when they went up 2-0 in the opening period against the Red Wings. They haven’t responded well to being hit first, something captain Jamie Benn acknowledged after Thursday’s loss to the Predators. “When the other team gets a goal or get momentum, we have to respond as a group,” Benn said. “They started to bring the pressure, and we just let them take it to us.” Related Articles Lunch Special: Colorado Avalanche chat with Mike Chambers Avalanche loses at Dallas 3-1 Chambers: Anaheim saw in Francois Beauchemin what the Avalanche could not Avalanche dominates, but wins a tight one over Anaheim Avalanche rookie Tyson Jost out 1-2 games with bone bruise The Avs are 2-0-0 when leading after the first period and 4-0-0 when leading after the second this season. Juggling act. Hitchcock is going to try a new combination on defense, pairing Marc Methot with John Klingberg. Esa Lindell has played the first four games with Klingberg while Methot has played with a combination of Jamie Oleksiak and Stephen Johns. Hitchcock also moved Mattias Janmark onto a line with Jason Spezza and Brett Richie while Remi Elie moved with Martin Hanzal and Devin Shore. Footnotes. On the injury front, the Avalanche will be without rookie Tyson Jost (bone bruise) but are likely to have the services of Nathan MacKinnon, despite the center taking a stick to the eye area in Friday night’s win over Anaheim. … Patrik Nemeth spent the previous four seasons with the Stars. He was claimed off of waivers by Colorado 11 days ago and will be playing his first game at the AAC as the opposition. [...]
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Broncos-Giants inactives: Cody Latimer is inactive for this game
The Denver Broncos will be down a special teams ace with Cody Latimer being inactive for this game against the New York Giants The Denver Broncos are relatively healthy, but the surprise inactive this week might be Donald Stephenson. The move should be popular with fans, but it will be interesting to see who fills in that swing-tackle role for Denver tonight. They will also be without wide receiver Cody Latimer who is a big part of their special teams coverage unit. Meanwhile, the New York Giants are down several starters in this game. Including both their remaining starting wide receiver Sterling Shepard and pass rusher Olivier Vernon. [...]
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Giants vs. Broncos – Live Blog
Let’s go Broncos! The Denver Broncos look to go 4-1 against a struggling New York Giants team, but it’s never easy to win those easy games in the NFL. They need to come out early and jump up on this team as it could cause this team to fold quickly. Don’t give them hope. With the Kansas City Chiefs going down in flames at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, this game is even more important than ever for the Broncos to take and close to within a half game of the division lead. Add that to the fact the Oakland Raiders choked away a win to the Los Angeles Chargers, putting both of those teams at a respectable 2-4 record. A win tonight will effectively make the AFC West a two-team race to the finish. Giants at Broncos live blog Game info Everything we know Tweets from https://twitter.com/MileHighReport/lists/broncos-gameday [...]
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Early fantasy pickups: Aaron Rodgers fill-ins and navigating Week 7 byes
Aaron Rodgers could be done for the season after suffering a broken collarbone on a brutal hit against the Minnesota Vikings. Jameis Winston had to leave on Sunday with a shoulder injury. The game’s hottest quarterback, Deshaun Watson, is on a bye in Week 7, as is Matthew Stafford. [...]
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[SB Nation: Burgundy Wave] – #COLvRSL: Starting XI & Game Thread
... laying for a little bit of pride - and it’s always fun to beat FSL. COLORADO RAPIDS STARTING XI Howard, Hairston, Ford, Sjöberg, Miller; Boateng, Saeid; Gatt, A ... [...]
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Nuggets 2017-18 Player Preview: Trey Lyles
Last Season: Trey Lyles spent the 2016-17 season with the Utah Jazz, averaging 6.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists [...]
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Paul Millsap Ready to See Nuggets-Jazz Rivalry from Denver's Point of View
For seven seasons, Paul Millsap lived the Jazz-Nuggets rivalry from the other side of the Rocky Mountains. [...]
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Three Keys to Broncos-Giants
All week, the Broncos spoke of not just working to win, but making sure they played up to their "standard." They hope to do that Sunday night. [...]
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Inactives vs. New York Giants
The Broncos released their list of inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff [...]
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Justin Verlander, Astros beat Yankees in Game 2 ALCS
HOUSTON — Jose Altuve raced home on Carlos Correa’s double in the ninth inning, Justin Verlander struck out 13 in a complete game and the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series. Correa also homered, but Houston needed a daring dash from Altuve to get Verlander a win. The 5-foot-6 AL MVP front-runner reached with a one-out single against closer Aroldis Chapman, then sprinted around from first base on Correa’s shot to right-center field, sliding past catcher Gary Sanchez as he misplayed a short-hop. Altuve had two more hits and is 13 for 23 (.565) this postseason. Verlander pitched another gem for the Astros, setting a postseason career best for strikeouts and allowing five hits in his second career complete game in the postseason. He threw 124 pitches and retired baby Bronx Bombers Aaron Judge, Sanchez and Greg Bird to get through the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the inning, Judge picked up Correa’s hit in right field and threw toward second base. Shortstop Didi Gregorius fielded there, and his throw beat Altuve to the plate by a few steps. But Sanchez bobbled the one-hop as Altuve slid by, and the Astros mobbed Correa in shallow center field while Altuve pointed from home plate. [...]
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Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor power Dodgers past Cubs in NLCS Game 1
LOS ANGELES — Although Clayton Kershaw once again failed to dominate in a postseason start, these Los Angeles Dodgers don’t need one guy to carry them. With a relentless lineup, flawless relief pitching and a collective charisma epitomized by the bat-flipping Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers are still unbeaten in the postseason and off to a strong start in the NL Championship Series. Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, Puig added a homer and an RBI double to his dynamite postseason, and the Dodgers overcame a short start by Kershaw for a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night in the NLCS opener. “We just tried to set the tone early against the Cubs,” closer Kenley Jansen said. “We understand they’re the defending champions, so they’re a really good team. We understand that we won 104 games, but right now it doesn’t matter.” Charlie Culberson doubled, drove in the tying run and scored another while replacing injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager for the resourceful Dodgers, who improved to 4-0 in this postseason.” With another collective offensive effort and four innings of perfect relief for Kershaw, the Dodgers calmly overcame an early two-run deficit and took the first game of this rematch of the 2016 NLCS, won in six games by the Cubs on the way to their first World Series championship in 108 years. “It’s two different ballclubs,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There are some similar players, but I think that the season we had versus the season they had last year, I think that you could parallel those two, and the confidence we have in our group, and they had in their group last year. I just know that this year we’re a very focused group, very confident group.” The Dodgers hadn’t won the opening game of an NLCS since 1985. Game 2 is Sunday, with Rich Hill starting at home against Chicago’s Jon Lester. Kershaw pitched five innings of four-hit ball, but the Los Angeles ace fell behind 2-0 before getting pulled for a pinch-hitter during the Dodgers’ tying rally. After winning 104 games in the regular season and sweeping Arizona in the Division Series, the Dodgers have a lineup and bullpen equipped to handle almost anything. They made Kershaw’s latest laborious postseason start virtually irrelevant, just as they did after he gave up four homers in his 2017 playoff opener against the Diamondbacks last week. Albert Almora Jr. hit a two-run homer in the fourth, but the final 18 batters failed to reach base for the weary Cubs, still bouncing back from a 10-hour cross-country flight after finishing off Washington in an epic Game 5 late Thursday night. “Their bullpen is pretty firm, and we have to really get our feet back on the ground,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. Puig added another huge offensive game to his recent surge with his first career postseason homer — though in a postgame interview on TBS, he was convinced he had hit one before. The Cuban slugger also included his usual array of creative bat discards and portentous pauses at the plate. Los Angeles finally got rolling in the fifth when Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes drew one-out walks before Puig hammered a double to left-center. The ebullient Cuban slugger headed to second only after flipping his bat and spreading his arms wide at the plate. Puig’s sky-high homer off Mike Montgomery in the sixth barely got over the fence in left. Puig is 7 for 15 with six RBIs in the Dodgers’ first four playoff games. “I grew up a little bit,” Puig said. “(I’m) going to home plate having fun, because I know (if) I hit nothing, (if) I do nothing in the game, my teammates are going to have my back.” Kenta Maeda got three outs and the victory in his latest standout relief effort, and Jansen struck out all four batters he faced for his third save this postseason. Kershaw’s inability to match his sublime regular-season performances in the playoffs is a central theme of his career. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner won the NLDS series opener last week despite giving up four homers at Dodger Stadium, and Almora’s shot made him the first Dodgers pitcher to yield five homers in a single postseason. CLOSE CALL Maddon was ejected in the seventh after a call at the platewas reversed. Culberson initially was ruled out when he attempted to score from second, but was called safe after video review when catcher Willson Contreras was deemed to be in violation of blocking home plate without the ball. “I saw a great baseball play,” Maddon said. “His technique was absolutely 100 percent perfect. I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that.” GOOD START Jose Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball for the Cubs one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquer [...]
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Amid swelled interest and participation, non-sanctioned Colorado high school sports carve out their own culture and success
Since its inception in 2010, the Colorado High School Cycling League has provided athletes around the state the chance to compete in mountain biking. The league has since burgeoned to more than 1,400 participants — a growth that has continually spurred a debate among its constituents as to whether the sport could, and should, be sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association. “We talk about joining CHSAA every year,” said Kate Rau, the league’s founder and executive director. “If the kids, families and coaches want it, and they think that being sanctioned by CHSAA would be a benefit, I’m totally open to that. But we’re our own production anyways.” Rau’s “but” sentiment epitomizes the climate around many nonsanctioned high school sports leagues in Colorado. While the interest in activities such as mountain biking, bowling, climbing and rugby has grown —  swelling membership over the past decade — those athletes still find themselves without CHSAA sanctioning and the financial backing and school support that come with it. Sanctioned sports are funded largely by the school, which pays for equipment, fields and coaching stipends, among other expenses. Plus, CHSAA is in the process of making its sanctioning process more stringent. Add in shoestring athletic department budgets that have also hampered efforts by nonsanctioned sports to join the association, and change is unlikely. Nevertheless, organizations such as the cycling league, the Colorado High School Bowling Foundation and more have developed their own sense of community in order to not just survive, but thrive. That community is rooted in the fact that for high school athletes, a chance to compete is a chance to compete, no matter what administrative umbrella it falls under. “Either way, bowling’s still bowling,” said Nicole Monte, the 2016 Colorado High School Bowling Foundation girls state champion from Grand Junction Central. “You can categorize it as a CHSAA sport, or a club, or neither. So long as there’s a league, and there’s good competition, it’s still going to be a great opportunity for high school athletes.” And with these nonsanctioned leagues comes a bit different, albeit still meaningful, sense of school pride that makes leaders such as Rau wonder whether it’s even worth trying to get sanctioned. “Lacrosse, it took them like 20 years to become a CHSAA sanctioned sport (in 1998-99),” Rau said.  “So this is something that works from the grassroots, and we’re looking a little bit at how those other sports became CHSAA sanctioned sports to get a feel for what that process looks like. Right now we’re definitely continuing to build toward that, but as we do so, we’ve realized it’s working great running it on our own, too.” A changing process CHSAA has added just one sport since the turn of the century — hip-hop dancing — although Assistant Commissioner Bethany Brookens noted that over the past five to 10 years, the association’s Equity Committee heard sanctioning pitches from rugby, badminton and ultimate Frisbee leagues, among others. Those leagues were trying to get their sport to a vote by the Legislative Council, where, per CHSAA bylaw 5000.1, the council would weigh a variety of factors (a membership survey gauging interest, Equity Committee recommendations, geographical concerns, availability of facilities, availability of officials, cost and safety/liability) in determining whether to send the sport to the Board of Directors for approval of a one-year pilot program, which is the first step toward getting sanctioned. But no sport ever got in front of the Legislative Council in that time, largely because no sport ever had bona fide backing from member schools and their respective leagues. As recently as April, the council refused to consider boys volleyball — which was seeking sanctioning for a third time — and a trial run of girls wrestling tournaments last winter has yet to produce tangible results. (CHSAA sanctions 27 sports.) Brookens said the lack of support for nonsanctioned sports is, in large part, due to concerns about Title IX compliance — “each school has to ponder that question very carefully before they add a sport,” she said — as well as cost. “That’s what we’ve heard when it comes to adding new sports — the schools are already stretched to their limits, and they can’t afford to take on any new sports,” Brookens said. “That’s a lot of the reason why these new sports haven’t been able to gain any traction with leagues, either.” In an effort to add more clarity to the process, Brookens is spearheading a bylaw amendment that will be voted on by the Legislative Council [...]
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Gary Harris says signing lucrative contract extension “hard to describe”
COLORADO SPRINGS — When Michael Malone was hired as the Nuggets coach in 2015, he remembers the swirling questions asking if Gary Harris was a legitimate NBA player. Harris had just sputtered through a forgettable rookie season. But Malone started Harris 76 games during his first season as coach, allowing Harris to work through his young mistakes and gain confidence. Fast forward less than three calendar years, and Harris has blossomed into one of the NBA’s standout young two-way guards. And he was officially rewarded with a lucrative contract extension Thursday, a professional moment Harris said was “hard to describe.” “I couldn’t stop smiling,” Harris said Friday night from the Nuggets’ open scrimmage at Fort Carson. “I’m glad we finally got it done. … It’s definitely a weight off my shoulders. I was focused on basketball anyway, but you still have that thought in the back of your mind about what’s going to happen. We got it taken care of.” Harris earned the reported four-year, $84 million dollar deal after a 2016-17 in which he averaged 14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game and was Denver’s best perimeter defender. He was also part of the group of Nuggets representatives that recruited all-star Paul Millsap during free agency this past summer, and has been tasked this season with developing into one of the team’s biggest vocal leaders. Harris said he was not involved much with the negotiation process that will make him one of the top-10 highest-paid shooting guards in the NBA starting next season. The contract is also a massive raise from the $2.55 million he will make this season as part of his rookie deal signed after being drafted 19th overall out of Michigan State in 2014. Harris cited several reasons for wanting to stay in Denver, from the organizational culture to the city to his teammates. He’s part of a young core that includes center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray, giving reason for optimism about the Nuggets’ chances to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Related Articles After fighting through injuries as a rookie, Jamal Murray ready for pain-free season with Denver Nuggets 7 takeaways from Denver Nuggets’ open scrimmage at Fort Carson Kickin’ it with Kiz: Will angry Nuggets fans ever let the team retire the number of Carmelo Anthony? Denver Nuggets aim to fix rebounding woes before start of regular season Kiszla: When push comes to shove, will Nuggets be tough enough to make the NBA playoffs? “We have a very talented group of young guys,” Harris said. “Everybody’s getting better each and every day. … It’s fun to come in and come to practice and compete every day.” Harris’ mood about the major life event was fairly subdued Friday. When the topic was alluded to in vague terms following the scrimmage, it took him a second to realize what was being addressed. When asked about the first thing he’ll buy with the hefty payday, he said he’s still thinking about it. But Malone is happy he believed in Harris when he first arrived as coach. And he is even more thrilled that Harris will be a Nugget for four additional seasons. “Gary Harris represents everything that we’re trying to be in terms of our Nuggets culture,” Malone said. [...]
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