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February 09, 2004 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-09

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 9, 2004

6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 9. 2004 *

- w




legit 2


NFC comes back from
18-point deficit to win

was nothing relaxing about yester-
day afternoon in Hawaii: The
highest-scoring Pro Bowl in histo-
ry also might have been the most
exciting edition of the NFL's all-
star game.
MVP Marc Bulger threw a Pro
Bowl-record four touchdown pass-
es, and Detroit's Dre' Bly returned
an interception 32 yards for the go-
ahead score with 4:50 to play during
the NFC's rally from an 18-point
deficit in the final 13 minutes of a
55-52 victory over the AFC.
And it wasn't over until Indi-
anapolis' Mike Vanderjagt - the
automatic kicker who didn't miss a
field goal or an extra point all sea-
son - was barely wide right on a
51-yard field goal attempt as time
The 25th straight sellout crowd at
Aloha Stadium loved this thriller,
with both teams' millionaire players
giving their all for the paltry
$35,000 given to each winner. With
42 points in the helter-skelter fourth
AP PHOTO quarter, the teams easily topped the
82 total points scored in 2000.

Shaun Alexander had three
touchdowns for the NFC, which
scored 28 straight points in the
fourth period to set the scoring
record for a single team. Torry Holt
caught seven passes for 128 yards
and a score.
Bly, Corey Chavous and Champ
Bailey all had fourth-quarter inter-
Thanks to an incredible surge
that had the stars dancing on the
sidelines, the NFC won for just the
second time in eight meetings.
First-time Pro Bowlers Bulger,
Alexander and Bly led the way in a
game with newcomers filling near-
ly half of the rosters.
Peyton Manning passed for 342
yards and three touchdowns, but he
couldn't stop the AFC from falling
apart. Manning threw a 10-yard TD
pass to Hines Ward with 1:54 left,
and after Bulger threw an end-zone
interception, Manning led the AFC
into scoring territory.
But he was sacked with 4 sec-
onds left, and Vanderjagt barely
missed for the second time yester-
day. He also made one field goal.

Seattle's Shaun Alexander scores a touchdown for the NFC, which prevailed, 55-52.

Messier wins game; Sakic wins MVP award


ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - They call Minnesota the State of Hockey and,
fittingly, the NHL's All-Star game there reflected the state of its hockey,
too. The trend to defense has spread even to the sport's showcase game.
In a relatively low-scoring game befitting what is jokingly called hock-
ey's dead-puck era, 43-year-old Mark Messier turned back the clock and
Joe Sakic scored three goals, but the goalies dominated in the Eastern Con-
ference's 6-4 victory yesterday over the Western Conference.
"The goaltending was unbelievable and we got a game out of it because
of the goaltending," Messier said after four of the six goalies allowed only
a single goal apiece. "Otherwise I think it would have been up in the dou-
ble digits for both sides."
Messier, who was winning Stanley Cups before some current All-Stars
were born, had a goal and an assist and Daniel Alfredsson had two goals
and an assist for the East to overcome All-Star MVP Sakic's hat trick.
If it was his last All-Star game - and, perhaps, the NHL's last for a
while as it prepares for what could be months of divisive labor talks - at
least Messier left behind a lasting memory with his sixth multiple-point
game in 15 All-Star appearances.
"There's no question he deserved to be here," Rangers teammate Jaromir
Jagr said of Messier, whose selection was questioned for being more senti-
mental than reflective of his current skills.
Despite the big games by players (Messier and Sakic) with a combined
39 seasons of NHL experience, it was only the second All-Star game with
fewer than 10 goals in the last 19 seasons. Nine goals were scored in 1996.
Only two goals were scored in the first period against goalies Martin
Brodeur of the East and Marty Turco and in the third against Jose
Theodore of the East and Dwayne Roloson as all four made a series of
exceptional saves.
"I thought it was high tempo, it was quick out there, but the goaltending
was great," the West's Jarome Iginla said. "It could have been a really high-
scoring game if they weren't so good."
Not likely. Though the final score would be a shootout by today's stan-
dards in a sport where scoring had dropped by 2 1/2 goals per game in the
last 15 years to an average of five per game, it was far below that of the
16-goal average of the last 14 All-Star games. Only three years ago, North
America beat the World All-Stars by the football like-score of 14-12 in
Denver, a game derided by hockey purists as being more like a home run
derby than a real game.
On Saturday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league's general
manager and a league-wide committee will look at ways to pump up the
offense and improve the game.
"I think we can make a lot of changes, but we're never going to have the
scoring we once did and today is proof of it," Messier said. "I think a 6-4

All-Star game with that many chances, you can take out every red line and
blue line in the game and you're never going to have the goal scoring that
we had in the '80s."
This game actually had some contact and some checking, a rarity in a
mostly hitting-free game in which the last thing any player wants to do is
get hurt.
After the East's Jeremy Roenick delivered a hard check on the West's
Keith Tkachuk during the first period, Tkachuk responded by slamming
Roenick into the boards, drawing one of the few big ovations from the sell-
out crowd of 19,434.
"Guys love it when (Roenick) is out there doing that," Sakic said. "He
does a super job promoting the game. I thought he was great."
Messier set up the game's first goal, Adrian Aucoin's shot that eluded
Turco's glove with about 5 1/2 minutes gone as the goalie swiped at it
along the right side of the net. Messier set an All-Star game record with his
14th assist, one more than Ray Bourque had in 19 games.
Messier, who was already a Stanley Cup winner with Edmonton when
19-year-old Columbus All-Star Rick Nash was born, later tied it at three
with the first of three consecutive East goals in the final 6:12 of the second
period against Nashville's Thomas Vokoun. Vokoun let in four of the 12
shots he faced in his All-Star debut.
"Both (Jagr) and Robert (Lang) all game long were trying to set me up
and score a goal, and I was the lucky receiver," Messier said.
Messier's goal, his sixth in an All-Star game and his first since 1998,
gave him 20 career points - breaking a tie with Gordie Howe for third
place in All-Star history.
"Obviously you always want to score in a game like this," Messier said.
The pro-West crowd gave Messier a standing ovation before the game
and then loudly cheered his goal. The East won for the fifth time in the last
six All-Star games played with an East vs. West format.
Gary Roberts, who retired for the 1996-97 season because of a neck
injury but came back a season later, put the East ahead 4-3 by slamming
Alfredsson's long rebound past Vokoun less than a minute after Messier's
goal. Alfredsson, the Ottawa star who played most of the game on a line
with rival Mats Sundin of Toronto, made it 5-3 late in the second by swip-
ing in a Sundin rebound that lay in the crease between Vokoun's pads.
The only goal against Brodeur - arguably, the NHL's MVP to date - was
by Sakic, who tied it at one with the first of his consecutive goals for the
West. Sakic's three goals equaled his total in his first eight All-Star games.
Sakic was the 14th player in All-Star history to score three or more
goals; five share the record with four goals, including 2003 MVP Dany
Heatley of the East in a 6-5 overtime loss to the West. Sakic became the
second straight MVP to play for the losing team.

Mark Messier, left, and Joe Sakic congratulate each other after the All Star game.


The Eastern Ballots

Vince Carter (Tor.)
J. O'Neal (Ind.)
Kenyon Martin (N.J.)
Ron Artest (Ind.)
Scottie Pippen (Chi.)
S. Abdur-Rahim (Atl.)
Carlos Boozer (Cle.)
R. Jefferson (N.J.)
J. Mashburn (N.O.)
Toni Kukoc (Mil.)
Allen Iverson (Phi.)
Tracy McGrady (Orl.)
La VnA IN 1 '

1 12 6.3

The Eastern Results
The Starters
F Vince Carter Raptors
F Jermaine O'Neal Pacers
C Ben Wallace Pistons
G Allen Iverson 76ers
G Tracy McGrady Magic

The Western Ballots

-- --I - -- -,--I


Kevin Garnett (Min.)
Tim Duncan (S.A.)
C. Anthony (Den.)
Dirk Nowitzki (Dal.)
Karl Malone (LAL)
Peja Stojakovic (Sac.)
Chris Webber (Sac.)
Pau Gasol (Mem.)
Antoine Walker (Dal.)
Malik Rose (SAS)
Kobe Bryant (LAL)
Steve Francis (Hou.)
Gary Payton (LAL)

The Reserves



The Western Results
The Starters
F Kevin Garnett Wolves
F Tim Duncan Spurs
C Yao Ming Rockets
G Steve Francis Rockets
G Kobe Bryant Lakers

Ron Artest
Baron Davis
Jason Kidd
Jamaal Magloire
Kenyon Martin
Paul Pierce
Michael Reodd

Hornets No. 1 Vote Getter:
Nets VinCe Carter'

The Reserves
G Ray Allen
G Sam Cassell
F Andrei Kirilenko
C Brad Miller
F Dirk Nowitzki
C Shaquille O'Neal




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