Pro Hockey News

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Orlando City SC Falls on the Road to Inter Miami CF

LAUDERDALE  – Orlando City SC (0-1-1, 1 point) dropped a 5-0 decision on the road to Inter Miami CF (2-0-1, 7 points) on Saturday afternoon at Chase Stadium.

“Obviously a very disappointing day for us. Recognizing from minute one to the end of the game, that didn't look like us in many areas and obviously in a team like them [Miami], we cannot permit [them] to have that many spaces and lose many duels and give them that possibility to be sitting in our box, in those counterattacks,"said Head Coach Oscar Pareja. So really, really disappointed but we're pushing as a group. You know that I have a big respect for this group, their professionalism and what they do. And if there is any responsibility, we will search to find answers, but this group, professionalism will never be on the line.” 

Match Notes: 

Facundo Torres made his 75th start in his Orlando City career.  

Forward Luis Muriel made his MLS debut in the match, entering as a substitute to start the second half

The Lions will next host Liga MX’s Tigres UANL in the Round of 16 of the Concacaf Champions Cup this Tuesday, March 5, for the first leg at INTER&Co Stadium, with kick off set for 9 p.m. ET.  

Women in Soccer Celebrates Record-Setting 2024 Career Fair

 NEW YORK (March 1, 2024) — Following the conclusion of the 2024 WIS Career Fair, presented by Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League, Women In Soccer is proud to share record-setting numbers and celebrated feedback from the event. The WIS Career Fair, which included coach-specific recruiting on Feb. 2 and 8 - the first time the sessions were offered - and industry-wide recruiting on Feb. 12 and 13, saw, in total, nearly 800 participants, shattering the organization's previous record of 490 in 2023.

“We’re so proud of the results and feedback we received from this year’s Women in Soccer Career Fair,” said Pip Penman, Women in Soccer’s co-founder and ED of content and marketing. “We’re ecstatic that our organization is able to provide a platform to encourage and empower so many women and marginalized individuals to find their place in the game. Equity in the soccer industry will only improve when more diverse voices shape it!”

The WIS Career Fair is designed to connect potential candidates for the soccer industry directly with recruiters and hiring managers in some of the game’s top organizations. Using Remo’s virtual event management platform, candidates were able to meet face-to-face with multiple hiring managers during each Career Fair session, moving from virtual table-to-table. 

As one participant explained: “I liked the variety of topics plus the ease of moving around during breakout sessions - I felt the platform was really great and much better than other virtual events I've attended. As someone looking to make the transition from men's to women's soccer, every connection is valuable.“

This year’s Career Fair featured 52 total recruiting organizations, such as MLS’ NYCFC and New England Revolution, the NWSL’s NJ/NY Gotham FC and Bay FC, and non-profits like Soccer Without Borders. 

Additionally, the events also included panels and educational opportunities with 48 expert speakers providing insight on topics such as “Kicking off a Career in Activism,” “Confidence Training Camp,” “Scoring Equitable Hires,” and “Creating a Career in Content.”

“The talks were so valuable. I loved the session about confidence and the opportunity to connect with other amazing women, not just for looking for a position, but also for networking. This was a meaningful experience for me and I can’t wait to have a second chance to participate in this kind of initiative,” said another attendee.   

“I really enjoyed the panels focused on finding your voice in the sports world and uplifting underrepresented communities! There were so many moments of solidarity and I'm grateful I got to meet and listen to so many great leaders. I also really appreciated the open networking/recruiting event and the initiative that recruiters/club reps took. Their openness and accessibility was really cool to see, and I feel like it demystifies the places I apply to,” explained another. 

Following the four-virtual sessions, an in-person event was held at WIS’ Tribeca-based headquarters for those local to the NYC market. A photo from that event can be found here

'NHRA Honors' Program Will Take Place During the 2024 season,

 GAINESVILLE  – NHRA announced a special “NHRA Honors” program that will take plaing the 2024 season, beginning with the 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on March 7-10.

The program will honor all military members, veterans, first responders and community heroes and each will be celebrated throughout the race with a special presentation during the first pro qualifying session on Saturday. Introduced at last year’s In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, special event-specific NHRA Challenge Coins will be distributed to all service members and first responders at each race and will be available at the following locations:

The special VIP red-carpet box office window reserved for service members and first responders

Top Eliminator Club check-in

Ticket renewal display in the midway

Pep Boys All-Star Callout autograph session

Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge autograph session

Nitro Alley Stage 

The NHRA also urges fans to nominate a deserving service member, veteran, first responder or community hero as the “Community Hero of the Race.” Nominations can be made online at www.nhra.com/nhrahonors. 

Those selected will be recognized during a trackside presentation on Saturday at the national event and will be presented with a custom award as part of a special presentation for the service member, veteran, first responder or community hero of the race.

All active military members and veterans will also be acknowledged during the course of the race weekend.

An “NHRA Honors” t-shirt will also be available for purchase at the NHRA NitroMall, with proceeds going to Veterans Ticket Foundation, a veterans support organization that purchases tickets for active military, veterans and their families. That special shirt debuted at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals to close out 2023 and will be updated quarterly during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season opens with a huge spotlight in Gainesville, Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) look for repeat wins at the legendary track. This year’s race will air on FS1, including the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, live coverage on Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and continuing finals coverage at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout is back to open 2024 as well, pitting eight standouts against each other in a unique, big-money specialty race on Saturday, March 9. Local standout Josh Hart won the Callout last year. Action will also take place in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+ and Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown to open 2024.

Race fans at Gainesville Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies for drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk, which benefits the Darrell Gwynn Foundation in Gainesville, as well as a ring ceremony for the 2023 world champs (Doug Kalitta, Hagan, Erica Enders and Herrera) and a flyover from the U.S. Air Force. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners.

The Nitro Alley Stage is a huge attraction and the main entertainment hub in the pits, hosting Nitro School, the NHRA Insider Podcast, Shirley Muldowney Q&A and meet and greets. Marching bands will also entertain the crowd each day, including the University of Florida on Sunday. As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their cars, get autographs from their favorite drivers and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and vendors create an exciting atmosphere of interactive displays, merchandise, food and fun.

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying features two rounds at 2 and 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday, March 8, and the final two qualifying rounds on Saturday, March 9 at 12 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 10.

The first round of the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET and the semifinals at 2:45 p.m. The finals are slated for 4:25 p.m.

To purchase tickets to the 2024 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are free in general admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket. Get your tickets now for the Top Eliminator Club because these will sell out. For more info on NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.

Florida Panthers Agree to Terms with Forward Vilmanis on a Three-Year, Entry-Level Contract

Florida Panthers General Manager Bill Zito announced that the club has agreed to terms with forward Sandis Vilmanis on a three-year, entry-level contract commencing in 2024-25.

“Sandis is a strong skater and skilled forward who possesses high character,” said Zito. “We are excited to watch him continue his blossoming career within our system.”

Vilmanis, 20, has produced 28 goals and 53 points (28-25-53) over 50 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) games between the Sarnia Sting and North Bay Battalion this season, logging 25 points (18-7-25) over 20 games since being acquired by North Bay on Jan. 6.

 

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound native of Riga, Latvia, has amassed 98 points (48-50-98) over 112 career OHL games between North Bay and Sarnia over the last two seasons. Prior to his North American career, Vilmanis spent three seasons (2019-20 to 2021-22) playing in Lulea HF’s junior pipeline in Sweden.

 

On the international stage, Vilmanis has represented Latvia at multiple tournaments, most recently at the 2024 IIHF U20 World Junior Championship where he served as alternate captain and produced four points (2-2-4) over five games. He represented Latvia at the U20 WJC in each of the last three seasons and at the IIHF U18 WJC in 2021 and 2022.

Vilmanis was originally selected by Florida in the fifth round (157th overall) of the 2022 NHL Draft.

 

 

NHL: Lightning Sign Center Szturc to NHL Contract

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed center Gabriel Szturc (pronounced Shturk) to a three-year NHL contract covering the 2024-25 through 2026-27 seasons, vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.

Szturc, 20, is currently the captain for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League and has produced 27 goals and 67 points in 53 games during the 2023-24 season. Szturc ranks second on the Rockets for assists (40), tied for second for plus/minus (+13) and third for goals and scoring. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Szturc is in his third season with the Rockets and has accumulated 67 goals and 187 points in 176 career games with the squad plus an additional two goals and three points in nine playoff contests.
 
Szturc has competed for Czechia at the IIHF World Junior Championship the past two seasons. In 2023, he helped lead Czechia to the silver medal after notching five goals and eight points in seven contests, ranking second on his team for goals and tied for second for scoring.
 
Szturc, who went undrafted, was an invitee to Tampa Bay’s training camp prior to the 2023-24 season.

 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

CFP: New 5-7 Format Confirmed Modifying Original Plan


IRVING, Texas – The College Football Playoff (CFP) Board of Managers unanimously revised the qualifying criteria for the 12-team event to now include the five highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next seven highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP Selection Committee.
“This is a very logical adjustment for the College Football Playoff based on the evolution of our conference structures since the board first adopted this new format in September 2022,” said Dr. Mark Keenum, President of Mississippi State University and Chair of the CFP Board of Managers. “I know this change will also be well received by student-athletes, coaches and fans. We all will be pleased to see this new format come to life on the field this postseason.”
This change modifies the original plan, which called for the bracket each year to include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next six highest-ranked teams.
Under the 12-team playoff format that begins this fall, the four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and each will receive a first-round bye, while teams seeded five through 12 will play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team. (The team ranked #5 will host #12; team #6 will meet team #11; team #7 will play team #10; and team #8 will meet #9.) The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in the New Year’s Six bowl games, the national championship game will continue to be at a neutral site. No conference will qualify automatically and there will be no limit on the number of participants from a conference.
Members of the CFP board of managers include Neeli Bendapudi – Big Ten Conference (President, Penn State); Tim Caboni – Conference USA (President, Western Kentucky); Jim Clements – Atlantic Coast Conference (President, Clemson); Michael Fitts – American Athletic Conference (President, Tulane); Gordon Gee – Big 12 Conference (President, West Virginia); Jack Hawkins – Sun Belt Conference (President, Troy); Rev. John Jenkins – President, Notre Dame (Independent); Mark Keenum (chair) – Southeastern Conference (President, Mississippi State); Kirk Schulz – Pacific-12 Conference (President, Washington State); Satish Tripathi – Mid-American Conference (President, Buffalo); and Keith Whitfield – Mountain West Conference (President, UNLV).

NHRA to Honor all military members, veterans, first responders and community heroes

 GAINESVILLE – NHRA announced today a special “NHRA Honors” program that will take place during the 2024 season, beginning with the 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on March 7-10.

The program will honor all military members, veterans, first responders and community heroes and each will be celebrated throughout the race with a special presentation during the first pro qualifying session on Saturday. Introduced at last year’s In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, special event-specific NHRA Challenge Coins will be distributed to all service members and first responders at each race and will be available at the following locations:

  • The special VIP red-carpet box office window reserved for service members and first responders
  • Top Eliminator Club check-in
  • Ticket renewal display in the midway
  • Pep Boys All-Star Callout autograph session
  • Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge autograph session
  • Nitro Alley Stage 

The NHRA also urges fans to nominate a deserving service member, veteran, first responder or community hero as the “Community Hero of the Race.” Nominations can be made online at www.nhra.com/nhrahonors. 

 

Those selected will be recognized during a trackside presentation on Saturday at the national event and will be presented with a custom award as part of a special presentation for the service member, veteran, first responder or community hero of the race.

 

All active military members and veterans will also be acknowledged during the course of the race weekend.

An “NHRA Honors” t-shirt will also be available for purchase at the NHRA NitroMall, with proceeds going to Veterans Ticket Foundation, a veterans support organization that purchases tickets for active military, veterans and their families. That special shirt debuted at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals to close out 2023 and will be updated quarterly during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season opens with a huge spotlight in Gainesville, Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) look for repeat wins at the legendary track. This year’s race will air on FS1, including the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, live coverage on Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and continuing finals coverage at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout is back to open 2024 as well, pitting eight standouts against each other in a unique, big-money specialty race on Saturday, March 9. Local standout Josh Hart won the Callout last year. Action will also take place in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+ and Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown to open 2024.

Race fans at Gainesville Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies for drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk, which benefits the Darrell Gwynn Foundation in Gainesville, as well as a ring ceremony for the 2023 world champs (Doug Kalitta, Hagan, Erica Enders and Herrera) and a flyover from the U.S. Air Force. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners.

 

The Nitro Alley Stage is a huge attraction and the main entertainment hub in the pits, hosting Nitro School, the NHRA Insider Podcast, Shirley Muldowney Q&A and meet and greets. Marching bands will also entertain the crowd each day, including the University of Florida on Sunday. As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their cars, get autographs from their favorite drivers and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and vendors create an exciting atmosphere of interactive displays, merchandise, food and fun.

 

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying features two rounds at 2 and 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday, March 8, and the final two qualifying rounds on Saturday, March 9 at 12 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 10.

 

The first round of the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET and the semifinals at 2:45 p.m. The finals are slated for 4:25 p.m.

 

To purchase tickets to the 2024 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are free in general admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket. Get your tickets now for the Top Eliminator Club because these will sell out. For more info on NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.