It's a tradition of this Blog to recognize a driver on Memorial Day Weekend, which is one of the top weekends in motor sports. This year one of the greats just broke through on the biggest stage. William Power has been one of the best drivers in Indy Car, but the Indianapolis 500 had always alluded him. In what turned out to be the least predictable race, Power was able to outlast the few cars ahead of him that ran short on fuel, while keeping an aggressive fuel strategy himself to win the race without much challenge. The Penske Racing Team driving Australian held off Ed Carpenter who finished second place but he was distant. Like many athletes who achieve their pinnacle milestone later in their careers, the whispers of "greatest to never win the [big event]" are abated, and Power goes down in the annals of this Blog as Sportsman of the Week!
Not sure to call it a Miracle on "Dice" or a Cinderella story, but the Las Vegas Golden Knights have turned the National Hockey League upside down. The expansion team (usually finish last, hope to be respectable) are now the Western Conference Champions and bidding for their first Stanley Cup Championship. In their first year. It's been 25 years since a team from Canada has won the Cup. The Washington Capitals have been trying to win the Stanley Cup for over 40 years with no luck. But the Golden Knights are four wins away. After dropping the Western Conference Finals Game 1 to the home-standing Winnipeg Jets, the Golden Knights won four straight games behind net-minder Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury stonewalled the Jets allowing only 6 goals in four games. The three-time Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup winning goalie stopped 129 out of 135 shots (96%) with just 1.5 goals per game. The Knights are a complete team without a lot of scoring weapons, but with Fleury in goal, it may be their year. He is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
As the weather heats up, so is major league baseball. And no pitcher was hotter for nine innings than the Seattle Mariners James Paxton who threw the 2018 baseball season's second no hitter in a 99 pitch gem to shut down the potent Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto as in Canada, and Paxton is Canadian, born in British Columbia. Paxton has always shown dominant stuff, but has seemingly had to navigate injuries and inconsistency which has kept him from being elite. But no longer. Paxton retired the last 16 hitters (17 outs including a double play) and it looked like the Jays could have played 18 innings without getting to him. He joins the elite no hitter fraternity and only the second Canadian to do so. He's the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
The first weekend in May is one of the highlights of the American sports calendar. The Kentucky Derby. The iconic twin spires of Churchill Downs set against the blue sky and sun splashed hats in the grandstand. Okay, it was really really rainy, but the race went off just the same. And appropriate a veteran was able to pull off the victory. Mike Smith rode favorite Justify to an easy victory to capture the rose garland. Any time you navigate a 20 horse field the jockey had to have had a good day, and compound that with the fact that running in the back of the pack means mud splatter which could discourage a horse. Not so with Justify. "Money" Mike Smith finished with his white silks barely splattered and took a big first step for what could be a second horse racing triple crown in four years.