After dreaming through more than half a season of mediocrity, a listless Colorado Avalanche club was suddenly awakened by the arrival March 6 of two veteran Bostonians, Dave Andreychuk and Ray Bourque, who reminded their new teammates what they had going -- a rare shot at the Stanley Cup. Bourque, in particular, set the Avs aflame. In twenty years as a Bruin, he had never won a championship, and his teammates visibly elevated their game after he got inside their heads. The Avs cruised into the NHL playoffs, and defenseman Bourque's mysterious injury in a game against Detroit (a leg bruise? a knee sprain?) sharpened their focus to the killing point. The best news: Bourque has re-signed with the Avs for next year.

After dreaming through more than half a season of mediocrity, a listless Colorado Avalanche club was suddenly awakened by the arrival March 6 of two veteran Bostonians, Dave Andreychuk and Ray Bourque, who reminded their new teammates what they had going -- a rare shot at the Stanley Cup. Bourque, in particular, set the Avs aflame. In twenty years as a Bruin, he had never won a championship, and his teammates visibly elevated their game after he got inside their heads. The Avs cruised into the NHL playoffs, and defenseman Bourque's mysterious injury in a game against Detroit (a leg bruise? a knee sprain?) sharpened their focus to the killing point. The best news: Bourque has re-signed with the Avs for next year.

The author of the original "Stick a Bourque in 'em!" banner remains unidentified, but the sentiment rang every fan's bell at the Pepsi Center as the Colorado Avalanche put the finishing touches on a badly outclassed Phoenix Coyotes team in the first round of the NHL playoffs. The Bourque the Avs stuck in the Coyotes (because they were cooked) was, of course, veteran defenseman Raymond Bourque, newly acquired from Boston and Colorado's most vivid inspiration. The ticket-buyers weren't alone: Every sportswriter in town envied such peerless wit.

The author of the original "Stick a Bourque in 'em!" banner remains unidentified, but the sentiment rang every fan's bell at the Pepsi Center as the Colorado Avalanche put the finishing touches on a badly outclassed Phoenix Coyotes team in the first round of the NHL playoffs. The Bourque the Avs stuck in the Coyotes (because they were cooked) was, of course, veteran defenseman Raymond Bourque, newly acquired from Boston and Colorado's most vivid inspiration. The ticket-buyers weren't alone: Every sportswriter in town envied such peerless wit.

So what if he's a bellowing hometowner, or if his game-night excitations go way over the top. Hockey announcer Mike Haynes, who does Avalanche games for 950 The Fan, gives a dead-accurate, right-on call of a lightning-fast sport, and his enthusiasm is contagious. Many Avs fans watching the game on TV pay him the ultimate compliment by offing the volume on their sets and pumping up the radio. The real measure of Haynes's energy? He's detested in every NHL city but Denver; in Red Wings-crazy Detroit, he needs a police escort to and from Joe Louis Arena.
So what if he's a bellowing hometowner, or if his game-night excitations go way over the top. Hockey announcer Mike Haynes, who does Avalanche games for 950 The Fan, gives a dead-accurate, right-on call of a lightning-fast sport, and his enthusiasm is contagious. Many Avs fans watching the game on TV pay him the ultimate compliment by offing the volume on their sets and pumping up the radio. The real measure of Haynes's energy? He's detested in every NHL city but Denver; in Red Wings-crazy Detroit, he needs a police escort to and from Joe Louis Arena.
A March acquisition from the Chicago Fire, speedy forward Junior Agogo is quickly becoming a fan favorite at Mile High Stadium, thanks to six goals and six assists in his first ten games for the Rapids and solid play since then. Just twenty, he was born in Ghana and played last season for Sheffield Wednesday of the mighty English Premier League. As the most rapid Rapid, the aptly named Agogo's proven an ideal complement to fellow forwards Jorge Dely Valdez and Henry Zambrano and a source of joy for coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick.

Readers' choice: Marcelo Balboa

A March acquisition from the Chicago Fire, speedy forward Junior Agogo is quickly becoming a fan favorite at Mile High Stadium, thanks to six goals and six assists in his first ten games for the Rapids and solid play since then. Just twenty, he was born in Ghana and played last season for Sheffield Wednesday of the mighty English Premier League. As the most rapid Rapid, the aptly named Agogo's proven an ideal complement to fellow forwards Jorge Dely Valdez and Henry Zambrano and a source of joy for coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick.

Readers' choice: Marcelo Balboa

The University of Denver's captain last season, tough right-winger Mark Rycroft, would have been the Pioneers' top returning goal scorer this fall were it not for the two-year contract he signed this spring with the St. Louis Blues of the NHL. Six feet tall and 197 pounds, the 21-year-old led DU in game-winning goals, penalty minutes (87) and hard checks. He leaves school after his junior year because he cannot resist following his dream to play big league pro hockey.

The University of Denver's captain last season, tough right-winger Mark Rycroft, would have been the Pioneers' top returning goal scorer this fall were it not for the two-year contract he signed this spring with the St. Louis Blues of the NHL. Six feet tall and 197 pounds, the 21-year-old led DU in game-winning goals, penalty minutes (87) and hard checks. He leaves school after his junior year because he cannot resist following his dream to play big league pro hockey.

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