TOP OF THE TOWN – You have to be excited about the Seattle Kraken, don’t you? I mean this is a second-year franchise that has battled into the second round of the playoffs after knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champions Colorado Avalanche in round one in seven bitterly fought games. Just last night (May 7) at Climate Pledge Arena Kraken tore apart the Dallas Stars in Game 3 of their playoff matchup, 7-2, to take a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 set for Tuesday  (May 9) at Climate Pledge. A win in this game puts them on the cusp of advancing to the West Conference finals against either Edmonton or Las Vegas. Who would have thunk it, as Dizzy Dean would have said. I mean it’s amazing what coach Dave Hakstol has gone with this group. They score by committee, especially since their top goal scorer Jared McCann has been out since being injured in Game 4 against the Avalanche when star Colorado defenseman Cale Makar brutalized McCann with a late hit that drew a one-game suspension for Makar. McCann, who has scored team-leading 40 goals, is expected back for Game 4 against Dallas. I’m very familiar with hockey, having been passionate about the sport when I was in college at Western Washington University and the NFL had just six teams. I got away from it once I graduated and moved on with life, including getting married with five kids.  But I’m back, baby. And the Kraken are fun to watch. They play it the right way, and play with a physicality that brings back memories of Gordie Howe, a  tough guy who never backed away from a fight and who became one of the hockey greats while playing 25 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. Not that Kraken players are looking for fights, but their hard hitting along the boards has become a symbol of their play. Hockey, if you haven’t guessed by now, is a violent sport much like NFL. The main difference is Hockey players smash each other on skates and block shots with their bodies, which must hurt like all-get-out. I sometimes have trouble following the flow of the puck because my eyes aren’t as good as they were when I was in my 20s and attending college. When I was a pre-teenager we guys in the neighborhood back in New York State used to spend some of our winters playing hockey on pond that would freeze over. We used sticks we fashioned to be hockey sticks and tin cans as our puck, but we had fun and would play for hours on the ice. This was way before they had stores that sold hockey gear, including sticks and pucks. But we had fun nevertheless, and nobody got hurt. I was a very good athlete as a youngster, but not the best on skates. I was rather average. … We don’t get much news on Pac-12 softball so I will update you on the first Pac-12 Tournament set to begin Wednesday (May 10) with Arizona and Arizona State meeting in a play-in game. The winner meets UCLA in the first round. Ouch!!! The UCLA Bruins have won 23 in a row (their last loss came to the Oregon Ducks on March 24 (3-0). The Bruins are 50-4 overall, 21-3 during the  regular season and are Pac-12 champions.  The Washington Huskies finished second to the Bruins with an 18-8 record (they handed the Bruins one of their defeats) and are 37-11 overall.  Oklahoma, the No. 1 ranked team in the country

and defending NCAA champions are 49-1 with its only loss to Baylor 4-3 on Feb. 19.  Oklahoma crushed UCA 14-0 by rule in five innings on  Feb. 26.  The Bruins are the 2nd ranked team in the country and Washington is No. 9, The Huskies play Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday (May 11).  The game can be seen at 12:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Network. The championship game is set for Saturday (May 13). That’s it for today. Stay safe.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.