Saturday, May 29, 2021

Indy 500: The field of 33 in 2021

The world is healing. That's a phrase I've heard and used many times recently, especially when it comes to the sports world. Things are much different than they were a year ago, when everything was pretty much shut down because of a worldwide pandemic. While the COVID-19 virus is still around, vaccines have been shot into arms and restrictions have eased. 

Now, it's time for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 this weekend. 

Last year, the Indy 500 was delayed and run in August without fans in attendance. While the series was fortunate to run the event, not having hundreds of thousands of fans there to witness it just wasn't quite the same. This time around, the brickyard will welcome back about 40% - or about 135,000 fans - to the storied oval. 

This year's field of 33 IndyCar drivers represents the fastest field in the history of the race, averaging 230.294 mph. It eclipses the 2014 grid at 229.382 mph. The cars will be led by Scott Dixon after he won his fourth career pole at Indianapolis, tied with Rex Mays, A.J. Foyt and Helio Castroneves for second-most all-time; Rick Mears has six Indy 500 poles. 

Part of the story in IndyCar the past couple of seasons has focused on age and a bit of the changing of the guard. This year's Indy 500 field contains nine drivers who are at least 40 years old. One of those is polesitter Dixon. Four-time winners A.J. Foyt and Al Unser were both 47 years old when they won their final Indy 500. Unser won his last 500 in 1987. 

According to Indy Star, Troy Ruttman was only 22 years and 80 days old when he won the Indy 500 in 1952. This year, Rinus VeeKay (20), Colton Herta (21) and Pato O'Ward (22) will try to beat that mark and become the youngest winner of the race. 

Castroneves is still trying to become a member of the elite four-time-winner club. He turned 46 years old earlier this month. But he's not quite the oldest driver in the field. Tony Kanaan hit 46 last December. Two-time winners Juan Pablo Montoya (45) and Takuma Sato (44) will try for win No. 3. Champ Car champion Sebastian Bourdais is 42. Dixon, Ed Carpenter, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay are all 40 years old; Carpenter is the only one of those four to be without an Indy 500 win, though he's won pole multiple times. 

On the flip side, the other two drivers on the front row are 21 and 20 years old. The field also has a pair of 22-year-olds in Pato O'Ward and Santino Ferrucci and a pair of 24-year-olds in Alex Palou and rookie Pietro Fittipaldi. 

This year's race field also features a record nine former Indy 500 Rookies of the Year. Eight ROY winners started the race back in 1990. 

Starting grid
Traditionally, it's usually best to start in the first two rows if you want to win the race. That makes sense, of course. But 104 races is quite the sample size, too. The winner has come from the first three starting spots (row 1) 45 times, including each of the past three years. Sixty-four of 104 race winners have started in the first two rows.

Here's a look at the field of 33, the details and some other tidbits about the drivers.

Row 1

Scott Dixon - No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great car
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda
Qualifying speed: 231.685 mph
Indy 500 wins: 2008 

Dixon is fresh off his sixth IndyCar championship in 2020. He won his fourth IndyCar pole position, and also his first overall IndyCar pole position since 2017. He started from the Indy 500 pole in 2015 and 2017. When he won his only Indy 500 race in 2008, he also started from the pole. The polesitter has won the Indy 500 21 times, most recently in 2019 with Simon Pagenaud's first 500 victory. 

Dixon has a race win under his belt this season in Texas. Last year at Indy he started and finished second. For all of his overall success in IndyCar, Dixon still only has one Indy 500 victory to his name. Should he finish his career without another trip to victory lane for the storied race, he'll be tied on my list with Mario Andretti as the best drivers to not reach two-time winner status. 

Though Dixon only has one race win, he's led 563 laps in the Indy 500, more than any other driver in the field. 

Colton Herta - No. 26 Gainbridge car
Team: Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian
Engine: Honda
Qualifying speed: 231.655 mph

Herta has already shown in his young career that he might be better than his dad, team owner Bryan Herta. He's already matched dad's four-win total in his fourth season. Colton is the first IndyCar driver born in the 2000s and also became the youngest race winner in IndyCar history with his 2019 win at Circuit of The Americas in Texas. He was 18. 

This year, Herta was on the provisional pole for Indy before Dixon knocked him off at the end. Herta won at St. Petersburg this season. This is his third Indy 500; he finished eighth last year. 

Rinus VeeKay - No. 21 Bitcoin car

Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying speed: 231.511 mph

At 20 years old, Rinus has the honor of being the youngest front-row starter ever for the Indy 500. He started fourth and finished 20th last year. This is his first full season competing in IndyCar. Rinus already has a win at Indy this season, on the IMS road course earlier this month. 

Row 2

Ed Carpenter - No. 20 SONAX car
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying speed: 231.504 

Ed is a hometown favorite who's won the pole at Indy three times but is still looking for a win at the speedway. He splits his time between being a team owner and driving the ovals. He has three career victories, the last coming in 2014. 

Tony Kanaan - No. 48 The American Legion car
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda
Qualifying speed: 231.032 mph
Indy 500 wins: 2013

He's led a total of 346 laps at Indy and had his share of bad luck before finally reaching for the milk bottle in 2013. The 2004 series champ is always a fan favorite though he no longer races full-time in the series. His last career win came back in 2014; he has 17 victories overall. 

Alex Palou - No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing car
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda
Qualifying speed: 230.616 mph

Palou finds himself in a good starting spot in his second Indy 500 and second IndyCar season. He earned his first IndyCar victory on the Barber Motorsports Park road course in April, fending off the likes of Will Power and Scott Dixon. 

Two winners in the past 10 years have come out of row two: Dan Wheldon (2011) and Takuma Sato (2017)

Row 3

Ryan Hunter-Reay - No. 28 DHL car
Team: Andretti Autosport
Engine: Honda
Qualifying speed: 230.499 mph
Indy 500 wins: 2014

Hunter-Reay is a 2012 series champ and 2014 Indy 500 winner along with being the 2008 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. He's run into some overall bad luck, especially so far this season, but will look to join the two-timer club at Indy. 

Helio Castroneves - No. 6 AutoNation/SiriusXM car
Team: Meyer Shank Racing
Engine: Honda
Qualifying speed: 230.355 mph
Indy 500 wins: 2001, 2002, 2009 

The big story for Castroneves, as it has been since 2010, is his quest to win four 500s. He came close in a shootout with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014. Should Castroneves win this year, it would mark a 20-year gap from his first Indy 500 victory to his last. That would set some additional history; Al Unser Sr. went 17 years between his first and fourth Indy 500 victories (1970-1987). 

Marcus Ericsson - No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing car
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda
Qualifying speed: 230.318 mph

The Swede is in his second season with his current team and third in IndyCar in search of his first win. His first two Indy 500s have been forgettable, finishing 23rd and 32nd. He spun coming into pit lane and hit the wall in 2019, and he crashed only 25 laps in last year. 

Kenny Brack was the last row-3 Indy 500 winner, back in 1999 during the dreadful IRL/CART split years. Eight winners have come from these three starting spots. 

Row 4

Alexander Rossi - No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation car
Team: Andretti Autosport
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 231.046 mph
Indy 500 wins: 2016

Rossi made a name for himself as a rookie who won the Indy 500 with a great strategy in the race's 100th running in 2016. He came close to victory No. 2 in 2019 in a shootout with eventual winner Pagenaud the last few laps. Rossi had the lead but Pagenaud passed him headed into turn 3 on lap 198. 

The last winner out of row 4? Rossi in 2016. Four winners in the past 20 years have come out of row 4. 

Ed Jones - No. 18 SealMaster car
Team: Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 231.044 mph 

After not having a full-time ride in 2020 due to the pandemic, Ed Jones is back in 2021 for his fourth Indy 500 start. Ed also started from the 11th spot at Indy in 2017, when he finished third as a rookie. Ed also earned IndyCar Rookie of the Year honors for his 2017 season. He is searching for his first IndyCar victory and has three top-five finishes to his credit. 

Pato O'Ward - No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP car
Team: Arrow McLaren SP
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 230.864 mph

Pato is last year's Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. He's one of the three youngsters that has a chance to break Ruttman's 69-year-old record as the youngest winner of the Indy 500. Racing in his second 500, O'Ward finished sixth last year after starting 15th. This season, he earned his first victory in the second Texas race and also started from the pole at Barber. 

Row 5

Pietro Fittipaldi - No. 51 Military Salutes NURTEC ODT car
Team: Dale Coyne Racing with RWR
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 230.846 mph 

Pietro may be one of two rookies in this year's Indy 500 field, but he's another driver who has a family history in the sport. His grandpa Emerson Fittipaldi is a former Formula 1 champion and two-time winner of the Indy 500, most famously getting his first win in 1989 when Emo's car touched wheels with Al Unser Jr. near the end of the race, sending Little Al into the wall and Emo to victory lane. Emo ranks sixth on the all-time laps led list with 505 in his 11 Indy 500 starts. 

Pietro has some solid racing experience for being only 24 years old. He raced in IndyCar in 2018 and was supposed to make his Indy 500 debut that year. But he broke his legs in a qualifying crash in the WEC.  

Felix Rosenqvist - No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP car
Team: Arrow McLaren SP 
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 230.744 mph

The Swede won his first IndyCar race last season at the four-mile road course, Road America, driving for Chip Ganassi. He's a 2015 FIA Formula 3 European champion. He finished 12th in last year's Indy 500. 

Takuma Sato - No. 30 Panasonic/PeopleRady car
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 230.708 mph 
Indy 500 wins: 2017, 2020

Sato, a two-time Indy 500 champion, will attempt to be the fifth driver to win the race in back-to-back years. It's a feat that's been accomplished only five times in race history, the last being Helio Castroneves in 2001-02. A win Sunday would also make him the first driver to win three Indy 500s in his 40s. He's also noted as the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race.

Nine Indy 500 winners started in row 5, the last being Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015. 

Row 6

James Hinchcliffe - No. 29 Genesys car
Team: Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 230.563 mph 

Hinchcliffe has quite the past at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He nearly died from injuries he sustained during a practice crash at Indy in 2015. He was back a year later and won the pole position; he finished seventh. He started in the middle of the pack in 2017 and finished 22nd. Then in 2018, he was bumped from the Indy 500 starting grid. He made the last row in 2019 before starting sixth and finishing seventh for the 2020 race. 

He has six career IndyCar wins, the last coming during the 2018 season. 

Scott McLaughlin - No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske car
Team: Team Penske
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 230.557 mph 

McLaughlin may be a rookie when it comes to IndyCar, but he's no stranger to racing. He's also the highest-qualifying Penske car in the field, as the team struggled to find speed during qualifying. 

Ten rookies have won the Indy 500, including Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000, Helio Castroneves in 2001 and Alexander Rossi in 2016. McLaughlin will look to be No. 11. 

Graham Rahal - No. 15 United Rentals car
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 230.521 mph 

Graham has become quite a veteran of the sport over the years, racing for his dad, 1986 Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal. Graham is seeking to become another father-son combo to win the race. Graham has six career victories since he started in Champ Car in 2007, the last coming in 2017.

Only four drivers found themselves drinking the milk after starting in row 6. Dario Franchitti won his third Indy 500 from there in 2012, and Dan Wheldon won his first in 2005. 

Row 7

Conor Daly - No. 47 U.S. Air Force car
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 230.427 mph 

He'll be the driver sporting a mullet if you spot him outside of his race suit and helmet. Conor makes his eighth Indy 500 start looking to improve on his best finish of 10th place in 2019. He's another second-generation driver. His dad Derek Daly drove in Formula 1 and IndyCar. 

Jack Harvey - No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM car
Team: Meyer Shank Racing 
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 230.191 mph 

Harvey has already had success at Indianapolis. He won the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race in 2015 and won the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He's one of five drivers to have won on both the oval and road courses at Indy. 

Josef Newgarden - No. 2 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske car
Team: Team Penske
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 230.071 mph 

Josef, a two-time IndyCar champion in 2017 and 2019, has plenty of race wins to his name. He's still looking to put his name on the Borg Warner trophy, however. He's won 18 races in his career, including four each in 2018 and 2019. Racing for Team Penske always puts drivers in a good spot to have success at Indy, but Newgarden has watched his teammates like Castroneves, Pagenaud and Will Power celebrate Indy 500 victories the past few years. 

He'll have his work cut out for him. Ryan Hunter-Reay is the most recent winner to start out of row 7, back in 2014. 

Row 8

JR Hildebrand - No. 1 ABC Supply Foyt Stewart Racing car
Team: A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 229.980 mph 

Hildebrand's famous moment at the Indy 500 is one he'd probably like to forget. Until he wins the race, he'll always be known as the driver who hit the wall coming out of turn four in 2011 on the race's 100th anniversary. He perhaps got a little greedy trying to go around a lapped car and ended up hitting the outside wall. Dan Wheldon went on to victory lane, his last victory before he was killed in a crash at the end of the season. Hildebrand did earn Rookie of the Year honors for that 2011 race though. 

Santino Ferrucci - No. 45 Hy-Vee car
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 229.949 mph 

The youngster finished fourth last year in his second Indy 500. He'll rebound Sunday after a practice crash at Indy. Santino finished seventh as a rookie in 2019 when he also started from the 23rd spot. 

Juan Pablo Montoya - No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP car
Team: Arrow McLaren SP
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 229.891 mph 
Indy 500 wins: 2000, 2015

Montoya is a veteran driver returning to Indy with hopes of joining the three-timers club. He's done it all, racing in CART, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula 1. He won the Indy 500 as a rookie in 2000 and then again in 2015 in his third running of the race. He returned to open-wheel racing in 2014 after six years in F1 and NASCAR. Sunday marks his sixth start in the Indy 500. He crashed out in 2016 to finish last, but other than that he's never finished lower than sixth place.

Getting further back into the field makes it harder for drivers to get up front and win the race. A car starting in row 8 hasn't won the 500 since 1935. Only two drivers have won out of this row.

Row 9

Marco Andretti - No. 98 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana/Curb car
Team: Andretti Herta-Haupert w/Marco & Curb-Agajanian
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 229.872 mph 

For the first time in his career, Marco isn't a full-time IndyCar driver. The 2006 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year stepped away this season to try his hand at some other forms of racing. But, of course, he's back at Indy on a course where he usually runs very well, despite the family history that's largely disappointed. 

His famous Indy 500 moment came down to one of the closest finishes in the race's history. He looked like he was going to erase the Andretti Curse in 2006 and win the race, until Sam Hornish Jr. passed him on the front stretch to take the checkereds. That second-place finish is still Marco's best, though he's always raced among the leaders. He won the pole position last year but finished 13th. 

Marco has often lived in the shadow of the successful careers of his grandfather Mario (1969 Indy 500 winner) and father, now-team owner Michael, who's considered the greatest driver to never win the Indy 500. Thirty years ago, Michael dominated the race before Rick Mears ended up crossing the line first for his fourth Indy 500 win. 

A driver named Andretti has raced in the Indy 500 every year since 1965.

Simon Pagenaud - No. 22 Menards Team Penske car
Team: Team Penske
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 229.744 mph 
Indy 500 wins: 2019

Pagenaud battled it out with Alexander Rossi in the 2019 Indy 500. Pagenaud made a pass going into turn three to seal his first victory at the yard of bricks. He's a 2016 series champion with 15 career IndyCar victories. He's also won the Indianapolis road course three times since the inaugural run in 2014. In 2019, Pagenaud swept the month of May with a win on the Indy road course, winning pole for the Indy 500 and then winning the race.

Sebastien Bourdais - No. 14 ROKiT/AJ Foyt Racing car
Team: A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Engine: Chevy 
Qualifying time: 229.744 mph 

Bourdais' greatest success came in the 2000s when he dominated Champ Car during the last years of the IRL split, winning four straight championships from 2004-07. He might already have an Indy 500 victory or two under his belt if not for that ridiculous split. He's made 213 career starts in Champ Cap and IndyCar, winning 37 races.

While there's a lot of experience coming out of this year's row 9, it will take strategy and some luck to get a win. The last winner coming out of row 9 was Johnny Rutherford in 1974. A win this year would be No. 3 for a row-9 starter. 

Row 10

Stefan Wilson - No. 25 LOHLA SPORT/Cusick Motorsports car
Team: Andretti Autosport
Engine: Honda
Qualifying time: 229.714 mph 

He's the younger brother of the late Justin Wilson. Stefan doesn't have a full-time ride in IndyCar, but he'll make his third Indy 500 start this year. His best finish is 15th in 2018.

Max Chilton - No. 59 Carlin car
Team: Carlin
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 229.417 mph

Max has raced in IndyCar since 2016 with only one top-five and eight top-10 finishes in his career. This is his fifth start in the Indy 500 (he failed to make the field in 2019). His only top-10 finish was fourth in 2017.  

Dalton Kellett - No. 4 K-Line Insulators/AJ Foyt Racing car
Team: A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 228.323 mph

In Dalton's second year in the series, if he leads a lap at Indy, it will be his first in an IndyCar. He crashed out of last year's race, good for 31st place.

Only two winners have come out of row 10 in more than 100 years. The first was Ray Harroun, the inaugural winner in 1911. The last was in 1936. 

Row 11

Sage Karam - No. 24 DRR-AES INDIANA car
Team: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 229.156 mph 

Sage Karam is another driver who doesn't have a full-time ride in IndyCar anymore. But he's found himself starting in the 31st position for the third year in a row. 

Will Power - No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske car
Team: Team Penske
Engine: Chevy
Qualifying time: 228.876 mph
Indy 500 wins: 2018

Power, lucky to make the field which is new territory for Team Penske, will start from the back row as the second-ever Team Penske car to do so. Mario Andretti started 33rd in 1978 because of a driver switch after qualifying; Mario raced the Belgian Grand Prix in Formula One during Indy 500 qualifying. 

Power is an IndyCar champion and won the 500 in 2018. He struggled to find speed all qualifying weekend and managed to qualify at the top of the last-row shootout. 

Simona De Silvestro - No. 16 Rocket Pro TPO/Paretta Autosport car
Team: Paretta Autosport
Engine: Chevy 
Qualifying time: 228.353 mph 

Simona is making history with her team, an all-female-owned squad with women on the pit crew as well. She raced in open-wheel previously. Her last start at this race came in 2015. She'll suit up for her 69th career IndyCar start this Sunday. 

Last year's race was the first time the field of 33 did not include at least one female driver since 1999. This year, de Silvestro is back with a history-making race team. 

Once again, here's my annual reminder to readers that no driver has ever won the Indy 500 starting from the last row. For these drivers, it's usually a victory in itself simply to make The Show. That's especially true this year for Team Penske-affiliated entries Will Power and Simona de Silvestro. 

And now, drivers, start your engines! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Minnesota Whitecaps NWHL bubble season, game 3: (Return of the Mack) once again

The last fans saw of the National Women’s Hockey League in 2020, the Minnesota Whitecaps defeated the Metropolitan Riveters in a 1-0, overtime game in St. Paul in the Isobel Cup semifinal. Picking up where the league rivals left off, they skated for nearly 60 minutes of scoreless hockey Tuesday night at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. 

In a game filled with chances and outstanding goaltending at either end, the Whitecaps found themselves with a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage near the end of regulation. Time ticked down on the final 20 seconds. Meghan Lorence accepted a pass at the point and sent the puck toward her teammate Haley Mack near the goal line. 

Mack wasted little time on the doorstep, firing the puck past Riveters goaltender Sonjia Shelly with 10.5 ticks on the clock. Whitecaps win, 1-0. Shelly made 36 saves, while Amanda Leveille stopped all 38 shots she faced for Minnesota.  

“I had full faith in my teammates that we were going to score on that 5-on-3,” said Leveille, before referencing Mack in a postgame Zoom call. “Superstar over here just netted another goal for us.” 

A “superstar” to her teammate, Mack is also an NWHL rookie who’s left quite the first impression. Only three games into her NWHL career, she’s responsible for the game-winners in two games, adding a shootout goal against the Toronto Six on Sunday. 

“It’s a huge win for our team,” Mack said Tuesday. “Just go out there, outwork them on the 5-on-3. We had an opportunity, and we were able to execute that. So that was good.” 

Mack, who was drafted 23rd overall in the fourth round of the 2020 NWHL Draft, spend the past four seasons playing for Bemidji State University. She’s coming off a season in which she scored 15 goals and 28 points in 37 games. 

Chatter about the Whitecaps roster for the 2021 shortened season often focuses on it being a veteran squad, obviously with a lot of Minnesota natives on it as well. Names like Jonna Curtis, Emma Stauber, Allie Thunstrom, Audra Richards and Meaghan Pezon have all been on the Whitecaps previously, along with a bunch of their teammates. 

But three games in, it’s the rookie Mack who’s been one of the biggest factors in the 3-0 Whitecaps record.

In this 2021 NWHL Bubble Season, each team is scheduled for fives games (one against each NWHL team) before the playoffs, and then Isobel Cup semifinals and championship. The Whitecaps started out with the matchup no one got to see at the end of last season, when they were set to face the Boston Pride in the Isobel Cup Final before COVID-19 precautions shut everything down in March. 

This past Saturday, the Whitecaps used a comeback victory and more stellar goaltending to earn a 2-1 victory over Boston, a team that was nearly unbeatable a season ago. Down 1-0 in the first period, Curtis tied the game about a minute later. The game-winner came in the second period from captain and original Whitecaps defenseman, 42-year-old Winny Brodt Brown.

It was Brodt Brown’s first goal in the NWHL. 

But the true star of the game was Leveille. No stranger to big games and backstopping her team to victory, Leveille made 36 saves. 

The next day was a bit of a different story, with Leveille surrendering three first-period goals to the Toronto Six, in their inaugural season. Allie Morse came into the game in relief before Leveille finished off a perfect third period. 

The Whitecaps were on their heels early, getting down 3-0 before Sydney Baldwin scored late in the first period on the power play to shrink the deficit. Toronto took a 5-1 lead with 1:32 left in the second period before a flurry of activity. Thirty-one seconds later, Haylea Schmid got one back for the Whitecaps. Then with 12 seconds left in the period, Mack officially got on the scoresheet with her first NWHL goal to make it a 5-3 game headed into the second intermission. 

In the third, Richards scored a shorthanded goal with 7 minutes to play. Only 1 minute, 23 seconds later, Pezon fired the puck into the goal on the power play to tie the game, 5-5, completing the Whitecaps’ comeback with four unanswered goals. Special teams were a factor in this one, with 17 total penalties and plenty of 4-on-4 hockey.

It took five rounds of the shootout to get the Whitecaps win. While Leveille made four of the five saves, Curtis scored for the Whitecaps before Mack added her shootout winner. 

Then came the back-and-forth, odd-man-rush type of game against the Riveters.

“Whenever we play the Riveters, it’s always a close game,” Lorence said. “It’s always a battle to the finish. Being able to draw that penalty and capitalize on it was huge.” 

The Whitecaps face the Connecticut Whale at 7:30 p.m. CST Thursday before seeing the Buffalo Beauts Saturday afternoon. All games at broadcast on, with the Isobel Cup semifinal and final games getting the nod on television via NBCSN. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Sharing positive vibes through #SportsSmiles

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the shutdown of sports in March, I wanted to get some positive vibes out on Twitter. I shared a photo from Target Field with the hashtag #SportsSmiles, and I asked others to share their favorite photos and/or memories from times that sports made them smile. 

I got a lot of great responses that I retweeted at the time, but I thought it would be fun to group them all together and share them here as well. 

It's never too late to submit a #SportsSmiles photo!