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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Hockey Broke the Ice Here Decades Ago

April 01, 1999|MAL FLORENCE

The Frozen Four, the NCAA Division I ice hockey championships, are being held at the Arrowhead Pond today and Saturday. Many think college hockey is a novelty to Southern California.

Not so.

In the 1930s and early 1940s, USC, Loyola Marymount and UCLA had hockey teams. Games were played at the Polar Palace, Pan-Pacific Auditorium and the Tropical Ice Gardens in Westwood, facilities that no longer exist.

In 1939, USC and Loyola played to a scoreless tie at the Ice Gardens before a then state collegiate record hockey crowd of 8,000.

In 1938 and '39, USC had a home-and-home series with the University of Minnesota, the Big Ten Conference ice hockey champion. Result? The Trojans won all four games.

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Trivia time: Which school has won the most Division I hockey championships since the tournament began in 1948?

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Creepy visitors: Comforting sign in the Angel clubhouse at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., on the wall next to the door through which the players exit to the field:

"Check and look in all shoes, bags and gloves for scorpions!"

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Familiar theme: Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times writing on Tropicana Field, site of the Final Four, in St. Petersburg, Fla.:

"Why is the [Final Four] staged, year after depressing year, in hulking indoor stadiums designed for anything but the beautiful intimacy of college basketball?

"Greed. The more seats, the more revenue. The more revenue, the richer the NCAA and its member institutions become."

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Legendary number: Steve Rosenbloom in the Chicago Tribune: "If you always thought Scott Mitchell was a bonehead, here's more proof. The former Lion quarterback will wear No. 19 for Baltimore.

"The last guy to wear it there was Johnny Unitas."

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Ugh, the alternative: Peter Vecsey in the New York Post: "Celtic players ought to be thankful Rick Pitino's only recourse for their poor conditioning, suspect attitude and unsavory production is to trade the guilty as soon as the season ends.

"If their performance was this terrible in Pitino's other business, they'd be in danger of being gelded."

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New experience: Jim Jackson, who has been with four NBA teams in five seasons, is now with Portland, which is playoff bound: "I've never been in a locker room where we could talk about it [playoffs]."

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Trivia answer: The University of Michigan, with nine.

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And finally: A sampling from David Letterman on his "Top 10 Signs Your Prize Fight Is Fixed":

* "Nickname on your robe: 'The Mafia puppet.'

* "Between rounds, HBO airs commercials for the rematch.

* "Fight is sanctioned by the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee."

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