BY STEVEN NORRIS
The Year in Sports in Review
Related: the sports desk presents the top 10 in Delaware athletics ’22-’23.
10: In choke of epic proportions, Bruins lose to Panthers
The 2022-23 NHL season saw the rise of potentially one of the greatest hockey teams ever assembled. The Boston Bruins shattered records this year, setting the mark for most wins in a season at 65, which broke the previous record of 62 set by the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning and 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings. The Bruins also achieved the distinction of most points in a season in league history, earning 135 while finishing with a record of 65-12-5.
However, the playoffs did not go as smoothly for Boston. The first-seeded Bruins matched up against the eighth-seeded Florida Panthers for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. By game four, the Bruins had a steady 3-1 series lead and were just one win away from advancing. The Panthers then won games five and six and finished their Cinderella comeback with a game seven win on an overtime goal from Carter Verhaeghe, completing perhaps the biggest upset in NHL history.
9: The wave of bracket-busting in March Madness
This year’s men’s tournament saw a wave of shocking upsets. The first came when No. 13 Furman defeated No. 4 Virgina after JP Pegues hit a three-pointer to give Furman the win. Following this, No. 15 Princeton picked up a comeback win against No. 2 Arizona. The biggest upset came when No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson eliminated No. 1 Purdue, becoming only the second 16-seed to beat a one-seed.
8: Astros shut down the Phillies
The 2022 World Series was a showdown between the American League champion Houston Astros and the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies finished the regular season with a record of 87-75 and did not clinch a playoff berth until the third-to-last day of the regular season. The Phils had a slow start to the season and did not finish strongly, either. But their hot streak during the summer was just enough to secure them a spot in the playoffs. Despite their regular season woes, the Phillies showed up when it mattered and won postseason matchups against the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres to advance to the World Series.
The Astros had a much different story, finishing with the second-best record at 106-56. The Astros were a dominant force in the regular season, and this continued in the playoffs when they swept both the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. The Phillies started the World Series with a win in game one, but the Astros followed up by winning game two to tie the series before Philadelphia took the lead back with a win in game three. The Astros put Philadelphia’s “dance on its own” to rest when they won three games straight, taking games four, five and six to win the franchise’s second world championship.
7: Alex Ovechkin passes Gordie Howe in goals
On Dec. 23, 2022, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin scored the 802nd goal of his NHL career, passing hockey legend Gordie Howe for second-most goals all-time. The landmark achievement came during a 4-1 Capitals victory over the Winnipeg Jets while the Caps donned their retro blue and bronze colors that are reminiscent of the uniforms the team wore when Ovechkin was drafted in 2004, a full-circle symbol. Ovechkin had two goals in the outing. Wayne Gretzky holds the record for most goals all-time at 894. If the 37-year-old Ovechkin can stay healthy for the remainder of his career, passing Gretzky’s record is a very real possibility.
6: Caitlin Clark lights up March Madness
The 2023 women’s tournament saw a historic performance from Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Clark scored 191 total points in the tournament, which is the most by any player in NCAA men’s or women’s basketball history. Clark also put up 60 assists in the tournament, which broke the women’s record for most assists and is just one assist shy of the men’s record. Clark had one of the best performances in tournament history when she put up 41 points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds against Louisville in the Elite Eight. Despite the Hawkeyes’ loss to LSU in the championship game, Clark’s performance will not soon be forgotten.
5: Patrick Mahomes beats Eagles on sprained ankle
Super Bowl LVII saw the Kansas City Chiefs take down the Philadelphia Eagles to reclaim their throne atop the NFL. The Eagles were dominant in the regular season, finishing with a record of 14-3. Led by 24-year-old quarterback Jalen Hurts, the Eagles started the season 8-0. The Chiefs also finished with a record of 14-3. The Eagles started the Super Bowl strongly, ending the first half with a 10-point lead. However, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes appeared to aggravate his high ankle sprain suffered earlier in the playoffs. Despite Mahomes appearing to limp around the field in serious pain, he and the Chiefs would not quit, mounting a comeback in the second half to win the game, 38-35. With the victory, Mahomes has already won two Super Bowls in his young career.
4: Stephen Curry and the Warriors get their fourth ring
The 2022 NBA Finals was a matchup between the Boston Celtics, the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Golden State Warriors, the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. This was the first Finals appearance in 12 seasons for the Celtics. The Warriors have been the team of this generation, dominating the Western Conference over the last decade. After a few rough seasons that were bogged down by injuries, the Warriors were back in the Finals for their sixth appearance in eight seasons. With their Finals win over Boston in six games, the Warriors secured their fourth championship during this dynasty. Stephen Curry won Finals MVP, the first of his career, which has further cemented his legacy as one of the greatest superstars ever.
3: Trout versus Ohtani
The storybook ending to the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) was so unbelievable that it almost seemed like fiction. The WBC final matched Team USA, led by Mike Trout, against Team Japan, led by Shohei Ohtani. Not only are Trout and Ohtani two of the best players in baseball today, but they are also teammates on the Los Angeles Angels. Team Japan had a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and Ohtani pitching. Team USA had Trout, their team captain, at the plate. Ohtani struck out Trout in an intense at-bat for the final out and Team Japan rushed the field to celebrate its victory, clinched in one of the sport’s best head-to-head moments.
2: Messi and Argentina win the big one
Winning a FIFA World Cup was the one achievement that had eluded Lionel Messi in his historic career. That finally changed in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The World Cup came down to Argentina and France. Argentina started the championship match with a 2-0 lead before France came back to tie it and force extra time. Argentina scored in extra time to take a 3-2 lead, but France would not go away easily, scoring to force a penalty shootout. Argentina triumphed in the penalty shootout, 4-2, to secure its first World Cup title since 1986.
1: LeBron James breaks scoring record
On Feb. 7, 2023, LeBron James reached 38,388 career points in the NBA and became the league’s all-time leading scorer. The record was broken in the third quarter during a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The previous record had been held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar since 1984, and thus James breaking this thought-to-be untouchable record was a surreal moment. The game was put on pause to appreciate what had just been achieved, as a brief ceremony was held in which Abdul-Jabbar gifted a basketball to James to pass the torch to the NBA’s new all-time leading scorer.