Did you feel that jolt? That was me, with the defibrilator, trying to zap some life back into this site. Geez, the offseason is BORING.
I've started my off-season training. THGIA and I are in a softball league. I'm off to a Jeff McFarland-esque start, batting a big fat goose egg. I've definitely got the guns to hit it out of the park (ha!), but I've got to quit swinging the bat like I'm Luke Skywalker using my lightsaber with the blast shield down. I'm doing a little running, too. I'm not going to show up to the keyboard in October 20 pounds overweight (ahemahemahem, Bulldogs, take note).
You know what's great, though? Not having to watch the news for early departures. I guess I shouldn't be too complacent, as I've been surprised in the past (Jay Rosehill, we hardly knew ye), but I'm going out on a limb here and saying our guys need at least another year of development in the WCHA before they move on to greener pastures. Or smoother ice. Whatever. It's safe to say, I don't fear the reaper. (I do, however, need more cowbell.)
Other teams aren't as, um, fortunate as we are. (Are we fortunate? We sucked this past season, so we don't need to worry about losing players? Is that a good thing?) Here's the Runnin' With the Dogs Rundown on who we won't see on the ice next year in the WCHA. At least, so far.
David Backes, Minnesota State-Mankato
Backes was a great player on an okay team. I won't miss him on the ice because he was a scary opponent, but I wish him the best of luck.
Matt Carle, University of Denver
Matt Carle pretty much did all he could at the collegiate level: national championship, Hobey Baker, All-Hottie team. Don't get that pretty face messed up in the NHL, honey!
Kris Chucko, Minnesota-Twin Cities
I will miss Chucko simply because his name rhymed with so many insults.
Robbie Earl, Wisconsin-Madison
My archnemesis? Gone? Nooooooooo! He's totally ruined my plans! Oh, the fun we would have had, the cruel things I would have said! He's foiled my plan to wear a wetsuit and carry the A (Alfa) flag. (Contrary to what some people had at the WCHA playoffs, the "Diver Down" flag is not red and white, it looks like this.) I didn't even get a chance to cure his pimples.
Danny Irmen, Minnesota-Twin Cities
Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling, they're saying "Good luck getting a puck between us in the NHL." I don't like situations like this, when my enemy suddenly joins my side. Joe Mauer joining the Twins, Danny Irmen for the Wild. I just don't trust it. Maybe one day, love will build a bridge between Danny and me, but I don't know if it'll hold.
Ryan Potulny, Minnesota-Twin Cities
The original member of The Hater Report. The inspiration for it, in fact. Oh Ryan, you were The Little Engine That In The End Just Couldn't Quite Make It. All those awards I listed above for Matt Carle, you were just shy of getting, too. You're the New Jan Brady!
Matt Smaby, University of North Dakota
I don't think any opposing players will miss the brain-rattling, bone-jarring, board-shaking hits Big Matt dished out. UND was lucky to get another year out of him, since he was so close to signing with them last year. Instead, they went with our own Rosie the Riveter.
Rastislav Spirko, University of North Dakota (added 5/5/06)
Someone, please hold me. I loved my little Sparky, and I'm going to miss him terribly. First, he goes and gets engaged to someone other than me, now he's forsaking me to go back to Europe and play for-profit hockey. Don't go, Spirko! Not without kissing me goodbye!
Drew Stafford, University of North Dakota (added 5/4/06)
Drew was a controversial player around here at Runnin' With the Dogs. He failed to make the All-Hottie List, and the readers were incensed! I thought Drew was great, he was the king of short-handed goals, he was in a rockin' band, and his arms made me all hot and bothered. The ladies love ya, Drew, and you'll be missed.
Travis Zajac, University of North Dakota
Um... uhhh... I liked you? Good luck? Until we meet again? Sayonara? Hasta la vista, baby? I don't know, what do I say? If only we'd had more time together...
*As more players leave, I'll post my thoughts in supplemental blurbs, but I'll also add them to the master list here.
30 April 2006
Did you feel that jolt? That was me, with the defibrilator, trying to zap some life back into this site. Geez, the offseason is BORING.
16 April 2006
At Runnin' with the Dogs, we're here for you, the reader. Our crack team of watchdogs is always on the lookout for your safety and security. That's why, when we came across this scam sweeping the college hockey world, we knew we had to educate our audience immediately.
It has come to our attention that there are, in the college hockey world, as we speak, Bulldog imposters. Do not be fooled by these Faux-Dogs: they are not the UMD Bulldogs. They will not give you quality, WCHA-style, top-notch hockey. These Faux-Dogs are riding the coattails of the true Bulldogs, the Bulldogs from UMD, and they will not give you Hobey Baker-quality players, WCHA-quality hockey. If you are buying a ticket for a Bulldog game, make sure it has the UMD seal of authenticity on it. If you are reading about Bulldog hockey, make sure you're reading Runnin' With the Dogs, or a Runnin' With the 'Dogs approved site.
Just how do you tell the real Bulldogs from the fake ones? Observe:
This is, of course, the UMD mascot, Champ. Notice the clearly defined features, the collar stolen from some horrible black metal band, the menacing underbite, the thousand-yard stare. This is one killer dog you don't want to mess with.
Then, there's this Faux-dog, from Ferris State. While he does have the collar, and appears to be menacing by breaking that hockey stick in half with his jaws, he's really not all that scary. Urine-yellow fur no self-respecting mascot would EVER have. Floppy, droopy ears. A dopey, hillbilly countenance. He's clearly the product of years and years of dogs marrying their sisters.
Then there's the other Faux-dog, from Yale. We played the Yale bulldogs earlier in the year, and rocked them like a hurricane. But look at this mascot: I can't tell if it's a dog or Mike Tice, and that's just wrong. No spiked collar, no (normal-looking) eyes to speak of, sort of an avant-garde take on an actual dog. Only one tooth, so probably geriatric. In short: Not. Scary. At all.
I hope this keeps you folks from being swindled into Faux-dog hockey. It's one of the biggest scams out there, along with that guy from Nigeria who wants you to save his $10 million dollars in a bank while he emigrates here, or the letter that tells you to send it to 10 of your friends plus the person who sent it to you, or you're a big fat meanie who doesn't care about their friends. But we care, loyal followers. We care.
Everywhere I go (internet-wise), someone has to bring up the possibility of a Big 10 conference for hockey. People seem to think this is a good idea. You know, because some school (Penn State, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern?) is going to reach into its magical bag of financial glee and come up with the resources to fund another D-1 sport (or 2, if they need to add a women's sport for compliance reasons). I'm so sure that's going to happen soon.
As an insider to the college hockey scene at the University of Illinois, let me tell you this: it ain't happening there. There is a club hockey team there, and they definitely rock the club hockey scene, don't get me wrong. They sell out every game. Standing room only. The catch is, that's like 300 people. I had season tickets to the Fighting Illini home games. They cost me like $40... TOTAL. It was awesome. Plus, nobody cared if you were sportsmanlike or not. I once screamed at an opposing player so loudly and so obnoxiously that I actually got his attention. I was so stunned, I just waved. Shameful, I know, but it's doesn't happen at the WCHA games, so I was unprepared. Once I screamed at Barry Tallackson until I was gasping for air, and no one cared. Maybe he was weeping softly behind his facemask, but I'll never know. I probably could have gotten in for free, because I taught a freshman engineering class that year, and one of my students was an employee at the ice arena who took tickets at the doors. However, there's something unsatisfying about getting something free that's really cheap anyway.
The thing about the University of Illinois is, it's not in Chicago. It's actually about 2 hours away (unless you take the Greyhound, because that can take 5 or 6 hours), and it's a totally different world. In Chicago, they've kind of heard of hockey, they have the Blackhawks and stuff, but in southern Illinois, they're more into football. And wrestling. And rodeos. And muddin'. And marrying their cousins. They don't get hockey. Only Canadian hicks get hockey. Illinois is not a hockey hotbed.
I don't like the idea of a Big 10 conference anyway, because that would serious mess up the conferences we've got now. The WCHA would lose MN-TC and WI, two of the 3 biggies (Denver fans can fill themselves in as the 3rd, UND fans can fill their team in, Tech fans can feel secure in the knowledge they're not on that list), and would have to add Bemidji state (which is fine) and some CHA reject (which is not fine). In order to play the Gophers, we'd have to put them on our non-conference schedule, and they probably wouldn't want to add us. I also think the Big 10 hockey conference doesn't quite fit with college hockey. Is there to be a Pac-10 conference? A Big Sky conference? Once there are enough teams in each of the football/basketball/whatever conferences, do we have to restructure AGAIN?
There is some hope for those people who think it would be a dream come true. During my recent trip to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, MN, I came across this,
so I suppose anything's possible.
14 April 2006
When the Blogger Hottie of the Year says "Jump," one has to ask "How high?" And when the Blogger Hottie of the Year asks you to participate in a roundtable discussion of college hockey bloggers, you respond to his email with a bunch of CB-radio garbage. And then post.
Give a brief summary of your team's season
It wasn't pretty. In fact, most of the time, it was downright ugly. All those little Ls in a row on collegehockeystats. Sometimes I would have to flip back to the 2003-2004 series and look at all those beautiful Ws, to remember what it was like. This year was stressful, with much rending of garments, pacing of rugs, and tearing of hair.
I did see flashes of brilliance. Heck, we beat the freaking National Champions (granted, they were Elliott-less, but who cares?) and we beat Maine, another Frozen Four team. We took 3 of 4 points from the Gophers early on. Those are the obvious examples. Then there's the not-so-obvious games, like the 6-3 loss to St. Cloud, where we came from a 5-0 deficit to rally to 5-3. Granted, we lost the game, but we went from being totally out of the game to right back in contention. I saw a lot of heart in this team, a lot of grit, and a lot of promise. (He said brief, Bruce!)
What were your thoughts on how your team's season ended?
I was thrilled. Ecstatic. Jubilant. It was dramatic, it was unexpected, it was exciting! Sure, the Play-In game was a major letdown, but the first round was one for the history books. It filled me with hope. I wept with joy.
What offseason improvements can your team make to be better next year?
If there's one thing the RWD staff can't stand, it's lazy stick penalties. The defense needs to get more physical. The offense needs to get more physical. Heck, even the goalies could stand to be more physical. We've certainly got some speedsters on the team, but I'm sick and tired of seeing a guy get beat and then haul someone down for a penalty. We need to be stronger and faster across the board. I think fewer penalties overall would be nice. D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E! What's that spell? Discipline, Ma'am, Discipline!
I would also like to see the specialty teams improved. Make the power play effective. Make the penalty kill effective. You think with all the darn PRACTICE on the PK, we wouldn't have been THE WORST IN THE LEAGUE.
Are there any players on your team that might leave for the pros during the offseason?
Are you joking?
Which player(s) will be expected to carry the load for your team next season?
I expect Matt McKnight to be the leader on and off the ice. Ryan Geris, if he returns, will definitely have a heavy load to carry at the blueline. I expect Niskanen, Carroll, and Raymond to be huge role players. I also see Bryan McGregor and MacGregor Sharp continuing their success on the All-Hottie Team (in addition to being a Jeopardy Before-And-After clue), with Niskanen possibly making a run for it again.
Which player will be most vital to your team's success next season?
Don't laugh or roll your eyes, but I'm going to say Mike Curry, you know, just to hold him up as an example (and to keep the candle of hope burning). Most people would say the star players are going to be vital to the team's success, but I'm going to say it's got to be someone unexpected that's going to step up and make a difference. If Curry can step up and get on the scoreboard (and out of the penalty box), he could be a dangerous weapon.
What is your expectation for your team next season?
Better than this year. More specifically, I would like to see them somewhere between 6th and 4th, and make the Final Five. So guys, don't make me look like an ass. Achieve! Achieve!
Though The Century Club is normally thought of (esp. by RWD) as a game very similar to the Hour of Power, only 100 minutes instead of 60 minutes, I would also like to point out that this blog has now hit the Century Club. 100 posts!
Actually, that's pretty sad, if you think about it. This blog has been going for 590 days, and that means I've posted maybe once every 6 days. You could take into account the off-season, of course, and that would bring us to about one post every 4 2/3 days, but that still means I've been pretty darn lazy.
It's funny, because when I look back to those early days, I realize how much evolution has taken place in a pretty short time. That should be a shot in the arm for those punctuated equilibrium enthusiasts out there. Sure, my love for Evan Schwabe was well-documented, even back then, and I was already lobbying to be a color woman for the radio broadcast, but that's about it. I mean, Rhino Lining isn't even a sponsor anymore, so my counter doesn't make sense anymore. Neither is Keyport Liquor, whose question-and-answer format for advertisement was a source of unending entertainment (Who's the black private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks? Keyport Liquor!). The features were different: I paid attention to the polls (I guess it was a heck of a lot more relevant last season), I kept track of the penalty leaders on our team, and I had the Hater Report (shhh! Don't tell Satnu!) going.
I think right now, RWD is right where I want it to be as far as development. Since there is no NBDP (National Blog Development Program), I've been going at this blindly. I think I've finally found my voice as a blogger, and that's probably most of the reason why I'm now actually, you know, telling people who do not share genes with me about this site. I like what I'm doing here, and even though some people might not, I'm cool with that.
When I started RWD, I don't think any of the other college hockey blogs I currently read existed. I'm not saying this because I want to feel special or fancy or anything; I certainly didn't have an original idea when I decided to start this thing. I like things how they are now, especially now that there is a blogger for every WCHA team. I would expect nothing less from the best conference in college hockey. Once the season gets started again, I'll probably check out the blogs from non-WCHA teams, or maybe I'll make that my summer reading, who knows?
Here's hoping the next 100 posts are much better than the first.
(It should be noted here that I have never, ever been a member of The Century Club. As for the Hour of Power, well... never mind.)
10 April 2006
09 April 2006
My fourth and final post centers on an incident during the Final Five.
Dear Gopher Fan With the Horrible Blue Vest from Final Five Play-In Game,
It's been a few weeks, and we've both had some time to cool off, it's time to address our little situation. I know who you are: Gopher hat, ugly blue puffy vest, annoying smug hickness. You were sitting a few rows down from me. Remember me: in the suite, Bulldog jersey, Wild fuzzy hockey helmet, extraordinarily good-looking. While this reads like a personal ad, I assure you it's not.
What you did is unforgiveable. Heinous. Shameful. Disgusting. In short, the actions of a typical arrogant, fair-weather, sits-on-his-hands-at-the-John, leaves-with-five-minutes-left-no-matter-the-score type Gopher fan. You should be thankful I was in the suite, so it offered you some protection. I am not above violence; I will go there. As I said to Scotty, a Gopher fan who was cheering for the 'Dogs, "I want to rip that guy's arms out of their sockets and beat him with them." He turned to me and said, "I'm seriously frightened by you right now." And when my friend, The Hottest Girl in Alary's, screamed "You're a loser, your stupid vest is so tight it's cutting off the circulation to your arms!," you should have listened to her. She knows fashion.
What did this moron do? He cheered for the Huskies. Well, there is a word for you, Mr. Blue Vest. Hubrist. You incurred the wrath of the hockey gods, and you got what you deserved. For cheering on the Huskies to victory, you set into course a chain reaction. Let me explain in terms no one can understand.
This is what is known as the "six factor formula" for a hockey meltdown. The left side of the equation is the neutron multiplication factor, which shows us whether our reaction fizzles out (the Gophers rebound), continues at a steady state (Gophers continue at a current rate of getting lots of goals and praying their goaltenders let in 1 or more fewer than they score), or explodes (complete meltdown of the Gopher team). Now let's take the right side of the equation. The first symbol (eta) represents the Gopher fans cheering for a St. Cloud win. The second term (epsilon), represents the eighth St. Cloud goal in overtime. The third symbol is the pathetic play of the Gophers the following day, when they are shut out by archrival Wisconsin (who we now know are the national champs). The fourth term is the fudge factor, where Don Lucia tells everyone the 3rd place game is meaningless (tDon is a hubrist, just like you, Mr. Blue Vest). The fifth symbol (L sub f) represents the Fighting Sioux Loss to Ferris State in 2003, where Gopher fans cheered for the bulldogs (small b here, so as not to confuse them with our Bulldogs) over the Sioux. The sixth and final factor denotes Tyler McGregor from Holy Cross, who scored the OT goal to upset the #2 overall Gophers. All these factors multiplied together gives us a k>1 situation, which is a supercritical reaction. The Gophers went Chernobyl, and IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT, VEST MAN!
Now that you are sufficiently confused, I will shove you into a straitjacket and force you to watch the 2004 Regional Final vs. UMD.
You can't expect me to only write to other teams. I've got a few letters to Bulldogs as well.
Dear T.J. Caig,
Now, there's a name we don't hear around these parts too often! It's nice to see you doing so well this year over in the Blylevenlands. I hear you have an epiphany and buckled down, focusing on your game again. Well, I wish you'd had your epiphany earlier, but that's neither here nor there.
Do you think that it's weird that I had a dream about you the other night? You sent me an email about how much you like this site. Also, do you think it's weird that in my dream email, your grammar and spelling were atrocious?
Dear Ryan Geris,
I'm not trying to push you to make a decision about coming back next year, I promise. I just want to tell you, I support you either way. On the one hand, I worry about your safety. I was so angry last year, in that game against Vermont, where you were checked from behind and no call was made. Think what you could have done if you hadn't been injured again. Heck, you had as many points as Mike Curry, in only 6 games. My fear is that some goon *cough*GeoffPaukovich*cough* will take you out of the game (or worse) for good. On the other hand, we need you. We need a strong leader on the blue line, as well as in the locker room.
We appreciate you, Ryan, for all you've done for Bulldog hockey, and we're all anxious to find out what you've decided.
The second installment of the RWD correspondence centers on players from the 2006 national champions, the Wisconsin Badgers.
Dear Mike Eaves,
Are you a bad father? Is that why your son was working for the other team? I hope this doesn't make your Easter dinner awkward.
Dear Brian Elliott,
You tend goal like a man, but you grow a playoff beard like a stud.
Love and Admiration,
Dear Robbie Earl,
Congratulations on winning a national championship. It's not every day you get to simultaneously take two sports to the next level. You flopped on the ice in yet another spectacular dive, but when your best buddies in stripes failed to acknowledge it, you parlayed it into a goal. A stroke of genius, for sure.
That's really not the issue at hand, though. You see, I saw you on TV during intermission, and you have a big problem. Or, rather, several big problems erupting all over your face. I've said this to Marian Gaborik (or at least, his face on a commercial on FSN-North), and I'll say it to you. Without revealing what I do for a living (because writing this blog is its own reward), let me just say, Robbie, I can help. You do not need to go on national television looking like a pizza face. Trust me, Robbie. Even the wives of top hockey executives trust me for advice on matters of the skin.
Love and an Awkward Hug as I Avoid Getting the Oil from Your Face on Me,
Now that it's officially the off-season for college hockey, I thought I would catch up on some correspondence.
Dear John Scott,
I see you've been named college hockey's Bad Boy of the Year. Evidently you won in a landslide, and I sure as heck voted for you. I would like to point you in the direction of Maine's Ben Bishop. He's also 6'7", and is more than just a pylon. Remember, 6'7" people can't win on being 6'7" alone. Also, Ben is 6'7" and has managed to avoid running people down in his SUV while intoxicated. I understand the pressures of being 6'7" are extreme (atmospherically and mentally speaking), but perhaps you could let Ben mentor you in the field of not being a total jackass.
Dear Matt Carle,
Congratulations on winning the Hobey Baker award. You're definitely deserving, even if you didn't get to attempt to get a "three-peat." It's also great to see you make your mark in the NHL, even if you did lose your jock to Brian Rolston. I know it won't happen again.
I'm so glad you won the Hobey, Matt, because I've been campaigning for you all year. When those silly Gopher fans chanted "Ho-bey Ba-ker" every time that guy, um, what's his name? The one who scored all the goals against Alaska? Anyway, every time he touched the puck, I counter-chanted "Ma-att Car-le." I also asked many of them (with the utmost politeness, of course!) if they had ever heard of you, just in case they hadn't. It's hard to stay up for those games in Colorado, what with the time change and all.
You rocked this year, Matt. Way to go!
Love and Cuddles,
06 April 2006
You may have noticed there's limited coverage of the Frozen Four on here. And by limited coverage, I mean this is the first mention of any 2006 NCAA tournament-related stuff. Then again, you may not have noticed. 99.99999999999999999% of the planet didn't notice, and that's a conservatively low figure. It's not that I don't care. In fact, I'm watching the Maine-Wisconsin game as I am typing this, and I had to hear that awful "Oh oh oh oh oh!" song where they all jump around like idiots, which is one of the most annoying things in the history of the world. Right up there with that whole bubonic plague thing and Mandatory Metallica.
A lot of the blogs I visit (which you can view in the previous post) are still covering the Frozen Four, some whose teams are still in it (or were in it until just a few hours ago), some whose teams were recently eliminated (or exterminated), and some whose teams were knocked out of tournament consideration by losing to the Bulldogs. Most of them have some serious analysis, some of them have content that is "sort of" coverage, and some of them have not very nice things to say about me. But we have to remember, this is not a site for serious hockey analysis (I know, I know, I'm too modest), brilliant sportswriting, or things that happen in the real world. This is a site for "sarcastic and biased coverage of the WCHA's finest hockey team." Believe me, if you're looking for Bulldog Frozen Four coverage, it's going to be sparse throughout the years. And I'm okay with that.
However, it's just not as fun without the Bulldogs. I just don't know these other guys very well. Me and T.J. Oshie, sure, we're cool, ever since I got him hooked up on the All-Hottie First Team, and there's some Duluth boys on the Wisconsin team, but I just don't feel the same... connection, I guess is what I'm going for here. If I am going to write funny(?) made-up stories about people I've never met, I'd like to at least have screamed my undying love to them once or twice. And believe me, there is no love lost between Ryan MacMurchy and me.
Remember how much fun it was two years ago? Oh, that's right, I didn't have this blog two years ago, we didn't go through all the good times together. I was still living in Illinois at the time. But it was fun, right? (Not the living in Illinois part, that wasn't fun at all. So many cornfields!) You had fun, I had fun, we all had fun. Until we lost to Denver in the semifinal and I screamed the F-Bomb at the top of my lungs, scared the crap out of my roommates and their friends, slammed my door, and broke my really cool door hanger. I don't think anyone enjoyed that, especially not the door.
So, in order to ensure that we have some fun TOGETHER, dear readers, in the next few years, I would like to give a few suggestions on how we can have some post-season success. Then you better believe this blog will be TEEMING with Frozen Four coverage.
1. Practice scoring. I don't really know what's been going on in practice, but they needed to figure out how to get that little rubber disc into the net. What about bringing one of those promotional boards out, you know, the ones with the slots that people shoot at from center ice and then always miss the net entirely? They could practice accuracy, working their way back. Mason Raymond all the way across the rink, Garrison and Nisky at the blueline, McFarland right in front of the net with a big orange safety stick...
2. Bench people who are not producing. Maybe the coaching staff doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I'll do it (for a fee). They wouldn't even really know they were being benched, maybe they could present it as an award, "Sit With Runninwiththedogs!" Sort of how teams auction off a box suite with legendary players to make money for charity, except instead of a box suite, it would be the bleachers, and instead of charity, they would have to listen to me. I understand we couldn't afford to do it this year, with so few players on the bench and injuries/illnesses to our D-men, but next year, THERE'S NO EXCUSE. Sit, doggies, sit!
3. Stay out of the penalty box! I hate lazy stick penalties. No one on this team should take lazy stick penalties. Lazy stick penalties are for lazy people, and there are going to be NO LAZY PEOPLE on this team. Or else they will have to watch the games with me (see #2).
More strategery to follow.
I'm hoping we'll follow 1 of 2 scenarios:
A. The Slower Boat to China
2006-2007: Make Final Five, win play-in game (if needed), be a TUC
2007-2008: WCHA top five finish, Final Five 3rd place, be a TUC
2008-2009: WCHA top three finish, Final Five championship game, NCAA tournament selection
B. The Faster Track to Success
2006-2007: WCHA top five finish, Final Five 3rd place, be a TUC
2007-2008: WCHA top three finish, Final Five championship game, NCAA tournament selection
2008-2009: WCHA top three finish, Final Five champions, NCAA Frozen Four appearance
Mock it if you like, but I think I was a pretty conservative homer. I didn't even ask for a National Championship!
RunninwiththeDogs: Prepared for the Worst, Prepared for the Frozen Four