This week, The Gauntlet returns with a vengeance...
Okay, maybe not a vengeance, since this is another "Friendly Fire" incident. This week, RWD threw down the glove to Bruce Ciskie, UMD Radio Guy, former USCHO Poster, and Purse Snatcher.
RWD: Hold on, must find notebook with questions.
Ciskie: Uh oh... you wrote them down?
RWD: Weeks ago.
Ciskie: I'm marginally impressed.
RWD: Seriously, what do you take me for? What about my blog would ever make you think I am anything other than a serious journalist with the highest standards of integrity?
Ciskie: I'll be more impressed after I find out what the questions are.
RWD: I think my questions will be better than "What's in your iPod?" I already know it's country. Did you have a nice christmas?
Ciskie: Absolutely. I can never complain about a new PS2 game and seeing my kid happily ripping open his mom's presents because he apparently didn't get enough of his own. [Bruce won't be winning Father Of The Year any time soon.]
RWD: I was going to ask if there was a Mrs. Bruce Ciskie, but you've already answered that.
Ciskie: Yeah, there is, and she's really the one who jump-started my hockey obsession. I was only a casual fan until our second date, which happened to be the 1998 UMD-[UMTC] playoff game that everyone SWEARS they were at. I was, and I now own a DVD of it thanks to some really nice UMD fan in the Twin Cities.
RWD: Do you know that the only people who have answered yes to the "is there a Mr/Mrs [your name here]" question are UMD fans?
RWD: Really. So you have been following tDogs since 1998? Or before?
Ciskie: Slightly before. I had gone to a few games before that 1998 playoff game, but it wasn't enough to hook me. We went to the Saturday game of the playoff series, and I have a vague memory of a fight or some sort of skirmish happening late in the game (a Gopher shutout win). No matter what it was, it was enough for me to make it clear that we were going to the Sunday night game. After that, I was hooked on college hockey. I also remember listening to the 1984 title game with Bowling Green on the radio, even though I was supposed to be sleeping. I didn't know anything about hockey at the time, but I knew it was a big deal so I listened (BANDWAGON!). I turned it off before the fourth overtime because I couldn't stay awake anymore (I was six at the time).
RWD: I suppose the players make you feel really old.
Ciskie: All of them except Geris.
RWD: "So, Jordan Fulton, how was your senior year of high school... LAST YEAR?"
Ciskie: Well, there's that. I don't really think about the age gap with the guys that much, though there will sometimes be conversations where I come away feeling old.
RWD: Mentally I'm sure there's no age gap.
Ciskie: Actually, they're probably older than I am in that regard.
RWD: Let's talk about the players. Who's the hottest Bulldog?
Ciskie: Can I cheat on this one?
RWD: NO! No one's WIFE! No CHEERLEADERS!
Ciskie: I don't think any of the players are married, so I can apparently choose a girlfriend.
RWD: NO! [extremely long pause] For crying out loud! This is taking too long!
Ciskie: You're asking a guy who the hottest Bulldog is... really, did you expect a quick response?
RWD: [After another extremely long pause, when it becomes evident that Bruce is using a lifeline.] Have you decided who is the hottest?
Ciskie: Mrs. Ciskie says if she had to pick she'd pick Sharp or Gawryletz.
RWD: But Bruce, I know you've seen them shirtless! Who has the best body? Maybe some of them are butterfaces.
Ciskie: I think you're misunderstanding the nature of my job. I don't need to interview them in the shower.
RWD: You don't need to.
Ciskie: Nor do I want to.
RWD: I'm torn between editing this out because I look like a jersey chaser, and leaving it in, because it is so funny.
Ciskie: I do know enough about sports to know that the goalies are typically the best athletes on the team, so if you're looking for the best body, you should probably start there. [Translation: Ciskie wants Stalock.]
RWD: What is Judd like? Is he dreamy?
Ciskie: You mean Medak or Hirsch? I'm sure his wife finds him very attractive and that's all that matters. He's a great guy, very knowledgeable about hockey, and the best part about him is that he's not afraid to be critical when conditions warrant. Some color guys are afraid to say anything that could be construed as critical of the home team.
RWD: I know that you're very restrained in that area, especially about the refs.
Ciskie: I'm always nice to the officials.
RWD: We'll return to that.
Ciskie: I'm sure we will.
RWD: Why doesn't Judd go on the road with you?
Ciskie: It was something we had put in place probably 10 years ago. I've never really asked anyone about it, but it seems to me that it really wasn't financially smart to have a second person go on the road for these longer trips especially.
RWD: Don't you get bored?
Ciskie: I had about five years of experience doing high school hockey games before I got the UMD job, and almost every game I did was by myself. In all honesty, I don't think much about it unless the game is REALLY bad. The weird thing is that I can flip the switch when we go home. I don't make Judd sit there for a half hour not able to say anything because I won't shut up.
RWD: What happened to Fan in the Stands? I wanted to win a pizza from the Lakeview Castle
Ciskie: There really wasn't much demand for it, so we decided to use that time in the pregame to actually talk about hockey. It wasn't easy to drop it, but I didn't want to put a cap on everything else we do in the pregame (I think it's more important to not have to cut Sandelin off).
RWD: I thought it was between periods.
Ciskie: It was, but without doing it in the pregame, it was asking a lot to have someone come down to the rink just for that purpose. If we had a three-man booth, we could just send that third person downstairs for that.
RWD: So you have a new feature instead: Email the Booth. Does anyone other than me use it?
Ciskie: Not as much as I had hoped. It was something that a few Twin Cities fans had asked me to do, and when I was going over feedback and trying to figure out what we could add to the broadcasts for 06-07, I decided it was something we could do. The response hasn't met the prior demand. It also stinks that I don't have a laptop and we can only do it for home games.
RWD: I've been trying to help you out, but it's hard to think of questions.
Ciskie: And I appreciate that. Just make random comments about what Judd and I are saying. It's all about interaction. It doesn't have to be anything perceptive about the game itself.
RWD: I'm surprised more people don't. There are plenty of people listening.
Ciskie: I am, too. I know.
RWD: I should ask a dumb question...
Ciskie: Go ahead.
RWD: ...to make people feel better.
Ciskie: No such thing as a dumb question.
RWD: No, I mean on the air.
RWD: Not now. Then people will be like, okay, yeah, I don't have to be brilliant. Speaking of questions: the coach's show. Why can't I get it on the radio?
Ciskie: Because some idiot isn't turning on the internet switch.
RWD: I want to listen tomorrow. Are you going to ask about Mike Dorr?
Ciskie: You know we can't talk about recruits.
RWD: At all?
Ciskie: Not until they sign.
Ciskie: If I asked a question about Mike Dorr right now, I'd get a mystified stare and some sort of physical signal that it's time to move on to a different topic.
RWD: At least you can get on USCHO and tPB and read about it. Speaking of USCHO, what do you say to rumors that you stole an old lady's purse and ran into a gay bar?
Ciskie: There could be some exaggerations there.
RWD: The lady may have been younger than originally thought. The best post on that thread was "Judd? Is that you?"
Ciskie: The alarm went off in my head when that thread went up. I knew it was time to disappear.
RWD: Is it hard to go from being a fan to being more professional?
Ciskie: I don't care if people talk about me, but the only other D1 announcer who has gotten his own thread is Doug Woog, and I'm so far away from his league that it's not even funny. It's tough. I still enjoy hanging around in the Cafe because there are actually people there that I have met and gotten to know a little bit. But it turned into a no-brainer to get away from the D1 board and stop getting sucked into dumb conversations that I don't need to get sucked into anymore. [Which is essentially the entire experience at USCHO.] About the toughest thing with this job is shedding the emotions of being a fan, because those never truly go away. I want UMD to win every game, and I want nothing but the best for this group of kids because they are such good kids, but I have to set at least a chunk of those feelings aside on game nights. I was proud of myself on Saturday for staying away from the officials until they called that major on Sharp.
RWD: How many Christmas cards did you receive from officials this year?
Ciskie: Brett Klosowski still talks to me. In fact, he's the saintly one who explained the attainable pass rule to me. Of course, I had to think about it for a month before I understood it.
RWD: I'll take that as "zero."
Ciskie: Same number as what I sent out to them. But in all seriousness, I like brett and I'm glad he's in our league now. It's a tough job, and frankly i'm not sure there are a ton of great officials in college hockey right now. I think the problem, if there is one, really only has one fully effective solution: full time officials, and it's just not feasible for these leagues or the NCAA in general to do something like that. Until someone finds the money to make a full time officials system more economical, we have to live with what we have, which is an imperfect system run by humans. [Bruce clearly wants this world to be run by DAMN DIRTY APES!]
RWD: I see you spend a lot of time thinking about this.
Ciskie: When you're driving by yourself to and from some of the stops in the WCHA, you think about a lot of stuff.
RWD: That makes you sound like you're headed for the padded cell.
Ciskie: Wouldn't surprise me. I think there's a special wing there for radio people, and I've spent more than 10 years in radio.
RWD: What is the best road trip you've been on?
Ciskie: Best road trip? Colorado Springs last year or Florida. I can't pick. The TV guys and I took a drive up Pike's Peak on the Saturday of the Colorado trip, and then we won that weird game where CC outshot us like 274-9 but Isaac stood on his head. Florida was cool because I got to hang out with my old buddy Chris Long and I walked into the Gulf of Mexico and called my wife in her office. Alaska is a trip that every fan should try to make at least once.
RWD: Alaska would be fun. I could meet Donald. Armageddon would probably come.
Ciskie: I've not met Donald. Donald knows where I sit at the Sullivan, and I'm deeply offended that he's never popped over to say hello. Sully isn't like some places where they have an actual press box. Fans walk behind me and around me to get to their seats, so I can be talked to by any random fan who wants to strike up a conversation.
RWD: I could hear you on the UAA video webcast.
Ciskie: I heard about that. Last year, Justin May swore he could hear me on the other side of the arena (the video guy sits across the rink from where the radio guys are).
RWD: Isn't Justin May the strength and conditioning coach?
Ciskie: Yeah, but he handled the video stuff last year.
RWD: Wow, a renaissance man. What's the best game you've called so far?
Ciskie: You mean quality of the game or quality of the broadcast?
RWD: Your favorite moment in Bulldog broadcasting history.
Ciskie: Probably McKnight's game winner in Mankato last year. It was a sweet goal because 1) it took about an hour to trickle across the goal line, and 2) I had no idea who was camped out in front of the net, so I just said "IT'S IN THE NET, AND THE DOGS WIN IT!"
RWD: I thought "AND HERE COME THE TEDDY BEARS" was possibly the greatest thing you've ever said. It sounded like we were being invaded.
Ciskie: That one's up there, too. McFarland's first goal was fun, too.
RWD: Well, not his first.
Ciskie: Well, the first one I got to call.
RWD: The first one that wasn't NOT COUNTED or RECREDITED.
Ciskie: Right. Though, it's worth noting that from a "quality of the goal call" standpoint, the one they stole from him in St. Cloud last year was much better.
RWD: When are you interviewing Mike Curry?
Ciskie: Already did.
RWD: WHAT? WHEN?
Ciskie: I think it was during the Tech series.
RWD: Because he scores a lot in Michigan, right. AND I MISSED IT!
Ciskie: Yeah and he had been playing really well the last couple weekends before that trip, so it seemed like an easy decision.
RWD: He is still playing really well.
Ciskie: Yeah, he's really stepped it up. That whole line has. You know the McFarland story and Greer has a career high for goals already.
RWD: People mocked me last year, they were like "How can you like him? All he does is take penalties." But now he is doing well, and staying mostly out of the box.
Ciskie: Curry is a force when he uses his reach. He's not the quickest cat on the ice, but he is physical and he has longer arms than Yao Ming.
RWD: He needs to meet Mark Parrish and learn from the master. They could be the same type of player.
Ciskie: Yeah, I can see that. Mark Parrish is cool.
RWD: Camp out in front of the net in his "office" as those TV dorks say.
Ciskie: I HATE that. It started with Gretzky behind the net.
RWD: Well, we are incapable of going to the net hard, it seems, so someone has to be there when we take an annoying shot from far away. Who are your favorite Bulldogs? Current and All-Time?
Ciskie: Current: all of them. All time: [Brett] Hull, [Bill] Watson, [Lucien] Lessard, [Derek] Plante, [Judd] Medak [obvs sucking up to Judd here], [Beau] Geisler, [The Alaskan Assassin] Todd Smith, and Steve Rodberg makes honorable mention for that fight with Erik Jensen of Wisconsin. Frankly, I do like pretty much all of [the current players], it's about as good a group of kids as anyone could ask to hang around.
RWD: I like them all too, but I have my guys, of course. I'm visiting Duluth for the Northern series, and bringing some random people with me. What would you suggest visiting fans do in Duluth?
Ciskie: The aquarium is cool if it's too cold to walk around the zoo.
RWD: The zoo? We are all adults.
Ciskie: It's winter in Duluth, so unless you want to walk them around the mall there isn't much.
RWD: It's winter in Duluth??? GASP!
Ciskie: Take them skiing or something.
RWD: What about eating?
Ciskie: Old Chicago, Timberlodge, Ground Round, Grandma's, Big Daddy's. (Aren't you going to ask me what's in my IPod? )
RWD: COUNTRY! How about a weekend prediction for us?
Ciskie: 4-2, 4-3.
RWD: Mike Curry hat trick?
Ciskie: no, but he'll have another four-point weekend, and UMD will get their first two-game sweep since, um, i don't know when. I yearn for not having to watch visiting team fans celebrating a sweep in the DECC, so this weekend will be fun.
RWD: Especially with your nemesis in attendance. She already saw them sweep at UND. She is overconfident.
Ciskie: I have no nemesis... she is also like four feet tall, so I hope she brings her high chair so she can watch the games.
RWD: Any New Year's resolutions?
Ciskie: I don't want to be fat anymore. I want to continue trying to be less mean to the officials. I want to keep getting better at my job.
RWD: It's radio, no one has to know...
Ciskie: Yeah, but airplane seats aren't comfortable when you are 6'4 and [come on, Bruce, no one really wants to know how much you weigh].
RWD: Ask Justin May for tips, if he isn't too busy de-worming orphans and solving a Rubik's Cube with his feet.
Ciskie: Justin could probably kill me if I ever worked out with him.
RWD: Or by just looking at you wrong. Is he hot?
Ciskie: Mrs. Ciskie is unavailable for comment. She's on a conference call for work.
Well, there you have it. The first The Gauntlet of 2007, albeit a lite version.