28 March 2011


Be afraid. Be very afraid.

On the Road

Why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see? -Jack Kerouac, On the Road

The yellow brick road. The road not taken. The long and winding road. The road to redemption. Whatever we're on here, it's a helluva ride.

There were times when many of us wanted to give up. There were times when we felt like the season was slipping through our fingers. There were times when it felt like our players had given up. Too many times we'd read the same tired old quotations in the papers after a loss. "We weren't ready to play." "We didn't have the effort." "We didn't play as well as we thought we could." It was disheartening.

Instead, this weekend tUMD showed exactly what kind of team they really are. Gritty, defensively sound, with explosive offense. tUMD chased Yale's goaltender from the game after he gave up five goals, a season high. The power play was lethal, and they got a shorthanded goal and killed off a two-man disadvantage, which was actually more like a 2 1/2 man disadvantage as one player did not have a stick.

We've had our ups and downs, our roadblocks and setbacks. Forwards, defencemen, goalies, fans, everyone. We lost a player to the pros at mid-season. We had a horrible first game in our new rink. We limped into the playoffs, some might say. We lost to a lesser team in the Final Five.

And we closed down our rink in style. We won a marathon 3OT game. We had a player put up five goals on the southern branch of our school. We never got swept, never lost back to back games. We have a Hobey Baker finalist. AND WE ARE GOING TO THE FROZEN FOUR.

And by we, I mean the players of course.

Certainly there was a lot of pressure on tUMD on Saturday. Yale was ranked as the top team in the PWR, which comes with its own pressures, but most folks felt that ranking was undeserved, which means losing to them would be a bit shameful. I'm sure that was more in the minds of fans than anything else. (I think it's funny that fans think they know the mindset of players; one fan of a nameless team [literally] stated that tUMD deliberately lost to Bemidji in order to get placed in the East regional, which is ludicrous.)

tUMD had to weather quite the storm in the first period; the first ten minutes were uneventful but then they had to fight off the two-man disadvantage, followed by another penalty, and Kenny Reiter and the penalty kill stood tall. Then MCON and Fonz had a 2 on 1 on the PK and Mikey scored, then plowed over a Yale player and taunted him. And that set the tone for the game.

Bergy scored even strength on a soft goal that Rondeau just... I don't know, missed? He tried to catch it and looked like... well, what I would look like if I played goalie. Yale started to get chippy, and Jack Connolly scored a sick goal from a wicked angle on a power play after a Yale played ran Kenny.

Yale's Brian O'Neill scored on a power play and gave them a little life. Then he decided to run Jake Hendrickson and head-butt him. I thought Yale students were supposed to be smart, but I cannot think of a dumber thing to do. It wasn't O'Neill's first dangerous hit on a tUMD player; he also took an elbowing penalty earlier in the second. The referees decided to kick him out of the game. This was certainly a fortuitous call for tUMD and a backbreaker for Yale, but perhaps Mr. O'Neill will think twice about headshots now, knowing that his desire to injure other players contributed to the end of his team's season.

My Guy Mike Seidel scored on the power play 20 seconds in, and then when another Yale player made a dumb mistake and put them down two players, Justin Fontaine cashed in on a lovely tic-tac-toe play.

Yale scored two in the third period, which was enough to cause severe panic for Biddco and me. My heart was pounding and my legs were shaking. I couldn't stay still and had to pace around a little bit, then sit down, then stand, then sit. I couldn't even eat the green bean casserole with bacon that MEg had made.

Then tUMD's brilliant defence kicked in, and while I was still scared out of my mind, they remained calm and collected and in control. It wasn't until there were about 30 seconds left in the game that I really, truly believed we would win the game.

And then an overwhelming sense of relief flooded over me. I was completely exhausted when we got home after we finished watching the Ugly Helmets - CC game, and still somewhat unable to believe that tUMD is going to be in the Frozen Four. Two more wins and we can finally get that title. 27 years after we should have gotten the first one.

For once, it's not just about the journey, but the destination. GO BULLDOGS!!!!!

27 March 2011


tUMD 5, Fauxdogs 3


More tomorrow.

25 March 2011

Afternoon Delight

tUMD 2, Scabs 0

I keep thinking I need to remember to use this post title during a day game and I keep forgetting. Well, I waited for the opportune moment on this one.

I didn't watch a single second of this game. I was at work. It practically killed me to be at work, BTW, but I suffered through. I work hard for the monies.

And when I say suffered, I mean SUFFERED. Holy mother. I was completely distracted, my heart was pounding, and I thought I was going to puke. Good god was that stressful. I sent a frantic email to one of my friends sort of jabbering on about how freaked out I was about the game. Then I wrote "Gee, I guess I'm not helping, am I?" She wrote back "NO YOU'RE NOT!" Ha.

So I made it through the game by Twitter and by texts. Thanks DA for the texts. Even though you caused serious heart attacks by writing ambiguous things like "They are going on the power play," and I was like "THEY WHO?????"

Union had a 31% power play and only had nine games where they failed to score on the PP. Well, now ten. tUMD's penalty killers, from Kenny Reiter on out, kept the Racist Mascots 0/9 on the power play, while tUMD's own power play went 2/8. I would say it's unfortunate that we could only score on the power play, but let's see here, I crunched some numbers, and here's how the game broke down: 49% 6x6, 27% Union PP, 18% UMD PP, 3% 5x5, 2% 6x6 with Union's net empty and 1% tUMD 6x4. Insane. Totally weird game.

I had a brief respite from my sheer panic while watching the Yale-AF game and the extremely enjoyable CC-BC game, but now I'm back to panicking. While Yale isn't head and shoulders above every other team in college hockey, they're not pushovers either, and it's going to be tough.

Just three more wins boys. One more and you're in St. Paul. Three more and you will complete me.

24 March 2011

A Less Perfect Union

Screw the racist mascots. Screw their inflated power play statistics. This team lost to Colgate. COLGATE IS A TOOTHPASTE. Do you know what that means? UNION IS A CAVITY. Or at least some plaque. A germ to be eradicated. A waste of jersey fabric.

I hate single elimination. It's so stressful. For me. And thus for all of you, feeling my stress wavelengths vibrating out into the universe like cosmic strings.

Let's calm ourselves with some great speeches, shall we? Tonight's selection comes from a formidable Bulldogs fan, Queen Elizabeth I.
My loving Bulldogs fans, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving Bulldogs. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my Bulldogs. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my Dogs, and for my arena, and for my blog readers, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of Hockey, too; and think foul scorn that Union or Yale, or any cadet of Air Force, should dare to invade the borders of my blue line: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues on the ice. I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant Sandelin shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded more noble and worthy Bulldogs; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor on the ice, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my Dogs, of my arena, and of my blog readers.

Please just win and I can die from an aneurysm of joy rather than an aneurysm of anguish.

23 March 2011

Waiting in Vain

All right then. I'm struggling a bit here.

Last time tUMD made the playoffs, it was such an unexpected treat that I wasn't freaking out about it. We were just happy to have made it there and still jubilant from the Final Five dominance.

The time before that, I wasn't writing RWD, but I also wasn't as worried because tUMD was a relatively complete team at that time, and I was confident in their abilities. Well, as confident as I can ever be about a game.

tUMD is somewhere in between those two teams. They've been expected to make the NCAAs pretty much all year unlike in 2009, but they also haven't been consistent enough to seem like the boys of 2004.

SO I AM FRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREAKING OUT. I can't take this wait. It's like an execution or something. So far I've had two dreams about the regional. In one dream we make the Frozen Four. In the other dream we lose to Union. Yargh.

I can't even watch the game. I've missed too much work to take the day off. I won't even be able to listen. I'll just... I don't know. Catch the score at the end. While having multiple aneurysms wondering what the heck is happening. Or desperately following on the interwebs or something, I don't know.

There's only 38 hours left til game time. I can't freaking handle it. Here's some fun stuff to take the edge off.

22 March 2011

Racist Mascots!

I wonder how many UND fans saw this headline and put on the metaphorical foil for yet another rabid, barely-literate internet frenzy.

But we're not here to talk about the Fighting Nazis, we're here to talk about ANOTHER racist nickname, the Union College Dutchmen.

This is a little blurry, but here's their "mascot:"

So stereotypical! A caricature of the traditional "Dutch Boy" haircut, weird Hammer pants, wooden shoes, smoking a bowl. So offensive! Disgusting.
Some Dutch people don't wear wooden shoes, but prefer to light others' shoes on fire. Some Dutch people make terrible music and have awful feathered hair. Some Dutch people wear crazy ascots and formulate equations to describe the force exerted by an object in circular motion. Some Dutch people don't smoke the ganja. I couldn't find any examples though.

And some Dutch people are women! Although it took Union until 1970 to quit treating women as second-class citizens and admit them to their college. But they still discriminate! The female athletes at Union (who I assume are ostracized for their unfeminine behavior) have a different nickname, the Dutchwomen. Separate but equal, eh Union? So their mascot is racist AND sexist!

I certainly hope the NCAA is investigating this issue and taking steps to ensure this bigoted school is sanctioned for its behavior. DUTCH ARE PEOPLE NOT MASCOTS!

Sic em, Dogs!

21 March 2011

Dark Horse

So did you know there are only two candidates for Hobey Baker? Some guy from Florida and a criminal?

tUMD's own Jack Connolly is a Hobey candidate, and there's no reason that he's unworthy and that he doesn't belong in the discussion.

Jack's blurb on the Hobey Baker site (where you can go and VOTE FOR HIM, just register and you can vote once a day) says the following:

Jack Connolly – University of Minnesota-Duluth, Junior, Forward, Duluth, Minnesota
The play-making key on college hockey’s highest scoring line, Connolly is presently tied for third in the nation in scoring with 54 points and is second in assists with 39. He has been named a WCHA First Team all-star two straight years and has more points in the past two seasons, than any other WCHA player.
• Has scored 15 goals and 39 assists in 37 games – led team in scoring past 2 years
• Finished second in WCHA conference scoring race – played 120 straight games
• Communications major and twice on Dean’s list – active community volunteer

Jack plays in all phases of the game: power play, penalty kill, four on four, and he's an integral part of the best line in the nation, hands down.

He's fifth in the nation in points per game (and the first player in the WCHA on that list), second in assists per game, led the WCHA in power play points (along with Justin Schultz, another Hobey finalist), and he does all this while getting the daylights beat out of him by teams who are simply unable to defend against him legally. For reals, it is a miracle he hasn't had a serious injury after the repeated, unpunished head shots he takes. He's an iron man who hasn't missed a game in his Bulldog career.

Some might argue he doesn't have enough goals (he has 16), but those idiots haven't seen what a Jack Connolly assist looks like. This kid makes the sickest passes you'll ever see. He stick-handles like there's a magnet attraction between the puck and his stick. And a lot of his assists would be goals if he were a more selfish player. Jack's so unselfish he's currently sporting bleach blonde hair with a dark beard, all for the sake of team unity.

You're not going to find Jack Connolly's name on a police blotter. He's not going to get arrested for a DUI; you're more likely to find him as a designated driver. He's on the All-WCHA Academic team and the Dean's List, and he's a captain and a leader in the locker room. He was voted Fan Favorite last year. He sets an example for his teammates and for the children in the community who play on the same rinks he grew up skating on.

Jack Connolly for Hobey.

17 March 2011

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

tUMD 2, WTF 3 (OT)

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

This is really not the end of the world. Actually I think the end of the world would have been sitting through the entire UAA-CC game. The only other matchup that would match that level of boredom is UAA-DU, because DU fans don't attend the Final Five.

tUMD gets to go home and think about what they did. Maybe sit in the corner for awhile. But they do also get to rest, and then practice, and then get ready for wherever they are sent and whoever they will face.

tDogs will be fine if they can:

Play defence. We all know goaltending is our weakness. Play D like you did in OT against St. Cloud, and you'll be unbeatable.

Get the secondary scoring going. Our second line needs a shakeup. Get Seidel or Grun up there and what you lose in speed a little you will more than make up for in play-making ability and physicality.

Stay hungry for the win. I'm sure they can. tDogs are superb in do-or-die situations. Today was not a do-or-die situation. I'm not pleased that they don't have the killer instinct in all situations, but they know their next game is going to be their last.

tDogs are capable of beating anyone they come up against, whether that's UND or BC or Michigan or Miami or ANY. TEAM. IN. DIVISION ONE HOCKEY.

Guys, remember. Adam Freaking Hauser has a National Championship ring. ADAM HAUSER. That's all you need to know. Get out there and win next weekend and get back to the Xcel for some redemption, and also to see Jack Connolly win the Hobey Baker, as he was just announced as a finalist for the award. The list stands at ten now, with Justin Schultz from Wisconsin and the lawn mower throwing thug from UND as the other WCHA representatives. GO JACK GO!!!

13 March 2011

A Dish Best Served Cold

tUMD 4, SCCC 2
tUMD 3, SCCC 2 (3OT)

On 11 March, 2007, freshman defenceman Trent Palm was on the bench when Andreas Nodl ended tUMD's season at 11:33 of the 3rd overtime. Senior Josh Johnson made 62 saves in his last game as a Bulldog. There wasn't a single Bulldog player, staffer or fan who wasn't absolutely devastated by that loss.

And last night, two freshmen defencemen for St. Cloud were in the locker room getting IVs to rehydrate, one after cramping up on ice and crawling off after being trapped out there while tUMD maintained possession of the puck. Mike Lee made 60 saves before Mike Connolly finally got the puck past him and ended SCSU's season. I doubt there were any Husky players, staffers or fans who were not absolutely devastated.

We know how you feel. Really, we do.

And now we know what it's like to feel the ecstatic relief of a triple-overtime win. Since the student section numbers were down, I decided I'd stand with them and make some noise. I was missing my nice, padded, comfy chair in 216 after awhile, but those nice long bleachers are perfect for lying on for a quick rest at intermission. Oh yes, there were five intermissions. Five. They had the Duluth East - Eden Prairie game on between periods, which caused me even more stress, and then when East lost I was terrified the Bulldogs were going to suffer the same letdown.

The Bulldog defence wasn't going to let that happen. Mike Connolly put the puck in the net, but the defence won the game. St. Cloud's only goals came from a power play and a scrum around the net. Drew Olson somehow stopped a breakaway, coming out of nowhere. Everyone was getting bodies on players, sticks in passing lanes, and pucks off stickblades. Kenny made a third fewer saves than Mike Lee (who was outstanding) thanks to the defence. And the forwards were in on it, too, laying hits or stepping back if a defender jumped up into the play. Mike Seidel was a human wrecking ball. And Kenny stood his ground, like Gandalf with the Balroc.

Northland News Center video that includes the game-winner, which I did not even see because it was so far away and I didn't have the presence of mind to look at the video board because I was mobbing Biddco and friends.

Northland News Center video of the postgame comments by Mike Montgomery and Mike Connolly.

I am so happy. After the Hermantown loss, the East loss, and the UMD women's loss, it just felt like nothing could go right. I was so nervous it was hard to participate in chants. We were hungry, thirsty, people were sobering up... I mean, we're talking real tragedies here. Anyway, I am so VERY glad I'm not getting in my car at this moment to drive back to the Cities from Duluth after a game right now, and thanks to THE ENTIRE BULLDOG TEAM, I didn't have to!

And I'm sure Palm is beyond thrilled to be on the right end of overtime this time around.

10 March 2011

Blog in the Time of Cholera

Ok, no, I don't have cholera. I'm just suffering from some horrible crud that has left me out of commission since Sunday. Yes, Sunday, and I know today is Thursday. Blah. This weekend is going to be exhausting.

The one upside is I have watched most of the state tournament, with the exception of the Edina/Blaine game, because I was still sleeping. Absolutely awesome game for the Greyhounds today, plus Hermantown and Hibbing advanced. My brackets aren't completely shot to heck, but both of my consolation winners have advanced, so blah.

tUMD racked up quite a few All-WCHA honors. Jack Connolly and Mike Connolly were both named to the first team, Justin Fontaine to the second team, Justin Faulk was both a third team and a rookie team selection, and JT Brown was a rookie team choice. [Edit: the WCHA's website had JT Brown on the 3rd team and finally corrected it.] Wade Bergman, Jack Connolly, Aaron Crandall, Dan DeLisle, Keegan Flaherty, Justin Fontaine, David Grun, Chad Huttel, Kenny Reiter and Kyle Schmidt all made the academic team! Great showing guys!!

So we've got a playoff series against the toothless hicks. Great. So glad to see them so soon after they clobbered us 8-2. Remember the whole "advocating suicide" post? Yeah. But now... now tUMD players are blonde. (And dear god, I got a sneak preview photo, and it is NOT PRETTY.) Blondes have more fun. Speaking as someone who has had every hair colour under the sun, I can confirm that. So guys, have FUN this weekend. BY WINNING. LOSING IS NOT FUN. Even if you may go out and enjoy yourselves afterward just the same while your fans go home and tear their hair out. Kenny Reiter! Making saves is fun! Both the easy ones and the crazy ones! Defence (meaning both defencemen and forwards in our zone)! Throwing hits is fun! Do it! Especially when players are trying to go to the net! Stop them! Forwards! And offensive defencemen! Scoring goals is fun! Try it a lot! Often! Constantly!

Damn, coaching is easy.

07 March 2011

All-WCHA Ballot

It's that time of year again! The All-Conference ballots are being released. Might as well release mine.

First Team
F: Jack Connolly
F: Mike Connolly
F: Justin Fontaine
D: Justin Faulk
D: Mike Montgomery
G: Kenny Reiter

Second Team
F: Travis Oleksuk
F: JT Brown
F: Kyle Schmidt
D: Brady Lamb
D: Drew Olson
G: Aaron Crandall

Third Team
F: Mike Seidel
F: David Grun
F: Dan DeLisle
D: Wade Bergman
D: Trent Palm
G: Christian Gaffy

F: JT Brown
F: Max Tardy
F: Joe Basaraba
D: Justin Faulk
D: Luke McManus
G: Christian Gaffy

Coach of the Year: Scott Sandelin
Player of the Year: Mike Connolly
Rookie of the Year: Justin Faulk

06 March 2011

The Arena of Doom

tUMD 2, Card Game 5

Thanks, guys. Just what I needed.

05 March 2011

Band of Bulldogs

This day is call'd the feast of Sandelin.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Sandelin.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Sandelin.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Sandelin's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Justin Fontaine, Mike Montgomery,
Trent Palm and Kyle Schmidt, and Chad Huttel-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Saint Sandelin shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in Duluth now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Sandelin's day.

-William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 4 Scene III

Thanks, seniors. All five of you, in your ways, have gone above and beyond for the team, and that is more than appreciated.