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Our Short Regional Nightmare Is Over

3 April 2015

We have a new head coach!

tUMD hired Harvard associate head coach Maura Crowell to fill the head coaching vacancy caused by… all that foofaraw that occurred over the last few months of the season.

First of all, welcome Ms. Crowell! I am very excited you’re coming to Duluth. I expect about 8 national championships in the next 5 years.

Coach Crowell is from Mansfield, MA, was a forward at Colgate, was a head coach at UMass Boston, and during her time as an assistant at Harvard, took over as head coach for a year when Katey Stone was off coaching Team USA. I am glad to have a coach who has been mentored by the great Coach Stone.

I’m looking forward to seeing who the assistant coaches will be. I would guess Laura Bellamy, Denfeld alumna and current Harvard assistant coach, might be in the running. Maybe Coach Kingsbury would be? I don’t know. If you have any other guesses, let me know.

So far no players or committed recruits have asked to leave, but of course they just dumped this news on us on a Friday afternoon, which also happens to be a holiday some people celebrate. Or observe, because I think it’s supposed to be one of those sad panda holidays. I don’t know that anyone would leave. It’s not like there’s a vast network of junior hockey teams waiting to absorb the de-commits, like there are in men’s hockey.

There’s no doubt about it, next season is going to be weird. First of all, we’ve lost a boatload of talent. Second of all, the current players are going to be adjusting to a new system. Third of all, from what I’ve been led to believe, the stands will be teeming with women’s hockey fans who were only staying away because they hated Coach Miller. Every game will be a sellout!

I believe Coach Crowell has the potential to breathe new life into this program, and I hope she can bring our Bulldogs back where they belong: the top of the WCHA standings and the NCAA championship game.

I Ain’t Mad At Cha

28 March 2015

tUMD 4, UMTC 1/tUMD 2, Narrative 3

I should have written a post yesterday, one of jubilation and renewed hope, because yesterday’s game was a blast. It was so unexpected! The Gophers basically rolled over and died. I am never going to be particularly thrilled with how the regular season ended, but tDogs used their break well and managed to recall how to play hockey rather quickly, without giving up any goals while they were still finding their game. Thanks, guys, for letting my uncle and aunt (tUMD alumni) and their progeny (raised in New England but Dogs fans through and through) see you stomp on the Gophers once again.

The season is over, but tDogs fought hard all the way to the end. Willie Corrin saved an ENG that would have removed any hope of a comeback. tDogs contained Eichel and left him without a point. Even when they were on their heels, they remained composed. When tDogs finally got control after being bottled up in the defensive zone for eons, Welinski held the puck and allowed his teammates to change. Smart hockey from smart players and smart coaches.

The game ended controversially, first with a late PP leading to the GWG (while tUMD had 0 PPs), then with a play where the puck may or may not have gone into the net. I don’t ever want to know if the puck went into the net or not. I would prefer to go on believing it did not. If it did, there’s nothing we can do about it now except be mad. I don’t want to be mad about this season, it was a great season with great players who did great things.

Thanks guys for a great season. I would have loved to see you in Boston, though I’ve been agonizing about how I would do it without completely tanking my semester. It would have been amazing, and the RWD Army would have been there en masse, four generations strong, but we would be happy to make a trip to Tampa to see you guys next year.

The Fab Four

22 March 2015

I am so tired. What a weekend.

This may come as a surprise to many people, but it is completely possible and in fact probable that a fan can enjoy the NCHC tournament even if their own team is not there. And you don’t even have to wear a giant costume, although that helps. I recommend planning to attend well in advance, and then it’s an added bonus if your team is there! And also a burden because it’s much more stressful when the games actually mean something personally.

tDogs have never played in the NCHC tournament and they stunk it up in the Final Five the last few years in the WCHA, so I have had to make the best of it without them lately.

This year was a lot better than last year because it wasn’t bitterly cold out. Last year I remember trying to find a place to go between games and just hating it because everywhere was packed and we were forced back out into the cold. This year we didn’t leave between the games on Friday because we wanted to be there for warm-ups, but we left on Saturday to go to The Depot between games. (Good food but slow service.) (Also The Aaaahj was describing The Depot to my dad in relation to First Avenue, and I said “I’m pretty sure the only time my dad’s been to First Avenue was when it was the bus station.” Truth.)

Friday afternoon’s game was decent, if only because I enjoy watching drunk sad pandas file out of the arena in droves. I also laughed pretty hard when St. Cloud scored to tie and then take the lead, all with under 25 seconds left in the period. Joey Benik’s goal with 5 seconds left in the period was fantastic. I actually cheered for St. Cloud, which pained me, but it would have pained me more to cheer for UND. Also it ensured six NCHC teams made it into the NCAA tournament, which is hilarious. The NCHC did what the Big 10 thought they could do. Haw haw!

Friday night’s game wasn’t exactly a marquee matchup, since Miami and DU brought about 11 fans between them. Miami did bring their band and mascot, which was outstanding. Since Miami didn’t have any fans, we decided we would give them our support.

KAW! We KAWed at the Miami players during warm-ups, which they probably found very odd. Then we ended up on TV KAWing during one of Miami’s goals.

Some of the game wasn’t very fun because this unbelievably drunk St. Cloud fan didn’t understand we weren’t really Miami fans and didn’t really care if he wanted to trash talk us. Biddco finally just KAWWWWed at him every time he tried to talk, like Dr. Evil.

Some other St. Cloud fans stepped in and tried to shut him up, but then he wouldn’t leave them alone and security came and talked to him, but didn’t kick him out. He finally went away when I stopped being polite and started getting real.

We also met the Miami mascot, Swoop.

He seemed puzzled by our KAWing, even though we were speaking his language. I don’t know why KAW isn’t catching on. It should be sweeping the nation.

During our strut around the upper deck looking for Swoop, Dirty used the water fountain to take a birdbath and I almost peed my bird onesie laughing.

Saturday afternoon, UND lost again. The rest of the game was fairly uneventful. The most important part of the game was the intermission entertainment. Biddy, Brian, some other UND fan, and some Gopher fan were in a footrace around the ice. Biddy smoked the competition and then did a Kyle Schmidt snow angel across the finish line. (Facebook is stupid and won’t let me embed the video so you actually have to click.)

We changed into our costumes for the championship game and KAWWWWed ourselves silly. Some Miami fans (wearing Spandex suits) invited us down to join them. On our way there, we found St. Cloud’s mascot and Biddy “pecked” at his eye. He was admonished by security. We made our way down to meet the Miami fans, who were sitting on the glass (which is a horrible place to sit if you want to see the whole game). Dirty came down after us and told us that security was not going to let us sit in the seats. I don’t know why, we’d just gotten there. The Miami fans told us they had been harassed by security multiple times, had been forced to prove they had tickets for the seats they were in, and had been admonished for any number of petty offenses. Security came and got us after about four minutes. One of the security guards told me the league had told them we couldn’t sit there. Considering the league had had absolutely no time to respond to us getting into the seats, since we were not even in the seats before security told Dirty we couldn’t sit there, I knew this was a lie.

This was a real black eye on the weekend for me. All four of us are “season ticket holders” for the tournament; two of us were from the fanbase that basically carries the weekend, and two of us were from a fanbase whose team wasn’t there, the type of fans who the NCHC should be courting. We weren’t swearing or fighting with anyone, we were cheering and adding to the atmosphere of the game, we were making friends with other fans, and overall having a good time. There was NO reason for security to come after us.

The other black eye for the tournament is the eating/drinking contests they have. I don’t want to see someone chug pickle juice. Stop.

(edit) Folks from BC and Wisconsin were in town for the women’s Frozen Four and decided to come to the championship game. I was so excited to meet Nicole, freelancer extraordinaire and Bucky’s 5th Quarter contributer, Emily, a Badger fan, Jackie, who contributes to Goon’s blog, and Grant and Joe from BC Interruption. It was so cool to see fans from teams not even in the conference at the tournament.

(We made Phil stand in this picture because the BC guys wanted a UND jersey in the photo.)

Most hilarious Twitter exchange of the weekend? After we stole a bag of food from the Keebler Elf, we ate cookies like Cookie Monster and made a huge mess. (We declined to eat like birds, as spitting chewed up food into each other’s mouths sounded unpleasant.)

StorifyBiddy

The weekend ended with Miami gooning its way to a championship. It’s not every day you see a hat trick (where ZERO HATS WERE THROWN ON THE ICE, GET IT TOGETHER MIAMI FANS) and a match penalty from the same player. Six NCHC teams will make it to the NCAA tournament, and tUMD will be sent to Manchester, home of Oasis; A Clockwork Orange’s author, Anthony Burgess; and JJ Thomson, discoverer of the electron. ‘Dogs fans are #ManchesterUnited!

Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?

26 February 2015

tUMD 3, Redchickens 1/tUMD 3, Redchickens 4 (OT)
tUMD 3, tOSU 1/tUMD 5, tOSU 2


This is the only Meat Loaf song I enjoy. Thanks Bruce for inspiring me with your stupid Meat Loaf comment on the broadcast.

There’s not really a point to rehashing last weekend on a Wednesday night (that’s right, I wrote this last night and you’re reading it this morning), but I liked the post idea so I’m going to go with it.

I’m a little burned out on hockey as well as on life right now, so I’m ashamed to say I missed tUMD’s home ice-clinching sweep of the Scary Mascots. Knowing I’d be spending a significant portion of the following weekend at the rink, I decided to stay home, work on homework, and be an overall loser at life. I’m sad to have missed two excellent performances from tDogs, but I look forward to tDogs getting their revenge on Buttmidji Friday and Saturday (no need for Sunday, we can sweepity sweep).

Friday was a nice win for tUMD men against Miami, and it looked like they were cruising toward a sweep, but then opted to implode with some ill-timed penalties and some extremely unfortunate defence in overtime. I don’t get it. tDogs finally got a handle on Friday nights, winning the last 3 Fridays following a questionable (from an officiating standpoint) loss to Denver and a QUESTIONABLE (from a playing standpoint) loss to Buttmidji in the Greedy Gopher Grab. Now they can’t figure out Saturdays? I guess cosmic light came into their life and they thought they were divine? I don’t know.

What I do know is I’d like to see eight wins in the next two weekends for our squads to close out the regular season for the men, and to secure an NCAA playoff slot for the women. If both teams are at their very best, there’s no reason why that can’t happen. IF. IF. IF.

Lift Every Voice and Cheer

20 February 2015

Yesterday the DNT published a letter from a tUMD men’s hockey season ticket holder about an ongoing gripe among hockey fans.

Ha! Gotcha, you thought this was another letter about the coaching situation on the women’s team, didn’t you? No, it’s about how fans aren’t loud enough.

This guy’s letter was a little different, because unlike most people, he didn’t just call out the students, he called out the old people too.

He starts out by chastising tUMD fans for not showing up at the NCHC tournament last year. He asks, “How fantastic it would be if we had more Bulldog fans who would travel down with us in support of our team?” I would counter by asking, how fantastic would it have been if tUMD had actually been at the tournament? It would have been 11 metric fantastics, or 6.3*10^11 British Standard Fantastics. Also I was there in tUMD gear and so was my family, and we were louder than Denver and Miami fans combined. Just sayin’. Kaw.

Then he calls out the student section for being crappy and not having loud, creative, or funny chants anymore. I will refer him to Biddco, who has independently confirmed that the smart phone era has killed our student section.

The letter is strange and kind of all over the place, like he wrote some of it at one time, then came back and wrote some more without re-reading the first part, and then he forgot to put in a bunch of other stuff. It reads like some RWD blog posts! Anyway, his first paragraph is right. We can all do better.

People need to cheer more, and not just when others are cheering. I know we are like 99% Scandinavian in ancestry, or if not Scandinavian, some other sort of stoic European nation, but it’s not an actual crime to yell out “Come on, ‘Dogs!” or “Let’s go!” or some other totally generic phrase. You don’t have to come up with something creative or earth-shattering, you can leave that to Biddy and me. Sometimes just squawking is acceptable; sometimes one just cannot find appropriate words to express just how crazy a situation is.

No one should be embarrassed to cheer. I mean, other than people who yell SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOT the second a power play begins. Although really, those people are 100000000x better than people who sit on their hands until the video board gives them permission to make an appropriate amount of noise that will blend in to the general noise so no one can really hear them.

Of course, it’s hard not to be embarrassed to cheer when others around you act like you have just audibly farted during a funeral. Or like you’ve screamed something vulgar during a moment of silence in memory of a coach’s father… I suppose because it’s dead silent in the arena, a person might get confused and think they are in a library or church or something.

The arena seems to be set up to muffle crowd noise. How can I be shouting and have someone a section over from me unable to hear it? The most passionate students, who stand behind the goal to harass the goalie, end up screaming into the glass. This isn’t going to change, so that’s just another reason why individual fans need to get over their fear of looking like a moron and just go for it.

Unfortunately, many cheers are stifled just as they get started, thanks to a stoppage of play and the ridiculously loud Nickelback/Van Halen/whatever music that blasts from whistle to puck drop, killing any crowd buzz that might have started thanks to a scrum around the net or back-and-forth play or whatever exciting on-ice play occurred.

The bottom line? There are a lot of excuses not to cheer, and we need to replace those excuses with solutions, and be loud. Stand up, old people, and be heard. Otherwise how else will Shepherd know he’s wrong and Rau know he sucks and is a big whiny diving baby?

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

17 February 2015

Further proving there is no justice in this world, Biddco and I won NCHC Fan of the Week!

This photo was taken shortly after we touched the trophy. Here is a reenactment of the trophy touching, from the following night.

It's a Portkey. #nchcfan

A photo posted by RWD (@runninwiththedogs) on

The photo had to be cropped because these idiots stood in the way of The Aaaahj while he tried to take the photo, even after I politely asked them to move. And I’m not even being sarcastic, I really mean politely! The picture ended up being at a weird and distorted angle, so I cropped it and zoomed in a little so you could see the crime against hockey we are committing.

They are sending me a shirt. They are sending me a medium and they say it runs small, so we’ll see. As we all know, the average Trekker has no use for a medium shirt.

The Secret’s Out

16 February 2015

Friday I asked a commenter to show me anywhere that I have said Coach Miller should be reinstated or should have had her contract renewed. She won’t find a single instance and hasn’t bothered to respond.

I want tUMD’s teams to win every game. I want what’s best for the team. In women’s hockey, I want to return to beating the Gophers and Wisconsin like rented mules.

If, after the season, tUMD had chosen to part ways with Coach Miller and had gone out and found a new coach with experience, recruiting connections, and a fresh take on the program, I would have supported it.

That’s not what happened. I cannot support the way UMD has handled this situation. The ends do not justify the means. And we don’t know what the ends are. We don’t know who the next coach will be. We don’t know if any players will leave. I don’t want a single one of them to go. I don’t even want the seniors to leave, and they have to.

I can’t support “saving money” as a criterion for replacing a coach, or for hiring a new one.
I can’t support double standards in how men are perceived vs. how women are perceived. I don’t need to hear anyone clutching their pearls over how Coach Miller comports herself on the bench, while ignoring or even applauding men who behave similarly.
I can’t support “non-revenue sport” as a justification for inequity in pay between two Division One coaches of the same sport. Title IX doesn’t support that, either.
I can’t support the sexist, homophobic things people have said about Coach Miller and about the women’s hockey program over the years. She may be abrasive, she may be blunt, but that’s no reason to attack her looks, her sexuality, or her gender; that applies to the players, too. I can’t support the blatant lies about the quality of women’s hockey as a whole that are spouted by neanderthals everywhere and accepted as fact.
I can’t support criticisms of cronyism lobbied at the former Chancellor over her choice to pay Miller based on her success and her experience, when no one blinks an eye at the rampant cronyism in men’s sports.
I can’t support those who tell Coach Miller to shut up and go quietly. If there are Title IX violations at UMD, the very last thing she should do is shut up and go quietly.
I can’t support people who never gave a single line of print to women’s hockey charging in to find all manner of reasons to justify UMD’s decision, then receding into the background and ignoring the game again. I also can’t support people who never gave a single line of print to women’s hockey giving a single article questioning the school’s decision and then disappearing. Women’s hockey will never grow without continued media interest, covering the good and the bad, not just the ugly.
I can’t support people who think not only should Coach Miller have been gone years ago, but so should the program. (Folding the program without replacing it with another Division 1 sport would be a Title IX violation, idiots.)
I can’t support people who argue Coach Miller is paid too little compared to her peers without stopping to consider her peers are paid too little in comparison to her.

Somehow I get painted as an unequivocal Coach Miller supporter simply because I don’t like how this was handled and I don’t like the message being sent about women’s hockey. I don’t like the message being sent to student-athletes, interrupting their final exams week to face a media storm and uncertainty about their future. I don’t like the message being sent to past, present, and future women’s hockey players, coaches, and fans: you cost too much money, your sport is not worth it, this is a second-class sport. I don’t like when people act as though there’s a zero-sum game being played between men’s and women’s hockey, that men’s hockey suffers because of women’s hockey. I don’t like the double standard applied to Coach Miller vs. her male counterparts. I don’t like to read comment after comment on news stories about Coach Miller’s looks or appearance. She looks professional; nothing else matters. I don’t like that people cannot separate if this should have happened from how it happened; I don’t like that there are people who don’t care, who think this is what Coach Miller deserves and it doesn’t matter how it happened. I don’t like that there are people who can’t see that while it might be time to move on, there might also be Title IX violations or discriminatory actions happening concurrently. I don’t like that even reporting legitimate Title IX violations is career suicide for a coach.

I am okay with a coaching change, but there’s so much about how this coaching change is transpiring that troubles me, and that’s what I have chosen to discuss. It might be hard for some people to grasp this concept, but that’s of no concern to me.

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