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Otherness

30 April 2015

People got their undies in all manner of bunches in January when I stated “You’re not a real hockey fan if you only support men’s programs.” I’m certainly not backing off of that statement now or any time in the future.

Women’s hockey is a subset of the sport of hockey. Or, to be specific, women’s ice hockey is a subset of the sport of ice hockey. So is men’s ice hockey. Women’s hockey is not a separate sport.

I say this because I have asked UMD athletics via social media many times why they name their twitter accounts the way they do. They have one account for women’s hockey news and updates, @UMDWHOCKEY, and one account for men’s hockey news and updates, @UMDHOCKEY. I’ve been ignored, probably because it’s seen as a trivial thing, but I don’t think it’s trivial.

Why must it be hockey and women’s hockey? Why can’t it be @UMDMHOCKEY and @UMDWHOCKEY? It’s a very simple change. It might be a good time to make that change, too, considering tUMD women’s hockey has been treated rather badly of late by some in the athletic department and administration.

A Twitter username change isn’t that hard. It doesn’t require a new account, the username can be changed in the settings. No one would have to re-follow. Get it done, Bob Nygaard. It’s an easy fix. You may think it’s a small change, just one letter, who really cares? If that’s the case, then do it. This small gesture would be a step toward mending some fences and smoothing some ruffled feathers. It would show that both programs have value, that hockey isn’t just for men.

Referring to men’s hockey as hockey while referring to women’s hockey as women’s hockey is reinforcing the otherness of women’s hockey. Hockey is for men, women’s hockey is for women. It’s like calling a woman “the female Jonathan Toews” or calling a black author “the black Hemingway.”

Women’s sports have a long way to go toward mainstream acceptance. tUMD is hardly the only institution that uses women’s as a qualifier. The Star Tribune has “Minnesota Hockey Hub” and “Minnesota Girls Hockey Hub.” (The banner of the actual MN Hockey Hub site is now Boys’s Hockey Hub, but the website title and URL remain). The Gophers have the same issue on social media. Bemidji doesn’t even seem to have a women’s hockey twitter account, and the account that allegedly covers both hasn’t tweeted in like 3 years. Boston University has the same issue as tUMD and UMTC, so it’s not even a regional thing. Even the Tree Hugging Bleeding Heart Socialist East Coast Liberals can’t seem to use inclusive language to publicize their hockey teams.

How is it the second least progressive state in the country, after Utah, can have their hockey teams’s accounts named equitably? North Dakota’s hockey Twitter accounts are @UNDWHOCKEY and @UNDMHOCKEY. That’s embarrassing. (Updated: Jack Hittinger informed me Bemidji is also on the Inclusivity Train. Their accounts are @BSUMHOCKEY and @BeaverWoHockey. Come on, a MNSCU school is more enlightened than tUMD? GET ON IT.)

UMD athletics, Josh Berlo, Bob Nygaard, etc. Change the freaking Twitter handle, please.

Match Game

18 April 2015

The season’s over, Providence and Minnesota-Twin Cities are the new national champions, the Stanley Cup playoffs have begun, it’s warm in Duluth (not for long)… what to do? What to write about?

Why don’t I shamelessly ask my vast readership for money?

I signed up for the Be The Match 5K in Minneapolis and I am supposed to be raising money for it. I don’t like to ask people for money, even when it’s for charity. But I must.

The Be The Match Foundation helps cure blood cancers, aplastic anemia, and a host of other diseases by matching bone marrow donors with recipients; supporting and educating patients, families, and medical professionals; and conducting research to improve survival rates for blood cancers, cure disease, and improve the quality of life of patients. My wonderful sister-in-law worked for them for several years, before departing for the vast wasteland that is North Dakota. Two members of my family have received marrow transplants (and are thriving, despite the Gophers’s best efforts to ruin the quality of life of one them…), another died young from leukemia, and I lost this guy, a huge hockey and metal dork, to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2008. I’m running this race in honor or memory of all these great people.I am sure all of you have similar stories, happy or sad.

While I know all these people who have benefited or could have benefited from a bone marrow transplant, the story of someone I don’t know and will never know has stuck with me for years. Mandi Schwartz, a Yale hockey player, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2008. Many of you may remember the push from the college hockey community to find a donor for her. She didn’t find a donor but did get a stem cell transplant in 2010, which led to a brief remission of her disease. Her cancer returned, and Mandi died in April of 2011, a week after her brothers had lost to Michigan in the NCAA West Regional final (CC’s only goal was scored by Rylan, assisted by Jaden). I cried when I found out she had died, even though I didn’t know her or her family. I felt so sad for her family and her teammates. It was a painful reminder that even a transplant isn’t a guarantee of a clean bill of health. I’m running this race to honor her legacy.

The search for a donor for Mandi actually generated matches for six people who were waiting for transplants. You can help by joining the registry, and you can help by making a financial donation to my fundraising page. I would be forever grateful. I might even say a nice thing about your team, even if you’re a UND fan.

Thanks for indulging me in this not quite hockey related post. If you are able and compelled to donate, please do.

If You Leave Me Now

6 April 2015

There’s nothing we can do about the departure of our seniors; they’ve exhausted their eligibility. But we have so many talented juniors, sophomores, and freshmen who we need to return next year. The men’s team team is ready to make a deep run in the NCAAs next year, if everyone comes back. The women’s team has an exciting new coach and quality returning players, but the loss of a few top players could mean a disastrous season for our Doggies.

Players, we need you all. We need Toronto, Anaheim, and Minnesota to keep their grubby little mitts off our drafted players. We need the other WCHA coaches (or even other leagues?) to stop sniffing around our players. We need ALL NHL teams to keep their grimy hands off of our undrafted superstars. We need our committed players honoring their national letters of intent, or signing them if they are not signed yet.

I don’t know that there’s a single person playing Bulldog hockey who would benefit from leaving the team. Why start your NHL career now, when you could be captain of your hometown team? Why ask for a release, leave, sit out a year, and then re-start your college career with a new team, when you’re a part of the most storied program in women’s college hockey?

I also don’t know if anyone is in serious danger of leaving. Andy Welinski is weighing his options. Sometimes guys surprise us and leave. Our athletic director said no women’s players have asked for a release. Other sources say three players have, and one recruit has not signed her NLI. (A release just means a player can talk to other teams, not that she is definitely leaving.) I don’t know the circumstances or the timing of these events (or non-event, in the case of the NLI), nor can I verify which case is true (the AD’s or the Reinstate Miller FB page). I hope once the new coaching staff is in place, the concerns of any players or recruits are assuaged.

Let me be one little, insignificant voice out there saying don’t go. Stay another year, two years, all the years you can. Whatever else is beckoning can wait. Stay a Bulldog, all of you.

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.

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