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A Cool Person’s Guide to Visiting Saint Paul

16 March 2022

After two years, the NCHC Frozen Face-Off has returned to its former glory (well, will it ever return to the glory of the year we dressed up as birds? Probably never, Miami is never making this tournament again).

This is what downtown St. Paul looked like on March 20, 2020, right before the evening semifinal should have begun:

Of course, it didn’t end up being “next year in St. Paul,” as the tournament was temporarily relocated to a garbage dump.

This year, the tournament returns to St. Paul, Capital City, home of yours truly. The NCHC has partnered up with Visit Saint Paul to come up with some very generic recommendations, but why cram yourselves butts to nuts at Tom Reid’s or get vomited upon by a UND fan in the Patty McGovern’s beer tent when you can take the recommendations of a cultural icon, me?

Without a doubt, my favorite restaurant in St. Paul is Moscow on the Hill. I went there for the first time with my friends from BC Interruption, and was enthralled by the atmosphere and the authenticity. And the tiramisu-flavored vodka.

Across the street in Cathedral Hill is Handsome Hog, which has elevated Southern food, a sausage gravy poutine, and so many kinds of whiskey/bourbon/scotch. I’d recommend this place to Whiskey Dave if he ever left his zip code. Handsome Hog’s executive chef is Justin Sutherland, who is currently on a billboard on I-94 because he’s on a TV show.

After you eat at either of these fine establishments, it’s a short walk down Selby to the Cathedral of St. Paul. You can stroll down Summit Ave and see the James J. Hill House and the other mansions, or duck off onto a tiny secret street, Maiden Lane, which always makes me feel like I’ve traveled back to the Belle Epoque. The former home of F. Scott Fitzgerald is further down on Summit (stop and take in the view from Summit Overlook Park before you turn!), and you can loop back to where you parked for lunch/dinner by taking Dale back to Selby, where you can stop by IDUN for on-trend clothes, accessories, and objects. Only a block away from IDUN, on Laurel, is Fitzgerald’s birthplace!

Slightly farther away, but absolutely worth a trip, is Taste of Rondo, in St. Paul’s historic Rondo Neighborhood. I loved the Avon Southern Chicken Sandwich (menu items are named after streets in the neighb, as are signature cocktails). A few blocks away, you can learn more about the history of the Rondo Neighborhood (a vibrant, historically Black neighborhood effectively obliterated by the construction of I-94) at the Rondo Commemorative Plaza, or at the permanent exhibit at the Minnesota History Center.

The Aaaahj and I had a mini-staycation in St. Paul a few years ago, where we visited the Minnesota History Center (at the time, it had a First Avenue exhibit, but you’re like 3 years too late for that), ate at Cossetta (not recommended during hockey weekends because it’s so busy, though you can get macarons at the pasticceria next door), then visited the grounds of the Capitol. I believe there’s a bit of construction going on there, but I do love the Capitol Mall. Please, North Dakota fans, do not insurrect.

Instead of going to Cathedral Hill, you could go down West 7th and start your drinking at the Summit Ratskeller. Pace yourself by ordering from the food truck du jour, there’s one there Thurs/Fri/Sat this weekend! Take a hike at Crosby Farm Park (might be a bit slushy but there are both paved and unpaved trails) or cross the river and visit Fort Snelling State Park – I love Pike Island but I’m guessing it’s either too icy or too sloppy right now.

For dinner, there’s nothing more apropos than Bennett’s Chop & Railhouse. They are huge supporters of Bulldog hockey, so you know they’re awesome. They have fancier entrees but I go there for burgers and sandwiches – the Juicy Juanita or the Chicken Asparagus Brie. On your way back, you can pick up a one of a kind gift for yourself at Center for Lost Objects. I need to own this shirt.

You don’t want to go that far from the X? Pas de problème. Tragically, you can’t eat at the iconic Mickey’s Diner from the Mighty Ducks, though you can eat at the other Mickey’s like Winona Ryder, which is also on West 7th, but much farther away.

While you can’t have breakfast at Mickey’s, you can try to get into Hope Breakfast Bar, in an old firehouse on Ramsey (the flat part of Ramsey, not the giant hill). During the pandemic, Hope did amazing things for the community; instead of focusing on takeout during the 2020 shutdown, they prioritized people experiencing food insecurity and provided students missing their prom with a free drive-thru dinner. The restaurant is extremely popular, so it might be hard to get in, though the pearl-clutchers from the suburbs can now visit their second location in St. Louis Park instead of quaking in their Rothys/Adidas shower shoes while visiting downtown so you might squeak in. I’ve had the Cafe at Tiffany’s and I MUST try the Banana Bread Latte.

That takes care of breakfast, but for dinner you should definitely try Degidio’s if you want Italian (PORCHETTA MEATBALLS, FRIENDS). Nearby, you can see one of the oldest houses in St. Paul at 454 Smith Ave; there’s another one between Tom Reid’s and Burger Moe’s, tucked away where you might miss it!

Tom Reid’s has great poutine, but believe me, it’s going to be packed. Instead of going in, take a walk down Walnut Street to Irvine Park – it won’t look like this but it’s beautiful all year, and it’s surrounded by cool houses.

Avoid the hotel treadmill by running along the Mississippi River – you can take Eagle Parkway to Upper Landing Park and access the Mississippi River Trail for a short run or the beginning of a weeks-long run to the Gulf of Mexico. You can do hill repeats on the Wabasha Street Bridge (beginner – and while you’re there, take the stairs down to Raspberry Island, loop over to Harriet Island, or stay awhile for delicious Mexican food at Boca Chica, a banana cream pie latte at Bootstrap, or a Horror Frost at Wabasha Brewing Company), the High Bridge (advanced – make sure to check out the overlook!), or Ramsey Hill (Murderhorn).

Venture to the other side of the X and walk through Rice Park (it’s Fan Fest-adjacent), checking out the Landmark Center on your way to Afro Deli on Seventh Place (I’ve loved this little pedestrian street ever since I saw Hamlet at the Park Square Theater in junior high) – order sambusas and whatever else you want, but definitely sambusas. They have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Around the corner, indulge yourself in Chippos (chocolate covered potatos chips) at Candyland – they also have something called “Butter Vanilla Shamrock Popcorn,” which is green, and for which I cannot vouch. The Wild’s practice rink is just across the street (the Tim Horton’s is gone, sorry) and Candyland has both a Snoopy and a Lucy, if you’re doing a Peanuts scavenger hunt. (It’s not within walking distance, but Charles Schulz arena is located in Highland Park, in the shadow of the iconic water tower.) Eclipse Records (the store, not the label) is just down the street, and while I do all of my own record shopping at Down in the Valley, I’ll always recommend supporting local record stores! Whatever you do, don’t let tUMD fan Brett the Scientologist suggest an audit at the nearby Church of Scientology.

There are gorillions of other things I could recommend (Union Depot! King Thai! Cecil’s! Purrniture! Kevin Pates’s childhood home!), and even more places I haven’t even tried yet (Hotel Celeste! Buttered Tin! St. Paul Hotel High Tea!), but this list should at least make you feel like one of the cool kids. (Naturally I didn’t recommend any of the place I’m going to this weekend, but I can’t give away all my secrets.) Enjoy, comrades!

Behind the Music: Waiting for Biddco

13 February 2020

By now, you have all seen the recent Fox 21 mockumentary, Waiting For Biddco. If you haven’t, welcome back, space girl!

But now it’s time to talk about what you didn’t see. I’m here to give you the dirt, the tea, the hot goss about what really happens on tUMD hockey weekends. And I promise you it’ll be more interesting than hearing about Biddy’s bidding company, which I have to say was excruciating and should have been left on the cutting room floor.

First off, despite claiming that he looks “totally stoned” in this photo, he is under the influence of nothing except the perfume of the woman in front of us at the women’s game. I’m not sure a documentary can really be true to its subject if said subject doesn’t have a White Claw in hand.

The car’s name is Wilhelm, and it is a Jetta.

For some odd reason, they chose to zoom in on Biddy’s ticket, so now everyone knows where we sit. So thanks for that I guess. STAY AWAY.

He got a 2 PM checkout time from the Superior Inn — it’s the little things that set it apart from other inns. Also if you look carefully enough, you can see the pattern of the bedspread in the background of certain shots… #easteregg

I feel like this keeps having to be said, but I am not Biddy’s wife.

This is an Anna Klein game-worn jersey, which Biddy bought in part because of the cool Minnesota patch with the star denoting Duluth’s location. Here, he was getting ready for the women’s hockey game, which was not mentioned at all in the mockumentary. Let me get serious for a moment and say that it really bothered me that they seemed to have no interest in showing that a “superfan” liked both the men’s and women’s teams. I feel like it was a huge missed opportunity to show that what makes a true fan is support for both teams, not just one team.

Also I have that same shirt. Frozen Four 2017, right before the #minimumeightpeat began!

It is a total dump! Also they don’t know how to plow their parking lots, so they can cram it with walnuts!

Translation here: “I am a huge mooch and I like UND fans who buy me drinks.” Fun fact: the bridge he is driving over is named the Bong Bridge, named for the inventor of the bong.

Now here’s Biddy reacting to a classic moment…

(Thanks to Ben @umdhockeygifs for the gif-ification)

…which I feel was best captured here

You never know what kind of celebrity sightings you’ll get at Amsoil Arena!!

After this, Biddy decided he wanted to change his mind and say his favorite player is Bender because he likes Futurama, but they wouldn’t re-shoot.

Ok look, I know I’m the star of this whole documentary, but we’ll get to that in its own post. I’d just like to clarify that right before this, they were playing Rush and I said “One down, two to go,” then went on to explain “I don’t dislike prog rock,” was interrupted by a near goal, and then continued my explanation.

I feel like there would probably be more usable footage if I wasn’t swearing so much.

For awhile I tried to remain neutral in the background but I got comfortable with the camera being there and I really could not take it when he compared a team that actually has championships to a team that doesn’t.

What you don’t see at the end of this video is the cut back to the live broadcast, with Dan Hanger being very Extra and wondering what Biddy will be like at 90, which frankly is somewhat frightening to ponder. I will be like 199 then, so I’m sure I won’t be doing much pondering on Biddy while I’m out there putting the finishing touches on my third Ph.D thesis on how to safely eradicate nuclear waste. Which is of course what I will be doing when I’m 199.

So there you have it, a look at a day in the life of Biddy (or, as true of a portrait that can be painted in the college football off-season, because it’s not truly a Biddy hockey weekend if he isn’t watching seven hours of college handegg), with special behind the scenes features from me! I’m looking forward to the directors cut, which will look something like this:

Escape from St. Cloud

19 January 2020

Now sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

Against my own better judgement, I decided to go to the tUMD – St. Cloud game on Saturday. I never go to St. Cloud, for various reasons including tUMD men suck every time they go there, many of the fans are on meth, and of course last time I went there Raboin’s dad went nuts on some tUMD fans.

The weather had already made travel somewhat iffy, and we decided not to buy tickets in advance and make a game day decision on whether or not to attend the game. I also thought the game started at 7:00 until… Friday night, when I just happened to see it somewhere. Whoops, that would have been a big mistake.

Once we determined that the snow from early Saturday morning hadn’t added any additional travel problems, we headed out. Or tried to, but it took forever to get the ice chipped off the car windshield, and then we needed gas, and then of course had to get coffee, so we were already behind. This is unsurprising, but in good weather we could have easily made up the time.

Instead, we dealt with semi-crappy roads, including some sneaky icy spots and one section where a state trooper for some reason decided to slow everyone down to 20 mph by driving down the middle of the road. We were still 20 miles from St. Cloud at that point, so we were facing another hour of driving. Fortunately that only lasted about ten minutes and we were rolling into St. Cloud only a few minutes late for the game.

I couldn’t remember if there was a charge for parking, but I assumed there was when I saw there was a large line of cars trying to get into one of the lots by the NHC. The line was still moving at an okay clip so we kept on going until…

It turned out that the parking lot was actually unplowed, and we didn’t realize that until we were already in the lot. And couldn’t go anywhere because of all the cars totally stuck in various places, and because the cars behind us wouldn’t back up. And then we got stuck trying to exit the lot. Because of course.

Inside, the fans and players and staff were wholly unaware of the post-apocalyptic scene in the unplowed parking lot. Cars abandoned haphazardly. Others stuck, completely blocking anyone from getting their own cars out. Everyone was frantically digging at their vehicles with whatever rudimentary tools they could fashion, or on our bellies digging at the snow with our own two hands. We were one conch shell away from creating our own council when a couple of liberators showed up in a pickup truck with a tow rope and took charge. They began the difficult task of determining which order to rescue the survivors, while others built snow sculptures in their honor.

We had just figured out a way to extricate one of the first vehicles from the Thunderdome, a silver crossover hockey mom-mobile, and the truck was in the process of pulling them out, when the St. Cloud staff finally showed up, driving their side-by-side/ATV/go-kart right where the truck needed to go to free the hockey mom along with Ralph, Piggy, and the rest. That was completely unhelpful, but at least we would finally have the proper authorities there to assist!

Or what actually happened, which was the go-karters told everyone we couldn’t park there, and then left. That was some real accountability. Once again, we were on our own.

I managed to help one tUMD fan get their vehicle unstuck from behind ours via some brute force, and then another crossover broke free and went speeding haphazardly down the aisle like a bat out of hell, stopping for nothing. I think it was called the SUV that wouldn’t slow down. A few more vehicles were cleared, and then it was down to us, “The Little Car That Was Really Stuck.” Not a great sign. We inspected the car for possible hookups, and finding none, I recommended we push it.

“Okay,” said Snake, the one with the truck, seeming skeptical. After all, the snow was all the way up to the undercarriage and we would have to turn right away to get around the truck parked next to us. “Maybe if we get it going, and you cut to the left right away, and then just don’t stop until you’re out…” And so the Aaaahj got behind the wheel, and we started rocking the car back and forth, and then it started to move and he gunned it and Snake yelled “GIV’R! GIV’R” because what dystopia would be complete without a Receiver of Memories and then we were free!

And then we got coffee and got the hell out of town, because the game was half over and we didn’t feel like paying, and that turned out to be the best choice of the night because tUMD men got shut out and swept, but we were already halfway home when that happened.

One day I will tell my descendants of the time we thought we would never escape the National Hockey Center parking lot, and they will listen, rapt, as we recount in hushed tones the horrors we saw while we were trapped, and warn them of the great peril that awaits them if they are folly enough to try to attend a Bulldog men’s hockey game in St. Cloud.

A Tale Told By an Idiot

30 May 2019

Yesterday, I finally renewed my season tickets, one day before the deadline. I don’t usually write about renewing my season tickets, because it’s not that big of a deal. I’ve done it, what, about ten times now? I can’t remember how long I’ve been a men’s season ticket holder now. It’s probably buried in the archives somewhere. But this year, I struggled with whether or not to renew my tickets.

I know that must come as a surprise. The men’s team just won back to back national championships. The program has never been better. I’m not in any financial strife. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, had I not caught a throwaway comment from Sandelin during a photo op with Governor Walz. He was asked about a White House visit, and mentioned they were trying to work something out.

I cannot tell you how quickly that sucked all the joy out of the national championship. You’ll recall how appalled I was when Amsoil Arena was host to a fascist rally last year, but that was simply the building. Anyone can pay the fee to rent it out. This is the team. The idea of seeing the team I’ve spent my whole life (and a good chunk of my money and time and heart and soul) following standing as a backdrop to god knows what kind of monstrous rant about one of his political opponents, or the media, or about — well, anything. Doctors “ripping” babies from uteruses after birth. His love for the dictators of North Korea and Russia. How rich he is. How great he is. How Totally Exonerated he is. Him him him him him. It’s sickening to think of. I don’t know why anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to be a potential backdrop for an incoherent word salad of hatred and ignorance delivered by someone who is facing impeachment and/or criminal indictment once he leaves office, and I don’t know why an organization would ever want to take the risk. You think you’re going to the White House to be congratulated on an achievement and honored by the President, but instead you’re fed cold fast food and used as a prop.

I wish for the days when we had presidents who acted like adults, and who could pull themselves together and behave like human beings. Imagine if George W. Bush had used tUMD women’s visits to the White House after their championships as an opportunity to whine about how unfairly he was treated after the government’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina or to sneer at Al Gore and lead chants to have him jailed. I am sure many of the women on the team and staff had issues (to say the least) with some of his policies and may have had apprehensions about attending. But they knew they were not risking an unhinged rant full of monstrous lies and demagoguery. They knew they were not being asked there to genuflect to Dear Leader.

I’m sure there are people out there who wish for the halcyon days when sports weren’t political, while standing for the national anthem at games in taxpayer funded arenas, while cheering for professional athletes who are union members, while watching on-field/ice re-enlistment ceremonies and “hero of the week” honors that are always law enforcement officers or military members and never volunteers at homeless shelters or legal aid workers, while tearing up over the Miracle on Ice, while watching the Olympics in countries with horrendous human rights records…


Showing up to the White House and showing tacit support for this president undermines the efforts of people of color and other minorities who have been treated with deliberate cruelty by this administration. Red Sox manager Alex Cora chose not to accept the White House’s invitation in response to the abhorrent and anemic relief “efforts” in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy skipped a White House event honoring Olympians due to the administration’s virulent anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric. The Minnesota Lynx did not even receive an invitation. Accepting this invitation when people of color, queer people, and women have bravely stood up in protest of this cruel and inhuman administration is simply wrong.

There’s not much I can do about it, if the team and the athletic department want to go. Frankly, I don’t know why the athletic department and the university would support such a visit. They just lost a discrimination lawsuit; sanctioning a visit to a divisive president who is an admitted sexual assaulter certainly wouldn’t do much to build up the university’s credibility as an inclusive and welcoming institution. Last year, the vice president congratulated the team for winning the state high school hockey championship, so it’s not like the executive branch of government can even be bothered with the pretense that they actually respect the team.

All I can do is express how I feel to the athletic department with my words and my wallet. I waited as long as I could to determine whether or not the Bulldogs would be accepting the invitation or quietly letting it pass by due to scheduling conflicts (real or otherwise). The renewal deadline came and I chose to gamble that the visit will not happen.

When I tweeted about it yesterday, I got this response from a former player.

That’s nice. I renewed, so I suggested he redirect that money toward a charity and offered some options. Biddco pledged to match his donations, as did I, but we haven’t heard which charity he chose. It’s nice to know former players are keeping such close tabs on me!

What’s not as nice is what happened this morning:

Look. I am fully aware that most former and current players and staff think I’m a lunatic at best. It’s why I try to minimize my interactions with them. I’d like to maintain the illusion that I fly under the radar. I’m also fully aware that the majority of them run the spectrum from neutral to enthusiastic about this current administration and many probably relish the opportunity to bask in his orange sickly glow. I’m not interested in picking fights with anyone associated with the team (other than Bruce) and I certainly am not happy to call their attention to myself in this way, but I can’t pretend not to notice.

I didn’t expect confirmation from a player that I’m unwelcome in the Bulldog fanbase. And that’s perfectly fine if he (and others) feel that way. I suppose it’s good that I found out, in the long run. Maybe I can save $800 and cancel my season tickets order if this is the position of the team and the athletic department. I’ve certainly been critical in the past and won’t hesitate to be in the future. Perhaps there’s not a place for that in Bulldog Nation. I feel like a fool, sitting here in my cubicle full of Bulldog gear, after attending the Twins game on Tuesday honoring tDogs pre-game, writing on my fifteen year old Bulldog hockey blog, but I suppose that’s the cost of trying in some way to hold on to my principles and take a stand.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Obviously if they do announce a White House visit, I will be calling the ticket office to cancel. But now I’m weighing canceling anyway. It’s a lot of money, time, and effort on our part to drive up to Duluth for home games as it is; to know that I’m cheering on people who have such disdain for me they couldn’t just write it in their diaries or bitch about it to their therapist or even address me like a human being — well, that makes that drive feel longer, and the tickets feel more expensive, and the effort feel… not worth it.

I’m not going to pretend this diatribe is anything more than sound and fury, but that’s who I’ve always been, and that’s why the two or three or ten of you out there still read, isn’t it? I’m sure most people would be happy if I kept my mouth shut and let this blow over, and I probably should have, but it’s too late for that now.

Heroes and Villains

14 April 2019

It has been strange to watch the evolution of the Bulldog men’s hockey program. To go from 2011, when everyone was excited to see a team win their first championship, to yesterday, when we crushed the dreams of a team looking to win their first championship. (Technically we also crushed dreams in 2018, but the Potato Farmers only really care about football anyway.) The program has gone from hero to villain in less than a decade.

I. Freaking. Love. It.

I understand this indicates I am a truly terrible, rotten, soulless person, but we already knew that. So when I read things like “I don’t want UMD to win because of their awful fans, I’m just like

because I know those people are talking about me. I personally am taking some of the fun and enjoyment out of college hockey for a small subset of the fanbase. That’s almost like winning a second national championship, but in the sport of Sea Witchery instead of hockey.

I’ve read a lot about how lucky tUMD has been, as if that’s a bad thing. No one wins a championship without a lot of good luck. No one loses a championship without a lot of good luck, either. This program has certainly dealt with a lot of bad luck along the way. A puck hitting a seam in the boards in 1984 was bad luck. A disallowed goal on a phantom high stick in 2004 was bad luck. Missing the tournament on a single loss to Vermont in 2010 was bad luck. Maybe scoring a goal against Boston University in 2015 was bad luck.

But no one wins on luck alone. The best teams make plays that put them in a position to capitalize on good luck along the way, and to minimize the impact of the bad luck they encounter. It’s not lucky when a guy lifts a stick at the last possible second before a shot at a wide open net. It’s not lucky when a goalie makes a save on a breakaway. It’s not lucky when a player squeaks a puck through a tiny little opening between the goalie and the post. It’s skill, it’s practice, it’s hockey intelligence. Every team has good luck and bad luck in every game. It’s just amplified in a single elimination game, and the difference between a good team and a bad team is what those players do with the hands they’re dealt, the die they roll, etc.

And how do you define luck, anyway? It gets a little comical when people are trying to call everything that happens lucky, in order to downplay the accomplishments of this team. tUMD made the tournament by the slimmest of margins in 2018, but they won four games with skill and strategy, not by accidentally farting a puck into the net. tUMD didn’t have to play St. Cloud in the tournament thanks to AIC (somehow it’s assumed that if St. Cloud had beaten AIC, they would have had a bye into the championship game, as if Denver and UMass weren’t waiting to get a crack at them), but they did beat St. Cloud twice this year, and two of the losses were close. It’s not impossible to think that tDogs could have beat them again. Contrary to popular opinion, a team doesn’t have to beat every single team in NCAA men’s D1 ice hockey, or even every team in the field of 16. There’s no asterisk for not facing St. Cloud, or North Dakota, or whoever.

Now that we’ve gotten all the reactionary stuff out of the way, let’s talk about what really happened these past few days!

I didn’t go to Buffalo this year, so I had the new experience of watching the Frozen Four on television. It wasn’t great to watch on TV, but I also feel okay about the decision. I never felt any real pull to go to Buffalo, probably because I’m cheap, I like sleeping in my own bed, I had a lot of other stuff going on in my life that I needed to take care of (work, a trail race that ended up getting canceled), and a winter storm that cooked itself up practically out of nowhere. Obviously a lot of other people dealt with those things and still made the choice to go, so those are most just reasons/excuses. I suppose one major deterrent was the fact that I have actually made the drive from Minnesota to Buffalo in one day (it was actually Duluth to Buffalo), less than two years ago, and it’s not something that I cared to repeat.

Thursday I watched from home with just the Aaaahj and the cats, but Saturday we decided to meet up with MeanEgirl and go to a watch party. We tried to go to Bennett’s, but it was full of old people having dinner unrelated to hockey, and also the Vulcans were there when we pulled up. So we decided to head over to Tom Reid’s. Reid’s was full (especially because they had some kind of private party in the back room), and the Vulcans also showed up there (fortunately I escaped both groping and greasepaint), but the three of us (the cats did not come) set up camp at the Golden Tee game, which had good views of the TVs, a place to set our food, and a nearby rail to set our drinks (two for ones!). The bar was packed with Bulldogs fans, and it was the perfect place to watch the game.

I have never, ever, ever been so calm during a hockey game. Sure, there were a few moments of nerves, but overall, tDogs came out flying and they really didn’t look back and I could just tell they were going to win. All of the things we complained about during the season – bad penalties (ok there was one of those, but Krieger just got excited for a minute, I can’t blame him), losing face-offs, failing to clear the zone, mixed up coverage in front of the net – they somehow fixed all of those for the championship game. The Minutepeople never got a chance to establish their scary speed and sneakiness, which was key to their win against Denver (and likely to the other 30 or so wins they had along the way). I was pretty nervous to face an unknown team, especially after seeing their excellent passing and deadly power play. I guess maybe I shouldn’t have worried as much because tUMD is a better team than Denver (despite splitting the regular season with them).

Of course nothing will ever compare to the first win, or to an OT win, but I don’t need to compare those things. It’s not fair. Each championship has been incredibly special. I never dreamed that I would ever see my team display such dominance. I’m used to cheering for underdogs, scrappy upstarts that somehow claw their way into a great season here and there. I don’t even quite understand how to be a fan of a team that wins a lot, that wins back to back championships and makes the title game three years in a row and gets to play another year with a target on its back. This makes me wish I was enlightened enough to be a fan of tUMD women’s hockey back when they were in their dynastic phase and went back to back to back (could tUMD become the first program to accomplish 3peats in men’s AND women’s D1 hockey? Let’s make it happen, I am officially greedy).

This has been an incredible season, and a testament to the coaching and support staff for being the backbone of this program. Sandelin sets the tone, and Herter, Krause, Hoppe, Garner, Koelling, Nicklin and Hoagy (among others) carry out that mission, keep that continuity, and help the older players pass along the culture and the expectations that come along with being a Bulldog player. I thought it was telling that Parker Mackay told my friend Jashvina (of Men’s College Hockey News) that they didn’t want the freshmen to feel like they were left out because they didn’t win a championship. So many “traditions” seem to involve hazing of freshmen/new players, but here’s the captain talking about how the philosophy from the team leadership was to make the new players feel included. (Much better than literally leaving their freshmen for dead due to alcohol poisoning, not that any *northdakota* teams have ever done THAT.) I guess the best way to make freshmen feel included is to win another championship. I’ll look to next year’s captains (Tufte???) to make that happen again.

Congratulations on another championship, Bulldogs. Thanks for all the fun, agony, anxiety, rage, and joy you bring me every year, for reasons I can’t explain and don’t really care if I ever understand.

Remembrance of Things Past

18 February 2019

Last week was Old Home Week over here at the RWD World Headquarters!

It started last Tuesday. If you recall, I started this whole blogging thing back in 2004 by ripping off the concept of my friend’s Minnesota Twins blog, Bat-Girl. The writer behind Bat-Girl since moved on to writing real books instead of uproariously funny blog posts, and while we lost touch over the years, we reconnected last year when my friend Laura retweeted something from Anne into my timeline that caught my eye. My worlds collided. The inspiration for RWD, retweeted by the editor in chief of a super profesh sports blog. It makes sense – they both love cats, sports, and libraries. Last Tuesday, I went to the book launch party for Anne’s latest book, and because I am an extremely big deal, my signed copy was personalized.

My week of reunions and nostalgia continued once I headed up to Duluth. About a month ago, I got an email from venerated elder Puck Swami, informing me that he would be gracing Duluth with his presence, along with the Godfather and Let’s Go DU founder, DG. I was extremely excited to see them. They have been longtime Comrades of the Blog, and DG was the OG – the Original Gauntletter. If you are unfamiliar with The Gauntlet, that’s because I don’t do it anymore since I don’t like talking to people and also AIM is no longer a program. It was an interview feature in which I asked antagonizing questions of various college hockey personalities, including Dirty, Bruce Ciskie, and MeanEgirl.

I met up with DG, Swami, Franklin, and Smiley Dave (and also Biddy, Dan of the Week, and Mrs. Dan of the Week, but I see them all the time so it’s unremarkable) at The Sports Garden. I haven’t been to tGarden before a game in a long time; I think the last time I set foot in there was either for a 5K or for a Soul Asylum concert that I enjoyed at the time but found out later from Dave Pirner himself was kind of a [feces]show. But what better place to relive my misspent youth?

Smiley Dave, Franklin, ya fave, and the Godfather

And what better way to relive my misspent youth than with shots paid for by DG? That’s always a great idea, especially for someone like me who mostly gave up drinking several years ago. Wheeeeeeeee! But how else would we console Smiley Dave, whose luggage was lost and who had to procure an entire wardrobe, including the anti-stink underwear, from Duluth Trading Co.? They were all dismayed to learn it is not a local company.

It was also nice to relive the good ol’ days when tUMD actually beat Denver on occasion. Friday’s game was a pretty darn good beatdown once DU got their goal out of the way. And then, because I really wanted to show I could hang like I always could, I went out after the game, to Hoops (although I didn’t have anything to drink and we mostly went there to wait until our dinner was ready for takeout). Going out before and after the game? What is this? 2009?

I don’t really want to talk about Saturday’s games because I saw six periods of tUMD hockey and zero goals. I did take the DU folks over to meet Bruce, who they referred to as a “legend,” which I found puzzling. Now that they’ve met him, perhaps their perception has been adjusted. Other than Bruce, we had several celebrity sightings, including Derek Plante, Keegan Flaherty, Rob Bordson, Scott Kishel, Dean Blais (wearing transition lenses), Beethoven, Bill Watson, and some DU scrubs. While waiting for Bruce to make his as-timely-as-Axl-Rose appearance, a DU fan not in our group got extremely rowdy, started screaming “LET’S GO DU!” while banging on some metal, and shouting at Franklin that he was not an actual fan because… I don’t know, because he wasn’t also trying to destroy property? It was unclear. I was about to send my “Where the F are you” text to Bruce when he finally materialized.

During the women’s game, the Fan Favorite was presented (Rooney, obvs) and there was an extremely long post-game video dedicated to the seniors (I watched a bit but realized I could either watch the video or eat dinner, but not both). After the men’s game, we were told to stick around for a special presentation that I assumed would also be Fan Favorite and hoped would not be a long tribute video. Instead, it was a recognition of Sandy for amassing the most wins as a men’s hockey coach (this explains Blais’s presence but not his stupid glasses). Sandy looked even grumpier than usual, probably because his players failed to score any goals.

Despite tDogs going 1-3 and the double shutout on Saturday, the whole week was a blast. I was reminded of what college hockey was like during the Belle Époque, when people participated on message boards and wrote blogs for fun and road tripped and partied together. I miss that sometimes, but I also feel like the important relationships have survived the changing times, I’ve always got this little square of the internet to unleash my tirades on the world. Life was good then, but it’s great now, too.

FTSTFS 2018 Update

6 December 2018

Anyone else excited to see how pledging is shaping up? I know I’m like a kid on Christmas morning every time I open up my tracking spreadsheet and see there’s a new pledge. There was even a new pledge while I was writing this paragraph! I also know that once folks see how many other people are participating, they’ll be inspired to join in if they haven’t. It’s fun!

Unaware of what #FromTopShelfToFoodShelf is all about? Read here to learn all about it. Inspired to make a pledge? Here’s the form. And surprise! You’ve already contributed $5 to the cause, because I’ve pledged $5/participant.

Here are the amazing, generous people who have made a pledge so far, and the organizations they are donating to. There’s plenty of time to make a pledge! You can even wait to see how the weekend shapes up, and make a retroactive pledge by Sunday.

Spencer – flat donation of $64.50, $20/win, $10/tie, double donation if UNO sweeps to Open Door Mission
Lori – $5/goal, $10/win to Foodbank for the Heartland
Connor – $10/UNO goal, $10/tUMD women’s goal, $5/major by UNO or SCSU to Maverick Food Pantry
Jolene – $10/goal, $100/shutout to Together Omaha

Mullet – $1/goal, $5/win, $5/shutout, and $5 for a sweep to Open Door Pantry of Eagan
Anonymous – 1 package of TP/goal to Champ’s Cupboard
John – $1/goal by a D1 hockey team in the state of Minnesota to Pillager Family Center
Anonymous – $2.50/men’s goal (minimum $25) and “some clothes” to Northern Lakes Food Bank and Goodwill
Biddy – $10/win, $10/sweep to CEAP
RWD – $5/goal, $5/FTSTFS participant, 1 item/freshman goal to CHUM and Second Harvest Heartland
Rebecca – $5/goal, $10/point by her fantasy team to Northern Lakes Food Bank
Dan of the Week – $5/win, $10/Soucy penalty, $1/pledge retweet to CHUM
Wayne – $10 x total margin of victory, $5/Twitter argument I get into to Northern Lakes Food Bank
Angel – $5/men’s goal, $10/Shep shutout to Salvation Army
Ben – $10/men’s win, $10/men’s SHG, $15/Cates on Cates goal to Chicago’s Food Bank
Anonymous – $10/goal to Friends in Need Food Shelf

Alex (UND women’s hockey only) – 1 non-perishable item/point scored by former UND women’s hockey player, 1 lb of pet food/5 saves, 10lbs/shutout (goalie statistics include Maddie Rooney) to EGF Food Shelf and Circle of Friends Humane Society
Anonymous – $5/goal to Catholic Charities of Boston

Emily – $1/Gopher women’s hockey goal, $20/point from TJ Polglaze to Second Harvest Heartland and UMN Aurora Center
Melmac & Nezzy – $5/goal, $25/shutout to Western UP Food Bank

Joe – $3/goal against BU to Greater Boston Food Bank
Laura – $1/goal, $3/David Cotton goal to Greater Boston Food Bank
Adam – $10/women’s win, $15/men’s win, $1/each time the BC fan group says “Donna?” to Greater Boston Food Bank

Bobby Mo
Ashley – $3 and 1 food item/goal to West Hills Food Pantry and Light of Life Rescue Mission

Jeremy – $5/goal, $10/win to CEAP MN
Dave – $50 to his local food shelf
Erik – 5¢/save,$2/goal to Southwest Carver Food Shelf
GOHUSKIESWOOOOO – some complicated pledge I am not transcribing here to Division of Indian Work Horizons Unlimited Food Shelf, including letter of apology re: UND fans.
Tom – $10/men’s win, $5/men’s goal to Salvation Army
Neil – $200, $25/men’s shutout, $50 if the women upset UW to Catholic Charities of Central Minnesota
Heather (SCSU AD) – $5/goal to Anna Marie’s Alliance and Pathways 4 Youth
Mike – $100 to Feeding South Dakota

Lake Superior Circle Tour
Brandon – $2/even strength goal against the Lake Superior Circle Tour schools ($1/PPGA, $5/SHGA) to CHUM

Alan – $50/men’s goal to San Antonio Food Bank
Anonymous – $10/women’s goal to Second Harvest

Rob – $5/goal against Dartmouth, $10/win, $5 if the margin of victory > 3, $5/shutout, $50 sweep to New Hampshire Food Bank

Oswego State
Jen – $5/goal to Oswego County Catholic Charities Food Pantry

Caissa – $1/goal, $5/shutout to St. Vincent de Paul
Nicole -$1/goal, $5/shutout to Hunger Task Force
Drew – $5/goal, $5/win to Mom Helps

Jimmy – $2/goal vs BU to Greater Boston Food Bank

John – $5/goal, $25/shutout to Moisson Estrie

Mankato/Notre Dame
Andy & Cayden – $5/win, $20 if both MSU teams sweep,$15 if Notre Dame sweeps, $3/hatty to Second Harvest Midwest

All of Women’s Hockey
Gabs – 1 item/women’s player with a multi-point game, 5 items/shutout or hat trick to People’s Pantry

From Top Shelf To Food Shelf Year Six Six Six

27 November 2018

By now, #FTSTFS is part of college hockey lore, but in case you recently came out of a nuclear fallout shelter where you’ve been living since 1975, let me assist you with an explanation of what this is all about:

Comrades, the time has come once more for the annual From Top Shelf To Food Shelf pledge drive. Unfamiliar with how this started? Read the origin story here.

You make a pledge. Your team plays hockey. You fulfill your pledge. It’s so easy.

Did you know that last year, as a group, we surpassed the $10,000 mark? Cumulatively, college hockey fans have come together to raise $10,624.65 and 594 ancillary items. This is officially a big freaking deal, thanks to some really cool people. People like you!

My own pledge this year is $5 per tUMD goal and $5 per FTSTFS participant. So simply making a pledge of your own is worth $5 before the weekend has even started!

Here are the rules of engagement:

  1. Dream up a pledge based on the performance of your hockey team on the weekend of December 7/8/9. The pledge can be related to anything that can be quantified (and something I can easily look up). Goals, wins, saves, PIM, etc. Most pledges are money, but some are cans of food, hams, jars of peanut butter (warning: PB is expensive), or clothing items (socks, hats, gloves, etc). Please refrain from making the pledge overly complex.
  2.  Choose a charity in your community or in the community in which your team plays. I live in St. Paul, but my teams are in Duluth. I chose a charity in Duluth (CHUM). If you live in Kampala, Uganda and cheer for AIC, you could choose a charity in Kampala or one in Springfield.
  3. Click this link to go to the official pledge form! It’s so easy! Answer a few simple questions and your pledge is recorded. I will do my best to handle pledges made in other ways, but I would hate to miss one, so please just use the form. There is an option to make your pledge anonymous as well. I will know you’ve made the pledge, but won’t share your name.
  4. Spread the word. Evangelize on your blog, your social media platforms (#FromTopShelfToFoodShelf!), and even in real life, if you interact with others in that way. This is a great way to help even if you have made contributions elsewhere or you are unable to contribute materially.
  5. Tally up what you owe. I keep track on a spreadsheet, but I don’t send out reminders or updates. If you ask directly, I can verify your total. If you choose to round up or if you need to modify your pledge, please tell me.
  6. **Donate directly to the charity you’ve selected.** I don’t collect the money. I trust that you will make this donation.

(I know not every team plays next weekend, so if you would like to participate anyway, we can work something out, whether that’s making a pledge this upcoming weekend, or hitching you up to a team’s bandwagon.)

Please join in the festivities in any way you can, whether that pledges or publicity. No contribution is too small! It is so fun to be part of something bigger than one’s self – watching my friends across the college hockey world getting into the spirit warms my cold black heart.

Can You Hear Me, Major Tom?

18 November 2018

All told, this was not a great weekend for tUMD sports. On Friday, the volleyball team lost in the regional semi-finals, then women’s hockey lost to duhOSU, and then the men were shut out by Denver. Saturday, the football team lost their home playoff game, the women’s hockey team was swept, and the Wild blew a 2-0 lead, letting former Wild player Jason Pominville score the game winner with a minute and a half left – not a Bulldog game per se, but certainly a game that many Bulldogs fans watched and were disappointed by. (The good news for us here is that while Phil Housley may have won in Minnesota, his wife didn’t!)

So it’s understandable that most Bulldogs fans were in A Mood by the time the men’s hockey game began on Saturday evening. Obviously I was, since anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows that I am a glass case of emotion during hockey games. I imagine for some it’s a form of entertainment itself, watching my violent mood swings. tUMD hasn’t beaten Denver in awhile, they were shut out the night before despite reports that they were playing well, and with all the bad sporting news occurring over the weekend, I guess I started watching the game already in a black hole of despair. There’s really only one way to deal with that kind of attitude, and that’s with pessimistic, sarcastic, dark humor.

I’d like to point out that 4 of the 6 Yes votes came after tUMD had already scored a goal.

A couple things added to my general frustration/inability to enjoy the game that had nothing to do with the game itself. First, I was very hungry, which as we are all aware, leads to hanger. No, not like a coat hanger, that’s what Americans are going to need in order to exercise their right to reproductive freedom once the fascists in government fully execute their misogynistic plan. In this context, hanger = hunger + anger. And that shizz is real, people.

The second problem I was having was a technological problem. One of the serious downsides to moving away from Duluth was losing access to some of the various media forms I used to consume tUMD hockey. Specifically, local simulcasts and actual radio. There was no local simulcast this time, so I didn’t miss out on that, but the livestream I was forced to listen to started out several minutes behind the actual game. I understand there’s going to be a lag between the live game and any broadcast of the game – I often see a tweet about something happening in a Wild game many seconds before it is shown on the television. But there is at least a 2 minute delay between what happens in tUMD men’s hockey games live, and when it is broadcast on the internet stream. This is absurd.

Finally, there was a sub-problem to problem #2, one that I don’t normally experience but that cause a major issue last night. Multiple times during the broadcast, the game did not return from commercial break. The first time it happened, tUMD was already down 2-0, and Denver was going on the PP, because of course they are angels who never do anything wrong and simply sneezing near a DU player is going to result in a penalty. Never mind that the most egregious and destructive penalty I’ve ever seen live was committed by a Denver player… After enduring 8-9 minutes of commercials, the feed returned and went right into the intermission report. So I missed several minutes of actual game play. While I didn’t want the game to continue to lag farther and farther behind, I also didn’t like missing any of the action. There’s no point in staying off Twitter to avoid spoilers when I’m not going to get any of the action anyway. People had to suffer, deprived of my caustic wit, and for no earthly reason!

After it got to be 3-0, I decided to just give up and go all in on stupid jokes, GIFs, and mocking those less fortunate than me (Gopher football and their jejune head coach). Being unkind and snarky is endlessly enjoyable to me, because I am a small, sad person with a heart two sizes too small, and proud of it.


It me.

Eventually things started to come back around for me. It was still 3-0, but there are certain points where I don’t care so much that an inflection point is reached, and I go from not caring to not not caring, which is not the same as caring. It’s difficult to explain, but I’ll illustrate with a tweet from last night:

What does this even mean? No one knows. I was actually looking for a gif of my fave, the Night King, because I was trolling Let’s Go DU, and I happened upon this one instead. There’s probably a German word for this feeling I experience from time to time, but the best I can say is it’s the feeling you get when you have absolutely nothing left to lose from supporting your team. I don’t know, some people feel like it’s a breach of fan etiquette to cheer for a team when they’re losing, like you’re supposed to file away quietly or switch to sheepishly complimenting the other team. If there’s one thing I do NOT like to do, it’s give credit to opposing teams when it is due. I will leave things like “sportspersonship” and “classiness” to the plebes.

Eventually Nick Swaney scored a goal, so I figured oh, tDogs got their requisite Goal In Denver, we can pack it in and go home satisfied. I suppose it helps that tUMD didn’t beat Denver in 5 tries last year on their way to winning a national championship. That puts things in perspective. Then Billy Exell scored and there was somehow still half a period to go!

The worst thing about the feed being behind during a game is the nagging feeling that in that gray area between the present and the moment in time the broadcast is in, the opponent has scored. This was intensified when Roehl took a penalty and I was sure Denver would score on the PP and dagger our hopes of a comeback. Of course it didn’t happen but it is a constant fear. Those readers from the early days of RWD, back before texting, recall that I used to have to work evenings during my career as a makeup counter jockey (a job I’m supposed to feel ashamed of, but do not, because it was a great job! and also because people shouldn’t be ashamed of their work unless it is unethical or illegal) and would have my father call me on the sales floor to give me score updates. So if tDogs were losing then, and the phone wasn’t ringing, that was basically torture – things have improved since then, but still. We Have The Technology. The feed doesn’t have to be so far behind.

This means that I didn’t get to celebrate the last second, game-tying goal from Scorin’ Scotty – partially because I was behind the internet celebration, and partially because I was spoiled on it by both Twitter and by my phone blowing up with texts from Dan of the Week. It was pretty exciting though! That’s part of what I like about this team so much – they may have off days, and their play may be frustrating to watch at times, but I never ever think it’s because they aren’t trying or doing their best (bests?). I don’t remember the last time I was ever annoyed with the level of effort being put out by members of the team. So it is really great to see that kind of character rewarded with crazy last minute shenanigan goals!

Then Bruce went to a commercial break, promising to come back in “90 seconds” with the overtime call.

And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Commercial after commercial after commercial after commercial.

I finally gave up and went back to Twitter to see what was going on, and the game was already over. Cole Koepke, hometown hero, had scored less than a minute in, and tDogs had completed a comeback that will go down in history. It was about as dramatic as they come for a regular season game against a non-heated rival. According to Bruce, the last time tDogs overcame a deficit was in the 03-04 season, against CC, but the comeback had started earlier (also they won 5-3 and not in OT).

I’m happy about the outcome, but annoyed with the technical difficulties. I didn’t even get to hear the goal call until the postgame show replay, because the feed never actually played the OT. When it finally stopped playing commercials, the postgame show was on. I get that this is “free” and I am lucky and privileged to have internet and such, but at the same time, as a listener, I’m a product being sold to advertisers. “We have x people tuning in online,” etc. And hey, the advertisers sure got their money’s worth! So good for them.

Still. WHAT A COMEBACK. WHAT A TEAM. I was grinning all night about the game. It took a LOT of the sting out of the other losses on the weekend, and now that it’s over, of course I’m excited about how it played out. It may be agony in real time (or slightly delayed time), but that payoff is sweet. I love low-stakes, high-drama entertainment!

Nobody Likes Denver

16 November 2018

Many people get caught up in hating the Gophers, or the Effing Hawks, or Wisconsin, but I’d like to remind you that Denver is a very unlikable team. Exhibit A.

A typical Denver post-season experience: showing up to the NCHC tournament and winning in front of… the coaching staff and athletic trainers. What a thrill!

Just how unlikable is Denver? I’ll tell you. In 2017, the day of the national championship game, Biddy, Tim, and Kleiner went to a bar to watch a footy match. A British gentleman was there watching the match as well, and noted their maroon and gold attire. When he inquired as to tUMD’s opponent in the game, upon learning it was DU, he responded thusly:

“Denver? Fook Denver.”

Except he didn’t say “fook.” He didn’t even pronounce it “fook,” that’s just Dan of the Week’s poor attempt at a British accent. A side benefit of this is that now he and I have a way to swear on Skype for Business without having our conversations flagged for inappropriate content. Anyway, if a complete stranger, from another country, who likes another sport, knows how much Denver sucks, we know it’s true.

tUMD is, of course, the reigning national champion, but a little-known fact is that Denver is the 2017 national champion. They managed to eke out this win in front of a surprisingly large (for them) contingent of fans, but I know for a fact that these fans were paid operatives of former Let’s Go DU editor in chief, DG Goddard. I believe there were more UND fans cheering for Denver because they were mad at Neal Pionk than there were Denver “fans” in attendance. They also brought their band, seen here in this recent clip:

Despite having no fans, until recently having a Secret Skinhead as a coach, and generally being abhorrent, Denver has managed to go 10000000*-0-0 against tUMD in their last 10000000* games. This is a problem. It’s a total waste for a team with no fans to win a game! If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does anyone even care if it makes a sound? NO.

So, Bulldogs, it’s time to prey on St. Cloud’s sloppy seconds for the second week in a row, and bring a big sweepity sweep with you when you return to sea level*.

*  approximation