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Remembering Andrew Carroll

22 January 2018

There’s no need to use hyperbole or superlatives to describe Andrew Carroll. Simply telling the truth of his accomplishments and demeanor while playing for the Bulldogs says more than any adjective ever could.

Andrew Carroll was the type of player who, through sheer will and determination, far outstripped what might have been the natural talent ceiling for another player with a similar skill set. His dedication to the sport and to his team was evident whether he was following a strict diet (as of his tenure with the Bulldogs, he hadn’t had fast food since something like 8th grade, and he packed his own lunch on road trips – also a prudent financial measure) or throwing up on the bench between shifts due to illness. He was a one-man penalty killing machine. He filled any role he was asked to.

It’s often cliché to say a player loves the game so much he’d play for free – but when Carroll was playing for the then-ECHL Charlotte Checkers, he had a chance to play with the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack. Upon learning of the call-up,

“He said there’s no need to pay me. I just want to go,” [Charlotte Checkers coach Derek] Wilkinson said. “‘Just give me a jersey. He’s got no sense of entitlement whatsoever. He’s a kid you want to root for.”

His nearly unprecedented 3-year captaincy with the Bulldogs is also a testament to his character and dedication. He played a significant role in moving the program forward to where it is today; the improbable playoff run of the 2008-09 Bulldogs (his senior year) set a new standard for Bulldog hockey. Carroll himself set a new standard of pride and workmanship for both players and leaders. Putting on the #20 jersey means something more than it did prior to 2005-06.

Fans have shared anecdotes recounting his acts of kindness, large or small, that impacted their lives or their children’s lives, even a decade later. He was an easy player to root for or look up to. There were likely quite a few youth coaches in the area who could point to his work ethic and his defensive play as virtues for their young players to emulate.

His parents were as much a part of the Bulldog family as he was; years after he graduated and left Duluth, they were often spotted in the crowd at Amsoil Arena (or elsewhere). His family and friends, his teammates, his coaches, and his teams’ support staffs, have lost a person of great consequence. The legacy he left at UMD will endure as long as the program exists, and his giving and kind spirit will survive in others as, per his family, he was an organ donor.

Thank you for the four years you gave to this program, Andrew. I wish your loved ones had been granted forty more. I hope for peace and comfort to those who mourn you.

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Dire Straits

2 January 2018

I haven’t been to Amsoil Arena in a month, and haven’t seen a Bulldog win at home since November 25th. It’s been below zero Fahrenheit almost every moment since Christmas Eve. The US men lost to Slovakia at the WJC and then needed a shootout to beat Canada in The Most Ridiculous Outdoor Hockey Game Ever Played Other Than The One in LA. Things are getting a little dire.

Some good stuff is happening, too. Of course 5 of our guys made the WJC roster (2/3 Andersons, TUFTE, Perunovich, and Samberg), and the remainder of the group pulled out a tournament* win** at Dartmouth. There are two exhibition games this weekend to look forward to, vs. Team Korea (with bench boss Sarah Murray) and vs. the Whitecaps.

*I guess we can call any event in which 4 teams convene a “tournament” nowadays?
**Shootout win, officially a tie, but Dartmouth is scary – just ask Denver.

Some amazing things are happening, too. Sidney Morin and Maddie Rooney are on Team USA for the Olympics. Haley Irwin, Jocelyne Larocque, and Brigette Lacquette have made Team Canada. Lacquette is the first indigenous woman to play for Hockey Canada in the Olympics. The head coach of Team Canada is our former assistant HC, Laura Schuler. This will be Team Canada’s first Olympics since 1998 without Prime Minister of Quebec*** Caroline Ouellette, so that will be weird. I can’t find any rosters for other countries (though I did not try very hard), but one can be assured that Lara Stalder will be on Team Switzerland, and there will be Bulldogs on Team Sweden.

***Obviously Celine Dion is Queen of Quebec.

This season has thus far been one of managed and/or adjusted expectations, on both teams. We knew it would be, but I know it’s hard. We’ve been having more ups than downs on the men’s side of things, and we’ve had almost entirely ups on the women’s side of things since the program’s inception. There are still plenty of exciting players on the ice, and plenty of games left – no one’s been eliminated yet. Wow, how about that for optimism?

All right, let’s all grit our teeth, hunker down, and ride out the season. Even if it doesn’t end so well for either or both of our teams, next year’s gonna be awesome.

From Top Shelf To Food Shelf, Year 5

13 December 2017

My friend Jessi sent a message out into the universe the other day about how she constantly feels like she wants to do something to improve what seems to be an increasingly more unpleasant world. I get that feeling – anyone with a soul is struggling right now with a sense of helplessness and a perceived inability to affect positive change on a grand scale.

If you’ve been a part of From Top Shelf To Food Shelf over the past 5 years, whether you’ve pledged, challenged others to pledge, or helped publicize the event, you’ve been part of something that has made a real difference. Or, at least, I hope you’ll feel that way after you see what we’ve accomplished together.

This year, we raised $4053.25 and 159 food/clothing items for various organizations in our own communities, or in the communities where our teams play. While managing the data behind the event, I get a chance to see the organizations you folks choose. These are great places doing amazing work.

Over the 5 years this event has taken place, we have raised $10624.65 and 594 items. I hope you can take a moment and feel good about that. There’s lots of work to be done to help people who are struggling or vulnerable, or to stop people who want to exploit them, but we’ve done something tangible to help.

It feels different, to me, to give as part of a group effort. I make donations when and where I can, and it feels like nothing. $20 feels like $0. But when I think “I was part of a group of people who raised $10k to fight hunger,” it feels like making a positive impact is attainable.

Thanks for being part of this, whether it’s your first time or your fifth time, whether you gave five bucks or five retweets. Thanks for looking past what a heinous beast I am to the players on your team or your fanbase or you personally (*cough*Bruce*cough*) and joining in the fun. Thanks for finding a little extra in these uncertain times, to help out strangers.

Chag Sameach, friends!

FTSTFS17 Update!

3 December 2017

We’re less than a week away from From Top Shelf To Food Shelf weekend! There’s still lots of time to make pledges. I know St. Cloud fans are charging hard to try to be the fanbase with the most donors, but there’s room for everyone on the bandwagon!

Pledges can be large or small, and they can be tied to stats or they can be a flat amount! There’s even an option to make your pledge anonymous. You can choose whatever organization you like, and there’s no middlewoman, you just cheer for all the goals your team scored and write that cheque*.

*figuratively speaking, of course, checks are the scourge of my existence

On a side note, after the men’s and women’s teams combined scored three goals this weekend, we have come full circle with this initiative. Once again, tUMD is in dire need of some motivation, and helping others is a great motivator. I know all the men and women in our program are kind-hearted philanthropists ready to pour on the scoring for such a good cause!

Here’s a list of pledges so far (last updated 12/11/17):
UMD
RWD: $5/goal, $5/FTSTFS participant to CHUM
Nick: $1/goal, $5/win, $20/shutout to Roseville Food Shelf/Keystone Services
Rebecca: $10/goal to Northern Lakes Food Bank
DanoftheWeek: $5/Soucy penalty (for the Iowa Wild), $5/Tufte goal to CHUM
Waylon/Wayne: The sum of the time on the clock when UMD scores its first goal in each game to Northern Lakes Food Bank
Biddco: $0.50/NCHC goal, $20/Sammy Squirrel Spurrell goal to CHUM
Jessi: $2/goal to PAVSA
Bruce & Tammy: $5/power play goal to Northern Lakes Food Bank
Angel: $5/men’s goal, $10/NCHC shutout to Salvation Army
Anonymous: $5/goal to an unspecified food bank
Dawn: 1 item/goal in the Minnesota River – Windom game 12/9 to her local food shelf

SCSU
Neil: $10/goal to Salvation Army (St. Cloud)
Erik: $20/SO, $2/Poehling goal, $0.10/save (both teams), $1/goal *for UNO weekend* to Southwest Carver Food Shelf
John: Trunkload of clothes (is this a metric or imperial unit, I do not know) to DAV, $3/goal, $5/win to either Second Harvest or Salvation Army
Dave: $1/save for men’s goalies to a local food shelf
Jeremy: $5/goal, $10/win to CEAP
Patty: $20/Peterson goal, $20/Triple Poehling, $5/Borgen penalty, $50/men’s sweep to Tricounty Human Society
Tom: $2/goal, $10/win, $50/Triple Poehling to Salvation Army
Mike: $25 to Amery Food Shelf
Heather Weems (SCSU AD): $5/goal to Anna Marie’s Alliance
Anonymous: $10/PPG to Catholic Charities
#GOHUSKIESWOOOOO: Extremely complex pledge to Division of Indian Work Horizons Unlimited
Weldie: $5/point for Abby Thiessen + Hallie Theodosopoulos. $2/goal, extra $1/PPG, $10/Hat Trick, $10/Victory, extra $5/men’s sweep, $10 if Cam Johnson is pulled [hehehehehehe], $50 if Huskies women sweep to Catholic Charities
Matt: $2/goal, $20/men’s sweep, $25/Triple Poehling to Catholic Charities
Anonymous: $100 “win lose or draw” to Centennial Community Food Shelf

UMTC
Anonymous: $50/men’s goal Dec 1/2 to San Antonio Food Bank
Emily: $1/goal to Aurora Center
Melmac: $10/goal, $50/shutout to Western UP Food Bank
Brian: $5/men’s goal, $25/men’s shutout to Second Harvest
Anonymous: $2/men’s goal, $10/men’s shutout to East Side Neighborhood Services Senior Food Shelf

UW
Nicole: $1/goal to Hunger Task Force
Drew: $5/goal, $10/shutout to Middleton Outreach Ministry

Lake Superior Circle Tour
Brandon: $1/goal against tUMD, LSSU, NMU, and MTU to CHUM

Niagara/Canisius
Amy Moritz: $5/goal to Community Missions and Buffalo City Mission

UND
Timarie & Ryan: $5/goal to Second Harvest North Central Food Bank
Dave: $5/goal, $10/win to Northlands Rescue Mission
Goon: $50 to Houston Food Bank
UND Bass Drums: $5/Abby Thiesen and Hallie Theodosopoulos goal against UW to a charity of GoHuskiesWooooo’s choice
Scott: $3/goal “vs. Clown” to Second Harvest Heartland

UNO
Lori: $5/goal, $10/win to Food Bank for the Heartland
Matt: $50 to Food Bank for the Heartland
Spencer: $5/goal, $5/UMD women’s win to Open Door Mission
Connor: $5/goal, $10/major penalty for UNO or tUMD to Maverick Food Pantry
Jolene: $5/goal, $10/win to Together Inc.

BU
Kat: Pack of mini cereal/goal to Salem High School Food Pantry
Maddie: $5/men’s goal to Greater Boston Food Bank

Maine
John: $1/save, $3/win, $5/shutout by Carly Jackson (Dec 2, 3, & 9) or Jeremy Swayman (vs QU) to Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program

St. Scholastica
Chin: $3/goal, $5/goal by Sawyer, Broman, or Whitely, $5/SO to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Food Pantry

MTU
Nezzy: $10/goal, $50/shutout to Western UP Food Bank
MeanEgirl: 1 food item/15 seconds of successful PK, $6/Sieve-mas carol to NEAR Food Shelf
Rob: $5/goal for MTU, $1/PIM in Governor’s Cup to 31 Backpacks
Yager: $400 to Community Harvest Food Bank

UNH
Rob: $5/goal against Army & Merrimack; $10/win; $5 if UNH wins by 3 or more OR records a shut out to NH Food Bank
Mike: $5/goal to Upper Valley Haven Food Shelf
UNH Puck: $1/penalty killed to NH Food Bank
UNH Cat Fan: $5/goal to unspecified charity
Mike N: $1 per UNH shot on goal, $5 per UNH goal, $10 per UNH win (increased to $20 if a win is by 3 or more), $25 per UNH shutout to NH Food Bank
Matt: $5/UNH goal, $10/UNH PPG, x2 goal $$ if UNH outscores both opponents by 8+ total, $10 if UNH sweeps to NH Food Bank

RMU
Ashley: 3 items/goal to West Hills Food Pantry
Coach Schooley: matching Ashley’s donation

College Hockey
Lord of College Hockey: $2/NCHC goal, $3/WCHA women’s goal to Food Bank for the Heartland

White Bear Lake (MSHSL)
Matt: $2/shot (against Forest Lake) to Hugo Food Shelf

DU
LetsGoDU: $5/goal, $5 extra/Borgstrom goal to Food Bank of the Rockies

Oswego State
Jen: $5/goal to Oswego Food Pantry

Add yours today, if you’re able!

Five Years of From Top Shelf To Food Shelf

26 November 2017

How time flies! I cannot believe this is the fifth year of this exciting event!

The 5th Annual From Top Shelf To Food Shelf pledge drive will run Dec 8-10. I am sure by now this esteemed event is part of the rich lore of college hockey, but if you have not heard the origin story, click here! I can promise you that this is one of the best weekends in college hockey if you follow along on the internets. Fans from all corners of the hockey world come together to make a difference in their own communities, and it’s exciting to see the pledge numbers grow and the totals skyrocket.

In four years, hockey fans have raised $6571 and 435 food/clothing items. That is AMAZING!!!!

Here are the rules of engagement:

  1. Dream up a pledge based on the performance of your hockey team on the weekend of December 8/9/10. The pledge can be related to anything that can be quantified (and, hopefully, 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).
  2.  Choose a charity in your community or in the community in which your team plays. I live in Duluth and my teams conveniently play here, but 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.
  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.

Pledge what you can. I promise there’s no amount too small to make an impact, and there’s something exciting about being part of a collective effort to improve the lives of others in your community. If you’re not able to make a pledge, share this post and help spread the word. Wouldn’t it be amazing to get our grand total up to $10K this year?

This year, my own pledge is $5/tUMD goal (the men are playing UNO and the women are playing UMTC), plus $5 per participant (in honor of the 5th year of the event). I’ll be making my donation to CHUM again this year.

The pledge form is live, so start thinking about the best way to motivate your team and get your pledges in!

New Kids on the Block

31 October 2017

Oh this young season. It’s been a trial so far. We show up to the rink and don’t know half the players on the ice. Even some of the non-freshmen are strangers, like Houston, Convery, Krieger, and hey, let’s even say Johnson, Deery, and Shepard, because unless you were looking at who opened the door on the bench last year, they’re unfamiliar figures. We’re missing our heroes and leaders like Dominic Toninato and Lara Stalder. We’re seeing the plays that clicked like clockwork off just a tick.

Please Don’t Go, Girl

A lot of people left last spring. Some had no choice, as much as we wanted them to stay, their eligibility was used up. Some had brighter opportunities they couldn’t pass up, and while it stings to wonder what might have been had every possible Bulldog returned, I wish them all well and hope they represent tUMD with pride and grace.

Probably the biggest loss, while temporary, was tUMD goaltender Maddie Rooney. Rooney is centralized with Team USA to prepare for the Olympics, and while I’m happy for her to have the opportunity — she’s gotta play. It’s a waste if she leaves for a season just to sit on the bench as the 3rd string goalie. We already saw an entire year without Brigette Lacquette during the last Olympics, when she was cut from Team Canada. Rooney will be back next year, of course, but let’s be real. We need her this year.

Hangin’ Tough

The season started a bit rough. The men lost back to back games (against MTU and Bemidji, which was depressing and horrid for the PWR) for the first time in the history of the universe, and the women are in the midst of their worst start ever. The goaltending is at times questionable, in ways I haven’t seen in a very long time. More experienced teams with more balanced rosters have preyed on the inexperience of our teams. This sucks. But we have to be patient, because…

You Got It (The Right Stuff)

…these players are talented. They’re U18 veterans. They’re drafted. They’re stars. We can all see the individual strengths on the ice – we just need to give them time to put things together. I really do believe that if everyone sticks around a few more years (rather than jumping ship if this season ends in the same disappointment with which it began), both of these teams are going to contend for national championships.

Step by Step

And we are seeing improvements. The women staunched the bleeding with a split at Bemidji, and their November schedule eases up a bit. The men got a sweep and back to back to back strong goaltending efforts, but will be pushed to the limit against a rested, unbeaten St. Cloud State.

I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)

Let’s be real though. I don’t really care. I’m still going to go to the games, I’m still going to cheer, dress up in stupid costumes, and write ridiculous stories. And it could be worse, right?

We could be North Dakota.

Abortion Debate, College Hockey Recruiting Debate Unexpectedly Collide

22 September 2017

With the recent commitment to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities by the 13 and 14 year old Lucius brothers (whose parents founded a school that revolves around hockey and employs more staff in its athletic department than it does teachers), the men’s college hockey world was once again abuzz with the question “How young is too young to recruit?”

tUMD men’s hockey head coach Scott Sandelin went on the record in a recent Pioneer Press article regarding this question, stating he hopes the process will slow down “so seventh and eighth graders aren’t committing to college,” expertly setting the bar just below his recent recruiting coup, obtaining verbal commitments from brothers Joey and Mikey Anderson just shy of their 15th birthdays.

Bulldog men’s hockey vox Bruce Ciskie was also quick to set apart the Andersons’ commitment from other recent young commitments. “They were both playing varsity high school hockey when they announced, not […] Bantam hockey,” Ciskie stated in a recent off-the-record conversation with this publication. “I’m not running around the country going to those bantam tournaments, I can tell you that,” Sandelin told Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press, who wrote the only bantam tournaments Sandelin attended were those of his own son, Hermantown hockey standout and Minnesota State-Mankato commit Ryan. Cleverly, Sandelin did not reveal whether his assistant coaches were attending bantam tournaments, nor did he acknowledge that his son’s bantam tournaments likely included Bulldog prospect Cole Koepke and incoming freshman Dylan Samberg.

Eager to repeat Sandelin’s recruiting success, college hockey coaches have been recruiting younger and younger. In addition to the Gentry Hockey Factory Academy duo, North Dakota has a pair of 2002 birth year commitments, as does Miami. 2017 and 2018 Men’s D1 National Champion Denver University, once famous for its “25 year old Canadian” recruiting strategy, appears to be on board with the new “15 year old American” trend, with three of its own 2002 birth year commits. UMTC’s in-conference rival, Wisconsin, counts 5 2002s among its 31 recruits. Yes, 31.

The have-nots of college hockey are struggling to compete, and resorting to more extreme measures. The “how young is too young?” question collided with the nation’s bitter debate over a woman’s right to bodily autonomy when newly-appointed Northern Michigan University head coach Grant Potulny recently attempted to receive a commitment from the 10 week, 4 day old embryo of a prominent, unnamed NHL player, citing the “elite DNA” of the parents. “I had noticed other college coaches lurking around [redacted]’s wife, and realized I couldn’t wait until the end of the first trimester to sign this kid.” Potulny also mentioned he reserved the right to rescind the scholarship offer after the ultrasound, should the future fetus turn out to be female.

This prompted abortion activists from both the forced-birth and bodily autonomy sides of the debate to wade in to the college hockey recruitment arena, unexpected territory for both. A spokesperson for NARAL commented on the potential commitment, stating “an embryo is not a person, and therefore does not have the agency to commit to a college hockey team. However, the pregnant woman does have every right to make the best decision she can; if that means committing a future child, whether this embryo or another, to Northern Michigan University’s men’s hockey team, we support her decision.” The spokesperson for the anti-choice group Focus on the Family clutched her pearls and said “Won’t somebody please think of the children??? Of course this child’s commitment to hockey should be honored! This precious baby is destined by God to have a blessed career at Northern Michigan University! How dare anyone try to take that away from them?”

Joe Shawhan, head coach of Northern Michigan’s rival, Michigan Tech, scoffed at Potulny’s recruiting strategy. “It’s preposterous,” Shawhan said. “I refuse to recruit that way, even if it means we lose out on some potential stars. I draw the line at fetal viability.”