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Yet Another Report of College Hockey’s Death Was an Exaggeration

28 March 2016

It’s truly amazing to me how today’s version of “journalism” is making wild statements with no supporting evidence and expecting them to be accepted as fact. I shall call this fiat journalism.

The latest relevant example comes from Brandon Mileski, aka Tenna-Gardsy, one of two interchangeable producerish people on KFAN. Blandon, like Dan Myers before him, has pronounced college hockey dead. I’m not sure who died and made him coroner, but let me be clear, college hockey is not dead.

And it was so, and I saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Congregants, let us turn in our hymnals to the article and pick it apart, as I so love to do.

I guess no one went to the West Regional Final in St. Paul. It featured Denver, who came in like a wrecking ball against BU the day before, but has 7 actual fans. They all showed up, so that was a big win for them, attendance-wise. It also featured Ferris State, whose fans had no idea they were even going to be in a regional until a week prior. It didn’t feature St. Cloud, and I’m not going to fault a single one of those 3-4k people who opted not to attend the regional final. I assume they did what normal people do when their team loses in a catastrophic fashion: drank themselves into oblivion. So I appreciate that they did not drive to St. Paul whilst in a fugue state.

Brandon turns then to the Northeast Regional and rightly takes BC fans to task for not going to the game. Since the game was not on Sunday, the C&E Catholics can’t even use that as an excuse. A source (let’s call him Bruce C. – no, that’s too obvious, let’s go with B. Ciskie) tells me tUMD had a decent turnout for being a thousand miles away from home. There were even RWD family members in attendance. #CarpenterNation.

UND and Michigan played in front of the Michigan band, 500 people who sing along to the stupid Michigan band, and 4500 people who drove their houses to the game, including this fellow, Biddco’s best friend.

baldy

Finally, a regional with boring teams had crappy attendance. Film at 11.

Now here’s the point where he’s supposed to advocate for home sites for the regionals, ignoring the logistics of that “solution.” But he throws us a curveball: he thinks the regionals should be arranged geographically and then seeded.

(As an aside, how come no one takes to task the host schools? Holy Cross hosted the Northeast regional, and they got praised for being organized and stuff which is nice, but maybe try marketing sometime. The entire ECAC hosted the East Regional and still no one attended. Try harder. “Pray you get North Dakota” is not a strategy.)

Here’s the proposed bracketology:

West Regional: SCSU vs tUMD, UND vs. DU.
Well, why even bother having the games in Tampa? Here’s your Frozen Four.

Midwest Regional: Michigan vs. RIT, Notre Dame vs. Ferris State
And here’s your NIT!

Northeast Regional: BC vs Northeastern, BU vs. Harvard
I think they already played this in February.

East Regional: QU vs. Yale, PC vs. UML
This is… just as crappy as the actual regional. GROUNDBREAKING.

This is so dumb. You literally could have four one-seeds via the PWR in one bracket (I mean, if you throw records out the window, you already do in the West). Or four four-seeds. Yes, that is desirable. I’m totally on board. People were already whining about how the four seeds don’t even deserve to have a seat at the table. In this case, one would be guaranteed a spot at the Frozen Four. He says the strange lineups he suggests wouldn’t happen every year, because the Goofs or Mankato or – is he freaking serious???? – Wisconsin might be in the West regional. WISCONSIN. I die. But, UND and DU are fixtures in the NCAA tournament. They are not going to want to play each other year after year in regional matchups. Same with BU and BC. Not when there are cupcakes to be feasted upon in the form of AHA and WCHA autobids.

Brandon likes his idea because it’s like the MSHSL. Their sections are decided strictly on geography. (They’re not. What up Elk River?) You know what else is loosely based on geography? College hockey conferences. And their tournaments. Which provide auto-bids to the NCAA tournament. Kind of like the MSHSL sections do. And then the state tournament isn’t based on geography! So weird.

The penultimate paragraph incorrectly uses “than” instead of “then.” Blah blah blah participation trophies or something.

The regionals are one weekend. Monkeying around with them is missing the point. If college hockey is actually dying, reconfiguring the regionals is about as logical as worrying about your underwear when you’re hit by a bus.

His final words on the subject are: “College Hockey is dying. Lifestyle changes are needed to save its life. Geography is the best medicine.” So many metaphors here. Lifestyle changes aren’t medicine! What kind of a quack doctor does he go to?

And what he really means is men’s college hockey is dying. But here’s another instance of assuming men’s college hockey is college hockey, not a component of college hockey. (And what he really really means is men’s NCAA D1 hockey is dying.) Women’s college hockey is growing, as more teams improve and as opportunities for women before and after college hockey expand. The women’s D1 tournament has its own problems (let’s all rehash Bemidji vs. Princeton one more time!), but problems are not actually synonymous with death.

And here I thought I’d have nothing fun to blog about in the off-season. Thank goodness for crazypants theories like this one!

Darkness On The Edge of Town

26 March 2016

‘Cause tonight I’ll be on that hill ’cause I can’t stop
I’ll be on that hill with everything I got
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost
I’ll be there on time and I’ll pay the cost
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town

Bulldog hockey has ended for the year.

Both teams struggled but surprised us with playoff success. Bright spots in otherwise unremarkable seasons. The Bulldog women had their worst season ever, which was expected but still tough to take. They swept Bemidji to make it to the WCHA tournament, which was a nice treat. It’ll be a tough couple of years for the women, I think, and for the fans, but I was still proud of how our women played. And thank Parise they beat Bemidji, so both teams weren’t winless on the season against the Beavs. They died with their boots on.

The men, oof. I don’t understand this season and I don’t think it’s ours to understand. I can say without a doubt they died with their boots on, too. Unreal. Just unreal. Two years in a row, it has come down to one last-ditch bounce that hasn’t gone our way.

Thank you to the men and women who make up our hockey teams (and those staff who support them in numerous ways, from conditioning to logistics to injuries to all kinds of things we don’t know about). I never saw a single one of you give up. You fought hard in every game, you showed us all the meaning of “Bulldog Pride.” You all stayed, when many of you could have left, for many reasons. That means something. That means everything, really. It tells us all we need to know about your commitment to this program and to your teammates. We buy tickets, we make road trips, we bid too much money on your jerseys, and we get irrationally invested in this game because you inspire us.

October is far in the distance. There’s still snow on the ground here, and while I will miss Bulldog hockey, I’m looking forward to recharging this off-season. I’m looking forward to warm weather. I was hoping that I’d see some warm weather in Tampa in 2 weeks, but it seems I’ll have to wait a little longer.

I hope to see all who are eligible to return this fall. We want you all back, ready to work, and ready to win.

Die With Your Boots On

24 March 2016

Doggies, if you’re gonna die, die with your boots on.

If you’re going to lose, leave us no doubt you did your very best, left everything on the ice. Don’t give an inch, don’t quit til the final whistle. Play your very best, with Bulldog pride, and that will be enough. That’s always been enough.

In 2011, before the regional semifinal, I turned to some advice from Elizabeth I. Things were different in 2011. Five years ago the team had suffered some low points, but they had some really high points, too. They were never out of the national conversation. We didn’t really imagine our team could win a national championship, it was just an abstract thought, a what-if scenario. In 2012, making the tournament was gravy, tDogs were defending champs and had a tremendous season with an incredible unbeaten streak, but the pressure to win it all was off, somewhat. Not that I wouldn’t have taken back2back championships. I hear they are nice. Last year, tDogs demolished the Gophers before losing to BU, but there was never any doubt they did their very best. That’s all I ever ask.

This year is different. This year game with great, unmet expectations. This year, a season that 10 years ago we’d have taken in a heartbeat, has had more disappointment and heartache than I’d care to relive. This year every game seemed like an uphill battle, as though the rinks were tilted. The season started with a real power outage and much of it played out with a metaphorical one. But here tDogs are, the last team in, doing just enough to make the math work in our favor, but they are still in it, and that’s what matters. They’ve got to win four more games, just like every other team has to. These guys have four more wins in them, if they can work hard enough, play smart enough, and if luck is on their side. A lot of wins were left on the table in the regular season; it’s time to take those back.

I’m glad for the opportunity to see our seniors play another game. I’m glad this team, who didn’t give up despite endless frustration and chicanery (*cough*penaltyshot*cough*), has a chance to end the season with a win. It won’t be easy, but nothing has come easy for this team this year. As Thornton Wilder wrote,

I’ve never forgotten for long at a time that hockey is a struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the game stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for–whether it’s a face-off dot, or along the boards, or a crease. All I ask is the chance to win national championships and the hockey gods have always given us that. And have given us coaches to guide us; and the memory of our mistakes to warn us. Bulldogs, you and I will remember in the off-season all the resolves that were so clear to us in the days of the hockey season. We’ve come a long way. We’ve learned. We’re learning. And the steps of our journey are marked for us here.

If you’re gonna die, die with your boots on.

Fab Four: Now With 100% More Bulldog

22 March 2016

tUMD made the conference tournament this year! It was a freaking miracle. Actually what was a miracle was making the NCAA tournament, the conference tournament was just a surprise. Although tDogs have made the NCAAs more times than they’ve made the conference tournament the past 3 years.

There were no KAWstumes this year; everyone in our section can thank tDogs for eliminating Miami. Somehow that made the tournament slightly less fun. For me, at least. For everyone else, probably not.

The stress of tUMD playing in the tournament also made it less fun. That sounds stupid, but it’s true. When tDogs let the Fhawks score 49 seconds into the game, I said “Well, at least we got here,” with a roll of my eyes. It is really not very much fun to be surrounded by UND fans when their team scores on your team.

Biddco and I prepared for the game with some signs. Biddy made a “Penalty Shot” sign, which he held up any time tUMD did anything slightly wrong. Ice the puck? PENALTY SHOT!!!!! Penalty? PENALTY SHOT!!!! UND player fell over of his own accord? PENALTY SHOT!!!!

I made a better sign.
chiliTim Brewster would be jealous if he’d seen it. I used a protractor to make each zone on the chili-o-meter the same size, and of course made a chili pepper indicator. This is one of my better signs, for sure. It was kind of a pain to haul around all weekend, but it came in handy, not only for expressing my thoughts on the hockey games, but also when ordering chili at the Depot. We asked the server at the Depot to rate the spiciness of the green chili, and when she put it around Simmering, asked if she could get the cook to spice it up to Hot! Hot! Hot! Dirty also ordered some chili, which he rated as “Mild Enough For Minnesotans,” unfortunately.

My nephew enjoyed the sign.
chilihot
He didn’t really enjoy much about the game until it got quieter. Thanks, Dogs, for shutting up UND’s fans so he could enjoy the game. Or at least enjoy various lights turning on and off.

I was really pleased on Friday night to get a win over UND. I thought UND commanded the first period, although I’m the only person who thought that, so maybe I was just paranoid. Goalinato opened the scoring in the second period just 28 seconds in, IAFALTO scored 3 minutes after that, and less than a minute after Al’s goal, tDogs were on a PP that turned into a 5×3. tDogs failed to capitalize on the PP (a theme for the weekend and the season as a whole), which gave UND some jump, and there were some terrifying moments, including a near-too many men penalty that gave UND a huge scoring chance. Farley shut all that down by zipping the puck into the net so hard that it ricocheted out, causing an initial no-goal call. The review confirmed it was a goal, and we cheered twice. tDogs let some scrub named Stecher get a goal, and then the second period mercifully came to a close.

My sister in law informed me later that I was annoying UND fans in our section. I’m not sure what really put one lady over the edge, perhaps it was “Come on, Dogs, send these racists home unhappy!” or maybe “Learn how to read so you can read a rule book!” Or maybe she prefers ice cold gazpacho to hot chili. Anyway, this UND fan was overheard to say “She probably didn’t even graduate high school.” I truly love to annoy.

Goalinato scored again with 6 minutes to go, which eased my stress a bit. A one-goal lead late against UND would have been more stress than I’d have liked. A two goal lead kept UND’s fans mostly quiet and kept tDogs in control. Despite three minutes of empty net play, tUMD couldn’t put one in. They did keep UND busy defending their open net, which was good.

Biddy was destroyed in some kind of “King of the Mountain” intermission game. He was wearing a big hamster ball blow-up thingy, and I watched the video of him getting knocked on his butt about 20 times. I hope to make it into a GIF. The NCHC really listened to my complaints about eating contests during breaks, and instead changed to dance or trivia competitions. The league also listened to some of the fan complaints about involving Gopher fans in on-ice challenges. Many people pointed out the Gophers are not in our league, we’ve moved on, we don’t need to trot out a token Goof fan to boo. There were no Gopher fans involved in any of the entertainment this year.

The St. Cloud-DU game was boring. I was sitting next to a DU fan, believe it or not. He fell asleep at one point during the game. Then he went out and did the hamster ball thing with another guy. They were both destroyed by a UND guy. It was an entertaining intermission challenge, although the rules were confusing.

Saturday afternoon we ended up leaving at the second intermission to ensure we got a table at the Depot; we needed our bacon wrapped hot dogs and corn dogs. The game was a real snoozer and ended in a 1-1 tie. UND really sucks at the Target Center, so I think that’s a sign we should renew the agreement rather than try to get the X.

I was disappointed tDogs lost on Saturday night. They were dominating when up 1-0, and then just tanked. I don’t know what the problem was but I hope it was an anomaly. Thankfully the Goofs choked and tDogs squeaked into the NCAAs. The goal late in the second period was really a dagger, and tUMD was never really back in the game. tDogs couldn’t do anything with 2 PPs in the 3rd, and the best play of the 3rd was a big save on the empty net, which was somewhat meaningless.

I enjoyed the tournament once again. I wish more Bulldog fans had gone. In some ways I wonder if I am severely underestimating the size of the Bulldog hockey fanbase, and there really aren’t that many people who care enough to travel to see tDogs play. The band wasn’t even there, which was surprising and disappointing. St. Cloud probably had more fans than tDogs, but they weren’t out in droves either.

Beyond financial and scheduling constraints, I don’t understand why people who love hockey wouldn’t want to attend the tournament. It is really fun. There are a lot of really cool people who go. Within minutes of entering the Target Center, I had already seen several people I know solely from attending hockey games over the years. Gappy McTooth was also one of the first people I saw upon entry, decked out in UNO gear but I hope secretly cheering for his nephew, Bill Corrin.

I am fortunate because the Fab Four is a great time to spend with my family and my best friends. My dad is generous enough to take me every year, and he’s even willing to sit by me AND tolerate my stupid (awesome) friends. My brother was able to come for the first time this year, and my nephew and SIL even came to a game, so it was a huge deal for the family.

I spent every intermission talking to people I’ve met through hockey. Our area was a nice rallying point because 1. it was easy to spot Biddy in his garish attire 2. it was easy to spot me because I had the sign and 3. we were centrally located. It is really cool to stand at intermission and chat amiably with opposing fans, or even fans like Secret Agent Mav, who came to the Fab Four even though UNO did not. Thanks to everyone who stopped by! I was so glad to meet so many fun, interesting people. I saw a fan from every team except Western Michigan. They were too busy rowing boats I guess.

pjfleck

As always, I have to give credit to the NCHC. The league is engaged and clearly makes an effort to accommodate and delight its fans. Nothing ever runs perfectly (I heard of a ticket SNAFU involving a tUMD friend), but I appreciate the effort that is put in (esp. by the social media team! They are the absolute best!) Every year the Fab Four has gotten better, as the league has listened to its constituents and fans and made steps to improve, whether it’s with food, fan experiences, or the staffing. (Note: I didn’t have any issues with Target Center staff this year, but I also was not wearing a costume, so I can’t say if that was an improvement.)

Make an effort to come to the Fab Four next year, whether you’ve been before or not, whether your team is there or not. There are friendly people everywhere, there’s lots of stuff to do, it’s not really that cold, and there’s HOCKEY.

The Sum of Small Fears

5 February 2016

Sunday night I was watching the NHL All-Star Game, which is a somewhat surprising activity for me, because of all the All-Star Games across all the sports I watch, the only event I actually enjoy is MLB’s celebrity softball game.

A Sedin existed and a Gopher fan named Jerrid tweeted to me that he hates the “Sedin Sisters.” I responded as I always do, saying that I don’t like the Sedins but that’s no reason for sexist language. He told me it was a joke (thank you, I understand it is a joke, that is irrelevant) roped in his “buddy” Brad, saying it was a joke. Brad doubled down by tweeting a couple memes at me, which I have seen before because I use the internet but which he thought were novel and hilarious. He tweeted a Sedin sisters meme as well as a “Two Girls No Cup” meme, as if it would change my mind and I’d say “oh hahahah ur so funny omg girlz are icky d*kes who can’t play sports!”

I told him I got it, he hates women. He told me he doesn’t hate women because he has a wife and his daughter plays college hockey.

His daughter plays college hockey. If a man whose daughter plays hockey at a high level can display this level of misogyny (not to mention cognitive dissonance), there is literally no hope for humanity.

His daughter, Amber Schaack, is a junior top-six forward for Concordia. I doubt she worked her butt off through youth hockey, high school hockey, and college so that her father could use her gender as a pejorative toward male hockey players.

He told me his daughter thinks it’s funny. I didn’t reach out to her for a quote so I can’t verify this, but it is irrelevant. I’m always told this. I’m always told to lighten up, it’s just a joke, other women think it’s funny. I doubt Brad is smart enough to comprehend the concept of “internalized misogyny,” but internalized misogyny is when women believe that lies and stereotypes about women are true. It doesn’t matter that a woman thinks “Two Girls No Cup” is funny; that doesn’t negate its sexist nature.

What message does it send a female athlete when her own father thinks “girl” is a put-down for a player he dislikes? Really, what message does it send a daughter when her dad uses “woman” or “girl” as an insult in any setting? What message does Jerrid send his son when he makes the same sexist remarks? What message is this sending to anyone?

Those questions are rhetorical, of course. The message is clear. A defective man is a woman. A woman is always less than a man. A woman has no traits or qualities a man could ever find desirable in himself.

(This same man then posted disgusting, misogynist memes regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton on a mutual friend’s Facebook wall, and called me a “stalker” because I happened to see them. But he doesn’t hate women, because he has a wife!)

I asked Brad to think about what he was saying, and to be better. He told me “Thanks, mom.” Apparently he doesn’t think much of mothers either. I oinked at him in response, because what else was there to do? He didn’t want to be a better person. He just wanted to continue to believe himself better than women.

People (of all genders), when you make a sexist joke, like Cindy Crosby, Chrissy Pronger, Sedin Sisters, or any of the other myriad ways you put down ordinary or extraordinary men who you see as failing in some way, you’re not making the joke in a vacuum. I’ve heard it before, or if I haven’t, I’ve heard something just like it. All women have. Your piggish remark is a drop in an ever-growing ocean of sexism that will eventually drown us all. These unfunny, stale “jokes” are added to the Kanebros lathering to defend him, the snide remarks about menstruation anytime a woman shows any emotion, the catcalls, the fat-shaming, the rape jokes, the impossible standards of beauty and conduct to which women must conform, and worst of all, the horrible crimes of domestic violence and rape committed overwhelmingly against women (who are then shamed and blamed). Don’t tell me to lighten up. Be better. Consider what you’re really saying, what you’re really doing, what you’re really contributing to.

And don’t use your own daughter to try to shield yourself from criticism.

Cats and Dogs

27 January 2016

Back when I was promoting #FromTopShelfToFoodShelf, I was informed by my friends at BC Interruption that they would be doing a similar promotion in February, during the Beanpot.

The time is upon us, and it could not have happened at a better time, both because tUMD men are playing cat-related teams the next two weekends, and because both teams need some motivation to start scoring again. Therefore, I’m thrusting my support behind #MeowsternBias, a pledge drive for Gifford Cat Shelter in Brighton, MA.

s5qbiAx - Imgur

My cat is cute.

I’ve pledged $5/tUMD goal over the next two weekends, which are Beanpot-adjacent. Pledging #MeowsternBias is even easier than FTSTFS. This link takes you to a pledge form, you fill it out, all is well.

Gifford Cat Shelter was founded in 1884, if you can even fathom that. It’s the first cageless, no-kill shelter in the US, and they even have kitty cams so you can watch cats playing at the shelter. While you’re at home or on your lunch break, bien sur.

‘Dogs, let’s help some cats! But only domestic cats, not Wildcats or Tigers!

Darkest Days

25 January 2016

tUMD 2, Buttmidji 3/tUMD 0, Buttmidji 2

Well, this is certainly a low point. The first time ever that Bemidji has swept the season against tUMD. And if tUMD men don’t figure something out for the makeup game in February, tDogs will go 0-6 against the buck-toothed hicks. (Possibly worse, depending on match-ups in the post-season for the women.)

I don’t want to live in a world where tUMD loses to Bemidji on the regular. I just don’t.

I missed Friday’s game, which is rather pathetic because I have complained about not being able to make Friday games. I could have gone but I was tired and fighting off a cold and I’m glad I didn’t because hockey was so depressing. So very, very depressing. Between tUMD men, women, and the Wild, my teams went 0-5 on the weekend.

Saturday I did attend the game and was inside the lobby at puck drop. I know it’s hard to believe. This is partially because I was running errands before the game and finished them early.

I don’t want to say I wish I hadn’t gone, because I want to support the team no matter what. But it is incredibly frustrating to continually lose to teams against whom tUMD is evenly matched (specifically UND & BSU). It is SO hard to watch. And it makes no sense. Obviously the main difference is goaltending: UND and BSU have goaltenders who steal games for them on the regular. tUMD hasn’t had a game-stealing goaltender in years. Rooney is a freshman and perhaps will be that woman, but she isn’t yet.

Of course, tUMD made neither SAB nor Mowat work very hard for their wins. The men and women have similar scoring issues: almost every shot is routine, almost telegraphed. Excellent, positionally sound goaltenders are not going to misjudge boring old shots. tUMD started scoring on SAB last weekend because they got her moving. tDogs couldn’t solve Mowat because she didn’t have to move.

tDogs are playing tOSU this weekend, bringing Jenny Potter back to Duluth for her head coaching debut. I would like 6 points. I would like to be uplifted by two hockey games where I can cheer and get excited and celebrate goals. tDogs have a relatively favorable schedule to end the season, thanks to their horrendous front-loaded schedule that pitted tDogs against UMTC, UW, UND, and Harvard in one torrid stretch, as well as away games at Boston College the second weekend into the season. Steal a game (or two, why not?) against UMTC and pound the crap out of the other 3 opponents. Sounds good to me!

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