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99 Luftballons

19 September 2016

…Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont

Wednesday the 21st is the Balloon Sale at tUMD Stores! And I am here to give them free advertising because I am a conspicuous consumer of Bulldog gear.

The balloon sale is not an opportunity to purchase balloons at a discount, but rather a chance to pop a balloon and receive a discount of 25%-80% on your purchase. One person gets their entire order free. Last year I was in the store when the free balloon was popped. Then I popped a 25% discount balloon of sadness.

If you’re struggling with what to buy, I have some suggestions, and asked some tUMD hockey celebrities to give the RWD Army their top picks for Bulldog gear. I think they actually sell more stuff in the stores than they show online, so it’s best to browse through the whole store for some impulse buys before leaving.

If money were no object, I’d go for this jacket, probably not in white, even though it looks so crisp!

Mr. RWD has been carrying around the same broken travel mug for several years, so perhaps it’s time for him to get a new one. There are several other style of mug, but I like this one best.

Since I graduated from tUMD last December, I should probably advertise that on my Christmas tree. I would like this better if the ornament said “alumna.”

“I’m partial to the skating Bulldog hoodie,” says tUMD men’s hockey vox Bruce Ciskie. And why not? It’s snazzy, especially that maroon-lined hood, and it has a nice lace-up detail.

Bruce’s son, Hunter, youth hockey and lacrosse double threat, tells us that as a hip young person, he would choose these shorts. I will trust in his knowledge of fashion trends, since this is me:
It could be worse, I could be…

Road trip warrior and RWD Army General Biddco will be keeping warm this fall with this jacket:

His sales pitch: “Are you a passionate Bulldog fan? Have you seen other fan bases wear team logo jackets and want one? But you don’t want to wear leather in public and can’t grow a mullet? Well, this jacket is for you. A beautiful maroon color with gold Bulldog Head (as it was meant to be) and BULLDOGS printed on the back. This is a must have for any fan who wants to stay warm come winter.” I will also note that Biddco is an enabler, as I was going to try to avoid the balloon sale, but he has given me authority to act as his proxy in all tUMD gear related transactions.

Ben, proprietor of @umdhockeygifs, suggests this hat. Ben says “you can never have too many hats and every fan should be prepared for a hat trick.” Considering the embarrassing trickle of hats one usually sees after a tUMD hat trick, I would be taking Ben’s advice if I were you. If the hat is 80% off, you won’t feel so badly about chucking it onto the ice.

And finally, if you would like to be murdered by a mob, I would suggest purchasing a pair of these and bringing them to all hockey games: home, away, neutral, pro, college, youth, pickup, pond, field, roller, or otherwise.
These look a little like the toes from Double Dare obstacle courses of yore. I spent 3 minutes doing a Google search for an image, but all I could come up with was the nose from Pick It! and the ear from In One Ear. Ewwww.

I predict a 1000% growth in sales due to this post alone. Sorry in advance if the Slap-n-Clap is sold out before you could get there!

Nightmare on Eleventh Street

14 September 2016

Being a season ticket holder for tDogs comes with some nice perks. Renew your tickets early, you win prizes. Maybe a fan of the game award from Cold Stone, if you’re a nice person. Discounts for being a multi-sport ticketholder. Etc.

There’s also another perk: every year, tUMD athletes hand-deliver season tickets to a select group of season ticket holders. I always joked that if that happened to me, I would keel over and die.

Well, I lived.

Last Thursday, I was lounging in my messy house on my couch in mismatched clothing, playing a game on my computer, watching Star Trek: Generations, when I heard a noise outside my door and then the doorbell rang. I assumed it was going to be someone trying to convert me to their religion or remind me to vote, but no, a crowd of women in hockey jerseys and a dude with a camera standing on my front steps.

Naturally I don’t have any photographic evidence of the encounter. But it happened, I swear! I even told them I write this old rag here, which is a giant leap forward in confidence for me.

The excitement doesn’t end there. While I was having a fantastic conversation with these bright, kind women, Camera Guy was recording it all. I assumed it was for promotional use for tUMD athletics. We know what happens when we assume. I got in to work on Monday (had Friday off!), ready to tell my coworker what had happened, and he stole my thunder.

Me: [Coworker], you won’t BELIEVE what happened on Thursday.
Coworker: You were on the news!

I hope the camera got my good side. Although what side is good when one is wearing a navy sweater and purple running shorts? If I had the footage, I’d post it here, but KBJR doesn’t seem to have it online. What a shame. Also a shame: no footage of my cats.

I'm rich, biotch! #umdhockey #umdbulldogs

A photo posted by RWD (@runninwiththedogs) on

This serendipitous event can only portend a successful season for tDogs. Ten more days until hockey!!!! I can’t wait!

Let America Be America Again

8 September 2016

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

-Langston Hughes (read the entire poem here)

I don’t watch NFL handegg anymore, out of protest, but I am a human being living on the grid so I’m aware of the manufactured controversy involving the Geriatric Prospectors’ Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to pretend that there’s racial harmony throughout the land.

This controversy has made its way to the NHL, the whitest sport that doesn’t involve horses or water, as John Tortorella, coach of Team USA in the upcoming We’re Going To Ruin Olympic Men’s Hockey For You But Leave You With This Shoddy Substitute Cup of Hockey, told ESPN: “If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game.”

Okay, so, this isn’t really the same thing, because Kaepernick is playing in a pro sports league on a team owned by the Mafia, while Tortorella is coaching a team representing the USA. I can see that, that must be his reasoning, but–nope.

“We’re in a great country because we can express ourselves. And I am not against expressing yourselves. That’s what’s great about our country. We can do that. But when there are men and women that give their lives for their flag, for their anthem, have given their lives, continue to put themselves on the line with our services for our flag, for our anthem, families that have been disrupted, traumatic physical injuries, traumatic mental injuries for these people that give us the opportunity to do the things we want to do, there’s no chance an anthem and a flag should come into any type of situation where you’re trying to make a point.”

Ok. The national anthem and the American flag represent every American, not just our Armed Forces. And standing during the national anthem isn’t going to treat PTSD, re-grow a missing limb, halt sexual assault of female service members, or abate the appalling rate at which veterans are committing suicide, so let’s not pretend there aren’t real, horrifying ways in which we are letting down and disrespecting our active duty military members and veterans every single day while we pat ourselves on the back for standing reverently during the anthem.

Plus it was super funny when Michael Phelps laughed during the anthem because Baltimore bros, AMIRITE.

“It is probably the most disrespectful thing you can do as a U.S. citizen is to bring that in. Because that’s our symbol. All for [expressing] yourself. That’s what’s so great. Everybody does. But no chance when it comes to the flag and the anthem. No chance.”

That’s so weird, that exercising one’s Constitutional right in order to call attention to the mistreatment of other Americans is the most disrespectful thing you can do as a U.S. citizen. I would have thought it would be something else, like an actual crime, but considering how the NHL ignores domestic abuse, rape, racism, and homophobia (to say these things are disrespectful would be an understatement, but they are), I guess I can see where those things don’t seem too disrespectful to someone like Torts, deep inside the system.

I’m getting to how this is relevant to this site, calm down.

tUMD alumnus JT Brown, now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, responded to Tortorella’s comments thusly:

Frog Coffee, indeed.

JT made a statement to the Tampa Bay Times to expand on his position, without the pesky 140 character limit. His statement included the following:

“I could have been quiet and just kept my opinion to myself, but I don’t want young minorities who love the game of hockey to think that what’s going on in America today is going unnoticed by the hockey community. I love America and thank the military for protecting our freedoms, as well as law enforcement for protecting and serving our communities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that there is still racism today. I am glad my tweet provoked a discussion, because we need to start having a conversation about racism if we want to work towards a better America.”

I mean, wow. Who knew there was some other way to be patriotic, besides shouting “LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT” at anyone who doesn’t fall into line? That’s so weird. Who knew one could appreciate the military and still admit that this country is deeply flawed? Who knew it was possible to respect law enforcement while acknowledging there are serious issues of systemic racism that affect how police interact with black people?

Thoughtful, informed protests backed up by meaningful, sincere actions to promote positive change are one billion times more patriotic than standing during the national anthem. I am so proud that JT Brown represents my alma mater and my favorite hockey program, and so glad to live in a country where people still want to make life better for each other.

Let’s Get It Started In Here

7 September 2016

Here’s to three years of living in Duluth!

Enjoying some peace before #ss25k #conservationofmomentum

A photo posted by RWD (@runninwiththedogs) on

You can’t beat that view.

College hockey is starting so soon I can’t even stand it! Sooner than you’d think, even, if you listened to the sexist jerks who tell you when college hockey starts based on men’s games.

Bulldog hockey starts on September 24th. tUMD hosts Kacy Ambroz, Emma Stauber, and the Minnesota Whitecaps. The Whitecaps roster boasts some of the biggest stars in hockey, including Monique and Jocelyn Lamoureux and Kendall Coyne. Until we get an NWHL or CWHL expansion team, the Whitecaps are the closest we’ll get to a women’s pro team in Minnesota. And let’s face it, if they were men, they’d already be on pro teams.

How do you like that, I don’t post for 5 months and come right back at ya with my bra-burning agenda? Eat it.

There will be a new coach behind the bench for the Bulldog women this year. Sami Reber left to become the head coach of the Cake-Eating Hornets. In her place, tDogs have acquired yet another Connolly. Chris Connolly (no relation to Mike), former Hilltopper, ’09 national champion and 2x captain of the BU Terriers, will join Coaches Crowell and Bellamy for the upcoming season.

I’m expecting to get my season tickets any day now, and look forward to seeing how fancy they are. Season Ticket Arrival Day is when I really start to get excited.

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.


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.