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>Tales From The Northland

7 August 2007

>Okay, yes, I do realize I went to Duluth over a week ago, but I’ve been tired, people. Give a girl a break.

FIRST OF ALL, we must discuss the incredible 36.3 miles per gallon I got in my lovely and amazing Saturn, which also did not overheat at all. Brilliant. I guess that’s all the discussion that is needed, except to say STOP DRIVING FREAKING HUMMERS AND SUVS AND CRAP LIKE THAT. Jeez. I sound like a freaking hippie. And that makes me feel dirty.

Okay, so last Sunday I jumped in the Wheels of Death and zipped up to Duluth (a bit behind schedule, but what’s new?) I can only go so long without a.) visiting Duluth and b.) talking Bulldog hockey with a real live Bulldog fan. So I decided to visit the RWD Mobile Reporter, Gramps, as well as Gram (collectively known as The Folks).

After arriving on campus at tUMD, I thought that I saw a few Bulldog hockey players, but I might have just been projecting. Besides, short of a player coming up to me, introducing himself, and reminding me that he plays for tDogs, I wouldn’t have a clue. So, no chance for any kind of stalking. One of the great tragedies of our time, no doubt.

So, after arriving at Heaney Hall to rendez-vous with the Mobile Reporter, we climbed into The Mothership Lincoln and headed down to Canal Park. There, we ran into a very rich old codger acquaintance of Gramps’s (hint: there’s a hockey arena named after him), and ended up in some exceptionally long movie about the Lighthouses of Isle Royale down at the Army Corps of Engineers museum. My god. It was so long. There should have been some sort of warning. We also visited the Duluth Pack store where I got some most excellent accessories (apparently I am either Bill or Ted now). We rounded out the day with a visit to the Lakeview Castle for “the best walleye” that the Folks had had “all summer.” (I did not go to the Sports Garden. I’d never go there without FHG.)

Now, for the actual hockey content. We discussed the television situation in Duluth. According to Gramps, when they moved here from New Hampshire, they were told that the whole city essentially revolved around hockey. Obvs. there was nothing else to do in Duluth in those days. tUMD wasn’t even in the WCHA back then, though they became a D-1 independent just after the Folks moved up to Duluth (or, as Gram thought of it at first, the end of the world). Already hockey fans from growing up watching high school hockey in Rhode Island and Massachusetts (yes, 65 years ago, they had high school hockey in New England), the Folks had season tickets to tUMD hockey for decades, starting at the old Curling Club (scene of excessive fraternity hijinx from other RWD correspondents, including former RWD Overseas Correspondent L and RWD East Coast correspondent H) and continuing once tDECC was built. Even the Most Excellent former Matriarch of the RWD family (my great-grandmother) had a season ticket for a few years. The RWD family is in its fourth generation of Bulldog hockey support.

Highlights from our conversation:

1. Gramps’s friend was the guy who posted on the DNT message board that we need to fire Sandelin because tDogs have not had a winning season since ’92. I asked him to remind said friend that tDogs did not have a losing season when they went to the Frozen Four.

2. Speaking of firing Sandelin, Gramps is not in favor. He believes (and I agree) that we need a coach that is either Canadian or has mucho Canadian connections, because we can’t effectively recruit an entire competitive team out of the Northland. This is not a new revelation.

3. As a matter of fact, Gramps cancelled his season tickets one year when tUMD hired… um… what’s his name… that fella from Grand Rapids whose name escapes me at this moment. Then, during some sort of scrimmage, he witnessed a young walk-on named Brett Hull show off his mad skillz, and promptly retrieved his season tickets, because he didn’t want to miss out on the Brett Hull show.

4. During the Brett Hull years, Hull was on one line and current tUMD coach/party animal Bill Watson was on another, but they were always paired together during a 4 on 4 situation. According to Gramps, a 4 on 4 situation was “a goal for UMD” almost without fail. It’s kind of a shame that I was too young to know what the heck was going on back then. It’s kind of a shame our special teams situation has been a bit of a pain in the butt the past few years, especially 4 on 4.

5. Under the reign of terror of “So Long Ralphie” as they used to sing to coach Romano, tDogs employed a very Lemaire-esque defencive plan: get a 2 goal lead, and sit on the puck. Waste time. Don’t even bother to do anything offensive, just hold the lead. It was not a very good strategy, evidently, nor was it very popular with the fans. Of course, the best way to get rid of a coach is to promote him. (Note: Romano was, according to my sources, a most excellent A.D. He just “wasn’t a hockey coach.”)

Though it was great to discuss hockey for awhile, it also reminded me of how much I miss the game. And, of course, of how excruciating it is to try to come up with content for this site during the long off-season.

I should note that tDogs selected their captains for 2007-08 at some point, though I was totally unaware. There was no press release (LARRY I AM LOOKING IN YOUR DIRECTION), and I just happend to look at the “fast facts” link on tUMD’s website. RWD Guy Matt McKnight is our Fearless Leader for the upcoming season, with Andrew Carroll as his Boris and Travis Gawryletz as his Natasha (these roles are interchangeable, I’m not trying to say anything about anyone’s masculinity here). tDogs have an opportunity to build on last year’s, um, success if they can get strong leadership out of their juniors and seniors. Last year’s upperclassmen really stepped it up and elevated their own play as well as that of their teammates, and I’ll be expecting that again. I hope that Knighter and Carroll have full, healthy seasons this year, as a shoulder injury and post-concussive issues, respectively, sidelined the poor guys.

Look for a RWD press release in the near future naming My Guys for the upcoming season.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 August 2007 6:10 pm

    >I was expecting a text message from the Garden rubbing it in that you were there just to spite me! Oh well. Sounds like you had a good time! The Duluth Pack store rules!

  2. 15 August 2007 3:13 am

    >I should go to the Garden with my HC jersey on.But no, no one appreciates the Garden like you. It just wouldn’t be right.

  3. 15 August 2007 1:37 pm

    >I think the captain situation could be a BIG problem.Fearless Leader, Boris, and Natasha would act totally distracted vs. the Gophers because if they catch squirrel they can get moose! And, as you all know, they always are doomed to fail!Gender aside, maybe you should have named the captains as “RWD’s Angels” because they always seem to get the bad guy?

  4. 18 August 2007 9:36 pm

    >Tree Hugger? I won’t give up my Trail Blazer for anything except maybe a Saturn VUE but then I have too find a trailer to pull behind it because I won’t be able to fit all of my gear in it…

  5. 27 August 2007 8:17 pm

    >For any bulldog fan to assume….. that after losing 40 % of your scoring from one player, and losing sight of the fact that his linemates numbers may have been inflated as a result of playing with that one player, …. that the productivity will improve, they are only kidding themselves. This squad will have to produce by committee not by player,….. it is after all a team sport, played as a team. Once the coaching staff figure that out they will be fine.

  6. 27 August 2007 11:28 pm

    >Um, I’m not sure what you’re referring to here (esp. in this post, did you mean the more recent post?), but I think I agree with you? I don’t know. Obvs. we don’t have anywhere near a superstar this year, but we also have some players who played well below their potential last year, as a result of injury or who knows what. I predict a few guys will have dramatic increases in scoring this year.I DO think that we will score more goals this year than we did last year. I can’t take anymore 0-0 ties.

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