>Hail to the Victors
Let’s talk about our victors.
We fans are never going to know what it’s like to be out there, playing in the game, being on the team, actually doing what was necessary to put the puck in the net or keep it out of our own net.
But they got what we were feeling. They knew what we needed, they knew how much it would mean to us, and I’d like to think they did it for us as much as they did it for each other and for themselves. (And there is nothing wrong with winning for one’s self, as long as it’s for the good of the team.) Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. OH MY GOD, THANK YOU FOR WINNING.
So, a few words for each of you, though you all deserve epic poems. Right now, you’re all My Guys.
You’re making things happen on the ice and I can see the playmaker you’re going to be. You’ve got grit and size but I know scoring is going to come too once the trainer’s gotten through with you. You’re a hell of a player and no one would know you were a freshman.
You are the league’s most underrated defenceman. You go out there night after night and do anything you can to keep the puck out of the net and away from the opponent, whether it’s blocking shots, the hip check from hell, or good old fashioned hustle.
Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA tournament. As a FRESHMAN. Looks like I might not have been so crazy back in October. YOU DROVE MICHIGAN CRAZY. I mean, OUT OF THEIR MINDS CRAZY. They HATED you. And I know you loved it. You probably drew three penalties and could have drawn a few more. They couldn’t match your speed and your skill.
There were hundreds, possibly thousands of us crying along with you when you were holding your trophy. Come back next year and win the Hobey Baker, as you are the epitome of that award. Thank you for bringing the trophy home to Duluth where it belongs, and where one should have been 27 years ago.
You controlled the ice for prolonged periods every time you touched the puck. You easily stood out as the best player on the ice and you almost won it in overtime, which I almost missed. You’re a true talent and a deserving All-American, and they’d better have a mural of you in the DECC next fall. A Camrose fan told us you were better than Raymond and we didn’t know that was possible, but you showed us that it was.
We would not be here without the ten wins you gave us, which included two shutouts. You outperformed what any of us could have imagined and you stepped into a void we were terrified we couldn’t fill. Again, let me say, we could not be here without your play and it was totally awesome to see how you ate up Wisconsin.
A fluke injury kept you out of the lineup but that doesn’t mean you didn’t influence your teammates. You’re a hard-nosed gritty guy who gets the ugliest goals I’ve ever seen and I can see that same work ethic in the guys with similar games. We’re privileged to have you play next year.
You are a physical force on the team and the wussy Eastern players and refs would not have been able to handle it. Your game has improved leaps and bounds over the past year and it’s going to be exciting to see you light up your opponents next year. You did your uncle Joe proud this weekend, I am sure, and you looked absolutely pumped out of your mind during the celebration.
You’re a freshman, and you totally got what this meant to the city of Duluth and to the tUMD fans. I suppose we have your cousin Marco to thank for that, and I’m sure he’s unbelievably thrilled that you were able to finish his business for him. You wowed everyone watching this game with your talent, your poise and your composure, and the fans in Carolina are salivating at the prospect of your arrival. We are lucky to have you for this year and if that’s all we get, it was one hell of a year.
Another hometown boy who will go down in history on the first team to bring a championship to Duluth. Every time you stepped on the ice I could see your determination, even from the very tippy top of the Xcel, and I hope you don’t think your efforts have gone unnoticed. Our near-perfect PK is thanks to you and your merciless defence.
I heard a funny joke on the broadcast: that you are overshadowed by your linemates. Hardly. If the MN Wild management have brains in their heads then we’ll be seeing you in the Twin Cities for a long time. We are privileged to have watched you blossom over the last four years from a kid with a bright future into an elite player in the league. Thank you for staying this year to bring us this incredible gift.
I can’t even imagine what your hair is going to look like as it grows back. tUMD was in a bad spot looking for another goalie when you came along. With McNeely coming in this might be your only year on the team and what a year it’s been. What a ride you’ve been part of, and though we never saw you in action I know that it’s our loss and it would have been darn fun to cheer you on in at least a period or two of hockey.
You swore on national TV! That in and of itself is awesome. You’ve played every possible role on this team except goalie, it seems. And you’ve done every role you’ve played justice. You’re a total ass-kicker on the PK and you’ve got a scoring touch when it’s needed.
You were ALL OVER the ice on Saturday. You have great hands; I’m pretty sure you’ll be finding the back of the net a LOT next year. You helped ensure that Michigan had to worry every single second of the game, there were no shifts they could take off as our “energy” guys have a heck of a lot of skill in them.
You’re crazy, kid. Straight up crazy and I love it, because that’s just passion for the game. You’re ready to step up for any of your teammates and you leave it all out there on the ice. I loved seeing you skate around like crazy on Saturday night during the celebration, and I am glad you gave us four years of mad intensity.
You stepped in when we needed you to play and looked like you hadn’t missed a beat. We’re ready for your steadiness and your puck moving skills next year in our back to back quest starting next October. It’s great to see yet another Iron Ranger get a piece of a national championship.
You had a hand in every goal Saturday night. Incredible. THREE ASSISTS IN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, that’s unreal. With a couple great chances for a goal as well. We all know the penalties that were called on you were b.s.: apparently a guy running into you when you’re going full speed and get tangled up is considered hitting after the whistle? Come back next year, Brady, we want four years from you!
We still get four years out of you, and though there’s no doubt you would rather have been playing, we are all looking forward to what you can bring to our blue line next year. When we raise the banner next year I hope you are suited up in your gear and in the lineup, but know you are every bit as much a part of this win as any other guy who will be receiving a ring.
So you walked onto this team a forward and you are walking out of here as one of the league’s top defencemen, and if you don’t have an NHL contract then there are a few dozen general managers who all need to be fired. You are an amazing player and an example of how hard work and perseverance pays off. You’ve stood tall for the team through on and off ice adversity and you have shown true dedication by sticking it out for four years to honor your commitment even when the pros were calling.
You did what people were starting to think was impossible: score on Hunwick. You lit up the crowd and ignited the team. You are the first son of a Bulldog to come here and play and if every Bulldog had a kid like you we’d never lose another game. You were a beast on the face-offs, too.
You only have one mode: beast. You’re great defensively but you know when to turn on the jets and step up into the play to make things happen. You have stepped up your game for the team when they needed you the most and you’re a brick freaking wall. Getting hit by you must feel like a freight train.
Sometimes guys talk about dedication using hyperbole, saying “I’ll play on one leg,” and such things. But for a couple years you actually did play on one leg. Just to keep playing hockey for the Bulldogs. Your brothers are completely insane, I should mention. But we can all stand to learn a few lessons from your heart, grit and determination to be the player we knew you could be.
YES YOU DID! We were chanting that at Tom Reid’s after. Holy crap did you stand tall throughout this whole tournament. You are so calm and collected and on the uncommon occasion where the defense broke down you rose to the occasion and made some spectacular saves. You won the biggest of the big games for us. KENNY REITER! YES HE DID!
When tUMD won the Final Five in 2009, you weren’t in the lineup. When tUMD opened AMSoil Arena, you weren’t in the lineup. I hope those disappointments were somehow erased by scoring THE BIGGEST GOAL IN BULLDOG HISTORY. How fitting that it would be a local boy to seal the deal for us. How perfect that it would be our “Unsung Hero,” a role model on and off the ice, and a senior leader ending his college career in the most amazing possible way.
You certainly impressed some people on the national stage. Barry Melrose absolutely loved you and your intensity. What a stacked team we have that a player of your caliber is on the third line. It took three Michigan players to hold you back and they took a penalty to do so.
What a time to get your first goal. And what a beauty of a goal it was, too. The commentators noted you were executing exactly as your counterpart on the first PP unit were. I may have questioned why you were on the power play, but you proved me wrong, and you are just now getting to show off your talents. I should have known better as Sandy did the same thing two years ago with T.O.; we had a fresh guy with skill playing in the tourney.