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>The Game That Was

14 April 2011


tUMD 3, Ugly Helmets 2
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Rudyard Kipling
Saturday started as a day like any other day. I fell asleep watching Miracle, as I had done before the Union game, the Yale game and the Notre Dame game. The sky was gray but it was warm out, and for a moment as I got out of bed it seemed no different from a normal weekend morning.

Then I remembered that tUMD was playing for a national championship in just a few hours and it was like being hit by a bus. The impact of the realization was so powerful it was almost physically jolting.
And so I did what any smart hockey fan would do: I laced up my skates and played hockey for two hours. Every year a cabal of USCHO posters organizes a hockey game at the Frozen Four. It’s supposed to be just for fun, a good time and a way for people who hurl insults at each other in the anonymity of the internet to face up to their behaviours. (This is no problem for me because I am truly a horrible person.)

For me it was two blissful hours where I didn’t have to quiver in fear at the implications of the upcoming game. Two hours where I was the one playing and attempting to make things happen on the ice. I mostly failed at making anything happen, but here is a picture of me looking awesome.

As you can tell, I (second from the left) am getting burned by Yager (far left) for the 700th time. But that’s ok because in the rest of the pictures I’m standing around like a fatty. You can tell it’s me because of the horrible bright yellow ponytail. Also something quite strange happened in the locker room afterward but you’ll have to ask me about that on your own time.

It was fantastic to focus solely on the game at hand and just to step out on the ice and skate and have a good time. I left feeling a Zenlike equanimity I hadn’t had since the season started.

Of course, once we were in the car heading to the Xcel, the PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! alarm was going off inside my head. It was like 7 fire alarms, 3 tornado sirens, the horrible monthly test of the emergency broadcasting system noise and an air raid siren ALL AT ONCE. Plus a panic attack, brain aneurysm, freefall from 10,000 feet and ADHD. Oh my.

We sat at McGovern’s for awhile, everyone but me acting totally normal and watching golf. Why, I don’t know, because who freaking cares? It’s not even interesting. Eric Stromgren from the Bemidji Pioneer stopped by to say hello. Randomly he happens to be friends with this person who bought a bee jersey last year and was standing in line with me when we were buying them.

FINALLY I convinced everyone to go over to the UMD event at the River Center. We sat there for awhile until I couldn’t stand it anymore and ditched the rest of my group to go to my seat (which is good because they didn’t arrive until puck drop, and the also stole a UMD flag from somewhere) and I sat there alone until Dirty showed up.

When Michigan scored, it was like Thursday all over again, and I thought I was going to vomit. Rather than vomiting, Travis Oleksuk scored a goal. Michigan started taking all these penalties and then Max Tardy banged home his own rebound and made a believer out of me. Then something weird happened and My Jacky was lying on the ice and the puck was in the net behind Kenny and I thought “Oh my god we’re not going to win” even though it was tied. My gal Britt came up during the intermission and helped me pass the time without having a nervous breakdown.

In the 3rd period Michigan was given a power play for… running into Brady Lamb (who had an assist on all three goals, FYI), I guess. I mean, really, whatever. Then JT Brown made an incredible play to bring the puck up the ice for a shorthanded scoring chance and Merrill had no choice but to haul him down and we were at fours. JT drew about 3 penalties and could have drawn a few more. It was so funny to watch him frustrate Michigan. Well, it’s funny now that I can relax and breathe.

When the game went to overtime I wanted to… I don’t even know. I felt like I was going to pass out. I walked around the arena and found Biddco and we just sort of panicked together. I talked to a Sioux fan friend of mine and I also saw the Maroon Loon blogger who claims that I said “Don’t worry, we’ll be celebrating soon,” as he walked away from me. That’s so unlike me. I’m more likely to say “Don’t worry, we’ll be committing mass suicide soon.”

I walked back to my seat in a daze, and to be honest I probably should have stayed in my seat. I felt like I was going to faint. Then I heard the crowd start to roar just as I rounded one of the pillars in the corner and I went RUNNING for the nearest stairway just in time to see Mike Connolly with a great scoring chance.

The only reason I can tell you how the winning goal went is because I’ve seen it so many times in replay. All I know is the puck was in the net and my brother practically pile-drived (pile-drove?) me and I was screaming and crying and the Aaaahj was screaming “We’re #1! We’re #1!” and I fell over on to the seats and someone kicked my soda and it spilled everywhere and I called Schmidt’s mom and screamed nonsensically into her voicemail and I don’t even know.

I am amazed that for nothing more than the price of admission I could feel so amazing. But it’s not the price of that ticket. It’s years, and dozens of admissions, and hundreds of miles and thousands of words. All for something that, for someone who doesn’t get it, seems so meaningless and insignificant. And if I think too hard about what it means to be a sports fan, it is completely ridiculous and I’m totally overly obsessive and I don’t really care. If I cared what other people thought I wouldn’t be writing RWD, ya know.

And really, what else in life can give a person the high highs without the low lows. I could never feel the way about a sports team that I do about, like, a death. But yet I was screaming “THIS IS THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE!” as we celebrated, high atop the upper deck, the ultimate victory after fifty years of almosts, could have beens and not a prayers.

I feel like in a way the window of opportunity for writing this post has probably gone. I should have written it Saturday night, if I was really dedicated, but I chose to go out and party like a puck star with my friends. We watched the game again at Tom Reid’s and cheered the game all over again and sang the Beer Song and sang Don’t Stop Believin’ even though I’m still having a hard time believing that the Bulldogs are National Champions. I could have written it a dozen times this week but I had to get it just right and now I think the moment and the feeling have slipped through my fingers.

But it really happened, and no one can take that feeling away from us. To see the first national championship by my team? I don’t think there are many Gopher fans, or Michigan fans, or UND fans who can say that. But when I’m 800 million years old (next year) I can tell all the young Bulldog fans in the student section what it was like to watch Kyle Schmidt do snow angels on the ice and see the players come flying off the bench and watch the fans, young and old, absolutely lose their minds as tUMD won the national championship, in overtime, in our home state.

Thanks for the memories.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 15 April 2011 3:51 pm

    >Hope the second time is just as sweet.

  2. 18 April 2011 1:14 am

    >Yes I pile drove you. And I'd do it again!


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