tUMD 4, Geldings 1
tUMD 5, Geldings 2
Well then, what did we learn this past weekend?
As a Minnesota sports fan, I have been conditioned by years and years of epic failure to expect the worst from my teams. Dirty and I typically refer to the overarching effect of Minnesota sports teams’ performances as “maximum sadness.” Maximum sadness means the team will not only lose, but will rip out your heart and stomp on it. The best recent example of “maximum sadness” in action doesn’t involve MN teams, but rather the WJC. In the semi-final game between Russia and Canada, Canada went down 6-0, which of course demoralized the Canadian fanbase. Then Canada scored 5 goals, which re-energized the fans, making them believe that perhaps the greatest comeback in WJC history was possible and would erase their demons from the prior year, only to come up short and discover they would, once again, fail to get a gold medal. That’s pretty much the definition of maximum sadness.
A few seasons ago, Boston University won the national championship, and the following season, they had a dismal season, failing to make the NCAAs and barely reaching a .500 winning percentage. A friend of mine who rather closely follows BU noted that most of the players were checked out. The team was loaded with draft picks, and most of those players were looking for their payday rather than concentrating on their season. Two players were dismissed from the team that spring, and overall four players from the national championship team have been kicked off of BU’s squad.
So you can imagine that, going into this season, Bulldog fans were unsure of what to expect, and were quite pessimistic. Of course, we’ve never seen our team win the whole thing, so it makes sense that we wouldn’t know what to think of the following season, but we wondered if the national championship hangover coupled with the graduation or departure of many of our top players and a coach would leave us with a less-than-stellar season.
We were clearly way off base. After a disastrous sweep by an inferior Gophers team, tUMD has not lost. That was back in October. I was going to say back when it was warm, but that was two days ago. While tUMD lost some individual talents and great leaders, the remaining players plus the freshmen have more than made up for those losses. And they have made believers out of us.
I’m fairly superstitious. Last year, for example, during the NCAA playoffs, I had rituals. I watched Miracle the night before the game. I wore only my game-worn Seidel bee jersey. (I told him that and I think he thought I was weird and creepy. I’m trying to decide if that was weirder and creepier than when I met Mike Curry while wearing his jersey. I think no.) I felt an overwhelming sense of panic that didn’t relent until the end of each game.
I don’t feel that way this year. I wear whatever jersey I feel like wearing. Sometimes a t-shirt. Last weekend, I taped the game and had dinner at a friend’s place, and didn’t check the final score until after midnight. (Ok, so maybe I had a little moment of panic and was afraid to find the score. But, baby steps.)
I don’t feel that way because when I watch this team, they’re working hard. They’re taking the unbeaten streak very seriously. They are motivated to win. They’re a unanimous #1 in the country (INCH power rankings, USCHO poll, USA today poll, PWR), and have been #1 in the polls for 5 weeks in a row without letting it become a distraction. They had 27 days off and their head coach out of the country for part of that time, and went into the home rink of a quality opponent and pounded them.
What else is there to say? Sure, they’ll lose sometime. Maybe. They don’t have to. And if they do, they’re just going to start a new unbeaten streak.
Don’t forget that tomorrow the game will be on the NBC Sports Network! More Bulldogs on TV