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All-RWD Honors, Cont’d

13 April 2017

To wrap up the All-RWD Honors team, I bring you the women’s team. The men’s team was announced yesterday. Congratulations to each of these women on this prestigious honor.

All-RWD First Team Honors:

F: Morgan Morse
F: Brooklyn Schugel
F: Ashleigh Brykaliuk
F: Sydney Brodt
F: Reagan Haley
F: Katherine McGovern
F: Lara Stalder
F: Demi Crossman
F: Maria Lindh
F: Michelle Lowenhielm
F: Katerina Mrazova

D: Lauren Niska
D: Sidney Morin
D: Catherine Daoust
D: Jalyn Elmes
D: Emma Yanko
D: Shelby Brossart
D: Lynn Astrup
D: Jessica Healey
D: Linnea Hedin

G: Catherine Johnson
G: Maddie Rooney

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All-RWD Honors

12 April 2017

Since every last blog/media outlet/tabloid is putting out their all-whatever honors, I felt I needed to put out mine. I put a lot of thought into this, looked over all the players in the NCHC and in men’s NCAA D-1 college hockey, and after applying appropriate and objective criteria, here’s what the final list looked like:

All-RWD First Team Honors:

F: Adam Johnson
F: Kyle Osterberg
F: Avery Peterson
F: Joey Anderson
F: Alex Iafallo
F: Billy Exell
F: Blake Young
F: Dominic Toninato
F: Karson Kuhlman
F: Jared Thomas
F: Jade Miller
F: Riley Tufte
F: Sammy Squirrel
F: Parker Mackay

D: Dan Molenaar
D: Neal Pionk
D: Nick Wolff
D: Brendan Kotyk
D: Jarod Hilderman
D: Willie Raskob
D: Nick McCormack
D: Carson Soucy
D: Will Campion

G: Hunter Miska
G: Hunter Shepard
G: Nick Deery

Seasons of Love

11 April 2017

Four thousand eight hundred sixty seven minutes
Four thousand eight hundred sixty seven moments so dear
Four thousand eight hundred and sixty seven minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In goal lights, in road trips
In face-offs, in odd man rushes
In blocked shots, in saves
In laughter, in strife
In four thousand eight hundred and sixty seven minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love
The season’s come and gone, finally. Not that I ever truly want the college hockey season to end, but the season began on September 30th, so we’ve had over six months of hockey. In 4867:09 officially (doesn’t include shootouts, 3×3, or exhibition), we’ve been through an emotional wringer.
It didn’t feel right to post about the women’s season coming to a close while the men’s season was still going. I was really down about how it ended, probably moreso than I am about what happened Saturday night. Maybe because it ended 1-0, and it just hurt to get shut out at home in the playoffs. I hate to go to games without getting to cheer a single goal for my team.
I didn’t know when I was going to get around to writing that final post about the women’s season, but it’s unfortunate that both teams ended up losing their final games, and I’m sad that it was prescient of me to wait.
But there was so much to enjoy about this hockey season. The women started off with a win and tie against BC (which proved to be HUGE for them in the PWR), the men started off with a sweep against MTU (also a huge PWR boost, especially since they faltered a bit against Bemidji with that yucky tie). Both teams overall came up big in non-conference play, which kept them in solid position for the playoffs all year long.
Both teams had HUGE wins, like the men’s 5-0 record against UND and the women’s home sweep of UMTC and 4-1 win against Wisconsin. Both teams had plenty of overtime games to scare us, and dramatic playoff victories, like the women’s 2-1 2OT win against UMTC in the Final Faceoff, and like oh… NEARLY EVERY PLAYOFF GAME THE MEN PLAYED.
More importantly, these players showed us they gave their hearts and minds to every game, and they carried themselves with grace and integrity on and off the ice. At times they made mistakes, or made us frustrated, but we never saw them quit. We saw Dom Toninato miss breakaways, and while he was frustrated, he kept shooting, kept on fighting for that next goal. We saw Lara Stalder step back to play defense and double-shift when the team needed her to, defying the limits of human cardiovascular efficiency, and still step up in 2OT to get that goal against the Goofs. We saw Maddie Rooney and Hunter Miska make save after save they had no business making, sometimes on an unbelievable play by the opponent, and sometimes to bail out one of their teammates.
We saw two teams leave it all on the ice. Who could ever be disappointed with a season like that?

A Study in Maroon

5 April 2017

Tomorrow (or today, or perhaps sometime in the distant past, depending on when you read this), tUMD faces Harvard for the chance to play for a national championship. We’ve been here before together, folks. But it feels different, doesn’t it? Let’s compare and contrast.

Then: The tournament was in St. Paul.
Now: The tournament is in Chicago.

Then: I bought tickets months in advance, because it was in St. Paul, so I figured we’d go no matter what.
Now: I was offered tickets at face value by a friend during the regional, because I wasn’t going to go unless tUMD made it.

Then: I lived in St. Louis Park.
Now: I live in Duluth.

Then: I was a recent Augsburg grad.
Now: I am a semi-recent tUMD grad!

Then: We had beautiful weather!
Now: It’s cold, rainy, and all the outdoor festivities tomorrow have been canceled.

Then: I went with DA, my brother, the Aaaahj, my uncle, and Dirty.
Now: I am attending with DA, the Aaaahj, Biddy, Kleiner, and my uncle.

Then: tUMD was in the WCHA and no one had even heard of the NCHC.
Now: tUMD is in the NCHC and it owns.

Then: tUMD was captained by a very old Mike Montgomery, with two assistant captains with the same last name: Mike Connolly and Jack Connolly, a Duluth Marshall alumnus who resembled either Zac Brown or a grizzly bear.
Now: tUMD is captained by Dominic Toninato, a Duluth East alumnus who resembles a Teddy Graham, with a very old assistant captain Brendan Kotyk, and two assistant captains with the same first name: Karson Kuhlman and Carson Soucy.

Then: tUMD hit rock-bottom at mid-season when they were destroyed in the Amsoil Arena opener after a top defenceman defected to the pros after leaving for Team Canada’s WJC camp.
Now: tUMD had some minor ups and downs but stayed near the top of PWR essentially for the entire season. (I don’t really care to fact check that so I can say it definitively.)

Then: North Dakota was THE team for the entire season.
Now: DU and tUMD were THE teams for awhile and then Denver took that role over entirely in the second half.

Then: tUMD went out to Bridgeport for their regional and destroyed Union and Yale (the overall #1).
Now: tUMD went to Fargo for their regional as the overall #2 seed and had to go to overtime to beat THE Ohio State and Boston University.

Then: tUMD matched up against Notre Dame in the semis, and their conferencemates UND matched up against Michigan.
Now: tUMD, the Harvard of the Midwest, plays the Harvard of Harvard, Harvard. Their conferencemates, Denver (the overall #1) match up against Notre Dame.

Then: Kevin Pates was the beat writer for the Duluth News Tribune, and Bruce Ciskie was the “vox.”
Now: Matt Wellens is the DNT beat writer, but Bruce is still voxxing away.

Then: tUMD bleached their hair for the playoffs, and I followed suit. My hair basically disintegrated and took months to recover.
Now: tUMD has normal hair and so do I. Relatively speaking.

Then: I was a nervous wreck for the fortnight leading up to the tournament. I thought it was an impossible dream, and that if they didn’t win, they’d never have another chance.
Now: I’ve dissociated myself from the upcoming events and blithely carried on my day to day activities as though everything in the hockey world is not on the line come 5 pm. I know that tDogs have won it once, so they certainly can win it again. (By no means does this indicate I am overly confident, or even confident at all.)

Then: I wore my Mike Seidel game-worn gold jersey.
Now: I’ll be wearing my Mike Seidel game-worn gold jersey.

Then: The team had the potential to win any game in any situation, so why not win two in a row?
Now: The team has the potential to win any game in any situation, so why not win two in a row?

Let’s go Bulldogs!

All That Jazz

27 March 2017

tUMD 3, duhOSU 2 (OT)/tUMD 3, Sucks to BU 2 (OT)

tUMD has punched their ticket to Chicago!

What an absurd weekend of hockey. Friday, as you know, I was sitting in my cube, gazing out at the parkade directly outside my window, half-heartedly following the BU-UND game on Twitter. I drove home from work and of course UND had broken a plane of glass  (a good strategy they’ve employed before) and tied it up and they were going to OT. I wanted to get in a short run before tUMD’s game, so I thought I’d head out and get that out of the way. Just before I left, I checked Twitter one more time, saw UND had scored, and shrugged. Ok, no matter what happened in the late game, I wouldn’t be going to Fargo. Cool, no drive!

So for almost an hour, I thought North Dakota had won. Imagine my surprise when I returned home, expecting tUMD’s game was about to start, and found… the game was still going. And then ended for real with a very different result. All I have to say to the majority of UND fans is:

tUMD’s game started rather late, of course (almost 2 hours, I think!) and I actually don’t think that was a good thing. I know it sounded nice for our potential opponents to be exhausting themselves in multiple overtimes, but it also threw our guys off their game, because they had to wait. Naturally, it also threw duhOSU off their game, but I tend to think those types of things benefit the crappier team. Mostly because it seemed to benefit duhOSU and they were the crappier team.

The ref positioned behind the net had a rough day as both an OSU goal and a UMD goal had to be overturned for basically the exact same thing: hitting the goalie in the back but not actually crossing the goal line. Goalinato sure sold it when it happened to him! It worked out well though because it meant OSU did not jump out to a lead. tUMD scored twice in the second (and nearly scored a third time on this sick pass from Blake Young to Jared Thomas):

Then for some reason tDogs decided to play absolutely rotten in the 3rd. I can’t explain it. They allowed some total losers to score, including one guy who is named “Gordi” as if he is a hybrid tribute to Gordie Howe and Geordi Laforge and who hadn’t scored a goal in his college hockey career. WUT. No. And it could have been worse, if not for Hunter Miska:

What is that even? And that wasn’t all.

Raise your hand if you needed a defibrillator to resurrect you after that. RIP me. Our man Willie Raskob had enough. He channeled all the pent-up frustranxiety of tUMD fans into that shot. Well maybe not all of it because the shot didn’t rip through the net, bust a hole through the boards, and reduce the arena to smoking rubble. But it was a hard shot.

So, I was off to Fargo, thanks to some friends. Friends who are UND fans, BTW, and I will remind you that while there are a disproportionate number of UND fans who are… shall we say, delusional, incoherent, violent, alcoholic, racist sociopaths, there are lots of really amazing people. These two wonderful ladies hooked me up with tickets, a parking pass, and two FanFest tickets. Another wonderful fella hooked my dad up with a ticket. All we had to do was get there. Which for me was quite the boring, depressing drive. Yeesh, northwestern Minnesota, spruce yourself up.

We arrived about an hour before the game, met up with my dad (who of course got to drive a real freeway the whole way, as opposed to a glorified Oregon Trail), and then headed over to the rink to meet up with Biddco, Dan of the Week, and other assorted hooligans. We all were able to sit together, although some of us had to move down a row when some ticketed people showed up. They weren’t even tUMD fans so I don’t know why they didn’t just sit elsewhere. I ended up sitting in front of a couple guys chewing tobacco and spitting into plastic cups, so that was disgusting.

There were a fair number of people at the game, but most of them seemed to be UND fans who couldn’t decide who they hated more: Pionk or the team that ended their season after a controversial offsides call. They sucked up a lot of the atmosphere, since they chose not to take sides. I really think that hostility to tUMD would have been preferable to apathy, as far as atmosphere goes, but whatever. Friday was a fairly draining day for everyone, and maybe folks weren’t ready for more hockey, having seen 3 games’ worth of hockey crammed into two games the day before.

I don’t know what the heck happened, but the first two periods went by in the blink of an eye. Maybe it was because there were only 5 penalties in the game? I’m not sure. tUMD went down early on a goal from Clayton Kellar, and once again, the game could have been much worse early on, if not for this Miska save to keep it 0-0 at the time:

This happened basically right in front of my face and I could not believe it. Anyway, I thought tUMD would be in decent shape going into the first intermission down a goal. It wasn’t ideal, but wasn’t insurmountable. Then tDogs really started to come on in the last minute or so, and Alex Iafallo made sure they went into the locker room tied.

Very good stuff.

The second period was a bit frustrating because tUMD had a PP and squandered it with a too many men situation so obvious that even I saw it, and I never see those penalties. Usually it happens along the bench, but in this case, we could almost see the moment where the whole team went “Oh ****” (put whatever word you like in there) because it was too late. Le sigh. And then it was the second intermission, and it felt like the game had gone by in the blink of an eye.

Halfway through the third, my dude Joey Anderson scored a goal that I did not fully appreciate until seeing this GIF.

It happened at the opposite end of the rink so I couldn’t see that it was really 2 shots, and that he roofed that shot just before he ran out of time and space. Wow. We spent the next several minutes praying for the guys to hang on, and of course, prayer doesn’t work, because it was tied. And it just felt weird. Like maybe no one would score, and it would be 5 OTs, and everyone would all die, and the game would just be forfeited and OSU and UND would have to play for the forfeited spot in memory of their fallen comrades on tUMD and BU.

I swear they slowed the clocks down during intermission. There’s just no other explanation for it.

Early on in OT, Bobo Carpenter (no relation) took a guy down. It happened at center ice, I don’t even know who he actually took down, and I didn’t really see it due to the bad sight line I had, but I do know that tUMD had a PP, and a chance to get justice for 2015. (There used to be a YouTube video to a Tupac song in that post, but I guess it got yanked.)

And lo, justice was served.

What an unbelievable moment, to end an unbelievable weekend. That was one of the most grueling regionals I can recall, and there were probably four or five plays that came inches, millimeters, Angstroms away from ending tUMD’s season, and yet tDogs are going to Chicago.

And so am I. Come on ‘Dogs, we’re gonna paint the town — and all that jazz.

Zen and the Art of Watching College Hockey

24 March 2017

tUMD takes the ice in like 1.5 hours (really less than that, but I am rounding, but probably more than that, because of the broken glass), and I’m at work (working very hard, I know. It is Friday, I am salaried, and I get my work done on time). I was feeling a bit anxious earlier — but only because of a professional exam I have to take, not because of the hockey game.

Let’s contrast that with 2011. (It appears that the Starland Vocal Band video was pulled from YouTube at some point. Whoops.) Life was a lot different then, but that was the last time I felt really keyed up about a regional. I suppose because it was in St. Paul? I was so anxious all day. Here is an excerpt from that post:

And when I say suffered, I mean SUFFERED. Holy mother. I was completely distracted, my heart was pounding, and I thought I was going to puke. Good god was that stressful. I sent a frantic email to one of my friends sort of jabbering on about how freaked out I was about the game. Then I wrote “Gee, I guess I’m not helping, am I?” She wrote back “NO YOU’RE NOT!” Ha.

And yet here I am, listening to Alice in Chains, blogging out of boredom, and thinking about maybe planning what I’m going to say for a meeting I’m running in 15 minutes. (Now that I’ve thought about it, I’m just going to wing it. And actually now the meeting is over, had to stop writing the blog and hop on the call.) 2011 RWD would be like “What happened to you? You used to be cool.”

To which I would say, “Jeah, whatever. I am cool. You’re the one who has no chill.” Neither “Jeah” nor “no chill” was in my lexicon in 2011  so that would be very confusing for Past RWD.

What did happen to me, though? I didn’t have any major life changes (ok I moved to Duluth and graduated from tUMD but I guess I don’t count that), and I am certainly not more mature.

A national championship happened, I guess. It happened, when it felt like maybe it would never. tUMD from getting a maybe once-in-a-decade shot at a title to playing much more regularly in the national tournament. If it can happen once, it can happen again. Anyone can win 4 games in a row, especially when there must be a winner (no ties, shoot-outs, etc.)

But somehow I’ve managed to keep the joy of victory while letting go of the sorrow of defeat. I don’t know if that happened because I pulled back from fan message boards like USCHO and RacistmascotSports, or because I see tUMD play a lot more, or because there are actual problems in this world like a fascist (well, many fascists) in the White House, or because I got into trail running and work out all my aggression through running, but somehow I’ve managed to stop getting so negatively invested in games. Perhaps I finally was able to internalize that I personally am not a better or worse person because the team I choose to cheer for wins or loses. That sounds stupid but at the same time if more people would realize that, we wouldn’t have, like, hockey dads fighting in parking lots over mites games.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight, or even what’s going to happen in the UND-BU game (currently 3-1 BU with 12 minutes to go), but I know that I enjoyed the season, I don’t want it to end, I want to go to Chicago, and that even if tUMD’s season doesn’t end in a win, life will go on, and I’ll still be able to enjoy sports.

Tl; dr version? I’m better than you.

Let’s go DOGGIES!

With Honors, Too

23 March 2017

I spent a fair bit of time breaking down some stats about the WCHA’s All-Academic Team when it was announced, and decided to do the same for the NCHC’s. I didn’t realize that it had been released over a month ago, since I expected it to be announced with the rest of the awards. Stupid me. Here’s the full list of players.

I’ll say it again, schools don’t do enough to emphasize the student in student-athlete. When I look up a senior on DU and find out his major is “undecided,” I think one of two things: 1. He declared a major but DU doesn’t care about updating a player’s bio once he declares (but have no problem whipping out a thesaurus to write a ridiculous blurb about the player’s accomplishments over the previous seasion), or 2. He is still undeclared and DU doesn’t care whether or not their players are on track to graduate. Neither is a good look, Monty/Peg.

The average number of All-Academic team athletes per school was 15.38. UNO leads the way with 19, so I guess Gappy McTooth is doing something right there. The average roster size for the NCHC is 27.38 (CC has 31 guys!), and the demographics of the team will affect how many players are eligible. Like, Miami looks like a bunch of chumps, but they have 14 freshmen out of 26 guys. That means all but two of their eligible players (idk, maybe someone is a red shirt freshman, but I don’t care) is on the team. I say all but 2 because they actually have a non-rostered player, Johnny Wingels, on the team. Because he is a non-rostered player, he is included in the chart below, but not in any of the future charts (as the pertinent data is not readily available). Congratulations to all 123 of these men!

Sorry about the formatting on these charts. Google Sheets isn’t as nice as Excel. I don’t want all this freaking white space!!! Look how stupid the chart below looks, with all that space in the bottom right. Gah.

By position, of course there are more forwards than defencemen than goaltenders, since that’s how a normal roster is made up. What’s interesting is the proportional makeup of the All-Academic Team is almost identical to the proportional makeup of the population of players as a whole. This happened on the women’s side as well. No position outperformed their proportion.

I considered comparing the men’s and women’s results, but ultimately decided against it. First, while there are 8 women’s teams in the WCHA and 8 men’s teams in the NCHC, there’s not significant overlap in the member schools. There are also more rostered men than rostered women, so the comparisons would all have to be proportional, and I didn’t feel like pulling all that stuff together. Finally, I don’t think it really says much, other than maybe looking at the majors, which we will.

Here’s how the majors break down by category. Applied sciences are things like exercise science or public health (I see you, Brendan Kotyk). 51% of the players are majoring in a business-type subject (there could be more, as you see 26% were either undecided/undeclared or their bio did not list their major), which is not super surprising. There are way more business majors than on the women’s side (18% over there). As a person with a business-type major (finance and accounting), that is not surprising, as my classes always seemed to have more men than women. And we all know anecdotal evidence is proof, right?

There are 4 engineering majors, and 3 are goalies. Will Massey, Matt Hrynkiw, and Nick Deery are the goalies, and Ben Storm is… idk, a Fooper who really, really didn’t want to go to Tech? There were 3 women in the WCHA majoring in engineering (again, possibly more, as 36% of players did not have a major provided!), which is interesting – as a person with an engineering degree (mechanical), my classes were teeming with men and I was frequently the only woman. I’m not surprised engineering and sciences are uncommon majors among hockey players, due to the workload from the majors (especially engineering), the time commitment from the sport, and the schedule complications due to labs and senior design. When looking at all the STEM categories (applied science, science, and engineering), a higher proportion of women (22.7%) than men (8.2%) are enrolled in those majors. Now that’s something interesting.

I looked at where the players were from geographically: 75% of NCHC players are American. This is higher than I thought! Canadians underperformed vs. the general population of rostered Canadians, and Americans and Europeans slightly overperformed. I didn’t look at the population of eligible players (it’s too hard to tell due to transfers/red shirts), so it could be that there’s a lot of freshmen Canadians and they didn’t truly underperform, but, c’mon. The map just shows the states/provinces where the All-Academic team guys are from, it doesn’t really say stuff, it’s just there for Biddy because he likes maps.

Congrats again to all 123 players! Thanks for setting an example for young hockey players that education is important, and for making the most out of this great opportunity before moving on to your pro careers, whether you go pro in hockey or you don’t.