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Nightmare on Eleventh Street

14 September 2016

Being a season ticket holder for tDogs comes with some nice perks. Renew your tickets early, you win prizes. Maybe a fan of the game award from Cold Stone, if you’re a nice person. Discounts for being a multi-sport ticketholder. Etc.

There’s also another perk: every year, tUMD athletes hand-deliver season tickets to a select group of season ticket holders. I always joked that if that happened to me, I would keel over and die.

Well, I lived.

Last Thursday, I was lounging in my messy house on my couch in mismatched clothing, playing a game on my computer, watching Star Trek: Generations, when I heard a noise outside my door and then the doorbell rang. I assumed it was going to be someone trying to convert me to their religion or remind me to vote, but no, a crowd of women in hockey jerseys and a dude with a camera standing on my front steps.

Naturally I don’t have any photographic evidence of the encounter. But it happened, I swear! I even told them I write this old rag here, which is a giant leap forward in confidence for me.

The excitement doesn’t end there. While I was having a fantastic conversation with these bright, kind women, Camera Guy was recording it all. I assumed it was for promotional use for tUMD athletics. We know what happens when we assume. I got in to work on Monday (had Friday off!), ready to tell my coworker what had happened, and he stole my thunder.

Me: [Coworker], you won’t BELIEVE what happened on Thursday.
Coworker: You were on the news!

I hope the camera got my good side. Although what side is good when one is wearing a navy sweater and purple running shorts? If I had the footage, I’d post it here, but KBJR doesn’t seem to have it online. What a shame. Also a shame: no footage of my cats.

I'm rich, biotch! #umdhockey #umdbulldogs

A photo posted by RWD (@runninwiththedogs) on

This serendipitous event can only portend a successful season for tDogs. Ten more days until hockey!!!! I can’t wait!

Let America Be America Again

8 September 2016

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

-Langston Hughes (read the entire poem here)

I don’t watch NFL handegg anymore, out of protest, but I am a human being living on the grid so I’m aware of the manufactured controversy involving the Geriatric Prospectors’ Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to pretend that there’s racial harmony throughout the land.

This controversy has made its way to the NHL, the whitest sport that doesn’t involve horses or water, as John Tortorella, coach of Team USA in the upcoming We’re Going To Ruin Olympic Men’s Hockey For You But Leave You With This Shoddy Substitute Cup of Hockey, told ESPN: “If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game.”

Okay, so, this isn’t really the same thing, because Kaepernick is playing in a pro sports league on a team owned by the Mafia, while Tortorella is coaching a team representing the USA. I can see that, that must be his reasoning, but–nope.

“We’re in a great country because we can express ourselves. And I am not against expressing yourselves. That’s what’s great about our country. We can do that. But when there are men and women that give their lives for their flag, for their anthem, have given their lives, continue to put themselves on the line with our services for our flag, for our anthem, families that have been disrupted, traumatic physical injuries, traumatic mental injuries for these people that give us the opportunity to do the things we want to do, there’s no chance an anthem and a flag should come into any type of situation where you’re trying to make a point.”

Ok. The national anthem and the American flag represent every American, not just our Armed Forces. And standing during the national anthem isn’t going to treat PTSD, re-grow a missing limb, halt sexual assault of female service members, or abate the appalling rate at which veterans are committing suicide, so let’s not pretend there aren’t real, horrifying ways in which we are letting down and disrespecting our active duty military members and veterans every single day while we pat ourselves on the back for standing reverently during the anthem.

Plus it was super funny when Michael Phelps laughed during the anthem because Baltimore bros, AMIRITE.

“It is probably the most disrespectful thing you can do as a U.S. citizen is to bring that in. Because that’s our symbol. All for [expressing] yourself. That’s what’s so great. Everybody does. But no chance when it comes to the flag and the anthem. No chance.”

That’s so weird, that exercising one’s Constitutional right in order to call attention to the mistreatment of other Americans is the most disrespectful thing you can do as a U.S. citizen. I would have thought it would be something else, like an actual crime, but considering how the NHL ignores domestic abuse, rape, racism, and homophobia (to say these things are disrespectful would be an understatement, but they are), I guess I can see where those things don’t seem too disrespectful to someone like Torts, deep inside the system.

I’m getting to how this is relevant to this site, calm down.

tUMD alumnus JT Brown, now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, responded to Tortorella’s comments thusly:

Frog Coffee, indeed.

JT made a statement to the Tampa Bay Times to expand on his position, without the pesky 140 character limit. His statement included the following:

“I could have been quiet and just kept my opinion to myself, but I don’t want young minorities who love the game of hockey to think that what’s going on in America today is going unnoticed by the hockey community. I love America and thank the military for protecting our freedoms, as well as law enforcement for protecting and serving our communities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that there is still racism today. I am glad my tweet provoked a discussion, because we need to start having a conversation about racism if we want to work towards a better America.”

I mean, wow. Who knew there was some other way to be patriotic, besides shouting “LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT” at anyone who doesn’t fall into line? That’s so weird. Who knew one could appreciate the military and still admit that this country is deeply flawed? Who knew it was possible to respect law enforcement while acknowledging there are serious issues of systemic racism that affect how police interact with black people?

Thoughtful, informed protests backed up by meaningful, sincere actions to promote positive change are one billion times more patriotic than standing during the national anthem. I am so proud that JT Brown represents my alma mater and my favorite hockey program, and so glad to live in a country where people still want to make life better for each other.

Let’s Get It Started In Here

7 September 2016

Here’s to three years of living in Duluth!

Enjoying some peace before #ss25k #conservationofmomentum

A photo posted by RWD (@runninwiththedogs) on

You can’t beat that view.

College hockey is starting so soon I can’t even stand it! Sooner than you’d think, even, if you listened to the sexist jerks who tell you when college hockey starts based on men’s games.

Bulldog hockey starts on September 24th. tUMD hosts Kacy Ambroz, Emma Stauber, and the Minnesota Whitecaps. The Whitecaps roster boasts some of the biggest stars in hockey, including Monique and Jocelyn Lamoureux and Kendall Coyne. Until we get an NWHL or CWHL expansion team, the Whitecaps are the closest we’ll get to a women’s pro team in Minnesota. And let’s face it, if they were men, they’d already be on pro teams.

How do you like that, I don’t post for 5 months and come right back at ya with my bra-burning agenda? Eat it.

There will be a new coach behind the bench for the Bulldog women this year. Sami Reber left to become the head coach of the Cake-Eating Hornets. In her place, tDogs have acquired yet another Connolly. Chris Connolly (no relation to Mike), former Hilltopper, ’09 national champion and 2x captain of the BU Terriers, will join Coaches Crowell and Bellamy for the upcoming season.

I’m expecting to get my season tickets any day now, and look forward to seeing how fancy they are. Season Ticket Arrival Day is when I really start to get excited.

Yet Another Report of College Hockey’s Death Was an Exaggeration

28 March 2016

It’s truly amazing to me how today’s version of “journalism” is making wild statements with no supporting evidence and expecting them to be accepted as fact. I shall call this fiat journalism.

The latest relevant example comes from Brandon Mileski, aka Tenna-Gardsy, one of two interchangeable producerish people on KFAN. Blandon, like Dan Myers before him, has pronounced college hockey dead. I’m not sure who died and made him coroner, but let me be clear, college hockey is not dead.

And it was so, and I saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Congregants, let us turn in our hymnals to the article and pick it apart, as I so love to do.

I guess no one went to the West Regional Final in St. Paul. It featured Denver, who came in like a wrecking ball against BU the day before, but has 7 actual fans. They all showed up, so that was a big win for them, attendance-wise. It also featured Ferris State, whose fans had no idea they were even going to be in a regional until a week prior. It didn’t feature St. Cloud, and I’m not going to fault a single one of those 3-4k people who opted not to attend the regional final. I assume they did what normal people do when their team loses in a catastrophic fashion: drank themselves into oblivion. So I appreciate that they did not drive to St. Paul whilst in a fugue state.

Brandon turns then to the Northeast Regional and rightly takes BC fans to task for not going to the game. Since the game was not on Sunday, the C&E Catholics can’t even use that as an excuse. A source (let’s call him Bruce C. – no, that’s too obvious, let’s go with B. Ciskie) tells me tUMD had a decent turnout for being a thousand miles away from home. There were even RWD family members in attendance. #CarpenterNation.

UND and Michigan played in front of the Michigan band, 500 people who sing along to the stupid Michigan band, and 4500 people who drove their houses to the game, including this fellow, Biddco’s best friend.


Finally, a regional with boring teams had crappy attendance. Film at 11.

Now here’s the point where he’s supposed to advocate for home sites for the regionals, ignoring the logistics of that “solution.” But he throws us a curveball: he thinks the regionals should be arranged geographically and then seeded.

(As an aside, how come no one takes to task the host schools? Holy Cross hosted the Northeast regional, and they got praised for being organized and stuff which is nice, but maybe try marketing sometime. The entire ECAC hosted the East Regional and still no one attended. Try harder. “Pray you get North Dakota” is not a strategy.)

Here’s the proposed bracketology:

West Regional: SCSU vs tUMD, UND vs. DU.
Well, why even bother having the games in Tampa? Here’s your Frozen Four.

Midwest Regional: Michigan vs. RIT, Notre Dame vs. Ferris State
And here’s your NIT!

Northeast Regional: BC vs Northeastern, BU vs. Harvard
I think they already played this in February.

East Regional: QU vs. Yale, PC vs. UML
This is… just as crappy as the actual regional. GROUNDBREAKING.

This is so dumb. You literally could have four one-seeds via the PWR in one bracket (I mean, if you throw records out the window, you already do in the West). Or four four-seeds. Yes, that is desirable. I’m totally on board. People were already whining about how the four seeds don’t even deserve to have a seat at the table. In this case, one would be guaranteed a spot at the Frozen Four. He says the strange lineups he suggests wouldn’t happen every year, because the Goofs or Mankato or – is he freaking serious???? – Wisconsin might be in the West regional. WISCONSIN. I die. But, UND and DU are fixtures in the NCAA tournament. They are not going to want to play each other year after year in regional matchups. Same with BU and BC. Not when there are cupcakes to be feasted upon in the form of AHA and WCHA autobids.

Brandon likes his idea because it’s like the MSHSL. Their sections are decided strictly on geography. (They’re not. What up Elk River?) You know what else is loosely based on geography? College hockey conferences. And their tournaments. Which provide auto-bids to the NCAA tournament. Kind of like the MSHSL sections do. And then the state tournament isn’t based on geography! So weird.

The penultimate paragraph incorrectly uses “than” instead of “then.” Blah blah blah participation trophies or something.

The regionals are one weekend. Monkeying around with them is missing the point. If college hockey is actually dying, reconfiguring the regionals is about as logical as worrying about your underwear when you’re hit by a bus.

His final words on the subject are: “College Hockey is dying. Lifestyle changes are needed to save its life. Geography is the best medicine.” So many metaphors here. Lifestyle changes aren’t medicine! What kind of a quack doctor does he go to?

And what he really means is men’s college hockey is dying. But here’s another instance of assuming men’s college hockey is college hockey, not a component of college hockey. (And what he really really means is men’s NCAA D1 hockey is dying.) Women’s college hockey is growing, as more teams improve and as opportunities for women before and after college hockey expand. The women’s D1 tournament has its own problems (let’s all rehash Bemidji vs. Princeton one more time!), but problems are not actually synonymous with death.

And here I thought I’d have nothing fun to blog about in the off-season. Thank goodness for crazypants theories like this one!

Darkness On The Edge of Town

26 March 2016

‘Cause tonight I’ll be on that hill ’cause I can’t stop
I’ll be on that hill with everything I got
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost
I’ll be there on time and I’ll pay the cost
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town

Bulldog hockey has ended for the year.

Both teams struggled but surprised us with playoff success. Bright spots in otherwise unremarkable seasons. The Bulldog women had their worst season ever, which was expected but still tough to take. They swept Bemidji to make it to the WCHA tournament, which was a nice treat. It’ll be a tough couple of years for the women, I think, and for the fans, but I was still proud of how our women played. And thank Parise they beat Bemidji, so both teams weren’t winless on the season against the Beavs. They died with their boots on.

The men, oof. I don’t understand this season and I don’t think it’s ours to understand. I can say without a doubt they died with their boots on, too. Unreal. Just unreal. Two years in a row, it has come down to one last-ditch bounce that hasn’t gone our way.

Thank you to the men and women who make up our hockey teams (and those staff who support them in numerous ways, from conditioning to logistics to injuries to all kinds of things we don’t know about). I never saw a single one of you give up. You fought hard in every game, you showed us all the meaning of “Bulldog Pride.” You all stayed, when many of you could have left, for many reasons. That means something. That means everything, really. It tells us all we need to know about your commitment to this program and to your teammates. We buy tickets, we make road trips, we bid too much money on your jerseys, and we get irrationally invested in this game because you inspire us.

October is far in the distance. There’s still snow on the ground here, and while I will miss Bulldog hockey, I’m looking forward to recharging this off-season. I’m looking forward to warm weather. I was hoping that I’d see some warm weather in Tampa in 2 weeks, but it seems I’ll have to wait a little longer.

I hope to see all who are eligible to return this fall. We want you all back, ready to work, and ready to win.

Die With Your Boots On

24 March 2016

Doggies, if you’re gonna die, die with your boots on.

If you’re going to lose, leave us no doubt you did your very best, left everything on the ice. Don’t give an inch, don’t quit til the final whistle. Play your very best, with Bulldog pride, and that will be enough. That’s always been enough.

In 2011, before the regional semifinal, I turned to some advice from Elizabeth I. Things were different in 2011. Five years ago the team had suffered some low points, but they had some really high points, too. They were never out of the national conversation. We didn’t really imagine our team could win a national championship, it was just an abstract thought, a what-if scenario. In 2012, making the tournament was gravy, tDogs were defending champs and had a tremendous season with an incredible unbeaten streak, but the pressure to win it all was off, somewhat. Not that I wouldn’t have taken back2back championships. I hear they are nice. Last year, tDogs demolished the Gophers before losing to BU, but there was never any doubt they did their very best. That’s all I ever ask.

This year is different. This year game with great, unmet expectations. This year, a season that 10 years ago we’d have taken in a heartbeat, has had more disappointment and heartache than I’d care to relive. This year every game seemed like an uphill battle, as though the rinks were tilted. The season started with a real power outage and much of it played out with a metaphorical one. But here tDogs are, the last team in, doing just enough to make the math work in our favor, but they are still in it, and that’s what matters. They’ve got to win four more games, just like every other team has to. These guys have four more wins in them, if they can work hard enough, play smart enough, and if luck is on their side. A lot of wins were left on the table in the regular season; it’s time to take those back.

I’m glad for the opportunity to see our seniors play another game. I’m glad this team, who didn’t give up despite endless frustration and chicanery (*cough*penaltyshot*cough*), has a chance to end the season with a win. It won’t be easy, but nothing has come easy for this team this year. As Thornton Wilder wrote,

I’ve never forgotten for long at a time that hockey is a struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the game stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for–whether it’s a face-off dot, or along the boards, or a crease. All I ask is the chance to win national championships and the hockey gods have always given us that. And have given us coaches to guide us; and the memory of our mistakes to warn us. Bulldogs, you and I will remember in the off-season all the resolves that were so clear to us in the days of the hockey season. We’ve come a long way. We’ve learned. We’re learning. And the steps of our journey are marked for us here.

If you’re gonna die, die with your boots on.

Fab Four: Now With 100% More Bulldog

22 March 2016

tUMD made the conference tournament this year! It was a freaking miracle. Actually what was a miracle was making the NCAA tournament, the conference tournament was just a surprise. Although tDogs have made the NCAAs more times than they’ve made the conference tournament the past 3 years.

There were no KAWstumes this year; everyone in our section can thank tDogs for eliminating Miami. Somehow that made the tournament slightly less fun. For me, at least. For everyone else, probably not.

The stress of tUMD playing in the tournament also made it less fun. That sounds stupid, but it’s true. When tDogs let the Fhawks score 49 seconds into the game, I said “Well, at least we got here,” with a roll of my eyes. It is really not very much fun to be surrounded by UND fans when their team scores on your team.

Biddco and I prepared for the game with some signs. Biddy made a “Penalty Shot” sign, which he held up any time tUMD did anything slightly wrong. Ice the puck? PENALTY SHOT!!!!! Penalty? PENALTY SHOT!!!! UND player fell over of his own accord? PENALTY SHOT!!!!

I made a better sign.
chiliTim Brewster would be jealous if he’d seen it. I used a protractor to make each zone on the chili-o-meter the same size, and of course made a chili pepper indicator. This is one of my better signs, for sure. It was kind of a pain to haul around all weekend, but it came in handy, not only for expressing my thoughts on the hockey games, but also when ordering chili at the Depot. We asked the server at the Depot to rate the spiciness of the green chili, and when she put it around Simmering, asked if she could get the cook to spice it up to Hot! Hot! Hot! Dirty also ordered some chili, which he rated as “Mild Enough For Minnesotans,” unfortunately.

My nephew enjoyed the sign.
He didn’t really enjoy much about the game until it got quieter. Thanks, Dogs, for shutting up UND’s fans so he could enjoy the game. Or at least enjoy various lights turning on and off.

I was really pleased on Friday night to get a win over UND. I thought UND commanded the first period, although I’m the only person who thought that, so maybe I was just paranoid. Goalinato opened the scoring in the second period just 28 seconds in, IAFALTO scored 3 minutes after that, and less than a minute after Al’s goal, tDogs were on a PP that turned into a 5×3. tDogs failed to capitalize on the PP (a theme for the weekend and the season as a whole), which gave UND some jump, and there were some terrifying moments, including a near-too many men penalty that gave UND a huge scoring chance. Farley shut all that down by zipping the puck into the net so hard that it ricocheted out, causing an initial no-goal call. The review confirmed it was a goal, and we cheered twice. tDogs let some scrub named Stecher get a goal, and then the second period mercifully came to a close.

My sister in law informed me later that I was annoying UND fans in our section. I’m not sure what really put one lady over the edge, perhaps it was “Come on, Dogs, send these racists home unhappy!” or maybe “Learn how to read so you can read a rule book!” Or maybe she prefers ice cold gazpacho to hot chili. Anyway, this UND fan was overheard to say “She probably didn’t even graduate high school.” I truly love to annoy.

Goalinato scored again with 6 minutes to go, which eased my stress a bit. A one-goal lead late against UND would have been more stress than I’d have liked. A two goal lead kept UND’s fans mostly quiet and kept tDogs in control. Despite three minutes of empty net play, tUMD couldn’t put one in. They did keep UND busy defending their open net, which was good.

Biddy was destroyed in some kind of “King of the Mountain” intermission game. He was wearing a big hamster ball blow-up thingy, and I watched the video of him getting knocked on his butt about 20 times. I hope to make it into a GIF. The NCHC really listened to my complaints about eating contests during breaks, and instead changed to dance or trivia competitions. The league also listened to some of the fan complaints about involving Gopher fans in on-ice challenges. Many people pointed out the Gophers are not in our league, we’ve moved on, we don’t need to trot out a token Goof fan to boo. There were no Gopher fans involved in any of the entertainment this year.

The St. Cloud-DU game was boring. I was sitting next to a DU fan, believe it or not. He fell asleep at one point during the game. Then he went out and did the hamster ball thing with another guy. They were both destroyed by a UND guy. It was an entertaining intermission challenge, although the rules were confusing.

Saturday afternoon we ended up leaving at the second intermission to ensure we got a table at the Depot; we needed our bacon wrapped hot dogs and corn dogs. The game was a real snoozer and ended in a 1-1 tie. UND really sucks at the Target Center, so I think that’s a sign we should renew the agreement rather than try to get the X.

I was disappointed tDogs lost on Saturday night. They were dominating when up 1-0, and then just tanked. I don’t know what the problem was but I hope it was an anomaly. Thankfully the Goofs choked and tDogs squeaked into the NCAAs. The goal late in the second period was really a dagger, and tUMD was never really back in the game. tDogs couldn’t do anything with 2 PPs in the 3rd, and the best play of the 3rd was a big save on the empty net, which was somewhat meaningless.

I enjoyed the tournament once again. I wish more Bulldog fans had gone. In some ways I wonder if I am severely underestimating the size of the Bulldog hockey fanbase, and there really aren’t that many people who care enough to travel to see tDogs play. The band wasn’t even there, which was surprising and disappointing. St. Cloud probably had more fans than tDogs, but they weren’t out in droves either.

Beyond financial and scheduling constraints, I don’t understand why people who love hockey wouldn’t want to attend the tournament. It is really fun. There are a lot of really cool people who go. Within minutes of entering the Target Center, I had already seen several people I know solely from attending hockey games over the years. Gappy McTooth was also one of the first people I saw upon entry, decked out in UNO gear but I hope secretly cheering for his nephew, Bill Corrin.

I am fortunate because the Fab Four is a great time to spend with my family and my best friends. My dad is generous enough to take me every year, and he’s even willing to sit by me AND tolerate my stupid (awesome) friends. My brother was able to come for the first time this year, and my nephew and SIL even came to a game, so it was a huge deal for the family.

I spent every intermission talking to people I’ve met through hockey. Our area was a nice rallying point because 1. it was easy to spot Biddy in his garish attire 2. it was easy to spot me because I had the sign and 3. we were centrally located. It is really cool to stand at intermission and chat amiably with opposing fans, or even fans like Secret Agent Mav, who came to the Fab Four even though UNO did not. Thanks to everyone who stopped by! I was so glad to meet so many fun, interesting people. I saw a fan from every team except Western Michigan. They were too busy rowing boats I guess.


As always, I have to give credit to the NCHC. The league is engaged and clearly makes an effort to accommodate and delight its fans. Nothing ever runs perfectly (I heard of a ticket SNAFU involving a tUMD friend), but I appreciate the effort that is put in (esp. by the social media team! They are the absolute best!) Every year the Fab Four has gotten better, as the league has listened to its constituents and fans and made steps to improve, whether it’s with food, fan experiences, or the staffing. (Note: I didn’t have any issues with Target Center staff this year, but I also was not wearing a costume, so I can’t say if that was an improvement.)

Make an effort to come to the Fab Four next year, whether you’ve been before or not, whether your team is there or not. There are friendly people everywhere, there’s lots of stuff to do, it’s not really that cold, and there’s HOCKEY.