Long Distance Thoughts 03.18.2021

Chaos. All I want is some chaos. Is that really too much to ask? No, I’m not talking about real world chaos, we have far too much of that already. I’m talking about sports chaos. The kind of chaos that makes sports fun. The unpredictability of playing the games that paper doesn’t have.

All I got was teased. It was like Lucy promising to let me kick the football.

First of all, some context. Last Thursday afternoon I received the first of the two vaccination shots. By Friday morning, the first day of the NCHC conference tournament, I felt like I had the worst hangover I have ever had. And if you know anything about being at ASU in the 80s, then you have an idea of just how bad that can be. Actually, anywhere in the 80s, but…

So, it was hard enough trying to keep up with games, when you could not really keep your eyes open or fall asleep.

It was as hard to do as it was for Colorado College heading into its opening round match v. St. Cloud State as short-handed as it could be due to being without its top line of Patrick Cozzi, Grant Cruikshank & Josiah Slavin (who has since signed a Black Hawks contract) AND its number one goalie Dominic Basse, all due to Covid issues. In one of the few moments of clarity that I had during the day, I check the late second period score and see it’s ONE-NOTHING CC, then check to see the penalty situation, and sure enough with about three minutes left in the second, the Tigers had stayed out of the penalty box. Sorry Coach Haviland, no matter how brilliant a coaching job you did, my thinking that your team was in a good spot, staying out of the box, clearly it could not beat my putting the maloik on your squad by praising it.

But she promised, she would not move the football.

Later that night, North Dakota beat Miami like I was in goal…

On day two of the NCHC gathering in Grand Forks, I got teased again. 

In the first game of the day, it was the 4-5 matchup between Denver & Nebraska-Omaha. Once again, a Colorado based team was short-handed due to Covid protocols, although where CC lost its top line, that was not the case for the Pioneers. They were able to dress all of their top players, like Carter Savoie & Bobby Brink. At least on that Saturday I was able to focus enough to actually watch the games. Both of these teams, before the game were making claims that they belonged in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of the outcome of this game, and they may or may not be right. Going into this game Denver was three gamers under .500, but there is still no way to know how they will pick the teams this year, so who the heck knows (a good thing for fans of chaos).

Denver, down 3-1, does its best to make a case to get in, taking advantage of the UNO decision to hang out in the penalty box, scoring twice on the power play, on their way to a 5-4 win over the Mavericks…and he may or may not be right, but kudos to Denver Coach David Carle for saying after the game, not only do we belong in, we belong in before Omaha, despite the standings at the end of the season. UNO finished 4th, DU 5th

The problem is that this is debatable as to whether this is really chaos or not. And if it is, we won’t really know until the teams are selected. Delayed gratification is so not cool. Lucy didn’t even show up with the football.

Later that night, Lucy did show up for the Western Michigan-Minnesota Duluth game.

In what was a great back and forth game, the Broncos knew they needed to beat the two-time defending champion Bulldogs because they only get in by winning the weekend. This was the worst kind of chaos. Real chaos, but fake at the same time.

In overtime, in the worst faceoff drop, perhaps ever, Western Michigan loses as the puck drop bounces off the arm of the UMD faceoff guy, right to defenseman Connor Kelley, who drives it past goalie Brandon Bussi for a 5-4 Duluth win, and of course, another win for Lucy.

That brings us to Monday. And I’m not sure that this would be in the chaos category. Once again, mostly because we have no idea what the committee will do with its selection process. I’m pretty sure if Denver had beaten North Dakota on Monday night, they would have been in the final 16 for sure. If they don’t get in, you will hear them muttering “90 seconds” all summer long. As the Pioneers held a ONE-NOTHING lead with a minute and a half left in the game, when Jasper Weatherby potted the game tying goal and we headed for OT. And that’s when a full North Dakota roster finally put a stake in the Denver heart.

(*&^(^%*^% you, Lucy.

The Fighting XXXXXX would go onto be the first top seed to win the NCHC conference tournament in league history with a 5-3 win over St. Cloud.

I have got to stop listening to Lucy.

A couple of side notes…Army & Sacred Heart played the ninth longest game in NCAA hockey history as the Black Knights of the Hudson beat the Pioneers 4-3 to knock the team from Connecticut out of the Atlantic Hockey tournament. And in a last nod to chaos (for this post anyway), several players that we know of, including ASU goalie, Evan DeBrouwer have entered the transfer portal. Expect this to be just the beginning of what might be the craziest off season in college hockey history.

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