I have managed to catch my second cold of the season, so this might be a bit short.
Another week had come and gone in the Keweenaw. Kind of a dull week as far as the weather goes. We did get a bit of snow from time to time, but nothing too crazy. Winds behaved themselves for the most part and other than some pretty chilly early morning temps the middle of the week, it was a rather uneventful week for weather up this way.
We did not lose much snow, but also did not gain much. Gracie has been busy building a snow wall to keep intruders out. It is coming along pretty good, although I don’t really know what kind of intruders we have to worry about! I am just joking of course. The snow wall did not come from Gracie lifting 50 lb chunks of snow 6-8 feet off the ground. The snow came from the spare wood pile that I have been uncovering bit by bit as time goes by. I keep waiting for the day that mother nature will do the clearing for me, but that has yet to happen. I am getting better at staying ahead of the game, as far as cutting and burning wood, although there are still some slip ups. This old dog is a hard learner!
I think the biggest news in the Keweenaw was the MI Tech Hockey team winning game three of a best of three series against the boys from Minnesota State Mankato. That put them into the championship game against Bowling Green yesterday. The winner of the game would win the championship of the WCHA and also get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. All the sports hype this week has been the NCAA mens basketball tourney, but the hockey tournament will start next weekend.
After talking it over with Nora, it was decided that we should go to the game. By Monday morning, the buzz around town was that it was going to be the most important game played at the MacInnis Ice arena in it’s history. So pretty early in the morning on Monday, I bought the tickets and then anxiously awaited the game all week. Nora does not like to be among big crowds, so the tickets I bought were for Gracie, my brother and I. We do not have season tickets, but we typically get our seats in the same spot each time. It is in a pretty good location, especially to watch tech in their offensive zone for the first and third periods. The seats that we typically get were already taken, but two rows forward, there were seats available so I snatched them up.
Game time came and we found ourselves in a very excited hockey arena Saturday evening. Coming from Chicago, I am used to very loud crowds at hockey games. My family had season tickets to the Blackhawks games and I can remember being in that stadium when the crowd was so loud that the floors of the old stadium would actually shake. I am actually quite amazed that it did not come down at times, as it was built a long time ago and that concrete and support structure inside had to be pretty worn!
Anyway, it has taken a few years to get used to the more sedate fans at the Tech games. It is not that they are quiet all game long, but they are probably among the most knowledgeable hockey fans (as a whole) in the world. So they know when to cheer and they know when to sit quietly and pay attention to the game. The student section is always a bit rowdier than the public section, but still nothing like the old Chicago Stadium.
So it was nice to see the crowd for the Tech game more rowdy that usual. In addition to the spirit of the crowd, it was also reportedly the largest crowd that has ever attended a game there. The stadium will seat 3000-some persons, but they also sell, general admission, or standing room only, seats. The announced attendance for the championship game was 4400 and some change! So needless to say the stadium was packed and was also completely sold out…of both reserved and standing room only tickets. It is typical that someone with tickets will not end up going to the game for some reason, but I looked as hard as I could for an empty seat and could not find one!
The game was very exciting, although both teams seemed rather tentative or cautious in the first period. Bowling Green seem to have more spring in their step and was getting to the puck sooner, but did not make much of that extra step. Tech actually ended out-shooting the Falcons 8-6. The second period found Tech with more spring in their step, which also resulted in more control of the game and they managed to score 2 goals to the Falcons none, even though the Falcons ended up out-shooting Tech 12-7. The third period saw Tech up 2-0 and they seemed to go into defensive mode pretty much from the onset. It was a pretty lopsided affair, with the Falcons getting 2 goals on 11 shots, while Tech was kept from putting the puck in the net and only had 2 shots the whole period. Tech did have a few great scoring opportunities, but they just did not result in a shot on net and some of the shots the Falcons took in the third were just to get it on net to see if anything could become of them.
So the game went into overtime. The first over time was pretty equally played. Each team had a few good scoring chances, with the edge going to Tech. No one was able to put the puck in the net in the first OT, so we went to a second overtime. By this time, poor Gracie was starting to fade, but was a good sport in not complaining and wanting to go home. She just simply said she hoped Tech would score quickly so that we could go home and to bed!
The Huskies must have been listening to her, as it only took 6 minutes and 35 seconds into the second overtime to score the game winning goal! I did not take that picture, the credit needs to go to one of the official game photographers for Tech. In fact, if you look at the picture again, the person a row up from the ice on the far right, wearing yellow, was me celebrating the goal! When that puck went into the net, the stadium erupted and I do believe that the excitement level and decibel level rivaled any that I experienced in the old Chicago Stadium.
As proof that not only are the hockey fans of the Keweenaw among the most knowledgeable, they are also of very high more caliber. Upon the goal being scored, the Huskies all skated out and swarmed the goal scorer and each other, but then things got a little more organized. The Bowling Green players remained on the ice and as they went over to the section of the stadium that all of their fans were sitting in, not only did they get a standing ovation from their fans, but the Tech fans as well. The fans all knew that they had just witnessed a great hockey game and although Bowling Green did not win, they deserved recognition for their hard effort. Pretty cool and I am so glad that not only did I get to experience that, but that Gracie did too.
The game had been over for a while, but they still needed to present Tech with the winning trophy. As I looked around, the only empty seats by that time were the ones that had belonged to the Bowling Green Fans. It looked like not a single Tech fan had left to “beat the crowd”. The Broadmore Trophy was presented to the captains for Tech and they skated over to join the rest of the team near mid-ice. One the trophy made its pass through the hands of players and skated around a bit, the coach for Tech motioned to open the gates and let the crowd onto the ice. It was almost a surreal sight to see fans pouring into the ice and heading their way to intermingle with the team. Of course we all had to be part of that, so Jim, Gracie and I all headed out onto the ice to offer up our congratulations. We did not linger too long on the ice. I was able to seek out the coach and congratulate him and thank him for all he as done to the program at Tech. Most folks also did not stay on the ice too long, but as we were leaving the arena, I stopped to take this picture of the celebration on ice. So now it is on to Cincinnati to play in the regionals. Their first opponent will be from Denver University. If they win that, then they play the winner of the Boston U/U of North Dakota game. If they are victorious in that game, it is onto the big dance, the frozen four being held in Chicago. If they get that far, I may just have to pay a visit to the windy city!
So the big game was the big news up here this week…at least as far as I am concerned, as well as about 80% of our local population. Tech has a great coach and many of their players will be back for years to come, so they look to be a force to recon with for many years to come, so matter what happens in the NCAA tourney.
About my only other news is that I will be starting the Laurium Glacier meltdown contest tomorrow at 9 am eastern time. It is done on the discussion board, so if you want to make a guess at things, you need to have a profile. The profiles are free to set up and use. For those who might not be in the know, the “Laurium Glacier” is a large snow drift that forms ever winter on the road between Laurium and Lake Linden. It does eventually melt, but is almost always the last bit of naturally formed snow to melt in the Keweenaw…if not the UP/Midwest.
Until next time…
Good night from the Keweenaw..