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BIG SANDY…. The UMD Bulldogs Men’s Hockey team has made their reservations for a pretty big business trip to Chicago in early April. The team can catch it’s breath and the fans can let out a big sigh of relief and now have 11 days to grow their fingernails back. Yup, it was that kind of a weekend. The dogs had to go to the mat twice to get their spot in the National Finals and it was a fantastic weekend of hockey in all of the regional’s. On Friday the Dogs had to beat back a voracious Ohio State team before finally besting them 3-2 in OT. On Saturday they had to go to an extra frame once again before ousting Boston University by a like score in OT. And out of the 12 games that took place Friday through Sunday, I would say that 7 of them were pretty competitive contests.
Denver, one of the regional winners, got tough battles from Michigan Tech and from Penn State for part of their games before the Pioneers pulled away. Harvard Shutout Providence 3-0 before getting a real challenge from an Air Force team that would not give up and may have been the surprise team of the tourney. The Dogs had their two OT battles and then a talented Notre Dame team made their way through their region besting the Gophers on Saturday 3-2 and then took a strong U-Mass Lowell team to OT in the regional final winning 3-2. Lowell paint brushed Cornell on Saturday 5-0. Penn State put a spanking on Union 10-3. Anyway, I was keeping one TV and 2 laptops pretty busy for the better part of the weekend.
My College Hockey Pickem brackets were slightly different then last week’s column picks. I had the winning teams in 8 of 12 games and I am in 1673rd place out of 7869 contestants basically translating to I’m not winning anything! But on to the upcoming battle in Chicago for a National Title. In one game you will have Denver facing Notre Dame and in the other you will see UMD faceoff versus Harvard. As I promised I will come clean here and be honest. I had Denver coming out of their regional, and Harvard in theirs, I had Lowell coming out the Northeast not Notre Dame and in the Fargo regional I actually had BU coming through. I had a gut feeling they would get past NoDak and they did. But something was gnawing away at me that they would emerge from Fargo with 2 wins.
I’m not suggesting I was pulling for them. It was a non-emotional pick based on a physical feeling and hunch. When the numbers are somewhat close and the stats start getting blurry to me I’ll always go with the gut. I’m glad I was wrong and this Golden Gopher fan will be pulling for UMD to notch themselves another title. 10-20 years back and even further I’m not certain I could say that. The hardcore emotional pulls of bitter rivalries wouldn’t allow me to. Now that I’m an old fart perhaps I am mellowing out. Just as in 2011 I will be going Bulldogs all the way. Good Luck Coach Sandelin and team….
THIS NEWS CAUGHT ME BY total surprise over the weekend and I am still shaking my head. It has been reported that on Saturday, the Republican elect Trump had came across a photo of the iconic sixties rock band Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs‘. One of their biggest hits “Wooly Bully” is frequently listed as one of the top 100 numbers of the decade. Considering the competition back then from the British Invasion and others that is a lofty accomplishment. I recall seeing them on The Ed Sullivan Show and other popular shows of the day back then. Sam and his group hailed from the Dallas area and were quite popular. Part of their on stage presence was that the entire group wore Middle Eastern style headwear while performing, they all had on turbans or head scarves. Apparently, upon seeing the photo, Trump called his Homeland Security Director and had the group placed on the terrorist watch list. The White House has not refuted the story….
THE MINNESOTA WILD CONTINUE to struggle. The team dropped an OT decision in the Motor City this afternoon to the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-2 letdown. The club, for the most part would be hard to dislodge from 2nd place in the Central Division at this point in time. There are few games left and no one close enough in the standings, but make no mistake, without the December win streak, this club would be flailing their way OUT of the tournament. They are 2-7-1 in their last 10. So what in the H-E-double hockey sticks happened to this club? Well, I’m not a stats geek, numbers geek or advanced analytics geek by any stretch. Oh I look at that stuff on occasion, but I’m old school. I watch a lot of games with a lot of different teams and I develop a feel for the game and the “juice” of a team.
I came across an interesting observation regarding the Wild and why they might be going through their current struggles. At the peak of their streak in December they had a combined shooting and save percentage of around 105. That is unreal and most expert analysts were of the opinion that this team could NOT sustain that. That number is now somewhere between 100 and 101 I believe. In addition, what would that number be based solely on the last 15-20 games? I have to think that it would be under 100. I might be incorrect on that, but I’m not sure. If I have some spare time in the next few days I’ll see if I can get a number for you on that.
Perhaps my original thoughts from early last October were more correct then I could believe. I was having trouble seeing this club in a playoff spot come April. And if not for their 12 game win streak in December, that would be the reality for this team. I’m not at all happy about that. Some of the young players HAVE improved this year, some of the vets have been fairly inconsistent. Devan Dubnyk is Ken Dryden one game and Fern Rivard the next. I think it’s time for a trip to the hockey Psychiatrist! Warm up that couch Doc! PEACE