October 26, 2006
Them's Fightin' Words

Watching the Florida International-Miami football brawl for about the 50th time on YouTube last week – is there no better way to prove one’s manhood then by getting a half dozen of your buddies to beat down a defenseless kicker? – one question lingered in my head.

OK, two questions lingered. The first was, isn’t it pointless to blindly throw roundhouse punches at the heads of guys wearing helmets? Well, unless you’re Chuck Norris. The second, more pressing question was, When is something like this going to happen in college hockey?

Oh, it’s going to happen. Someone takes a cheap shot at a guy, or two bitter rivals get together, or a referee completely loses control of a game and a donnybrook will invariably ensue. Heck, it’s happened before – Michigan State was involved in three memorable melees in the ’90s.

Here’s the problem, or problems: One, technology guarantees footage of such a brawl will be on ESPN in a matter of hours. Second, once America is exposed to said footage, it’ll cause a plethora of media types who’ve seen no more than two hockey games in their lives (either the Miracle on Ice or game seven of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals) to blast hockey as an uncivilized game (as opposed to the aforementioned football dust-up, which was pinned on the renegades athletes at the ‘U’).

Hockey can be brutally violent, but physical play is an important part of the equation. Here’s hoping the game’s leaders at the college level are prepared to deal with the inevitability of a brawl of similar proportions.


The call for voters in an INCH fan poll generated fairly significant interest among our readers. OK, the response didn’t crash my e-mail inbox, but I heard from enough fans to put together a panel of voters. The lucky ones are, in alphabetical order:

Joe Berlinghieri (Jersey City, N.J.): Joe works in Manhattan (the borough, not the drink) and claims allegiance to schools from which he attained his undergraduate and graduate degrees – Providence (nice) and Michigan (I just threw up in my mouth.)
Paul Brecheisen (Omsk, Russia): A Minnesota fan. Odds are if you write someone asking for something and you’re from Omsk freaking Russia, you’re gonna get it.
Noah Hy Brozinsky (La Jolla, Calif.): Noah, a Cornell student, sent an impassioned e-mail about Big Red hockey and the Lynah Faithful (both are overrated, but I digress.) He’s in because his name reminds me of Kyle Broflovsky from “South Park.”
Tim Cavanaugh (Somerville, Mass.): A BU fan living in the hometown of ex-Maine standout Niko Dimitrakos. Though he loves the Terriers, he promises to vote with his brain and not his heart.
Adam Chappelle (St. Joseph, Mich.): A 2005 Miami graduate, he’s using frequent flyer miles to follow the RedHawks to Fairbanks this season. How can I say no to that?
Luke Donahue (Duluth, Minn.): A UMD fan who doesn’t have cable. When he needs to watch games and his brother (who has cable) isn’t around, he makes himself at home in hotel lobbies and tunes in. I wish I were making this up.
Chris Grebe (Marquette, Mich.): A Wisconsin native currently schooling at Northern Michigan. He's spending this weekend in Madison for Bucky-BC hockey/Bucky-Illinois football game/Halloween on State Street. If someone votes for the Rochester Amerks in the first poll, it’s probably because Chris is still pickled.
Brendan Hurd (Wayzata, Minn.): A BU student, I like his east-west perspective, and that he’s a Minnesota kid who left the state to go to college. The furthest east anyone from my graduating class went for college was Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Alex Libardoni (Burlington, Vt.): A UVM student who roots for Catamounts. He says hockey always takes precedence over schoolwork. Natch.
Kellie McGrath (Stoughton, Mass.): Our third BU fan and one of two women on the panel. She was a lock until she lobbed a profane e-mail in our direction earlier this week (more on that below), but she still makes the cut.
Tom Perkins (Bowdoinham, Maine): Tom loves the Black Bears and the Yankees. But a couple weeks ago when Maine was playing Minnesota and the Yanks were playing the Tigers, he said he’d gladly trade a hockey win for a baseball loss.
Chris Ramage (Bemidji, Minn.): A BSU student, Chris says he wants to represent the “little guy.” You mean Karl Goehring?
Brad “Sauce” Solemsaas (Mandan, N.D.): He’s a Fighting Sioux fan who needs a break from the monotony of teaching your kids. Have you ever been to Mandan? It’s like Omsk, Russia, but colder and there’s less to do.
Mary C. Wood (South Bend, Ind.): A Notre Dame fan, she makes the cut because our group needs female representation and I need a place to park when I come down for Fighting Irish football games.

You’ll receive voting instructions within the next couple of days. Maybe I’ll be motivated enough to get this thing together so we can release our first fan poll on Halloween.


Hey you a--holes finally got something right ... putting Boston University ahead of Boston College in the polls. I almost had a heart attack when you gave BU the respect it really deserves. – Kellie McGrath; Stoughton, Mass.

See what I'm talking about here? Why does BU deserve respect? For beating Northeastern and Merrimack?

For what seems like the millionth time, here's my stance on BU and BC. I think when BU is at its best, they're a very good team. When BC is at the top of its game, however, they are a great team. Maybe the Terriers will change my mind by the end of the season. But I doubt it. Until then, stay classy, Comm Ave.

After listening to your Oct. 24 podcast, I have to say that I fell of my chair laughing to your comment that all North Dakota fans are bitter. It was hilarious because living in North Dakota, I couldn't agree more that this area is bitter, and not just about Sioux hockey. – Scott, Bismarck, N.D.

Normally, this is when I'd launch a bunch of cracks about NoDak being flat and treeless, or mention that the state capitol building is a freaking office tower. But I'm completely obsessed with why North Dakotans are a bitter, paranoid, defensive lot. For the love of Pete, your most hated rival (Minnesota) lost a national tournament game to a huge underdog (Holy Cross) less than a year ago within your state's borders! Wasn't that like a real-life version of the scene in Karate Kid when Johnny from Cobra Kai got worked over by Mr. Miyagi?

Anyway, I've got theories about this, but I'd rather hear from NoDak-ers themselves ... or anyone, for that matter. Shoot me an e-mail if you've got a theory of your own.

If these notes somehow ended up in your dryer, you'd eventually find them in the lint trap.

• Memo to college hockey: If saving College Hockey America is a priority – and, honestly, how long can the league last with just five members? – then the game’s leadership needs to get in the ear of the NCAA Executive Committee, which is entertaining the possibility of allowing membership to Canadian schools.

The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds would like to join the NCAA.

According to an article in Thursday’s USA Today, one of the Canadian institutions hot to join the NCAA is St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit, home of Wayne State. How convenient!

The other school pressing NCAA membership is the University of British Columbia, a school of 35,000 students located on the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver, North America’s most beautiful city. Think a few teams wouldn’t mind making that road trip? Think UBC could become a powerhouse by mining that rich recruiting base in its backyard?

• I think I mentioned this on a recent podcast, but as of 2 a.m. on Friday, October 27, 2006, two of the top three rookie scorers in the National Hockey League are former Denver defenseman Matt Carle (2-7—9 with San Jose) and former Denver forward Paul Stastny (2-7—9 with Colorado).

Even this early in the season, it’s crazy to think that two of the top rookies in the NHL played on the same college team last year. It’s even crazier to think that team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament.

• Winning at Yost Ice Arena isn’t rocket science. It’s far more difficult. Miami went 4,353 days between wins over Michigan in Ann Arbor – the RedHawks’ last win at Yost prior to Friday’s 4-1 victory occurred was Nov. 18, 1994. In a 2005 article in British newspaper The Guardian, Russian scientists predicted a manned, round-trip trip to Mars would take 1,000 days.

No one could look good in these sweaters. Except maybe Tina Fey.

• It’s been a terrible year for jersey debuts in the CCHA. The first sweater to raise hackles among INCH staffers was Miami’s white thirds with the Canadiens-esque red stripe around the chest and a giant “M” on the chest.

(A note to sweater manufacturers worldwide: If you want to put the Les Habitants stripe around the jersey, fine. Just make sure the numbers aren't the same color as the stripe so we can figure out who's who on the ice. Gosh!)

Last Friday, we watched an Internet broadcast of the Alaska Anchorage-Alaska game in which the Nanooks’ powder-blue jerseys trimmed with gold made the hosts look like they were wearing San Diego Charger throwbacks. The low point, however, was Saturday, when Ohio State donned grey thirds that can be best described as a grey-and-red tube sock with sleeves. The Buckeyes earned extra discredit for the lower-case font on the front of the sweater and the nameplate. Blecch.

• Everyone knows that Tina Fey kicks ass, but this just confirmed it. Early in the premiere of her NBC comedy “30 Rock,” Fey’s character, Liz Lemon, rushes into her office while talking to a colleague. Hanging on the wall to the right of her desk – a hockey stick. Wooden branch, too. It might’ve been Noah Welch’s.

The Meaning-list
Everyone likes lists. Sometimes, the Meaning-List will be relevant to college hockey. Other times it’ll be, well, meaningless.
Five Songs You Should Check Out
1. Klaxons – “Not Over Yet”: Music critics have dubbed The U.K. group’s sound, whose debut album was released digitally Monday, “new rave.” My music critiques typically take an Artist A = Artist B + Artist C format (i.e. Justin Timberlake = Michael Jackson + The Neptunes), but I can’t make a fitting analogy for Klaxons. 
2. DJ Lobsterdust – “Glass Octopus”: I know mash-ups are so three years ago, but the twisted genius who a) came up with the idea of mixing The Beatles’ “Octopus’ Garden” and Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” and b) making it work deserves mucho props.
3. Jay-Z – “Show Me What You Got”: C’mon, did you really think Hova was done for good? Silly you. Honestly, the rhymes aren’t that great – I think I heard a Michael Jordan reference in there – and the sax drop has been used in a million tunes, but it’s got a nice old school vibe. As opposed to, say, Jibbs’ “Chain Hang Low.”
4. Gwen Stefani – “Wind It Up”: Full disclosure – No Doubt has been one of my favorite bands since the “Tragic Kingdom” days, but the solo Stefani stuff … not so much. Take this cut from her soon-to-be-released second solo album that answers the burning question, What would it sound like if someone yodeled over a Fergie track?
5. Scissor Sisters – “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’”: Probably the world’s only alterna-glam-disco band formed by two guys who met while attending college in Kentucky. And one of the guys’ stage names is Babydaddy. Anyhoo, “Dancin’” is a fun little ditty, kind of like if the Bee Gees recorded a techno album.