Postcard: It's a Great Night For Hockey II
falling at a considerable pace and temperatures bottoming out near
zero – no, it's not really cold, but people in mid-Michigan
think so – could there be better way to wait out the elements
than plopping into the "leather" easy chair in the basement,
grabbing a bag of pretzels and a beverage and spending four hours
watching college pucks on the dish? Didn't think so.
It was Great
Night For Hockey II: TiVo Boogaloo, and you couldn't join in on
the fun by calling your cable operator. Here are the highs and lows
of the evening in chronological order, pertaining mainly to hockey
but touching on a handful of other subjects as well.
p.m. EST – It’s on. Tom Caron and Andy Brickley
kick off NESN’s broadcast of the Maine-Boston University game
live from Walter Brown’s basement.
7:04 – Twice in the broadcast so far, someone
has returned to the Hockey East standings as the conference rankings.
There’s a difference, people. Figure it out.
7:07 – Frank Doyle is in goal for Maine.
Sorry, but the name “Frank Doyle” doesn’t come
off as real athletic-sounding. It sounds more like the guy you’d
call if your furnace was on the blink.
7:09 – If a College Hockey Hall of Fame is
ever constructed, the “goalie/sieve” sign from Walter
Brown Arena should be a charter inductee. Like the neon Citgo sign
beyond the Green Monster, it’s something that just has to
7:15 – Maine takes its second penalty of
the game. Not good.
7:16 – The Black Bears’ Michel Leveille
picks BU’s Frantisek Skladany – there are two hearty
New England names – clean and easily beats Terrier goalie
Sean Fields for a short-handed goal and a 1-0 Maine lead. Skladany,
sensing coach Jack Parker’s ire, skates directly to the locker
7:17 – On the same power play, Leveille springs
Colin Shields with a nice pass and Shields adds a second shortie.
On the same power play. It’s 2-0, Maine. Did I mention the
Black Bears scored two SHGs on the same power play?
7:22 – Maine takes another penalty. Apparently,
the Black Bears want to put this game away early.
7:25 – Here’s a novel approach to the
power play: When the other team is down a man, try scoring a goal.
BU puts this radical theory to use when Dave Van der Gulik gets
a goal to make it a 2-1 Maine lead.
7:26 – I loved Dave Van der Gulik on “Dawson’s
7:28 – Just as Brickley says, “This
is where you need the goaltender to come up big”, Maine’s
Greg Moore bangs a fat rebound past Fields. Black Bears, 3-1. You
can still see Brickley's comment hanging over the ice as the red
7:31 – Flipping over to the start of the
Michigan-Western Michigan game on Fox Sports Net Detroit, I learn
that the Broncos have incorporated yoga into their pre-game routine.
In the Michigan locker room, meanwhile, Red Berenson is leading
his troops through a spirited set of burpees.
star Joel Hodgson with sidekick Crow T. Robot...or is it Tim
Whitehead with a pre-fab Kariya?
– Having lost interest in stretching routines, I flip back
to the Maine-BU game and get a glimpse of Black Bear coach Tim Whitehead.
Whitehead looks like Joel Hodgson from “Mystery Science Theatre
3000”, which has me wondering whether he makes sarcastic remarks
while watching game films with a couple of robot friends.
7:36 – Back to WMU-UM, where the camera pans
to Red Berenson. What does Berenson say to his barber when he needs
a haircut? “Hey, Floyd, just put that duct tape on the side
of my head and rip, could you?”
7:38 – Western Michigan’s Mat Ponto
absolutely flattens a Michigan player. Mat? What, was M-A-T-T too
7:43 – Over on NESN, BU’s John Laliberte,
a Maine native, goes Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken on the
Black Bears’ Jon Jankus with his stick blade.
7:45 – Returning to Fox Sports Net Detroit,
Michigan goalie Al Montoya goes behind his net to play the puck,
but decides to scrap with a WMU skater instead. Meanwhile, play
continues, the puck ends up in front of the net and a Bronco shot
into the empty net is thwarted by Wolverines’ defenseman Eric
Werner. For those of you who’ve seen Montoya on a regular
basis, he’s a very talented kid, but he’s responsible
for at least one WTF Moment (figure it out yourself) per game.
7:46 – A Western Michigan player unleashes
a blast from between the face-off circles, which play-by-play guy
Matt (alternate spelling) Shepard describes as a shot “from
the ladies’ tees.” I throw up in my mouth.
7:51 – The Maine-BU game is between periods.
The North Dakota-Minnesota tilt is nine minutes from starting. I’m
watching Michigan-Western Michigan.
7:53 – Wolverines-Broncos. Yup. Big game.
7:55 – Uh huh. Michigan. Western Michigan.
sell yourself short. You're a tremendous slouch."
– In describing Michigan captain Andy Burnes, Fox Sports Net
Detroit analyst Fred Pletsch says his contributions “are not
measured by points.” Like Ty Webb in "Caddyshack",
Burnes measures himself against other players by height.
8:00 – Time for the Sioux-Gophers on MSC
– I know it’s Fox Sports Net North, but it’ll
always be Midwest Sports Channel to me. I can almost smell the bile
at Mariucci Arena.
8:03 – The Mariucci Arena camera goes to
a shot of the Gopher cheerleaders on the ice, which makes me wonder
what happened to the cheerleader that fell off the bar in Buffalo
last year. And Angela, for that matter. If someone knows where they
are, please alert us. We’re very concerned.
8:05 – I flip to the start of the Michigan
State-Ohio State game on CSTV, which is just getting underway. The
main camera is so high up in Value City Arena, it looks like it’s
been placed in a blimp.
8:09 – Back on MSC, color commentator Doug
Woog is fired up, like he’s been taking a Pepsi IV and popping
Skittles all day.
8:11 – Quickly back to MSU-OSU, although
with the number of empty seats I see, I thought I had mistakenly
stumbled across a Blackhawks game at the United Center.
8:12 – Over on the main event (NoDak-Minny),
Gopher defenseman Keith Ballard makes three ridiculous moves on
the same rush into the Sioux end. His NHL rights were traded to
Colorado over the summer. Just what the Avalanche needs…another
8:16 – Zach Parise scores on a rebound to
give the Sioux a 1-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, North Dakota residents
massed on their side of the Red River and armed with any weapon
they can find – shotguns, pitchforks, barbeque tools –
charge into northwestern Minnesota.
8:20 – I’m interested in seeing some
of the MSU-OSU game, but this camera angle is driving me nuts. Think
about it this way: It’d be like watching one of those vibrating
electric football games from the top of a 10-foot ladder.
8:24 – Flipped over to the Maine-BU affair.
It’s 4-2 in favor of the visitors with less than eight minutes
left in the second. This new TiVo remote control is killing me.
I can’t figure out how to program it for easy channel changing.
8:27 – In Minneapolis, Grant Potulny is foiled
on a great scoring chance. I love how Frank Mazzocco, the MSC play-by-play
guy, can segue from one part of a play to another with a verbal
ellipsis (better known as the dot-dot-dots). His call on this particular
play: “Here comes Hirsh…ERR-RUHRRR-RUHRRR… POTULNY
WITH A CHANCE!”
8:29 – Damn! Maine scored its third SHG of
the night and I missed it! 5-2 in favor of the Black Bears.
yeah, I need you to go in the corner and grind for the puck.
I'll be standing over there in the high slot." (Photo courtesy
Twentieth Century Fox)
– I’m not sure, but I think Woog just referred to North
Dakota’s David Lundbohm as “Lumblum.” I’m
giddy because I know it’s a matter of time before the Wooger
calls him “Lumberg.” In anticipation of that moment,
I start working on TPS report-load PC paper-Swingline stapler jokes.
8:36 – North Dakota goaltender Jake Brandt
makes two unbelievable scrambling saves during a Gopher power play.
I guess I missed the transaction in the sports agate earlier in
the week that read: North Dakota – sold the soul of goaltender
Jake Brandt to Satan.
8:39 – After the Sioux take another penalty
– leading to a Minnesota two-man advantage – Grant Potulny
ties the game on a bingo-bango-bongo passing play. I’ve never
asked, but North Dakota fans must cringe when a guy from their own
backyard lights them up.
8:44 – Three games – Maine-BU, NoDak-Minnesota
and MSU-OSU – are at period breaks. That leaves Michigan-Western
Michigan, which is scoreless midway through the second period. Yay.
8:47 – Western Michigan has a forward named
Jeremy Cheyne (pronounced SHANE). When he takes a penalty, wouldn’t
it be great if Bronco fans yelled “Cheyne, don’t go,
Cheyne!” like the kid in the movie "Shane"?
8:53 – With about six minutes left in the
second period, Michigan is whistled for a penalty, putting Western
on the power play. Shepard says the PP could prove to be a momentum
swing. Which brings up a question: In order for momentum to swing,
doesn’t one team have to have momentum? Because no one owns
Big Mo in this game.
8:58 – The Maine-BU game is now in the third
period, and Brickley mentions Colin Shields has picked up a “three-goal
hat trick.” As opposed to a two-goal hat trick? Do fans throw
visors on the ice for that?
9:00 – Back at Mariucci Arena, referee Derek
Shepherd – with help from Goldy Gopher – is working
on a patch of bad ice that caused him to send the Sioux and Gophers
to their respective locker rooms with about 30 seconds left in the
first period. You know, when ice maintenance issues need to be addressed,
it’s always a plus to have the mascot involved.
There's so much going on and I'm only two hours into the evening.
Can this get any better? I certainly hope so, because the conclusion
of this diary appears in this spot Thursday. (Check out
part two here.)