My regular readers know I am a huge University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs hockey rube. After an impressive upset in the first round of the WCHA playoffs over Colorado College last weekend, the Dogs earned a rare birth in the WCHA Final Five. Tonight was their play-in game, against our (and about 5 other team’s) biggest rival, the University of Minnesota Gophers. This house was riled up. My wife is from Grand Forks, ND, and is a Fighting Sioux fan, so clearly we both were looking for a Bulldog victory.
And that is exactly what we got…UMD 2, UMTC 1. It was a really good game. The Dogs went up 1-0 early in the first period and also killed an extended 5 on 3 Gopher powerplay. They got another goal in the 2nd to go up 2-0, and the Gophers seemed to be disinterested the rest of the second period. Even the homer Gopher announcers for FSN noted that they just didn’t seem to have life.
But as everyone would expect, the Gophers brought it in the third. They got a goal about midway into the period on a deflection and the Dogs held on for dear life. A key point in the game was with about two minutes left, after playing almost all of the period in their own defensive zone, UMD put a little pressure on the Gophers and came up with a couple good scoring chances. That was enough to run out the clock, although as time expired UMTC had a nice little last-second opportunity and a UMD player got a hook in to draw a penalty, but time expired and the Dogs get the W. UMD goalie Alex Stalock has been getting a TON of press around the Twin Cities about how he is the best goalie in the WCHA right now and one of the best in the country, and he absolutely lived up to the hype. He kept the Dogs in the lead in this one.
Sweet victory for me. I am a UMD fan living and working in Gopher-land. Gopher fans were looking past tonight’s game to a matchup with North Dakota in the semifinal. I hate to pile on UMTC fans after the basketball team was ousted early in the NCAA tournament, but then maybe they shouldn’t be so sure of themselves every time they get the opportunity.
UMD v. UND
So that sets up a Final Five matchup for my Dogs v. my wife’s Sioux in St Paul. UND won the WCHA regular season title, UMD finished 7th. UND is an unbelievable second-half of the season team, UMD is on an influential run. UMD beat and tied UND in two games this season. Tomorrow night should be fun. Julie and I will head to St. Paul and try to score a couple tickets from disgruntled Gopher fans unloading their ducats. If we are successful, come back here for some pics.
And all I can hope for is a competitive game and a chance to win at the end – and to only hear “Sioux Yeah Yeah” a minimal of times.