Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Last Blog Post

After the St. Augustine Tsunami destroyed 20 percent of Anchorage and killed nearly 10,000 people, it was impossible to imagine that anything truly heartwarming could ever happen again. A 200 foot tidal wave and 25,000 dead all over Southcentral Alaska will do that to you. It will depress you. It doesn’t matter that almost immediately afterwards so many people across the world reach out and try to help. Living in a community so brutally devastated by nature is an experience thankfully shared by the relative few. Only the people of Banda Aceh after the Christmas Tsunami in 2005, New Orleans after Hurricane Susan in 2018 and Anchorage since Augustine Tsunami 6 years ago can truly know the scope to which nature so easily impales humanity.

Yes, there were many more people killed during the Pakistani War in 2019. Short lived as it was, the toll was almost beyond mind-boggling. Somehow though Man’s wrath on himself is easier to wrap our brains around. We have an innate understanding that we’re violent and that our own lust for control and power over others leads to horrors like that. Four and a half million people dead in just a few weeks? Somehow not surprising. At least we can all be thankful that the Iranian’s stepped in and put an end to that idiocy. When I was young it was trite to say “One Nuclear Bomb Can Ruin Your Whole Day” but none of us ever really considered how much 18 nuclear bombs could ruin. Yet having lived through a seemingly random natural catastrophe is somehow more difficult to grasp. It isn’t the why. It isn’t the how. We know why and how. St. Augustine blew it’s top and a massive landslide created the biggest tsunami mankind has ever witnessed. A wave nearly 500ft high wiped Homer off the map in the blink of an eye, it rushed up Cook Inlet inundating Kenai and Soldotna and 6 minutes after it started it rolled across Fire Island before crashing into Anchorage. All that becomes part of your psyche. Pakistan is really far. You know what I’m sayin? It took 6 minutes. Augustine was visible from Anchorage on a clear day. Not anymore. It just isn’t there anymore.

But six years on from that otherwise beautifully sunny day and while most things aren’t quite back to normal; we have been treated to something that is warming the hearts of college hockey fans everywhere. I was traveling through Dallas wearing my Seawolf hat before this season and must’ve had 20 people come up to talk with me. Most of them weren’t offering their condolences about the tsunami. They were asking about the team! I was amazed. To have this program take on these sorts of epic proportions wouldn’t have been in my wildest dreams when I started writing about UAA Hockey. Who could imagine? A program that folded for 2 years after the tsunami and now is well known by people who hardly know anything about hockey?

I suppose there has to be a lot of credit given to Jim James Oscar nominated documentary which followed the team through it’s difficult first season (’28-’29) after the tsunami. I sat through 18 losses at the Brush and watched crowds that were near sellouts at the beginning of the season trickle down to 3,500 by the time it ended. Thank god Denver stayed in the WCHA before folding their program in ’30 or UAA wouldn’t have gotten the measley two wins they managed to get that year. Thank god Coach Larson persevered with his team instilling that great attitude on every player (even though we got pounded so horribly virtually every time we hit the ice). When I was lucky enough to be invited to the prescreening of the documentary late that summer I expected to nothing more than to just relive the ugliness of that season. Instead, if I wasn’t laughing, I was crying and when HBO and then ESPN picked up the movie and shared it’s poignant story with the sports fans across the U.S. people everywhere instantly became UAA fans. Being one of the fans so closely connected to what ESPN now calls the “Greatest Sports Comeback” story ever is a special thing to me. Coach Larson is doing well in his second season at the helm with Montreal and hopefully they can make a run in the playoffs and he’ll get his name on Lord Stanley’s Cup this year.

The next year achieving a record of 17-17-4 and almost making the NCAA’s was absolutely wonderful. Go back and read my blog entries for that season and you’ll see I was pretty much ecstatic the whole year. How could I not be after going 2-34-2 the year before? It honestly was enough for me. Then I almost went out of my fucking mind when we beat UND in ’31 for our first National Championship in 21 years. What a game that was eh? 5 unanswered goals in the 3rd? Winning the NC the next year was certainly icing on the cake (beating Air Force is always sweet) but it was almost expected with the incredible talent of the ’32 team. But when 8 of those incredible players went pro early followed by Larson leaving to coach Montreal and UAA only won 11 games in ’33, I was taken back 25 years (back when the snow stayed on the ground all winter) to the struggling teams of the early 2000’s. It seemed like it was that same sort of struggle.

Back then (when I actually had to type these things … with my fingers! … on a keyboard!) my enthusiasm and optimism always made me think the squad was better than they were. I can easily remember how disappointed I made myself with all that optimism. But through the mid-teens I learned to appreciate the game just for the sake of the game (thank Christ they quit with that stupid shootout crap in ’19 … I thought Rick Comely would never retire from the rules committee …that was ten years of stupidity eh?)

I’ve always had a certain satisfaction with the effort regardless of the results. It’s always been a matter of supporting amateur student-athletes and their effort to entertain us fans. It was enough but it wasn’t enough. Ya know? So at the beginning of ’34, I was full of anticipation. A full arena (even if it is getting a bit long in the tooth … who isn’t?) with 10,000 screaming fans and all the crazy students is a wonderful thing. But once again the pain of missing the NCAA tournament with our 21-16-1 record was tough to take (argh … if we’d just tied one more game we’d have got in instead of having to watch SCSU lose another NCAA playoff game). It was even tougher especially since Squarebanks made it to the final. It was hard to watch since I didn’t really want to cheer for them or Air Force. A anyone who’s ever read me knows, I’m hardcore anti-UAF so while I wasn’t exactly happy to see them lose I certainly wasn’t bothered by it. That’s as good as it gets for me with regard to them.

It’s been 5 days since I’ve written. It wasn’t like you needed me to tell you we’d beaten Minnesota for our 3rd title in 4 years. I haven’t written because I’ve been considering retirement from this blog. It’s been on my mind for a couple of months. I’ve been thinking 30 years of blogging is enough. So this is it. My last entry here. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it. I have. I’ll see you all next season at the brand new Steve Cobb Memorial Arena and I’ll be hoping (along with 18,000 of you guys) that Coach Glencross can bring what will be another very young team to it’s best potential. My old ass will be right there at center-ice (my new season tickets came in the mail today!).

April 9th, 2036


Anonymous said...

Been smokin' some fine valley weed lately? I wish I had an imagination like that. Good reading on rainy July Sunday, and God knows I really didn't feel like reading the newest Harry Potter Book. Maybe you could be a novelist? JK Rowling makes like a Bilion or two a year, and your short story is far better than her drivel.

Anonymous said...

Well damn. Guess I'm dead.

Donald said...

1st Anon:
Nope. Wasn't Ganja-inspired. It was Science Channel inspired. The reason I write this blog is because I enjoy writing and it's a good exercise that I think will eventually help me be able to write something extensive like a book.

So thanks for the comments even if they are an exaggeration of my current abilities. ;-)

Anon #2:
But at least an Arena will be named after you!

Suze said...

Yippee! You got season ticket seats next to us! ;)

Hey, read your email.

Runninwiththedogs said...

In 2036, I won't even be a senior citizen.

You're fucking old.

Donald said...

When pups like you were still eating your big brothers boogers I was living large standing tall defending America against the horrors of Soviet Imperialist expansion.

Runninwiththedogs said...

Well, they did invade as far as Wisconsin...

but at least they didn't take Minnesota!

Goon said...

So donald are you saying your old like me DG? I remember seeing the East German wall when I was in Germany.

Anthony said...

Lemme tell 'ya, that wave killed off the entire Kenai Peninsula, damnit!

I hydrogen'd up my Mazda Hoverbird for a fishing trip and couldn't find anything except for assorted corpses and mud. I drove about 130 miles in one direction and couldn't tell if I was either in Sterling or Seward. It all looks the same now.

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