Regular readers will recognize that I really dislike referring to CC by their current nickname (Tigers). I think it is just a stupid nickname. A couple of years ago I saw a CC fan with the moniker "Black Bears" on USCHO who apparently doesn't like the "Tiger" name either. All that is really unimportant in terms of this post except for me to clarify which Black Bears I'm talking about. The title of today's post refers to University of Maine Black Bears (you could probably tell by the picture huh?). Their season is over and in respect of SUZE's contributions to their season thread on USCHO and their fondness for departed assistant Campbell Blair they have officially adopted UAA to cheer for this weekend against the "Tigers". Thanks Mainuh's! If I'm not mistaken UAA is the most western school in D1 hockey and Maine is the most eastern. With CC's relative central position perhaps some mysterious vice-like fandom mental energy can come into play this weekend. So in honor of the support of the fine Maine fans I thought I'd share my one Shawn Walsh story.
Back in the D1 Independent days it was always difficult to schedule opponents. For several years UAA made an east coast road swing playing various teams over a week or week and a half. Gawd ... they must have missed a lot of school! At some point though someone arranged for Key Bank to act as some sort of sponsor and Maine and UAA played 2 games against one another at home. Key Bank found it useful to promote it since the two areas represented their most eastern and western branches.
I'm fairly certain the events I'll describe happened in the 2nd game of the series here in Anchorage (but if my memories of the events are different than yours please jump in the comments section and correct them). It has to be noted again here that this was back in the "Independent" days and to be honest occasionally there was some home-cooking by the local referees. It was usually just appetizers ya know but once in a while they laid out a full spread. UAA had beaten the Black Bears on Friday night and a win or a tie would wrap up the Key Bank "championship" since the Seawolves had split earlier in the year in Maine. Seawolf teams under Brush Christiansen were never known for their subtle physical play. I remember a bench clearing brawl with Air Force once at the Sully and can distinctly recall a radio description of goalie Jeff "Buff" Carlson chasing a UMass player up the ice and giving him a wicked two handed slash across the back. Sometimes it wasn't pretty but you could walk away from the rink satisfied that if your team didn't win the game on the scoresheet at least they won the fights.
In any case, on this particular Saturday night UAA had built a 2 goal lead on the strength of it's power play and Shawn Walsh was not too pleased. I hope my memory isn't fooling me but with time left on the clock in the second period Walsh led his team off the ice to the astonishment and ire of a full Sullivan Arena. I don't think I've ever heard sustained cat calling and booing for as long. Since the time on the clock for the period was relatively short (around a minute) the referees just called the period and UAA headed for it's locker room. When the ice was Zammed and the intermission was over the Seawolves came back onto the ice and took their places on the bench. But no Black Bears. The joint was going nuts with Booing and many a colorful description of Walsh's manhood were being yelled. It took several minutes but eventually the Maine team came back out onto the ice and wound up losing the game. The 3rd period was perhaps the only period that weekend that was called straight up fairly by the referees.
So thanks for not holding that ancient screw-job against us Maine fans! We appreciate your support and postive mental energy for the Seawolves in this weekends series against a team that should be called Black Bears. We UAA fans are aware of what it's like to get homered as it happened to us last year in Colorado Springs when the referee called a series of ridiculous "interference" penalty on face-offs and sent UAA players to the box both nights early in the two OT games. The first night the Seawolves overcame that crap calls and won. On the second night CC pulled out a victory but UAA won the fight! You can read (and/or participate) in the USCHO thread by clicking here.
I'll be back tomorrow with a list of reasons UAA will win this weekend and advance to the Final Five.