There's more than a few things which the pall of losing to the in-state rival unintentionally kept me from mentioning this weekend. The sturdy brothers of the Kappa Sigma fraternity deserve the first shout out. It can certainly be colder in Alaska at the end of February than it was on Friday night at 6pm when I showed up in line to collect some burger booty and a soda at the official tailgate event. I'd guess it was a degree or two underneath twenty as the sun went down, yet the men of Kappa Sigma happily endeavored to satiate the lust of the many which free vittles doth create.
There's always a Sullivan Arena-created stiff little breeze on the corners of that building on such an evening and Friday was no exception. I know it chased me inside to eat my burger and gulp my Dr. Pepper before they'd allow me all the way into the arena. So well done and hail (and all those other things fraternity men say to each other) again to Kappa Sigma for your stoutness and happy willingness to endure the less than pleasant weather conditions. They were out there for at least 45 minutes after I trudged in.
Continuing the kudos milieux, props to all the UAA Booster Club members, students and other volunteers who each and every week engineer the various events, contests and entertainment surrounding the production of the games at the Sully. You are all doing exactly what I do here and doing it for less. Your support of the games and team is important and necessary, yet you toil (unlike me) in complete anonymity. Thanks for all you do. Sometimes we fans gripe and/or moan about this or that with regard to some specific effort but do not allow those sharp critiques to dissuade you from continuation. You ain't getting paid, so piss on us if we bitch; because in reality, we are out of line to do so. Well done. Keep it up. And thank you.
And now a friendly note (which may seem overly critical but such is truly not intended) to all students manning camera's at university hockey schools everywhere. I don't know who it is that is going around to Mankato, St. Cloud, UAA and UAF instructing camera operators that close-ups are a vital part of the trade. Whoever it is, needs to shut up I suppose but each and every one of you can do your part by ignoring that part of your instruction. Pretend you were sick the day they taught that?
Hockey is not suited to that particular shot. There is too much happening on other parts of the ice to focus on a puck holder in the corner too closely. I know that it gives you good practice to hone your skills in that regard; and if your professorial directors were great at switching and/or had enough options to switch it would perhaps not be so noticeable.
But ridiculously picayune minded viewers like me get bent out of shape if we can't see what we know we should be seeing even if it's only for 6 seconds. 6 seconds in a hockey game is a frigging lifetime to a TV viewer. If this advice didn't actually sound as friendly as I intended, please pardon my written ways. I honestly mean it in the softest way possible. I recognize that you are all learning your trade and even that there is some pressure involved in creating a live TV broadcast that you know lots of people are watching.
The season winding down has felt a long drawn out process to me these last few weeks. There may be some ancillary reasons for that but nevertheless it is actually coming to be. This coming weekend are the last two regular season games and the last two chances we'll have to see many Seawolves play live. Regardless of what happens this weekend the UAA squad is once again headed somewhere else for it's WCHA playoff series. That has been the reality for a few weeks now.
The opponent is pretty close to being set. I tried to run through all the various scenarios and with about 95% certainty I'm able to predict they'll be in Madison or St. Cloud. One factor is whether the finish is 8th place or 9th place. The other factor is whether UW or SCSU finishes in 2nd or 3rd. There are some scenarios where UMD finishes tied for 2nd. But that includes UAA finishing 9th and I don't believe that UMD wins the tiebreakers with UW. Such a thing also requires that UW get swept by the Gophers (an unlikely result).
The key to 8th place for UAA in all this convoluted imagining, is to get an equal number or more points out of the UMD series as Mankato gets out of it's series with SCSU. Do that and we avoid the dreaded 9th place finish. And yeah ... I know 8th isn't some huge leap above 9th. But it does look a little better after the string of 9th's we've seen. In no case can UAA actually improve it's point total from last year though. 23 points was last years total. The Seawolves can only make it to 22 if they can sweep Duluth.
So who do we cheer for besides our beloved Seawolves this weekend? The St. Cloud/Mankato home and home series is the only one that really matters. So ... go Huskies II, or Bluffskies or St. Nothingelsetodoville or whatever you prefer to call them. If they sweep Mankato and UAA sweeps UMD, we'll be visiting the national concrete center for the playoffs. I think SCSU may present the best matchup for the Seawolves. I know the team had some past success in Madison (bagging the only playoff series win and pushing it to three games another year) and there is that "never have won at the NCC thingy in play. But that wouldn't exist except for one tenth of a second. So there's that.
Really it's six of one and half a dozen of the other with respect to either opponent. Winning the playoff series against either will be a tall order. Definitely possible as far as I'm concerned but still it will require an exceptional effort. I know the players are capable of it. Time to worry about all that though after the UMD series though.
I've decided I'll be cheering for the Canadians in today's Olympic match-up for the gold. I guess I like to think I'm more a citizen of the world than a nationalistic flag waver. Truth is, I don't care much whether the Canadian NHL All-Stars or the American NHL All-Stars win. No doubt it should be a great hockey game. The preliminary round game was. But for me, the professionalism in the Olympics is just a bit ignoble. So why am I cheering for Canadia? Because they always say "please" and "thank you" ... and they're usually sincere about it.
I saw too many of Bud Greenspan's "Olympiad" documentary series back in the 70's. Through them, I came to understand the glory and honor of the simple competition between amateurs who gave their heart and soul to their sport for the sake of the sport. I'm sure deep down professional athletes have the same desire to perform just for the love of/sake of competition, but it's just too damn hard for my now older and more cynical eyes to see.
There are many inspirational stories in the history of the Olympic Games. The video below tells of my personal favorite. Reviewing it just now to post here, swelled my heart. Not only do I wish I were capable of penning
"Today we have seen a young African runner who symbolizes the finest in the human spirit, a performance that gives true dignity to sport, a performance that lifts sport out of the category of grown men playing at games, a performance that gives meaning to the word courage; all honor to John Stephen Ahkwari of Tanzania."
That video is from the Greenspan series and when I saw it at 13 or 14 years of age it left an indelible mark on my sports psyche. I did weep the first time I saw it. I wept with pride for the man, pride for people who honored him by telling his story and even pride for people of Tanzania. If there was one person who's hand I could shake and thank for molding my attitude about sport, it would be John Stephen Ahkwari. It's a bit of a shame that they didn't credit whoever wrote that tribute. It is inspiring as well.
Long time readers will remember my references to this from some past post. Continue to read here and there's little doubt at some point I'll mention it again. There'll be nothing remotely that compelling or inspiring about today's Olympic Gold Medal hockey game. But I'll watch it anyway.
There are some traditional things I do here at the end of the season. Over the next couple of weeks expect my "Seniors Tributes" as well as my "Awards" and end of season report cards. I'll follow all that with a final "Recruit Update" before beginning my off-season. I'll likely weigh in on this or that during the off-season and of course if there is any big UAA news and you're interested to get my take then you can bet I'll post something about it.
I'm looking forward to writing this years Seniors Tribute. This is the first UAA class whom I've covered from recruit-stage to their full Seawolves career and I hope I'm able to say something poignant about each player because they've all impacted me on some level as a fan. And I'll miss each and every one of them. So will the team. They all leave a big hole (in one way or another) to fill.
Man, this weekend really was "teh suck". Don't get me wrong (gawd I say that a lot don't I?), I thought Friday nights game was one of the more exciting games of the year. The crowd was energized by having the opposition fans in the rink. It was close to, if not the, best atmosphere of the season. Both teams played a mostly wide open offensive game ... there was some trapping but it was limited. The result was a crushing blow.
But on top of it (and I hesitate to mention it because honestly it's kind of disturbing) I got cyber-stalked again, this time by a UAF fan. The exact same thing happened earlier this year by a UND fan. I know I earn some sports hate from opposition fans with my disrespectful ways here but puhlease. We're talking about a niche sport between NCAA teams here. Let's have some perspective eh opposition fans? I'm not writing for you. I don't take you into consideration in any way, shape or form (I use that phrase a lot too eh?).
Seriously, I write for my UAA Seawolves audience. If you aren't mature enough to recognize that, then I implore you to never visit here again. Please. Thank You. I am not in the least interested in your "hits". My jibes, insults, disrespect and/or sports hate of your team is for UAA fans. And thank you to those opposition fans that do read here and "get it". I know I often paint you all with the same broad brush. But such generalization is necessary for the meme. Yo ... it's sports and fans here. Not real life. Don't come knocking on my front door with duct tape and torture devices. Ok?
Ok. Thats it. I'm off to watch the game.