Thursday, January 31, 2008

Confessions of A College Facepainter

In response to a post left on the USCHO fan forum by screen name Burnt Orange Husky.

You face painters make me laugh, you're such homers! You should get out of Houghton more often.

The team finally played well at GLI this year and I acknowledged that in a post. I bet you weren't even ALIVE the last time Tech won GLI. They won it SIX YEARS IN A ROW when I was at Tech. The 1979 Ann Arbor News sports section lead story had the headline, "Tech Owns GLI".

So excuse me when I don't pat Russell on the back and say, "Good Job. We had a winning season last year." I expect more than that. When they play well, I'll cheer them on. But when they play poorly, I'll kick them in the butt. They can call their moms if they want a hug...

We are not band wagoners, we are not the ones who cheer for our team because everybody else is, and then disappear when they fall out of fashion. We are not fair weather fans, we are the not ones who have no problem cheering for the team when they are on top, and then turn around and rip on the players and coaches when things aren't going in our favor.

We are facepainters. We are the upper echelon of sport fans, or the bottom tier depending on where you're sitting. We are the ones on the front lines, forsaking the small aspects of our own live for the sole affirmation that comes with watching other pursue their craft. We are the irrational, we are the manic, we are the lunatics bordering on insanity that always believes that the next game will be the best game.

We are the ones who have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the name of supporting our team. We are the ones who have skipped parties, and weddings, and funerals, exams and countless other activities just so that when the puck dropped we would be there. We are the ones that fells the world spinning off it's axle every time a goal is scored and we're not there to celebrate it. We are the ones who have been driven to tears at the sound of galvanized rubber hitting an iron post. We are the ones who have celebrated to the brink of causing injuries to ourselves and others because this time the score worked out in our favor.

We are the ones who cheer our team no matter what. We are the ones who have no problem wearing our allegiance on our skin, because we know are loyalties will never change. We are the ones willing to to lose our voices for weeks at a time, because we know that sometimes the difference in playing hard and hard enough to win is simply knowing that others believe in you.

We may be homers, our glasses may be colored in the shade of our schools colors but that doesn't mean we are blind to the truth. We are still the ones who feel the pain when our team drops a game to the last place in the league, and even when they are that last placed team, but we still cheer. We know the pain of being called celler-dwellers and a disgrace to the sport, but we still believe. We know the feeling of shame as other programs cheer for you because you're harmless, but we know that one day it'll be different. And even though we know that our team is not as dominant as it once was, it is still our team. We know that the second you give up hope that you can't win is the moment you should stop playing. And we know that the day when you step into a building and don't feel like you can win is the day that you should stop cheering.

All that may be common knowledge, but here's the confession, deep down inside we are the ones who know, that the players aren't playing for us. They are playing for themselves, they are playing because they want to be the best, they are playing because they love the game, they are playing for pride. We know that we can't change how they play, or change why they play so the only way we can effect the game is to make sure that they fell the confidence and pride that we feel.

We are the ones that know that in the long run coaches and players may come and go, but facepainters are forever.

Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Season Address

Thank you very much. I am very happy to be here today to discuss with you the state of Michigan Tech Hockey this season. [ Applaud me here ]

The late Coach John MacInnes would be very happy with the strides that this program has taken over the past few years. This team has gone from a 4-win season only a few years ago to a team that is now much more respected. [ Applaud me here ] This team will continue its uphill climb. [ More applause, please ]

Coach Russell, I commend everything you have done since you have returned to Michigan Tech, but this time as a coach. It was rough at first and many players didn't buy into your system, along with some fans. You kept with it though and recruited your own guys... and it is really beginning to pay off. [ Applaud me, fools! ]

Today I will be discussing where we are at now and where we will be in the future. Currently, we're in a three-way tie for 7th place in the WCHA, a mere one point behind Minnesota who sits alone in 6th, and only three points behind the two teams tied for fourth place, Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth. This is of course not where we had hoped to be at this time in the season; but there are many reasons to remain optimistic about the future, as there is a lot of hockey left to be played. [ Applause ]

Earlier this season, we started out at a strong 4-2 record, with a sweep over Mankato. [ Insert your clapping here] After a bit of a slump, we pulled it back together and had a great showing at GLI. The team was definitely prepared for that weekend as they beat Michigan State for the first time since 1991 (?) by a score of 4-1. [ Clappity clap clap! ] For the first time in several years, we were playing in the GLI championship game, with an outstanding showing by Michigan Tech fans and alumni. This team took #1 Michigan through 4 scoreless periods of hockey, hitting two crossbars and two pipes in the process. [Applause ] Unfortunately, Michigan had 'won the cointoss' as was able to sneak one by goaltender Rob Nolan, who was just amazing all weekend long. Even though it went down as a loss in the books, it gave the team and the fans a lot to look forward to for the rest of the season. [ You know the drill ]

After faltering in North Dakota, the team went through their last off weekend, a well-used one as they bounced back and played WCHA leader and the nation's #3 team Colorado College at home, tying them the first night and defeating them 5-2 on the second night. [ Yep, more applause ] CC goaltender Richard Bachman was the WCHA's leading goaltender at that time. After that weekend however, he has fallen to the number two spot and Michael-Lee Teslak has taken over. [ Lots of applause ]

We have big goals for the rest of this year... and one of those is to get home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. [ Applause ] In order to do this, we need to win conference games. [ More applause ] Our team can do great things on home ice, and hopefully they will get that opportunity. [ Keep it coming ]

Home ice or not, the team is looking forward to their SECOND trip to the WCHA Final Five in two years. [ Applause ] As most of the team has been there before, they will know what to expect this time, and you can certainly expect a much better performance this time around, along with RESULTS--the results that we're looking for! [ You know what to do ] The ultimate goal is to WIN the Final Five... and make our first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in quite some time. [ More applause ]
A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our fans have readily available support. When it comes to winning, our team has an obligation to win for the fans and making them happy. And they will meet those responsibilities. [ Applause ]

And so tonight, I propose two new initiatives that may not be new because they have probably been done before. First, I propose that each and every member of the team eat their vegetables. Many tests have shown that vegetables are healthy. If the guys remain healthy, they will probably play better. [ Applause ]

My second proposal should help the guys consistently play hard during each and every game. I suggest to them that they play each and every game as if it were the most important game of their lives. Perhaps if they always keep that in their mind while they're on the bench or on the ice, they will push themselves that much harder. The W's will then start rolling in. [ Yep, more applause here ]

Yet even with these steps, we cannot guarantee home ice playoffs, a Final Five Championship, or a NCAA tournament appearance. Michigan Tech fans must do their part as well, by attending games and cheering loudly. They must create a superior home atmosphere for which our Hockey Huskies can get their job done. [ Applause ]

With such determination and passion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and results of our Michigan Tech Hockey Huskies. They are a decent and honorable hockey team--resilient too. The team and the fans have been through a lot together.
Yet we can go forward with confidence -- because the State of our season is strong, our cause in the hockey world is right, and tonight and for the rest of the season, that cause, winning, goes on. [ You're almost done ]

See you next game. And go Huskies! [ Okay, lay it on thick here! ]

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why we cheer.

Friday shortly before 6 o'clock, as I was on my way home from work, I had an unpleasant experience. I will not go into the details of how it happened, but I was involved in a rather bad car accident, no injuries (thank God) but the front end of my car will probably never be the same again.

After cautiously driving home and being lectured on not driving so fast I really needed a way to vent, which lead to me breaking my SD card which had very crucial information on it that I need for a client, on top of all that I had to deal with my nephew, who I love but I really have no desire to spend more time around him then I have to. All things considered it was probably very understandable that I was not in the best of moods as I set down to watch my Michigan Tech Huskies play the first game of a two game series against Colorado College. I was feeling discouraged, frustrated and feed up with my situation and my surroundings and I really just needed something good to happen. That night the Huskies skated to a 2-2 tie in a game they probably should of won.

Saturday I took my car to a collision shop to get an estimate of how much it would cost to repair the damage. I found out it will cost less to get a new car then to fully repair the damage, definitely not good news. On top of all of this I again had to deal with my lack of personal solitude as I had to deal with my nephew, my sister and their friends, who don't live in my house and I really wish would go away (seeing as it is Sunday morning and they are still here). Again discouraged, frustrated and feed up with my situation and my surroundings, not to mention I had the biggest headache I have had in a long time. That night the Huskies took the ice against the Colorado College Tigers and left the building with a 5-2 win, that many will call an upset but I expected.

My situations haven't improved, but for approximately six hours over the two nights everything was okay. It didn't matter that I now have to rely on other people to get around, or that I have no idea what the future will hold, for those couple of hours life was good, and that's all that mattered.

For all those who don't understand, this is why we cheer. Because sometimes when life isn't going in your favor it's just good to escape. Different people do it in different ways, some read, some run, some go about doing things to their body that they can never reverse, and some like me, invest their time and energy in the support of others.

Some may look upon us and see crazed maniacs hopelessly devoted to things that don't matter, or pathetic individuals living vicariously through the lives of others, but there's more. To us it's more than just the pursuit of the dreams of others, but when their dreams become your dreams, then you have a way to accomplish things that you probably will never have a chance to do on your own. You can feel the accomplishment of winning a championship, or the adrenaline rush of scoring a game winning goal, and at least for a little while you get to be more than you are.

For those of us who have a problem expressing your emotions, it's an excuse to yell to cheer and sometimes to cry. It's a reason to give your all, to lay it all on the line, to act like a complete and total fool without worrying about what anybody else thinks of you.

This is why we cheer, this is why we don't mind investing our money and time into an obsession that many can't understand. We all have our obsessions and the things we love for no apparent reason, and anybody who doesn't I feel sorry for. If nothing else this I know on any given Saturday I can watch a college football game and no matter what is going in my life, that's all that matters. Most importantly I know I can watch my Huskies and I lay my emotions and my thoughts on their shoulders, and this weekend they proved they can handle it.

So to Jamie Russell and the Michigan Tech Huskies, I would just like to say thank for not letting me down, and no matter what, just as I will always be a fan of the University of Michigan Football team, win or lose, I will always be there to support you.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Great Play, But It Didn't Go Our Way

I really don't have much to complain about tonight. I suppose I could rant about the results. There's really no point to that, however.

Bottom line... my team played a GREAT game. I am so proud of all of them! The physicalness, determination, effort... the pretty passes... It was excellent hockey. Kudos also to the Tigers. They played a very good game as well, which was unfortunate for us.

A tie against the #3 team in the nation is nothing to be ashamed of.

Btw, Derek Kitti for the win. Oh... and Deron Cousens... ANOTHER point! He's making it 5 points in 5 games.


I'd like to see MORE of this type of hockey as the season goes along; and not just here and there... but in EVERY SINGLE GAME for the rest of the season. THIS is how the Huskies need to play. Now let's finish off the weekend right.

On a side note: ARBY'S is now open for business in Houghton!!! :-D

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sioux Sweep, Huskies Weep

My deepest apologies to my coaching staff and players... but I had a bad feeling about this weekend. The Sioux did not forget about what happened last year in the REA, plus they were due for their first sweep of the year. This weekend was definitely a major disappointment for Michigan Tech. These WCHA points would hold a lot more value coming from a team ranked closely with us than the CC points up for grabs in two weeks. The gap has widened greatly and the team is REALLY going to need to get it together.

Here's a look at the WCHA standings as of today, Sunday 13 January 2008:
1 CC 15-3-0 30
2 DU 12-4-0 24
3 UND 9-7-0 18
4 UMD 6-6-4 16
5 SCSU 6-8-2 14
6 MTU 5-8-1 11
6 UMN 5-8-1 11
6 UW 5-8-1 11
9 MSUM 3-7-4 10
10 UAA 2-9-3 7
A three-way tie for 6th place is probably not where the team had hoped to be at this point. As I mentioned earlier, the Huskies are really going to need to get it together. One observation I made this past weekend is that the team didn't play with... that fire. "That fire" is a certain way they played when Mike Batovanja played for the team. My suggestion is that someone needs to step up on the team and be that motivator. "That fire" is always a noticeable thing, and the team used to be able to play a full sixty minutes with it. Now it isn't uncommon to have it for only about 5 minutes per game. Each game should be played as if they're playing for their lives. The Husky fans definitely enjoy watching the game more and typically the results end up in our favor more often. Jimmy Kerr, Ryan Bunger, and Jordan Baker... I think you three possess that fire and need to bring it out in the rest of your teammates.

All of the above are just my observations and what I think will help the team. This is only my view from the stands. I'm not in the locker room nor on the ice. I could be right, I could be wrong (although that is quite rare). All I know for sure is that the Michigan Tech Huskies are one hard working hockey team and they deserve great things. Many of these guys have been through so much, and it's about time for them to be getting rewarded. First thing is first however... we need to play better than we played against the Sioux.

And my Why We Lost feature: The Sioux were better. Plain and simple. They did what they needed to do to win. Not really much to say here.

And for my last note on this entry... You'll see above that I posted a picture of the Sioux stick salute. Believe it or not, Michigan Tech fans, this is the first time the Sioux fans have been able to see their team's salute this season, as the Sioux ONLY do it after a home sweep (or tie on Friday and win on Saturday). This very example is yet another reason why I am glad to be a Michigan Tech hockey fan. Win, lose, or tie, the fans are rewarded after each and every home game with a stick salute to thank us all for coming out and our support.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What Was That?

That was... a poor effort last night. There were moments of okayness, but all-in-all this is one very unhappy Tech fan.

In Psychology of Coaching last semester, we learned about the sandwich technique... that is... saying something positive first, then criticism in the middle, and end it on another positive note. I'm going to apply this method right here and now.

GOOD: The penalty kill. Yes, we got a powerplay goal against us last night. It happens... but all-in-all, the PK unit is the bright spot right now.

BAD: Oooh boy, where to begin! The Huskies need to learn to CONTROL THEIR TEMPERS. The last thing I want is for my team to have a reputation as being a dirty team. Let's just play hockey, guys. Cut the bs. Seriously. Cheap shots are unnecessary. Quit taking stupid penalties... and so many of them!

Also, quit flopping around all over the ice. You might think you're good at making it look like the Sioux player made you fall, but it looks really pathetic from the stands. Again I say... quit the bs. No need to Robbie Earl it.

And moving along... when we go on a powerplay, we have one (at least) more player than the other team... therefore, we should be spending a majority of the time on the Sioux side of the ice... or at least part of the time over there. There were at least two of the worst Husky "power plays" that I have seen all season long last night. It is getting to the point where I cringe when we go on the power play. With the way we've been looking, it's basically a guaranteed no-scoring two minutes for my team. So to my team: please get the whole concept of the power play figured out and make good use of that time.

A question I pose to the team: Where is our offense? Fifteen shots on goal? ONE shot on goal in all that power play time last night? How are we going to get ANY goals if the puck never goes in the general direction of the net? I'm not trying to discredit the Sioux defense, because they were great last night... but much of the time, my offense looked lost.... or non-existent. L
et's get the puck to the net guys... the past Lamoureux.

GOOD: Leave Deron Cousens in the line-up. I'm rather pleased with him as of late. He may be our future Lars Helminen.

Now as you can see, there's a lot of negative stuff going on with my team right now. Hopefully most of that will get fixed tonight and the Huskies can assist the Sioux in continuing with their 2007-2008 season tradition of splitsville.


On a side note! I would like to bring up a personal experience I had last night while in the REA. For the second year in a row, I brought my favorite sign that I faithfully hold at every MTU-UND meeting. This sign says, "SIOUX PLAY LIKE PIOUX." Observe:

Like I said earlier, this is the second year it has come to this series in the REA. Last year it was just fine to have that sign. Also, to get it in, security needs to look at it. Again, this was alright. It has gotten by security three times without any issues whatsoever.

However, last night before the game started, a lady from the REA staff (not an usher, but someone higher up) came to me to try to take my sign away because they were receiving many complaints about it. Then I was lectured on how UND is having issues with their nickname right now. So... here's what I got...

Dear UND fans and REA staff:

I KNOW about the lawsuit and the NCAA stupidness. I am behind the University of North Dakota 100% on this issue. I understand the respect that university has for their nickname and why it's important to them. I am not in any way trying to disrespect the nickname. UND fans, get over it. I am just a college hockey fan enjoying myself and coming up with creative, witty things to do to entertain myself and others. I have even received many compliments from UND fans on the creativity of my sign. REA staff and America: please quit giving into the whiny people in this world who are so easily offended by everything. That is the base of the problem with the nickname issue... people being upset about the use of the "Fighting Sioux" (plus some money issues that we needn't discuss).

So again, I will be bringing my sign tonight and I will be holding it up. I will again not allow it to be taken and I will fight to keep it until I'm escorted out in handcuffs (also known as doing The Oshie). I am only a college hockey fan and people need to relax about silly things that don't matter. Stop trying to make what should be a good time (a hockey game) a miserable time for people who do not deserve it (REA staff, other fans, etc). It's unnecessary. Just enjoy the game and appreciate college hockey and fans that love the game.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Can't we all just get along (or UND Mayhem part Deux)

[ original picture deleted to protect the midget ]

In a little over twenty-four hours from the time I post this, the Huskies of Michigan Technological University will take part in game one of a two game series against the (name removed in order to comply with NCAA wishes) from The University of North Dakota. The last time these two teams met in Houghton, MI, in the early part of the season, there was definitely no love lost from the previous year. A contest where the Huskies ran the (name removed in order to comply with NCAA wishes) out of their own barn in a weekend that included a great showing of sportsmanship as North Dakota goalie (I'll just call him Lammy because I'm not trying to go and figure how to spell it right now) was booed by the home team fans after being brought into the game on Saturday to relieve the poor goalie who had the misfortune to start against the perennial cellar dwellers of the league. This season as the two teams met, the sportmanship was taken to a new level as verbal abuse was handed down by a North Dakota assistant coach to a tech student as well as threats of physical violence by varsity hockey players who were currently scracthed from the (name removed in order to comply with NCAA wishes) line-up. I'm not saying the Tech student wasn't blameless, but you would think the assistant coach and players from a major university would have handled the situation better.

Added to all of this several fans of the (name removed in order to comply with NCAA wishes) men's hockey team took offense to a post made in jest by this very site. (most of these facts still apply to this series by the way). These reactions eventually led to an apology (which also still applies), and more banter followed. After the way both teams and their fans have acted over the last couple meetings I think the name (name removed in order to comply with NCAA wishes) is actually pretty accurate, if of course the North Dakotans were Native American.

So here's my point to this post, okay there isn't a point. I just wanted to put it in writing. Let's go Tech, keep our run in that marble morgue running.

P.S. Dirty you might want to try to punch something softer after the Huskies sweep your (name removed in order to comply with NCAA wishes) this year.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sweet Sweep

This weekend against Mercyhurst concludes our regular season non-conference play. As a Michigan Tech fan, I don't think I could ask for anything more than we got - a sweep on the road.

This particular trip was quite a different experience for me. I'm definitely used to the nicer, larger WCHA arenas. The Mercyhurst Ice Center was much smaller and much more laid back. It can definitely be a rocking arena if even twenty people decide to be loud. The Tech fans brought a group of less than ten this past weekend, and we easily dominated the atmosphere.

Here are some random highlights from the trip and the games:
  • Robby Nolan turned in a .933 save% for the weekend
  • Our penalty kill continues to be unbeatable, even against a 5 minute major
  • Atlantic Hockey refs call a LOT of penalties it seems
  • Peter Rouleau had a shorthanded goal on Saturday night--the team's FIRST this season
  • Deron Cousens's mom and dad are great people and were a pleasure to meet
  • The drive thru beer place is a very interesting idea
  • Erie, PA is a terrible city
  • Gold Crown Billiards/Andy's Pub is a redeeming point for Erie; great place!
  • Don't stay at the Red Roof Inn in Erie
  • Mercyhurst has a gate on the outside of the campus and the purpose of it is unknown
  • The Michigan Tech Huskies are now at .500 overall! (9-9-2, 5-6-1 WCHA)
Next weekend brings the SIOUX! As of right now, this writer is unsure on the latest about the goaltending situation and Teslak's leg. Hopefully we can bring a full healthy team to Grand Forks. Even more hopefully - we can repeat the wondrous events that occurred last season at the Ralph Engelstad Arena when we were in town.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Robby Nolan - Red Baron WCHA Defensive Player of the Week

I know this is a few days late... but I've been on dial-up. Cut me some slack.

From here:

Red Baron WCHA Defensive Player of the Week
Rob Nolan
Jr., G, Michigan Tech

MADISON, Wisc. - Goaltender Rob Nolan, who turned in a stellar performance between the pipes as Michigan Tech University finished second in the annual Great Lakes Invitational Tournament last weekend, has been named Red Baron WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for Jan. 2-7.

A 6-0, 180-pound junior from Sherwood Park, Alberta, Nolan started both games of the tournament for MTU against defending national champion Michigan State and No. 1-ranked Michigan on Dec. 28-29, stopping 74 of 76 shots on goal for a .974 saves percentage, yielding just two goals, and recording seven shutout periods.

In a 4-1 Michigan Tech victory over Michigan State last Friday (Dec. 28) evening at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich., Nolan stopped 29 of 30 shots on goal and blanked the Spartans on all four of their power-play chances.

Nolan then came back in the GLI championship game against Michigan last Saturday (Dec. 29) night, stopping a season-high 45 shots and blanking the Wolverines on all eight of their man-advantage opportunities in a 1-0 double overtime defeat.

Also nominated for the award this week were: Jon Olthuis, G, UAA; Nate Prosser, D, CC; Chris Butler, D, DU; Nick Canzanello, D, MSU; and John Swanson, D, SCSU.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Final Thoughts on GLI 2007

So there are a lot of things I could say about the 2007 version of the Great lakes Invitational.

  • One of the greatest games ever.
  • Michigan State Sucks
  • Next year is going to rock (yes I said rock)
  • Robby Nolan should play like that more often
  • The rest of the year should be pretty fun
  • Why couldn't Sauer play like he played last year.
  • GLI = Mecca for Michigan Tech Alums
  • Etc. etc.
But I will save all of those comments for another day so that I can focus on what I believe is the biggest topic that should be dealt with.

Quite simply I hope that in some point in the near future Tech plays in these throwback jerseys(and more importantly not only do I want to be there to see it I want one of these jerseys):