Tuesday, March 28, 2006

NCAA Tourney Fallout: Upset of the Century

I waited a couple days on posting this, and it's still pretty hard to comprehend. There was never a point in the game on Friday that I felt confident in Holy Cross beating the Gophers, until a few seconds after the overtime goal went in the net, and even then it took a little while for it to actually sink in. I did say in my preview that if Holy Cross could score first, it would be an interesting game, but I could have never dreamed it would be *that* interesting. It's kind of silly if you think about it, because if you knew nothing about college hockey and just happened to be watching the game, you'd probably say the two teams were about equal with either having the chance to win. You have to tip your hat to Holy Cross because they played a great hockey game that is going to be remembered for a long time.

There were some great post-game quotes including goalie Tony Quesada's "They didn't test me as much as I thought they would," which was surprisingly true, but my absolute favorite was Tyler McGregor, who scored the game-winning overtime goal, who said "At least you(opponents of the Gophers) will have some more ammo next time you play them."

Tyler, you have no idea. "At least I didn't lose to Holy Cross" won't only be a rallying cry for hockey for many years to come, but will also be used in everyday life, as in, "Dear God, I must have made 20 typos in that last blog entry. But at least I didn't lose to Holy Cross."

That's probably the way it should be though. Karma came back and bit the Gophers hard. All season this team struggled with giving their best effort. They earned a pretty solid reputation for having terrible practice habits. They just seemed like a team that heard how great they were enough times that they started believing it. Their failure should be a monument to the fact that effort isn’t something you can just turn on and off like a faucet. Once you lose that intensity, it’s very tough to regain.

A bit of justice was served to a few individual players as well. Last December, Gopher forward and North Dakota native Danny Irmen chose to wave his stick and pull on his jersey to taunt the Sioux fans after scoring a goal. Last Friday, Irmen was waving his stick and weakly tugging on the jersey of a Holy Cross player while he tried to backcheck as Tyler McGregor deposited the game-winning goal into the back of the net. Irmen is likely to sign with the Minnesota Wild this summer, meaning his last collegiate game will have been a loss in his home state, while the rival Sioux earned a second consecutive trip to the Frozen Four.

The same is true for Phil Kessel. He made it a point to taunt his native Wisconsin fans when he scored against the Badgers in Madison. I wonder if Kessel was able to hear the Wisconsin fans when Kessel’s rival Jack Skille score in triple overtime to send Wisconsin to the Frozen Four while Kessel sat at home in Minneapolis trying to decide how he wanted to spend his summer.

Holy Cross’ victory on Friday was a thing of beauty. The little guys that went out and did their job beat the big guys who thought they could coast by on their talent. Opportunities like this where the universe aligns itself and the right people finally get what is coming to them don’t happen very often, but boy is it ever sweet when they do.


Anonymous said...

You must be reading uscho.com too much with all this karma talk. Gophers played bad and got beat.

Anonymous said...

I used to read your website. I don't anymore. You are totally clueless and biased. I can't believe at one point I gave you any credibility. so long.

Chris said...

After all I've said, this was the post that broke the proverbial camel's back?

Oh well. Good luck in the pros, Phil.

Gopher Blogger said...

Gotta agree with the first poster. It was simply a matter of a team not playing well and getting beat.

As far as the Irmen/Kessel remarks, it seems awfully one sided to remark like both of them taunted the crowds on those two occasions without provocation. Though I don't entirely expect this blog to be fair in that regard (particularly when it is Gopher related). Let's face it, those two guys received an awful lot of crap from those student sections and I don't blame them for giving a little back. Just like when Joe Jensen did it once at Mariucci a few years ago.

And really the only fans that should act like they have anything over on the Gophers are Holy Cross fans. Any other fans that use the upset as a "comeback" clearly must cheer for a team that doesn't have much success against the Gophers. Because you wouldn't need to use some other team's triumph as if it was your own if your own team had something to brag about in regards to the Gophers. :-D

Anonymous said...

gopher blogger, I think you're over-analyzing this bigtime. Players taunting the crowds just doesn't happen that often in college hockey (in fact it's rare) and I think people feel that Kessel and Irmen are both a couple of punks for doing so. That crap is so prevalent in pro sports and I feel it doesn't belong in college hockey.

Also, the notion that people will use the Holy Cross loss as a "comeback" because they don't feel good about their team in comparison is total bullshit and you know it. Actually, this is very simple. The gophers pissed down their legs against a team they should have destroyed and fans of all teams, good and bad, thinks it's hilarious. That's it. You'd think it was funny too if it happened to another team besides the gophers. And if you disagree, well your a liar.

Anonymous said...

Two things:

1. First, anyone who thinks that the only reason why a player on any team taunts (pulling on the jersey, cupping the ear, etc.) is because he is provoked is truly an arrogant person. You can take this rational as far as you want if you believe that! I mean, you could legalize murder with it. "All week long all that John did was call me a ^%^*$%& and a *(&*(*&(*&! So I killed him!" And the cops would go: "Well, John did provoke him acting all cheap like that. I guess this case is closed." Seriously, there's no room in this sport or any sport for taunting.

2. The comeback issue. It is what it is: an embarrassing defeat for the team that VERY FEW didn't have pegged as winning the national championship. However, if UND would have lost to Holy Cross 3 years ago, or if DU would have lost to Bemidji (2005), or if BC would have lost to Mercyhurst (2005) as examples, do you HONESTLY think that everyone wouldn't have taunted UND, BC, or DU? I don't have enough faith in fans around the WCHA or Hockey East enough to believe that they wouldn't stoop to the comeback level or worse.

In total, take the foul tasting pill dealt to Minnesota by Holy Cross. You don't have to like it. I sure wouldn't if the Gophers were my team. But know that this is going to be a topic for quite some time. Either laugh it off, or walk away.

Gopher Blogger said...

You can say what you want about how the two players reacted. But given the fact that both Kessel and Irmen only reacted this way ONE time the whole year and did it only after being taunted by some overzealous fans in their "hometown", I would hardly call their display a pattern. If they did it all the time, you may have a point. This is hardly a case of acting like Terrell Owens after every single goal scored, etc. Try using a little perspective into it. Joe Jensen did it once at Mariucci and I don't think he ever did it again. Am I supposed to hold on to that one time he did it as if it is a pattern? Get real.

To the individual above that stated I would be a liar simply because I don't follow suit with how he acts. The world is a big place and not everybody needs to do what you do to feel adequate.

Anonymous said...

I was a little upset with this post until I remembered what perfect gentlemen play for your squads at Mankato and Michigan.

You need go back only a few posts for an example of the kind of behavior Maverick players are accustomed to.

And I seem to remember being at Yost Arena in 2002 covering the regional there when Michigan players (not fans, PLAYERS) were harrassing (and in one case tripping!) St. Cloud State cheerleaders who were doing their job on the ice.

The Gophers shit the bed and we as Minnesota fans have to (and will) put up with the good-natured ribbing - at least until next spring. ;)
To say that the Gophers got what they deserved is a matter of opinion, which is what a blog is - and your's on this topic I can easily discount because you are a Michigan fan. And during any given season, Michigan fans are a Gophers fan's peer when it comes to arrogance and rudeness.

Good luck to the rest of the college hockey world if the whole crew of em come back - pissed off as hell - to kick your collective asses next season.

Chris said...

You're correct that it wasn't a pattern of behavior.

When Kessel did the ear-cupping thing a couple months ago, I tried to make it a point to say that what he did was bad, but not that he was a bad person. What he did was a mistake, but that doesn't make him a terrible person.

The fact of the matter is though, both chose to taunt a group of fans, and in both cases, that group of fans got the last laugh. That was the only point I was trying to make.

Anonymous said...

I also remember being at the Michigan/SCSU game a few years ago and remember the CROWD harassing the cheerleaders with MASSIVE booing. I also remember at that game the SCSU mascot refusing to leave the ice and having to be physically pushed off from center ice to the endzone door by the referee and on his way out he jabbed his stick in U-M defenseman Brandon Rogers' gut while Rogers was skating around warming up, thus calling a total melee with the whole Michigan team going after him and a few taking swings at him as he was being pushed out the door.

Anonymous said...

Practices were short this season because the team couldn't wait to get over to Blarney's where they enjoyed no cover charge and free drinks. Seriously, this problem was not dealt with properly by Lucia in the first place and the lack of discipline negated a team that was talented enough to win everything this season. I am not saying he isn't a good hockey coach but when he coached at CC we also noticed that at times he didn't seem to understand that he is coaching kids. This could all get even uglier next year if his own son makes the team.

Bruce Ciskie said...

Screw the karma. I don't care about that. I thought what Kessel did was kind of funny (though I wouldn't condone him doing that more than the one time he did it). And Irmen took a lot of crap before he did what he did. It wasn't really a big deal.

That said, those fans are laughing last, as their teams are in the Frozen Four, while the Gophers are looking for a golf course to play on.

I just hope the Gophers are ready for some loud "Holy Cross" chants from opposing student sections next year.

Badger Backer said...

Even as a Badger fan I didn't really care about Kessel's ear thing. I mean, we booed him basically every time he touched the puck.

Sure, it was kind of juvenile like MTU's Scott whacking the glass after the game in December or some AA goalie I can't remember giving the student section the finger a couple years ago.

I personally like it because you know that you're getting under their skin.

Plus that goal is about all Kessel did against the Badgers in 5 games. Except take a few bad penalties.

And, yeah, he watched his rival Jack Skille net the game winner in 3OT to get to the Frozen Four. But I wasn't really thinking about Kessel then.

gopher blogger said...

I love how fans who are nowhere near Mariucci somehow feel they have a handle on the locker room vibe and how a coach disciplines his team. Just because you don't read it in the paper doesn't mean he doesn't do it. I can tell you that your take on it tells me you are basing it off of nothing more than a lack of media comment on it. But it happens. You may want to think about that while you analyze it from a distance (to the one CC follower above).

Lucia's son will be coming in as essentially a role player. His financial help will be limited (at best) and the kid is probably going to be a lower line guy for most of his college career. He isn't being brought in to play 1st line PP or to be thrust into the best spots. So making it seem like the kid's presence is likely to be a problem seems a bit of wishful thinking. Particularly since he is a classy young kid who works very hard. Whatever he gets, he'll have to earn and he knows it. Just like any other player. Not exactly the kinds of things that create locker room problems.

Anonymous said...

Yup. ... Those Wolverines fans are a classy bunch.

Runninwiththedogs said...

Don't kids whose parents work for the university get either free or very cheap tuition anyway? So though he isn't necessarily getting hockey money, he's not exactly paying his own way.