Courtesy of Grand Junction, CO
The Sanford Center
With the Alaska Nanook hockey team visiting Bemidji State University and Grand Forks being only 2-1/2 hours from there, it made perfect sense to make the short run over to Bemidji to take in the WCHA game.
Alaska had come from behind to win 4-3 on Friday night. Saturday night was to go more in the Beavers’ favor.
Alaska started out like they usually do, and fell behind 2-0 in the first period. In the second, the Nanooks raised the tempo and tied the game up on goals by Tayler Munson and Marcus Basara, in what was a very fast-paced period of hockey for both clubs.
In the third, the unpredictable, and undisciplined Nanooks took the ice. Four incredibly unwise penalties led to four BSU goals by Nate Arentz, Markus Gerbrandt, Leo Fitzgerald, and Kyle Bauman.
The final score was 6-3 in favor of the BSU Beavers, with 3067 paid attendance.
There were quite a few Alaska fans in attendance, with several of them coming over to introduce themselves. Some had seen the car with the Alaska plates drive into the Sanford parking lot.
Bemidji has a very nice rink in the Sanford Center. Seating 4700, the multi-purpose arena opened in October of 2010. I’d love to see a rink like this on-campus at the University of Alaska.
Grand Forks, North Dakota
After driving from Grande Prairie, Alberta to Regina, Saskatchewan I made the executive decision to make the run to Grand Forks, NoDak to catch a game at the Ralph. As a student at Minnesota, I had been to the old home of the Fighting Sioux. Back in those days when Minnesota played at North Dakota, the NoDak faithful would throw, presumably dead, prairie dogs onto the ice when North Dakota scored its first goal. In a great interview with former Gopher Coach Doug Woog, Wooger said it was their goal going into that old arena, to make those fans hold onto those dead rodents for as long as possible, hopefully until they started to stink.
Now that’s a rivalry.
The New Ralph Engelstad Arena is a Taj Mahal to everything Fighting Sioux. It is one hell of a hockey venue. When the long battle over the program’s nickname finally comes to a close , the Fighting Sioux era will be thoroughly represented at The Ralph. It is, quite simply, a beautiful hockey arena. I loved the history, with team photos going back to 1905, and former players lining the walls.
Despite the fact that I am genetically predisposed to have a strong distaste for anything related to NoDak Hockey, I was thoroughly looking forward to a game at The Ralph. I did not have a dog in this fight, and I, surprisingly, did not go there hoping to see North Dakota lose. I went to see what I hoped would be a good hockey game, and to get The Ralph hockey experience.
North Dakota provided The Ralph experience, while Miami fell way short of offering a good game.
NoDak came out with a quick power play goal by Paul LaDue to take the very early lead. The fans had not even stopped dancing from that first goal when they were sent into a frenzy with a goal by Brock Boeser which sent them doing their little Do-Wop dance immediately after the first one.
North Dakota looked good in what was really a cruise to a 6-2 win. Now, I fully admit that I did not partake in any goal dance, since that would just be wrong in so many ways, and I didn’t get into the whole “North Dakota Scoooorrrrring” thing, but it was amusing to listen to. But I will confess to applauding Hrynkiw’s better saves, and I couldn’t help but applaud that tick-tack-toe goal #6 by Nick Schmaltz, because the set up and execution was just beautiful to watch. I think Parise playing for the Wild may have caused some sort of seismic shift which has me off balance, but goal #6 was damn pretty.
The Ralph was a sellout with 11,662 in attendance. Schmaltz was the top star of the game with a four point night, I believe. Boeser had a three point night. Roslovik and Melnick scored the two goals for Miami, with Louie Belpedio getting an assist on both of those goals.
A special shoutout goes to Liz, the usher in front of section 315. I spoke with her prior to warmups, and what a wonderful experience that was. Kudos to REA, I would be hard pressed to find a more knowledgable, friendly, professional and welcoming representative for your arena, not to mention a great advocate for North Dakota hockey, North Dakota and Grand Forks. Liz, thanks for taking the time to educate this wandering Alaskan on The New Ralph. It was a pleasure.
Fairbanks, Alaska to Toad River, British Columbia
A lot of wildlife on the Alaska Highway, and all of it came in various forms of big.
Between the snow, the ice, the slick roads, and the short days that have already descended on the Far North, I had enough on my mind as I traveled the Al-Can. Luckily, Nature has a way of adding to the mixture. I came across four moose standing on the roadway, and weaved my way around three of them. Then there were the half-dozen caribou licking the roadway just past Whitehorse. My favorite group, was the ever present herd of bison just north of Muncho Lake. The first beast was past the passenger door before I realized it wasn’t a boulder. Where there is one bison along the roadway, there is usually another 30 nearby. I was not disappointed to quickly come across the rest. The shaggy thugs were not even remotely impressed by my little car; they lounged in the road, on the shoulder, and for the most part refused to even acknowledge my presence as I wove my way through their bulk. Finally, just before I stopped for the night at Toad River in British Columbia, I came across a small herd of elk out for a stroll in the fresh snow. At least they had the decency to run/jog/saunter off of the road to allow me to pass freely.
Everyone of these encounters happened after the sun went down.
This stubborn fellow did show himself in the light of our short day. A very nice bull caribou who came out to lick the roadway. Like the bison, he had no interest at all in moving out of my way, and as I passed him, he gave me the look that said. “Don’t even think of taking another photo of me.” Since I didn’t want my car door antlered, I agreed to his terms.
Does the Yukon DOT put salt out on the roads? I passed a gravel dispersing truck outside of Haines Junction that was going the opposite direction, and for the next kilometer or two, I had caribou coming out onto the roadway. They appeared to want to lick the road, but these were mostly cows and calves, and they chose to head right back into the trees when I approached.
One of the few herds I saw that I didn’t have to weave my way past. The horn sounds really tough.
“Euphoria is reaching dry pavement after 2-1/2 days of snow and ice.”
Two plus days of this: