Key Bank Center: Buffalo, New York
The Frozen Four returned to Buffalo for the first time since 2003, when Minnesota beat New Hampshire for the title.
The Frozen Foursome has grown to a Frozen Six, but that has no ring to it, so I’m sticking with Frozen Foursome+. At any rate, we were excited to see the NCAA Championship tournament return to the hockey town in Western New York.
The Duluth Bulldogs had their hands full with the Providence Friars on Thursday afternoon, in the first game. The game was scoreless after one period of play. Then Duluth’s Justin Richards put the Bulldogs in the lead in period two. But Josh Wilkins of the Friars quickly tied things up.
Billy Exell of the Bulldogs would get the game winning goal at the halfway mark of the final period. Duluth would add two empty net goals, for a 4-1 win. It will be the third year in a row that Minnesota-Duluth will appear in the title game.
In the late semi-final game, Denver University played the University of Massachusetts. It was the first ever visit for UMass to the Frozen Four, and Denver’s 17th appearance.
This would prove to be an interesting matchup, with a lot of emotional swings. Denver took the lead on a power play goal by Colin Staub, at the end of a 5 minute major penalty on UMass. Denver then took their own 5 minute major, right after a minor penalty, giving UMass a 5 on 3 advantage. The Minutemen would go on to score three goals before the major penalty was over. The third goal was just a beautiful shot by John Leonard. UMass would go into the first intermission up 3-1.
After the rush of the first period, there was no scoring at all in period two. It wasn’t until the halfway mark of the third frame, when the Pioneers’ Cole Guttman put the puck past the UMass goalie Filip Lindberg. Suddenly the momentum was with DU. Guttman again came up big with the tying goal, with just under 4 minutes to play.
We were on to overtime. The Frozen Foursome+ compared notes, and placed their bets.
The play in OT was back & forth. Both teams had chances to walk away with a win. Momentum came and went. The pace picked up. Tensions rose. The Curator’s stomach was in knots.
Then at the 15:18 mark, Marc Del Gaizo, rifled a shot on net, and the puck flew past DU’s Filip Larsson. UMass had a 4-3 OT victory over Denver, and would move on to face Duluth in the title game. UMass has some sharp-shooters on that team. They are fast, and play some great hockey as a unit. UMD will be facing a tough challenge, but UMD has been here before.
Should be a phenomenal final. I can’t wait for puck drop.
Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.. The 400 plus acre park was established in 1885. I spent an entire afternoon exploring its trails and taking in the sights and sounds of The Falls.
Compared with last autumn, when I was on the other bank with the Curator & Brazil Lucas, the crowds this week were at a minimum. From the looks of things, May 1 is the date that things open up. The lower trails were still closed off, and few, if any attractions/facilities were open.
In 1896, Nikola Tesla sent AC power, generated at The Falls, to Buffalo for the first time, proving to the world that it could be done. Previously, the DC power generated at The Falls could only be transmitted 100 yards.
It was a beautiful day to be out walking the trails. There is a trolley that runs through the park. You can get on and off as many times as you need during a day for $3. Not a bad price when you consider that a horse drawn carriage ride around The Falls in 1895 cost $1/hour.
There is a pedestrian bridge and a vehicle bridge over to Goat Island. There are actually several islands at this end of the park, with foot bridges connecting them all. Some nice views of both sides of The Falls can be had from the island, with the Niagara River surrounding you.
Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River, before it flows into Lake Ontario. 75,750 gallons of water a second goes over American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, and another 681,750 gallons per second over Horseshoe Falls.
It will take 50,000 years, due to erosion, for Niagara Falls to cease to exist.
I finally broke free, stretched my legs a bit, and ventured out to the lower Niagara River Gorge. After brew pubs, and Ted’s Hot Dogs, I needed to wear off some calories.
I stopped by Devil’s Hole State Park, which historically, was an important portage around The Falls & rapids of the Niagara River. A 6.4 mile trail loops between Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool State Park. The trail runs the rim of the gorge, overlooking the river, but another route runs along the river’s bank. I did the two trails in a loop. To get to the trail along the riverbank, one has to venture down a series of rock stairs. I’m not sure when they were built, but the park was formed in 1924, and they look original to the park. Not that I’m complaining, the more rustic the better, in my opinion.
At any given time, only 25-50% of the water that should be flowing through the gorge and over the falls, actually does so. The rest is syphoned off for hydroelectric power. The romantic in me would love to see The Falls and The Gorge with full power. Just for a day. Or two…
60 Minutes, the news program on CBS, did a great story on Attu Island this past Sunday.
I’m not sure which surprised me more: The fact that I even caught the story as I travel about the Niagara area, or the fact that broadcast television did a story on Attu at all.
The episode, on an all but forgotten battle of WWII ,at a far corner of the globe, is well worth the 20 minutes to watch. Sorry, no spoilers.
I headed out to Old Fort Niagara, which is located on a point, overlooking the Niagara River, at its mouth with Lake Ontario. Two “forts” preceded it, although neither lasted much over a year. Built by the French to protect their interests in North America, The French Castle is the oldest structure in the complex, having been built in 1726. The local native population tolerated its construction, because the building looks more like a grand home, than a fortification, which is exactly what was intended.
The fort played a significant role in the French and Indian War. During the Battle of Fort Niagara, the British lay siege to the fort for 19 days in July of 1759. The French commander, Francois Pouchot, surrendered to the British commander, Sir William Johnson, after learning expected reinforcements were massacred en route. Johnson, the leader of the New York militia, had taken over the British command when General John Prideaux stepped in front of a mortar test firing, and lost his head.
The fort would remain in British hands for the next 37 years. During the American Revolution, British Loyalists used Fort Niagara as a base, and protection from the Continental Army.
Fort Niagara was ceded to the United States after the revolution, but was not occupied by American forces until 1796, after the signing of the Jay Treaty.
With the War of 1812, Fort Niagara once again saw hostilities. The fort’s guns were able to sink the Provincial Schooner, Seneca, but British forces would go on to capture the fort in 1813.
When the fort was captured by the British, the U.S. flag flying over the fort, was taken as a trophy of war. Eventually, it was laid at the feet of the Prince Regent in London, who would go on to be King George IV. The flag was promptly given back to the British commander of Canadian forces, Major General Sir Gordon Drummond. It remained on display in a hallway in his home for decades. The flag was damaged by a fire in 1969, and somehow forced into a washing machine for cleaning. Considering the size of the flag, 12 feet, six inches by 27 feet 3 inches, that must have been some washing machine.
Eventually, the flag was purchased by the Old Fort Niagara Association for $150,000, which paid for a new roof on the Drummond ancestral castle. It is now displayed in a climate controlled environment in the visitor center, which was renovated from a 1939 U.S. Army warehouse.
Fort Niagara was reenforced on the river and lake shore during the Civil War, mainly out of concern that the British may intervene on behalf of the Confederates. It continued to see action in one form or another throughout the world’s ensuing conflicts. Men were trained here for both World Wars, and a prisoner of war camp, with 1200 German soldiers captured in North Africa, was located nearby during WWII.
The Army officially deactivated the fort in 1963. Although, the U.S. Coast Guard still operates The Bottoms, making Fort Niagara one of the longest continuously operated military bases in the United States: 1726-present.
I had a great time out at Old Fort Niagara. The visitor center houses a decent museum, in addition to the 1812 flag. There is a short film on the importance of the area, and how the fort was originally built to protect the portage around Niagara Falls. There was also a musket demonstration out in the field. I hear there are reenactments that take place every year around July 4, with approximately 500 participants.