Tag Archives: hockey

Mailbag Q&A

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Over the weekend, I was asked if I had been affected much by actions for the Coronavirus. 

Up until now, I’ve been affected only mildly.  I imagine that will change shortly.

I’ve had a project going lately, which has taken me out to a few remote Alaska villages.  I’ve basically been doing the two week on, two week off schedule, and the virus really hit the fan when I was out in the Naknek region.  I finished my assignment, came back to Fairbanks, and will not be going out again.  The project has been put on hiatus, although I suspect it has really been cancelled, at least for the foreseeable future.

I had a construction project already lined up for my return.  Materials were on site, the building empty, so I worked on that all week, and will finish probably today or tomorrow.  Like most people I know who work construction up here, I have no work projects currently on the horizon.

Normally, this is the time of year when I escape and go Outside, thus avoiding the Interior Alaska Breakup Season.  A group of us attend the Frozen Four hockey championships that take place every April, but this year they have been canceled.  When in the Lower 48, I would check in on my Dad, as well as other family & friends about now, but traveling anywhere is beyond a bad idea, so I’m staying in Alaska.  From up here, airplanes & airports seem like giant petri dishes, but to be honest, my greatest unease with travel right now is the thought that if I leave Alaska, I won’t be able to come back!  That’s enough to give any cabin-dweller the shivers.

The shelves at the local grocery stores & Costco are looking pretty sparse, but I’m well-stocked anyway.  It’s kind of an Alaskan thing, I suppose.  When you live at the end of the road, having enough food to get you through a patch of bad weather, or a closing of the Alaska Highway, or a barge losing its load coming up from Seattle, is just something we do.  Especially in the winter months.  I have a freezer stocked with salmon, rock fish, halibut and other Alaska morsels, so I’m good to go there.  I am a bit low on blueberries, but that’s par for the course this time of year.

A friend wanted me to stop by the other day on my way home from work.  I declined the invite, saying I should probably partake in some social distancing.  I was informed that this was hardly new for me, and the virus was just a convenient excuse.  I had to chuckle, because if left to my own devices, I can be a notorious hermit.  I have no problem retreating into my little world at the end of the road, and turning off the phone and computer.  In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, someone threatened to call out the dog sled teams to hunt for me, when I went off grid for barely a week.

I have books to read, letters to write, and LP’s to spin – inside; trails to walk, lakes to circle on snowshoes, and moose to try to capture on film – outside.

We can’t control the virus; all we can do is try our best not to catch it.  I hope, and fully expect, to see all of you on the other side of this.

I was reminded of an Inuit saying when revisiting the documentary “Noatak: Return to the Arctic”.

“I think over again
My small adventures
My fears
Those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach
And yet there is only one great thing
To live and see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.”

Best wishes from Alaska.


Vernal Equinox

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A young moose blocks my way to the job site on Wednesday; its twin was eating willows in the slough to the right.

Winter 2019-2020 seems to have dragged on forever.  We are finally turning the much anticipated corner into spring.  I understand, for some of you, briar & tick season leaves you feeling itchy over the upcoming season, but up here in the Far North, I’m more than ready for spring.  Without any hockey, we might as well melt the ice.

Spring officially arrives early this year.  We have not seen a spring this early on the calendar for 124 years. Looking at the snow still on the ground here in Fairbanks, only the warmer temps signal any sign of spring.

Here in Fairbanks, we have finally pushed over the 12 hour mark for daylight.  We gained 6 minutes, 44 seconds from yesterday.  That makes both the moose and I happy.


The Wooger

Claimed by South Saint Paul; adopted by the entire State of Hockey.

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Credit: Golden Gopher Hockey

Doug Woog, the former coach of the University of Minnesota Gopher hockey team, passed away this past Saturday.  Woog was 75.

Wooger was the Gopher coach for 14 years, leading the team to 12 consecutive national tournament appearances.  He led the Gophers to the Frozen Four finals in his first four seasons behind the bench, and to six Frozen Fours in all.

At the time of Wooger’s retirement, he led the team in victories as a coach.  Don Lucia has since passed him in wins.  Woog still out paces Lucia in win percentage.  His win percentage at Minnesota is also higher than two legends of the game: John Mariucci and Herb Brooks.

When Woog was coaching the Gophers, it was common knowledge in Minnesota, that if you wanted to complain about the Gopher power play, you didn’t have to go through the University switchboard.  All you had to do was open the Saint Paul phone book:  The Woogs were always listed.

After his coaching career, Woog made an incredibly easy transition into broadcasting Gopher hockey games.  He was a natural, and another generation of fans came to know the Wooger.

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Doug Woog receives a kiss from his goaltender after scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Minneapolis Patrick Henry in the 1959 state tournament. Photo: Minnesota Hockey Hub

Doug Woog made the South Saint Paul high school hockey team as a 5’6″, 140 pound freshman.  Woog and the Packers went to four state tournaments in hockey.  Woog was All-State for three years, was named to the State’s All-Tournament team for three years, and led the tournament in scoring in 1962.

For good measure, Woog was also All-State in football as a tailback.

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Doug Woog as a Gopher; Photo credit: Golden Gopher Hockey

Woog would go on to play for the University of Minnesota, under the God Father of Minnesota hockey, John Mariucci.  He won three letters, since freshman were not allowed to play in this era.  In 80 career games, Woog tallied 101 points.  As a junior, he led the team in scoring, and was named First Team All-America.  As a senior, Woog was named Gopher captain, and the team’s MVP.

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Wooger showing concern over Referee Shepherd’s eyesight 

With all of the high accolades that Woog received as both a hockey player and coach, I think he was really a teacher at heart.

When I was a student at the University of Minnesota, Doug Woog was the hockey coach.  I spent many Friday & Saturday winter nights at the Old Mariucci Arena.  Campus was a lot different back then.  There was no “athlete village”, and running into players and coaches was a common occurrence.  Since I played some rec sports during my time at the “U”, I was often around the sports facilities and I only remember two coaches that gave the time of day to the average student.  One was the still current baseball coach, John Anderson, and the other was Woog.  A quick comment to Woog of “Nice win on Saturday, Coach”, would more often than not get a response about how the transition game wasn’t quite what he was looking for, or the power play left some goals on the ice.

Once, while at Williams Arena, I literally ran into Coach Woog.  I was probably picking up student tickets to the weekend series, and was bundled up to race across campus for a class I shouldn’t be late for.  I bumped into Woog on my way to the door, and he joked about my being in a hurry, then he asked if I was going to the game on Friday.  I said I was, then I said that the Gophers would have a tough time with So-And-So in goal for the opposing team.  Woog then spent the next ten minutes telling me exactly how and why So-And-So would be that tough.  Then he spent ten minutes telling me about their defensive corps.  If I hadn’t stopped him, I think Coach Woog would have given me the run down on their entire line up, as well.  I was young and foolish back then, and I thought that the class was a priority, so I raced off, no doubt leaving Woog chuckling. I was quite late to class anyway, and the professor made sure everyone in the hall knew I was late.  It’s only years later that I realize that the class was the least important thing I did that entire day.

My favorite Woog story comes, of course, from North Dakota, Minnesota’s main rival at the time.  As a student, nothing was better than a bus ride to Grand Forks to see Minnesota play NoDak.  There is just something about youth that longs to be surrounded by people who utterly hate your very existence.  A trip to Madison was second best; hat tip towards Peewaukee.  Back in the day, when NoDak played the Gophers, their fans would throw dead prairie dogs onto the ice when North Dakota scored their first goal.  Woog’s Gophers had one mission: To keep those dead prairie dogs in the NoDak fans’ pockets for as long as possible.  A shutout was an epic victory.  Woog relished the idea of the stinky, dead rodents thawing out inside the NoDak jackets.

I became excited about college hockey as a very young kid, sitting in the stands at Old Mariucci with my Dad, watching Herb Brooks coach the Gophers to national prominence.  That culminated with the 1980 Miracle on Ice.  But there is no doubt that I learned the game of hockey watching the Doug Woog coached Gophers.

Woog was a class act through and through, and he will be missed at rinks all around Minnesota.  His passion and dedication to the sport was infectious, and he passed that on to so many people, that he didn’t even know were watching.

Rest in peace, Wooger.

 

 

 


Hockey in Fairbanks

Friday & Saturday were Hockey Nights in Fairbanks

Puck about to be dropped on Saturday. Anton Martinsson in net for the Nanooks.


Campus Dipper

UAF’s Patty Center

Camera: Leica M3; Film: Kodak 35 TMax 400


National Curator Day


Taking a turn at Arundel

Today is officially The Curator’s Day. Although, for those who know him well, there are very few days that are not his day. But today, it’s legit.

It’s wonderfully refreshing to see years of dedication and hard work rewarded. The honor is well earned, and very much deserved. Kudos.

Much respect and affection from Alaska.


Hockey Hall of Fame

Toronto, Ontario


Hockey Hall of Fame

Four members of the Frozen Foursome+ made the pilgrimage to Toronto to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame during the off day of the college tournament. The Hall was established in 1943; it has been in its current location since 1993.


Dedicated to Mr Hockey

Currently, there is an exhibit honoring #’s 9 & 99: Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky. A nice video tribute on both of the legendary players, as well as exhibits highlighting their connection.


One section of the Wayne Gretzky exhibit

One can not argue with the contribution both made to the game of hockey: Mr Hockey & The Great One.


Hobey Baker’s induction plaque

The plaques honoring the players that have been inducted and the various trophies are displayed in the Great Hall, which is in the historic Bank of Montreal building.


The Great Hall’s ceiling

The Great Hall is a stunning room, the highlight of which is the 24 fanned-panel, stained glass dome, with eight stained glass circles, and even more detailed panels on the outer edge and inner section.


Herbie’s induction plaque

The Bank of Montreal building, which is home to The Great Hall was constructed in 1885.


The Original: Lord Stanley’s Cup

The original Stanley Cup, and the retired bands from the current cup, are stored in the old bank’s vault. Now known as Lord Stanley’s Vault.


The Canadiens are well represented

The HHof receives around 300,000 visitors a year. This year, with the Frozen Four held in nearby Buffalo, NY, there was a definite influx of college hockey fans while we visited.


Conn Smythe Trophy


Miracle on Ice

There is an entire section dedicated to international hockey, which includes Olympic Hockey. A large exhibit honoring the 1980 Miracle on Ice team was prominent.


They do play hockey Down Under

A hockey fan could spend several days exploring the Hall. I know that all of our group would have loved to spend more time than we had, but it was a well worth the trip across the border to experience the history of hockey.


A very small section of the exhibit dedicated to the evolution of the goalie mask


A few Toronto sites

A few random views of our side trip to Toronto:


Last game of the season

Frozen Four Championship:
Key Bank Center; Buffalo, NY


The French Connection

UMass vs UMD in the 2018-19 Title Game.


The Bulldogs and Minutemen during warmups

For all the excitement and anticipation, the championship game did not meet the standards of either of the two semi-final games.


The opening face-off

Duluth’s Parker Mackay scored on a PPG less than 4 minutes into the first period, and never looked back. UMass looked tentative at first, and that look never really left them. The Bulldogs clogged the lanes, blocked shots, took out bodies and basically caused havoc to the fast paced offense of Massachusetts.
UMD’s Mikey Anderson, on assists by Mackay and Justin Richards, put the puck in the net in period two. Then Jackson Cates scored in the third, and that was far more than Hunter Shepard would need in the Bulldog net.


Minnesota-Duluth goes back to back, winning their second national title in a row, and third overall

The Bulldogs would skate away with a 3-0 shutout win. Parker Mackay would win the tournament’s most valuable player award. No drama in this one.


2019 Frozen Four

Key Bank Center: Buffalo, New York


Key Bank Center

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.


Alaska-Fairbanks jersey, American International, and the Pitch-Forks

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.


Opening puck drop; UMD-PC

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.

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Opening Face-off Denver vs UMass

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.


Final score 4-3 UMass. An empty arena, but the UMass band is still up in the rafters playing.