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Hello Dixie!


Side Track


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.


Niagara River Gorge


Niagara River Gorge

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.


The Whirlpool on the Niagara River

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…


Fort Niagara


The French Castle

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 layout of Fort Niagara

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.


Battle of La Belle-Famille; painting of the siege of Fort Niagara

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.


South Redoubt

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.


Fort Niagara’s flag, with 15 Stars, from the War of 1812

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.


First floor of the French Castle

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.


Monument commemorating the Rush – Bagot Treaty, 1934


Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park


USS Croaker and USS Little Rock

It’s time for the Frozen Foursome+ to meet up, and take in some championship hockey. This year’s title game is in Buffalo, New York. I arrived a bit early, to take in the western New York sites.

One of my first stops, was at The Naval and Military Park in Buffalo, which opened in June 1979. At their dock, they have the USS Croaker, USS The Sullivans, and the USS Little Rock.


USS Little Rock and USS The Sullivans

USS The Sullivans was launched out of San Francisco in April 1943.


USS Juneau

The five Sullivan brothers enlisted in the Navy and served together on the light cruiser, USS Juneau. While fighting off the coast of Guadalcanal, the five brothers died, along with 700 of their shipmates, when a Japanese submarine sank the Juneau.


The shamrock on The Sullivans forward stack

President Roosevelt ordered that one of the new destroyers under construction be named after the Sullivan brothers. It was the first Navy destroyer to be named after more than one person.

USS The Sullivans sailed into WWII with 14 crewmembers named Sullivan. The Sullivans fought in the Marshalls, Carolines, Marianas, and the Philippines. She never lost a man in battle, and went on to serve in the Korean War and the Cuban Blockade.

The Sullivans arrived in Buffalo in 1977, and was designated a national historic landmark in 1986. In 1997, the name The Sullivans was passed onto a new class of destroyer carrying the heritage forward.


USS Little Rock

The USS Little Rock, a Cleveland class, light cruiser, was launched in August 1944. She was decommissioned in 1949. In January 1957, the Little Rock entered the Philadelphia Naval Yard for a conversion to a guided missile cruiser. In June 1960, she was recommissioned and re-entered service.


Missile track on board the Little Rock

The Little Rock saw service throughout the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. She was decommissioned for a final time in November 1976. The Little Rock name was passed onto a new class of ship, the littoral combat ship.


Control room on board the USS Croaker

The submarine, the USS Croaker, was launched in December of 1943. The Croaker made six WWII patrols, sinking 11 Japanese vessels, including the light cruiser, Nagara. She received three battle stars for her service.


Torpedo and tube on board USS Croaker

The Croaker was recommissioned under the Hunter/Killer program in 1953. Deployments were made to the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean until 1968. From 1968 to 1971, the Croaker served as a Naval Reserve trainer. In 1988, the USS Croaker arrived in Buffalo. It has been placed on the National & New York State registers of historic places.