In every game, there must be a winner and a loser. Some, however, aren't quite as ready to accept that fate.
There is your reinforcement less of the day, accompanied by a photo that could be called "Exhibit A." We spent the better part of last night's Frozen Four semifinal games roaming the lower concourse -- viewing the action from various standing-room spots and mingling with the hockey crowd. Ultimately, it included some very upset North Dakota fans -- including one particular young couple.
The female spent most of the third period texting what we presume were other anxious fans. One of the only times she spoke was when the UND goalie charged out of the net to play the puck in order to prevent a possible breakaway. It worked, though it was a little shaky. And during the exchange, the woman jumped from her seat and yelled something like, "No! Noooooooo! No! What the [redacted] are you doing?!?!" The guy sat silently, nervously. You could tell he was heavily invested. As each third period chance went by without a tying goal in a 1-0 game, his sports fury simmered. Believe us, we have been there.
We have not, however, ever punched a hole in the wall of a public sporting arena (or anywhere else, for that matter). This UND fan cannot say the same. After Michigan scored an empty-netter in the final minute to essentially seal the game, he stood up and pounded the wall high above him. Then he did it again, producing that hole you see in the picture. And then they left.
During the first game, we mingled with several Minnesota-Duluth fans who sweated out a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame after being outshot 15-2 in the final period. A championship for that fan base -- the Bulldogs have never won one, and they have their own tortured mid-1980s history to exorcize -- would obviously be huge. It would also extend quite an impressive run for the athletics program, as the Bulldogs have won 2 of the past 3 Division II football championships. Head football coach and AD Bob Nielson was accepting congratulations from plenty of fans as he stood near the main UMD cheering sections Thursday.
There was a great sense, though, that UMD fans were really hoping to play -- and, of course, defeat -- UND in the title game. For college hockey, for ticket scalpers and for the two RIDICULOUSLY overserved North Dakota fans we stood near very briefly Thursday who might have had a chance to actually remember a Frozen Four game if UND made it to Saturday, that would have been the perfect final.
Instead, we have UMD trying to make history with its first title against Michigan trying to extend its record nine championships to double-digits.
And, of course, we have a hole in the wall.