Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Posts about Frozen Four

Mid-day talker: George Gwozdecky out as Denver men's hockey coach

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 1, 2013 - 2:39 PM

Per the Denver Post, George Gwozdecky is no longer the head men's hockey coach at Denver University. The reason given in the story on the web site is that he "resigned."

University of Denver hockey coach George Gwozdecky has resigned, ending a 19-year tenure at the school that included two NCAA championships, the school announced Monday.

The 59-year-old Gwozdecky was scheduled to complete a 12-year contract after next season and told The Denver Post before the season was over that he thought an extension was forthcoming.

DU is the only Division I hockey team to have won 20 games in each of the previous 12 seasons. However, the Pioneers recently lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the past six years.

Gwozdecky compiled a 443-267-64 record with DU.

"We certainly wish George the best in his future endeavors and we are thankful for his 19 years at the helm of our hockey program," said DU vice chancellor for athletics and recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes.

But hockey writer Mike Chambers, who wrote that story, just noted on Twitter that according to a source Gwozdecky was fired.



Why does it matter? Well, Gwozdecky had a very successful run with the Pioneers -- including NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005, the years immediately after Minnesota and head coach Don Lucia went back-to-back. The Pioneers have made the NCAA tourney five times since then, but they haven't made it back to the Frozen Four. The Gophers, by contrast, have made it to the Frozen Four twice since their NCAA titles. Still, it's somewhat surprising that Gwozdecky was let go, unless his contract extension demands were outlandish. Your thoughts, please, in the comments.

Monday (Gophers vs. North Dakota -- end of an era) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: January 21, 2013 - 9:31 AM

We have now spent approximately 18 years of our life in Grand Forks and 18 in Minneapolis. The first 18 involved numerous trips to Old Ralph Engelstad Arena (still never been to the new one), exceedingly fond memories of the 1987 UND national title game and admiring those who snuck dead gophers into the arena. In fact, we had a black and white glossy photo in our room for quite some time of a gopher impaled on a hockey stick. This is true.

The past 18 years have involved numerous trips to Mariucci Arena, both in a professional and fan capacity. As a regular rube in the stands, let's just say the allegiance shifted.

The greater point, though, is that we have been uniquely situated in a way to see this rivalry for great lengths of time from both sides. Locally, we have Vikings-Packers. This is the best rivalry we know. Gophers-UND hockey? To us, that is the clear No. 2. And sadly, a major chapter in the rivalry is coming to a close.

This has been written about ad nauseam, but now it is far more real. Minnesota and North Dakota played their final WCHA regular-season series over the weekend. They could meet again in the league playoffs or NCAA playoffs (and in subsequent years in the NCAA playoffs), but these were the last guaranteed meetings for a while -- at least 2016-17, when schedules clear up. Minnesota is, of course, joining the Big Ten for hockey next season. While a decent number of local rivals will still be on the schedule, so will Penn State and Ohio State (as well as Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin). And North Dakota will not be. When you boil that down to its essence, it's a shame that borders on a college hockey travesty.

We were fortunate enough to be at Mariucci for Friday's game. After an extremely lackluster first period, the final two showcased everything good about the rivalry: great goals, plenty of emotion and a fired-up overflow crowd.

We're not sure how time will treat the rivalry -- if the two teams will be ultra-charged during any chance future meetings because they are so rare now or if years will dull the edges and make it just another game. What we're guessing is that it just won't be the same -- and that there is a lingering sadness, as there is with all things when you think about the past and it's better than the future.

Clearance Clarence: A weekend in Wisconsin of drinking, pond hockey and watching the Packers lose

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: January 17, 2012 - 12:09 PM

Each week, commenter Clarence Swamptown gives his unique perspective on Minnesota sports and life. As usual, the opinions expressed by Clarence do not necessarily reflect those of RandBall or the Star Tribune. Clarence?


I have only a handful of true loves in my life, and near the top of this list are beer and hockey.  This weekend I had the opportunity to combine these passions into one glorious bar-hopping pond-hockey extravaganza, and it was awesome. Much of the weekend is still foggy, but I will do my best to describe these vague memories through imprecise words and hazy pictures. So here we go: The participants? 6 guys, 1 Chevrolet Suburban, and 1 designated driver. Our destination? Spooner, Wisconsin.  Our objective? The 4th Annual Spooner Pond Hockey Tournament.

We left the Twin Cities at 10 am Friday morning. Typically, it takes about 2 hours to drive from St. Paul to Spooner. It took us 16 hours. On a related note, there are a lot of bars between St. Paul and Spooner, Wis.

On Saturday morning we scraped ourselves off the floor and drove over to the pond hockey tournament. The tournament was held on the Yellow River Flowage in beautiful downtown Spooner. The tourney has a few simple rules: The games are 4 on 4. There are two 10-minute halves with running time. There are no boards and there are no refs. The nets are short wooden boxes with 2 small openings. There are 9 teams. It is a double-elimination format. That’s about it.
Our first game was at 9 am. One of our players was still too drunk to play. I mean, he just couldn’t do it. So the puck hadn’t dropped yet and we were already down to 5 guys.
In our first game, we played the team that was hosting the tournament. They were 40-something business professionals who almost certainly had not been drinking until 4 a.m. While we were still holding-down our breakfasts and trying to grasp the rules of the game, they had already jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first 2 minutes.
OKAY REGROUP GUYS. It was quickly becoming obvious that we needed a strategy for this thing. This wasn’t a shinny game at the muni rink in town. We needed formal positions. We needed a scheme. After some quick on-the-fly deliberations, we decided to establish a simple 1-2-1 diamond-shaped strategy. One guy would serve as the all-time forechecker, floating behind the other team’s defense and cherry-picking like a modern day Dave Spehar. Two guys would clog up the middle of the ice in a modified trap. The last guy (our tallest player) would serve as the all-time defenseman - waving his stick back and forth like Zdeno Chara. Our strategy was working and we started to come back, but it was too-little-too-late and we lost our first game 11-9. It was 9:30 am and we were already in the loser’s bracket.
In our second game, we faced a bunch of high school players.  How do I know they were high school players? Because when I said, “I WILL BUY YOU EACH A CASE OF BEER IF YOU STOP SKATING SO FAST,” they said, “Sir we’re in high school,” as they glanced nervously to their parents on the sidelines. Our teams were evenly matched, buy ultimately their young stamina overtook our grizzled hungover-ness and we lost 10-9. And that was it. Our tournament run was over. Two and out.
Our tournament was over, but the day was still young. What should we do? The tournament also sponsored other contests that were held on the ice. For example, there was Turkey Bowling:
[{Redacted} it, Dude. Let’s go bowling.]
There was something called “Toilet Golf”:
[Toilet golf.]
Ultimately, we decided to skip the contests and continue our bar-hopping adventures across northwestern Wisconsin. There was a lot of weekend left. We visited a lot of bars, and we played a lot of cards. We built our own bloody Marys at Big Dick’s Buckhorn Inn:
We also watched a lot of playoff football. Have you ever spent an entire weekend in Wisconsin listening to Packer fans tell you how bad the Vikings are? It’s miserable. Have you ever watched a heavily favored Packers team lose a playoff game in a Wisconsin bar in front of those same Packer fans? It was glorious. It was a whole new level of schadenfreude. It was awesome and hilarious and awesome.
So that was our trip. It was a blast. Thank you for taking this pictorial tour. As far as the pond hockey tournament goes, we will be back next year. We will have a formal game plan. We will have extra guys. We will pace ourselves Friday night. We will impose the 1-2-1 forecheck. And our rock-solid strategy will work if you little {redacteds} stop skating so fast.

Weekend Links with Jon marthaler: Landon Donovan + college hockey realignment

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: September 24, 2011 - 8:55 AM


Each week Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?


I usually like to throw some Twins news into these links, but frankly, it's finally become too depressing. No link that I can share, no joke that I can make, no fiction that I can invent can possibly describe the Twins' season better than two players missing a game because they crashed into each other on the highway. As far as I'm concerned, this goes right to the top of Twins injury lore, up there with the time Marty Cordova injured himself with a tanning bed, and the time that Billy Martin punched out Dave Boswell and the pitcher required 20 stitches. Forget about maybe losing 100 games; this team can't even drive to the airport without something going wrong.

On with the links:

*The refereeing in last week's Florida-Tennessee game was rather, shall we say, spotty. Spencer Hall goes inside the mind of the field judge to find out why.

*Noah Davis at The Run of Play writes an essay about Landon Donovan, a guy who's moved from "frustrating" to "fascinating" in my head. I've watched him through three World Cups now, and I've called him every name in the book along the way, and I'd rate him as probably the best player the United States has ever produced, and I'm not sure I could meet him in person without both insulting him and trying to hug him in the first thirty seconds of this fictional meeting. I think Davis may see this same contradiction.

Over at the Western College Hockey Blog, Chris is asking the tough conference realignment questions. Most of them revolve around questions like "Is the WCHA going to be a minor league?" and "Why does WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod still have a job?"

And finally: as this video clip from EA Sports FIFA 12 proves, realism in video games might have gone too far. (BONUS JOKE FOR ENGLISH SOCCER FANS: It's nice that EA Sports finally introduced the "Falling All Over Themselves" module for Arsenal, isn't it?)

That'll do it for me. Please hang around and enjoy the day of college football. If you're a member of the National Guard, be ready; LSU plays at West Virginia tonight, and if that one turns close and both sets of fans turn angry, America's militias may need to be called into duty.

Friday (And then a UND fan punched a hole in the Xcel wall) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 8, 2011 - 8:58 AM

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.


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