McClintock: Frozen Four ‘a tremendous trip’
Two of my sons, Brett and Alex, Levi and Randi Heisler and I ventured to Philadelphia for the NCAA Frozen Four hockey tournament.
Our experience was tremendous, except for the game on April 10, when UND lost 2-1 against the U of Minnesota! The game was intense throughout, since the teams have been major rivals going back to the 1940s. However, we haven’t played against each other for several years, due to the nickname controversy and the change in conferences.
The Gophers now play in the Big Ten Conference, and UND (The Sioux) plays in the NCHC.
We had excellent seats in the seventh row of the Wells Fargo Center – the stadium in which the NHL Philadelphia Flyers and the NBA Philadelphia 76ers both play.
Naturally, we were in the UND section. Our charter package included flight, hotel, bus transportation and tickets. There were 160 loyal fans on the charter, so at the game we had at least 160 fans in our section. It was electric during the whole game, and the crowd (announced at more than 30,000 for the two game nights – so approximately 15,000 on Thursday night) was pro-UND over the U of Minnesota!
We had our section cheering “Let’s Go Sioux” throughout the game, and the pep band played our usual Ralph Engelstad favorites: “Let’s Go Sioux, we’re all for you…”; and “In Heaven there is no beer, that’s why we drink it here!”
After Minnesota scored the first goal in the third period, we all kind of hung our heads, thinking that is all it would take. But, then, UND skated down in the Minnesota end and scored a goal approximately 30 seconds later! The crowd was jubilant!! Standing and slapping high fives and bumping fists! And then we got a power play with approximately 1:30 left in the game, and we thought we had the momentum to finish the game. A stop in play with 9.6 seconds provided a faceoff in the Minnesota end. We were all anticipating an inevitable overtime period.
But … Minnesota pushed the puck down to the UND end, and a senior Minnesota player shot the puck at Gotheberg, the UND goalie, and it slid in off the side post! We all looked up at the scoreboard to see the game clock showing 00:00! However, the officials took a review of the play, and they threw their hand down towards the goal, indicating it was good! Man, it was like the air in the stadium just deflated!! The officials put 0.6 seconds on the clock, and the game was basically over.
When we were walking out of the stadium, the Gopher fans were cheering loudly of course, but several of them stopped us with our Sioux jerseys on and acknowledged us, and indicated they thought the Sioux were going to win! A meaningless thought at the time, but a good sportsmanship gesture.
On Friday, a bus took us to downtown Philadelphia, and we had an excellent time walking around the historic area, which includes the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the U.S. Constitution), Ben Franklin’s burial spot, Marketplace Ave. (where we had Philadelphia Cheese Steaks, “wit” onions or “wit-out” onions!), the Federal Mint, etc. The only thing we regret not getting to (it was outside of downtown) were the Rocky Balboa Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! Randi tried very hard to convince the bus driver to take us there, but he was too busy outside the bus, dragging on his cigarette and sitting in the sun! The weather was perfect, in the high 60s and low 70s and sunny with no wind!
On Saturday, we bused down to the sports complex. All three of the major stadiums (The Wells Fargo Center, Citizens Bank Park – where the Phillies play – and Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Eagles) are located within walking distance of each other, and many restaurants and bars surround them. So, we stopped in a few of the places before the Frozen Four championship game, and one of them, the NBC Sports Arena, had a big screen TV. (Approximately 50 feet by 100 feet!) We watched the Flyers play the Penguins with a lot of locals cheering on the Flyers! It was fun!
The championship game between Union of New York and the U of Minnesota was a good game. Union ended up on top, 7-4, with two empty-netters at the end of the game. Here again, the crowd was pro-Union, since they are a private university with an enrollment of 2,200 students (the David) against the U of MN, which has an enrollment of 52,000 students (the Goliath)! My son, Brett, led the cheers in our section for the Union Dutchmen with his newfound Union megaphone! It was great to see our arch rivals go down!
Sunday, we got up at 5:15 EST (4:15 CST) to get on the bus by 6:30 to get to the airport. The forecast was to be 80 degrees in Philadelphia that day. The forecast in North Dakota was to be in the high 20s! It was very difficult to board the plane, knowing what was ahead of us!
As I said, it was a tremendous trip! The first Frozen Four for me, and I’ll be back again. The Sioux should be back next year as they return most of the players! Next year the tournament is in Boston, so Bean Town, you better look out for the Rugby contingent!! We’re Baaaaack! Ha!
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