Last Friday night, just before a flu bug began to render me useless for the rest of the weekend, I managed to watch Minnesota at Michigan State and Colorado College at North Dakota. The first game was a WCHA/CCHA matchup, but was being sold as a Big Ten affair.
Well, the Gophers and Spartans may well be a Big Ten gathering in most circles, but not in hockey. Not just yet anyway. And maybe it was the flu, but the game left me cold and the crowd had to be the quietest that Munn Ice Arena has hosted in some time. (The Spartans claimed this one, 4-3.) I fear the first year of the new Big Ten hockey association will have a visit by Minnesota and Wisconsin to Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Columbus or State College generating about a third of the buzz that it would in, say, Denver, Colorado Springs, Grand Forks, Bemidji or Duluth.
I must clarify that for a minute by saying that perhaps the fans of the Badgers will have their hosts singing in the aisles and at the postmortems along the bar. But the game itself will miss a little something.
-- On the other screen, the CC Tigers and the Fighting Sioux were scoring goals in bunches, at point allowing the NoDakers to take a two-goal lead before CC gave them the old Broadmoor try and got things back to even at 5-5 early in the second period. The Sioux would take this one, 7-6
A true WCHA rivalry that will survive the transplantation in the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
-- A true sign of the times as there is a luxury box section inside Notre Dame's new arena, the Compton Family Ice Arena. The new digs look quite sharp, if not dark. The roof is painted dark, and the broadcast team on CBS College Sports channel said on Nov. 18 that this specific touch gave the arena the same cave-like effect that as the old Capital Centre in Landover, Md.
From the Capital Centre blog, here is a blurb about the Capitals' old joint:
By the late 1990's, as the renamed US Airways Arena prepared to shut its doors, there were few kind words. One Canadian journalist wrote, “No one will miss it. It's the darkest rink in the league and it is located in the middle of nowhere.”
Both visiting and home athletes surely agreed with Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, who called the place a “Dungeon.”
I read once that the black interior and dim lighting was an attempt to create a theatre-like setting; if so, it failed to appreciate the energy that sports stadiums are supposed to create.
That is dark, but not enough to lure Kornheiser out of TV retirement to give this joint equal standing as the Cap Centre. Not yet, anyway.
Now about those suites at a college hockey rink. That just doesn't sound right, but I guess that's progress. I wonder how the Basilica of the Sacred Heart will be reconfigured to handle luxury pews. That should rake in some dough.
I'll set 'em up again soon.