Monday, November 5, 2012

North Dakota Recap- To hell and back

I made my first ever trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota this weekend and it looks exactly how you would expect it to. Something like the picture above. The rink itself was huge and really nice. Every North Dakota fan will ask you if you like the rink because they know that it is awesome. The atmosphere was crazy as 12k packed in Saturday night to see the BU 4-2 win while slightly less(due to the opening of hunting season..not a lie) packed in Friday to watch the North Dakota 4-2 win.  First, I'm going to cover some comments on the experience watching a game in the Ralph and then get to the actual games.

The Ralph is quite large, nice and sells beer. All of these things are necessities for North Dakota. If you saw the view of the bar between periods, you would understand what I mean. There is a HIGH demand for beer. The crowd was a sellout Saturday night and it was loud during introductions and when North Dakota scored. Besides, the goals and intros, the arena itself was awfully quiet both nights besides when music was piped in or Alexx Privitera was touching the puck and therefore booed. This goes back to an incident Friday night where it is reported that he had an altercation with fans while in the penalty box. I didn't see anything myself but I'm sure the fan deserved whatever happened because UND fans suck. They did not start any chant on their own. Music had to be piped in or BU fans were loud enough to rile up the fans to start a "Let's go Sioux" chant. This is not to say they don't care about the game because they do and let me know on many occasions what a crazy liberal I am because I am from Boston. They are just too stupid to start any different chants or use their brains at all. Their goal song is pretty cool/funny as these small firecrackers/bombs go off over the goal they just scored on.  Overall, enjoyed my time there and for all the idiotic students, there were just as many welcoming fans who seemed glad to have us there. Now to the hockey.

Friday night's game was eerily similar to  BU's other loss this season(@UNH). BU struggled to hold possession for most of the night and had trouble breaking the UND forecheck that seemed relentless. The only difference was that freshman goalie, Sean Maguire, played much better in his second career start than his first. Maguire allowed 3 goals but made some big saves(31) as well to keep the team in the game. He was much improved in a hostile and foreign arena. Their will probably be only one of the 3 goals that he would want back as the first game on a deflection and the third on a 5 on 3 PP with NoDak forward Connor Gaarder all alone in front of the net. The second goal was a blast from the right dot that I'm sure he would like back. Gaardner recorded a hat trick for the Sioux.  BU freshman Danny O'Regan began the game with a rebound goal past UND junior and Alabama Huntsville transfer Clarke Saunders. Garrder scored his first and second goals at the beginning of the second but BU once again responded with a powerplay goal by freshman Ahti Oksanen. The only BU powerplay of the night was a 5 minute major thanks to UND senior captain Andrew MacWilliam who threw a high hit on Oksanen and NoDak fans are still complaining about. They are claiming Oksanen dove on a late high hit from their captain. Oksanen is at least 6-4 if not taller. It was a high hit, no matter what they want to sell from their point of view. North Dakota had 7 powerplays to BU's 1 so I have a tough time feeling bad for them regarding Friday night's game. North Dakota did what they have done so far this season. They played well on Friday on to Saturday

After a day of boredom and crossing the North Dakota/Minnesota state line about 72 times, night 2 of the series was frustrating for the first 55 minutes of play. BU freshman Matt O'Connor got the start in net and had some bad luck early as a wide shot, hit off the glass and bounced directly back into the crease, off his skate and into the goal. After that fluke goal, he settled down and kept BU in the game.  BU would tie the game on a Wade Megan goal after a series of calls on both teams. BU was set up on a 5 on 3 until the referees whistled embellishment on Garrett Noonan after he was cross-checked in the head. It was the right call which is rare for us to admit. Megan put a wrister through UND freshman Zane Gothberg(Bruins draftpick) to tie the game at 1. NoDak took the lead back on Danny Kristo's first goal of the season when he was left all alone in front and eventually beat O'Connor 5 hole. You can tell a goalie is on when he is visibly upset that he let one of the best players in the country beat him when he was left all alone in front. OC later stopped a big breakaway that would have made the game 3-1 and much more difficult entering the third. BU continued to battle and fight but had nothing to show for it with 5 minutes left. Then, something awesome happened. Matt Nieto sniped one top shelf past Gothberg to tie the game with 5 minutes left. BU then carried that momentum as Matt Lane scored his first collegiate goal sniping one of his own on a great feed from Alexx Privitera, boos and all. Danny O'Regan capped it off with nice move on Gothberg 11 seconds later to seal the game for BU and provoke outrage in Grand Forks.

The split wasn't the ideal scenario that we envisioned or Ben Rosen tweeted about but it was certainly proof to fans and to the team that they can play with the top teams in the country. They continue to play hard for all 60 minutes of the game and have been getting good results because of it. The road doesn't get any easier this weekend as the team travels to Merrimack Friday and host some crap team on Sunday, but we 'll deal with them come Saturday. Certainly a fun weekend for the BU fans out there with me and a split that made the travel home and walk out of the rink/snowball fight with UND fans much more fun. There certainly isn't much out there besides hockey but it is a place I would recommend to watch a hockey game if you ever get the chance.

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