“Five Guys In Milwaukee,” which appears daily on USCHO during the NCAA championships, is Scott Brown’s travelog of a weekend at the Final Four.
Friday, March 28
7:59 a.m. Today’s a relatively free day — no games, just the Hobey Baker presentation in the afternoon. We are taking full advantage of this fact to get some rest, so nobody’s up…
8:00 a.m. Except Dave.
9:00 a.m. Dave’s still the only one up.
10:00 a.m. Dave’s still the only one up.
12:17 p.m. I get up. Tim’s running around with the computer stuff, trying to get USCHO’s display together downstairs. The Vote for Hobey stuff is all there, until somebody hauls off with the Todd White and Chris Drury profiles. Popular guys, apparently.
1:34 p.m. Frank, Lee and I go to lunch. Tim’s in a frenzy of activity. I almost feel bad enough to go help him. Almost.
2:33 p.m. I finally feel guilty enough to go downstairs and help Tim out a little bit with the stand. There’s a pretty good crowd building for the Hobey announcement, in no small part because the bar opened three minutes ago.
4:30 p.m. The Hobey presentation begins. Michigan fans have turned out in considerable numbers, in hopes that Brendan Morrison will take the hardware home. Boston U. — rooting for Chris Drury — is represented as well, though not in such quantity.
4:40 p.m. Morrison wins. The roar from the Wolverine contingent is probably audible all the way back to Yost Arena.
4:43 p.m. Morrison’s acceptance speech is going swimmingly. He’s thanked everyone under the sun very graciously, and is impressing the audience with his poise until of the BU-UM game last night he mentions that “sometimes the best team doesn’t win.” This sends the room into a frenzy, with the Maize and Blue fans hooting and hollering and the BU partisans incensed.
8:23 p.m. Tim heads out to our Staff Meeting With The Fans at one of the establishments down on Water Street — or, if you believe the promotional materials — “Milwaukee’s Famous Water Street.”
9:18 p.m. I follow. The place has “Welcome College Hockey Final Four” plastered all around, and the names of the schools alongside: “Michigan,” “Boston University,” “North Dakota,” and especially “Colorado College University.” Ouch.
10:30 p.m. The meeting is rather tame. Tim is holding forth with several hockey aficionados, while Lee is on what must be a third bowl of chili, with about a cup of sour cream on top. I’ve been mooching beers off fellow staffers, since all two of the local ATMs refuse my card.
12:08 a.m. Time to head back — the championship is again at noon, presumably to avoid competition with the basketball Final Four, which starts at 4:30 Central time.
Saturday, March 29
9:00 a.m. must…get…up…
10:00 a.m. not up…
10:30 a.m. Up. Much of the USCHO staff has gathered in our room for some strategic planning. Or something like that. Dave leaves early to head over to the game, which I suspect has something to do with the five-star food they’re supposedly serving over there. Next year I’m going to wangle a press credential, and then they’ll probably have hot dogs.
11:36 a.m. The Bradley Center again beckons. We’re hoping for another good game, though the question is whether BU will try to play the same hard-hitting style that was so successful against Michigan Thursday. North Dakota’s offense is stylistically similar, though their forwards are smaller overall than the Wolverines’. We figure the Terriers will try it again.
12:45 p.m. They do, and soon build a 2-0 lead behind goals from Peter Donatelli and Drury. But as the game progresses, the BU players seem more and more drained from their efforts in the semifinals, and soon the UND skaters are evading the checks that flattened Michigan earlier.
1:30 p.m. The UND explosion is underway. Four goals in the period thus far, sandwiched around one BU tally, have the score 4-3. The crowd, which was firmly behind the Terriers when Michigan was the opposition, is divided for this one.
1:44 p.m. North Dakota scores the backbreaker. David Hoogsteen’s goal in a scrum at the BU end with only five seconds left in the second period makes it 5-3, and takes a lot of the suspense out of the third.
2:37 p.m. BU does get a six-on-five goal with 39 seconds left, but UND answers with an empty-netter to seal the win. The players swarm out onto the ice in a pile, which makes me wonder who’s on the bottom down there. Sticks, gloves, pads — all go flying onto the ice.
2:58 p.m. The awards have been handed out and the names read. Though it doesn’t seem possible, the season is over. Next year’s finals are in Boston, at the FleetCenter, and we’re already making plans, which is good — never too soon for this bunch. We’ll see…