Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Night Dessert: What a Weekend of Hockey

If you aren't a fan of hockey, this weekend was a great opportunity to become better acquainted with the sport. Today's Olympic gold medal game will likely go down as an all-time classic; Team USA denying Canada the gold medal they covet when Zach Parise scored with under 25 seconds left in the third period to send the game into overtime, shocking the home team that had already started to celebrate.  But Sidney Crosby, who had flubbed and floundered throughout the Olympics, became a national hero by beating Ryan Miller to reclaim the gold.

Interesting to note that both Miller and Parise both have a local connection as well.  In 2001, UNO chased Miller from goal in a sweep of Michigan State at the Civic Auditorium.  Parise, meanwhile, played for North Dakota and current UNO head coach Dean Blais.

No matter how disappointed Americans have to be in the finish of the game, you had to appreciate the love of country shown when 20,000 Canadians sang "O Canada!" at the top of their lungs at the medal ceremony.  Think that would ever happen here?  I kind of doubt it.

Back to local hockey, UNO came up short on Friday night, losing to #6 Bemidji State 3-1, with an empty netter sealing the game in the final seconds.  UNO dominated about half the game on Friday night, but couldn't crack Beaver goalie Dan Bakala to make the Quantum Leap into Pairwise consideration.  UNO did win last night to move back to 18th place, which is striking distance for an at-large bid.  Friday night, UNO looked like the faster, more talented team ... but Bemidji played a tactical game and simply didn't make any mistakes, frustrating the Mavs much of the way.  They're simply an outstanding, well-coached team; you can see how they made that surprising Frozen Four run last season.

Next up for UNO is Bowling Green; how fitting that the Pervs are the final CCHA team to play a series in Omaha.  Whether it's Tuesday Night, the Sharpie incident, Scott Hewson, the blizzard of 2007, or the ineligible player in this season's shootout, wacky things just seem to happen when the Road Cones come to town.  UNO will need to take care of business this weekend, and then likely face Ferris State again.  If they can pull that off, UNO might be in striking distance in the Pairwise...but might just need to win it all to get a berth in the Big Skate later in March.

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