Monday, March 27, 2017

48 Hours in Fargo, One Goal Short of Chicago

Charlie McAvoy and Clayton Keller celebrate
the game winning goal in double overtime vs
North Dakota.
(Photo by Matt Dresens
The first number on the alarm clock started with a four when it abruptly went off Friday morning signaling the start of another trip west to the regionals, my third trek to the midwest in five years for such an occasion. 

After landing in Fargo just two hours before puck drop against North Dakota, I knew I didn’t have time to check into the hotel or otherwise I would have been late. So I changed in the bathroom, booked it down the escalator and out onto the concourse where, to my surprise, there actually was a taxi service. 

I had to instruct the nice driver man three times that I was not trying to go to the Fargo Dome, but instead Scheels Arena. He then said he would take me to Scheels (a Bass Pro Shop type store) and I was again trying to explain to him to him that I was in fact not looking to buy a firearm or hunting gear and I would really like to get to the arena sometime before the opening face-off. Eventually, he got it…

As I walk into the area concourse with a red duffle bag and a shirt and tie on, three to four separate North Dakota fans jokingly asked me “you miss the bus?” After swimming through a sea of Sioux Hawks fans in the lobby, I found a nice spread of deli meats in the press room, fixed myself a pair of turkey sandwiches and double fisted my way with two subs to the press box just in time catch warmups. The timing was perfect and thankfully nothing was delayed. 

The emotions of the first game (ok maybe both games) are why we watch sports. The ebbs, the flows the back and forth of that game was unparalleled. It instantly vaulted onto the short list of most exciting BU’s games I have attended.

You know the story about the game. BU was up 3-1, Kieffer Bellows was slammed through the glass, North Dakota turned that into momentum, scored two tying goals and looked to have won it, but was offsides all before Charlie McAvoy actually won the game in double overtime. 

North Dakota’s Rehtt Gardener, who scored the game’s first goal way back in the first period said “"It was a whirlwind of emotion for sure, we did a really good job of sticking to it, we knew there was a chance, it was close call, I thought we settled ourselves down and played a really good game after that. It's a tough bounce but I thought we answered the only way we could and played as hard as we could."

Jake Oettinger added, “When you thought they ended it, you’re obviously upset, but you see them go look at it and obviously, it took a long time so we knew that we might get another shot at it. I think we took advantage of the opportunity we were given. I can’t say enough about the effort the guys gave. I know a lot of people were counting us out in this game. It was grit, heart and determination we showed tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of these guys and I couldn’t be prouder to be a BU Terrier right now.”

The roller coaster that game turned into is almost unparalleled to any BU game I have ever attended. I have never experienced a team full on lose in overtime, have a goal be reversed on a review and then go on to win. The only game that comes to mind is the 2003 Fiesta Bowl between Miami and Ohio State, where the Hurricanes seemed to have won the national title; fireworks were being shot off and confetti was pouring onto the field, but out of all the chaos, a flag was thrown for pass interference in overtime. The field was cleared and on the next position, Ohio State won the game. Even that wasn’t reviewed, though. It was just a flag no one saw. 

Burnt Boats on twitter summed it up perfectly saying, “I have experienced the thrill of victory and agony of defeat and the game isn’t even over yet.”  

The glory and jubilation lasted for a while before I was sitting at Applebee’s in West Fargo with two kids from WTBU Student Radio when we all look at each other and remember, “shit, we have another game to prep for.” We waited until Duluth scored the overtime winner against Ohio State before leaving. At this point, I had been up for close to 17 hours. Anything for hockey I guess. 
Downtown Fargo and all its's glory. Yes,
that's a multi-colored Bison

Prior to the game on Saturday, I traveled into “downtown” Fargo to check out the town. It was underwhelming, to say the least, but I wasn’t expecting much. It reminded me a lot of the center of Natick, to be honest. I did, however, get a fabulous Bison steak at the Hotel Donaldson at the corner of 1st and Broadway. 

From the HoDo as it was referred to, I made my way back to the arena, where it was once again time for hockey. 

Much like the North Dakota game, you know how this one ended. BU struck first for the first time in 10 games, Duluth tied it in the closing minute of the first, took the lead late in the third, Patrick Harper tied it with roughly three minutes left, and Duluth won in overtime on the power play. 

"They get the power play in overtime which was the right call,” said coach Quinn. “It's a penalty and our penalty kill's been great all year, and we just weren't able to kill the last one. What a great play by them, they make an unbelievable play to keep the puck in, we win the draw and Doyle does a great job firing around, and [UMD defenseman Neal Pionk] made an unbelievable play to keep the puck in and Doyle makes a great block and was a little bit staggered and they smelled blood and they took advantage of it. That's what great teams do and that's why they're going to the Frozen Four, they've been doing that all year long and you have to give them a lot of credit." 

Doyle Somerby, who played his last game as a Terrier on Saturday added, “We've come a long way my four years, the first four years with Coach Quinn and you get 10 wins your first year, you don't really know what to expect after that. To make the tournament three times in a row is pretty special and obviously I wish it ended better and you always want to write the right end of the script, but it was just a tough game."

It was certainly disappointing. I think I can speak for everyone who followed the team this year in saying they were looking forward to Chicago. I for one love the city. I was lucky to attend game two of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at the United Center and saw the Bruins win 2-1 overtime and always thought the city would be a fun spot for the Frozen Four. I had it circled on my calendar and thought it was a real possibility, but somethings are not meant to be. Sometimes you come up one goal short. 

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