Friday, March 9th, 11:06 p.m. – Greetings from Green Bay, Wisconsin! After 342 miles (five-hours, 58-minutes), and I am in the home of the Green Bay Packers. Everything I’ve heard about Green Bay being your typical quiet, Midwest town, seems to be right on as I passed through the city tonight. I have a feeling its not so quiet on Sundays in the fall when Rogers and company are within the city limits.
My roommate for the night is assistant athletic trainer Mitch Deets. He has been with the team since its departure from St. Peter at 8:00 a.m. this morning. With the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the six-hour trip behind them, the Gusties rolled into Green Bay around 3:00 p.m. They later took a short bus ride to the Cornerstone Community Center, the sight of tomorrow night’s NCAA Playoff Quarterfinal game. The banner you see above, courtesy of Gustavus Sports Information photographer Dan Coquyt, shows a pleasant shot of the outside of the Cornerstone CC. Inside the rink will be anything but pleasant tomorrow night – that is a given.
After a practice that was focused primarily on getting used to their surroundings and familiarizing themselves with the rink (boards, glass, angles, corners, etc.), the Gusties were back at the hotel for a 7:00 p.m. team dinner. My former teammate and former Gustie skater Joe Welch assured me that St. Norbert’s boards are the fastest in Division III and that the pipes at the Cornerstone are twice as large. Always the jokester.
It was a 10:00 p.m. curfew for the guys tonight with a 9:15 a.m. wake-up call tomorrow morning. I can’t speak for the players, but I’m starting to get the pre-game butterflies already.
Below is the website for the Cornerstone Community Center for those who need directions.
Here are the links for both Gustavus’ and St. Norbert’ game notes.
Saturday, March 10th
10:46 a.m. – As always, Gustavus travels first class. The team was up and at em’ at 9:00 a.m., enjoying a top notch spread of just about every breakfast food item imaginable. Best hair this morning goes to either Tyler Schwartz or Sam Blaisdell. Zach May was excluded from the group because he’s a perennial number one with that Jagr mullet. In a late addition, Coach Hoiland informed me that Adam Smyth was definitely pushing for best bed head as well.
I had a good conversation with Jack Walsh at breakfast and he assured me that I wouldn’t need to give a shout-out to two of the biggest Gustie fans in eastern Wisconsin over my broadcast tonight because they will be at the game. Jack’s nephews, Josh and Everett, have been devoted viewers online this season and now get to see their uncle play not only with a trip to Lake Placid on the line, but in their back yard!
At 10:15 the squad boarded the bus and embarked to the rink for morning skate. The rink itself is not that far away, but it takes roughly 15-20 minutes to get there from the hotel. I got my first live glimpse at Lambeau Field on the ride over. I’ll be going to take a closer look later in the day. I know the organization is adding more seating – as if the Pack needs more of a home-field advantage – so it will be interesting to see progress.
We arrived at the Cornerstone Community Center about 10 minutes ago. The pictures you see below are a few shots from inside the rink. I am currently sitting in the press box on the scoreboard side of the ice. I heard a couple guys say that it is different not having a scoreboard on the end or over center ice.
As I’m sure all hockey players know, it’s all a matter of personal preference at these morning skates. Some players get on the ice and skate hard for short bursts, while some stroll around the ice, stick handling, throwing the puck off the boards, and joking around. It doesn’t look like Ryan Johnson or Cory Belisle choose to skate at these.
Penalty shootout going on right now. Jason Aguiar doing his best to keep the, wow…that was a nice move by Blake Schammel. In another observation, Welchy wasn’t exaggerating, these boards are lighting fast!
From here its back to the hotel for some down time before the team meal scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
3:22 p.m. - After we arrived back at the hotel after morning skate, the team was on its own before its pre-game meal. I took that advantage to drive to Lambeau Field and see the Taj Mahal of pro football for myself. You can probably tell from the pictures I took below that I’m very pleased with my decision. Even in March, there are Packer fans swarming around the frozen tundra. For those of you who have never been there, it is like people say – a palace in the middle of a neighborhood. I’m glad I got to see it up close and personal. Maybe a little too personal for the liking of the Lambeau Field security. Just call me Ethan Hunt instead of Armstrong for now on.
Back at the hotel it was time for team’s pregame meal. Lasagna, breadsticks, and veggies. Carbo-loading for the game tonight. Coach Petersen addressed the team after the meal. His speech focused on “opportunity.” As the old cliche goes, there is nothing left to save it for at this point. Just ask lone senior Ross Ring-Jarvi how much this game means to him. I’ve got a feeling he would gladly trade the Ed Saugestad Cup and his MVP trophy for one more trip to Lake Placid. With both teams going with rookie goaltenders tonight, getting pucks on net will be the focus for both teams. It has been a great run for Gustavus and St. Norbert as they each enter tonight’s duel with eight-game unbeaten-streaks under their belts.
Mitch and I are currently back in our room watching the Gustavus women’s hockey team take on UW-River Falls. Mitch’s iPad (see below). Right now its the third period and the Gusties are on top 3-2. CJ and JJ are quite possibly the best “acronym first name” broadcast duo in the country.
After the women’s game, I’m going for a run to sweat out this nervousness. The bus will load and depart for the arena at 4:45 p.m. I will try to do one more update from the Cornerstone CC. I’m thinking that I’m going to break out my lucky green scarf tonight.
6:01 p.m. - The team and I have arrived at the Cornerstone Community Center for the final time this season. As usual, the road to Lake Placid will go through this arena. After meeting with St. Norbert Sports Information Director Dan Lukes, and the NCAA officials and staff at the pre-game meeting, I began my prep work for tonight’s broadcast.
When last these two teams met on Nov. 4th, they were both different squads. That seems to be one of the main themes in the pregame tonight. In my mind, that means its anyone’s hockey game.
It is quiet in the arena aside from a pre-game interview between St. Norbert play-by-play broadcaster Tim Derozier and St. Norbert Head Coach Tim Coghlin going on to my right. I will be sitting in the press box with is located about 10-feet above the ice on the scoreboard side.
It is freezing in this rink! About 41-degrees one of the staff told me. Not sure how I will type on this live blog with frozen fingers.
This will be my last entry of the night before the post-game recap. Win or lose, I’d like to thank Coach Petersen, Phillips, and Hoiland for giving me the opportunity to cover the game. Its been a fun ride, and I wish the best of luck to both teams.
Gustavus Interim Sports Information Director Ethan Armstrong will be with the Gustavus men’s hockey team over the weekend. He will be blogging periodically leading up to Gustavus’ NCAA Playoff game with St. Norbert set for Saturday at 7:00 p.m.