Thursday, March 15th
5:43 p.m. - Well, it was Green Bay last weekend, and now its Rochester, New York this weekend. With that, greetings from Rochester!
After a short layover in Cleveland, Gustavus Director of Athletics Al Molde and I touched down in Rochester roughly an hour ago. As always, wherever you go, Gustavus apparel always draws attention. Even in Cleveland, someone recognized the three crowns on my hockey wind suit and I made a Gustavus connection. Thinking about all the places Coach Molde has been during his tenure at Gustavus, I’m sure he could tell stories for hours about connections he has made to St. Peter.
Junior forward Jenna Christensen’s parents Cheryl and Scott were also on the flight from Minneapolis to Cleveland. Cheryl and Scott were driving the rest of the trip and would be arriving in Rochester later tonight.
In a little bit, Al and I will attend the 2012 NCAA Women’s Hockey Championship banquet. Time for the suit. I know, me in a suit? What a joke.
8:53 p.m. - After a wonderful banquet, I am back in my hotel room listening to the final period of the Fighting Sioux vs. St. Cloud State hockey game going on in St. Paul.
What a night for the Gustavus women’s hockey team. Hopefully the Gusties can keep this momentum going into Friday and Saturday. It was classy gesture by Steve Nelson, the Chair of the NCAA DIII Women’s Hockey Committee, to recognize Al Molde and thank him for his years of service during the ceremony. Al will retire at the end of this year after 15 years of service at his alma mater.
The banquet also served as the platform to announce this season’s All-America teams. Receiving first team honors tonight were seniors Allie Schwab and Mollie Carroll, and junior Lindsey Hjelm. Not only was it fun to see the look of surprise on the face of all three players, but it was equally as fun to be sitting right next to the parents of Lindsey and Allie when their names were called. Mollie also did an outstanding job speaking for Gustavus tonight during the remarks from participants section of the program. I’m thinking the NCAA will bring her back next year to MC.
Sioux are holding on 2-1 late in the third…
The banquet ended with one more accolade for the Gusties. Once NCAA Assistant Director of Championships Jan Gentry said “3.858 GPA in Physics,” all the Gustie skaters took a collective breath of air and knew Marah Sobczak was the winner of this season’s Elite 89 award. The Elite 89 Award honors the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average participating at the finals site of each NCAA Championship. A Gustavus player has won the award the past three season.
After all the pictures were taken, Coach Mike Carroll, Al, and I attended the pre-championship meeting.
On my way back to the room, I notice that the players are already wearing their new NCAA Championship gear around the halls of the hotel. Props to the NCAA for going away from the flat-bill, trucker hats this season. Aside from the drop of the puck being at 6:00 p.m. local time, the team is still not set on tomorrow’s agenda. Routine is everything at this point of the year.
EMPTY NETTER!!! 3-1…
In what is also a typical site for a Gustavus team on the road, a handful of players are seen with books and note pads in their hands. At Division III, even if you’re in the Frozen Four, studying and homework are always a priority. I’d like to know what professor is assigning tests on the Friday of NCAA Championship.
Tomorrow is game day. A chance is all you can ask for at this time of year. To their good fortune, RIT, Norwich, Gustavus, and Plattsburgh all have a chance.
Friday, March 16th
2:17 p.m. - To quote Coach Brown once again, “It’s game day Black! Let’s get it going baby!!”
Its game day for the women’s hockey team here in Rochester. Because the team doesn’t play until later tonight, the wake-up calls rang through the block of rooms at 10:00 a.m. this morning. The team enjoyed a large assortment of bagels for breakfast this morning and it was off to start the day.
To get the players up, active, and out of the hotel, the team decided to take a field trip to the Seneca Park Zoo. Lions, tigers and bears! Oh my! Actually, there were no lions, but there was a tiger and a polar bear. I can’t be certain, but the polar bear, sea lions, and the penguins were three of the favorite attractions amongst the ladies. Forward Melissa Doyle actually got some Animal Planet worthy footage of a boa taking its lunch break. We’ll see if that makes her documentary at the end. I took a few pics during the visit, check them out at the bottom of the page. As you can tell, senior Gina DeNucci really likes the zoo.
After the zoo we made the short drive back to the hotel after stopping for dinner (breakfast, dinner, supper – I’m from a small town). On the ride to and from the zoo, I noticed several massive industrial buildings not only in the city, but lining the Genesee River that flows northward through the heart of Rochester. From a distance, I could faintly recognize a logo on one of the buildings, and upon further research back at the hotel, I was right on with my guess. Although Rochester is known as the Flour City, it is also known to be the corporate headquarters of Kodak. Going by the current state of Kodak, the cracked, faded out logo seems appropriate.
We are now in the down time period of game day. The players are on their own for a couple of hours before the bus takes off for the rink at 4:00 p.m. Naps, reading, homework, lounging, laughing, relaxing, watching tv, and probably many other time passing activities ensue. Although the game is still four hours away, what is at stake tonight is more than likely creeping into the thoughts of the players.
Its 3:00 p.m., time for a run. When next you hear from me, I will be on the campus of RIT.
4:27 p.m. - We made it to Frank Ritter Arena on the campus of RIT, the site of this year’s NCAA Division III Women’s Hockey Championship. Beautiful campus, great venue, and already a good crowd on hand. Its in the second intermission and RIT is hanging on to a 1-0 lead over Plattsburgh right now.
The players are now in their pre-game attire (Wayne-issued black shorts and a choice of either their hockey jacket or gold sweatshirt) and have begun their pre-game warmup routine. The team is reserved a basketball court here at the complex. Their warm-up consists of some light running and stretching before the gear goes on.
5:32 p.m. - Game one between RIT and Plattsburgh is headed into overtime tied 1-1! Plattsburgh is straight-up battling the No. 1 team in the nation. What a great start to the weekend.
What this does is delay Gustavus start time a bit. That means instead of lacing up the skates and heading out for warmups soon, the players are heading back to the gym to stay loose.
All the players, which I just noticed, are continuing the tradition of neck tattoos today. I’m not sure who started that, or when, but the neck tats made it to New York.
5:51 p.m. - RIT is moving on to the championship game after a goal just 2:30 into overtime. The winner of the Gustavus vs. Norwich game knows who they will play.
6:03 p.m. - The hustle and bustle of post-game procedures is taking place behind the scenes following the RIT victory in game one. The players are busy making last-minute adjustments to their equipment, skates, and sticks. As you can tell from the picture below, this is Athletic Trainer Mitchell Bockenstedt’s time to shine. Speaking of athletic trainers, I’d like to take this time to send a shout out to my buddy Troy Banse and the entire Gustavus Athletic Training Program. March is National Athletic Trainers’ Month so it only seems fitting. Thanks to the entire AT staff, your work is often overlooked but always greatly appreciated.
6:32 p.m. - The Gustavus women’s hockey team is on the ice for warmups. Listening to the players in the tunnel before taking the ice, one thing is clear to me, this team is ready. The players are calm, collected an not overwhelmed at the though of competing on the grandest stage of Division III women’s hockey. The majority of this team has been here before, in this rink, against Norwich. One look at Danielle Justice’s eyes will tell you she is ready to cap her career on a high note.
It’s now 20 minutes until the drop of the puck. Put up or shut up time is almost upon us.
This will be my last post until after the game. I wish the best of luck to both teams. This should be a fun one tonight. #playhardplayfast
9:10 p.m. - This game is tied 3-3 heading to overtime and I am nervous as heck. Imperial March (Darth Vader theme) is somewhat calming.
Saturday, March 17th
1:23 a.m. - Welcome to the final blog entry of the night. Snake-bitten is the only way to describe tonight’s loss. I couldn’t be more proud of the way the ladies battled tonight. From the fans’ perspective, it was an exciting, well-played, back-and-forth hockey game. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out in Gustavus’ favor, but that’s sports.
Following the game, I escorted Coach Carroll, Danielle Justice, Melissa Doyle, and Lindsey Hjelm to the post-game press conference. All three were my picks for Gustavus’ top players tonight. The group handled the presser with class, even after such a tough loss.
After that, five Gustavus players were randomly selected to be drug tested following the game. That’s the thing about NCAA events, drug testing can occur at any stage following a competition. You never know when it will take place and you never know who will be going. There is consistency in its inconsistency.
After that process was finished, the team loaded up and headed back to the hotel. Lindsey Hjelm was kind enough to talk with me following the game. One of her lines got excluded from my game re-cap, but I would like to share it here. Hjelm stated, “This team is extremely optimistic and constantly picking each other up. That combined with the skill level of this team left no doubt in our minds that we could get this done tonight.” Observing their demeanor before the game and watching their performance on the ice, Hjelm is right on. The Gusties were on a mission this season no doubt, but hey, that’s sports.
Tomorrow’s game is about pride and sending out the seniors on a high note. Although bronze perils next to gold, hockey is hockey. For tomorrow’s seniors, 10 total (6 Gustavus, 4 Plattsburgh), it is one more chance to lace up, rep your school colors, and play the game that so much time has been devoted.
Congrats to both of today’s winners RIT and Norwich. Best of luck in tomorrow’s championship game.
1:49 p.m. – Welcome back everyone. Sorry it took so long, but I’m back. It was a busy morning in the hotel. The team was up early and served breakfast in their rooms once again. Spirits were high this morning despite last night’s tough loss. The ladies realize that its not over yet. Still one more game to go.
I got a call from the CBS Sports film crew this morning and they wanted to feature Allie Schwab, coach Carroll, and Kirstin Peterson in their post-tournament feature. The focus was on Allie Schwab and her Gustavus career coming to an end this weekend. Last night, Allie set the Gustavus record for games played in a career. She has played in all 117 games of her collegiate career, breaking her former teammate, now coach, Kirstin Peterson’s mark of 116 games. Not only is that a testament to Allie’s durability and versatility, but it is a testament to the Gustavus women’s hockey program. You have to play on some good teams to play in that many games. All three did outstanding in their interviews and the final product should be special.
We took off for the rink at 1:15 p.m. Before we left, a grandparent of a Norwich player congratulated the players in a well played game. In what was a nice gesture, he ranked the game one of the best he has ever watched.
The ladies walking around and getting into their pre-game routine inside the hallways of Frank Ritter Arena. Mitch is taping and the coaches are pacing.
Puck drops in an hour and a half. Bronze is the goal today as the 2011-12 season is near its end.
3:17 p.m. - We are just minutes away from dropping the puck in today’s NCAA third place game. The Guusties are the higher seed this afternoon, so they are in their white sweaters. Even the moms in the stands have broke out their white jerseys today.
I am sitting in the press box located on the entrance end of the rink. I will be sitting next to RIT Sports Information Director Joe Venniro during this afternoon’s contest. Joe will be handling the live statistics throughout the game.
The players are on the ice for introductions. A couple of observations I’ve made while here. First, Gustavus is the only team to not where a name plate on the back of its sweater. Second, the Gusties are the only team to keep their helmets on during the pre-game introductions. Coach Carroll is going to start with Bergh and Kennedy on defense, Doyle, Christensen, and Wanecke at the forwards, and Justice between the pipes.
Drop of the puck is in three minutes! Good luck to both teams!! Metallica is going to lead us into the start of the game once again.
9:26 p.m. - Game over. Post-game wrapped up. Another season in the books. My hat goes off to the Gustavus women’s hockey team on a couple of hard-fought games. Perseverance was the theme this weekend. Although the analysts said that Gustavus didn’t have the overall skill to match these teams, it didn’t show this weekend. Gustavus skated with both Norwich and Plattsburgh. The puck just didn’t bounce the way of the Black and Gold.
Coach Carroll and Allie Schwab gave the post-game presser to cap the season. To see their comments, check out my game re-cap. No players were selected to be randomly drug tested after today’s game, so we were out of the rink rather quickly.
I’d like to once again thanks Joe Venniro for the hospitality at RIT this weekend. You ran a great show Joe!
Back at the hotel, I get to work on my re-cap while the team goes out for a supper. Likely, it is one of the last times that the 2011-12 Gustavus women’s hockey team will be all together in the same setting. Isn’t that depressing?
The Gustie women’s skaters have the rest of the night off and it’s back to Minnesota tomorrow. The west will get one, no doubt. Gustavus just has to keep giving itself a shot. Congrats Gusties on another wonderful season. Enjoy the time with you teammates tonight.
And before I forget, thanks to all the parents for your continued support throughout the season. The Gusties had a great following in Rochester and that made the experience so much sweeter for the players. It was awesome to see all the moms in their daughters’ white jerseys today. Everyone knows that it’s moms who run the world. It was also a special treat to meet the grandparents of Melissa Doyle, Tom and Shirley, who made the trip from Arizona to Rochester. Tom and Shirley are two of the biggest Gustie women’s hockey fans on the planet – no doubt about it. They are C.J. and I’s most reliable viewers online and we greatly appreciate their support. It was a pleasure to finally meet them both in person and if Melissa is going to score goals like that when they are in the house, we better get them signed up for season tickets at Don Roberts Ice Rink.
Al Molde and I will be up early for our flight tomorrow morning. I’m off to find the tail-end of the Sioux vs. Denver game.
Gustavus Interim Sports Information Director Ethan Armstrong will be with the Gustavus women’s hockey team at the 2012 NCAA Division III Women’s Hockey Frozen Four held this weekend in Rochester, New York. He will be blogging periodically throughout Gustavus’ stay in Rochester. To signify when Ethan installs a new post, a chronological number (i.e. I, II, III) will be placed at the end of each headline.