North Wind Sports Editor Curt Kemp is blogging live from the Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit for the NMU hockey team’s third place game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. If you were wondering – tonight’s game is rather irrelevant.
3:00 PM: Little to no fans in the arena for the third place game – 30 minutes to game time. Gavin DeGraw opened up my Joe Louis Arena experience today with an overly done music video. Saying I’m disappointed would be an understatement.
3:04 PM: Found out that Reid Ellingson and Derek Janzen will split time in net today; information courtesy of NMU Sports Information Director Dave Faiella. Looks like Walt’s looking to the youngsters to get them some experience in the post-season. Stewart’s going to be sitting this one out; It’s been a heck of a run for Stewie, he deserves the break.
3:06 PM: I think I need to clarify what I mean when I say that there “is no one here.” There’s probably four fans per section right now, including some people who are sitting towards the top of the arena. I can’t imagine that they were forced to buy those seats – unless they’re students, in which case they were (at a discounted rate, though). I hope you sense how bitter I am at the ticket prices. Odd, seeing as though I picked up the media pass for free.
3:09 PM: I can’t get online. This would never happen at the Berry. Another musical note: Dragonforce – Through The Fire and Flames (at least I think that’s the title) is playing. I feel like the Joe only plays songs on Guitar Hero or Rock Band. I can see one person air guitar-heroing; five years ago, who knew that would be a phrase?
3:12 PM: I can see green and gold. For the first time, aside from members of the press, I’m seeing NMU fans. I think the entire fan bus stayed in the hotel today. Either that, or they’re gambling away their tuition at one of the many casinos in downtown Detroit. The band’s here, though. I listened to them play in the Ren Cen for a while. I was one of the few people there. One interesting note: the fact that we have cheerleaders at the hockey games is pretty amusing to everyone else around the world.
3:15 PM: NMU looks to be the only team that has a game preview tonight. Notre Dame, if they have a preview, will be putting it out real late. Kudos to Faiella for being on the ball. I’m impressed with his “UP NEXT” which states, “The 2008-2009 season is up next for the Wildcats.” Thanks, Dave.
3:20 PM: Since last night’s game was on FSN, everybody here in the press box was watching both the game on TV and the game on the ice. So, I was seeing replays on goals via instant replay on the scoreboard’s screen, replay on FSN, and whatever look I got at the goal in real-time – it sure beats guessing where the puck went.
3:23 PM: Almost six minutes until the puck drops, and I really can’t believe how little fan support the Wildcats have. Considering last night’s game showcased some serious support from Northern fans, this showing is difficult to stomach. Two fan buses (at least that’s what I witnessed at the St. Ignace McDonalds on the way down: I was picking up a sausage and egg biscuit, btw)
3:27: Wildcat starting lineups. Cosgrove starting – nice touch, Walt. Put out the senior on his last game. I think it’s a good move. As far as the starting lineups go, Walt’s starting with Ellingson.
3:30 PM: After listening to the NMU band, I think there’s a few fans here. They’re all sitting right next to the pep band. I don’t know if they moved from last night, or simply bought 40 plus tickets from the same section. I take back all the bad things I said about the fans.
3:32 PM: If you’re reading this right now, I hope you realize that NMU has nothing to play for right now. They’re not going to the tournament, and they can only pick up a third place. Notre Dame, if they tie, will lose out on a bid to the tournament. – And a great save by Ellingson.
3:33 PM: Mark Olver can do a lot of things for this team. He just blocked a shot to keep the puck in Notre Dame’s zone. Olver should be, much like his brother, a great player for the Wildcats in the upcoming years. Darin sort of flatlined after his frosh year, though. Either way, Mark’s going to be a solid player. Even a flat-lined Darin was an All-CCHA selection.
3:37 PM: Nick Sirota just stick handled through two Irish defenders. He’s not drafted by the NHL. Any takers?
3:38 PM: I just talked it over: Notre Dame makes the tournament unless they tie in this game. That means they can lose and they can win, but a tie keeps them out. Oh, hockey. You’re so strange.
3:42 PM: This hockey season is resembling the basketball season. No chance for the post-season during the last game of the year. Granted, the post-season I’m talking about for the hockey team is the NCAA tournament, not the conference tourney.
3:44 PM: The first call of the game. NMU penalty to Dorich for interference – 9:52 of the first. There’s no replay. I couldn’t argue the call either way.
3:46 PM: Call against Notre Dame. I saw this one. It’s a good call. On the big screen, there’s an older woman wearing a No. 33 NMU jersey, and then a contingency of NMU fans. I’m told the NMU fans made a huge impression during the CCHA media party. Way to go, puckheads.
3:48 PM: Mark Olver fell, legitimately. He simply overskated, and fell down. And a ND player is now in the penalty box for it. 13:05 remaining Garrett Regan picks up the slashing penalty.
3:50 PM: NMU fans are the only ones shown on the scoreboard. I’m not sure if the Joe has a big optical illusion making it appear that only 50 fans are here, but the camera is seeing more fans than I am.
3:53 PM: Kosinski picks up an obstruction penalty at 15:38 in the first. Still no score. But, now I’m online. Trust me, I’ll be all over the tournament in mere minutes. But, not until after the power play’s over.
3:56 PM: NMU killed the power play. Reid Ellingson looks good.
4:10 PM: I’m back. After a long time of editing my work and making sure there’s an internet connection, I’m here. The shot charts are coming out. NMU’s got six on goal, compared to 13 by Notre Dame. I haven’t posted the stats – or story, or blog – from last night’s game, but trust me when I tell you that NMU having less shots than the opponent isn’t anything new. Ellingson has stopped all 13 shots on goal. The majority of the rest of ND’s 24 shots were blocked by the NMU defense. If only NMU could put it all together, because their defense is great right now.
4:14 PM: Second period in full swing. Ellingson still in net. Who knows? We might not even see Janzen tonight.
4:16 PM: I can hear “goofus,” a local sports fan. I saw him on the big screen during pre-game, but I can definitely hear his distinct, gravely voice right now.
4:17 PM: There’s a cotton candy vendor roaming about below us. I’d guess there’s less than 200 fans in the are he’s roaming, so I can only assume his efforts are futile. That said, the arena’s starting to fill up. I can only guess that the majority of peopl ewho bought tickets to today’s game are here for the championship at 7.
4:18 PM: Ellingson just bit on a fake, much like Stewart did last night for Michigan’s first goal. No harm, no foul, though; a defender blasted the puck out of the zone.
4:20 PM: NMU got one shot on its last power play, and Reid Ellingson’s inches from letting in his first goal. “One by one he lets them in, let’s them in,” in the background.
4:22 PM: Brant Marple’s in. He picked up a holding penalty. Good to see Marple getting some ice time, though. – During the powerplay, ND looks unimpressive. Ellingson looks good. 0-0. Can anyone say shutout?
4:24 PM: No, no one should ever say shutout. ND scores the first goal of the game, five hole on Ellingson. I’m told the goal went to Christian Hanson, #25 for the Irish. – assists 15 Minella and 4 VeNard. VeNard’s an assistant captain. How much longer until we see Janzen?
4:28 PM: I just announced that Duke was down to West Virginia. Thank you, ESPN insider. You’ve been very very good to me.
4:29 PM: Janzen’s in. 9:48 remaining in the second period. I like the move. I really like the way Walt’s approaching this game. The game’s still within reach, and Walt’s giving the young guys experience.
4:32 PM: Janzen hasn’t faced a lot of tough shots, but he’s staying solid. His bright yellow pads are highlights of his performance. They almost look retro. I’m a big fan.
4:35 PM: This is probably the first and last live blog you’ll see in this format. I can only imagine how upset you’d feel after clicking on the “breaking news” tag via our web site.
4:36 PM: Billy Smith is on the ice. That’s the same Billy Smith who got a game misconduct during last night’s contest.
4:39 PM: Great save by Derek Janzen. One member of the media gave a quick “ooo” after Janzen kick-saved the shot.
4:40 PM: It’s official. Duke lost. Good for everyone. Find the nearest fair-weather fan and yell at him or her.
4:42 PM: Billy Smith skates harder than anyone on the ice. He just forced a ND player into picking up a penalty to put NMU on the powerplay. Ian Cole – contact to the head is the call. 19:03 of the second. We’ll have a PP to start the third period.
Interesting note about Billy Smith: I heard on the People Mover on the way over that Smith and some ND players have relationships. Looking at the roster, I’m assuming it’s starting goaltender Jordan Pearce (from Anchorage, Alaska).
4:46 PM: The frozen t-shirt challenge. For the second time, we’ve got an NMU puckhead representing NMU. I’m happy – puckheads never say die. But, it’s the ND representative who wins.
4:48 PM: You know what’s great about hockey? The music that they play. Wildcat Willy is riding on the Zambonie, and the song played over the PA is “What’s New Pussycat” by Tom Jones. Come on, there’s not a better song to choose for that situation.
4:51 PM: Everyone is huddled around the spot where the pizza is delivered to. It’s Little Ceasers, people. Settle down. And yeah, I’m a little hungry.
4:55 PM: The Joe’s about as full as it was during the UM and Northern game last night. I can only assume the fans are just here early for the Championship.
4:59 PM: The Wire talk with a friend from home. I think he and I are the only students attending NMU that have any idea what The Wire is. If you’re wondering, it’s the best show on television. Correction, the best show that WAS on television.
5:01 PM: NMU’s on the scoreboard. Hartung scores on an assist from Siddall. That’s what I’m being told. I’d chalk the goal up to Hartung, for sure. Nice rebound goal on a shot that was bounced back to the middle by ND’s goaltender, Pearce. Goal came at 1:15 in the third period.
5:05 PM: Matt Siddall’s going out in style. He scored his last goal of his career – that is, barring any goals by ND in the following minutes, and a scoring barrage from Siddall. Jared Brown assisted on the play. Talk about youth to experience. Siddall’s 18th of the year.
5:08 PM: Some amazing saves by Janzen. Remember, though, a tie is the only way that Notre Dame doesn’t help themselves. Regardless, some fantastic goaltending from Janzen – standing on his head (not literally).
5:10 PM: Hard to say where the momentum is right now. You’ve got to give it to NMU because of the two late goals, but ND has been attacking hard in the last two or three minutes. 14 minutes left in regulation.