[* This May Take More Than One Column, Maybe Several]
[2nd period face-off in Ridder Arena.]
Column II, or the consolation game of the girls state hockey tournament. After the defeat at the hands and skates of the “Marvin Windows Team USA All-Stars,” the supervisor and I, absent a corps of revelers willing to join us at the St. Paul Hotel bar, headed to Mounds View for an overnight with Brother Cam’s family. As is now a common occurrence in the elderly who seldom visit the Big Cities anymore, we took several wrong turns along the way. We eventually made it, where we partied a bit with Karen, Cam, Katy and Michael – brownies by Katy and lemon and blueberry bread by Cam were delicious menu items. I was told that when we ventured to our sleeping quarters, I turned on the TV and fell asleep almost before I hit the bed.
In the morning, we headed down to the “U” where the Cards were playing Red Wing, a first night loser to Eveleth-Gilbert, 5-2. Robo stayed to scout the game and reported that while Red Wing was young and not very deep, they had some excellent players. He said they lost to Eveleth’s superior depth in the 3rd period, but it was a tie game until then. Through two periods, the Cards and Wingers seemed evenly matched. But the Cards had regressed to their late season propensity of giving up soft goals and were behind 3-0 going into the 3rd period. It didn’t help that in the totally unbiased opinion of Card fans, we weren’t getting a fair shake from the officials. At one time, we thought the Cards had scored as the goal light came on. Then, after a meeting of the minds, the refs decided that not only had the Cards not scored, they determined that even though play had stopped when the goal light came on, they moved the face-off outside the zone because a Card had accidentally knocked the goal post off its peg (again, after the goal light!). Around that same time, there were a couple of bad penalty calls – and some that weren’t called that should have been. In exasperation, Coach Mitch Loch used his one and only timeout then – more of a cooling off for him and the team, because he never addressed the team during the timeout. It was obvious the only purpose in calling it was to show the officials he wasn’t happy with the play calling.
[The line of Claire Illies, Becca Illies, and Shelby Iverson.]
[Robo and the Card fans.]
The Cards came out on a mission in the 3rd period, and Rachel Finley scored to pull the Cards within 2. Then we got loose on defense again and gave it back almost immediately. The Cards continued to pressure, and on a power play, Shelby Iverson drew the puck back to Claire Illlies two times in a row – the goalie caught and held onto the 1st shot, Claire’s second shot hit the 5-hole, and the Cards were behind by 2 again. Then Red Wing scored again! Though the Cards controlled the 3rd period, outshooting the Wingers 14-7, and 37-30, for the game, they lost 5-2. It was a good competitive game, and the Cards played hard to the end. With everyone back next year except for Claire, and with lots of talent in the pipeline, I suspect we will be favored to return to state again next year.
Highlight of the game (and I apologize for not mentioning it to her dad at the basketball game last night): I noted in the first game report that Claire was really sick and wasn’t sure if she could play. Before the Red Wing game, the team was sitting together in the stands – except for Claire, who was lying down and feeling really crumby (“really crumby” in medical parlance means “I wish I was home in bed.”). We don’t call her the world’s toughest 80-pounder for nothing. She played the whole game again – and in the 3rd period, with Red Wing on a power play, Claire controlled the puck with great stick handling for what seemed like a full minute with the entire Red Wing team chasing her around. It was an unbelievable display. Next year, we’ll have her little sister Becca play that role.
We raced back home to Alex – with the new gas prices, now a $60.00 roundtrip. The Card basketball team had a game that night. After we enjoyed a two-minute nap, we were getting ready to go when the supervisor shouted (I almost knocked over my glass of Geritol), “Where’s your camera??” There were six deer in our yard – we haven’t seen deer in the yard for years.
[Deer don’t wear snowshoes – they would occasionally sink in walkng through drifts.]
THIS JUST IN: So. St. Paul beat Breck 1-0 to advance to the championship game in Class A. The Cards beat So. St. Paul, 3-2, in the season opener. We’re not that far away!
THIS JUST IN, II: Warroad – 9, Eveleth-Gilbert – 0. Really makes my point, huh? There were Eveleth-Gilbert fans around us the first night – they thought they could beat Warroad. We just laughed. Alex did better against Warroad – and we likely could have been the 4th seed, or the true No. 1 in “Class A.” Alex, Red Wing, Hutchinson, and Eveleth are all pretty similar – New Ulm is still a ways back. The other three “Class A” teams in the tournament all recruit – So. St. Paul, Breck, and Warroad. Move ’em up.
From the Echo, photos from the section finals v. Fergus: