[* This May Take More Than One Column, Maybe Several – my feeble attempt at twittering, or is it tweeting?]
Where do we begin? We have several games and assorted other fun and legal things to cover. (And I have to note, the staff photographer hit the internet with almost 600 photos from the last four basketball games the night before . . .) I have been chastised by our legions of readers for not “publishing” anything since the senior shovelers. The supervisor and I were preparing for our THIRD trip of the week – this one even involved an overnight, which, of course, requires packing. It was Wednesday morning, and we were heading down to the Big Cities for the girls state hockey tournament. Such is the magnitude of this event that I even went to a car wash before we left – something we haven’t been able to do since November and I’d forgotten the color of the car! I even took out the floor mats and washed out three months of winter debris.
The temperature was in the mid-20’s as went entered the southbound lanes on I-94. The pavement was clear and dry. But as we continued apace, we kept noticing the car’s outdoor thermometer was creeping up (this was a far cry from the 26 below zero temps the day we made this trip in 2008). It soon became evident the carwash was for naught. By the time we reached the outskirts of the metropolis, the roads were wet and slushy from melting snow and the car’s original cinnamon color had once again turned to the color of ashy dried mud.
We reached the Xcel Energy Center parking garage in plenty of time for our 3:00 dining appoinment with whomever else was going to show up at Cossetta’s on W. 7th Street, one block from the arena. We browsed the displayed goodies in admiration – pledging to return at the completion of the hockey game to acquire a loaf of peasant bread and some Fontinella cheese, delicacies not always available in our fair city. The Illies, Drown, and Kopischke hockey families – with several offspring in tow – appeared shortly after we arrived. That’s when we got our first piece of bad news. Sara Illies reported that her daughter, Claire, the team’s leading scorer, was really sick and may not play. We were then joined by Alex alums, Greg Johnson, class of ’65 (mine), and Al Grundei, class of ’67, who was also going to the game. We had a nice leisurely lunch of things dazzling to the taste buds (yes, these trips are always about eating), and then departed for the “X.” As we were heading out, we ran into the Herd hockey famly, who had to report their daughter, Shanee’, was not feeling too good either. Things were looking bleaker.
[Buying our game tickets at the X.]
[Pre-game nosh @ Cossetta’s with alums Greg Johnson, Al Grundie, and this reporter.]
But the above is not to establish an alibi. By the bad luck of the draw, we had been selected to play the No. 1 seed, the “Marvin Windows Team USA All-Stars.” Even a totally healthy Cardinal team would have been overmatched. The “All-Stars” won, 7-0. Claire and Shanee’ and the team played as well as they could. The highlight of the game was that Sam Ellingson, a senior who seldom gets ice time, got a chance to play in a state tournament game as it was winding down (though a Cardinal fan did note that the “All-Stars” still had their top line in at the time). I subsequently wrote the following letter to the Minneapolis StarTribune, which won’t be published of course:
Returning once again to “The Fairness Doctrine.” No, not that one – the one that determines the class system for the Minnesota State High School League.
I just returned from the girls state hockey tournament. Warroad plays in class A. They are a college team. They are not made up of players from the Warroad school system. In fact, we call them the Marvin Windows Team USA All-Stars – most hockey followers think they are the best team in the state regardless of class. They are very good – but they are playing against small town teams playing with their own kids. So are teams such as So. St. Paul, Blake and Breck, who opt to play in class A. I have no problem with teams who choose to go the recruiting route – although I do feel for the players in those places who then don’t get a chance to play. But they should be required to play in class 2A. Recruiting for players takes student population out of the equation in determining class.
Of the first six games in the girls class A hockey tournament, only two were competitive: the games between Eveleth-Gilbert and Red Wing, and between Red Wing and Alexandria. These schools play with their own kids – and they were the most fun games to watch. Isn’t that the idea of state tournaments – competitive balance?
Well, if you have a high horse, you have to ride it once in a while.
[Game 1 @ the X, we were joined by Grundei and Robo.]
The pre-game intros video:
And finally, because it is in my contract, the announcement and subsequent cancellation of Skilly & Duff’s performance tonight. Mikko was also afflicted by whatever is going around, as were Super Fans, Dusty and Joy Johnson, who were unable to attend the games.