I was lucky enough to be one of the approximately 250 Gopher fans at last weekend’s US Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Las Vegas. The #5 Gophers were upset by #17 North Dakota 3-1. I would call them the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, but it was pretty clear that the sea of green that invaded the Orleans Casino remained very much North Dakota Sioux fans, forever. At one point, I played a game with my brother where we tried to find one fan, any fan, with UND Fighting Hawks gear on. We found one girl in a Fighting Hawks T-shirt, but we are pretty sure she was being dragged into the women’s bathroom to be waterboarded or given a swirlie in the toilet. Yes, despite what the NCAA says, North Dakota remains, firmly and proudly, the Fighting Sioux.
I hesitated to write this article knowing the only Gopher fans who attended the game in-person either worked for the U of M or were on the Nanne family tree. And probably even fewer spent the $14 on ncshc.tv to watch it. That being said, what you need to know is, this hockey game was brutal. Justin Bieber just shaved his head this week, and he still had more flow than this hockey game. It was U-G-L-Y. The game was so murky and mucky it made you wonder if they froze hot-dog water to make the ice.
The US Hockey Hall of Fame Game had less flow than Bieber.
If forced to hand out Stars of the Game for this abysmal hockey game, the first star would go to the Orleans Arena staff who came out to fix loose plexiglass, disrupting play approximately every 90 seconds. The second star would have been given to the Golden Knights ice crew, who were on the ice shoveling more than the teams were actually playing. You’ve heard of racing on a muddy track? Well, this game was quicksand. I love Vegas, and I promise I’m not being a sore loser, but from a pure hockey standpoint, I’m not sure I’ve seen a hockey game with less flow. A Las Vegas “striptease” is being generous. Okay, so most of you weren’t there, and didn’t watch. Don’t worry, I’m going to make this article worth your while. Stick with me! Here are the four things you need to know about the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game between the U of M and UND last weekend.
The Orleans Arena staff spent as much time on the ice as the players.
#4 The North Dakota Fan Base Is Truly Special.
Even as a Gopher fan, I must say the North Dakota fans are unbelievable. I know us city folks will roll our eyes and say, “Well, it’s all they have.” But let me tell you, that entire arena was full of jersey clad UND fans who had been tailgating the entire day. College football teams will often be awarded a bowl game based on how well their fan base “travels.” Well, pencil UND in for the hockey equivalent of the College Football Playoff National Championship, because the Orleans Arena was transformed into Grand Forks last Saturday night. It was eerie to be at a hockey game with only one fan base represented. It sounded different. It felt different. And as much as I hate the Sioux, I have mad respect for their rabid fans. As a Gopher fan, I shudder to imagine what that venue would have looked like had we been the home team.
#3 And Third Star of the Game Goes to . . .
With the Orleans Arena staff and Vegas Knights ice crew taking the first and second star, you might think the third star would go to a player. Perhaps UND Captain Colton Poolman, who scored two of the three UND goals. Nope, third star goes to the UND super fan who kept waving his hands along the boards to let the arena staff know the glass had become slightly dislodged over and over again. I’m not sure if this guy was trying to earn his Responsibility merit badge, or if he had scheduled a Lyft pickup for 10:30 pm and wanted to extend the game as long as he could, but damn if he didn’t wave his arm every forty seconds to be personally responsible for at least two dozen stoppages of play. You’ve heard of the boy who cried wolf? Well, let’s call this guy “the man who cried Sioux,” because he single-handedly removed all flow from this hockey game. Adding insult to injury, every time Mr. Responsibility flagged down the arena staff for repairs, he did it with all the dorky intensity of the kid who raised his hand “ooh ooh ooh” in class back in grade school.
The glass is loose again! The glass is loose again!
#2 Drinking at College Hockey Is an Excellent Idea.
@GopherSports, you know the only thing better than cawlidge hawkey? Cawlidge hawkey with beer and cocktails! While the hockey game itself was sloppy, the fan experience was amazing. The Orleans Casino had set up open-air tailgating for pre- and post-game festivities right next to the rink. There is just something so honest about having one Coors Light per period, or even better, taking a tequila soda back to your seat as you prepare to numb the senses as you watch a UND military parade masquerading as a hockey game.
I’m not saying tapping a few kegs at Mariucci will immediately transform our passive-aggressive fan base into the sea of green that was Sioux Nation this weekend in Vegas, but it can’t hurt. After a few barley pops, I’d at least hope the Gopher fans might tell a dirty Ole and Lena joke or sing the Rouser a few decibels louder.
Another stoppage in play? Let’s shovel!
#1 All Was Not Lost. Jack Ramsey’s Mustache Is Everything.
Someone please check the birth certificate on Gopher Senior Jack Ramsey. He is either 33 years old, or the son of Sam Elliott, or both. You’ve heard of a man with a mustache? Well, Jack Ramsey is a mustache with a man attached. This Tombstone-caliber caterpillar literally was so great, he drowned out all the North Dakota PTSD I suffered from the weekend. Whenever a drunk Sioux fan came up to me, I would just drown him out and think of Jack’s mustache. It worked; the memory of his mustache was so powerful it acted as my own personal noise-canceling headphones.
The more I think about it, there is only Jack Ramsey’s mustache. It’s all that matters. Jack’s mustache confuses me, making me wonder, “Did the Gophers actually win the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game?” It’s so confusing. Actually, Jack Ramsey’s mustache should be first star of the game. And Jack Ramsey himself should be second star for choosing to have this mustache. And while we’re at it, let’s make Jack Ramsey’s razor third star for not shaving off the mustache.
I need to know more. Will Jack Ramsey’s mustache have its own Twitter or Instagram soon? Will we be able to vote for Jack Ramsey’s mustache on November 6? If not officially on the ballot, will Jack Ramsey’s mustache endorse a candidate? Was it Jack Ramsey’s mustache that kept dislodging the glass that night? Is Brian Boyle Jack Ramsey’s godfather? If Jack Ramsey did 23andMe, would Doc Holliday and Rollie Fingers both show up as distant relatives? Should we appeal the Big Ten to see if Jack Ramsey can play the rest of the season in a duster and Stetson? Is Netflix in talks to create a limited series about Jack Ramsey’s mustache? Should Jack Ramsey’s mustache have a podcast? No! that’s a trick question, because you’d want to see his mustache, so a podcast is a dumb idea, obviously.
Jack’s father, Mike Ramsey, was a member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. When we asked Jack what his dad thought of his mustache (i.e., the Miracle under Muzzle) he said, “My dad a few weeks ago told me I look like a walrus and to shave because I didn’t look like his son. But now he’s gotten a little used to it.”
If there were a silver lining to the disappointing Vegas weekend, it was indeed Jack Ramsey’s gold medal mustache. When we asked Ramsey how the mustache had changed his game, he said, “Believe it or not, I’ve got compliments before faceoffs. The kids in Ann Arbor against the U18 team were particularly fond of it—probably because they’re a little younger and they can’t grow a mustache. They really liked it. So, guys give me compliments, which I really appreciate.”
On an otherwise bleak weekend for the Golden Gophers, Jack Ramsey’s mustache gives us all hope for the season ahead. I’ll be your huckleberry!
Jack Ramsey’s mustache is more glorious than the Bellagio fountain.