Friday, April 6, 2012

Florida Embarrassment

Gopher defenseman Ben Marshall cuddles up to BC winger Johnny Gaudreau while Kent Patterson makes the save.

The Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team's 2012 renaissance ended with a hard-fought but ultimately humiliating loss to Hockey East power Boston College 6-1 in the semi-finals of the NCAA national tournament in Tampa, FL on Thursday night. Unlike professional sports, where there is little reluctance on the part of the media or fans to criticize individual performance, college coaches, rather than players seem to get the blame for failure. While everyone is quick to justifiably credit BC goal tender Parker Milner for his part in the impressive win, the fact remains that the Gopher defensive crew failed to show up for the game. Ben Marshall in particular played poorly and the normally reliable Nate Schmidt had several lapses as well. BC forwards were able to cruise down the slot as Gopher defensemen failed to force them to the outside and were then unable to clear the puck.

Rather than accept defeat with class, the Minnesotan captain, Taylor Mattson, committed a blatant slash at the 11:10 mark of the third period and team mate Nate Condon was given a 5 minute major penalty and game suspension for hooking the head of a BC player in the melee that followed. A sad ending to what had been an exciting and positive season for Gopher hockey.

The 2003 Gopher victory in the national championship game resulted in serious student misbehavior and vandalism in the Dinkytown business district adjoining the Minneapolis campus. Authorities were ready this time. Even though it was a Thursday night, with the dedicated student body preparing for the grind of classes the following day, and the game itself only a semi-final, squad cars from both the Minneapolis Police and the University Police were on every block. Five helmeted cops on horseback rode down the street in formation, dallied at the intersection of 14th & 4th street, and then ambled off. The only cops seen on foot were two that double parked with their emergency lights on while they went in to buy cigarettes. There was no disturbance, probably because they were there.

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