Category: Opinion

Opinion/Thoughts on: Lake Superior State Are Your GLI Champions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOO! THE LAKERS WON THE GLI.

*deep breath*

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. I’ve been flying high (mostly) since Monday evening, and needed to take some time before writing about my time in Detroit, and the GLI itself. 

WARNING: What follows attempts to be structured, but may look like word vomit. I am still excited, and just wanted to get my real feelings on this event out there.

Ever since the news came out that the Lakers were going to be playing at the GLI, and the final dates were set, I’ve been moving full speed ahead towards going to the game. Making sure my colleague at work would cover my on call, seeing who was all going, figuring out where to stay & how the hell to move around the city. But was it worth it.

First, let me say that I was really impressed with Detroit. The city was lovely as were the people. The food was good. The only bad thing I will say was the traffic a few of the nights, but I guess that can’t be helped.

As for the tournament: Having only been in 1 NHL stadium before (the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia), I was pretty impressed by Little Ceasers Arena. Mostly. From the road, it would be easy to miss that you have a stadium where it’s at, since the facade is made to look like a set of restaurants or bars from the street. Now, I understand that it’s not for everyone, but I thought it was a clever use of the space.

An aside: Despite the history of both the Red Wings and the Pistons, there was a distinct lack of memorabilia. Under some of the escalators featured some pieces, the store had a few, and they had the player statues from the Joe. But with the amount of dead space on the walls around the stadium, they could certainly add more, in much the same way as the Flyer had done.

ANYWAYS!

We made it to the stadium about halfway through the second period of the Michigan Tech-Michigan game, and it was very entertaining. It’s always fun to see former CCHA rivals in person, though we did see them earlier in the year. But despite it being a good game, lets face it, I wasn’t there for Tech or Michigan…I was there for our boys in blue.

Despite Michigan State being a much worse team (on paper at least), they certainly kept up with the Lakers, forcing overtime to make it that much more interesting. And until that overtime goal, I had been trying my best to not imagine the Lakers being in the final. My heart wouldn’t have been able to handle that kind of heartbreak.

But woo boy. Onto the all U.P Final.

The consolation game was all I ever wanted to see from a Michigan-Michigan State game, essentially a line  brawl, with a goalie thrown in the mix. Of course, not having a clear cut winner of the game was disappointing, but that would’ve delayed what we were there to see…

 

Lake Superior State University at Michigan Tech!

 

The Lakers certainly looked good out of the gate, but allowed the Huskies to come back and tie it up, both at 2-2. The Lakers would go on to get two more, going up 4-2 before the Huskies got to 4-3. Then the first open-net.

 

Then the second empty net with less than a minute. My eyes started to well up. They did it. The boys did it.

 

It was all I could do to keep from openly crying as that clock was counting down, and the final horn rang out. The guys jumping over the board, surrounding Kossoff, celebrating. Seeing the MTU officials come onto the ice with the trophy and banner, handing both to the captains. Seeing them lift the trophy as if it was Lord Stanley’s cup itself. Knowing that the name of our school will be hanging in the rafters for the next year warms my heart, and makes me tear up just a little bit.

You may be asking yourself why. Why get so emotional? But for anyone who has followed the Lakers for any time can attest: While some good players and teams have come and gone since the championship years of the early-mid 90’s, there really hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer for. Mediocre records, no real deep playoff runs, haven’t won a conference since 95 or 96, which was the last tournament appearance.

But the GLI is one of the most well known tournaments in college hockey. Especially here in the great state of Michigan. It’s something to be proud of, to be able to hold high and to not only win it, but to really dominate their in-conference opponent makes it even sweeter.

So I would like to thank the team for giving me a weekend I don’t think I’ll ever forget. And since I know this will get to him, and despite our differences, thank you too, Coach Whitten, for having this team come together to what many across college hockey thought was an impossible feat. And I hope that our athletic department does something special for this. Maybe blowing up the team photo, like the one seen above, and put it up somewhere in Abel Arena?

I don’t know how the rest of the season is going to go, and even if I had a crystal ball, I’m not sure I would want to know. But what I do know is that for the first time in a while, I am really excited for this team, and I think we have a real shot at doing something this season, at least within the WCHA. Maybe the NCAA tournament is a lofty goal, but it’s one I do hope to see.

Opinion: Keep Senior Night a special occasion

Note: The following does not represent this blog at large. It is only the opinion of the article’s author, and does not mean to represent the opinion of LakerHockeyBlog, LSSU, or any media partners.

I have admittedly not followed Laker hockey as long as most.  The “glory years” when Lake Superior State assembled world-beating teams are something I bore no witness to.  Nevertheless, so many traditions of the program have made a profound impression on me.  From the ringing of the Victory Bell to competing for the Father Cappo Cup to  hearing Bill Crawford call the away games, so many of the traditions fans see and hear are what make Laker Hockey special.  

This coming weekend will see another longstanding tradition – Senior Night.

Four seniors – J.T. Henke, Kyle Chatham, assistant captain Ryan Renz and captain Aiden Wright – will take one final lap around the Taffy Abel Arena, while fans cheer and applaud the achievements of each individual.  

Last year saw a change to the festivities that will carry over to this year as well – the senior recognition will take place before the game as opposed to after.

Many things came together to make the postgame Senior Night celebration special.  Each senior coming down the tunnel one by one, skating to the north goal line, where the rest of the team stood, skating along the other side, past the visitor’s bench (which usually had fans in it) to the south goal line, where parents and other loved ones stood.  Throughout this, the achievements of each player were read to those in attendance.  The lights were turned off and spotlights followed the players while they made their final lap.  

Traditionally the event has been held after the conclusion of the game for many reasons.  Logistically, there is little time between pregame warm-ups and the start of the hockey game.  Large senior classes would have an exceptionally difficult time getting everybody to have his moment.

The 2013-14 Lakers had eight seniors to celebrate.  Eight.  Imagine trying to squeeze them all in to a pregame ceremony while keeping it special as Lake State has done for so long.

I stood on the visitor’s bench a few times, taking pictures.  The emotion on the players’ faces said it all – the end of their Laker careers was upon them.  

Following the ceremony, some players can skate right to the dressing room.  Others take more time.  A few have laid down with their backs on the ice, trying to take it all in.  

I have seen senior night at other places – specifically Northern Michigan.  The recognition took place before the game and was a quick listing of the seniors’ names with the players standing on the blue line.  I recall it not being a particularly inspiring or moving ceremony.

What we have here at Lake Superior State is a very special event.  I feel as though moving the ceremony to before the game takes away from what makes it so special.

Opinion: Mid Semester Signings

Note: This article does not represent this blog at large. It is only the opinion of the article’s author, and does not mean to represent the opinion of LakerHockeyBlog, LSSU, or any media partners.

I was hoping we weren’t going to see another mid semester signing after the headache that was Owen Headrick’s departure last season, who played in one series post-Christmas, and left just a few days before the start of the next series, leaving the team scrambling to pick up the pieces and fill in his role.

Now, whereas Headrick played in nearly every game during his tenure here, C.J. had only played in three games this season for the Blue & Gold, so it doesn’t leave a large of a hole in the team as it could have.

But really, that point shouldn’t matter. What matters is that you committed to a team, and you should see through that commitment until there is a break. Leave at Christmas: it gives the coaches time to fill the gap in the team with your departure, or during the summer. Leaving in the middle of a semester, without certain outstanding circumstances, is just low.

Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t understand this departure. Wanting to play and not being able to play must really suck, and in that I can’t really blame C.J. for leaving. No matter what you’re passionate about, or if it’s something you’ve dedicated your life to, you want to do as much of that as possible, and he wasn’t getting that here for whatever reason. And when you get a chance to play, and also get paid (well, paid is probably a strong term for the SPHL), then why wouldn’t you?

It still rubs me the wrong way though. Whenever I’ve interacted with C.J., he seemed like a nice guy, but it’s hard for me to see him in that same light with this signing. Put in the time and effort to earn your spot on the roster back. Work on face offs, hand-eye coordination to tip in pucks in front of the net, basically any skill that the team doesn’t have enough individuals for. Make the coaching staff question: Should we put in X because of his Offensive prowess, or his two-way play, or should we put in Y for winning face offs, or going to those dirty areas on the power play?

Yes, the Lakers have had a rough season to say the least, but it’s easy enough to see the team through rose-colored glasses and say that there’s ‘always next weekend’ or ‘always next year’. It’s a bit harder to do that when a player up and leaves in the middle of a season, let alone a semester.

Maybe there’s more to it than playing time; something in the locker room that us, as the general public, may never know about. If that’s the case, then it needs to get resolved ASAP. But from where I’m standing, I think it’s just a matter of playing time, or lack thereof.

So, despite my feelings about him leaving, I do wish C.J. the best in Southaven and for whatever else the future may hold for him.