If anyone missed it, the Huskies swept the Alaska Nanooks this past week in Houghton. Them Dogs poured in four goals in a third period barrage on Friday to score a 5-2 victory. They followed that on Saturday with a come-from-behind, back-and-forth struggle, picking up a 4-3 triumph as Joel L’Esperance broke a long scoring drought with a tip-in from a Mark Auk shot with 1:06 left in the game.
The Old Dog had an interesting time following the Huskies this past weekend. On Friday night, I was “An Old Dog in Mexico” as I was finishing up a trip for work with an overnight stay at the airport in Monterrey. Watching the game alone in a hotel room could be less than thrilling, but THG’s Discord site always provides a great way to enjoy the game with Husky partisans. It takes a bit of juggling between the broadcast and Discord to get into the flow, but once you get the hang of how it works, it’s a lot like sitting around with friends to share pain and thrills with like-minded Tech fans.
After Tech roared out of the gate to a 1-0 lead on a Mitch Meek goal, the Discord Dogs (the Old Dog included) moaned and groaned when the Husky powerplay suffered from a zero-shot blackout in the middle of the first period. When they got a second powerplay at the 15:52 mark, the Old Dog heard Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer” on the PA from the JMac.
Huh? Had things gotten so bad that we have to pray when Tech gets the man advantage? So I asked the Discord Dogs “Why ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ for a powerplay?” Bob Gilreath, THG’s home ice photographer, who was home suffering with the flu or virus or whatever seems to be affecting a lot of people, shot back “Because they saw the first powerplay.” Bah-Da-Boom!
When Alaska tied it up on a late 5-3 powerplay goal, you could feel the air go out of the virtual room, as the Discord Dogs chimed in with their disappointment after Tech dominated the period but (for the umpteenth time this season) went to the locker room tied. Then, during a lackluster second period, there was plenty of pain to share and complaints to post as the Huskies followed an all-too-familiar script for a mid-game flat spot. Without much to get excited about, the Discord discussion went flat, too, talking about the teams taking penalties and committing turnovers, as the game took on a tone that probably caused both Joe Shawhan and Alaska coach Lance West to want to pull out their hair.
In the third, after Meek notched his second straight goal at the 2:10 mark, there was joy—but it was short lived as Dane Birks was soon sent off for high sticking. At that point, I suggested we rename the penalty box The Dog House. Or, as Discord Dog bose301s said, “You’d swear we were cats by how much we like to be in the box.”
When Raymond Brice put Tech up 3-1 just past the halfway mark in the period, we all started to feel good about the game. Then, as this year’s team seems to do, they let the air out of our Discord Party Balloon by giving up a goal just 15 seconds later (More than a few of the comments can’t be repeated here…).
But then Auk notched a powerplay goal and Thomas Beretta added an almost-empty-net goal when he fired one from center ice a moment after Nanook goalie Anton Martinsson had just started to his bench for an extra attacker. The joy was back, and the D-Dogs were mostly happy—except for worrying about Saturday.
The next night I was back home, and was able to enjoy the game both with my pals on Discord as well as with Mrs. Dog. We’ve been married for almost 45 years, and Mrs. Dog is a Tech grad, too—and she loves hockey, particularly Huskies hockey, even more than I do. She has her own NHL Center Ice subscription, and, when we lived in Livonia, I would occasionally come home from work during hockey season and find her watching a Livonia Mite game on local-access TV.
The Discord Dogs were uncharacteristically silent after sloppy defense from Tech allowed the Nanooks to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. When Seamus Donohue scored on the powerplay from the blue line with just five seconds left in the first period, the D-Dogs perked up. But with the Huskies spending 6 of the first 9 minutes in the second period short-handed, we were all thinking we were watching the same bad movie we saw against Arizona State in the Ice Vegas tournament.
After Justin Misiak tied it up at 12:34, D-Dog regular The Troll chimed in, “Bingo Bango! Now just stay out of the box.” Mrs. Dog saw the comment and told me, “I’ll drink to that.” I relayed the message, and the The Troll responded, “I’ll drink to that, too. LOL.”
When Beretta put Tech ahead 3-2 late in the period, a lot of banter about beer and wine ensued, including bose301s posting a video clip from South Park about wine. The on-line party was rolling now, and we were all having a great time as it seemed like we were watching the game in some kind of virtual Ambo-DT reality.
Five minutes into the third period, though, the actual-reality of this year’s MTU team pinged us back, as Alaska tied it up at 3-3 on a quick powerplay goal. More expressions of pain, not all of them printable, ensued. The contest then became a struggle, as the Huskies seemed to retreat and the Nanooks looked like they just wanted to leave town with at least one point.
With overtime looming, I asked the Discord Dogs, “Anyone recall when Tech last had a good chance?” Bob G. then said “1981?” Bah-Dah-Boom again! But the real boom came moments later with Auk and L’Esperance teaming up for the winning goal. The D-Dogs were lovin’ it but also feeling great relief. Again, not all of the comments were family-friendly, particularly a couple from Mrs. Dog.
After Tech weathered the last 21 seconds killing a penalty against a 6 on 4 attack, the D-Dogs exploded with joy mixed with relief. This team does that to you—for every thrill, they seem to make you squirm in equal parts of frustration. But it’s a lot more fun when you’re sharing it with the Discord Dogs.
Whether you are watching the game at the rink, on the WCHA internet feed, or just listening to Dirk Hembroff on Mix 93, you might want to join us. It’s a great way to enjoy the Huskies, even if they do give The Old Dog heartburn way too often. Look for the Discord link on the THG home page, and join us for the fun.
Correction: In my column about “What Happens in Vegas Ain’t Stayin’ In Vegas!” on January 10th, I incorrectly wrote that Bob Carnahan had graduated in 1951. It was actually 1953, and as Bob puts it, “from MCM&T” or Michigan College of Mining & Technology, as Tech was known between 1927 and 1964.