Fresh from our trip to Huntsville, The Old Dog once again welcomed almost thirty Tech alumni and family members from the Dallas-Fort Worth area for our sixth annual DFW Huskies Watch Party this past Saturday. Mrs. Dog (as always) did the hard work, setting up the food and baking UP pasties for everyone. I hung Tech and Bosch memorabilia on the walls, put out our Huskies flag on the front lawn, and welcomed everyone for our second double-header watch party.
With the Tech-Northwood football game slated to start at noon Eastern time—11 AM in Dallas—we opened the front door at 10 AM. Nicole Vavra and her husband John (a Texan from Mesquite, a Dallas suburb) were the first to arrive, and brought their adorable daughter Morgan.
Ann Marie Stimpson and her husband Lee were next. Ann Marie is our informal DFW Alumni leader, who’s held the DFW alumni together for almost ten years. We started our “watch party” in 2012 when we met at Buffalo Wild Wings to view a Tech hockey game against North Dakota. In 2013, Mrs. Dog and Old Dog moved the party to our house for football, and we added a hockey game for the first time last year.
The football game was delayed 30 minutes by snow in Houghton, so we opened some more beer and a couple bottles of Michigan wine, tossed together some Mimosas and caught up on both recent events and long-ago reminiscences with some of the other Old Dogs.
Once the game started, it went the way so many did this year, with the Huskies going back and forth with their opponent but then giving up a late touchdown to end up on the wrong end of the scoreboard. Near the end of the game, we raffled off a box of Husky memorabilia from the Alumni Association. The Old Dog won a coffee tumbler, and Mrs. Dog won a key chain. One of the best parts was no one wanted to take the little stuffed Husky, hoping that the either John or Nicole’s ticket would be drawn. On the next to last ticket, Nicole’s number was picked—and Morgan went home with the little Husky!
As Tech alums came and went during the day, we also watched the third period of Tech’s 5-4 win against Ferris State from Friday. Everyone was impressed with the frenzied pace of the game, and of course we all celebrated Justin Misiak’s late game winner when it came across the screen.
Finally, we were ready for the Saturday hockey game. After listening to Dirk Hembroff’s pre-game show on Mix93 via Pasty.Net, the puck dropped and we got to hoot and holler early when Tommy Parrattino opened the scoring with his second of the weekend. After watching the highlights of Friday’s game, everyone was into it. But Ferris answered less than three minutes later and added two more in the first seven minutes of the second period.
At that point, everyone starting to think that we were about to see a replay of the 2017 watch party, when Tech beat UAH on Friday, scored early on Saturday, but then saw Huntsville jump ahead and never let Tech back into the game. But not this time, as Jake Lucchini, doing his best Superman imitation, scored one at 9:41 of the second–then set up the tying goal by Dylan Steman just 1:05 later.
Now everyone was really into it, and we didn’t have to wait long before we were yelling and screaming again, when Lucchini added to his amazing weekend with another marker exactly four minutes after Steman’s goal. In just five minutes, Lucchini and Tech wiped out Ferris State’s two goal lead and had a 4-3 advantage. Our Texas Dog Pound was howling and enjoying it immensely.
Between the second and third period, the Old Dog caught up with the Discord Dogs on the chat line that THG hosts for the most avid Husky fans. I then noticed a comment from Tom Leonard, who lives in Muskegon, who was at the game in Big Rapids. After meeting Tom in Las Vegas last year, and seeing a custom shirt that Tom’s wife made using Tech logo fabric, we arranged to pay Tom to have one made for Mrs. Dog.
As luck would have it, Mrs. Dog had her shirt on for the game, and Tom was wearing one his. So we swapped photos!
With another round in hand, we settled in for what we thought might be a crazy third period. After all, the speed of play for the first five periods of the weekend was terrifically fast, almost manic with both teams never letting their foot off the gas or trying to slow the pace. The puck went back and forth so swiftly that some of us got a bit dizzy trying to keep up. It reminded the Old Dog of the way the Stanley Cup finals are usually played, with every rush up the ice ending with a serious scoring chance for someone.
While we never saw that pace slacken, Them Husky Dogs slapped the cuffs on the Bulldogs and never let them out of their dog house in the third period. FSU only managed two shots in the entire stanza, and Tech came away with a very impressive sweep in Big Rapids. And, lest we forget, the Huskies have had a great deal of trouble playing on the small rink at FSU the past few years–they were swept last season in one of their poorest displays of the entire season.
But not this time. Despite continuing trouble killing penalties (only 67% so far this season), Tech countered with their WCHA leading powerplay (10 goals in 40 chances in all conference and non-conference games) and refused to allow Ferris to use the small ice surface at Ewigleben Arena to gain the upper hand.
As we listened to the post game interview with Joe Shawhan, all of our guests who had spent the entire day totally immersed in the Husky Experience gathered to depart. As they say, “A good time was had by all!”
The next morning, Mrs. Dog noted that our recycling bin smelled like beer and the garbage can smelled like pasties. That’s a Yooper weekend in the Big D and a full measure of Husky Mania in Texas!
Note: Because I will be out of the country on business for some time, the Old Dog will be taking a break for the next two weeks. But I’ll be back after the Alaska series!