THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2013
Bus movies: The Hunger Games (last night), Horrible Bosses (this morning)
OMAHA, Neb. (3:16 p.m.) -- Today we learned first-hand that it is entirely possible to leave a day early for a trip and still be thrown off schedule.
We left Grand Forks last night following practice at about 6:30 p.m. and spent the night in Sioux Falls, S.D. This would enable the team to get to Omaha in time to be able to practice at its normal 3 p.m. time.
However, not long after leaving Sioux Falls, we were halted on I-29 by a bad auto accident that brought us to a complete standstill for about 30-40 minutes. We were backed up at least half a mile from the crash site, and numerous emergency vehicles passed by us en route to the scene.
When we finally got moving, it was clear that the accident had involved a semi-trailer and a half-ton truck pulling a horse trailer. The semi was completely jack-knifed on the median-side of the divided interstate, while the truck was in the shoulder-side ditch. Both were significantly damaged. The horse trailer was upright when we drove by, so not sure the status of any animals. As of this writing, the South Dakota Highway Patrol hadn't yet released a report, but media reports on Twitter indicated that at least one motorist was injured. Scary, scary stuff.
Despite the delay, we were still able to arrive at our hotel in Omaha at about 12:50. However, even though we got here nearly an hour after our scheduled arrival time, none of the rooms were ready due to a convention here that concludes tomorrow. Lunch wasn't quite ready either, so the guys had to hurry through a meal in order to get back on the bus at 1:30 to head over to practice.
The rooms still weren't ready by the time the guys left for practice, so radio man Tim Hennessy and director of hockey operations Pat Swanson did yeoman's work hauling everyone's personal luggage upstairs to a single room while the guys were at practice. Me? I grabbed a Diet Coke from the lounge and put on my supervisor's hat.
Finally, just before 3 p.m., I received the key to my room, just under three hours behind schedule.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter (shameless plug alert: @UNDSID) might recall my hotel misfortunes on our last trip to Omaha two years ago. It was a different hotel, but we were without hot water, air conditioning or a functioning vending machine.
If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Blais is behind all of this.
The team was able to bring every player on the roster for this trip. We were also joined on the bus by UND Athletics Director Brian Faison, whom we picked up at the Alerus Center on the way out of town. Brian had been attending the football team's signing day social.
Others in attendance this weekend will include UND President Dr. Robert Kelley, along with his wife Marcia, as well as National Collegiate Hockey Conference Commissioner Jim Scherr and NCHC Director of Operations Joe Novak.
Downtown Omaha is silent right now, but we all know that will change once the carloads and busloads of North Dakota falls roll into town.
9:41 p.m. -- Following practice, the team was treated to a tour of TD Ameritrade Park, where they were able to get a sneak-peak at the facilities they'll be using for Saturday's outdoor game.
Most of our players were tweeting pictures of the setup earlier tonight, so be sure to check those out if you haven't already.
After that, it was off to Anthony's for what I swear was a 17-course meal. Self-control not being one of my strengths, the sweat pants are going to come in awfully handy tonight.
11:39 p.m. -- If tonight is any indication of what's to come, there's going to be quite the contingent of UND fans here this weekend. Schlossman and I wandered up the street for a couple of hours and already a ton of green and white gear has infiltrated downtown Omaha.
We also had a chance to catch up with the NBC Sports Network announcers for Friday's game, Dan Parkhurst and Ken Hodge. Parkhurst has done several of our regional games in the past, and he's a pro's pro who is always eminently prepared.
Hodge is a former NHLer and a Boston College alum who was actually a teammate of Dave Hakstol's while they were both with the IHL's Minnesota Moose. I hadn't met Hodge prior to tonight, so I'm eager to see what he brings to the broadcast.
Both announcers will be at the morning skate tomorrow to chat with Hakstol and a handful of players as they prepare for the broadcast.
With that, an eventful travel day is in the books. Time to sign off from Day One in Omaha.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2013
1:19 p.m. -- After a rather hectic week for a regular season series, we are just hours from puck drop. Finally.
The team had a short, but brisk morning skate today, and the coaches were paid a friendly visit by UNO head coach Dean Blais and assistant coach Troy Jutting, formerly the head man at Minnesota State.
The NBC Sports announcers, Dan Parkhurst and Ken Hodge, were also there to chat with Coach Hakstol and Danny Kristo in preparation for tonight.
Speaking of tonight, the east coast winter weather has shut down the NBC Sports studio, which will mean some in-house ad-libbing tonight for Parkhurst and Hodge. They will now also interview a player from each team during the intermissions. Corban Knight will be their guest during the second intermission. Both announcers were scheduled to fly out tomorrow, but are now stranded here until at least Sunday.
For lunch, Through These Doors producers David Folske and Eric Classen joined me at a sports bar up the street from the hotel. Interesting to watch them both break down the graphics on 50 different TV screens the entire time. Always thinking, those fellas.
Check back later this afternoon for lineup information.
3:56 p.m. -- To the surprise of probably no one, Dave Hakstol is going with the same lineup that provided last Saturday's 4-1 win over Wisconsin:
Mi. MacMillan-Ma. MacMillan-St. Clair
Out: Gaarder, O'Donnell, Panzarella, Sanderson, Chyzyk, Maris
Referees: Don Adam, Todd Anderson
Linesmen: Chad Evers, Scott Fitzpatrick
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2013
10:30 a.m. -- Just a quick update for now as I struggle with this quick turnaround to put together some new game notes.
Was that a game last night, or what? At morning skate yesterday, Hakstol predicted it would be a "man's game" and was he ever right. Blocked shots, big hits, puck battles...that game had it all.
Tonight? Expected the unexpected.
Staying with last night, much of the talk surrounded the turnout of UND fans, which was at least 50/50 inside the arena. I urge you to check out last night's post game interviews with Hakstol and players. It's no secret UND fans travel exceptionally well, but the team seemed more moved than normal last night.
The team had a brief skate on the outdoor surface this morning. Everyone seemed pretty happy with the ice, although you can probably expect some crazy bounces off the boards and glass.
The forecast is now calling for 48 degrees at puck drop, with some sun breaking through at 5 p.m.
Check back later for lineup info.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2013
12:35 p.m. -- Junior defenseman Dillon Simpson, and his teammates, will spend his 20th birthday in Sisseton, S.D.
In the latest UND men’s hockey travel adventure, nasty winter weather and dangerous driving conditions have delayed its trip back from Omaha and the team has checked into a Sisseton hotel. The team actually left Omaha last night immediately following the game and was hopeful it could beat the impending blizzard back to Grand Forks. But slippery roads forced the team to pull of Interstate-29 near Summit, S.D., where the team tried to wait out the weather in a truck stop parking lot.
Once morning came, the team got back on the road but was only able to make it as far as Sisseton, where the Interstate was shut down literally in front of the team bus. Assistant coach Dane Jackson took a neat shot of a highway official lowering the gate in the middle of white-out conditions. You can check out that photo on Twitter at @UNDMHockey.
So Sisseton will be the team’s temporary home until it gets the go-ahead to try again.
But the team’s adventure doesn’t hold a candle to that of the NoDak Nation student fan bus. That bus also made it as far as Summit, staying in the same parking lot as the team bus, but has yet to leave. They are shacking up in the Summit community hall. Local residents were kind enough to prepare BBQ meals for the 60-plus loyal student fans, and the meals were personally delivered by Summit mayor Frank Eccles.
heard from the Fargo Forum, which is working on a story of the impact of the winter
storm. For (entertaining) updates from the NoDak Nation bus, I suggest you give
@NoDak_Nation a follow on Twitter.
As for me, I just checked into a motel in Sioux Falls for the day/night. My wife drove to Omaha to visit family and take in the outdoor game, so we made plans to ride back together today. Turned out to be a heck of a time for the team’s information director to not actually be with the team, huh?
So it goes. The trip that began Wednesday evening has now included a Thursday morning traffic delay, a 2-hour delay to check into our Omaha hotel, a 2 ½-hour delay to Saturday’s game, and now a likely Sunday night stay in South Dakota. Just another entry for the ol’ autobiography someday.
In the meantime, if you’ll excuse me, I need a nap.