Wednesday, March 21, 2012

As Good As It Gets

When BU and the U's rivalry was at its the Disco era.

I know what you're thinking when reading this title... Jack Nicholson pursuing the lovely Helen Hunt in the classic 1998 film. Well, let the great Paul Rome remind you that you are wrong. Very wrong. Before I forget, mad props to Uncle Jim for spurning those underpaying jokers at ESPN and bolting to CBS. Let this be a reminder to you Ben, Big Ken, and D the Producer that Paul Rome will be bolting for Gopherhole or other beloved MN sports blogs unless D the Producer starts becoming D the Cash Producer. In other words, Paul Rome might be out!

Alright, now that I've made my potential contract holdout public, time to get back to thought one. For a Gopher hockey fan, this weekend's NCAA West Regional at the X is as good as it gets. It does not get any better than two of the U of M's fiercest historical rivals competing with our beloved hockey team in the true March Madness tournament known as the NCAA Hockey Tournament.

Let's start with the Terriers of Boston University. This was the premier college hockey rivalry in the 70s...Gophers vs. Terriers. Back in '71, BU beat Goldy 4-2 to win the national title. Fast forward to '74 where the maroon and gold knocked off the Terriers in the NCAA semi-finals in their own backyard of Boston 5-4. The Gophers would go on to win their first national championship. '76 was the same story...Gophers tame the dogs 4-2 in Denver in the NCAA semis and go on to capture NCAA title #2. BU exacted revenge in back to back years in 94-95 as they beat the U at the St. Paul Civic Center in the NCAA tourney and did it again in Providence the following year. Overall, Gophers hold a slight 4-3 edge over legendary coach Jack Parker's Terriers in the NCAA tourney, but BU leads the all time series 11-12-2.

Ya know, all this Boston talk brings back memories of Paul Rome's one encounter with some hockey players from Massachusetts. Emperor Rome was filming highlights (during my TV days) of the UMD/UMass-Lowell (UML) hockey series from the press box in the DECC (the crappiest sports arena of all time I might add) many years ago. Sitting next to him in the press box were a couple healthy scratches from the UML squad. As Rome was getting the footage, these two guys kept raving about the Super 8 high school state hockey tournament in Boston and how its so awesome. Rome stared a hole through these punks and told them it was a joke compared to Minnesota's HS hockey tourney.

Their foolishness didn't end there. They then started raving about this movie that was apparently so awesome. The movie dealt with some mobsters in Boston. Native dope Matt Damon played a crooked cop who was helping out mob kingpin Jack Nicholson. Trying to stop their shenanigans was undercover cop Leonardo Dicaprio, who made Barney Fife look like John McClane from Die Hard.. Long story short...this movie really sucked and these guys made it sound like it was the greatest film to come out since "Speed."  Cool dudes and I enjoyed chatting with them, but the Beantown pride was a tad bit overboard when it came to "good" movies.

Back to the BU bit, as a Gopher fan I must despise them and do, but I love them for teaming up with our Gophers and several other MN kids to win the Gold in '80 in Lake Placid. Two enemies came together to make it happen. Let's not forget the MN and Bostonians hated each other in the beginning of "Miracle." I love the part when Jack O'Callahan keeps saying to Ralph Cox, "Why do you play college hockey?" Ralph slyly replies, "Isn't obvious for the girls?" Rome and Ralph need to hang. Jack was mad about the NCAA playoffs years earlier because the Gophers beat em. Jack was a sore loser.

Of the Miracle On Ice team, 12 were Minnesotans (9 Gophers) and 4 were Ben Affleck disciples (all 4 were Terriers). Come Saturday I expect a battle just like in the 70s between these two teams and I sure hope Lucia does something like this to fire the boys up....

On to North Dakota. What more needs to be said? They hate us, we hate them. UND hates us so much they put Gophers vs. North Dakota in their bubble/dome hockey games at the Ralph instead of the traditional US and USSR. I think that's sweet by the way. As much as I hate saying it, I have a lot of respect for North Dakota. Their fans are passionate like crazy and of all the main rivals of all Gopher and MN pro sports teams, UND is my favorite by far. Now I'm ticked as all hell about that hustling crap they pulled last Friday at the X where they had everyone in the world thinking they were gonna get blown out by the Gophs just to explode and own them in the third period. It was like when Sgt. Bilko acted like he didn't know how to play cards and then kept getting full houses like they were going out of style. Steve Martin is a card shark.

Numbers wise its about as even steven as it gets. North Dakota has 7 national titles, 10 WCHA playoff titles, and 15 MacNaughton Cups (WCHA regular season championships). The Gophers counter with 5 world heavyweight championships,  13 intercontinental titles, and 13 Macs. In head-to-head bouts, Goldy leads it 143-130-14. That's an insanely close tale of the tape.

Hopefully, the Gophers will show up for all three periods and take care of business this time around if they get by BU and take on the black and green. Minnesota is a better skating team than UND and I'm expecting a trip to the Frozen Four for Ski-U-Mah. The atmosphere for a UND-Gopher rematch in St. Paul would be insane. I'd love to see it, but the way North Dakota plays significantly better towards the latter part of the season, I'm all for a Western Michigan upset.

Hell, we already owned one rival this week...the lady Gophers made Bucky cry in the women's hockey title game in Duluth over the weekend. As my buddy Scott Hall would say, "That's just too sweeeetttt!" Let's give the lady Gophers there due respect and props. Here's to two more rivalry thrashings courtesy of the maroon and gold.

I'm Paul Rome and I am out!!

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