Get well soon, Charlie Davies

Get well soon, Charlie Davies

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

BUMP: Less than one week.---make that: Less than one day.

Next Wednesday, Nov. 5, is going to be a good day. I'll wake up in the morning, and we'll have a new President-elect - most likely, hopefully, Barack Obama - but even if it's not, it won't be anyone with the last name 'Bush'. I'll slog my way through class. And then when 3:30 comes, we will hit the road, driving up to the BC women's hockey game against Dartmouth.

I don't think I can begin to convey to you the power that that one word - Dartmouth - has to me and Grant and Mike and the others who made the trip up to Thompson Arena on March 10
, 2007, to see the BC women's hockey team upset the Big Green and qualify for the Frozen Four. Just hearing the word Dartmouth, or seeing someone wearing a Dartmouth shirt, can throw me into a dream-like state, where I wander back to that March afternoon.

It was the scene of BC women's hockey's greatest all-time triumph, and the scene of the most fun road trip I've ever been a part of.

It was this game, I think, that made me want to start a blog like this one. I wanted a place to record what I saw and how I felt about things in the moment, so that I could go back in six months, a year, four years, and live through it all over again.

It's impossible to convey how much fun this was without giving at least a little bit of context. First of all, following a relatively unknown team in a relatively unknown sport can be, at its best, far more rewarding than following a bigger team. And throughout our first year of following BC women's hockey, the team developed the identity of a plucky underdog, a team that grinded out seemingly-impossible victories even when they were being outplayed.

Still, when the last weekend of the season came, BC was on the bubble to make NCAAs, and nothing was guaranteed. When the Eagles stunningly lost to Providence in the semifinal round of the Hockey East tournament, hope looked all but lost. But thanks to a) favorable results in conference tournaments, in which all of the favorites won, and b) the vagaries of the pairwise rankings, it became evident by late afternoon on "Selection Sunday" that BC would, in fact, be one of the eight teams playing for a national championship.

The only problem? #8 would, in theory, be paired off with #1 --- Wisconsin. In Wisconsin. That means no go for Grant, Mike and Joe. There was, however, one glimmer of hope. #6 was Harvard and #3 was Dartmouth - two ECAC teams - and the committee has been known to bend around the bracket to avoid intra-conference matchups in the first round. And there was a case for swapping BC with Harvard, as BC edged HU in their only head-to-head matchup of the year. In spite of this, however, it appeared BC was destined to go West - most likely futilely, as Wisconsin was an absolute buzzsaw that year, capable of shredding any opponent.

Then, at around 8 PM, the posting went up on - BC would face #3 Dartmouth at Thompson Arena. This prompted the first celebration of the week; not only did this give BC a better chance to win, it meant we could go to the game! [You have to realize that being a fan is, for the most part, a selfish activity. Fans don't try to share in or be happy for the accomplishments of the team, for the most part; we're happy for - or miserable for - ourselves. Is this logical? Not really. But that's how it is.]

Most observers of the women's game - including myself - predicted that Dartmouth would win the game, fairly handily; they were loaded with 5th-year seniors who had taken a year off in 2006 to play in the Olympics. This was "their year" to go bring the national title eastward. And many other observers felt that BC did not belong in the NCAAs - instead, another western team, such as Ohio State, was more deserving of the honor. The 'disrespect card' may be the most over-used cliche in sports, but it's always effective at making the experience more memorable for fans and players alike.

We rounded up [read: harrassed] as many people as we possibly could find into making the road trip with us to Dartmouth on Saturday, and much to our surprise, we got the biggest traveling party of the year - around eleven students - to make the trip. [Yes, this is a big deal to us, as usual crowds in the 'student section' that year were 3-4.] We made the long, long, long haul in a pair of ramshackle old vans, listening to an endless loop of the Murphys and the BC Marching Band, 'sieve'ing every college or university we passed on the way [especially UNH], and preparing to be loud - very loud - for two hours. At least.

Our vans pulled into Hanover around ninety minutes before game time, and there were already lots of fans in the arena lot wearing green and white; this came as a pretty big shock to us, coming from BC, where it's a 'friends-and-family' crowd, admission is free, and most people don't even know there's a women's hockey team. We had pizza in some crummy college establishment and watched UNC thump BC in the ACC men's basketball tournament. Not the best start to the day.

Once we were settled into our seats - the last few rows in the left corner behind the Dartmouth goalie, I'll never forget it - we resolved to be loud, support the team, and have a blast, no matter what happened during the game. So the fun began, with oh-so-clever "Safety School" and "UMass-Dartmouth" chants, along with anything we could think of to razz their keeper or cheer on BC. Even if Dartmouth clobbers us, we thought, we would at least have a good time.

It took about 3 minutes before the 'let's be carefree and not worry too much about the result' thing wore off. Kelli Stack intercepted a wayward Big Green pass near the red line and broke in 2-on-1 with Meghan Fardelmann. She slipped a perfect pass to Fards, who stuffed it in to shockingly put BC on top. We were beside ourselves with some combination of excitement and disbelief. Game on.

I kept waiting for the Dartmouth avalance, but through the first period and into the second, it never came. I assumed the buckle would happen during a Dartmouth power play; instead, it was another moment of magic. See that first video up above? Watch it. It would be impossible to describe how sick this goal was. Stack and Thunstrom put on a 2-on-1 clinic, and suddenly it's 2-0 Eagles, and even I'm thinking BC could win this game.

So by this point, we're making quite a ruckus, jumping up and down, singing For Boston, sieving, chanting, cheering, and doing the noise-thing during penalty kills [is there a name for this?]. This drew the attention of [cue Jaws music]: little kids.

At first, it was maybe four or five of them, all girls, around 11 years old, although the ringleader looked to be around 14 and was very unfortunate looking. They began trying to shout us down, yelling over our BC chants. I thought it was awesome and encouraged them to cheer.

But for some reason, the BC corner became a magnet for kids. I am not in any way, shape, or form exaggerating when I say we ended up being surrounded by a ring of at least 40 kids. They were everywhere, and they apparently suffered from a woeful lack of parenting. Swearing, hitting, stealing things; I felt like I was at UConn, not Dartmouth. The chants came from our corner: "past your bedtime," "Eagle Daycare," "Where's your parents?" [The answer: two sections away looking amused, that's where; I'll never understand the mentality of parents who think sporting events are places where their kids should be allowed to run around unsupervised. They do realize there are people trying to watch the game, right?]

The strangest thing was the amount of trash-talk coming from these kids, ranging from age 7-14; they clearly followed the team closely [what? a team with fans? this is possible?] and extolled the virtues of their various Olympians.

In a two minute span halfway through the third period, said Olympians finally roared to life, scoring a pair of goals to tie the game. It's over now, I figured; We had our chance, but Dartmouth finally wore us out. Good effort.

I wasn't all that bothered by the probability of the season ending, but having insults and popcorn and juiceboxes (really) thrown at us by bratty little kids with crappy obnoxious Ivy League parents made things a bit unpleasant. Still, every few minutes, we looked around, and thought: this is freaking hilarious. As annoying as the kids were, it was a lot of fun... well, except for the time one of them spit on me. But other than that, I couldn't really complain.

First overtime was disaster after disaster after disaster waiting to happen. Dartmouth outshot BC by something like a 14-2 margin. Essentially, they carried the play the way people thought they might for the entire game. They even got a 5-on-3 power play, but coach T*m M***h [I don't remember any such person] wisely called timeout to rest up his best penalty killers, and BC survived.

Double overtime was a lot more even, but Dartmouth still had the slight edge. By this point we were all pretty tired and our voices hoarse, and we knew that even if BC lost, this was a game and an effort to be proud of. Then out of the corner of my eye, BC bounced it off the boards and into the zone, got a shot on goal, and Meghan Fardelmann was there, and.... the red light went on, but I couldn't really see what happened, because my friend Trevor - who I had to con into going because he said he wasn't interested - nearly crushed my esophagus with a hug; and two of my other friends piled on me, and the wild celebration was on. To a man, each person on the trip said that they wanted to go to Lake Placid to see the Frozen Four, even though only six of them had even followed the women's hockey team previously.

Grant finally busted out his trumpet and played For Boston, although he had been told it would be against arena policy to do so during the game [what were they going to do now, kick us out?]. We cheered, we hugged, we chanted "FROZEN FOUR" and "LAKE PLACID" and stood around in general disbelief for a while.

And the kids? A few of them tried jumping around and cheering with us for a while - welcome to the BC wagon, kids :). The rest scattered by the time I even looked up, as their parents bolted toward the exits in disbelief.

We stayed around for a while to hug the BC parents and ask one another about a zillion times "can you believe this?" "how great was that game?" "how sick was Allie's goal?"

I realized then how proud I was of every single member of the team. Yeah, being a fan is a selfish thing like I said earlier, and the initial happiness was pretty much all about the self - ohmygod I'm a part of this experience, my team just won, your team sucks, rah rah rah. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how happy I was for so many individual players - Molly Schaus, whose heroics essentially kept BC in NCAA contention all year - without her 76 saves against Harvard, BC probably wouldn't have even been in the tournament; Fards, of course, who scored the goal, and also set the standard for hard-nosed two way play; Allie Thunstrom and Kelli Stack, BC's freshman dynamos, who bursted onto the scene just as we started paying attention; Lauren Wiedmeier, the diminuitive, hard-working 'checking line' forward who is about as nice a person as you could ever imagine meeting in your entire life; the list goes on and on, really, and I reflected on that as I sat in the corner at Thompson, not yet wanting to leave the rink.

The ride back was euphoric. It was, needless to say, the quickest 2.5 hour drive ever. We bowed down to the "Entering: Natick" sign, as Natick's Molly Schaus joined Natick's Doug Flutie on our list of favorite BC athletes.

One small hiccup: We were pulled over about 15 minutes south of the arena due to Grant's broken headlight. It was pretty comical: "Where are you guys headed?" "Massachusetts." "What are you doing here? "Watching women's hockey."

As it turns out, the cop's kid was a high school senior and badly wanted to attend BC. He even asked us for admissions tips.

In a way, I've never really come down from the high of that game. BC's loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the Frozen Four rolled off my back pretty quickly; I was just happy to be in Placid, happy to have the Dartmouth experience in my back pocket.

When the Eagles played Dartmouth last year at home, I made a sign: March 10, 2007 - Thanks for the Memories. I didn't even mean it in a mocking "haha-you-lost-to-us" way, I was actually sincerely thankful to see the Big Green, and to be reminded of that game.

Traveling up to Dartmouth next week is going to be a thrill, regardless of the outcome. BC could lose 15-0, there could be no annoying little kids, there may only be 3 or 4 of us; but walking into Thompson Arena and reliving that day and that trip and that goal will be worth the 5 hours of total driving. No matter how many times I go to Thompson Arena in my life, in my mind, I will always be standing in the left corner behind the Dartmouth goal, surrounded by 40 little kids, looking on in stunned and proud disbelief as Meghan Fardelmann knocks home a rebound goal to send BC to Lake Placid.

Next Wednesday can't come soon enough.


Erik said...

While I never understood while you watch so much women's hockey, I can offer you this tidbit -- Molly's in Hanover is a GREAT restaurant. Go there. Lou's is good for breakfast, but Molly's is superb for good pub grub.

Joe Grav said...

1) It's 'cause I like watching... :)

2) Thanks for the tidbit. I doubt we'll have time to stop as it's a bit of a long journey on a school day, but I'll store it in my mind for when the men go up there on Nov.30

Papulaisle said...

Painful . That was painful . Argh ! It wasn ' t in my , ' ken ' . that we could lose with the women we had . I anticipated that we might even go through the entire season without losing . I was shocked ( " I ' m shocked , shocked I tell you . . . " ) that we lost our first game ( to Mercyhurst . ) I still await a ' postmortem ' on that game ( against you all . ) What did happen to Gillian Apps that day ? If ever a team . . . Wonderful women yet my expectations weren ' t met .
Rafter Jack

The Trophy Case: BC's honors during my years at school

  • Men's Basketball
  • 2006 - Commonwealth Classic Winner
  • 2008 - Commonwealth Classic Winner
  • Women's Basketball
  • 2008 - Caribbean Challenge Winners
  • 2008 - Blue Sky Classic Winners
  • Sailing:
  • 2008 - ICSA Women's National Champions
  • 2008 - ICSA Co-Ed National Champions
  • Football:
  • 2006 - Meineke Car Care Bowl Winner
  • 2007 - Ireland Trophy
  • 2007 - ACC Atlantic Division Champions
  • 2007 - Champs Sports Bowl Winner
  • 2008 - Ireland Trophy
  • 2008 - ACC Atlantic Division Champions
  • Men's Soccer:
  • 2007 - ACC Regular Season Champions
  • 2007 - ACC Tournament Champions
  • Women's Soccer:
  • 2006 - Sweet Sixteen
  • 2008 - Sweet Sixteen
  • Women's Hockey:
  • 2007 - Beanpot Champions
  • 2007 - Frozen Four
  • 2009 - Beanpot Champions
  • Men's Hockey:
  • 2007 - Hockey East Tournament Champions
  • 2007 - Frozen Four
  • 2007 - Mariucci Classic Champions
  • 2008 - Beanpot Champions
  • 2008 - Hockey East Tournament Champions
  • 2008 - Frozen Four
  • 2008 - National Champions

Games I Attended in '07-'08

  • Overall: 51-30-11 + 12 non BC + spring football = 105 games
  • Home: 40-25-6 + spring game
  • Away: 4-5-5
  • Neutral: 7-0
  • Non-BC NCAA Games: 12
  • Men's Hockey: 13-6-5
  • Women's BBall: 8-2
  • Football: 6-1 + spring game
  • Baseball: 5-1
  • Softball: 4-0
  • Men's BBall: 6-4
  • Women's Hockey: 8-11-5
  • Men's Soccer: 1-2-1
  • Field Hockey: 0-1
  • Women's Soccer: 0-1

Stadiums/Fields Seen 07-08

  • Total: 20
  • Conte Forum [BC] - (49)
  • Alumni Stadium [BC] - (8)
  • TD Banknorth Garden - (7)
  • Shea Field, Baseball [BC] - (6)
  • Newton Soccer Field [BC] - (6)
  • Walter Brown Arena [BU] - (4)
  • Shea Field, Softball [BC] - (4)
  • Matthews Arena [NU] - (3)
  • DCU Center [Worcester] - (3)
  • Schneider Arena [PC] - (2)
  • Ridder Arena [Minnesota] - (2)
  • UConn Hockey Arena [Conn] - (2)
  • Agganis Arena [BU] - (2)
  • Tsongas Arena [UML] - (1)
  • Whittemore Center [UNH] - (1)
  • Mariucci Arena [Minnesota] - (1)
  • Bright Arena [Harvard] - (1)
  • Harvard Stadium [Harvard] - (1)
  • Newton Field Hockey [BC] - (1)
  • Houston Field House [RPI] - (1)

Games I attended in 06-07

  • OVERALL 67-27-3 = 97 games
  • Football 6-0
  • M Hockey 17-6-1
  • M Basketball 14-4
  • W Hockey 13-6-2
  • W Basketball 6-3
  • Softball 3-1
  • W Soccer 3-1
  • M Soccer 3-1
  • Baseball 2-4
  • W Lax 0-1

Best Moments

  • Men's Hockey, 4/12/08 - National Champs.
  • Football, 10/26/07 - BC rallies with two touchdowns in the last 2:11 to win at Virginia Tech and maintain their #2 ranking. Students spill out of the dorms and have an impromptu celebration all over campus. What a night. WOW.
  • Men's Hockey, 3/30/08 - BC scores 3 goals in 1:58 to come from an 0-2 deficit to a 3-2 lead late in the 2nd against Miami in the NCAA regional final.
  • Men's Hockey, 3/30/08 - Joe Whitney's ridiculous diving goal sends BC to the Frozen Four, beating Miami 4-3 in OT.
  • Men's Hockey, 3/21/08 - Benn Ferriero's 3OT goal caps a comeback against UNH in the Hockey East semifinals at the Garden.
  • Men's Hockey, 2/11/08 - Nick Petrecki's OT goal wins the Beanpot for BC!
  • Football, 9/1/07 - BC scores a touchdown to tie the game at 21 right before half time against Wake. BC wins 38-28
  • Men's Hockey, 11/30/07 - BU goalie Karson Gillespie gets sent to the box by Benedetto for a swan dive... piss-your-pants laughter follows
  • Men's Hockey, 3/15/08 - Nate Gerbe's amazing penalty shot goal makes it 4-0 BC over PC in Game 2 of the HE QFs
  • Men's Hockey, 2/4/08 - Gerbe slays BU in overtime
  • Men's Hockey, 3/22/08 - BC cruises to another Hockey East title, beating UVM 4-0
  • Men's Hockey, 3/29/08 - BC gets past the Gophers 5-2 in the NCAA tournament.
  • Men's Hockey, 3/15/08 - BC sweeps the Friars with a pair of 5-1 wins in the HE QFs to advance to the TD Banknorth Garden.
  • Women's Hockey, 2/29/08 - Eagles top PC 4-2 in the season's penultimate game to keep their playoff hopes alive. Stack with the ENG to ice it with 4 seconds left.
  • Women's Hockey, 1/4/07 - BC kills off a 5-on-3, Lindsay Wright aka CANADA scores a sick goal, and BC upsets #4 SLU 5-2
  • Women's Basketball, 1/6/07 - BC stuns NC State with a thrilling 1 point come-from-behind victory
  • Men's Soccer, 11/9/07 - BC clinches ACC reg. season title with a win at home against VT.
  • Women's Hockey, 01/12/08 - MN native Allie Thunstrom's goal with 1:30 to go gives BC a tie @ #4 Minnesota
  • Men's Hockey, 3/14/08 - BC blitzes Providence early and often en route to 5-1 win in Game 1 of HE QFs at BC
  • Men's Basketball, 12/23/07 - Tyrese Rice knocks down a floater with less than 5 seconds to play to give BC the 57-55 win over Northeastern.
  • Men's Hockey, 1/19/08 - Carl Sneep's goal in the 3rd ties BU 2-2; pandemonium in the student section
  • Football, 11/24/07 - BC finally snaps the long losing streak against the U.
  • Women's Hockey, 2/10/08 - BC's Stack scores in the 2nd to tie UNH 1-1. We lost, but that was a great moment.
  • Women's Basketball, 12/31/07 - Picco nails back to back three pointers as BC wins a thriller against NU
  • Baseball, 5/13/08 - BC rallies from big early deficit to beat UConn.
  • Softball, 3/26/08 - Fence Girl crashes into the fence, Thunstrom scores winning run, BC downs HC 4-3
  • Women's Hockey, 11/29/07 - A clutch goal with under a minute remaining by Stack gives BC a much needed point @ UConn
  • Women's Hockey, 3/15/08 - UNH tops St. Lawrence 3-2 in OT to give Hockey East a representative in the Frozen Four.
  • Men's Hockey, 11/30/07 - BC explodes for a 3-0 1st period lead en route to a 6-2 win over BU
  • Football, 10/7/07 - BC scores 31 points in the 2nd quarter against Bowling Green and rolls to 55-24 win - up to #4 in the country!