We Minnesotan’s hear about Grand Forks, ND every spring because a primary-colored river runs through it.
The Red River.
Every year we watch the snow accumulate on the MN/ND border, and we know. We know that come spring we will talk and pray and pray and talk about the cresting and rising of the waters along our Western border.
And our hearts will go out to our friends and family in the water’s path.
Especially last night when Grand Forks came to St. Paul.
The Xcel Energy Center was filled to capacity (hello, 19, 139 fans) with Sioux colors as the natives of Grand Forks put their hopes in their ND boys.
But Frattin and the boys were stone-walled on every shot they took by a little man in net for MI.
The boys I watched last night were not the boys I watched all year. They were not the boys I watched during Regionals.
Sadly, they were left scrambling. Incomplete passing and an inability to get to the net and bury the puck plagued them all game. The defense of Red’s boys was strong and tight, keeping Hakstol’s kids on the perimeter all game long, successfully shutting down the talented line of Frattin, Malone, and Trupp.
Shut-outs are no way to go-out.
Though I could be incredibly bitter, which is odd since I technically hate the Sioux, I watched in agony last night as the clock ticked away and Scooter and his pack of Wolverine’s skated to victory; a victory they shouldn’t have even had a chance at (in no way was their “goal” against UNO in Regionals actually a goal).
What’s done is done. What’s said is said.
UND will not have a chance to fight for the National Championship Saturday night. They’ll return to ND, to Grand Forks, the annually flooded town they love, and some, like Kristo, will look ahead to winning it all next year. While others, like Frattin and Genoway, will look back on their time as a Sioux with pride at everything they accomplished. At everything they brought to the team.
At everything they did for Grand Forks, ND.
Duluth, MN is a popular Minnesota get-away. Known for its breathtaking views of a great lake and non-east-coast lighthouses, it is a stark contrast to the plains of Grand Forks on the opposite side of the state and across the border.
Fireworks on the 4th of July, foliage in the fall, and skiing in the winter – Duluth offers it all.
The town knows its hockey – their Duluth-East Greyhounds backed up by their go-go-to guy, JoJo Jeanetta, were already in town in March fighting for the biggest title in Minnesota sports.
And now, Duluth’s very own Bulldogs from the same town are in town, the same town their Greyhounds found themselves in back in March, fighting for an even bigger title. One with national recognition.
Sandelin’s boys held on for a tough Semi-final game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, led by Minnesotans Ryan Guentzel (Hill-Murray) and Anders Lee (Edina).
But, despite their Minnesota-hockey upbringings, Guentzel and Lee could not lift their Indiana-hockey team (oxymoron?) to victory over the dominant dogs from Duluth.
So, now, two hours away from their home, the newly constructed Amsoil Arena, the Duluth Bulldogs will prepare for another sell-out crowd at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night against the Wolverine’s from Ann Arbor.
May the greatest Great Lakes’ team win.
For the 4th time this year, the Xcel Energy Center hosts another hockey tournament.
Ladies first, the X was home to the Girls’ State High School Hockey Tournament.
Then the boys came in and took over St. Paul, displaying their Minnesota-grown talent for the state to applaud.
College teams and fans flocked to our capital city to watch top-ranked teams and players, nationally recognized coaches, show off their depth and D1 character at the Final Five in March.
And now, the Nation will be watching St. Paul.
And the Nation will see that St. Paul, that Minnesota, has it all.