NCAA Hockey West Regional: What the Heck is a Catamount?


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I am not much of a college hockey fan. I hadn’t been to a game since 1997 when I was attending St. Cloud State and I almost never watch it on TV, but when I saw my alma mater had made the NCAA tournament and was playing in the Western Regional at the Excel Energy Center this week, I had to go.

The Huskies were coming off an impressive runner-up finish in the WCHA Final Five and although I knew they had little success in the NCAA tournament (I didn’t realize they were 0-8 until reading it in the Star Tribune on Friday), I felt like this was the year they would make some noise. So, I called up Michael, the only SCSU-era friend I have kept in touch with (Facebook doesn‘t count) and purchased the three game ticket package.

No. 2 seed St. Cloud faced off against No. 3 Northern Michigan in the opener at 4:30. With many people still at work and rush hour just beginning, the arena was mostly empty. I find it odd that these teams battled all year to have the honor of competing in the NCAA tournament only to play in a venue devoid of any atmosphere.

arena

Although the crowd was small, it was overwhelmingly in favor of St. Could as could be expected. The Huskies raced out to a 2-0 lead and led 3-1 midway through the second period. Just when it looked like they would cruise to their first ever tournament win however, an error deep in their zone led to a quick Wild Cat goal and the game was 3-2.

From there Northern Michigan seized momentum and dominated much of the remainder of regulation, finally tying the game at 3 with less than 4 minutes to go in the 3rd. After a late Huskie flurry came up empty the game was headed to overtime.

St. Cloud kept up the intensity in the extra period, outshooting Northern Michigan 22-12 but despite numerous close calls, could not score. Another overtime period was needed. After sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the first OT, I settled in comfortably for the start of the second OT and just like that, the Huskies won.

celebration

Here’s how the Star Tribune’s Roman Augustoviz described it:

“Junior winger Tony Mosey scored a power-play goal at 23 seconds of the second overtime on perfectly executed play. Teammate Garrett Roe shot from the far right circle, aiming for Mosey’s feet at the top of the crease. The puck hit Mosey’s stick, made a 90 degree change of direction and slipped between goalie Brian Stewart’s legs.”

The Huskies were off the schneid! It was time to celebrate. Michael and I got our hands stamped to go for a “smoke break” and headed down the street to Pat McGovern’s Pub where we ate some hot turkey (highly recommended) and downed a pitcher of Sam Adams. The Xcel was dry on this night.

In the meantime, No. 1 seed Wisconsin had begun to play No. 4 Vermont in the second game. The game had been scheduled to start at 8:00, but because of the OTs, it was pushed back nearly an hour. You don’t hear much about the University of Vermont when it comes to collegiate athletics or the state of Vermont in general so, my curiosity was piqued. When I found out their nickname was the “Catamounts”, I became obsessed.

Their logo looked like a mountain lion and I thought maybe a “catamount” could be some strange Vermontian term for mountain lion. As you’ll find out shortly, I wasn’t too far off. Needless to say the crowd was dominated by Badger fans and Catamount partisans were few and far between.

One of the advantages of attending events in a half empty arena is that you can basically sit wherever you want and move around, which we did between almost every period. By the 3rd period of the Badgers eventual 3-2 win over the feisty Catamounts, we were sitting four rows from the boards on the bench side corner opposite the zamboni.

boards

When I noticed the middle aged guy with his young son sitting two rows behind me was sporting a green Catamount jersey, I asked him if he was from Vermont (I’ve never met a Vermonter). He shot back a quick “no” followed by a defensive “why”. I explained I was just wondering and then asked if he went to the University of Vermont. He crankily said “no” again and informed me “I’ve known their goalie since he was 1” in an annoyed tone. The “goalie” was sophomore Rob Madore of Pittsburgh, PA. A real Vermonter would have been much more polite.

I didn’t get home until about 1 a.m. and after exchanging greetings with my wonderful wife Kyla - who waited up for me - I rushed to my computer, logged onto the internet and quickly discovered that “catamount” is just another name for a cougar. Those wacky Vermonters.

One Response to “NCAA Hockey West Regional: What the Heck is a Catamount?”

  1. Kylie Batt Says:

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    Браво, ваша фраза пригодится…

    I am not much of a college hockey fan. I hadn’t been to a game since 1997 when I was attending St…..

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