Throw-Back-Monday: The 1998 NCAA National Hockey Chamionship

It’s Stanley Cup time, folks! If you aren’t a hockey fan, you may not know what that is. The NHL equivalent of the Super Bowl is probably the best way to explain it. And if you don’t know what the Super Bowl is, I can’t help you. Likely nobody can.

Growing up in an area where the winter weather can often be likened to arctic tundra conditions, you’d think hockey would be a bigger deal. However, in my small little corner of the world, it wasn’t. There were fans, sure, but I lived in the Hoosier state. Basketball and Bobby Knight is what we knew, with a little football sprinkled in for good measure.

I always adored hockey. It’s like the best of every sport I love, but on ice. I would go to Komets games in Fort Wayne (that’s the city’s minor league team). And as much as I consider Notre Dame like a personal nemesis, I did follow their hockey team and attended games – maybe even pulled for them like once  (out of sympathy of course). Now I can’t say I was so into hockey I had a definitive team (was always a Blackhawks AND a Penguins girl) or that I was a die-hard fan ready to beat the competition with a stick in the parking lot after a loss. Hockey’s just a sport I really enjoy watching, and watching live is way better than watching it on TV.

Anyone who knows me usually knows two things when it comes to sports– I prefer college leagues and my favorite team is whoever is playing Notre Dame. What they may not know is that my second favorite team is the Michigan Wolverines. Rewind to my senior year of high school. Michigan was coming off of winning the football National Championship. It was a beautiful thing. Spirits were high. The Wolverines were having a great year for most of their athletic teams if memory serves and the men’s hockey team was no exception.

My older sister was attending UM(I think she was maybe a junior at the time?).  She had invited me up for a visit that spring. Guess who got lucky visiting the night of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship? That’s right. This girl. (not like I got lucky … I meant I was lucky by being there – get your minds out of the gutter!)

She took me to some friend’s house. I think it was a friend’s house. Could have been a frat house. Even though I was 18 and still in high school, the hockey game on the television occupied my mind more than the college campus location where we were about to watch the evening’s big event unfold.

It was an absolutely unbelievable game! Michigan vs. Boston College. Blue won in overtime.  I remember everyone we were watching with jumping and screaming and tipping over the couch, spilling drinks and food as we fell on top of one another in celebration. The excitement didn’t stop there. We marched on the President’s House. I followed my sister and her friends’ leads. We walked from wherever we were on campus, through the streets to the quad, students emerging left right and center, screaming and cheering and singing Hail To The Victors. People were climbing light poles and swinging flags. It was like the largest impromptu block party I’ve ever seen. It was probably the coolest little sister moment I’ve ever had with my older sis. I remember thinking – why the hell do I want to go to art school when I could be a part of something like this?

I’ve forgotten over the years how much I love football, baseball and hockey. I’ve gotten away from just sitting back for a couple of hours and enjoying a game.  It’s time to get back to those roots. I’ve watched every game of the Stanley Cup I could this year and am prouder than ever the Hawks are about to win it all (like tonight, because I have total faith it’s only going to be a six game stretch). However, I will never have a sports fan moment that beats being in Michigan on that fateful day in 1998 when my team won that championship.

Watch the Hawks take the cup tonight! The Bolts won’t know what hit them. It will be well worth it, I promise!







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