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Article:Come, Come, Summertime... (Minnesota Sports Rant - March 28, 2009)

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Aminnesota sports rant

So I figured it's about time for me to write another article since I haven't written one since July. Anyways, this will be a pseudo-regular series with thoughts on Minnesota Sports, things tangentially related to Minnesota Sports, as well as some commentary on non-Minnesota sports.  So without further ado, here's the inaugural edition:

Welcome to the Minnesota Sports Rant for March 28, 2009. With the Gophers not making the NCAA Hockey Tournament, Minnesota-Duluth winning their first round game, good news for Gophers Basketball, Childress proving once again he's almost as incompetent as this guy, and the Wild fighting for a playoff birth, it's an interesting time to be a Minnesota Sports fan.

Gophers out, Bulldogs in it to win it

The University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs pulled off an amazing victory last night over Princeton, 5-4 in overtime.  This exciting run for the Bulldogs, who finished 7th in the WCHA in the regular season but beat Colorado College, Minnesota, North Dakota and Denver to win the conference playoff title, was almost ended last night.  With just over a minute left, the bulldogs were down 4-2 and pulled the goalie to give them a 2 man advantage (Matt Godlewski of Princeton was in the penalty box for tripping). With 37 seconds left, Jack Connolly scored a goal to bring the Bulldogs within one.  Things looked bleak for the Bulldogs when they had to faceoff in the neutral zone with 12 seconds left, but with .8 seconds left (yes, les than a second), Evan Oberg scored the game tying goal and sent it to overtime.  Connolly scored the game winner on a power play in OT to win 5-4.  Although it's someone videotaping the tv screen, here's a youtube video of the crazy last minute of the game:

This is a magical run for the second seed bulldogs, who face fourth seed miami in the second round tomorrow night for the right to go to our nation's capitol and play in the Frozen Four.  Although a Finals appearance is a bit of a reach for UMD, there's a good chance that they could earn their program's fourth ever trip to the Frozen Four . About two hours south of Duluth and at the site of the Bulldogs exciting win is the pathetic Gophers Hockey program led by Don Lucia.  For such a successful program, the Gophers are looking pretty inept.  After a 5th place finish in the regular season and losing in the WCHA final five, the gophers failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the 6th time since 1980, and second time since Lucia took over in 2000.  Things got worse for the gophers when Captain and WCHA Scoring Leader Ryan Stoa announced he would go pro instead of playing out his final year of eligibility for the Gophers (he was drafted by Colorado in 2005).  Thankfully, the Gophers have the second best recruiting class according to Inside College Hockey, but questions are starting to arise about how much longer Lucia has without a successful season.  He has brought the Gophers 3 WCHA tournament championships ('03, '04, '07), 2 WCHA Regular Season titles, 2 NCAA Championships ('02, '03), and another Frozen Four appearance (05).  It was only 4 seasons ago that the Gophers suffered one of the greatest upsets in College Hockey history (gophers were the second overall seed, holy cross was the fifteenth overall seed; it was the only time since the tournament expanded to 16 teams that one of the top two seeds lost in the first round until Miami (OH) upset Denver), and while there's no doubt he still have at least 2 more seasons before his job could be on the line, it certainly would be good for his job security if he can lead the gophers to a successful season last year.  The gophers were just not focused during the season, and lost several games (going 1-3-1 vs Minnesota State, losing to Michigan Tech and Michigan St.) that reflect poorly on the team as a whole, and certainly killed their chances at getting an at large. Tubby's here to stay, Gophers score big, a thank you to Dan Munson, and proof white men can jump The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Sid Hartman reported earlier this week that Gophers's Basketball coach Tubby Smith plans on staying in Minnesota, and will not, as some were predicting, take the job at Virginia.  This is great news for the Gophers who lost to Texas in the first round of the NCAA tourney this season.  Tubby is one of the best coaches in College Basketball, and Gophers fans are truly lucky that he is staying put.  Too bad for Kentucky that they left him go - Tubby's replacement, Billy Gillispie, was fired this week. In other news, one of the best High School players in MN, Forward Royce White of Hopkins High School (which just won the State Championship and are ranked 9th in the Nation by rivals) will be attending the University in the fall.  White was named to the Class 4A All-Tournament team earlier this evening. What do Ben Woodside and Cole Aldrich have in common?  They both went to High School in Minnesota.  Two players who had great tournament performances could have been wearing maroon and gold this year if it weren't for former Gopher's coach Dan Munson. I bring these two things up to prove a point that may surprise some of you:  Believe it or not, Minnesotans CAN play basketball.  Despite being a Hockey State, Minnesota High Schools have been developing basketball talent for a couple years now.  Just goes to show you that white men CAN jump. Another Chilli week With temperatures in the 30s and even lower all week here in Minny, Childress still managed to be more of a downer than the weather. According to Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press, Childress has been the biggest reason why the Vikings are stuck with T Jack at QB. Either Childress is stubborn, or he sees something in Jackson that no one else sees, because it seems pretty strange that a coach who is walking a pretty thin line already would pass up a Pro Bowl QB in order to stay with a QB who didn't even throw enough passes last season to qualify for the League Leaders list in passer rating.  For his sake, he better be right, because if it turns out the Vikes could have gotten Cutler, and T Jack doesn't have a good season, it could mean the end of his career. On a semi related note, Jeff George has stated that if he was the Vikings Quarterback, the Vikings would have won the Super Bowl this year.  In other news, I have become a front runner for the NBA MVP. The State of Hockey The Wild are currently 3 points behind St. Louis for 8th place in the West.  Despite a very turbulant season, the Wild have a shot at making the playoffs, but it will come down to how effective Gaborik is.  Even though he's not anywhere near his best, he still provided a spark and a level of aggressiveness the Wild have lacked in his absence.  The injury rattled wild expect Center Mikko Koivu to come back for the last few games of the season, although he was not in the lineup for tonight's game (the wild trail calgary 3-2 in the 3rd period at the time this was written).  If Koivu and Gaborik are able to play in some capacity for the rest of the season, there's a chance they'll be able to make the playoffs.  The Wild will have to make decisions to make, especially in regards to Backstrom and Gaborik, who need to be given an extension this off season if the wild expect them to be around in the future. Well, that's it for this edition, and a thank you goes out to Mookie for helping me chose between a couple versions of the logo.

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