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UMD has been in their new building for some time now, so I’ve had quite a bit of time to think about it. Of course as always I will not give free corporate advertising when refering to the building.

There certainly are major improvements from moving from the DECC to the “New Duluth Arena”. The most obvious thing that hits you, other than the new building feel, is the big scoreboard hanging above center ice. This most certainly puts UMD’s building in the more modern sports arenas. The scoreboard is easy to read from wherever you are and now there is video, which is really wonderful since it now allows replay of goals, showing of out of town scores, and other stuff like that..

One thing that’s only now starting to hit me that I love about the building is that it feels more intimate than the DECC. It could just be an illusion, but I feel like the fans on the opposite site of the building are closer than they were at the DECC.

Sort of going along with that you can see the ice (a tiny part that is) when you are walking about the lower level. The exception is on the one side where the press boxes are. When you’re walking about on the uppper level you can see the ice perfectly, although there’s only seating up there, no concessions.

As far as things that are about the same, I would say the food hasn’t changed much, although to be fair I don’t stray much in my choices (frosty malts and the occasional bratwurst). From my seeing the menus it looks like the same food of burgers and hot dogs. I myself am perfectly content with these things and consider how some fans complain when there’s only these options to be extremely whiny. For ice cream there’s a lot more room for those waiting in line, although it still seems that there’s not enough.

One thing that I could see someone griping about, which doesn’t bother me that much, is something that applies to very few seats. Between the two seats that my Dad and I have, there’s a good size gap in there. It’s rougly the size of a seat. I’m guessing it’s because of how the bleachers come out and how they can pull them back in for concerts and other such things. So if I have something to say I have to lean over a bit to him. I’ve adjusted to it. I could see someone griping about it, but it doesn’t bother me.

I mentioned the scoreboard before. It’s generally a good thing, but I find myself frequently rolling my eyes at it. Now since video is allowed, that means in the drive to get more of those little green papers, there’s now video advertising from “corporate sponsors”. The videos are great, but I do wonder if I myself would rather not have the video scoreboard so that there’s no video advertising.

It’s sort of knock on the arena, but I’m sort of underwhelmed by it. Not entirely sure why. I guess I was hoping for something that’s more better looking. The seats are maroon and gold (the would be Bulldog colors by the way) in a nice pattern and there’s the Bulldog club in the corner, but I just don’t find the arena to be that nice to look at. Seems that maybe not having the gigantic media wall in something other than grey would have been a major improvement. The off-white of the DECC walls was better looking. The DECC had very unique features; the overhang of the media boxes, “the cave” or whatever it was for people ice level that sat in, the wonderfully low tiled ceiling that kept the noise it (well, before the tiles started coming down). Maybe it’s a money thing, but I was hoping for something different in the look of the building.

One thing that didn’t improve with switching buildings is the amount of space in the concourse. Walking around you’re still surrounded by people. I would have thought that would improve with a new building, but I guess not. It’s certainly nothing I’d complain about though.

So I guess my final verdict (although it’s subject to change) is one word: underwhelming. I’m not one of the demanding fans, I’m pretty content at a stadium since I’m really only there to watch a game, but in the end I’m underwelmed by “The New Duluth Arena”.

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And once again “professional” sports give us something exceptionally lame (my emphasis):

Through a series of tweets on Wednesday, we learned from the Minnesota Wild’s head equipment manager Tony Da Costa that number decals are being added to the front of every NHL skater’s helmet. And because of how the helmets are designed, they’re really going on the top.

King of a sad commentary on the state of “professional” sports in that one thought I had is “whew, at least they’re not company ads”.  Not that the it matters that much, I don’t watch the NHL after all.  Still, it’s possibly yet another crappy NHL idea that may trickle down to the NCAAs and other hockey leagues.

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As has been the case in my previous times at the NAHL Showcase I enjoyed myself.  It’s wonderful to watch a period of hockey and then when it becomes intermission, to be able to leave and then choose from 3 other games to go watch (more if you count the U-14, U-16, and U-18 games going on).  As always I got to see the ever encroaching ads into sports (see below for the “offenders” who had ads on their jerseys), I especially was annoyed by the (not-so) SuperRink having ads on the floor of their concourse.  In the end there were three teams that finished 4-0 (Fresno, Fairbanks, and Janesville);  the Janeville jets won the tourney by being +11 goal differential since Fresno was +7 and Fairbanks were +6 for the tourney.

Anyhow, here are notes on games I watched (I watched more than these games, these are just ones I took notes on):

Topeka vs. Port Huron (NAHL)
– I watched them warm up, both teams were wearing white.  I swear when I walked by they both were playing the first period and both wearing white.  When I came back and actually watched, Port Huron had switched to their dark jerseys.
– One of the Port Huron players was injured, Topeka’s Luke Veitch (Lewis Center, OH) received a kneeing major and game misconduct for that.
– On the ensuing power-play it was amazing Port Huron didn’t get a goal; they had two chances that somehow didn’t end up in the net. The first one they had the entire right side of the net open, but missed the net. The second Max Milosek (Lapeer, MI) made an incredible save. Port Huron won in the shootout.

Misc:
– Those were some funky numbers that the New Jersey Jr Titans (U-16) were wearing, but they looked good to me.  Here is a look at them.
– I didn’t think about this until I saw a sign, but the MIAC (13 Minnesota schools) has a hockey showcase tourney.  Looks like it’s over the weekend (10-28 through 10/30) at Fogerty Arena in Blaine.  Too bad, I was hoping it was like the NAHL Showcase where the games were during the day on weekdays, but for a money perspective I can understand why it’s on a weekend.

Detroit Falcons vs. Western Michigan Hounds (U-16)
– Very nice logo for the Detroit Falcons (here it is), solid jersey all around.
– The Hounds were wearing that “logo inside a circle” which it seems everyone wants to do now (thanks a heep Minnesota Wild), but they made it into a half-circle which makes it look very nice, which is better in my opinion than the full circle look.  Their jersey has kind of a Team USA look to it.
– Kind of ironic, the teams made the trip from Michigan and end up playing another team from Michigan
– This was a very enjoyable game. These were two U-16 teams and there were less than a dozen people watching it, yet I probably enjoyed it more than if I was going to a Minnesota Wild game. I really must try to keep up with the NAPHL more, although none of them are Minnesota teams.
– The game was 2-2 when I joined it. It looked like W-Mich had scored on a 5-on-3, but the goal was waived off, since the Hounds committed a penalty.
– Detroit’s #19 Luke Moma (Grosse Isle, MI) made a nice interception and scored on a breakaway to take the lead.
– Western Michigan’s #44 Dakota Wilson (Battle Creek, MI) had a nice backhander to tie it up.
– Western Michigan won in a shootout

Wichita Falls versus Kenai River (NAHL)
– I’ve never understood it, but people say that jerseys shouldn’t be brown (purple is mentioned as what jerseys shouldn’t be as well). Kenai wore brown jerseys and they really looked nice (I couldn’t find a picture though)

Ad-creep:
Corpus Christi:  7 ads (4 front of jersey, 1 on back of jersey, 2 on helmets)
Janesville:  1 ad (back of jersey)
Kalamazoo:  2 ads (both on helmet)
Michigan: 1 ad (on helmet)
Wanatchee: 3 (all on back)

Scouts in attendance:
Merrimack
St. Scholastica
Ferris St
UCONN
Finlandia
St. Thomas
UWS
North Dakota
Augsburg
Niagara
RIT
Clarkson
Alaska-Anchorage
Bentley
St. Mary’s
Sacred Heart

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Monday

Apparently the two teams playing in the (not so-)Superbowl were decided yesterday.  Speaking as a Minnesota-born person, who’s lost their enjoyment of “professional” sports, I have no problems the Packers won.  Maybe if I had nothing to do, I’d watch it.  Then again I never have nothing to do;  that’s especially true with having an almost 2 year old now.  Instead of watching the Superbowl, I’d rather be watching a movie with Amy, reading a book, playing video games , or just taking a nap, just to name a few things.
 
Speaking of the other things I mentioned above…..
 
Movies:
Amy and I finished Sherlock Holmes recently.  It certainly was entertaining, but not sure what to think about it in an Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sense.  From Amy’s Dad we are borrowing Inception to watch, I’ve heard it’s very good.  Due to the amount of time we have in our evenings and other shows to watch, not sure when we’ll get to it.  We did go to the theaters recently and saw Harry Potter (Fantastic!) and Narnia (Very good!).
 
Books:
For Christmas/Birthday presents I got a lot of stuff to read (over 4,000 pages), most of it being Sci-Fi, my favorite genre.  As usual, I’m currently reading two books;  one for during the day (commute and lunch) and one for at night (mostly right before bed). 
 
My day book right now is “I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov.  It’s basically a compilation of Asimov’s short-stories about robots, which are repackaged into one “book”.  Very good so far.  Some of the stuff in the Will Smith movie of the same name is in there (the 3 robot “laws”, etc).  This one is from the library,  not sure if eventually I’ll buy it from somewhere.
 
My night book is “Counter-clock World” by Philip K. Dick.  Great idea of time is going backward (people are coming back alive, etc) but I consider it to be just so-so reading.  I’m fairly close to the end, so I’m guessing I’ll end up finishing it.  I’m certain I’m going to be “swapping” it, I only keep the books that I will re-read over and over in my lifetime (this is also a reason why I’m against e-books, swapping “hard copy” books is much better).
 
Playing video games:
I’m currently trying to play Syphon Filter – Dark Mirror on the PS2.  I’m really enjoying this game.  I had tried playing Call of Duty, but even though it was somewhat enjoyable, I felt like the game was going to move forward no matter what I did, provided I didn’t die.  Seemed like the AI-teammates did all the “work”.  Siphon Filter is better, because I’m doing all the “work”.  It’s sort-of like Resident Evil in that regard.
 
Amy just gave me God of War II for my birthday.  I never played the first God of War, but I’ve heard both of them are good. 
 
Taking a nap:
I did a lot of napping this weekend, which is from being sick.  Normally I’m a “napper” person, I love naps.  When I’m sick I generally just sleep through the day.
 

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Here’s a couple of more “they broke it, I fix it (poorly)”.

The images are thumbnails, click them to get the full image.

They broke it:

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I fixed it (poorly):

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The NAHL showcase was fun yesterday. More to come, including a bunch of pictures.

Speaking of pictures. Here’s what I’ll call (for now) “they broke it, I fix it (poorly)”. My own way of fixing the problem of advertising encroaching on people lives. The photos I took myself.

The images are thumbnails, click them to get the full image.

They broke it:

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I fixed it (poorly):

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You may proceed to sieve me, but I missed reporting the first puck drop of the season. It belonged to the U16 teams Chicago Fury and Team Illinois. It was a 2-2 tie.

The first puck drop for Minnesota teams belonged to the Minnesota Thoroughbreds who won 3-2 over the California Wave on September 6th. Turns out the Thoroughbreds have amazingly already played five games, going 2-2-1. Hockey at the start of September? Brilliant! With the start of hockey season the world has changed. The world is better, the air is cleaner, the future looks brighter, and life is as it should be.

The first puck drop of the NAHL season belongs to America’s team, the USA National Development Program’s Under-17 team. They drop the puck at the Ann Arbor Ice cube against last year’s Robertson Cup Champions the St. Louis Bandits. The NAHL’s Minnesota teams (Fargo-Moorhead Jets, Alexandria Blizzard, and Southern Minnesota Express) start their seasons on September 19th during the NAHL’s Showcase Tournament at the **company name deleted** (Not-So) SuperRink in Blaine. I will be attendance during the daytime games on 9/19 & 9/20. However, I will most likely “beat the traffic” and leave before the evening games.

All of the preceding is a breath of fresh air and makes me excited for hockey season. As-if my interest in the NHL hasn’t gotten low enough, the Wild keep finding ways to make me not watch them.

I just discovered this week that Union, St. Lawrence, and RPI are all Division III schools who play up in Division I for hockey. Very impressive. I’m now a fan of those schools.

Notes:
– Bethel , Macalester, Carlton, MSU-Mankato, and UCONN allowed nothing on the board this week. Both the Scots and Mavericks really thumped their opponents, scores were 62-0 and 70-0 respectively. Happily the Carlton Knights got this season off to a wonderful start as they pounded Minnesota-Morris 49-0.
– Congrats to Omaha. The 6th ranked Mavericks held down the home field and beat #2 Northwest Missouri 25-21
– I’m very excited to see Air Force beat Utah. A 2-0 start for AFA is a wonderful thing.

D-I Hockey Schools:
This week (versus non-hockey): 17-11 60.7 Win%
This season (versus non-hockey): 33-21, 61.1 Win%

By football division (this season versus non-hockey):
IA: 12-7
IAA: 5-4
II: 13-9
III: 3-1

Minnesota Schools:
This week (versus non-hockey): 11-5, 68.7%
This season (versus non-hockey): 22-12 64.7%

By football division (this season versus non-hockey):
IA: 1-1
II: 9-7
III: 12-4
– Putting the D in Defense:
– The DIII schools are stellar. They went 6-1 this week, with only St. Thomas losing. Macalester really thumped Principlia. At 12-4 on the season Division III is rolling, except for the aforementioned St. Thomas who are 0-2.

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