Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Spartans vs. Eagles in St. Louis
Originally written 04/06/2007
That which I have somewhat dreaded has come to pass - it will be Boston College against Michigan State University on Saturday night in St. Louis for the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey national championship.
Oh, they've faced off before, in hockey and in other sports on the national stage - but not for an NCAA title, to the best of my knowledge. MSU scored four straight goals to beat Maine, 4-2, in Thursday's first Frozen Four semifinal, and then BC outlasted North Dakota, 6-4, in a wild affair in the nightcap. I'm happy for both schools, yet also more than a bit numb right now. I graduated from BC in 1991, where I covered the Eagles for the student paper, and worked at State from 1994 to 1996, where I publicized the Spartans. Now they're on a collision course for college hockey's national championship, and there can't be a tie.
It's funny how life works. My sophomore year at BC ended with a two games-to-one loss at State in the 1989 NCAA Hockey Tournament, and just five years later I started work at MSU. Even though I have a degree from one place and not the other, I'm actually very lucky to have called not one such outstanding place home, but two. Each school has its own special charms, from Chestnut Hill's venerable MBTA trolley system and New England tradition to East Lansing's dairy farms and Midwestern hospitality. Visits to either place are few and far in between these days, and are never long enough anymore, but I would not trade the lasting friendships I've have made at either school for anything.
Saturday's going to hurt a bit, I'll be honest. No matter who wins, someone's going to lose, and a group of people I care about is going to be hurt, too. ESPN will probably show some fan from the defeated squad crying their eyes out, and that will temper any euphoria I will feel for the winning side. It's not like today, when my guts were grinding away the whole time as State battled back to beat the Black Bears, and BC ultimately survived a shootout with the Fighting Sioux, and I cheered each goal by the Green & White or the Maroon & Gold. No wonder I have stomach problems - I take all this to heart, maybe too much, but I can't convince myself it's "just a game". I've agonized over the Eagles longer, for almost two whole decades now, but I've also suffered for the Spartans over the last 13 years. And to top it all off, I now have a pair of overlapping fight songs going off in my head …
I won't cheer for a particular school on Saturday - that would mean cheering against the other, and I'm not doing that, especially since some of those aforementioned friends are still working for either team. I will say that BC has great firepower, MSU has great defense, and both teams have great goaltenders and good men as their coaches, so I'm also not making any predictions as to the outcome. State leads the all-time series, 16-6-1, but BC has won three of the last four meetings, and all those numbers are irrelevant in 2007. Drop the puck and may the best team win.
It could be worse, though. It could have been a Maine-North Dakota final this weekend, and that would have miffed me to no end. At least I can get championship merchandise from somebody this spring ...
See you Saturday in St. Louis. Go Eagles, Go Spartans.