Last weekend, I traveled with the RIT men’s hockey team for their two-game series at Minnesota State University in lovely Mankato, Minn. I had a feeling that this would be an interesting weekend a few days before when I checked the weather report and saw that the temperature would be hovering around 0 with lows in the double-digits on the negative side. Let me tell you, the forecast was spot on as well. Frigidly cold, but thankfully, Minnesota State, the Hilton Garden-Inn, and Verizon Wireless Center management were right on top of that. More on that in a bit.
We left RIT at 11:30 a.m. New Year’s Eve and arrived back at Rochester Airport just before 4:30 p.m. Sunday. In between, RIT dropped a pair of games to Minnesota State, one of the top teams in the WCHA, 6-1 on Friday, and 3-0 on Saturday. Here are mostly the non-hockey highlights of the trip.
• Nearly losing my watch going through security in Rochester, after leaving it in my bin. (thankfully, security had the watch, which would have started the trip on an ominous note)
• Having baggage handlers take mine and assistant coach Dave Insalaco’s carry-on luggage and tell us they had to stow them under the plane because the plane was too small, then hearing them say we may not receive the luggage until midnight.
• Delayed for 20 minutes, then going from Rochester to Detroit in a puddle jumper reminiscent of the movie Major League, when the Cleveland Indians traveled on their raggedy plane.
• Associate Coach Brian Hills razzing Dave and myself that we would be buying new clothes for the trip since our bags would not be getting to Minneapolis on time.
• Getting off the plane in Detroit and having our carry-on luggage safely waiting for us, then sprinting across the C, B, then A terminals of the large airport, Home Alone style, to reach our connecting flight to Minneapolis, which I’m convinced was delayed purposely, so we could board the plane.
• Waiting for our bags in Minneapolis and finding out Brian’s bag, along with a few others were not getting to Minneapolis until 11 p.m. or so (karma gods, haha). Brian and Dave rented a van and met us in Mankato after midnight.
• Watching the final 10 minutes of the United States/Canada World Junior Championship Hockey game with a bunch of rabid Canadians (our players), who erupted after Canada erased a late 4-2 deficit to win in a shootout, 5-4.
• Ringing in New Year’s (eastern time) with the lights out, lying in bed on the phone with family back home.
• Fast asleep to ring in New Year’s (central time).
• Realizing that our hotel was connected directly to the Verizon Wireless Center, a two-minute walk from my room to the arena (more places should do this, obviously). That was the best part about the trip, knowing you did not have to step outside to brave the elements. Apparently, two hotels on both sides of the Verizon Center decided this was a good idea to attract customers when they were at the arena. Genius move!!
• Walking to a grocery store on Friday morning to get lip balm and seeing the temperature read -17 with a wind chill of -38. My legs were nearly frozen after the quick walk.
• Watching the Winter Classic in my room on a flat screen television with High Definition.
• The Verizon Wireless Center. A nice template if we were to build our own arena with 5,000 seats, plenty of room for luxury boxes, good sight lines, and an excellent atmosphere, even with students on break (both games drew over 3,000 fans). Since it is a few miles from the Minnesota State campus, they are able to sell beer, and interestingly enough, mixed drinks. Never seen that at a college game before.
• Sitting through a video session on Friday night after the 6-1 loss for over an hour. Never fun to watch video with coaches after a blowout loss.
• Flying through Detroit airport on Sunday, once again trying to hit our connecting plane, this time to Rochester with even less time. This time, we boarded without even waiting, and thought we had hit the jackpot and would be back in Rochester by 2:30 p.m. We were on the plane, boarded, and into safety instructions, when the pilot came on and instructed we leave the plane, so they could replace a tire. That set us back nearly two hours, but fortunately, we braved the elements, got to Rochester safely, and landed to 14 degrees and a fair amount of snow.
Overall, an eventful, but uneventful weekend. Unfortunately, the outcome was not what we wanted, but the team could get back on the right track this weekend at home against Holy Cross. Dan Ringwald may be gearing himself up for a nice pro career after this season, hopefully a long rest of the season with a trip to the NCAA’s of course.