Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Genesis of Animal House

Bluto a Dartmouth Hockey Fan??
Dartmouth hockey fans were the perfect role models for John Landis' rowdy film project in 1977. Miracle Man Dave Silk found himself smack dap in the middle of the Dartmouth frat scene. This passage is excerpted from the new book: Jack Parker's Wiseguys.

The Terriersnext test was up in Hanover, New Hampshire, facing Dartmouth and their rowdy student fans in Thompson Arena. This was a game in which BUs fresh faces once again rescued the upperclassmen, and a Terrier veteran returned the favor.

A controversial incident occurred during the pregame, in which Silk obtained a DNA sample from one of Dartmouths most boisterous fans. Like so many other road buildings BU played in that year, Thompson Arena was a tempest of negative energy during warm-ups, with fans perched on top of the Plexiglas to make sure they could express themselves fully.

“All the Dartmouth frat boys are hanging over the glass,” said Silk. Keep in mind that the movie Animal House was in production at that mo- ment, and director John Landis and the late writer Harold Ramis both stated that the lm was based on Dartmouth College and its raucous frat party life. The undergrads hanging over the glass on that December afternoon were essentially Animal House role models. At least one had obtained a roster and done enough homework to connect names with uniform numbers of the enemy players. And they desperately sought Silks attention.

“Were skating around, and the frat guys are yelling, ‘Hey Silk, hey Dave!And as I look up, he spits this big loogie in my face, all over me. So now Im thinking, that son of a . . .” Rather than stop and confront this real-life Bluto Blutarsky, Silk skated a tight circle around his zone, picking up speed like a Roller Derby villain, intent on getting even for the obscene injustice. Silk arrived just prior to another DNA deposit. “As I do a loop, I see the same guy yelling, ‘Hey Fidler, Fidler! Hey Mark!So I sped up.” Just as young Bluto puckered up to unload on the unsuspecting Fidler, he noticed a blunt object heading his way, with evil intent. Some- how the Blutarsky wannabe was sober enough to pull a Keanu Reeves Matrix dodge to avoid the heel of Silks Christian Brothers stick. “He saw me coming at the last minute,” said Silk, “and ducked down so my stick broke over the glass, not over his head.” The frat party on the glass im- mediately broke up, sans bloodshed but not controversy. “It might have glanced him,” conceded Silk, “but it certainly didnt hurt him.”

Silk added insult to psychic injury when he scored early at Thompson Arena, but BU had dificulty shaking the Big Green, who pounded thirty shots at BU netminder Brian Durocher. Coached by clever tactician George Crowe, Dartmouth held a 2–1 lead entering the nal period. Thats when BUs freshmen stepped up once again with the game on the line. Daryl MacLeod got the tying goal early on a feed from Billy Cotter, and then Cotter banged home the winner with helpers from classmates MacLeod and Miller. BU secured the 3–2 victory, a game that could have easily gone sideways. It was Durochers rst Division I win of the young season, and the Terriers were ready to steal away into the frigid New Hampshire night with two valuable points. Then the long arm of the law arrived.

Silk remembers being in his birthday suit when he was alerted. “Im in the shower, and one of the coaches says, ‘Dave, come out.And theres a couple of Dartmouth cops, and they want to press charges,” said Silk. “I remember Al Sid, a friend of BU hockey, was there, and they all huddled up with Jack Parker and the coaches.”
BU radio play-by-play man Artie Moher arrived at a scene he clearly didnt expect to see: Silk dripping wet, wearing only a towel, being ques- tioned by men in badges. “Campus security was there,” said Moher, “and one of these kids claimed that Silk hit him with his stick. For a second we were thinking we might have to wait a little longer than we thought to get out of Hanover.” Fortunately, the Dartmouth athletic director saw what actually transpired and was a compelling witness. “Seaver Peters came down, and he pretty much put the blame on the students,” said Moher.

“There was a summit meeting outside,” said Silk. “One thing led to another, and it all went away.” After dressing, Silk was now free to get on the bus and head home with the rest of his teammates. As for his accus- ers? “Those knuckleheads were right out of central casting.”
There is no definitive record of Dartmouth AD Petersnext meeting with the frat boys in question and whether or not he uttered the phrase, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.” 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Casey Mittelstadt: In his Own Words

The Mighty Casey 
In the midst of a scintillating November series between Minnesota and Michigan at Yost Arena, Gophers freshman sat down with reporter Tim Rappleye

Rappleye: You just played in one of the greatest games in memory here in this old barn. What was it like from your perspective?
Mittelstadt: It was my first time here, it was pretty special to come out and play, obviously it was a great atmosphere with the student section and things like that. We’ve got to play a little better in the second half of the game, but it was definitely a cool atmosphere and a fun game.

Rappleye: How about for you, a freshman getting big minutes at the end, with the game on the line. This is your first go-round in the NCAA, you appeared to have a big battle level.
Mittelstadt: Coming in I try and bring the same compete level back home in school and at the USHL. It’s not too much different, just try and come out and make plays, play my game and see where it takes me.

Rappleye: Coach Lucia was surprised at your intensity, compared it to Kyle Rau.
Mittelstadt:. He’s very good with me. Growing up watching him (Rau) helps a lot, I got to watch him since he was in pee-wees and bantams. That’s definitely special being compared to a guy like that and try and carry on in his shoes.

Rappleye: Minnesota and Michigan are two of the great hockey states in America. I know you’ve played summers in Plymouth at the World Junior Showcase, what other experiences have you had in Michigan?
Mittelstadt: I came out here for a couple of weeks, played a couple USHL games with the (NTDP) program before I went to Worlds, so I was there for a little bit. I’ve been here the last two summers with the World Junior camp, so I got to know Plymouth pretty well I guess, it’s been pretty fun seeing what it’s like. The World Junior camp is the middle of summer, and the stands are full, it’s a pretty special place and it’s definitely a good atmosphere.

Rappleye: On the topic of World Juniors, once the first half of the college season is complete, the odds are you are going to be an important point producer for Team USA. Does that cross your mind at all?
Mittelstadt: Not really. At this point we’ve got to come out and get some wins back here with Minnesota. It’s important to get a good start and I think for us we’re starting to get rolling, making plays and play how we want. I’m definitely focused on being with Minnesota right now, and when time comes, I’ll be ready for that.

Rappleye: There’s one cherry on top of the Sundae, the outdoor game versus Canada. Have you played in some big outdoor games in the past?
Mittelstadt: I played in Hockey Day in Minnesota last year, that was outdoors in down in Stillwater, Minnesota. That was a pretty big deal in Minnesota. Hopefully if I make it there (Buffalo) it probably won’t compare, it will be pretty special.

Rappleye: Do you remember watching Sid Crosby’s winning goal in that first Winter Classic back in snowy Bufffalo? Because you’ll be playing in that same venue.
Mittelstadt: I’m probably the biggest Crosby fan you’ll ever find, so yeah, I have definitely seen that, it will be special to go out, especially to play against Canada in that big game on New Year’s Eve. I’ve watched that since I was a young boy, being able to go out and play in that will be something cool and will cherish it.

Rappleye: You have a lot of new fans in Buffalo since the NHL draft. You spent time at the NHL Combine there. Have you sampled the culture, the Buffalo wings? What’s your memory of Buffalo and your thoughts about the city?
Mittelstadt: Actually, my earliest memory of Buffalo was really just to fly in there when we’re going to Toronto and spend the night. I’ve had some of the wings, I’ve been around to a few places, I think the Anchor Bar was the first one I went to. I’ve been there, been to development camp, not too much, but I’ve seen a little bit. Everything I’ve seen I’ve liked.

Rappleye: People outside of Minnesota want to know what’s the secret sauce that keeps you guys playing together, keeps you guys in High School rather than jumping to the USHL full time. The camaraderie in the room, it seems like it carries over here at the U. Can you help our readers understand what’s so special about the Great State of Hockey?
Mittelstadt: I think the main thing is you play with the same kids since you’re a really young guy. For me, I got to know some of these guys on the team playing fall and summer teams and you kind of bond, you’re all from Minnesota, you’re all playing for your high school and understand each other. My teammates last year were the same teammates I’ve had since I was five, six. So for me, they’ve been my best friends my whole life, getting to grow up and play with them is something pretty cool.

Rappleye: I thought you being a freshman at Minnesotan would bring a lot of pressure, but there have been contributions from other freshman. Does it help to have other freshman share the burden?
Mittelstadt: If I come in with pressure, I’m not scared of it, I’ve grown used to it. You get really close to the freshmen, we all live in the dorms together, we all know each other really well, so any time you see them doing well it’s a huge boost and it makes you want to play harder.

Rappleye: In the winter, Minnesota becomes the land of 10,000 frozen lakes. How much pond hockey did you play, and do you still play?
Mittelstadt: I have a rink in my back yard, my dad always put up, I’ve played endless amounts of pond hockey, some really late nights. That’s one of the main reasons it got me to love hockey, playing back there with my buddies and my brothers. I’ve been out there as much as anyone, if not the most probably. I loved it growing up.

Rappleye: There are stories about 2 a.m. games in your back yard.
Mittelstadt: I think I got really lucky my parents would let it happen, and my neighbors would be OK with it, they all had kids and some of them played hockey so they kinda understood when the boards are banging at 2 a.m. I got lucky I got some good buddies who loved it as much as me. When you’re out there you lose track of time, just having fun. It’s some of the best memories growing up.

Rappleye: I understand your parents are not typical hockey parents. Is that true they never played the game?

Mittelstadt: It’s pretty nice, I don’t get too much pressure from them. My dad skated growing up with his buddies, but never played. I come home, I played terrible, my parents say ‘Good Game.’ It was perfect for me, a perfect situation growing up.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Seth Appert's Return to ECAC Hockey

Seth Appert spent 2016-17 on the Hot Seat(Times Union)
ECAC Hockey fans may have noticed that a Seth Appert-coached team rolled through Dartmouth and Harvard in late October, as USA Hockey’s U-18 National team split a pair, opening with a 3-0 win at Dartmouth before bowing to Harvard 7-2 the next night. When Appert was fired by RPI last March, coaching at Thompson Arena and the Bright-Landry Center must have seemed light years away. But before the 2017-18 Ivy schedule was even officially underway, there was Appert back on familiar ground, coaching his teenage wunderkinds against the men of the ECAC. The last six months have been a long, strange trip for Appert, and we caught up with him by phone before he jetted off to Finland with the Red, White and Blue.

RinkRap: You’ve been through some pretty intense highs and lows this past off-season. Can you share your mindset as this all went down?
APPERT: You have to go back to mid-March when I had one of the worst professional days of my life, being fired from RPI. People say coaches are hired to be fired, but when it’s you, and it’s your family and your kids that are going to have to be uprooted, it’s hard. I’m really proud of what we built at RPI, and getting that program back towards national prominence, but we had a bad year last year, and those things happen. That’s a hard day.
A Dark Day in March, and then the phone rang-(Daily Gazette)
The next day you’re kind of talked out. Everybody’s calling and checking in on you and all those other things. It’s probably eight in the morning, and my phone’s ringing and it’s John Wroblewski, the other head coach of the (NTDP) national team. I was getting my daughters on the bus, and I let it go to voice mail. I was assuming he was calling to see how I was doing, right? But he was calling to ask me to join their coaching staff for the Under-18 World Championships.

I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity that John and Director Scott Monaghan provided me at that moment. The moment when you’re in a real bad spot, for those guys to call me the next day and offer me the opportunity of a lifetime, to join a U.S. National team for a world championship event, was very, very special. I’m very grateful for that.

I spent six weeks with them, a couple weeks of practice and then a month overseas, and then went right back overseas with Jeff Blashill with their staff for the men’s championship. During that process I interviewed for the job here (in Plymouth with the NTDP) after Danton Cole became head coach at Michigan State.

RinkRap: Were those World Championships an audition of sorts, were they observing you?
APPERT: It wasn’t intended for that, at that point Danton was still on the job and the Michigan State job wasn’t even open yet. Robo (Wroblewski) and I have some of the same philosophies and styles of play and coaching, and he wanted me to join the staff. In the end, it did become a two-month interview process, with USA Hockey people at the highest levels, interacting with me on a daily basis, watching how I interact with both the Under-18  team and also the men’s national team. That eventually led to this opportunity.
Appert at his New Home with the NTDP-(Hometown Life)
RinkRap: You and the NTDP seem like a pretty good fit.
APPERT: From my end, I believe it is, I’m having a blast. It’s extremely re-energizing and exciting. I’ve been coaching college hockey for 12 years and I love college hockey and believe in it strongly, but this is refreshing. They’re younger, they’re hungry to learn, they’re extremely talented and driven; there’s a lot of mentorship in their work ethic and habits and also in their off-ice life. We’re just trying to march forward every day to get them better individually and collectively.

RinkRap: It must have been surreal to leave Thompson Arena with a win, after playing them so many times with RPI.
APPERT: It’s different. When you walk out with a win when at RPI, you’re excited about the two points in the standings and you're thinking about the next game. When you walk out with these young men, and seeing how hard they have to battle to give themselves a chance to win against a college team, it wasn’t about the two points, it’s about all these things we’re trying to do— We’re trying to put our guys in as much adversity as possible, and then helping them through that and growing from it so we can become better. I was really happy for our guys.
Appert's Teens Claim a Scalp up at Thompson 
From the perspective of being back on a Dartmouth-Harvard road trip, it didn’t feel very much different from years past. It’s funny, Rand Pecknold texted me, “Dartmouth-Harvard this weekend, it’s like you never left.” That’s certainly a trip you’re familiar with coming from the ECAC.

RinkRap: Did you allow yourself time for introspection as you exited Thompson Arena? Being back in such familiar surroundings, yet in a totally unexpected setting?
APPERT: That’s not who I am. I’m not a real nostalgia type of guy, I am a live-in-the moment type of guy. I’m not a guy that walks around and tries to soak up those kinds of things, that’s just not who I am, but at the end of the day, it was great. I have tremendous respect for Bob Gaudette, and really cherished the opportunity to coach against him for those 11 years I was in the ECAC. Associate coach Dave Lassonde has been a good friend of mine since I was a young coach in this game the last 27 years. It’s always good to see old friends and visit with them either before or after the game.

For the record, the last time a Seth Appert-coached club won at Thompson Arena was November 2, 2013, when RPI defeated Dartmouth 7-1.