When You’re Old(er) III . . .

6-10-06-2-1

Sticking with a tried and true methodology, always lead a blog posting with girl hockey players!  We’re still stuck inside.  Just heard from a fellow member of the Fat Boys Walking Club that he will not be walking again tomorrow – he said the roads out of his association are solid ice.  So, just stay home and blog.  Oh, we heard from Dave Harris, Voice of the Cardinals, that the final score of the boys’ hockey game was 5 – 4.  Thanks, Dave.  That’s 3 different scores from 3 different sources – at least they all agreed that we won!  😉

FOB’s (Friends of the Blog) will recognize our celebrity guests above.  Always two of our favorites, because they were just fun, Sara and Andrea Toft in 2006.  On their 18th birthday, they were the stars of the . . . well, the by-line follows.  😉 

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[Super Fans, the supervisor and Vivian Annen join in.]

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[This was at their high school graduation party.  They have long since graduated from Augsberg, where they continued their hockey careers.]

Editor’s note:  This blog has only been in existence for two years.  The Class of ’65’s, however, goes back to 2004.  If you should be so inclined, I was a contributing columnist back then on Cardinal sports at www.65roundup.blogspot.com.  I borrowed the one published there on February 17, 2006, about the Greatest Hockey Game Evey Played, because the Toft sisters were the stars: 

What a night! or how the cub reporter learned, at the age of 58, he can still jump (though, granted, not very high).

By Tom Obert
Cub Columnist

2-17-06-2

Approximately half way through the SECOND overtime last night, Sara Toft, who with twin sister Andrea was also celebrating her 18th birthday, scored the winning goal to beat Totino-Grace, 3 – 2, to win the section 2, class A, girls hockey championship at the MAC in St. Cloud. The Cardinals will now make their 3rd consecutive appearance in the state tournament at the Xcel Center next weekend (I believe their games will be Friday and Saturday).

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[The supervisor cheering the winning goal!]

The setup: All week long, Cardinal sports announcer Dave Harris had been creating unnecessary angst for cub reporter-in-training Bob Annen by telling him Totino was awesome. They had two college division 1 prospects – a tall, fast center who proved to be every bit as good as advertised, and a defenseman who appeared to be about 6’9″ and who never came off the ice. Of course, all this fed the pre-conceived notions of we outstate Minnesotans that the camel-hair coat, cashmere sweater metro-area private schools (description by the cub reporter-in-training and past Honeywell executive, though the cub reporter himself will admit to a similar bias) “employ” mercenaries on all their athletic teams against our home-grown, pinked-cheeked, apple pie and lemonade kids.

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Nevertheless, the omens all week appeared to be good. Our girls basketball team won on a night the Alexandria Aces performed at halftime, the boys swimming and diving team completed an undefeated season with the conference championship, our boys basketball team beat Rocori (the No. 2 ranked team in the state) and won again Thursday, and our boys hockey team won at St. Cloud Tech (no minor accomplishment). This cub reporter felt good about our prospects.

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On the advice of Mr. Harris, our caravan departed for the game wearing the same attire as had been worn for the semi-final game and with the idea of obtaining the same seats (which we did).

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The moms told us before the game that the girls were very nervous – trying to get back to the state tournament for the 11 seniors with their best team. Probably because of that nervousness, they seemed very tight through most of the first period and were probably lucky to escape that period with a scoreless tie.

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The pace picked up in the second period and Alex emerged with a 2 – 1 lead, with goals by Andrea Toft and Ashley Holmes, heading into the final period. The Cards maintained that lead well into the third period when they were hit with a “frivolous” (that isn’t the word we used at the time, but this is family friendly blog site) too many men on the ice penalty. Totino took advantage of that power play to score the tying goal. Nevertheless, throughout the game and the two overtime periods, sophomore Danielle Justice was spectacular in goal.

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The first overtime, and then the second, exhausted players and spectators alike. When Sara finally scored the winning goal, bedlam broke out on the ice and in the stands. The cub reporter, in a total failure at maintaining professional dignity, found himself jumping up and down with and hugging classmate Bud Bruzek, and high-fiving parents all around. The girls on the ice collapsed in the corner in a pile of jubilation and tears. The cub reporter regrouped to try to capture as much of this as he could on film.

We returned to Alex driven by the cub reporter-in-training, who initially thought it would be a grand idea (well, all of us did), to follow the Alex buses home. The buses got lost somewhere in a St. Cloud subdivision, but we eventually found our way home by midnight. The cub reporter and Ruthie were dropped at Mom Obert’s to pick up their car where we discovered the following note stuck on the windshield by Mom: “What a game! Go Cardinals!  I guess the refs were terrible, but WE WON!” Apparently Mr. Harris was expressing some exasperation about the officiating over the air (probably something to do with our paranoia over metro-area favoritism). Abby William’s mom told us during the game that she was going to write a letter to someone in authority – she was quite upset that Abby was tripped, tackled, and otherwise maimed throughout the game without any penalties being called. But . . . we won and will move on.

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Photos: Right after winning the game – Ruthie, in spite of her Hoosier basketball genes, has become quite the fan, and with Vivian, does all the cheers and belts out the Cardinal fight song; in the photo above, Sara (19) and Andrea (44) Toft, on their 18th birthday, talk with Echo Press photographer Arlan Anderson – in the background, Dave Harris (in red) is interviewing Coach Mitch Loch.

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[Brittney Bruzek was also a main cog of that 2006 team – and her dad, Bud, just happens to be a fellow Alex Class of 65er!  🙂 ]

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[Alums from the 2006 team, including the sisters Toft, returned for a game the following fall.  If only they would learn to have fun?]

Ruthie&Boog

[To the best of my knowledge, our hockey team did not have anything to do with the supervisor’s photo op with Boog Powell.  😉 ]

Also from the archives, hard to believe it’s already 5 years ago, a letter published in the Echo Press:

March 2, 2008

Dear Alexandria girls’ hockey team:

It’s really hard to write this without being maudlin.  I hate maudlin.  OK, it’s going to be maudlin. 

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[Del and Abby, always a favorite photo.  They played on the same line together from the time they were in diapers.]

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[In the championship year, Michelle Anez, two years their younger joined their line.  We’ll always remember a game in Fergus that year where an Otter fan harrumphed, “Well, you should win, you have the best line in the state!”  🙂 ]

On behalf of all the Super Fans, Ruthie & I congratulate you for your state championship season.  Of course, we always knew you could do it!  And we especially congratulate the seven seniors who led the team to five straight state tournament appearances – you were responsible for (yes, it’s all your fault!) growing the Super Fan base from a total of one five years ago to now over 20, with the additional distinction of having “snow bird” fans schedule their winter vacations to not conflict with the team’s schedule.

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[The supervisor leads me into the RCC.]

We began following most of you when you were 8th-graders.  We were attracted by the obvious joy and zeal you brought to the playing the game – the fun was evident even through the cages you wear over your heads.  We enjoyed following you through the fun bunch years – led by your upper class mentors, such as Brittney Bruzek; Ahna Olson; the Toft sisters, Alison, Andrea, and Sara; Ashley Weisel; Danielle Manthei; and, of course, Courtney Walsh (we all grieved with the team over her tragic death).  You all seemed to really enjoy playing with each other.  We were hooked!

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[Michelle Anez, Ally Nielsen, Kat DelZoppo, Ashley Holmes, Abby Nelson, Stacey Paulzine, and an old guy]

After one game way back then, we chuckled as we watched you girls (not that there’s anything wrong with being a girl) look on in awe, from outside their circle, at your upper class teammates, then young women, as they chatted about whatever young women chat about.  We called Ahna “Mom,” because before the opening face-off of every game, Abby and Del would skate back to her defense position, look straight up (for Ahna was about a head taller) as if seeking final pre-game advice from their on-ice mother.  We laughed when Brittney would go into a corner to scrap for the puck, while Abby and Del would stand patiently outside the scrum waiting, like cats for a mouse, for it to pop out. Those teams were the foundation of this year’s state championship team.

The Super Fans have also received a degree of notoriety from the team’s excellence, and, of course, it has tickled us no end.  Many times complete strangers come up to us and ask if we are the Super Fans – and I, for one, was totally taken aback when it happened in Kuala Lumpur! 

Now you have created a legacy – and a participatory interest that already appears to be producing significant fruit at the junior high level.  So, to Abby Williams, Abby Nelson, Ashley Holmes, Caitlin Murphy, Danielle Justice, Kathryn DelZoppo, and Nikki Ecklund, you have been wonderful ambassadors for your school, and for your community.  We will miss you next year but wish you well as you move on to the next stage of your young lives.  And we thank you for introducing us to the sport of girls’ hockey – we will continue to be fans.

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[Back, l-r: Abby Nelson, Caitlin Murphy, Kathryn DelZoppo, Danielle Justice.  Front, l-r: Abby Williams, Ashley Holmes, Nikki Ecklund]

Oh, and don’t worry about your moms when you go off to college next year.  They, and some moms from other sports who are also about to become empty nesters, have requested enrollment into the Super Fan contingency for next season.  Of course, all are welcome – and we’ll take good care of them.  They should just be aware, however, that they would significantly lower the average age of the group.

Sincerely,  Tom & Ruthie (the editor) Obert, Super Fans

[p.s.  Congratulations to Abby Nelson!  According to Friday’s Echo Press, she is engaged to be married.  We wish her all the best.] 

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[Sara and Andrea had graduated by then – but they helped set the table!]

WV

[Certain Easterners in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, skate in a different century.]

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