And so it ends…

As all good things must come to an end, so has the 2012-2013 hockey season.  I’m not a journalist of course, I’m fan.  A fan who enjoys watching the game, celebrates the victories and mourns the defeats.  Judging by some of the other articles posted out there already, either the season was a failure or as a writer, maybe you’re soft.  Fortunately, as a fan, I get to celebrate what I want, and I’m celebrating this team’s end of the season run!

I’ve been hit or miss with my blog entries throughout the year.  I’ve found it hard to write when I’ve been mourning losses, or more recently perhaps I’ve been superstitious and not wanted to write to ruin the run.  Nevertheless, the season is over and it’s time to get my thoughts and pictures in.

After living and dying, and boy it was a lot of dying with the games this year, I always came in with a fresh attitude for each game.  I met up with @yostusher and @eaglescout03 as much as possible just to compare notes and see if we could find some way to cheer the team on to victory for that game.  From a superstitious point of view, I think I may have tried everything.  I even broke out the Michigan hardhat that had been retired a few seasons ago to see if it could break things open.  Through that time I managed to meet a lot of other fans, and I hope some of you are still following me.

Coming into the Semifinal game, I was as hopeful as I’ve been all season.  The team had really grown together and finally seemed to get the message that they were better as a team than they had been playing, and it was going to take extraordinary efforts by every guy every game to win.  On Saturday, I saw that effort.  Whether it was Jacob Trouba diving into the net to make a save on a shot off the post, or A.J. Grinding it out in the corner for a puck, the effort was definitely there, and that effort paid off.  In the second period the team managed to put up four goals, three of them in less than 3 minutes to put the game out of reach.  Still they pushed themselves to keep the pressure on to make sure that the Redhawks would not mount a comeback.  As improbable as it was, Michigan had managed to sweep Northern Michigan, sweep Western Michigan on the road, and knock off the #1 seed Miami Redhawks at the Joe in the Semifinal game.  I just watched that game again off my DVR, and this is the memory I want to remember of this team.   At this point I’d love to see Miami go on to win the National Championship, knowing that we took them down 6-2 with our backs against the wall.

Sunday just wasn’t the same.  I really think we used up so much emotion on Saturday beating Miami, that the tank was just a little too empty on Sunday.  We still worked hard and found a way to get the first goal, but a goal 30 seconds into the 3rd period was all it took to lock the win away.  I’m sure that there are those out there talking about the empty net goal and how it was misplayed.  Forget about it.  That goal had nothing to do with the final outcome of the game.  Steve Racine, if you happen to read this article as you wander around the internet, I want you to know I saw the long face at the end of the game, but you played your heart out, and that’s all I ever wanted to see from the Men in Blue.

So, as the season ends, for the first time in 23 years Michigan won’t be in the NCAA tournament.  It was a streak that had to end eventually, and no one wanted to be on that team.   But you guys stepped up and drove this team right up to the finish line and for that I will always be proud of you.   You could have quit and made excuses, freshman goaltenders, injuries on the defensive core, bad puck luck, and you could have even convinced yourselves that it wasn’t your fault.   In the face of adversity, you finally stepped up and put everything on the line for the team.  This is what will make you a Michigan Man.  Be proud of your effort, and the next time you take the ice, in Michigan colors or elsewhere, remember that effort and play every second with that mentality.  It’s with good reason that it’s said, “Those who stay will be champions!”

Until next season, thanks.  I’m hopeful that all of the underclassmen will return, even though my heart fears that isn’t true.  Regardless, to all of you, a hearty #GoBlue!

Here are a few of the pictures I managed to take during the semifinal and final games.  I was watching way to much to take too many good pictures!  I think I’ll leave the captions up to you.

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