Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Hockey Talk

With the weather in Princeton solidly in the upper 90s most of these days, the subject for today is of course ice hockey.

TigerBlog saw a man the other day who was wearing a Minnesota North Stars hat. For those who don't remember, the Minnesota North Stars were an NHL team from their expansion in 1967 until the franchise relocated to Dallas in 1993 and dropped the "North" from the name.

The Minnesota North Stars never won a Stanley Cup, losing twice in the finals, in 1981 and 1991. It reminded TB of Princeton's men's hockey team, which won the ECAC championship in 1998, 2008 and 2018.

The North Stars had great uniforms, with a green and yellow logo. TB originally thought that Princeton alum Syl Apps had spent time with the North Stars, but it turned out that he didn't.

That Syl Apps was Syl Apps Jr., the son of a hockey Hall-of-Famer. Junior played at Princeton in the 1966-67 season before becoming a pro; Syl Apps III is one of the best players Princeton hockey has ever had.

In fact, it was Syl Apps III who scored the game-winning goal early in the second overtime of Princeton's 5-4 win over Clarkson in the 1998 ECAC championship game. Apps III played in 122 games as a Tiger, finishing with 30 goals and 41 assists.

His numbers his final two years were 23 goals and 29 assists.

His sister Gillian, by the way, played at Dartmouth and would win two gold medals with the Canadian Olympic women's hockey team. He also has another sister, Amy, who played on the Canadian women's national soccer team and a cousin who won a gold medal in Olympic rowing.

Athletic group.

When TB saw the guy with the North Stars' hat, he entered into this exchange:

TB: "Minnesota North Stars?"
Guy in hat: "Yeah. It's an old hat."
TB: "Wearing your Hartford Whalers hat next?"

The Hartford Whalers, by the way, were a team in the World Hockey Association that was absorbed into the NHL in 1979, along with the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques. The Whalers are now the Carolina Hurricanes, those Winnipeg Jets are now the Arizona Coyotes and the Nordiques are now the Colorado Avalanche.

The current Winnipeg Jets are 1) the relocated Atlanta Thrashers and 2) the favorite team of Princeton  broadcaster Patrick McCarthy, for some strange reason.

Seriously, how does a young man from Central Jersey become a Winnipeg Jets fan? TB will have to ask him.

How does anyone became a fan of any pro team for that matter? Usually it's one of three reasons: 1) they're the local team, 2) there is a family history of rooting for that team or 3) that team is a perennial favorite (like the Cowboys or Yankees).

For TB, by the way, you can add 4) because that team has Princeton alums. Even the Yankees, with Mike Ford.

Speaking of hockey, TB also came across an older gentleman while on his bike the other day. TB was dressed head-to-toe in Princeton gear, and the man asked him if he went to Princeton.

TB explained that no, he didn't, but that he's worked there for 30-plus years and that his daughter attends the school and plays on the women's lacrosse team. That explained why he was wearing a Princeton Women's Lacrosse Ivy League Tournament 2019 champion t-shirt, the man said.

TB also explained that he was a Penn alum but that he'd gotten over that long ago.

When TB asked the man where he had gone to school, he said he was a Dartmouth alum, Class of 1960. TB's first response was that he graduated one year after the great Rudy LaRusso, the Dartmouth basketball player who became a five-time NBA all-star in the 1960s (a great era of NBA basketball). He was also the first Jewish player ever to score 50 points in an NBA game.

TB asked the man if he had been an athlete, and he said he'd played hockey and lacrosse for the Big Green. TB asked him about the athletic facilities at the time, what his experience was, those kinds of questions.

They also talked about the Princeton-Dartmouth football game at Princeton in 2018 (Princeton won 14-9 in a battle of unbeatens at Princeton Stadium) and the game last fall at Yankee Stadium (Dartmouth won 27-10 in another matchup of unbeatens).

The man said he had been at both games. TB pointed out that he was the PA announcer for the 2018 game.

Then it was back off on his bike.

It's always nice to find an Ivy League athletic alum, whatever year. There's always some connection, and it's always a pleasant, mutually respectful exchange.

It's one of the special things about the Ivy League. Everyone always wants to win of course, but there is a common bond between the eight schools. TB has seen that over and over, and he really likes it.

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