It's amazing what happens when you don't have a "real" job.
I was sitting on my couch last night, watching the St. Scholastica-UWS game on iFan.
(Would have been at the game, but the boy had minor surgery Friday and the Mrs. was out of town, so I had to pretend to be a parent for a night.)
Even though it was a few seconds behind, I listened to the webcast from ESPN Radio 560, even though it's Scholastica's station. Steve Jezierski and Mark Marette do an entertaining broadcast, and Steve's always been one of the better play-by-play guys we have around here.
As I'm sitting there taking the game in (UWS won 4-3 in a highly-entertaining game), it hits me.
The playoffs are coming.
It's not that I haven't been paying attention. It's more that I haven't really been paying that kind of attention. When you're on the air every day, you're much more cognizant of what's coming up in one, two, or even three weeks. When you're just being a fan, those things don't stick in your head as much.
High school girls hockey playoffs are underway. Their state tournament is coming up at the end of February at the XCel Energy Center (gah!).
UWS and St. Scholastica are preparing for the NCHA playoffs, which begin next weekend. UWS knows they will host Lake Forest, the last-place team in the NCHA. The Yellowjackets (20-2-3, 11-1-2 NCHA) won the league title. Lake Forest (5-17-2, 0-12-1) needs to beat St. Norbert Saturday night to avoid a winless conference season.
St. Scholastica (18-5-2, 9-4-1) hasn't played a home playoff series at any point I can remember. They host either UW-River Falls or UW-Eau Claire next weekend.
Both teams are almost sure bets to make the NCAA Division III Tournament. With UMD in a good position in Division I (but with a ton of hockey to go before that tournament selection), it's been a wonderful year for local college hockey.
Oh, and the high school boys start their road to St. Paul next weekend.
For those who support local sports, it's the most wonderful time of the year. There are games all over the place, admission is affordable, and the action is top-notch.
It's good to be a fan sometimes.