Sunday, August 15, 2010

Messing With My Mind

One of the favorite days of any summer is when UMD posts the next season's men's hockey roster on their website.

That happened last week, and while some focused on the decision announced that Duluth native Chris Stafne would not be a part of the team, I immediately started looking to see which players apparently want to confuse me.

Well, not really, but it's a fun joke to carry on with.

Every year, it seems at least a couple UMD players change their number. Some guys will do it more than once, while others have stuck with a number for three years before deciding it just isn't good enough anymore.

There's always a story behind a number change. Well, not really. Some guys just couldn't pick their favorite number when they arrived, and as soon as that number became available, they jumped on it.

The season opens Oct. 8 at Lake Superior State -- a game you can hear live on 94X in the Twin Ports and the same outstate KQ network stations (105.5 Grand Rapids and 106.7 Babbitt) as last year. I'm starting to get excited, and I also need to memorize a few new number-player combinations.

For starters, we have the six freshmen. Forward Joe Basaraba took No. 18, most recently worn by MacGregor Sharp. Forward and Duluth East graduate Max Tardy went with No. 19, which was worn by Nick Kemp, another local star-turned-Bulldog. The other forward in this class, J.T. Brown, chose No. 23, which was worn by father Ted Brown during his career with the Minnesota Vikings.

Defenseman Luke McManus is going to wear No. 21, which was vacated by now-junior Travis Oleksuk. More on that in a second. Defenseman Justin Faulk is going with No. 25, a number not taken by a Bulldog since Blair Lefebvre wore it in 2004-2005. He was only at UMD one season, but the previous No. 25, Jesse Unklesbay, was there for two seasons.

Last but not least, goalie Christian Gaffy chose No. 30, worn last year by Brady Hjelle, who left the team to return to the USHL and eventually transfer.

Oleksuk gave up No. 21 to take No. 11, which was used by Kyle Schmidt for three years. Schmidt is taking No. 7 for his senior season, a number worn most recently by Drew Akins and -- before that -- now-Florida Panther Jason Garrison.

I'm getting off easy, actually, because no one else is changing numbers from last year. Maybe the guys like me after all.

On second thought, why would someone do that? :)