Outside of Danny Kristo's hit from behind, last Friday's North Dakota-Minnesota game was relatively tame. Just two rivals playing a hard, physical game that ended on a third-period goal by Brock Nelson.
Saturday was more of the same, for the most part. Minnesota defenseman Mark Alt was sent off for a hit from behind, but otherwise, the game stayed clean until the clock was at zeroes.
Here is longtime Minnesota radio voice Wally Shaver's description of the incident.
UND defenseman Ben Blood was stripped of his assistant captaincy by UND coach Dave Hakstol. As of this writing, and based on the people I've talked to about the incident, it appears the WCHA will pass on any further discipline for those involved.
Wednesday, Hakstol made his weekly appearance on the UND Coaches Show. It's available for download on iTunes, but I went through and pulled some relevant quotes.
First off, Hakstol is making no excuses for Blood, a four-year player for UND who earned the right to hold a leadership position with this relatively young team.
"One of the points of responsibility is ours," Hakstol said. "That's what we've dealt with with Ben Blood. In no uncertain terms is that acceptable to us."
Hakstol said it was a "heated incident," and he noted the Blood did indeed snap.
However, the coach wasn't mincing words when talking about the likely reason Blood snapped like he did.
"Go back and watch the videotape," he said. "At the 0:00 mark of the game, No. 21 for Minnesota (Jake Hansen) comes off the bench as a sixth skater, from behind, two-hands Ben Blood. In other words, off the bench, enters an altercation."
Hakstol also had a serious issue with Shaver's call of the action, which went viral after it aired on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities Monday morning.
"We all work for somebody," Hakstol said, referring to Shaver working the broadcast for the Gophers' statewide radio network. "I get it. I understand it. But a man I have known for almost 20 years (Shaver) really crossed the line.
"First of all, calling a student athlete a 'lunkhead,' referring to our program as a bunch of hoseheads. He's got Canada covered, and he's talked about a Minnesota-born student athlete. That's really crossing the line."
Hakstol referenced Hansen's slash, which he believes instigated everything else that went on, and notes "nothing's mentioned about that, that begins the whole thing, from Wally's standpoint. Wally attacks our player and our program, and that's political crap."
I handle this with care, for a couple different reasons.
For starters, since I got this job seven years ago, I've respected the hell out of Hakstol. He handles himself exceptionally well in the media, and has always been very giving of his time and insights to me. I'm not stupid enough to think that just because I respect the coach, that means his program is without flaws and never does anything wrong.
I argued vehemently Saturday -- and still maintain -- that the WCHA should have suspended Kristo for his flagrant and dangerous hit on Ben Marshall Friday night, along with his actions after being ejected from that game. This isn't some pro-UND rant because I happen to like their coach, radio and TV voices, their beat writer, and their SID.
Wally Shaver is one of my favorite play-by-play guys in the WCHA. Is he slanted? Hell yes. And he's not going to run and hide from it. His broadcast is produced for the Gophers' statewide network, and he caters to Gopher fans. His former color guy -- Glen Sonmor, an insanely wonderful individual -- openly and unapologetically cheered Gopher players on the air. His new partner, Frank Mazzocco, is one of the nicest guys you'll find anywhere on the WCHA beat.
I'm not going to criticize Wally, because I've been there before. Hell, I freely admit that I probably would have gone off the rails Saturday and called it similar to the way he did.
I also know I can't do that. Not only is it not professional, but my audience is bigger than I think. So is Wally's.
It's a broadcast conducted by Gopher supporters, and it's meant for Gopher supporters. But the internet and social media have changed all that. I see that every time I mispronounce the name of a UMD opponent's player, or whenever I tell a heinously bad joke on the air. Our broadcasts are worldwide, and fans of all sorts of teams listen in. That doesn't mean you have to abandon your principles and be 100 percent objective, but you also can't do what you might have done 10 years ago with no one outside your fanbase noticing.
Gopher fans will back his words. They probably think Ben Blood is a punk, or a lunkhead. They probably think the UND program is cheap, and at least some of them probably can't wait until they don't have to play UND unless their program chooses to in non-conference play.
But the reality is Hakstol has a point. It's cool to call a player's individual actions idiotic, classless, or whatever. But when you jump from that to calling student athletes names, you're more than likely crossing a line.
I should know, as I'm sure I've done it before. That doesn't make it okay.
(I need to mention that Wally's line about "Go start your own league" was hilarious and not a part of any negativity I may feel towards his call.)
(For the record, I have emailed Wally to see if he has anything he'd like to say in response. If I receive a reply, at any point in time, this post will be updated.)