Travel journal: UND in Alaska (final update)
Editor's note: For the second-straight season, Grand Forks Herald reporter Brad Elliott Schlossman is documenting life on the road with the UND hockey team through a travel journal. It is meant to be a behind-the-scenes look at what's happening off the ice on UND hockey road trips. This season starts with a trip to Anchorage, Alaska.
11:45 p.m. Saturday (CT)
UND won a bit of a wild one 3-2 in overtime thanks to a dramatic goal by Casey Johnson, his first-career tally. Here's the game story. Check it out for quotes from the players and head coach Brad Berry.
Once again, there were a lot of UND fans in the house.
I know of fans who traveled from Grand Forks, Fargo, Jamestown, Bismarck, Williston, Hibbing, the Twin Cities, Florida and Georgia to the series.
There were also local UND fans from Denali National Park, Kenai and Anchorage itself.
They were treated to a great finish on Saturday night.
The three things that stick out the most about seeing a game at Sullivan Arena are the cowbells (a few people are relentless with those things), the public address announcer trying to lead the crowd in chants and the amazingly loud goal horn that blasts when the team comes on the ice, causing a lot of people to jump out of their seats (myself included).
Now, the games are over, the trip is ending.
The 6 a.m. flight home comes quickly.
I'll leave you with some photos from different spots around Sullivan Arena, including the concourse/concessions area, the lobby and the outside.
6:45 p.m. Saturday (CT)
If you really want to experience Alaska, you have to get outside of Anchorage and the city to see some of the stunning sights this state has to offer.
That's generally hard to do when working, because you're so busy that you don't have time to get out.
Luckily, former Herald writer Chris Bieri now works for the Alaska Dispatch News (formerly the Anchorage Daily News) and he was able to take me south of the city this morning, when I had some free time.
We drove along the inlet to Beluga Point and saw some great scenery. The mountain/water combo is a pretty sight.
A lot of other UND fans who made the trip went down to Kenai, Homer or Seward to see more sights. Others went north or west to see glaciers.
When we got back to Anchorage, I noticed that you could clearly see the peak of Denali, the highest point in the United States. Denali is a good 200-odd miles north of Anchorage, so the fact that you can clearly see it from the city tells you how massive and impressive the mountain is.
We watched a thrilling end to the Miami-Florida State football game before going to Moose's Tooth Pizzeria for dinner. It came highly recommended from everyone, so we figured we had to go.
When we got in our Uber to head over there, our driver saw our destination and said, "Oh, off to the best restaurant in Anchorage, I see."
Although it was not a peak time -- we got there at 4:15 p.m. -- there was a half hour wait to get a table. That's how popular the place is. But we found two seats at the bar and were able to eat there before the game.
We sat next to a family from Williston.
Now, it's on to the game.
Photo 1: A view from Beluga Point.
Photo 2: If you look in the middle of the photo, above the tree line, you'll see the peak of Denali.
Photo 3: Moose's Tooth.
Update: 1:45 p.m. Saturday (CT)
I was curious what Sullivan Arena would be like for Friday night's game against UND.
On past trips to Anchorage, I quickly learned that the Alaska Aces, an ECHL pro team, were the big hit in town. People got really fired up for Aces games. They had a lot of success and sold a lot of tickets. But the Aces folded last spring, leaving Alaska Anchorage as the highest level of hockey in town.
Would that lead to more fans coming out?
It was pretty much like past UND-UAA games that I've attended, though I've never seen this many UND fans up here.
I talked to a bunch of them. Some are Alaskans. Many made the flight up here.
Another big difference I immediately noticed was that all of the seats in the rink had been replaced. They used to be a pretty hideous orange and yellow straight out of the 1970s, but they look much better now.
As for the game itself, UND tied Anchorage 1-1 after allowing a goal with 1:15 to go. You can read my game story here.
The other memorable part of the game experience at Sullivan was the goal horn. They blow the horn when the team comes on the ice after each intermission and it is so incredibly loud that I jumped about three inches out of my chair the first time.
Anchorage's legendary hockey scribe Doyle Woody made an appearance at the game. One of the funniest guys you'll meet in hockey, Woody will soon be moving from Alaska to Tennessee. It's a big loss for those of us who loved reading his work.
This afternoon, I have a little bit of free time so I'm going to explore Alaska a little bit.
Then, before the game, I'm going to stop at Moose's Tooth Pizza, which I'm told is the place to go in town.
Update: 6:45 p.m. Friday (CT)
I know that I said adjusting to Alaska time is easier than going back to Central time, but I did wake up bright and early this morning -- after not much sleep -- because my body was still on Central time.
I decided I'd go find some coffee, so I left the hotel.
A few steps into my walk, I heard someone say my name. I turned around and it was one of my old Herald co-workers, Kevin Bonham, and his wife, Pam. Bonham, of course, was our outstanding region reporter for many years and a great all-around co-worker. They were up in Alaska to visit and go to the hockey games, much like many other UND fans.
After morning skate, the media crew went to perhaps my favorite restaurant on the road, the Glacier Brewhouse. We saw two other groups of UND fans there, too.
One guy came down from Denali National Park, where he lives. He's a now-retired UND grad who worked with the parks. He said it was a five-hour trip to Anchorage. He usually listens to games on the radio, but has frequently traveled, too, hitting all of the recent NCAA Frozen Fours.
I don't think I've ever run into this many UND fans up here, so it could be interesting tonight.
The Glacier Brewhouse once again delivered an amazing meal -- herb crusted fresh Alaskan Halibut.
After lunch, the sky finally started to clear. It had rained the whole time we had been here. So, Midco's Darren Lien and I walked down to the inlet, where the snow-capped mountains were visible in the background. Great view.
Now, it's time to get ready for the game.
Photo 1: Snow-capped mountains behind Cook Inlet.
Photo 2: The media crew (from left: radio play-by-play man Tim Hennesy, sports info director Jayson Hajdu, team doctor Greg Greek, Lien and myself) at the Glacier Brewhouse.
Photo 3: Herb-crusted Alaskan Halibut from the Glacier Brewhouse.
Update: 1 a.m. Friday
Good morning from Anchorage, Alaska.
It's not always easy to get up to the 49th state, as we experienced firsthand Thursday.
A delay out of Grand Forks caused us to miss our connecting flight to Anchorage. Luckily, the Delta folks at GFK were wonderful in setting us up to catch a later flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage (I was having visions of being forced to drive to Fargo and fly through Salt Lake City and Seattle).
This is my fifth trip to Alaska (fourth time to Anchorage, once was to Fairbanks). I believe this is the second time I've been able to fly direct from Minneapolis. Other times, I went through Seattle.
This was definitely the easiest six-hour flight I've ever taken. The plane was so empty that I had my own row. We had free live TV, so I spread out and took control of all three TVs in my row. I watched Patriots-Buccaneers on one, Louisville-North Carolina State on another and our flight tracker on the third. That made the time fly.
This is the only flight trip of the year that the UND hockey team doesn't fly a charter. It's too expensive. So, the team left Wednesday on commercial and practiced at an arena next door to UAA's Sullivan Arena.
On the way home, they will be spread out on different flights, because they weren't able to all get on the same one.
I think the biggest adjustment in going to Alaska is the three-hour time change.
I always get a bit weirded out when I have lunch, get back to the hotel and start seeing college hockey scores updating at 3 p.m. But that's when the East Coast games start out here. College football games will get going at 8 a.m. and NFL games start at 9 a.m.
Being a night owl, I've always had a fairly easy time adjusting to Alaska time, but a difficult time adjusting back when I get to Grand Forks. I feel like I'm staying up until 4 a.m. every night (which would be 1 a.m. in Anchorage).
We happened to arrive in Anchorage on an exciting day for its residents.
Today is PFD Day.
Permanent Alaska residents received $1,100 today in an annual payout from the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends. Multiple people told us that this usually results in people going crazy spending money.
"Don't be surprised if you see people partying like crazy downtown," our Uber driver said.
Payments are down this year because of state-wide budget issues, though.
I got here in time to grab a pizza down the street at 49th State, but I'm already looking forward to Friday's lunch.
I'm guessing we'll end up at the Glacier Brewhouse, one of my favorite restaurants on the road. I haven't had a bad meal there yet, and I've tried just about everything on the menu.
The last time we were here in 2012, I knew UND and Anchorage were splitting into different leagues and I didn't know if or when I'd be back. So, I ate at the Glacier Brewhouse four or five times.
If my flight was any indication, there will be some solid UND support in Anchorage. There were a bunch of people wearing UND gear on my flight.
Interestingly enough, our flight attendant graduated from East Grand Forks Senior High along with Dixon Bowen's parents, Jeff and Dawn. She also went to UND, though she's not sure she'll be able to catch Friday night's game, because she has a flight early Saturday.
I hope everyone stays up late and logs onto the live blog for the games this weekend. I'll have tons of coverage there. I'll also update the off-ice adventures here, and if you're a Facebook person, you should 'like' my page and I'll have some live video from Sullivan Arena.
But for now, it's time to sleep.
Cover photo: A moose greets you as you land at the airport.
Photo 1: Bears are in the lobby of the hotel.
Photo 2: A flight map to Anchorage.