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Demons in Dallas/The Red Line

February 3, 2011
By Brandon Veale - bveale@mininggazette.com

Did your mother ever say to you "Do what I mean, not what I say?"

That's kind of how I feel about the Packers. Back in September, I said: "I'm going to start this column with the ending: I think the Packers are going to win the Super Bowl. I've got only a vague idea of how it's going to work out, but I've got as good a feeling about it as I've had in some time."

After an absurd list of injuries, I admit to having lost faith. Too many body blows, too many close losses, not enough rushing yards, I figured.

After a January to remember, I'd like you to just forget about that column I wrote a month ago in which I said it wasn't the Packers' year. If you haven't recycled it already, just cut it out and toss it in the trash or use it to light your grill for some February tailgating.

As has been discussed in the media, this Super Bowl is especially delicious for Dallas Cowboys haters. Not only did the Cowboys not even come close to the playoffs, much less the big game, but Jerry Jones' Xanadu is going to host the two teams that have figured in some of his team's most infamous moments.

That's only fair, because Dallas has figured in some of my most infamous football moments as well.

Fact Box

Michigan Tech at Alaska Anchorage

If Tech's now-22-game winless streak (a school record) were to end in the middle of the night hundreds of miles away when most fans were asleep, that would be both ironic and unfortunate. However, if it happens during Friday night's game, you'll get a second chance. The last three games the Huskies and Seawolves have played in Anchorage have all been ties. Keep an eye on Brett Olson, who has six goals in six career games against UAA. The local broadcast of the game will be airing on NHL Network on tape delay at 2 p.m. Saturday. Will it be worth watching? It could.

The Verdict: Tech 3-2 Friday, UAA 4-2 Saturday

Bemidji State at Minnesota State

Time is running out for both these teams, who are 10th (MSU) and 11th (Bemidji) in the WCHA standings and need to make up six points to get into a home-ice position. Bemidji's struggles in its first year of WCHA play continued, as it was held to a pair of singles as St. Cloud State swept the Beavers in their own lodge two weeks. SCSU then went on to host the Mavericks, who salvaged a split with a 6-2 win Saturday. Both sides are probably too far out of it for this to matter, but the last thing the Copper Country needs is a Winter Carnival opponent coming in on a roll.

The Verdict: MSU sweep 3-1, 3-2

Minnesota at Minnesota Duluth

AMSOIL Arena in Duluth has more than a thousand more seats than the old DECC, and with the Golden Gophers in town, it's pretty likely that all of them will be filled. Duluth hasn't played since a double shutout of Tech in Houghton and is working on a scoreless streak of 159 minutes, five seconds since Craig Smith's goal 55 seconds into a 3-2 UMD loss to Wisconsin Jan. 15. The Gophers are now on a nearly 70-minute scoreless streak of their own after getting shutout at home Saturday by Alaska Anchorage. The Gophers, in a tie for sixth, can't afford to drop points this late in the year, but Duluth's still in the MacNaughton Cup chase (third place, two points behind idle North Dakota). The Bulldogs might give up goals, but no points.

The Verdict: UMD sweep 2-1, 5-3

St. Cloud State at Nebraska Omaha

St. Cloud's resurgence ended in a thud Saturday night with a 6-2 home loss to Minnesota State. The Huskies, two points out of a home-ice position, will try and pick up the pieces in Omaha, where the Mavericks stand fifth in the league table - probably safe for home ice, probably not in the MacNaughton race. Things have gotten weird for UNO since 2011 started. As mentioned last week, the Mavs hung eight goals on North Dakota in Grand Forks two weeks ago. Last weekend, they lost 2-1 in overtime to college hockey orphans Alabama Huntsville despite firing 59 shots on goal, which coach Dean Blais admitted means UNO's going to have to run the table to make the NCAA Tournament. With inconsistency a given, I'll revert back to liking the home team in this one.

The Verdict: UNO sweep 4-2, 5-2

Denver vs. Colorado College

Lots to play for in Colorado College this weekend: the Gold Pan trophy (the teams split the first two games of the series in November); for Denver, a chance to go back atop the WCHA standings with a win; for CC, desperately needed points in the race for home ice. CC, which hosts Friday in the home-and-home, managed to take two points off North Dakota Friday before the Sioux slapped them down 6-0 Saturday. Denver has been idle since a pair of home wins over Alaska Anchorage two weeks ago. Coach George Gwozdecky's Pioneers are unbeaten in eight and have only one loss since getting thumped 9-2 Nov. 6 in Colorado Springs. They won't make the same mistakes this weekend.

The Verdict: DU 4-3 Friday, 4-1 Saturday

Last Week: 5-5

For the Season: 83-63-11 (56.3%)

During my formative years, the Packers were an up-and-coming bunch under Mike Holmgren that seemed to repeatedly fly home from Texas empty-handed.

The NFL schedule was unbalanced and based on a complicated formula back then, so for something like six consecutive years, every Green Bay game against the Cowboys was in Dallas, and every one of them seemed to be a train wreck.

There was the Thanksgiving Day game in which future head coach Jason Garrett came off the bench to slice and dice the Packers up. There was the Monday Night game in which Dallas's latest rent-a-kicker had seven field goals in one game - death by a thousand cuts, if it ever existed. Jay Novacek, Michael Irvin, Nate Newton haunted my dreams.

But the most galling ones always came in the playoffs. My birthday is in mid-January, which tended to align my birthday parties with Packers playoff losses in Dallas.

Even in the Packers' moment of triumph back in 1997, there was a little drag on the festivities: the Cowboys got beat by Carolina in the divisional round that year and didn't get to attend Green Bay's coronation.

My first least-favorite athlete was Troy Aikman, and it pleased me to no end that he's had to watch every single game of Green Bay's run from desperate playoff candidate to NFC kingpin. Watching him narrate the Packers' virtuoso performance over the Falcons in the divisional round on my birthday was the best present I got all week.

I have very little beef with the Steelers. They're a darned good team with tons of experience. I think this one could go either way, but I hope it doesn't. And when the Packers win 31-24, I hope they make Jerry Jones stand on the stage during the trophy presentation and they drop the Lombardi Trophy on his foot.

Because I can't say I believed in the Packers from the beginning of the season, but I do believe that, even after more than a decade, I believe the good guys get the last laugh.

 
 

 

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