Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Conte Forum East

This member of the 'Nation took a field trip to Kenmore State's shiny new Agganis Arena last night to see Baghdad U. take on the top-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. As a fan of America's Team, I had many opportunities to travel to the dirty end of Commonwealth Ave and watch games at the old Urinal, where BU started playing hockey years ago when Jack Parker still had a soul.

Sadly, when rats started showing up at Walter Brown Arena that were larger than current Terrier Brad Zancanaro, BU's athletics department knew it was time to move on. After years of speculation and rumors, the curtain opened on the new Harry Agganis Arena (aka the "Egg Anus" Arena) in front of 6,000 or so BU folks who chose to attend the "other" Boston school rather than prepare for their S.A.T.s and attend a real institution of higher learning.

The new building is everything the Urinal wasn't. It's large, roomy, and has that "new" urine smell that comes only from Eurotrash who feel personal hygiene is a myth. A wide variety of alcoholic beverages are served, although when I asked for a Moet and Chandon in a crystal flume, all I received was a chicken basket and a baffled stare, so there is still a lot of "collaring up" to do in the new place.

As a visiting fan, one thing I'm glad to see gone is the intimidation factor that came with the old building. With every move from a "barn" to a "facility", one thing that disappears faster than a UNH fan's dream of a national championship is atmosphere. Three things stuck out that earned a collective gasp from the hockey traditionalists who still feel that Jack Kelly coached BU "just yesterday".

1.) The Noise-Meter. BU fans have always chided America's Team for the "arena rock" type canned cheering requests from the scoreboard at Conte Forum. I guess when you face the fact that this new arena will be, at best, 50% full on most nights, you need to do everything to keep the paying customers awake since BU's style of hockey certainly won't.

2.) The "Dance for the iPod" contest. With a new video jumbotron, BU employees can scan the crowd and show them on the scoreboard. When directed, if you can dance (and with the Eurotrash at BU we know you can), you can win yourself a free iPod to help stay in touch with your friends back home in Spain, France, or Pakistan.

3.) The "growl like a Terrier" abomindation. Apparently, they feel the need to let fans bark like a dog into a microphone since everyone knows you can't play hockey without kids yelling "bow wow" into a mic. Come to think of it, since most female BU students resemble members of the canine community, shouldn't they just wire them for sound? Why fake it when you can have the real thing?

Truth be told, BU fans have joined America's Team in the wonderful world of a modern day arena. Sure, it's bright and has nice bells and whistles, but like the Garden to the Fleet, Foxboro to Gillette, and Snively to Whittemore, you no longer have a hockey arena, you now have an entertainment complex. Welcome, my inferior friends, to Conte Forum East. Drink up, you're going to need it.

Inside the arena, there was a hockey game last night. After closing out the old building in style, our friends from the University of Minnesota sleptwalked through a 60 minute snoozefest and somehow managed to lose 2-1 to a squad that actually let Mike Eruzione's son, he of no hockey talent, join the team. The Golden Gophers, currently ranked the top team in all the land, well, how do you say, sucked.

The only thing that smelled worse last night than Harry Agganis himself, was the stink lines coming off the maroon sweaters of the Gophers who clearly had better things to do. In my mind, the only team that is better this year than America's Team was Minnesota and now, I'm wondering if the large "M" on their sweaters stood for "Merrimack", not "Minnesota". Bah!

Speaking of Merrimack, they will provide the fodder tonight for America's Team at the Andover Town Dump as the Eagles should hit double-digits in wins around 9:30 pm. Interestingly, BC has struggled at Merrimack in recent years, mainly due to the fact that playing the Warriors is the ultimate "playing down to the competition" game.

The two programs also have a history of bitter feelings and cheap play, completely coming from the Merrimack side. A few years ago after nine-foot tall BC defenseman Andrew Alberts innocently checked MC's Marco Rosa into the boards, Rosa got hurt and many Warrior players, who really are D-3 prospects at best, accused Alberts of a cheap shot.

Weeks later, MC goaltender Joe Exter, obviously showing he's all brawn and no brains, dove head first into an oncoming Patrick Eaves, and almost died after a horrific on-ice collision that actually made ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

Though Eaves did nothing wrong whatsoever, he was suspended after a prolonged on-ice brawl that left a lot of BC players with bloody knuckles, and a lot of MC players with their tampons knocked out. The good news is Exter is ok, but the bad news is Merrimack still resorts to cheap shots and dirty play since, on paper, their talent can't beat BC High, let alone BC.

Collar Up.

- DW


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