The tournament started on Friday, but I decided to head up on Saturday. Before I left that morning, I checked the USA Hockey website to see how their first two games had gone. The answer: not well. They dropped the first game of the qualifying round 3-2, and got pasted in the second, 7-0, so as I left I was afraid that I would end up having driven 130-some miles to watch the team get eliminated. Once I got to the arena and met some of the other fans—they had a surprisingly large cheering section, given that they were 800 miles or so from their home ice—I learned that in order for the team to advance to the quarterfinals, they had to not just win their third game, but win it by no less than seven points. Quite a challenge, but they pulled it off! They shut out the Massachusetts Regional Champions (a weird scheduling decision on the part of the tournament organizers, since the teams had already played one another twice during the regular season) 8-0! I started to feel bad about not having come up on Friday, since obviously I was a lucky charm for them.
Between games, Goalie invited me to join her and several of her teammates for dinner. We were at the restaurant when we found out who the team would be playing in the quarterfinals: the Central Region champions. Who also happened to be the reigning national champions. Who had outscored their opponents in the qualifying round by a combined margin of 17 to 1. A tough draw, to be sure. When the game got underway later that evening, Goalie's team drew first blood, placing one in the net about eight minutes in on a power play. Unfortunately, that was their last goal of the evening. Meanwhile, the opposing team scored three times in the first quarter and thrice more in the second (out of 35 attempts, so not as impressive at it may sound). They capped it off with one more in the third, so the final score was 7-1. Goalie herself performed well, I think; she replaced the starter midway through the second period, and allowed only two goals on eight attempts.
So apparently I wasn't a good luck charm after all. Nevertheless, it was great to see Goalie again—I hadn't seen her since, let's see, 2002 I think—and I had fun watching the games, despite knowing next to nothing about hockey. Unfortunately, next year's championships are scheduled to be held in Detroit, so I'm unlikely to be able to go if they earn a return trip, but I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to go to this one.