The Evster and Enrico head over to the Frozen Four

The Evster and Enrico head over to the Frozen Four

Late Thursday afternoon, Enrico scored two free tickets to the Frozen Four at the Wells Fargo Center. Knowing I'm a huge hockey fan -- and have literally never had plans on a weeknight -- he asked me to tag along. The following is a minute by minute report of what took place.

Pregame: We are coming at you LIVE from the Wells Fargo Center -- or at least Enrico is -- I am currently hopping on the subway at 5:05pm because I'm an actual person with an actual job and not some laissez-faire blogger who can just take off in the middle of the day to watch a hockey game. Seriously, who starts a game at 5pm? Joining me on the subway platform are a whole lotta white people dressed in their favorite schools' sweaters as well as one ticket scalper who is wearing a black and gold Adidas track jacket and matching black and gold shell tops. He is BY FAR the coolest person waiting at this subway station and is also really, really drunk.

Tonight's first matchup features five-time national champion Boston College, winners of three of the last five NCAA tournaments, and alma-mater of the world's biggest dorfburger, Sammy Davis Enrico Campitelli Jr. Other notable alums include: Mike Mamula, John Kerry and Elisabeth Hasslebeck's husband. Their opponent tonight: the Union College Union, an actual school that I'm not making up. Union is located in action-packed Schenectady, New York, has a student body of 2,100 big ones and offers a major in Post-It notes. Notable alums include Chester A. Arthur (who you may know as the 21st President of THE UNITED STATES), my wife's Aunt Lena, and no one else ever. Clearly I'm pulling for them to beat big bad BC.

1st Period: I finally arrive at the arena just as the first period is ending and meet Enrico in the concourse to get the scoop on what I've missed. BC is up 1-0 thanks to a goal by South Jersey's own, Johnny Gaudreau, who Enrico tells me is nicknamed Johnny Hockey. I have no idea if Enrico's messing with me or not, but I will obviously be calling him Johnny Hockey for the duration of this post.

Tiring of listening to Enrico talk about the various cold and sinus medications he's currently taking, I approach a Union fan wearing a "Bodie" jersey to ask who the hell Bodie is. I figured it had to be his son because why else would a grown man wear a college kid's jersey, but the kind, older gentleman tells me that Bodie's his favorite player and an absolute "dynamo" on the ice. This piques my interest so Enrico and I hurry back to our seats for the start of the 2nd period.

19:57 left in the 2nd -- Three seconds into the game, a BC player falls while trying to skate backwards. I'm beginning to think that this might be the shittiest sporting event I've ever attended.

19:06 left in the 2nd -- Bodie gets the puck for the first time, shimmies by one defender and lets rip the lamest, sorriest wrist shot I've ever seen. The BC goalie catches it without hardly moving, the closest thing I've seen to Cliff Lee's basket catch in that World Series vs. the Yankees. I'm honestly embarrassed for that old man.

17:21 left in the 2nd -- GOAL! Ohhhhhh baby! Union ties it up as my main man Bodie Miller blasts one into the net! Holy Boldie! After almost two minutes of end to end action, Grandpa's favorite player lets fly an absolute rocket that the BC goalie didn't even see. We're all tied now, 1-1, and Enrico is not happy! The public address announcer then tells us that Bodie's first name is MATT, something that I was not expecting, nor will I be calling him.

15:54 left in the 2nd -- As the game goes back and forth, I ask Enrico if he played college hockey, would he wear a caged mask or a see-through visor? Enrico  says he doesn't know, which I find to be a totally unacceptable answer, so I keep probing him and say, "Duuuude, stop being such a Boston College bro and answer the question," and finally Enrico says "the see-through ones because they look cooler," proving that Enrico has no idea how cool cages are. I then tell Enrico that I'd worry about the see through ones getting all fogged up but before I can finish my sentence I notice that he's checking Instagram and not even coming close to paying attention to me. I pray for 16 more Union goals before the next intermission.

12:10 left in the 2nd -- Enrico tells me that Johnny Hockey leads all college players in points this year and is "probably gonna win the Hobey Baker award, that's the trophy they give to the top college player." So I tell Enrico, "I know what the goddamn Hobey Baker award is," and he quickly responds by telling me to, "Go F yourself."

A quick google search reveals that Hobey Baker was born in BALA CYNWYD, PENNSYLVANIA -- bet ya didn't know THAT! -- the same hometown as the dopest blogger on The 700 Level. We also learn that Baker died in an airplane crash during World War I, at the way too young age of 26. This makes us sad, but not that sad because we got free tickets to a hockey game and that makes us better than other people.

10:30 left in the 2nd -- Ohhhhhhh, Johnny! Johnny Hockeyballs shimmies his way past two defenders but then gets too cute as he tries to give it up on a 2 v. 1. This leads me to think about Johnny guest starring on Too Cute: Kittens!, my wife's favorite show on Animal Planet, and one that I highly recommend watching. They're too cute!

9:15 left in the 2nd -- DO NOT BLINK FOLKS 'CUZ YOU JUST MIGHT MISS SOMETHIN. And just like that Union is BACK IN COMMAND. A guy named Daniel Champion or something makes it 2-1, Union. Unfortunately, I did blink and missed the whole thing. Actually, I was watching kids dance on the jumbotron, but whatever, if it's any consolation, Enrico missed it too, once again checking out pictures of chicks on Instagram.

4:07 left in the 2nd -- BOOM BABY! GOAL BC, 2-2! This time it's a defenseman, #6 to be exact, but I have no idea what his name is because this is literally the first college hockey game I have ever been to.

When in doubt, Rico, what do you do? "Put it on net," my blogging editor says, because we are the two smartest hockey fans in the world. What a ballgame!

Hockey game!

2nd Intermission -- All knotted at 2, it's time to take a stroll around the WFC and buy a $7 slice of pizza from Lorenzo's. As we walk around, I try to take secret snappers of a bunch of unsuspecting fans.

Here are some of my best:

Bjugstad??? That can't be a real name. Also that visor is incredible. I have no idea what Mr. and Mrs. Bjugstad were looking at by the way. I think it was a funnel cake stand.

Not sure if you can tell, but these grown men are wearing eagle hats with beaks on them. The dude on the left, who is also wearing a flag cape totally caught me taking a secret snapper and was like, "Heyyyyyyyy," but I just kept walking away really fast and I don't think he really cared anyway I mean he was wearing a hat with a beak on it.

 

This is just a dorf I saw earlier in the day outside City Hall.

Start of the 3rd period -- Deadlocked at 2 apiece, Enrico and I settled back into our seats for the final session. Enrico was a nervous wreck at this point, living and dying with every shift despite the fact that he had not seen one BC hockey game in the last four years.

17:15 left in the 3rd -- Okay, a guy just got blasted in the head and I was the only person who started screaming. He seems to be fine, he's currently trying to smash another guy's brain into the boards, but if I were him I would go straight to the bench and call my mother.

15:00 left in the 3rd -- Penalty on somebody! I have never understood what is legal in this sport and what is not, but the referee is putting his wrists together in an X formation and signaling that something just happened. I think it was probably Boarding, but Enrico disagrees and thinks it's Cross Checking. I tell him that's ridiculous and he agrees and changes his guess to Interference. He's correct! Two minutes for Interference on BC.

13:29 left in the 3rd -- GOAL FOR UNION! 3-2 in favor of the underdogs! The goal was scored by the same guy as the last one and the Union fans are going crazy. MANY of them are also wearing visors and they keep chanting, "Let's go U! Let's go U! Let's go U" which sounds a lot like Michigan's "Let's go blue!" chant. Whatever, these guys deserve to go bonkers. This is literally the only good thing that has ever come out of Schencekedeitdy besides A GODDAMN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and Aunt Lena's potato latkes.

13:11 left in the 3rd -- OH NOW WE'VE GOT SOME BOARDING. Some guy on Union just smashed a guy into the boards and the BC player is DOWN on the ice. A nearby Union fan screams, "Get up you faker!" and I am not making that up. Enrico is calling for a 5-minute major and the PA announcer comes over the loud speaker and tells us there's a game misconduct! Wowzers! Plus a 5-minute power play for the Eagles!

E-A-G-L-wait I'm rooting for Union.

9:08 left in the 3rd -- Three minutes into the power play and BC cannot get it going. Plus, I now realize that their big guy, #12, a guy who I've been calling "Bates" aka "Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey" all game long is actually named "Hayes."

8:07 left in the 3rd -- GOAL, UNION! Holey moley, only five seconds after they killed off the power play, some dude on Union goes one on one with the keeper, gets stoned, then his teammate puts back the rebound to put them up 4-2! Enrico is devastated! BC calls timeout! The Union fans are going berserker as "Party rock is in the housssse tonighttttttttttt" blasts from the loud speakers. This song is so stupid/amazing. This could be the best night of my life.

4:14 left in the 3rd -- It's looking bleak for BC. The Union crowd continue to dominate the Wells Fargo Center. This is like a home game for Union, like UCONN at the Garden, but nothing like that because the arena is half empty and Shabazz Napier is not STRAIGHT OKIE DOAKIN' FOOLS ALL NIGHT.

2:12 left in the 3rd -- BC has pulled their goalie and Bodie is talking trash to all of the BC players during a stoppage. He kinda seems like a major prick. Plus, all of the lovable Union fans are starting to get really annoying with this "Let's go U!" stuff. I'm pretty much ready to start pulling for BC.

1:45 left in the 3rd -- GOAL, BC! "We ain't dead yet!" screams my trusty editor, right after some dude shoots a laser into the top shelf netting part of the net where the shelf would be if they decided to build a shelf in that net. 4-3 Union. Do you believe in Miracle Whip?!

1:09 left in the 3rd -- It's a GOALNADO, folks! This time, Union pop one in, off of an easy rebound into an open net. You can kiss the Eagles goodbye, it's 5-3 and Enrico looks salty.

:17 left in the 3rd -- OH YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Another goal, this time for BC and we're back to a one-goal game. 5-4. Could turn out to be meaningless, but it was another top shelf wristaroo.

HORNNNNNNNNNN!!

It's all over! It. Is. All. Over.

Despite a last second shot on net, Union College -- an actual place -- pulls off the major upset over the Boston College Campitellis. They will now advance to play the winner of the Minnesota-North Dakota game, which will get going in a half hour, and I will no way in hell be blogging about.

Three long hours later -- Game 2 was a total snooze fest, but did feature a GOPHER ON ICE and SPINNING CHEERLEADERS.

No goals were scored until 4 minutes left in the final period, but then Minnesota scored two come-from-behind goals including a LEGIT BUZZER BEATER to send them into the finals. In all my years of watching college hockey, I have never seen a more incredible ending to a game.

Even more incredible because now I can go home and go to sleep.

Prediction for the Final -- Minnesota 18, Union 3, Enrico 0.

Follow The Evster @TVMWW.

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Shayne Gostisbehere’s fist pump was so vicious and mighty, the celebration was probably felt back in Philadelphia.

This was an exultation the entire Flyers felt, too.

When it started to look like the bye week wasn’t the break they needed, the Flyers reached down deep and got one Sunday night at the Barclays Center in the form of a 3-2 overtime victory over the Islanders (see Instant Replay).

“It allows you to take a breath,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s one thing for sure.”

A sigh of relief for a team beaten and bruised — losers of three straight by a combined score of 15-4, not to mention 3-9-3 in its past 15 games. The Flyers had lost the day prior on home ice to the Devils, 4-1, with a performance not exactly inspiring confidence following five days off.

On Sunday, they trailed 2-0 in the second period.

“We've got to get better at dealing with adversity when something goes wrong,” general manager Ron Hextall said bluntly before the game. “We need to get back on the horse and get back going. Big deal, a team scored a goal. We need to react better to it.”

Finally, the Flyers reacted the way their GM had been hoping.

They flipped the deficit into a victory when Gostisbehere skated behind the net and put the puck on Claude Giroux’s stick for the game-winner with 1:40 left in the extra session. Gostisbehere whipped his arm through the air and embraced Giroux, along with Jakub Voracek, who started the play by stripping Islanders captain John Tavares.

“On a lot of different levels, it’s an important win,” Hakstol said. “It’s huge. And more importantly for us, a great effort. Thought we deserved the two points. Sometimes maybe that’s what it takes to get over the hump — a tremendous effort for 60-plus minutes. I thought we got that out of everyone tonight.”

For Giroux, it was his first goal since Dec. 21.

For Steve Mason, his first win since Dec. 21.

And for the Flyers, their first road victory since Dec. 14, as they went 0-6-3 in the previous nine games away from home.

Yeah, “it was needed,” as Wayne Simmonds said of the win.

“We’ve been fighting it lately and I thought that was a good game from start to finish,” he said. “I thought everyone played well. I think we made bounces go our way tonight instead of hoping and waiting.”

Simmonds scored what might have been the biggest goal of the game. The Flyers, down 1-0 in the second period, came up empty for 33 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play and the proceeding 5-on-4 advantage. The Islanders then padded the lead to 2-0 moments later, putting the Flyers’ backs against the wall.

But Simmonds kept his team from uncoiling with a goal at 14:10 of the period, giving the Flyers life at second intermission. If not for that score, who knows how the Flyers come out in the third period, trailing by multiple goals yet again.

"I think we were plying well,” Giroux said. “We had a lot of chances and [the puck] wasn't going in. Everybody on the bench was frustrated. When Wayne got that first goal, I think [there was] a little relief on the bench. I haven't seen a team celebrate so much just for a first goal. It was kind of a relief and we had a little boost out of that.”

Ivan Provorov scored the equalizer 1:47 into the final period when he maintained possession from the blue line to the circle, adeptly skating around two Islanders to put the puck on net. Provorov’s pass to Travis Konecny hit off the skate of New York’s Adam Pelech and into the net.

“I came off the bench and I saw [Brayden Schenn] was going into the zone, so I took a few hard strides, got the puck from him and I saw it was kind of an odd-man situation,” Provorov said. “I held on to the puck a little bit, saw T.K. going backdoor, passed it there and it went off their D skate.”

Just as important as the timely goals was the Flyers’ discipline. Against the Devils, the Flyers compiled 19 penalty minutes, forcing them on seven penalty kills. This time, the Flyers sharpened up, not allowing the Islanders a power play until midway through the third period. In total, they had just four penalty minutes and killed off both power plays faced.

That gave them a chance.

“We just kept saying it the whole time, ‘Keep going, keep going, guys,’” Simmonds said. “We just need one [goal] and from one comes two, and Mase held the fort.”

Mason made 17 of his 36 saves in the third period and overtime combined.

Now, the Flyers at least go into another important back-to-back — starting Wednesday at the Rangers before welcoming the Maple Leafs Thursday — with some confidence instead of a lost weekend.

“I thought the focus was purely on going out and playing well,” Hakstol said. “And you know, that’s harder to do than you might know — when you start to feel some of the pressure without a win in a little bit. I really liked that side of it. Even in that situation, all the guys played well. Hopefully that puts our entire team in the right direction.’’

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored two goals, Sidney Crosby added his league-leading 28th and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth straight game, 5-1 over the Boston Bruins 5-1 on Sunday.

Pittsburgh led 2-1 through two periods before breaking out in the third with three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 57 seconds.

Sheary scored his 17th and has nine goals in nine games. Bryan Rust added his 12th and Patric Hornqvist his 11th for the Penguins, who won a season-high seventh straight at home. Pittsburgh the NHL's best home team, is 13-0-1 in its last 14 home games.

Evgeni Malkin had two assists for a season-best seven-game point streak. Crosby added two assists for a three-point game. Matt Murray made 44 saves to win his fourth straight game.

David Krejci scored his 11th for the Bruins, who have lost four straight and five of their last six (see full recap).

Rangers shut out Red Wings in 1-0 OT win
DETROIT -- J.T. Miller scored at 1:56 of overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season and 61st of his career. The Rangers managed only 19 shots in a game that featured few memorable chances by either team.

The winner came when Mats Zuccarello and Miller swooped in alone on Detroit goalie Jared Coreau. Zuccarello made a simple pass to Miller, who lifted the puck over Coreau for his 16th goal of the season.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall played for the first time since Jan. 4, returning from a lower-body injury. The Red Wings put forward Drew Miller on waivers (see full recap).

Atikinson lifts Jackets over Senators in wild OT win
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game at 1:09 of overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets a 7-6 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

Atkinson had a breakaway after a shot by Senators captain Erik Karlsson missed the Columbus net and went around the boards out to Atkinson, who was at center-ice.

The Blue Jackets trailed 5-3 after two periods before Lukas Sedlak and Matt Calvert scored 31 seconds apart to tie it less than 2 1/2 minutes into the third. Atklnson then gave Columbus a 6-5 lead with 9:10 remaining, before Kyle Turries tied it for Ottawa on the power play less than 2 minutes later.

Nick Foligno, Scott Harrington and Zach Werenski also scored for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo finished with 28 saves.

Zach Smith and Mike Hoffman each had two goals and Mark Stone also scored for the Senators. Mike Condon had 22 saves (see full recap).