Budweiser Broomball Shootout 1998 - Duluth, MN - Tastefully Done
Not content with New Jack Swing Scene of Illinois Broomball the Flock decided to take their show on the road, and bring their brand of no-holds barred broomball to the cold frontier of Duluth, Minnesota. They filled up the vans and made the eight hour trek across the dreaded Cheese Curtain. Spurred on by the tasty morsels made by our ever supportive fans and the power rock stylings of Van Halen they arrived at the palacial Days Inn of Superior, Wisconsin on Friday evening. With game faces on they checked in at tournament HQ, Mr D's, to intimidate the opposition, and to make it known the Flock came to kick ass and chew bubble gum. Too bad they were all out of bubble gum.
Saturday started early as the Flock took to the ice at 9:00am to battle Bullwinkles, a tough opponent from the Twin Cities. The learning curve was steep as the Flock had to adjust to an entirely different game from the one they were used to playing. It was a fast track on the large ice, and Bullwinkles took advantage of the Flock's inexperience on the big surface and jumped out to a 15-0 half time lead. The Flock were shellshocked, but these men would not stay down. They capitalized on their youthful exuberance and coined the now famous "raise the roof" attack, succesfully killing a man advantage for the first moral victory of the day. They rallied in the second half to keep the score under the century mark with a final of 21-0.
The road ahead didn't get any easier, as their next opponent was the reigning national champion Budweiser team. But never to be deterred the Flock got tough and put the fear of god in a very experienced Budweiser team as Glen Weinberg scored a sniper's goal on an assist from Dan Ziolkowski. Their inexperience did get the best of them though, as they went on to lose a squeeker 8-1. It was a tough loss for the Flock but it established their infectious joy for the game as Mike Wenz cabbage patched his way into the hearts of young and old alike, Stefan Kretchmann sprinted the length of the ice to partake in the scoring celbration, and their irrepressible supporters staked their claim to title of the greatest fans the sport of broomball had ever seen.
Before their afternoon match ups they warmed themselves from the 0° temperatures at Mr D's and partook of some vittles to prepare themselves the two battles they had remaining on Saturday. Though they missed the valuable contributions of Jonathan Carroll as the cold weather caught up with him and he fell ill, they picked up right where they left off as the faced off against Bunker's, another Twin Cities team, in the afternoon tilt. They fought tooth and nail as Peter Woelflein woke from his scoring slumber to net a pair of goals and almost had the hat trick as he was denied on an odd man rush late in the second half for the upstart flock. The first was assisted by Mike Wenz as he unleashed his "lawn sprinkler" dance and raised the roof in celebration. Dan Ziolkowski picked up his second assist of the tournament on the other goal as the freight train known as the Flock could not be stopped anymore. But in a heart breaking turn of events Bunker's stole victory from the jaws of defeat with a 7-2 final score.
As they lined up against Coopy's for the final game of the day the three prior match-ups and the brutal cold had taken its toll physically on the Flock. They played on pure heart and adrenallin, but it wasn't enough to overcome the physical and emotional drain as they lost 11-0. They retreated to the hot tub of the Days Inn and regrouped with a hearty meal at Perkins, followed by a mellow night of the hard rockin 80's musical stylings of Ground Zero and the fine malted hops and barley mixture known as Grain Belt Premium at Mr D's.
As the sun rose Sunday, the Flock couldn't help but feel the possibilities of the new day as they took the ice against Caspers in the beginning of lower bracket play. Their acclimation to the surface was complete and they finally felt at home on the freshly resurfaced ice. This acceptance was vital as they found themselves locked in true battle of broomball titans. Neither team could control the other as the tempo and flow of the game see-sawed continuously. Much of the Flock's success could be traced to the defensive team work of Jon Passman and Joel Weinberg, who turned back every advance made against them during the contest. But the last laugh was had by Caspers as they escaped with a 7-0 victory.
The Flock walked away from the Shootout with an 0-5 record, but with the respect of every team there. The Flock's impact wasn't felt in the win/loss column, but their fans left an indelable impression with their non-stop support, and the player's with their growing passion for the game of broomball.
All tounge-in-cheekness aside, we had a great time, learned a lot and met some great people. Truly an experience that lived up to and surpassed most any expectations we had entering it. We're already planning a fall trip to warmer climates of either Charlotte or San Diego, but we'll be back in Duluth next year to defend our title as the Lives of the Party, and maybe steal a game or two in the process.