Bulldog Great Kurvers Relishes Victory
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
ST. PAUL, Minn. When Kyle Schmidt scored that NCAA Championship-winning goal Saturday night, he did so not just for the 2011 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, but for every Bulldog that came before him.
In particular, it was for those teams of the early-to-mid 1980s, ones that came so close to a national championship a couple of times, only to see them slip away.
All weekend was nostalgic, with numerous former UMD greats in the building — none bigger than former UMD Hobey Baker Award winners Bill Watson (1985), now an assistant coach, and Tom Kurvers (1984).
Kurvers sat in an Xcel Energy Center suite with numerous teammates from the 1984 championship game, the one that they lost to Bowling Green in four overtimes. The next year, after Kurvers left, the Bulldogs lost in three overtimes in the national semifinals.
"This put that to rest for us too," Kurvers said.
Kurvers hadn't had a chance to see Duluth in a Frozen Four live since then. In 2004, he was an interim coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.
"It was a chance to sit back, watch them and pull for them," Kurvers said.
And as they did, and as the game went on, the memories came flooding back. First it was knowing glances with former roommate Mark Odnokon, who flew in from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, at the last minute. Then it was a whole discussion.
"These guys kind of took us for a ride. It was our chance to relive it," Kurvers said. "They took us through the whole deal — right to overtime.
"We were saying to each other, 'Weren't we in the same position?' We were down 1-0 after one, and up 2-1 after two, I think. We were talking about that and asking each other about it."
And when the winning goal was scored, Kurvers and his old teammates felt good knowing that they were still capable of youthful glee.
"I was a little surprised at how excited we were," Kurvers said. "It was emotional. It was such a nostalgic weekend, and then there was the raw emotion.
"It was something special. Any hockey team you had success with, you feel emotionally attached to. We were so close. We felt we were the champs, but we weren't. And this put that to rest.
"It's as good as it can get."