April 5, 2006 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Commentary: Height and Hype

by Matt Conyers/CHN Correspondent

MILWAUKEE — Though it was a hot topic for the national media Wednesday, freshman netminder Ben Bishop's height is not the greatest story involving Maine this postseason.

The media spent the afternoon coming up with a variety of ways to discuss Bishop's height, then coach Tim Whitehead put it to rest.

"I remember when (assistant coach) Grant (Standbrook) said he had a 6-7 goalie," Whitehead said. "And he's from St. Louis and he plays in Texas. That's not exactly a good formula usually. Then I saw him on tape, and I said, 'Hmmmm ... you're right."

There are a host of different storylines that the pundits can attach themselves to, but for some reason this one has been predetermined as the story of the century. Hearing that Bishop is tall is like listening to "Free Bird" on a classic rock station; it's tired, it's old and it's about as far from clever and inspiring as something you find on NBC.

Need a story? Here's a few.

Michel Leveille fights off a near-season ending injury to return and lead Maine in the final weeks of the regular season.

Greg Moore emerges as one of the best players in the country.

Seniors collect the team together after an atrocious off-ice incident with another athlete.

Matt Lundin propelled Bishop to a higher level.

And those aren't even all of them.

The reason the Black Bears are here is not because their starting goalie from the Midwest grew as high as three corn stalks in a Missouri cornfield. No, the Black Bears are playing for their third national championship in history tonight because they embody every meaning of the word team.

They are aggressive, talented, deep, hungry but most importantly they are convinced that they can do something special. And this trait goes a long way in hiding some of their glaring faults.

All season, Whitehead has said how special this team is. From the get-go, Whitehead ensured everyone that the only sure bet about the Black Bears was that they were capable of performing some magic at the end of the year. For those who watched the team emerge from their first half slumber, they saw it to.

Maine possessed the most important of qualities: the desire to finish a goal as a squad. Maybe it came from their impeccable senior leadership. Or maybe it was due to the way the Black Bears had completed their last two postseasons in heartbreaking fashion. Whatever it was, the squad entered with a different look in their eyes. And while it has appeared off and on all year, it was in commanding presence Wednesday at the Bradley Center.

While the local media rattled off questions about the difficulty of playing in Wisconsin's home state, the Black Bears held the secret. They weren't concerned with the little factors which clog the mind's of us media folks. In their eyes there stood a purpose. The players had the look of a team knowing that they were two wins away from glory.

And knowing that Bishop will probably continue to come up huge.

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