By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN
While Big Sky Conference schools have won NCAA championships in football, golf, rodeo, handball and skiing, Saturday’s North Dakota hockey title was a first. The Fighting Hawks posted a resounding 5-1 win over the Bobcats of Quinnipiac. It was UND’s first national hockey title since 2000 but their eighth overall. The flying Hawks featured a roster made up mostly of players who grew up in North Dakota and the surrounding area as well as some key additions from Manitoba, and Ontario. The other Big Sky schools with competitive Hockey programs during their time as a member of the conference are Northern Arizona and a very successful Gonzaga.
The Montana Grizzly softball team is still very much in the hunt for the conference tourament. Sophomore catcher Lexie Brenneis from Delta BC is making some noise in the conference hits stats ranking second in hits and fourth in total bases.
It was thirty years ago this spring when prep softball made its debut in Montana with the first championship held in Cut Bank.
Seeing Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill at the Final Four brought to mind another sporting evemt that they had attended many years ago. In late November of 1993 then Senator Biden and his family came to Missoula for a very cold football game.The Bidens went back to Delaware happy as their Blue Hens won a shootout with Montana 49-48. The Biden’s daughter Ashley got to meet Monte and later wrote him a fan letter.
Colorado Rockies outfielder Trevor Story has gotten off to an impressive start to his rookie season. Story may have been born to be a Rockie. Story was born two days before the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins selected players in the 1992 expansion draft. In that first draft the Rockies selected future stars such as Dante Bichette and Andreas Galoroga. Another of the Rockies’ draft picks that day was catcher Joe Giardi who didn’t last long in Colorado before being traded.
Russ Ritter passed away last week in Helena. Ritter was many things in his life–family man, active in his church an excellent teacher and mayor of Helena for many years. In the 1950’s and 60’s Ritter was a football coach who had a knack for rebuilding programs. In addition to coaching championships at Loyola, Ritter was the head coach of the Flathead Braves where they played for the state title in 1963 and he was the referee of the 1980 state title game when Flathead next played in a state championship game.
Chris Walterskirchen has been an observer of Montana sports for nearly half a century. A Kalispell native, Chris has worked in various capacities for professional and college sports organization of at various times: ranging from announcing and statistical work to the concessions and even a stint as a costumed mascot.
Chris has academic degrees in communications and elementary education. His style of sports trivia involves more than just who won and who lost, but also focuses on the obscure or human side of sports. In this blog you will learn things like the Grizzly football team has won 210 games over the 19 seasons since they have had Monte as their mascot or that UNLV is the only school that both the Griz and Lady Griz have both faced in the NCAA basketball tournament
When not following sports Chris enjoys taking care of animals of all kinds (a peacock rescue?) and reading to pre-schoolers.