UM Sports Trivia | Week of March 31

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

The Big Sky Conference has been in operation for 51 years and has had member schools who have achieved great things, D-II and FCS national football titles individual national champs in wrestling track and field and skiing. Finally last Saturday a Big Sky school qualified for the NCAA “Frozen Four” the national semi-finals in men’s hockey.

The North Dakota men’s hockey team needed to go to two overtimes to defeat Ferris State of Michigan 2-1. Yes, UND has made numerous appearances in the Frozen Four, but this is the first time since joining the Big Sky in all other sports. There was talk in the 1960’s of the then 6-member Big Sky Conference working towards adding hockey, but cost estimates for maintaining ice rinks for such an endeavor were prohibitive. Of the Big Sky members over the years Gonzaga and Northern Arizona had hockey programs within their athletic departments and sent several former players into professional hockey.

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Over the past 5 years the Montana Grizzlies and Lady Griz have posted impressive win totals and combined for 5 trips to the NCAA tournaments and 206 wins–by far the best among Big Sky Conference schools. However the University of Connecticut leads all division I program with their two basketball programs combining to win 302 games and counting since the start of the 2009-2010 seasons.  This is the fourth time in the last decade that both UCONN teams have reached the final Four.

For the fourth time in the last 8 years each of the schools in the men’s Final Four have already won at least one title (Wisconsin’s title came in 1941).  In the Women’s bracket the four finalists have a total of 11 national titles.

Mixing sports here, but do you remember when the Super Bowl was played at the home stadium of the Dallas Cowboys?   This year’s Final Four will also be played in there. Good News for Wisconsin Badgers fans: the winner of the February 2011 Super Bowl was the Green Bay Packers.

New Seattle Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon lived a Little League dream when his Gary Indiana All-Star team played for the 1971 Little League World Series title. McClendon played a decade in the majors but never got to MLB’s version of the World Series.

Twenty-five years ago this week the 1989 Major League baseball season began in historic fashion as President George H. W. Bush threw out the first pitch at Baltimore as the Orioles defeated the Texas Rangers (then owned by George W. Bush). Billings native Jeff Ballard was the O’s opening Day pitcher.

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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 costumedmascot.

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.