This is how it started, Tuesday morning:

“Austin, I got the tickets.”

“OK, let’s do this.”

Three days later and running 30 minutes late, we’re on I-89 headed toward Boston and, more specifically shiny-new Agganis Arena to watch our beloved Hockey Cats take on the Terriers of Boston University. Five people stuffed into a Ford Explorer with a hockey bag, pillows, iPods, and high hopes.

Needless to say, we made it…and only 5 minutes late! Two stops and some annoying traffic aside, we made good time.

Much to our dismay, BU managed to get out to a 2-0 in those first few minutes we had missed. We shrugged it off. All we had to do was stand up and make our presence felt in the stands. Surely enough, with us cheering them on, the team rallied at the end of the first period to make it a 2-2 game on what ended up being some of their sharpest plays of the night: a solid power play goal by Ryan Gunderson, and a dazzling breakaway goal from Brady Leisenring off an incredible down-ice pass from Slavomir Tomko.

We had arrived and so had the Cats. Or at least that’s what we thought when the first period ended with a 2-2 score.

Unfortunately for us and the rest of the UVM contingent, the remainder of the game didn’t quite play out like those last moments of the first period. BU jumped out yet again just seconds into the second period and never looked back. They tacked on one more goal in the last few minutes of the second to make it 4-2.

We needed 2 goals. We needed to keep that unbeaten streak alive. We didn’t drive 3-plus hours to watch our team go home with a loss. Our agenda consisted of one thing only at the outset of the trip: celebrate an 8-0-0 record that night at Northeastern.

The final period began and it appeared we had the spark that was lacking during the second period. The passing seemed crisper. A sense of urgency filled the gorgeous new rink (if you can, check it out, it’s pretty fancy – no Gut though!).

There were power play opportunities but no five minute majors like we had become used to seeing thus far during the young season. I should’ve known better than to expect that out of Boston, perennially one of the top programs in the country, very skilled and very well-coached.

For some reason, we just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities this night. Even having pulled Joe Fallon from the goal with just under two minutes remaining, we couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket.

“Damn it!”

And so our first taste of defeat in the 2005-06 season came at the hands of BU on November 4th. I should’ve known that it had to end at some point, but I just got caught in the moment. I mean, how often does UVM have a top-10 hockey team sporting an undefeated record one month into the season? Not ever, come to think about it.

As we trudged out of the stadium it was nearly impossible to put the painful loss out of our mind. Certainly the gloating BU fans didn’t help, but they can’t be faulted. However, the people who found it necessary to honk their horns incessantly in the bowels of the parking garage did receive some less than savory remarks from my colleagues and me.

Six hours after the trip began it was time to part ways. Two of our numbers were off to Connecticut for a roller hockey tournament, while the rest of us were off to Northeastern to stay the night. As far as two mile drives go, the one from BU to Northeastern was probably the longest. Two detours impaired our commute, as did about four wrong turns, three turn-arounds, and one shouting match.

About 40 minutes after we had left the arena, we finally arrived at our destination for the remainder of the night. We hoped it was a place where we’d be able to forget our worries for the night and it didn’t disappoint.

As far as I’m concerned, Boston is on my list as one of the best places to enjoy oneself, regardless of how many dorm check-ins are required. And if you get the chance, don’t pass up the chance to haggle with the cashiers at Cappy’s on Hemenway St., they may try to take advantage of you at 2 am. They may ask you to pay more than you need to for your pizza or they may just end up asking, “How much do you have right there?”

We left our lodgings at about 9:30 am after far too little sleep and far too much fun, and began our trek back to Burlington. Win, loss, or tie, roadtrips with your friends don’t disappoint.