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Frozen Four Preview: Beards vs. Mustaches

Kevin Roeder, Alexander Lacombe and their mustaches

This, friends, will be one of the most epic championship games I've covered, in any sport, at any level. On one side, the overwhelming favorites from Boston U., representing the hockey establishment and its facial hair of choice, the playoff beard. On the other hand, meet the upstarts from Oxford, Ohio, representing the sport's rising cadre of gate-crashers who have different shaving patterns in mind. Sure, some of them have playoff beards, but that's not what grabs your attention.

"How many teams do you know that have playoff mustaches?" Miami's Brandon Smith asked me. "Just one."

Seriously, this could be epic.

Turns out that some players on BU actually wanted to go with playoff mohawks, but legendary coach Jack Parker quashed that one right quick.

"We don't need artificial stimuluses," he told me with a wise smile.

Plus, a few players are balding. So the Terriers kept things traditional--"we wanted wanted to look classy," one player said. (Although, truth be told, Kevin Shattenkirk actually has a playoff 'stache in that locker room as well.)

"His beard sucks, but he's got a good mustache," teammate Eric Gryba pointed out.

Gryba's beard does not suck. How to describe it?

"My beard? It's manly," the defenseman from Saskatoon said. "Some guys can't grow 'em, some are patchy, some suck. I've always done it whenever we make the playoffs. I don't know, it's just one of those things."

Still, he passed team best-of honors to his roommate, Brian Strait, whose beard is blacker than the Saskatchewan prairie during a solar eclipse. "I don't have enough mustache," Gryba said. "He's got a better mustache, or else I'd be right up there with him."

Some of the Terriers are skipping this facial hair game altogether--"I look terrible with a beard," said Colin Wilson, who shaved after a loss in the Hockey East playoffs--but Strait is a legitimate beard champion.

"I mean, I don't want to self-proclaim it, but if the guys are saying that...." he said. "What kind of feedback do I get? I get a lot of, 'You look better clean-shaven,' or 'You look like a terrorist,' or something like that. But I mean, it's all fun. It does come in pretty thick. I keep it kind of cleaned up on the sides, though, and on the neck. It gets a little crazy down there."

But you haven't seen crazy until you wander across the hall into the land of mustaches.

"People don't like it, but I don't care what people think," proclaimed Miami assistant captain Kevin Roeder, who has the second-best mustache on the team.

The RedHawks were going with establishment playoff beards, until they lost in the CCHA second-round to Northern Michigan. Seeking to switch things up before their first-round tourney game, some players decided a different breed of facial hair was required. But regardless, you need to have something, which is why I now favor Miami tomorrow night.

"You could do a beard or mustache, and if you didn't have one of those two, if you shaved everything off, it was a team fine," said reserve goalie Jon Whitacre, who has a fine mustache, the first of his career. "Every now and then we have a mustache party or something like that at school, but...this is the longest I've had it. I forget that I have it. I walk around and people will look at me funny, and I'm like, 'Oh god, I've got a mustache, that's right.' "

Whitacre said he thinks it's "disrespect" to shave at this point, and I couldn't agree more. The RedHawks' best 'stache belongs to Alexandre Lacombe, who only shaved the rest of his beard after the regional final. Teammates now call him "Monopoly Man" or "Mustachio."

"It's just so bushy, it kind of just takes it over the top," Bill Loupee said admiringly. "I'm trying to get him to curl it up at the sides, but he needs to grow it out a little bit more to get that."

"I feel like some people walking the street or whatever are gonna give me weird looks," Lacombe admitted. "I mean, I guess whatever works. Try it out, see what happens."

I asked what his parents think.

"They told me it was a nice mustache," he said.

Brian Strait's playoff beard, more than a week ago. (By Gil Tabot - via BU)

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 10, 2009; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: Stan Kasten Isn't Sorry For What He Did


Brian Strait looks like a young Billy Mays. If he were yelling about some sort of mega-bonding household glue or industrial strenght citrus flavored cleaner I'm pretty sure I'd have to fork over my credit card number.

Posted by: ChampKind | April 10, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

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