Last Night’s Breaking Bad Featured a Classic College Hockey Game from 1998
During the final scene of last night’s penultimate Breaking Bad episode, Walter White makes a desperate call to his son, Flynn, from a New Hampshire bar. The episode is titled “Granite State,” in honor of White’s hideaway home, and boy do they love their college hockey in New Hampshire. It wasn’t surprising then that, as Walt pleaded with Flynn on the phone, a hockey broadcast played in the background.
I expected the game to be a recent contest featuring the local UNH Wildcats, but upon a closer listen, realized it was not. Let’s go to the transcript:
Walt: “Things happen…”
Announcer: “Tim Rothering with a snapshot.”
Here’s our first clue. Tim Rothering played at Wisconsin from 1995-1999, making this game at least 13 years old.
Walt: “There’s money inside. About 100,000 dollars. It’s all that I could fit into the box. It has to be a secret. If anyone says a word, the police will take it.”
Announcer: “Craig Anderson’s outlet pass will travel the length of the ice, untouched, but right on goal. And Wagner makes the save. Play goes on for Denver.”
Craig Anderson–not Ottawa’s goalie–also played for Denver from 1995-1999, so that’s no help. That Denver’s goalie is named Wagner, though, is telling, as Stephen Wagner minded their net from 1996-2000, closing our window by one year.
Flynn: “Why are you still alive? Why won’t you just die already? Just die!”
Announcer: “He’s been stellar tonight. Solid saves back in the first period.”
Color commentator: “You know, Mike, that’s probably a disappointing fact for Wisconsin. You look at Wagner’s numbers, and it seems like he’s one of the last goalies in the league. You wanna put pressure on this guy. “
The commentator’s criticism of Wagner’s numbers makes this game most likely from the 1997-98 season, in which he had a poor 4.20 Goals Against Average.
Announcer: “Kevin Granato looks to make movement. Save made by Graham Melanson, off Rycroft. Who else? He’s been all over the ice tonight.”
Kevin Granato and Graham Melanson both started their careers at Wisconsin in 1997, virtually assuring it’s the 1997-98 season. Mark Rycroft, who would later play in the NHL for the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche, was also a freshman in 1997.
Walt: “I’d like to speak to the agent in charge of the Walter White case.”
Announcer: “2:49 remains in the second period. Denver holding on to a 2-1 lead at the Dane County Coliseum.”
Here are the telling details. Wisconsin and Denver only played twice that year at the Dane County Coliseum (which the Badgers would leave next season), once on February 13, 1998 and again on the following day. In the second game, the score was 2-1 in Wisconsin’s favor in the second period, eliminating it as a possibility.
The Feb. 13 game, however, fits: Denver lead 2-1 in the second period and Rycroft had scored a goal, in keeping with the announcer’s earlier comment. Amazingly, the home team came back to score 6 goals in the third period, making it an all-time classic Badgers win:
The amazing comeback, one of eleven that season, was commemorated in the team’s media guide the next year:
Is Vince Gilligan giving us a clue? Is Walter White about to score 6 goals in the 3rd period (so to speak)?