Wrapping it Up, From Denver to Washington
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
DENVER There are always quibbles with every tournament. Fans can quibble with the pairings, the teams, the criteria, the calls that went against their team. The media types quibble with some arena issue, or the lack of ring dings at the press meal.
But all in all, this was a fantastic NCAA tournament, capped by a fantastic venue for the Frozen Four. The Pepsi Center and the city of Denver really did a good job with the event. There can always be improvements, but the setup was strong and the city responded.
It was particularly nice to see the Pepsi Center full for the championship game. In some cities, fans leave in droves after their team doesn't win, and the after-market doesn't fill all the spots. But this year, the arena was packed for the title game, and it was a great atmosphere. Credit the city patrons and the fans of losing teams that stuck around.
Next year, the Frozen Four moves to Washington, D.C., which should be a particularly strong event. From what we've been able to gather, the city has already made steps to make sure things are "done right." What this means for the college hockey regulars is making sure the "meat and potatoes" are taken care of. Fan fests, and corporate hoopla are well and good — but fans (and media) want to know that the Hobey ceremony is done right, and is fun; that there are places to eat and hotels near the arena; that people can enjoy the weekend with their families by walking around a city with things to do; and that the hockey itself is paid attention to.
Unfortunately, one thing that includes, and something the Washington people don't have say over, is game times. These seem to shift every year as the NCAA tries to find the right balance to satisfy fans and television. But currently, next year's start times are scheduled for 6 and 9 p.m. Eastern time. This could spell disaster if the first game goes long. Here's to hoping that is re-shuffled.
Next year, Washington isn't the only new NCAA venue. For the NCAA East Regional, the city of Bridgeport, Conn., will host for the first time, at the Arena at Harbour Yards. It's the current home of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders.
The host of the event is Yale University, something it is doing for the first time as well. And there's no doubt it will be done well. Why the confidence? Because the people instrumental in bringing it there, and therefore the people who will be running the show, are Yale assistant athletic director Wayne Dean and Yale sports information director Steve Conn. Dean was the chair of the men's ice hockey committee not too long ago, and Conn is a regular helper at the Frozen Four.
York Staying Put
Boston College coach Jerry York is 62, and he just won his third national championship. That might be a recipe for retirement.
But that thought doesn't even cross York's mind.
"Washington D.C. next year," York said, with a smile.
"I just love coaching and I'm going to stay in it as long as my health stays. I'm a career coach. I'm going to stay in it as long as BC wants me.
"It's a special feeling to coach these teams that wins championships. It keeps me going."
It's believed to be a record low, or at least close. But in the championship game, there were only four non-Americans dressed for the game. Notre Dame had Brock Sheahan and Swede Calle Ridderwall. Boston College had Dan Bertram and Matt Price.
You'd figure that if there was another title game with fewer non-Americans, it would be one that included Minnesota, since for years the Gophers had all-Minnesota lineups. But in 2002 and 2003, the Minnesota opponents — New Hampshire and Maine — had well over four non-Americans by themselves.
So we go back to 1989, when Harvard defeated Minnesota. Harvard had at least four non-Americans in the game, but we weren't able to confirm whether any of the other non-Americans played in the game. If anyone has a boxscore from that game, let us know.