Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Road Trip No. 2: Frozen Four

Gobbler Country Road Trip No. 2
Hockey: Boston College vs. Notre Dame
Pepsi Center
Denver, Colo.
Miles Round Trip: 990
Total Dollars Spent: $343 ($140 flight, $80 ticket, $25 shirt, $8 program, $90 food and drink)

Virginia Tech doesn't have a hockey team, outside of the club hockey team that plays in the ACHA. However, it's one of my favorite sports and I'd always wanted to go to a Frozen Four. I've seen six NCAA basketball championship games and three BCS championship games. But hockey's championship is the biggest event that happens in a smaller arena.

Basketball and football both crown their champions in large stadiums. But for hockey, its more intimate. And the atmosphere was electric. Because its a niche sport, hockey fans are extremely passionate about hockey and are very knowledgeable of the sport. Go to a hoops or football championship game and most of the are there to be seen, not heard. And a lot of them don't know the rules of the sport.

But at the Frozen Four, when there's a great pass or an obvious offsides that didn't get called, the entire crowd knows it. And it made the experience unique. Every fan chose a side and rooted passionately for their team. The North Dakota fans (and there were A LOT of them) cheered for Notre Dame like it was the Sioux who were in the title game.

My friends and I cheered for Boston College. We all have friends who go there and I especially wanted to see BC win because they're in the ACC. This was kind of a random road trip. My buddy Canada and I are big hockey fans and made reservations for Denver because we were drunk and saw that flights on a certain airline were only $140. So, a few clicks later we were Frozen Four-bound without tickets or a place to stay. We were in Denver for 27 hours.

Fortunately, Canada's friend Korey lived in Colorado Springs and volunteered to pick us up at the airport and give us a place to stay. The Springs is about an hour south of Denver. We were able to find three tickets together 18 rows from the glass for $80 each. Not bad.

The game was exciting. BC's Nathan Gerbe had two goals and two assists to go along with the three goals he had in the semifinal against North Dakota. With about 12 minutes to play, Notre Dame scored what would have been the prettiest goal I'd ever seen that would have brought them within 3-2. They would have been one goal down with 12 minutes left and all the momentum.

However, after review, it was ruled the Notre Dame player kicked the puck in and the goal was disallowed. About a minute later, BC scored to make it 4-1 and put the game on ice.

If you've never been to a college hockey game, I strongly suggest it. Especially if it's an NCAA Tournament game. It's tough to match the intensity and the atmosphere.

Downtown Denver's Union Station.

The festivities began early. We waited outside the bar to be let in.

Coors Field, where the Red Sox clinched the 2007 World Series title!

Mile High Stadium. No, I won't call it by its corporate name.

Pepsi Center.

Outside the Pepsi Center prior to the game. There were a lot of Maine fans there, considering the Black Bears didn't even qualify for their conference tournament. Go Maine!

View from our seats prior to the game.

Face-off in the BC zone.

This would have been the greatest hockey jersey ever if this guy had realized that Ogie actually wore No. 6 in the movie. What a hosehead.

BC does the ACC proud by winning the national title.

One of the best traditions in sports. "I can't believe I shook that guy's friggin' hand."

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