Feels like the first time
By Scott Bridges
Adrian, Amherst, Trinity and UW-Stevens Point have combined for 20 tournament appearances, ten trips to the Frozen Four and four national championships (not counting this season.)
However while all four schools have had several stretches of success in their histories, this isnot quite the same as Norwich, Plattsburgh, Middlebury and St. Norbert (who have combined for 41 when it comes to more recent success.
|St. Norbert won its second title the last time the championship was in Minneapolis. This year's title will be the first for whichever players claim it.|
However only four of those Frozen Four trips have come in the last decade and it has been 22 years since Stevens Point last won a title. That means that no matter who wins it all, it will be the first such championship for any of the team's players.
Stevens Point has been here most recently, losing 3-1 to St. Norbert in last year's championship game. Time moves quickly in college sports, traditions may be carried on for decades but experience can't be passed down from one generation to another. Several players on this year's squad were not even born the last time the Pointers won a title.
Amherst is the other team with Frozen Four experience as the seniors on this year's squad were freshmen the only other time the Lord Jeffs made it this far, a 2-1 overtime loss to Oswego in 2012.
Adrian is the only team besides the Pointers to have made a title game in its history, as the Bulldogs fell 4-3 to St. Norbert in 2011. This is the third straight NCAA appearance for Adrian, the most among the four remaining teams.
The Bantams have been strangers the longest to the Frozen Four as Trinity has not made an appearance in a decade. In 2005 Trinity fell 4-1 to St. Thomas in the semifinals in their sole Frozen Four appearance. Before this season the Bantams had not made an NCAA tournament appearance since 2008, leaving them as the only team without any players with NCAA experience.
When all is said and done a new group of champions will be crowned, whether it's the first in a program's history or another chapter to a proud legacy.
Experience, focus help fuel Pointers' run
By Matthew Webb
Senior Writer, D3hockey.com
When UW-Stevens Point wrapped up its 4-2 quarterfinal victory over Hamline last weekend its postgame celebration was a subdued one, and was far more subdued than the one that followed the Pointers' 2014 NCAA quarterfinal win over St. Thomas.
Now making its second consecutive Frozen Four appearance, Stevens Point's business-like mentality has been one of its featured traits all season and can trace its roots all the way back last March in Lewiston, Maine, the site of the Pointers' 3-1 national championship loss to St. Norbert.
|Senior defenseman Kyle Brodie's bout with cancer served to put things in perspective for an already focused group.
Photo: Steve Frommell for d3photography.com
"This team is focused. We're focused on the task at hand," said Pointers' head coach Chris Brooks. "We've been focused since we left Lewiston last year and we're just grateful to have given ourselves an opportunity to come back (to the Frozen Four) and be two games away from a national championship."
The Pointers bring an experienced group to Minneapolis this weekend as 22 players on this year's roster were part of last season's NCAA tournament run. There's also an upperclass feel to this year's group as five out of the top six and seven of the Pointers' top nine scorers are upperclassmen. Five are seniors.
The combination of last year's national championship near-miss and a roster that is loaded with experience has kept the Pointers hungry from day one and allowed them to never let their gaze wander off the ultimate goal.
"It was definitely a goal of ours and we knew that with that little bit of sour taste in our mouths we wanted to be back," said Pointers' junior captain Evan Dixon. "I think it took maybe a few weeks to process the whole tournament just because it was our first time but it was definitely a feeling we wanted again and were going to work for."
"For the guys that knew they were coming back this year it's definitely an expectation that has been built into our program. From that moment forward we knew it was all prep for this moment now."
In a story that received significant amount of attention in the local Stevens Point media but not nearly as much nationally, the Pointers were rocked hard over the summer when senior-to-be and reigning All-American defenseman Kyle Brodie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of testicular cancer.
Against significant odds, Brodie battled through treatment -- including six weeks of chemotherapy -- and after an incomprehensibly difficult summer had managed to rejoin the team by fall and was in the starting lineup for the Pointers' season opener. He has scored 18 points in 26 games this season.
"It definitely was a scare and made us sit back and realize how lucky we are to even be playing the game," Dixon said.
"When we were going through our preseason workouts and to see him there...he wasn't able to do 100% but to see him do what he could and then see where he's at now is pretty inspiring and it's definitely motivating for everybody. Puts things in perspective."
While Brodie's cancer scare looms infinitely more important than the game of hockey, his successful treatment and return ultimately served as a grounding force for a group that was already collectively level-headed.
And it's that single-minded focus that has rendered the Pointers nearly unflappable and helped lift them to their second consecutive Frozen Four.
"They're extremely focused and extremely driven and know they have to take two more steps to take us where we want to go," Brooks said. "That's something we've talked about and will continue to talk about: "what do we have to do to take us where we want to go?"
"A definite part of our success this year was having such a veteran team," Dixon said. "So many of our guys have been through that Frozen Four experience, and just being able to feel it -- it's something that you can't really imitate. So we came in this year with that mission and that vision in place."
Whether that mission and vision help carry the Pointers to two more wins and their ultimate goal nor not, it's a rather safe bet that should they come up short it will not be due a lack of a unified direction -- the roots of which planted themselves a year ago in Lewiston, Maine.
Live from Ridder!
|Adrian and Trinity will kick things off at 4:00 p.m. CT on Friday.
...and we're live at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis!
By late Saturday night a new national champion will be crowned, and three of the four participants all have a chance to claim their first title ever.
However, before that happens three games need to be played, and before that a busy Thursday went down at Ridder Arena.
All four teams had a one hour practice and a press conference thereafer, and the day's activities were followed up by Thursday night's Frozen Four banquet where St. Thomas' Drew Fielding claimed the Sid Watson Award, Amherst's Jack Arena the Ed Jeremiah Award, and the AHCA All-Americans were announced.
D3hockey.com was of course live on-scene and will be all weekend. Catch up with all of Thursday's activities below as we rolled out nine new features, and stay tuned all weekend for the continuing running coverage that is...Live From Ridder.
Live From Ridder:
More news from D3hockey.com
|Mar 26, 2015||Feels like the first time|
|Mar 26, 2015||Experience, focus help fuel Pointers' run|
|Mar 26, 2015||Live from Ridder!|
|Mar 26, 2015||New coach, same success at Adrian|
|Mar 26, 2015||Rising sons help Amherst into semis|
|Mar 26, 2015||Trinity goes from famine to feast|
|Mar 26, 2015||Meet your host: Ridder Arena|
|Mar 26, 2015||The Road to Ridder Podcast: The Frozen Four|
|Mar 26, 2015||2015 AHCA Men's All-Americans released|
|Mar 26, 2015||Fielding, Arena claim AHCA individual honors|
|Mar 25, 2015||Preview: Adrian v. Trinity|
|Mar 25, 2015||Preview: Amherst v. UW-Stevens Point|
|Mar 19, 2015||Historic turnaround carries Hamline into NCAAs|