Tales from the Frozen Four

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By: Rachel Buck
Sports Information Assistant

Last week I had the privilege of working at the Frozen Four in Detroit, a battle between the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Boston College, Miami (Ohio) and Rochester Institute of Technology for the title of NCAA Division I men’s hockey champion.

I shouldn’t even claim that I worked during my time there. I almost felt guilty taking a credential and watching college hockey after they told me what I would be doing: proofreading/editing quotes from each press conference after they came in from the transcribing service. But my guilt was quelled after chatting with Fred, the event manager, who said nobody was really working there but him.

Wisconsin Practice

So not only did I get to watch the Frozen Four for free, but I also had the opportunity to sit in on every post-game presser, watching some of the best coaches in college hockey (especially Mike Eaves from Wisco and Jerry York from Boston College) talk about their philosophies while the future of the NHL and professional hockey sat beside them. I also had the chance to do a little freelance work, writing for onmilwaukee.com and officially debuting my Twitter skills as the “official Frozen Four tweeter” for the website.

I even took advantage of a few of the liberties offered with a credential. Friday I watched UW practice from the bench and then went on to work with insidecollegehockey.com to do a feature story on UW and the playoff mustaches they all grew for the playoffs. We later went to Cheli’s Chili Bar (owned by former Badger and NHL player Chris Chelios) where the official Wisco fan events were held to interview fans and see how they also took to the idea. You can watch the video here.

And of course there was the highlight of meeting some of the greatest names in hockey while restraining myself from acting like a kid in a candy shop. I had the chance to meet Barry Melrose (if only he weren’t so orange…but that man can rock a mullet like nobody’s business), UW AD and Wisco idol Barry Alvarez, a bunch of former Hobey Baker winners and even some NHL executives (we ended up in the Anaheim Ducks Assistant GM’s suite after bar closed on Friday because the man had enough beverages to keep John Daly content for days).

But if that weren’t enough, probably the best part of the weekend for me was reuniting with the small hockey community that I have come to know and love and look forward to seeing at this annual event.

The Frozen Four at Ford Field

It’s amazing how small the hockey community is. Fred, the event manager, played hockey with the GM for the Milwaukee Admirals, a team that I worked for when I was back at Marquette, and I actually met him during the 2006 playoffs. Eric Bacher, SID for Denver University, grew up in Stevens Point (just 40 minutes from my hometown) and his family’s farm in Merrill is adjacent to my family farm. I chatted with a girl who attends Bowling Green because her dad played hockey with Capitals’ GM George McPhee at BG and she has been talking to George about interning with the Caps.

We also played a game called “six degrees of Nate” loosely based on the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” game that was popular for a hot minute a few years ago. Basically, my old boss at the Capitals, Nate, is a well-known name in college hockey from his time as a SID at Princeton and Michigan State and after co-founding the site insidecollegehockey.com. We played this game with everyone, even some media members, another way we were able to find out just how small the world is.

Anyway, the games were all seemingly anti-climatic and the venue left something to be desired, but the most important part was maintaining those ever-important connections and friendships with people that we wish we could see more often than every April.

And that’s what makes this annual journey to the center of college hockey so special. We all get so busy with our responsibilities, but one time a year we are all able to reunite, do a little bit of work, have a lot of fun and build enough memories until the next year when we do it all over again. And let me say, I can’t wait for next year in my ol’ stomping grounds the Twin Cities and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul…my absolute favorite sports arena and home of my favorite hockey team, the Minnesota Wild!

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