LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Going Out On Top
After today, the NCHA men’s hockey will be no more. What better way to close out the conference than with a national championship.
“We talked about that the first day of practice,” Wisconsin-Eau Claire coach Matt Loen said. “It would be really cool winning it for the NCHA for the last time. I’m sad to see it go. A lot of great names came out of that conference. It’s too bad there’s not going to be that great hockey. I said it my whole 10 years of coaching; if you can get out of the NCHA, you got an unbelievable opportunity to win the national championship. If you look at the last three years, it’s been NCHA, and we’re grateful for games like tonight.”
The College Process
Unlike the pros, your time on a college team is limited. For Oswego, it will be losing a large corps of the team, as 14 seniors played their last game. It’s a class that made it to the championship weekend all four years, losing the title game the last two. They won 98 games during their tenure.
“We wouldn’t trade them for any other player on any other team,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said. “I’m proud of these guys. People probably judge everything on wins and losses, but what they brought to the community, four years of making the final four, giving back to the community. We’ll certainly miss them, but they’ll move on and we’ll move on, and that’s the college process.”
All Tournament Team
Forward: Jordan Singer (Eau Claire)
Forward: Kurt Weston (Eau Claire)
Forward: Chris Muise (Oswego)
Defense: Drew Darwitz (Eau Claire)
Defense: Bobby Gertsakis (Oswego)
Goalie: Brandon Stephenson (Eau Claire)
MOP: Jordan Singer (Eau Claire)
This is the third time the national championship came down to teams from the NCHA and the SUNYAC. Plattsburgh beat Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 7-3, in 1992. Last year, St. Norbert beat Oswego, 4-1.
A Familiar, Famous Image
When Bobby Gertsakis scored for Oswego to cut the lead to one in the third period, the scoreboard, the exact same one used in the 1980 Winter Olympics, displayed a very familiar and famous site. The clock read “10:00,” the period read “3″ and the score read “4-3.”
A More Wintry Feeling
Last year saw unseasonable warm weather, allowing fans to walk around in T-shirts, shorts, and eat outside at the cafes. This year, it was more like an Adirondack March. Temperatures stayed below freezing, dipping into the single digits at night, and enough snow flurries fell to give the town a white coat.
Once again, Lake Placid provided the perfect backdrop for the NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. It is the fifth time in the last six years the most famous hockey town in America has hosted. Every year, it is a huge hit with college hockey fans.
The original opportunity presented itself when the ECAC Division I men’s tournament left town and the NCAA Division III committee decided to start using predetermined sites. Now however, the ECAC has decided to return to Lake Placid next year after failed attempts at Albany, N.Y., and Atlantic City.
Unfortunately, it is the same weekend. Therefore, next year, the Division III national championship will be at Lewiston, Maine.
Hopefully, the NCAA will see fit to adjust the schedule so the conflict no longer exists, and the Division III championship can once again be held at the site of the Miracle on Ice.