The command from Boston College coach Jerry York echoed throughout the building Friday morning:
A trio of Eagle forwards had just completed a classic rush down the ice. They were celebrating their finesse in the corner when York blew the drill dead.
“Save your energy for Saturday night.”
The off day at the Frozen Four is the chance to take a breather. Between the highs of the semifinals and the anticipated euphoria of the championship game comes this respite for all concerned. Everything about the day off encourages people to take a rest.
It starts with the morning alarm, reminding a good many in Milwaukee of how late they stayed out the previous night. This blends into the team practices which resemble a pee-wee session in their amalgams of basic drills. To reinforce the concept, York followed his slowdown command with a breakaway contest — and to center ice stepped 11-year old Jacob Paluch, son of Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch, who confidently took a turn.
Shame on the BC goaltender for stopping him.
Simultaneously in the media room, Wisconsin forward Adam Burish broke the rule of the day and flew through his comments in the press conference like a New Yorker.
“Slow down!” implored NCAA grand poobah Dave Fischer on behalf of the stenographer, who couldn’t keep up.
The NCAA followed the team practices by inviting the fans to skate on the Bradley Center ice. While the general public may try to do their best Apolo Anton Ohno impressions, the combination of rental skates and bratwursts will have a better chance of melting the ice than burning it.
In all of American culture, nothing spells “slow” like awards presentations. The Hobey Baker and Hockey Humanitarian awards may make for great drama and intrigue, but after the envelope is opened, it becomes the de rigueur mantra of thanking parents, coaches, their great aunt, and agent for getting him a great deal with the San Jose Sharks.
Don’t expect the skills competition to pick up the pace much. First, Bauer Nike Hockey has tricked out the players in the content with their latest and greatest gear. This means that the competitors will have brand-new — that is, very stiff — equipment. That’s guaranteed to shave a few miles per hour off the final times. Beyond that, these shows are largely players standing in line waiting to perform those same pee-wee drills that didn’t entertain much earlier in the day. It gets old, fast.
Of course, the day off does have its place. This is not like the week off before the Super Bowl, which induces the national media to scrutinize every angle of the game, including the color of Peyton Manning’s socks.
“It’s kind of nice to have the day to recoup after last night,” said Wisconsin junior forward Andrew Joudrey. “You can kind of recover and recharge for tomorrow night and get that fire building for tomorrow night.”
The best part of the off day is that it gives the coaches and players a chance to take a moment and fully appreciate the opportunity to play for a national title. Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves assisted on the championship-winning goal for the Badgers in 1977 and that moment was far too fleeting.
“I think I’ll be more cognizant of winning this time around,” Eaves said. “When we won in ’77, when the puck went in the net — I don’t remember from the time the puck went in the net to getting in the locker room. They showed us pictures of us on the ice. I had no clue.”
So take a break today and slow down.