Updated: April 14, 2021 10:52 PM
Created: April 12, 2021 09:17 PM
Three Minnesota men's hockey teams entered the NCAA Frozen Four tournament and while none of them would be crowned champions in Pittsburgh Minnesota fans that traveled hundreds of miles from the State of Hockey said the tournament experience alone, after missing out on last season, was enough to make up for the final score.
"For Covid I'm just very grateful they were able to pull this off because obviously they didn't get to do it last year," said Solon Springs native Tim Wright while attending the Frozen Four.
Fans flocked from Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato, and across the country to support their team as they battled for a coveted national title.
"I can't imagine the sacrifices that the players have had to do, and just to have that reward to actually have fans come and cheer them on at the end of the season," Wright said, was a great feeling.
There's something special about the big stage that has some fans buying tickets every year.
"Part of it is just UMD making it, I don't want to miss that," said Ryan Geris, a University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey alum. "I think the other part of it is the way the tournament is done, it's pretty cool because you actually get to enjoy the city a little bit," he added while standing in front of PPG Paints Arena in downtown Pittsburgh.
They're not alone. The players love returning to the tourney too, even when the result isn't in their favor.
"Getting back here every single year, that's just something you don't see a lot and kind of attests to the culture that we have here in Duluth," said UMD senior forward Nick Swaney during Thursday's semifinal post-game press conference.
That night the Bulldogs saw their season come to an end after falling 3-2 to the University of Massachusetts in overtime. UMD junior forward Tanner Laderoute added, "we've faced so much adversity, I mean every team has. It's a pleasure to be here, I couldn't be more lucky to do it with these guys."
Building on their culture of good hockey players and great people, the Bulldogs hope to skate into their fifth straight Frozen Four next season.
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