Continuing our look back at 2017, we turn to the NCAA, which had a great year on the ice and in the community!
Inaugural D1 in DC tournament
One of the missions of The Ice Garden is to “Grow the Game” and the Washington Pride partnered with four NCAA schools to do just that in the nation’s capital. Boston University, Northeastern, Wisconsin, and Minnesota State competed in a tournament over Thanksgiving break and held a community skate afterwards.
Not only did Victoria Bach have the tournament of a lifetime, scoring a hat trick against Minnesota State and two goals against Wisconsin. The big story of the weekend was Northeastern upsetting the previously undefeated Badgers for their biggest win of the first half of the season.
This tournament was also great for the hockey community in DC. The nearest D1 teams to DC are Penn State and Princeton, so this was a rare opportunity for the community to watch NCAA hockey. The players stayed on the ice after the final game for a community skate and many people brought their daughters who loved the chance to meet collegiate players.
Clarkson Upsets Wisconsin
We’d be remiss not to include the national championship game in this list, but this was truly an epic moment in NCAA hockey this season. Clarkson toppled Wisconsin 3-0 in Missouri to end a great season for the Golden Knights.
The Badgers had won 22 straight games leading up to the title game, and looked like the best team in the nation on paper. Ann-Renee Desbien was on her way to a Patty Kazmaier award, Annie Pankowski and Sarah Nurse were two of the top ten scorers in the country, and no one could solve Wisconsin.
The Golden Knights, however, relied on a 41 save performance from Shea Tiley and two goals from the nation’s leading scorer Cayley Mercer to propel themselves to their second national title in four years.
Wisconsin was heavily favored coming into this game, and even with how great Clarkson looked this season the Badgers losing came as a huge surprise. Bringing the championship back east is great for the country as a whole, as power moves from solely resting in the western schools like Wisconsin and Minnesota, and the rest of the nation is able to compete at a high level.
While this was not the first ever women’s game at Frozen Fenway, it was a nice addition to a great event at one of the country’s most famous venues.
Boston College and Harvard faced off on a rainy night at Fenway Park with both teams wearing special jerseys for the occassion. The rain did make playing conditions difficult - Harvard’s goaltender Brianna Laing was frequently pushing water out of her crease during stoppages - but nearly every player said they enjoyed the opportunity.
The Eagles ended up winning the contest 3-0, but one of the best stories of the game was the tribute paid to Denna Laing who was injured in the 2016 Winter Classic. Laing’s sisters, Brianna and Lexie, both play for the Crimson, and the entire team wore a 14 patch on their shoulders in her honor.
Pack the Gut
That’s the Hockey East attendance record, and it was set on February 4, 2017.
Pack the Gut has become an annual tradition at the University of Vermont; the Catamounts hold the event to raise money and attempt to raise the record.
The game itself was a tense 3-3 tie between Vermont and New Hampshire, but the importance of the community rallying behind the team and raising money for Meals on Wheels - a charity that brings hot meals to senior citizens - is even more important. The 2,136 attendees of this game at the Gutterson Fieldhouse contributed to a story of the positive power of college hockey.
WCHA Begins Crowdfunding
The WCHA began a partnership with RallyMe.com this year to fund a variety of operations within the conference.
After losing the North Dakota program, the WCHA made a push to better serve their student-athletes and participant teams. By partnering with RallyMe, which works alongside organizations like USA Hockey, the WCHA will hopefully be able to put donor money to use in the Frozen Faceoff, weekly and monthly awards and scholarships, among other things.
"Wins" from crowdfunding: Most folks didn't know the WCHA was a 501c3 before this campaign. It has given them huge exposure, as well.— Nicole Haase (@NicoleHaase) September 12, 2017
This partnership is significant as it shows the conference’s commitment to its members. The WCHA has produced dozens of Team Canada and Team USA members, and has some of the most recognizable schools in college hockey. Continued success of the conference is vital to the NCAA.