My Frozen Four Ice Hockey Experience in Philadelphia
Wells Fargo Center in Philly - Frozen Four 2014
NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship
What is the Frozen Four ?
If I mentioned phrases like "March Madness" or "Final Four", the immediate thought for many men and women basketball fans would be the NCAA division I college basketball championships that are played every March and April. Since I am not a basketball fan, until March, I thought I would parallel the division I and division III ice hockey championships called the "Frozen Four".
The NCAA collegiate ice hockey season ends in March and that is when tournament selection of 16 teams begins for the Frozen Four. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a large athletic program which supports athletes across the United States. Like the NCAA basketball final four (men and woman), the NCAA ice hockey frozen four (men and women) is played in the March and April time frame for both division I and division III. The semi-finals and finals of the ice hockey tournament became known as the frozen four in 1999.
This article will give you the background and the detail that you need to follow the NCAA Ice Hockey season along with the post season tournament. I will also share with you my personal experience with this great event.
NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Structure
The division I schools are the big powerhouse colleges and universities across the nation as sanctioned by the NCAA. This group of colleges typically has the most enrolled students, larger budgets, better facilities and offer financial aid in terms of scholarship awards.
Up until 1999 there was an officially NCAA sponsored division II but post season tournament play in the frozen four was suspended due to lack of support. At that time, any college or university that participated in the division II was divided to play up in division I or play down in division III.
The division III colleges are the smaller schools which do not offer any type of scholarship awards for the athletic programs and generally attract local athletes. Enrollment for DIII can range from 500 students to 20,000 students.
NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Frozen Four
Tournament play for post season ice hockey began in 1948 with four teams and has grown as noted below.
Division I (DI, D-one)
Each year sixteen teams from each of the many conferences in division I to compete in a yearly post season single elimination tournament that gets played in four regional areas across the united states. The winners of each of the conference championships receive an automatic bid into the tournament while the selection committee awards the additional teams based on competition and anticipated match ups. A single regional area is selected prior to the start of each season to host the semi-finals and final game in the tournament. The regional area selected to host the 2014 Frozen Four was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Division III (DIII)
Since there are additional conferences in division III than in division I, the tournament section process is a bit different. Past tournaments included twelve teams representing ten conferences champions plus two additional teams. The teams for division III also play in regional areas but the locations may be different than the division I counterpart.
The semi-final and final game of the post season tournament are the final two games and therefore are known as the frozen four. This is true for both division I and division III.
2014 Frozen Four Ice Hockey Teams
University of Minnesota
University of North Dakota
Minnesota 2 - 1
Union 5 - 4
Wells Fargo Center in Philly - Frozen Four 2014
2014 DI Frozen Four Teams
Boston College, Union College, University of Minnesota and University of North Dakota were the division I ice hockey teams that competed in the 2014 Frozen Four games at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
In the semi-finals games, that took place in Philly on April 10th 2014, University of North Dakota hosted University of Minnesota and Boston College hosted Union College.
Minnesota took the puck from their defensive zone into the North Dakota defense and scored the winning goal with less than one second remaining in regulation to give the Golden Gophers a spot to compete for the frozen four championship.
Union held off a late goal scoring rush by Boston College with less than two minutes remaining to give the Dutchmen their first ever appearance the frozen four championship game.
While we did not attend either of these games, we did watch the majority of both games on television. As far as the day of the final game - here is our experience:
Wells Fargo Center in Philly - Frozen Four 2014
Our Frozen Four Championship Game Timeline
After the Thursday night games on April 10th, 2014, we decided that we were going to travel down to Philadelphia on Saturday April 12th, 2014 to experience the frozen four championship game. The times presented here are approximate EST but the temperature was 80 degree and the sky was clear blue.
10:00 am - We stopped at an ATM for cash, filled the Jeep with gas and headed towards I-95 South en-route to Philly.
11:00 am - We arrived in Philly and located the parking lot directly in front of the Wells Fargo center. We took our pictures and walked around the building to see if we could get in for event hats and tee-shirts. We could not get in the building at this time.
11:30 am - We walked towards the Xfinity Center (A multi media explosion and great fan experience). While we headed away from Wells Fargo Center I shot the footage for the first YouTube video below.
11:35 am - Arriving at the Xfinity Center we walked inside an captured the footage for the second YouTube video below.
11:45 am - Our next stop was an outdoor bar and grill area (located directly outside of the main building) which looked extremely inviting so we sat down for lunch. I, of course, ate a steak sandwich - Philly is know for the cheese-steak but this was real grilled steak on a hoagie roll.
12:30 am - This was the time I took the last bite of my sandwich and finished my last gulp of beer. As we sat in the sun and enjoyed the atmosphere we thought on our next steps.
1:00 pm - Thinking that Wells Fargo would now be open to purchase souvenirs, we walked back to the Center only to find the building was only open for a public skate.
1:30 pm - Realizing we could not purchase any memorabilia until about 3:00pm, we elected to go to McFaddens to visit the famous restaurant that resides at the base of Citizen's Bank (where the MLB Phillies play). Here we met and Facebook friend-ed a family from North Dakota who was there to support the college hockey team. Dressed in all bright green University of North Dakota colors were this particular family has made it an annual trip to go to each frozen four game - a tradition that has been in place for several years. We also met a group of motorcycle visitors from Canada. As we spoke to the Canadiens, we realized that they were actually Flyer fans.
2:55 pm - We paid our bill from the restaurant and headed back to Xfinity to purchase our hockey stuff. By now, the area had gotten crowded as fans began arriving in swarms to experience this great event. We made it over to the trailer and purchased hats and tee-shirts - exactly what we wanted.
3:15 pm - Stepping away from the trailer we looked around to see people cooking in the parking lots, kids pretending to take the game winning slap shot and people, just like us, enjoying the experience. We saw a ton of college jerseys from each of the four schools that competed in the frozen four.
3:30 pm - We had only one thing left to do in our short journey and that was to try the famous garlic hot chicken wings at Broad Street Bullies restaurant inside of the Xfinity Center. As expected, the wings were real and they were spectacular. We walked into the restaurant, sat down immediately even though it was packed with sports fans, ordered our wings, watched a bit of the Flyers game and left for home.
5:15 pm - We gathered our belongings and headed back home reflecting on a fantastic day in which we took a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the frozen four. If the frozen four ever returns to Philly we will make sure to attend the festivities.
7:30 pm - We turned the television on to channel ESPN2 and watched the final game of the Frozen Four where Union beat Minnesota 7 - 4 giving Union College their first ever championship the first time ever hosted by the city of Philadelphia.
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Division I Men's College Ice Hockey
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Get NCAA DI Men's College Ice Hockey and Men's Frozen Four history, including past champions and results.
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