Over the years, we have seen professional teams like the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, and the Philadelphia Flyers making their usual trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Also, over the years, we have seen colleges like Boston College, Boston University, the University of Minnesota, the University of North Dakota, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth making their usual appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four tournament.
But this year, a few schools decided to change things up a bit. Two schools that are not only fresh faces in the Frozen Four, but two schools that are about ten miles apart from each other: Quinnipiac University and Yale University. These are two schools that have quite an intense rivalry known as the War on Whitney Avenue, which could potentially be the next “BC-BU” rivalry in the forthcoming years. Also, the success that both teams had this year could lead to potential recruiting of kids from Connecticut, as most kids on both teams come from Western Canada and states like Minnesota, Michigan, and even California and Arizona. Even though Yale would upset Quinnipiac to win the national championship, Quinnipiac’s landmark year has greatly benefited their program, and their program could have more success in the not-too-distant future.
Last year, when the Stanley Cup playoffs began to set in motion, hardly anybody noticed that the No.8 seed in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings, even made the playoffs. But then, thanks to the efforts of its goalie, Connecticut native Jonathan Quick, they would blow out the President’s Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks, and eventually would go on to win their first ever Stanley Cup championship. Quick would win the Conn Smythe trophy, being the second kid from Avon Old Farms, where he spent his last two high school years, to win it. The first one was Brian Leetch. Ever since the Kings won the Cup, Quick has become a hometown hero for his state.
So with the hometown hero Jonathan Quick winning the Stanley Cup for his team and two local college hockey rivals making the national Frozen Four championship recently, it is not hard to see why Connecticut is slowly becoming a hockey hotbed. While Connecticut has seen some success with hockey in the past years, I feel like now that success has reached its breaking point and will continue to grow.
*On a side note, Connecticut is also home to the Connecticut Whale and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who are the New York Rangers’ and New York Islanders’ farm teams, respectively, for those of you who want to see some NHL players play locally and at a cheaper price.