The time I traveled to this year’s D3 Hockey National Champion School
They may own the rights to the name. But March Madness is not just about basketball.
There are so many NCAA championships going in the third month of the year. We also now live in a time where people make their won brackets around this time of year. (For example: The Food Bracket and March Dadness)
Among those college tournaments going on is the Division III hockey tournament. The frozen four took place in Utica, NY this weekend.
The Norwich Cadets won in the Championship game against Trinity Bantams. Norwich comes from a mountain town in Vermont called Northfield.
Northfield’s population is just over 6,000.
There are many schools like Nowich in small towns in every corner of this country. But not many have a memory I have with like Norwich.
The Oswego State hockey team was selected to play in a holiday hockey tournament this season in Norwich. It was played New Year’s eve weekend.
Because it was break, WNYO sports did not have every member at it’s disposal. They needed someone to drive and someone to call some hockey.
I was lucky enough to be asked, after some thought. I decided, you know what, why not?
Fellow Food Bracket voter Taylor Ksiasek and I started back home in Buffalo. After a trip to pick up one of those wnyo members, Jordan McGee and his siblings in Rochester. We made our first pit stop in Syracuse and spent the night.
What ahead of us the next day, is something I won’t forget.
We left around noon. Picked up the Sports Director Sam Watkins at the airport and hoped on The Thruway. Things were going well for a while. There was plenty of snow in the forecast but we said we would take it slow and steady.
That’s when we started to see cars on the side of the road. It was very bad on the highway, but we moved our way until we got off in Amsterdam, NY. From there it would mostly be country roads up into Vermont.
According to the gps, we were set to be in Northfield in three hours. It was 2 p.m.
Through the snowy road we kept going. My car, a 2000 white chevy blazer that looks like it should be driving down a Los Angeles Highway with OJ in the back and not four college kids driving through a snowstorm in the Northeast just kept on rolling with its brand new tires I just bought.
The day turned to night. The snow persisted as we crossed the state border.
GPS told us we were an hour and half away. It was 5 p.m.
45 minutes passed. The gps said we were an hour and 15 minutes away.
Another 45 minutes passed. The gps said we were still an hour away.
It seemed like we were going in circles as we drove down these roads without a light in sight.
Finally we arrived in the small town of Barre where our hotel was booked. It was the closest hotel to the college. It was 15 miles away.
The next day we traveled to the college for the first game of the tournament. It was like the typical country roads we had been driving over for the past day.
Out of nowhere appeared this military school with architecture that looked like one of an Ivy School.
The rink was an old style hockey auditorium. We stood in a press box that was made of wood. But hey, hockey is hockey.
The hockey team may have lost their two games at the tournament. But being able to spend New Year eve weekend with some close friends in the middle of the green mountains is something I will never forget.
So congrats to Norwich University. If you can travel to and from a school like that in which seems like imagine travel can be difficult, and have as much success as you did. You deserve it.
I imagine the memories you made together were well worth the trip. Just like ours.