Column: March Madness not limited to just basketball
There's no month quite like March. Spring is in the air, classes are winding down and, most importantly, brackets are the talk of the water cooler.
There's just something special about an NCAA Tournament. Single elimination means one mistake could be the end of your ride. Heroes are born out of pride for your school, not money and fame. Underdogs have a chance because hard work, at this level, has the chance to take out even the most talented.
While the NCAA basketball tournament in full swing, it's easy to miss one of college sport's more entertaining contests. The NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship boasts the excitement of the Olympics or Stanley Cup playoffs, all while giving fans the passion that comes with college athletics. Future stars put it all on the line for their schools with the hopes of making it to the Frozen Four.
Like the majority of hockey tournaments, the college edition is a crapshoot. Hard work and a little luck go a long way in the game of hockey, as evidenced by last season's all Connecticut final between Quinnipiac and eventual champions Yale. It's a competition that is legitimately up for grabs with an entire field competing for glory. There are no 16 seeds being fed to perennial powerhouses, as every team in the field has a chance to make a run. Hell, even Boston College, Providence and Notre Dame have a chance of actually winning something in the month of March.
This year's tournament has obvious favorites. The aforementioned Boston College boasts one of the best college hockey players in recent memory, Johnny Gaudreau, or Johnny Hockey as he is affectionately known. Minnesota features 14 players who have been drafted by NHL teams. Even local Quinnipiac has a chance to make a run after returning a few key players from last season's run.
Overall, the NCAA hockey tournament may not be as beloved as it's basketball cousin, but it is every bit as emotional and passionate. It's a tournament for the little guys, as non-traditional athletic powerhouses such as Union, St. Cloud State and Ferris State have a good a chance as any at coming out with a national title. It's truly the game in its purest form with some of the sport's best young prospects on display. What's not to like?
With March in full swing, it's finally tournament season. May the best team win.
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