In his final remarks after Saturday’s title game, FSU head coach Bob Daniels offered a stick salute to those providing the tournament hospitality in Tampa.
“This is our first Frozen Four,” he said. “I’m not sure they’re all like this, but I’d be hard pressed to believe they are. This has been terrific.”
Milner, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player who also experienced the 2010 championship in Detroit, offered similar sentiments in his opening remarks.
“I think Detroit was great, but I think the city of Tampa really…it was amazing coming here and seeing how much support there was around this event. I think they did a great job with it.”
Tampa became the second city based in the southern United State to host an NCAA men’s hockey championship, following Anaheim in 1999. The final game was played before 18,818 spectators at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the largest-ever audience at a Frozen Four contest being played in a first-time host venue.
With grassroots hockey now in place and looking for growth in every corner of the continental U.S., Tampa is living proof that all of the country’s NHL arenas should have a fair shot at bidding for the Frozen Four.
Two more “traditional” hockey markets in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are already on deck, but there are still 12 others who have yet to host. But tradition and geography need to take a permanent backseat to the present, wherein hockey is a thoroughly national sport.
Location should only matter in terms of the arena, its size and what surrounds it, especially hotels and other entertainment facilities. The Forum and its neighborhood did the job with participants, spectators, officials and media all creating and savoring a widespread festive atmosphere.
Quotes for this story were obtained firsthand at the postgame press conference