It’s time for the NCAA Division I Championship in men's ice hockey on Saturday night. It’s the once-in-a-lifetime meeting of the biggest and the meanest, the best versus the best.
Yes, folks, it’s the long-awaited meeting of…Yale vs. Quinnipiac.
For college hockey fans, all 17 of them outside of Minnesota and New England, this is the night to see a king crowned. And you can be sure that ESPN, which will televise the game nationally (7 p.m. ET), is excited to have such a big-name matchup to promote.
What can ESPN tell its national audience about the two pretenders? Er, I mean contenders.
Well, first of all they are about 20 minutes away from each other in two otherwise sweet suburban towns in Connecticut. Hamden and New Haven are not exactly hotbeds of athletic drama. The Bobcats of Quinnipiac and the Bulldogs of Yale are not typically national contenders.
As an institution of higher learning, Yale is Yale, which is to say it is not quite Harvard in the eyes of the public.
Its law school, for instance, is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report (sorry Harvard, which is No. 2). Quinnipiac is just slightly behind, with a law school ranking of 134.
Well, but how about Physician’s Assistant Studies? Quinnipiac comes in at No. 11—take that Yale at No. 14.
More to the point, what do we know about their hockey teams?
Yale, with 21 wins, is led by its all-time assists leader and All-American Andrew Miller.
In the title game the Bulldogs will be playing with a king-sized chip on their shoulders. They will be meeting the mighty Bobcats for the fourth time this season, having lost all three prior contests by a combined score of 13-3.
The Bobcats of Quinnipiac, with 30 wins this season, are led by senior netminder Eric Hartzell, with a pretty spectacular goals-against average of 1.53. With that kind of stingy defense, teams that fall behind this group of hockey immortals do not usually come back.
So in these days when we expect NCAA national title matchups to involve the big names in college athletics such as Michigan and Louisville or Alabama and Notre Dame, it’s a nice change of pace to contemplate Yale facing off against Quinnipiac for hockey’s national title.
It's not really a David-and-Goliath story, more a a meeting of David versus David. May the team with the best slingshot win.