Shin­ing moments on ice

NCAA hockey men’s Frozen Four lets Buf­falo bask in na­tional spot­light

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS - “The Great Lover.” These I have loved: White plates and cups, clean­gleam­ing. Ringed with blue lines; and feath­ery, faery-dust; Wet roofs, be­neath the lamp­light; the strong crust Of friendly bread; and many­tast­ing food; Rain­bows; and the blue bit­ter sm

Thurs­day was a great day for hockey at KeyBank Cen­ter, so the NCAA said, “Let’s play two.”

The college hockey men’s Frozen Four teams met in the arena dou­ble­header, with the semi­fi­nal round set­ting up Satur­day evening’s championship game.

With guests in town, fol­low­ing their teams from Den­ver, Min­nesota-Du­luth, Prov­i­dence and the Uni­ver­sity of Mas­sachusetts, our city did its best to pro­vide hockey weather Thurs­day, with flakes of snow and chilly winds off the lake. Tem­per­a­tures will be in the mid-60s here Fri­day, while Du­luth will be un­der siege from the bl­iz­zard that’s slam­ming the Mid­west.

The Frozen Four doesn’t draw the same crowds as bas­ket­ball’s NCAA Tour­na­ment, which last vis­ited Buf­falo in 2017. But bas­ket­ball also draws more ca­sual fans, and we wouldn’t be shocked if there was some friendly gam­bling in­volved. College hockey fan­dom is more laser­fo­cused on the sport it loves, as fans from through­out Western New York and Southern On­tario will at­test. And there will be thou­sands on hand at the arena.

ESPN an­a­lyst John Buc­ci­gross told The News’ Alan Perga­ment that he com­pares college hockey to punk rock: “It is a small au­di­ence, but it is a pas­sion­ate and in­ti­mate au­di­ence and they are re­ally into it.”

Visit Buf­falo Ni­a­gara es­ti­mates the three-day event will put as much as $3.9 mil­lion into our econ­omy, much of it to bars, restau­rants, ho­tels and taxi and ride-hail­ing com­pa­nies.

The Frozen Four was last here in 2003. A young Thomas Vanek, who later be­came a star for the Buf­falo Sabres, led Min­nesota to the NCAA championship that year. He was a fresh­man. Fu­ture Sabre Matt Moul­son also played it, for Cor­nell.

Bill Ma­her, director of ath­let­ics at Cani­sius College and an or­ga­nizer of the lo­cal Frozen Four ef­fort, told The News this week that the Frozen Four re­turned here “be­cause of the way our com­mu­nity sup­ports this event.”

Sabres star Jack Eichel was a stand­out in the 2015 Frozen Four, scor­ing two goals with one as­sist in Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity’s semi­fi­nal win over North Dakota at TD Gar­den in Bos­ton. His Ter­ri­ers lost to Prov­i­dence in the championship game, and two months later Eichel was drafted by the Sabres.

Some of the play­ers here this week for the Frozen Four will go on to play in the NHL, in­clud­ing some Sabres prospects. Satur­day night’s game will air on ESPN2, so if you don’t want to spring for a ticket, turn on your TV to see what the ex­cite­ment is all about.

I found myself think­ing about small things. Life’s great is­sues seemed to be sec­ondary matters, lux­ury items for a time when one was hale and hearty. Be­ing able to ap­pre­ci­ate life’s daily plea­sures seemed to be what mat­tered most.

In rais­ing this question, I thought of a poem by the Ed­war­dian English poet, Ru­pert Brooke (1887-1915), who died, as did many fel­low writ­ers of his gen­er­a­tion, dur­ing World War I: Ly­ing in bed, im­mo­bile, I My View

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