The Road to the Frozen Four had more than just the players along for the ride. Coaches, team staff, fans and press tagged along to capture and memorialize live events for future recollection.
For the past two seasons, I’ve shot nearly every home hockey game at our intimate Ewigleben Arena in Big Rapids. With nearly 2,500 seats, every fan remains close to the action.
But as the team progressed further and further into the post-season, the venues kept getting larger and larger.
The Midwest Regionals were held at the Resch Center in Green Bay, where FSU defeated both Denver and Cornell in 2-1 victories. After those eight-hour bus rides to and from the land of the Cheeseheads, it started to really set in how immense and amazing this season had been.
Riding on the fan bus to Green Bay were mainly alumni and locals whose diehard continual support brought them across Lake Michigan.
The ride down to Tampa for the Frozen Four was filled with alumni and locals, but with a much greater turnout of students who made the 26-hour trek southward to the Sunshine State.
The venue in Tampa Bay was the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It was filled with over 18,000 fans for both the semifinals and the championship games. During both games, thunderous chants supporting the Bulldogs seemed to possess more weight, giving me goosebumps and temporarily taking my focus off the job at hand.
The mere presence of Bulldog hockey at such a national scale was noticeable by the questions directed toward me by strangers who would follow up my response of my publication with questions to intrigue.
They were simply trying to understand how a small-town Big Rapids school could go further than the normal staples of the Frozen Four: massive schools like Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and the likes.
And although FSU couldn’t take down the juggernauts of college hockey Boston College, the season that FSU put together makes me honored to be able to tag along for the ride.