Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota hockey team is on its way to a historical NCAA Frozen Four.
St. Cloud State University has never advanced this far in the tournament despite its storied history. But they earned their spot with a win over Miami of Ohio last weekend. Now, the team will face Quinnipiac Thursday night at 8 p.m. SCSU is the only Minnesota school with a spot in the tournament.
Before taking off to Pittsburgh, Huskie Nation threw a sendoff party in their honor on campus.
“This is our time as St. Cloud State Huskie Hockey. This is our time!” student government president Hannah Muerhoff said, rallying the crowd. “This Thursday is a huge deal for SCSU. We’re making history!”
Co-Captain Drew LaBlanc emphasized their time in the national spotlight wasn’t possible without the fans.
“Your support through this whole thing has been awesome,” he said. “We’re excited to get out to Pittsburgh and represent this university, campus, students and everyone else.”
LaBlanc was named 2013 WCHA Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
The camaraderie on the team is apparent. His co-captain, Ben Hanowski said he wouldn’t want to play the tournament game without this team.
“We’re going to go out there Thursday and then do it again Saturday and bring home a national title. That’s our goal and that’s what we’re going to try and do,” Hanowski said.
Ron and Marty Bunde have been waiting 18 years for this moment.
“We talked at the beginning of the season. I said this could be a special year. This could be the year,” Ron Bunde said. “It’s been an amazing ride. It turned out way better than we expected.”
This season has been special. The Huskies are WCHA co-champions, bringing the McNaughton Cup to St. Cloud for the first time.
“The team’s been amazing,” Marty Bunde said. “The kids are dedicated. They just go out there and play hard for almost the whole darn time they’re out on the ice.”
The players aren’t only good on the ice. Their academics are outstanding, too, showing the best of what a sports team and University can be.
The anticipation builds as the team skates its way into hockey’s history books.
Decked out in his Frozen Four gear, Ron Bunde smiled, “sometimes a team is a team and not just an individual. That’s what I think makes these guys special.”
The three other teams playing in this season’s Frozen Four are Quinnipiac, Massachusetts-Lowell and Yale. None of the four schools have ever won a NCAA Frozen Four title.