Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Colleges

Lightning star Marty St. Louis, others share Frozen Four memories

Lightning star Marty St. Louis has been in his share of gut-wrenching, emotional games during his NHL career, with a thin line separating elation from devastation.

To the wing, the Frozen Four, the NCAA championship that comes to Tampa this week, is a perfect storm of that excitement wrapped into one with the pagentry of bands and fans making it unique.

"It's one game, do or die. It's like three Game 7s," St. Louis said. "It's pretty exciting, especially when you get close games. You see the kids giving it everything they have. It's their Stanley Cup."

St. Louis has won a Stanley Cup but still laments he never played for a national title while with Vermont. He helped lead the Catamounts to their first Frozen Four in 1996. St. Louis, ex-Lightning forward Eric Perrin and Bruins goalie Tim Thomas took Colorado College to double-overtime in the semifinals in Cincinnati — after a two-hour delay.

"The guy putting net pegs in drilled too deep, and it flooded the ice," St. Louis said. "We played on a pond pretty much."

Colorado College took advantage of an apparent hand pass to score the winner — before video review was in effect — making it a difficult memory for St. Louis.

"It was stunning how painful it was when he talks about it," Lightning assistant general manager Tom Kurvers said. "He's (upset) about the call. Someone took something away from him. It matters."

With the Frozen Four beginning Thursday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Times chatted with several current and former NHL players about their experience in the event.

Marty Turco, Bruins goaltender

Michigan

1995: Detroit, lost in semifinal

1996: Cincinnati, won title

1997: Milwaukee, lost in semifinal

1998: Boston, won title

Turco could be considered the godfather of the Frozen Four, having participated in it four consecutive seasons. He experienced the Stanley Cup final the following year with the Stars, but after 11 pro seasons, he's still nostalgic about his Frozen Four days.

"It's as intense as you can imagine," Turco said.

Turco said he cherished all four appearances for different reasons. The triple-overtime loss to Maine in the semifinals in his freshman season was an "eye-popping experience," and the 1996 title — beating the Colorado College team that beat St. Louis' Vermont squad — ended the school's 32-year drought.

But the Wolverines' 1998 championship, a 3-2 overtime victory over Boston College at Boston's Fleet Center, took the cake.

"That was the ultimate for many reasons, not just being my last game in that jersey, but to be at the Fleet Center, against that team, only a short ride from campus," Turco said. "It was daunting. We were seemingly against the world; only had 1,000 of our fans among the 20,000. The odds were stacked against us.

"It was an unbelievable experience to come away victorious, silencing some crowds."

Tom Kurvers, Lightning assistant GM

Minnesota-Duluth

1984: Lake Placid, N.Y., lost in final

Kurvers' season was sparked by heartbreak just before Christmas, when the school's athletic director, Ralph Romano, died of a heart attack at a Bulldogs game, right behind the bench.

"We had some magic dust on our team and went on a roll we had never experienced before," Kurvers said.

After beating North Dakota in overtime in the semifinals, Duluth led Bowling Green 4-2 lead with 10 minutes left.

"I thought we were going to win," Kurvers said.

But Bowling Green tied it on a fluke goal, a dump-in that bounced off a seam in the boards and out in front of the net. The game ended up going four overtimes with Bowling Green scoring off a three-on-two and Kurvers on the ice.

"I don't know if you could have enough energy to be upset. We were just drained, wiped out tired," Kurvers said. "Painful loss. Fantastic memory."

Bill Watson, former Blackhawks forward

Minnesota-Duluth

1985: Detroit, lost in final

Watson's Frozen Four semifinal against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was star-studded.

Teammates included Brett Hull (third in NHL history in goals) and Norm Maciver (500 NHL games as a defenseman) while RPI had Daren Puppa (former Lightning goalie) and Adam Oates (sixth in NHL history in assists).

The game lived up to the hype, going three overtimes before RPI pulled it out en route to a national title. Watson believed they had won in double overtime, passing it to a teammate whose shot tipped off Puppa and clanked off the cross bar.

"That's a moment that's frozen in time," Watson said. "That's how close it comes."

Ryan Shannon, Lightning forward

Boston College

2004: Boston, lost in semifinal

Shannon said you really have to be lucky to make the Frozen Four, and that's what it took for his Eagles.

"We had our captain of the team score a highlight-reel goal — batted the puck out of the air while he was in the air — to get us to the Frozen Four," Shannon said. "So it was full of magic."

Boston College then had a home game of sorts in the Fleet Center against Maine. Shannon scored the tying goal early in the second. But the Black Bears scored early in the third then held on for a 2-1 win.

"It's life or death. You fight and you fight and you fight," Shannon said. "Every shift matters. There's great motivating speeches from coaches."

Mike Commodore, Lightning defenseman

North Dakota

2000: Providence, R.I., won title

Commodore was disappointed after consecutive early round exits in the NCAA Tournament in 1998-99. But in 2000, the Fighting Sioux made a memorable run, advancing to the title game against Boston College.

"I remember being basically right in Boston's backdoor; ton of Boston College fans," Commodore said. "Basically, it was a home game for them."

North Dakota trailed 2-1 entering the third but scored three in a row to claim the championship 4-2.

"It was a great way to end my college career," Commodore said. "It's something I'll never forget."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

CORAL GABLES — Gary Trent scored a season-high 30 and No. 5 Duke needed less than three minutes to erase a 13-point second-half deficit, scoring 18 consecutive points to overtake No. 25 Miami 83-75 on Monday night. The Blue Devils scored 15 in six po...
Published: 01/15/18

Shrine Game journal: Homecoming for Utah OL Salesi Uhatafe; Quinton Flowers works on snaps

ST. PETERSBURG — Salesi Uhatafe is back in his hometown, and though he moved to Texas when he was still a baby, it’s very much a homecoming as the former Utah offensive lineman plays in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field."I’ll probab...
Published: 01/15/18
Iowa State’s two-way star Joel Lanning practicing at linebacker for East-West Shrine Game

Iowa State’s two-way star Joel Lanning practicing at linebacker for East-West Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — Joel Lanning has the unique distinction of being listed as an "LB/QB" on the West roster for Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.And while the former Iowa State star spent the entire practice at middle linebacker Mond...
Published: 01/15/18
Keith Jackson, leading college football broadcaster, dies at 89

Keith Jackson, leading college football broadcaster, dies at 89

Keith Jackson, the folksy voice of college football who for decades weaved backwoods wit through Saturday afternoon ABC broadcasts, died Friday night. He was 89.In a 52-year broadcasting career, Mr. Jackson covered a wide variety of sports for radio ...
Published: 01/13/18
No. 24 FSU outlasts Syracuse in double overtime

No. 24 FSU outlasts Syracuse in double overtime

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State squandered a double-digit halftime lead for the second straight game. This time, it was able to overcome that.The 23rd-ranked Seminoles scored the first six in the second overtime to propel them to a 101-90 victory over Sy...
Published: 01/13/18

Florida manhandled in paint by Ole Miss for first SEC loss

OXFORD, Miss. — Florida came into its matchup focused on stopping a talented group of Ole Miss guards.But it was the play of the frontcourt that did in the Gators on Saturday afternoon.Bruce Stevens scored 22, Deandre Burnett added 20 and Mississippi...
Published: 01/13/18
South Carolina gives Will Muschamp new $28 million deal

South Carolina gives Will Muschamp new $28 million deal

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Will Muschamp received a new six-year, $28.2 million contract after a nine-win season that culminated with a victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Muschamp’s contract was approved Friday by the school’s boar...
Published: 01/12/18
Jones: March Madness is weeks away. What’s up with college basketball?

Jones: March Madness is weeks away. What’s up with college basketball?

We’ve been a little busy lately.What with Dirk Koetter staying and Evan Longoria going. We’ve been distracted by UCF and amazed by Alabama. There has been Jon Gruden news and what is shaping up to be a very special season for the Lightning.With all t...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Bobby Bowden: Dadgum it, UCF has a gripe

Bobby Bowden: Dadgum it, UCF has a gripe

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is 88 and still keeps a busy schedule of speaking engagements. On Wednesday he was in Omaha, Neb. — his fourth city in a week — to receive the Tom Osborne Legacy Award for his contributions to college football ...
Published: 01/11/18
Jones: The secret to Alabama’s success

Jones: The secret to Alabama’s success

Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach of all-time.The current Alabama run — five titles in nine seasons — belongs at the top of any dynasty in the history of the sport. To do what Bama has done in this day and age of parity is remarkableS...
Published: 01/09/18