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NCAA hockey committee praises Tampa as Frozen Four host

Boston College fans celebrate their 4-1 win over Ferris State in the national final. More than 18,000 attended  each of the semifinals and final.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Boston College fans celebrate their 4-1 win over Ferris State in the national final. More than 18,000 attended each of the semifinals and final.

TAMPA — Would the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee consider a return Frozen Four trip to Tampa?

"Absolutely," Sean Frazier, the head of the committee, said Saturday.

"(This year's has) been outstanding. It has exceeded every expectation that I've had. The attention to detail has been off the hook."

Frazier, also the deputy athletic director at Wisconsin, cited the signs around town, events at Channelside and overall hospitality. And he wasn't the only impressed member of the committee.

"I've played in a Frozen Four. I've coached in one, and I've attended several. And Tampa has done an excellent job," Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. "The community certainly showed everyone that hockey is special here."

From the minute teams stepped off the plane, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission made them feel welcome. They passed through a tunnel of youth hockey players and were handed Florida oranges as a band played tropical music.

"It was pretty exciting when we first got off the plane," Minnesota defenseman Nate Schmidt said.

Wednesday's players reception took place on a yacht, and each team walked down a red carpet into the Tampa Bay Times Forum before their games. Before Saturday's title game, fans lined up several rows deep to greet Boston College and Ferris State. Thursday's semifinals drew 18,605 and Saturday's final 18,818 (both about 1,000 shy of a sellout).

Fans, too, enjoyed the change of pace from the traditional northern locales — even if the idea seemed a bit far-fetched at first.

"At first, I was skeptical of having the Frozen Four in an area that doesn't have snow and cold temperatures," said Bob Gerencser, 66, a New Haven, Conn., native who started attending the Frozen Four in 1995 in Providence, R.I.

"However, after being here for a few days, enjoying the warmth of the sun and walking around in shorts, I have found that this has been a very welcome change."

The committee already has awarded the Frozen Four to Pittsburgh in 2013 and Philadelphia in 2014. Beyond those dates, nothing is set — other than the NCAA's desire to come back to Tampa.

"Top to bottom, it's been fantastic," Frazier said. "This puts Tampa in a position where it's clear that this is a place that we would come back to."

NCAA hockey committee praises Tampa as Frozen Four host 04/07/12 [Last modified: Sunday, April 8, 2012 12:41am]
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