I've been to 6 Frozen Fours since my first attendance in Albany in 2001. The highlights:
2001: Albany. Traveled with the band as the only freshman member able to claim 1 of the 25 (?) slots. Learned every word to both school songs in preparation, which I still sing to my husband. I sat behind Chris Leinweber and a few other members of the team on the flight out and remember staring at Chris's 2000 title ring as he rested his hand on the back of his seat. So close to earning another...
2002: St. Paul. Met up with a strange mix of fans, thanks to a member of this board whom I bought a FF ticket from. Hung out with Sioux, Wisconsin, BU, and BC fans, didn't get carded once as a 20 year old in Minneapolis. I was tempted to rip my ears off (as was the Badger fan) when a certain BC fan could not quit repeating the M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A, Minnysooooota, Minnysoooota chant because she thought the accent was funny. There is nothing worse than hearing that chant BOOMING through the Xcel after the Gophers win a title.
2004: I ended up staying with a couple of the BC fans I met in 2002 at their house for free, which completely allowed me to afford the trip. This is where I met my, from then on, Frozen Four ticket contact, who sold me his single FF ticket for face value on the USCHO board because I seemed like a "true hockey fan." Since then, he has hooked me and my friends up with tickets any year I have had the means to go, including this year. Proof of the good people you meet at these things! Here I got to attend the INCH.com hockey party on the Friday night between games because of one of the BC fans' hook up. She was a complete B, but on the plus side, I ended up drinking (free open bar) with a bunch of NCAA coaches, including that year's Spencer Penrose winner for NCAA coach of the year, Scott Sandelin, and the assistant coach of some eastern team who had played at the Sioux's Christmas tourney that year (my memory is failing me at the moment which team). However, I do remember that eastern coach asking me if I wore a thong like the girls these days are doing. Fun night.
One of the best memories of this trip was hanging out at a bar called The Penalty Box with a few of this mixed group of fans, when a New Hampshire fan came up to me and began raving about my jersey. He asked me if I would switch tops with him, as he was wearing a New Hampshire Hockey pullover jacket. I figured, what the hell, I could easily get a new jersey when I got back to Grand Forks, and the one I was wearing had a tear in the sleeve from a game incident. So we pulled them off right there in the bar....I gave him my jersey, and he gave me his NH hockey polo shirt and pullover. This was between games on Thursday, so needless to say, all of the fans around me were confused by my change of allegiance. The best part is that a couple of the BC fans from our group who met up with us a little later at The Penalty Box found out what I had done, and were appalled that I hadn't given one of THEM my jersey. One wanted me to go back up to the NH fan and get my jersey back to give to him. I heard about it for the rest of the night.
I also remember being forced to dance on the bar at Coyote Ugly and hearing the bartender say that she would be nice and not spray me since I was wearing white pants. My naive North Dakota-ness was shocked that it was even a consideration.
2005: Columbus. Ah, the all-WCHA FF. Because it was my grad year and I was strongly discouraged from missing the poorly timed Scholarly Project presentation at the Med School (where I won the runner up prize BTW), I missed the first game of the tourney. I watched the Sioux whip the Gophers at a kegger party at Ryan Connelly, James Mason, and Brian Canady's house, where I immediately got on the horn and made plans to attend the game with a college friend who had already graduated and lived in Dubuque, IA. Two girls that I barely knew but were friends with him piled into my car with me the next morning, hungover and all, and we drove 9 hours to Dubuque, stayed overnight with our buddy where we got all of 2 hours of sleep, then drove another 9 hours to Columbus. Once again, my FF hook up met us and sold us a ton of tickets. We met up with 2 other friends, and I remember the 6 of us convincing a nervous cabby to let all of us pile into his cab and drive us to the game. There, we hung out in the hockey tents drinking and I met up with the BC fan from the year before who was so upset that I didn't give him my jersey. We had made plans to meet up and exchange newly bought jerseys (he really wanted a shiny green Sioux jersey), which we did that day (yes, I have a BC jersey, cough). I immediately had other people asking if I had more jerseys to trade away. I began thinking that a person could make money off of this! Start selling Sioux jerseys to fans of other teams at the Frozen Four who don't know how to order off the internet!!
Of course, after 2 nights of no sleep and lots of driving, we lost. Highlight of the game for me was laughing when Mike Prpich FINALLY got an unsportsmanlike penalty for drinking out of the DU goalie's water bottle during the game. I always loved how he got under the skin of the other team! That night, the 6 of us formed "Team Drink," to erase the bad memories. Then the loooong drive back to Dubuque for another night of drinking, and the looong drive back to GF. Still, gotta love those road trips!
2007: St. Louis. I had been living in Denver since 2006, and as only a hockey addict could possibly do, I got DU season tickets for the first of 2 years. It ended up being great timing, because as a season ticket holder, if I committed to buying 6 NCAA regional tickets for 2007 (in Denver), I would be able to buy 2 lower bowl Frozen Four tickets for 2008 (in Denver). I had a few coworkers who had already attended a couple Sioux games with me and were completely enthralled by the whole Sioux movement, so they ended up going to the regionals with me, as well as a buddy who took the 6th ticket. Absolutely fantastic feeling watching the Sioux beat up the Gophers to move on to the FF, even if an angry Gopher fan ripped my sign in half as it was being shown on the jumbotron. Tsk tsk. I had a few well chosen words for that buffoon. That night, celebrating the Sioux victory in downtown Denver, we saw Tyra Banks with some guy in the restaurant we were at. I then ended up chatting up a bunch of Michigan fans who happened to be sitting with a guy that works for the St. Louis Blues. After convincing him of my hockey sense, he gave me his number and told me he would sell me as many tickets as I wanted to the FF, including a suite if I could only be as rich as I wanted to be.
Met up with a great group of college friends in St. Louis. I remember laughing as the other girl in our group kept talking about the "stage 5 clinger" (Wedding Crashers anyone) who would not leave us alone on the dance floor. Fun weekend, yet another disappointing loss.
2008: Denver. My mom traveled down from ND and attended the games with me. I have NEVER seen a pre-game party as packed with Sioux fans as that year at Brooklyn's. It took 15 minutes just to get down a flight of stairs! How that place didn't get a citation at the very least for being over capacity is beyond me. People just started taking their drinks out to the sidewalks. Fantastic pre-game atmosphere, horribly depressing game. There is really nothing to describe the letdown.
On a positive note, I found out what a hoot my mom can be out on the town! She went to the Downtown Tavern with a group of us before the Saturday game and ordered an orange slushy on the roof top bar with the rest of us. The bartender took one look at here small stature and said, "Are you sure? It's 100 proof." She then proceeded to tell junior how she is from North Dakota where her elders would make 150 proof moonshine and pass it around at weddings, so his puny 100 proof slushy was laughable at best. Atta girl!
Ok, going down memory lane has got me pumped! Let's go Sioux!