Bringing the Frozen Four to Hamden
Quinnipiac University prepares to host national women’s ice hockey tournament.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women’s Frozen Four has returned to Hamden. Quinnipiac University will host the national women’s ice hockey championship for the second time since its original debut at bobcat nation in 2014.
Although the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team didn’t qualify to make an appearance in this year’s tournament with their regular season performance, the staff at the People’s United Center is gearing up to make this year’s Frozen Four one for the books.
Quinnipiac is one of only four collegiate institutions to ever host the Women’s Frozen Four according to Assistant Director for Athletic Communication Maggie Pruitt. The other three hosting institutions are the University of Minnesota, Boston University and the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“They could’ve asked anybody to host this championship and we were fortunate enough to be able to have the opportunity, the privilege and the honor of hosting it,” said Mary Alice Limperopulos, assistant director for marketing and fan engagement.
“We want fans, teams, administrators, media to leave saying ‘Wow, Quinnipiac did such a great job’ and I think especially since we’ve hosted previously… the expectation, the standard we’ve hit, we want to exceed what we did for ourselves before,” she said.
Quinnipiac athletic department officials began the process of becoming a host facility about five years ago, Pruitt said. She also said when it comes to deciding where the tournament will take place, having an arena that is the right size is key.
“It’s a bidding process, you have to have a certain number of seats available in your arena,” she said. “The aesthetic part of it is you want an arena thats big enough, but it can’t be too big. Just because you want to appeal to the audience of women’s hockey and a 15,000 seat arena is too big.”
The Frank Perrotti Jr. Arena at the People’s United Center comes in at the perfect size with the ability to hold a maximum of 3,386 spectators. Though Quinnipiac is used to holding high-profile games, such as the famous “Yale game” (that features the rivalry of Quinnipiac and Yale University), the Frozen Four brings a new level of prestige.
“(This is) definitely bigger than the Yale game--it’s a national stage. These are the four best teams that have come through the ECAC and the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association)… this is like the grand finale of the entire season,” Pruitt said.
Though the NCAA dictates most of the operations and branding of the tournament, bobcat fans can still expect to see their favorite in-game events such as minigames in between periods and the infamous dance-cam.
The marketing department in conjunction with NCAA will also feature official “fan zones” in the arena. These zones will feature brackets, photo props, past tournament winners and even give fans the opportunity to see and take pictures with the championship trophy.
“We want it to be the best product it can be and when people come here and they see Quinnipiac, see the People’s United Center, we want them to leave having a great experience, having a great game experience whether that’s fans, teams, athletes, media,” said Pruitt.
The tournament will take place March 22 through 24 at the People’s United Center located on the York Hill Campus of Quinnipiac University. The semifinal round March 22 will feature a faceoff between top ranked Wisconsin and No. 4 Clarkson as well as No. 6 Cornell against No. 2 Minnesota. The winners of the semifinal round will then advance to the championship March 24, at 2 p.m. EST.