From the ninth in the CCHA to National Runner-up

by Published: Apr 11, 2012

It all started as a joke.

Before leav­ing for Florida, Bulldog junior for­ward Kyle Bonis made the com­ment via his twit­ter account that he couldn’t believe the team was actu­ally headed to the Frozen Four. Apparently, the “road to Tampa” had been a run­ning joke among the play­ers since early in the sea­son. The idea that the FSU hockey team would ever make it to the Frozen Four was so far-fetched not even the play­ers them­selves thought it pos­si­ble. And who could blame them? Picked to fin­ish ninth in the CCHA, to say the Bulldogs were an under­dog was an understatement.

Despite being under­dogs, the Bulldogs car­ried them­selves with the poise of sea­soned cham­pi­ons. The veteran-led ros­ter didn’t allow them­selves to get caught up in the media or fan atten­tion brought on by their No. 1 rank­ing. Even with the national spot­light on them, the Bulldogs never stopped play­ing their game.

Simply play­ing their game took the Bulldogs from Big Rapids to Green Bay and finally to Tampa. Three buses of fans fol­lowed them to Florida while thou­sands more tuned in so not to miss a minute of the action as this team made their mark in FSU his­tory. The Bulldogs’ 26 wins are the second-most in school his­tory, and the sea­son high­lights include the program’s second-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship and its first-ever Midwest Regional Crown.

It may have all started as a joke, but no one is laugh­ing now. Not Notre Dame who was picked to win the CCHA and beaten by FSU three times this sea­son. Not Boston College (or any of their eight N.H.L draft picks) who was pushed to the limit by the Bulldogs in the Frozen Four title game. Certainly, no one at this uni­ver­sity is laughing.

In September if I had been asked where I’d be see­ing the hockey team in April, my first guess would have been Shooter’s. Never in my wildest dreams could I have pre­dicted that I’d be watch­ing them on ESPN. But as I sat at Buffalo Wild Wings sur­rounded by fel­low Bulldog fans, there was not a shred of doubt in my mind that this team deserved to be out on the ice com­pet­ing for the national championship.