I absolutely love playoff hockey, especially postseason college hockey. No knock on the National Hockey League playoffs, which are great, but the college game, both the women and the men, is a series of "win or go home" contests. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Now, add the ever-present possibility of sudden-death overtime (all three games in the women’s Frozen Four went to extra time), and the intensity is off the charts. So when someone scores, it’s like a cork getting ripped off a champagne bottle. The celebrations just explode, with players spilling off the bench into a instant on-ice mosh pit. The revelry, justifiably, gets shown again and again and again on television or the arena JumboTrons.
But, admittedly, there’s a piece of my heart that aches for the goalie who surrenders that sudden-death tally. It feels like a tragedy. Colgate’s Julia Vandyk was absolutely crestfallen after Clarkson’s Elizabeth Giguere knocked defender Shelby Wood off the puck, and at 7:55 of overtime tucked a sublime move past the sprawling Raiders netminder. As Clarkson players celebrated, Vandyk could barely pick herself up off the ice. One by one, her teammates came by, offering a word of encouragement. But Vandyk appeared inconsolable. It was excruciating to watch.