Two Minutes’ Hate: No exit
It’s time for playoff hockey, and that means it’s time to throw rational, fact-driven commentary out the window. We present to you now a positively Orwellian exercise in general dislike: “The Two Minutes’ Hate.”
We’d like to apologize to our readers for being forced to drag you back to the state of Connecticut. But it is in this barren, foul wasteland that Lowell’s next victim hails from. Having dispatched Yale University with the certainty of the rising sun, you might be wondering what other team could have possibly slithered from New England’s Regret and made the NCAA tournament. UConn? Obviously not. Sacred Heart? Bless Bobby Valentine’s heart, but no. Fairfield? Trinity? Albertus Magnus? All reasonable guesses. No, it’s the Bobcats from Quinnipiac University that stand between Lowell and a date with Boston College in the Frozen Four.
Quinnipiac is a Quirpi word used by the Eansketambawg Nation meaning “place where we release our bowels”. In 1929, rejects from Yale and Mount Holyoke decided to create their own college without the restrictive burdens of admissions standards or indoor plumbing. From these seeds of mediocrity, Quinnipiac University was born. The Quinnipiac hockey program began play in 1975 and has been disappointing the groups of transients who huddle inside their arena for warmth ever since. Originally confined to the depths of Division II, the Bobcats elevated their program to Division I in 1998 as part of President Clinton’s Welfare Reforms. Starting out in the MAAC before the leagues evolution to Atlantic Hockey, Quinnipiac begged and pleaded for entry into the ECAC when Vermont was selected to join Hockey East in 2005. Since joining the ECAC, the Bobcats have been the poster child for lackluster performance.
After shoe-horning themselves into the ECAC, Quinnipiac struggled to find a natural rivalry. Being at the bottom of the barrel in both hockey and academics, the Bobcats clung to the only remaining criteria they had left: proximity. Unfortunately for the Yale University Bulldogs, they drew the short straw. Comparing Yale with Quinnipiac is a lot like comparing a finely grilled porterhouse with a dried out, middle school hamburger. Yale has 300 years of rich history behind them while Quinnipiac has all the prestige of a strip mall cosmetology school. The powers that be at Quinnipiac love being in the ECAC and rubbing shoulders with the Ivy League schools. While completely absurd, they actually believe that being in the same conference as Yale and Harvard actually increases their academic profile. That’s like saying Amherst increases its Catholic profile by being in the same league as Boston College and Providence.
With the heart-warming news that Notre Dame will soon be tucking tail and fleeing Hockey East for the cold, heartless embrace of the Big Ten, Quinnipiac has been rumored as a possible 12th team replacement for the Fighting Irish. Their location being again the only qualifying factor, one would imagine that the heads of Quinnipiac would be thrilled with the idea of escaping the doldrums of the ECAC for the glory of Hockey East. However we’ve been hearing some trepidation coming from Quinnipiac folks, wondering why they would want to give up being a listless duck in a small pond to be a bucket of chum in the big leagues. We can’t say we blame them, really. It’s hard to give up the chance to chalk up easy Ws against Princeton, Brown and Clarkson every year to stare down Boston College, Providence College and Lowell. It’s a tough sell to convince a team to willingly become cannon fodder.
Tonight the Quinnipiac Bobcats enter the East Regional finals as the number one seed. Their fans (and more than a few formerly respected hockey writers) seem to think that Quinnipiac has the inside track to the Frozen Four. A ridiculous notion that can be dispelled with two words: Norm Bazin. We think the Bobcats have had a nice season, and congratulate them on making it this far. We hope that on this Easter Sunday the abject terror that they must be feeling in wide-eyed anticipation of the upcoming bloodbath will be alleviated in sixty short minutes so that they can enjoy the holiday. We sympathize with the handful of Bobcat fans that schlepped up to Albany with the dreams of making it to Tampa and the Frozen Four; a dream that was tearfully abandoned when Joe Gambardella scored the game winner in overtime against Yale. And finally we share in the awe-stricken humility Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold has pulsing through his veins as he undertakes the impossible task of facing Norm Bazin in the playoffs. God help the Bobcats.