Twenty years after his first visit, Catamounts head coach Kevin Sneddon finds himself in a very similar situation: heading to the Frozen Four.
Sneddon, a member of the 1989 National Championship team from Harvard, is no stranger to the biggest stage in college hockey but says that it was too long ago and things were too different for him to compare the two experiences.
However, Sneddon does plan on passing on two messages from his Harvard experience.
“Something that coach [Bill] Cleary told us — I remember it like it was yesterday — after we won in the quarterfinals was ‘you don’t go to a Frozen Four to participate, so get that out of your mind, you go there to win it,'” Sneddon said.
“He was very passionate about that and it played onto the players because we were not very well-respected as a team,” he said. “It was important for him to get us to think that way and I will share that with our guys as well.”
His second message is about taking advantage of the experience.
“You’ve got to enjoy the moment,” Sneddon said. “This is a special time and there are a lot of things pulling at them. I really just don’t want them to go in there stressed out, I want them to go in there and enjoy this — this is a special time.”
Senior co-captain Peter Lenes has a special connection to the Frozen Four after recalling skipping school in 1996 — the last time the Cats were in this position — to watch the game, but agrees with his coach that this is just another step toward the ultimate goal.
“Getting to the Frozen Four is definitely a great accomplishment,” Lenes said. “But when you are two games away from a National Championship, you’re trying to win that National Championship.”
Even after their grueling double overtime victory over Air Force in the quarterfinals, the Cats are focused and prepared to move forward.
“It is a great accomplishment,” sophomore Dan Lawson said. “I think it is very exciting in the moment, but everyone is just excited to push forward because we’ve got two more games to win and we have not really accomplished anything yet. We’ve got more left in the tank.”
It was Lawson’s goal with just over five minutes left in the second extra session that punched the Catamounts’ ticket to the Frozen Four, but the team would not be where they are without the play of goalie Rob Madore.
After only allowing one goal against Yale in the first round, the freshman stopped 46 of the 48 shots he faced against Air Force, yet he remains focused on the job at hand.
“It is the same game, you just go out and try to stop the puck and try to keep it simple,” Madore said. “That is the key to consistency and hopefully a couple of wins for us.
“We never set out to go to the Frozen Four, we set out to win the Frozen Four.”