Click on the slide show above to see images from the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern in DC.
As the clock wound down and Boston University’s Terriers fought to keep the puck away from the Vermont Catamounts to protect their one-goal lead, the BU fans in the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern (meaning they hadn’t come up with tickets to the Frozen Four) remained wound up, cheering and yelling as they watched their team skate into the NCAA finals for the first time in 14 years.
Hours earlier, sun still high overhead, dozens of Boston University students, alumni, and supporters had migrated to the tavern in downtown Washington, D.C. Penn Quarter was host to the BU Alumni Club of Washington’s Frozen Four Pre-Game and Game Watch Party, and fans spilled from the narrow interior onto the wide sidewalk. The Terriers wouldn’t be taking the ice against the Catamounts until 8:30 p.m., but the party had begun and old friends were catching up as early as 3.
For Matthew Delabre, BU’s chance at the championship brought him across an ocean. Delabre arrived around 1 p.m. Thursday, flying in from Paris. Delabre (COM’00) had told himself, whenever we make the Frozen Four, I — will — go. Like many BU hockey fans, Delabre has his traditions, customs, and superstitions. One of his more obvious: not messing with his hockey jersey. He couldn’t remember the last time he washed the BU jersey he was wearing, proclaiming, “If we win, I retire it.”
Jon Seitz (CAS’08), originally of Fort Myers, Fla., and now living in Boston, has a similar reverence for his hockey jersey. His response when asked the last time he washed his jersey? “Never.” He has owned the jersey since summer 2005 freshman orientation, even though, he said, “It’s not like I’m playing hockey.”
Excitement increased as the 8:30 face-off time approached, and students who had come down from BU expressed their hopes that hotel and hostel reservations for the weekend were not made in vain.
Joe Eckstrom (SED’10) and Craig Bostwick (SED’10), drove down from Boston and had comparatively cheap $77 per night hotel reservations. “We’re here for the weekend," Eckstrom said. "Hopefully we’ll be celebrating Saturday.”
The score was tied 3-3 as the third period began, and it was still too early to tell whether BU fans would have reason to celebrate. Watching ESPN2 in Penn Quarter, the arena appeared full of cheering fans. Penn Quarter, however, had thinned to smaller groups of alumni not lucky enough to have tickets. A lone group from Miami of Ohio stood together watching the game and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the previous game between their team and Bemidji, which Miami won.
Andrew Chow (ENG’07) showed the most emotion over BU near-goals and just-misses. With 10:20 left in the third period, Vermont scored, putting Vermont up 4-3. It seemed like Terriers fans would have one more tragic game to add to their lists.
But as any faithful hockey fan knows, a lot can happen in 10 minutes. With 6:54 left on the clock, BU tied it up 4-4 when a Catamount accidentally helped the puck into his own goal. The audience at Penn Quarter grew animated again, and the last quarter of the last period brought fans to their feet.
One minute later, forward Colin Wilson (CAS’11) put BU ahead 5-4. There was a palpable shift in the air as everyone tensed up, eyes on television screens, hoping that BU could hold off Vermont just a little bit longer.
And then the room erupted in cheers, hugs, and high-fives as the Boston University Terriers defeated the Vermont Catamounts, 5-4. The ubiquitous cheer “Go, BU!” echoed loudly across the room.
Minutes later, Penn Quarter was filled again with BU fans cheering and heading to the bar for another pitcher. Megan Strong (COM ’08) summed up the sentiments of the returning stalwarts:
“It was really stressful, but in the end? Awesome.”