LETTER: Union, Yale share key trait: Coaches who deliver
WARREN, Minn. — The past two NCAA hockey champions have been fun to watch. Both Union College, this year, and Yale University the previous year captured the essence of collegiate athletics, in that neither give out athletic scholarships but both still rose to the pinnacle of an NCAA sport.
UND and the University of Minnesota Gophers should also be commended for their fine efforts in reaching the Frozen Four. The expectations for those two schools should be high, in that they are among the elite in resources, both financial and facilities in the collegiate hockey world. Union plays in an arena that seats just over 2,000 fans.
Both Union and Yale had lesser talent, if the number of NHL draftees on their roster is considered. But as ESPN’s lead hockey analyst Barry Melrose pointed out — and I do respect his knowledge of hockey — you could see plays develop and players executing a plan.
The announcers talked in this tournament about the fine traditions of both UND and the Gophers, which is true with many titles in their past. But what brought both Union and Yale to the epitome of the college hockey world was behind the bench. Don Lucia, head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, last won a title about 11 years ago; but from what I read, there is some pressure developing on him, as the expectations in Dinkytown are high — plus, he now has an athletic director who demands accountability.
In Grand Forks, the current regime has yet to win a national championship.
You can only ride the tradition mantra so long. In my mind, part of tradition can be equated to longevity. In that regard, the Chicago Cubs have a fine and long baseball tradition; but not so in championships.
Given the “tradition” but more importantly the resources available, fans of the Gophers and UND should expect more than mere winning records. I commend the players of both teams; their effort cannot be questioned. I look one row back.