NCAA FROZEN FOUR: The long road to the Frozen Four
Scott Oliver got in his car at 8 p.m. Wednesday night and hit the road.
"I'm John Candy and my wife is Laila Robins," Oliver said.
It will indeed be a Planes, Trains and Automobiles trip to the Frozen Four for Oliver and his wife, who will make a 20-hour drive overnight to watch their son, Nick, compete in a national semifinal game with St. Cloud State (7 p.m. tonight, ESPN2 in Pittsburgh).
The Olivers were scheduled to fly from Grand Forks to Pittsburgh today, but a winter storm warning in Minneapolis caused their flight to be canceled.
They tried re-booking through other area airports, but everything was full. They tried going through Winnipeg, but the price was $3,400.
So, the last option was the long drive.
Oliver said they want to avoid the winter storm, so they are driving through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, cutting down by Mackinac Island, driving past Toledo, Ohio (where they drove two weeks ago for the NCAA regionals) and hopefully arriving at Consol Energy Center about an hour before the drop of the puck.
"I drove to Toledo two weeks ago and said that I'm never doing that again," said Oliver, who coached a Roseau (Minn.) High School team that featured his son, Nick, to a state championship in 2007. "Here, we are."
But Oliver said it will all be worth it to see a St. Cloud State team that's making its first-ever Frozen Four appearance.
The Huskies, seeded fourth in the NCAAs, reached Pittsburgh by defeating No. 1 seed Notre Dame and No. 2 seed Miami University in the Midwest Regional.
St. Cloud State will take on Quinnipiac in second semifinal. Yale will take on UMass-Lowell in the first semifinal at 3:30 p.m.
Nick Oliver is expected to play on the fourth line alongside David Morley and Joey Holka against the Bobcats. Oliver, who played for the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League after graduating from Roseau, has been a regular for the Huskies, tallying a goal and five assists in 33 games this season.
Nick notably committed to St. Cloud State before ever playing a game of varsity hockey for Roseau. His Rams teammate, goalie Mike Lee, committed at about the same time. Both players said they believed in what coach Bob Motzko was building in St. Cloud.
"They felt like they could win a national championship there someday," Scott Oliver said.
Although Lee turned pro after last season, Nick Oliver is still in St. Cloud, trying to win a title. His parents aren't going to miss it.
"We drove last time (to the regionals), and they played great," Scott said. "Maybe karma will strike again."
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