I only need one image to give you that answer.
The unfortunate part is that there has to be a loser in an event like this, and Quinnipiac was on the wrong end of the result on this day. In saying that, there is no reason to hand their heads as they had an outstanding season and beat some very good teams to get to the championship game. Yes, they fell short on what they wanted to accomplish, but they gave Bobcat fans a ride this season that should have them excited for next season already. There's a standard that has been set, and it will be up to the players on future Quinnipiac teams to take that final step.
If the adage of "you have to learn how to lose before you can win" is true, Quinnipiac found that lesson tonight. Their players were humble in the loss, but still had that pride in the logo on their jerseys. That is the sign of a winner, and while they may not have the banner to show for it they showed more in the loss about the character of the team than any win would have shown. I expect Quinnipiac to be back in future seasons after this fantastic campaign.
Saturday night, however, belongs to the University of North Dakota. For the first time since 2000, UND sits atop the NCAA men's hockey world, led there by senior and the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player Drake Caggiula. Brad Berry became the first rookie head coach to direct his team to a championship, and became just the second head coach in NCAA history to do so in his first year with a program. Brad Boeser's 60 points on the season made him the third highest-scoring freshman this season.
Eight times since 2000 saw UND reach the Frozen Four only to fall short of the big prize. This team adopted the motto of "Believe it. Earn it. Raise it." in an effort to achieve what hadn't been done in fifteen seasons. They downed Northeastern and Michigan in the Midwest Regional before advancing to play Denver in Tampa in their semifinal game. Even when trailing, there was a sense that this team wasn't going to stop working and was willing to put in any amount of effort to get the job done. Defenceman Troy Stecher spoke about the team's work ethic.
"Some people may think The Ralph is a curse and that we're too spoiled," Stecher told Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. "But we're not spoiled. We go to work every single day. There's no harder working team than us. I can bet you anything on that."
Tonight, there was no doubt of that as all of North Dakota can celebrate the victory. "This trophy is bigger than just for our team," goaltender Cam Johnson said "It's for the whole community and the whole University of North Dakota."
They can relish in the championship over the summer before a number of these young men will return to campus in September and start work on a title defence. They earned it by working hard and never slowing down, and a number of very good men's hockey teams found out exactly what colours hard work wore this season: green, white, and black.
Regardless of what name they have chosen for themselves, there was no doubt that the fans in Amalie Arena were cheering for the Sioux. As much as they're the Fighting Hawks officially, perhaps Drake Caggiula said it best tonight after the victory, "Fighting Sioux all the way."
Either way, they're champions. A rose by any other name, if you will.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!