After a week and a half that will seem much shorter once the five month offseason gets underway, the 2015 Frozen Four from TD Garden Arena in Boston is finally here.
And if you've followed us here at SB Nation College Hockey that means one thing. We're bringing out the big guns. Features, wall-to-wall coverage by our own team of writers and of course a Frozen Four drinking game.
If you haven't been a long time reader we're introducing our Frozen Four drinking game.
Thursday's games on ESPN2 are a nerve-racking experience for fans of North Dakota, Boston University, Providence and Nebraska-Omaha. For the other 56 teams (hi Arizona State!) it is a chance to watch a winner be crowned without a rooting interest.
Providence-Omaha is at 5:07 p.m. ET. North Dakota-BU is at 8:37 p.m. ET or following the conclusion of the first game. Both broadcasts are on ESPN2 (Saturday's championship will be on ESPN) and will be called by John Buccigross and Barry Melrose. Dave Starman is in studio.
It should also be said we do this in love and because everyone is watching already.
Now a few disclaimers: This is for entertainment purposes. Be smart and be safe. Above all, the drinking game does not have to involve alcohol.
Here we go:
1. Jack Eichel is an individual star in a way college (and hockey in general) has not seen in years. He could be the first freshman to win the Hobey Baker this century. He's the first hockey player to appear live on Sportscenter. He's been the subject of NHL fans' desire and several outstanding media pieces. Franchises are in order to draft him (or Connor McDavid, who is not in the Frozen Four) this June.
Now taking a drink every time you hear Eichel or the 2015 NHL Draft is probably too much for anyone to handle. Let's not go overboard and end this with just one rule. If you hear "Eichel's ______" as is if he's a possessive person, however....
2. Take a drink every time the Hobey Baker Award gets mentioned.
3. Take a drink every time Barry Melrose brings up Canada. Take two drinks if he says Connor McDavid's name.
3a. Play the Great White North intro if Providence D Kyle McKenzie scores.
4. North Dakota junior goaltender Zane McIntyre is among many things a Boston Bruins draft pick. Since the Frozen Four is in Boston and McIntyre, along with the aforementioned Eichel and Harvard's Jimmy Vesey, is a Hobey Baker Award finalist, this could come up. One drink if it does.
4a. Same goes with fellow Bruins draft pick and Boston University forward Matthew Grzelcyk. If Grzelcyk scores on McIntyre tonight, take two pulls. If McIntyre scores on Grzelcyk, finish your drink and change your name.
4b. For that matter if your NHL team gets brought up, one sip.
5. Drink if John Buccigross utters the phrase "holy schnikeys."
6. Providence junior goaltender Jon Gillies has been one of the top goalies in college hockey the past three seasons. Sip every time that gets brought up.
7. North Dakota is in the process of choosing a new nickname. If that gets mentioned, two drinks. If the old nickname and logo gets mentioned or shown, sip and quietly come up with a replacement. If ESPN makes it a fifth straight year that the UND name or logo gets changed into something else (seen South Dakota, NDSU a couple times), three drinks.
8. If anyone brings up the phrase "shipping up to Boston," that's a drink. Also take three drinks every time Buccigross and Melrose speak with a fake Boston accent.
9. A large sip for any shot of Fenway Park.
10. One major storyline for this weekend's Frozen Four is the East vs. West vibe with two Hockey East teams facing two NCHC teams from the Great Plains/Midwest. If two East teams win on Thursday, celebrate by grabbing something from the Northeast for Saturday. If two West teams win, grab something from the Great Plains/Midwest for Saturday.
10a. Take a drink if Dave Starman (who normally calls NCHC games for CBS Sports Net) talks about the NCHC.
11. Take a drink every time Buccigross self promotes. This could be #bucciovertimechallenge or #cawlidgehawkey or Sunday Sportscenter or Melrose and him meeting fans at a bar.
Also eat some thin mints if Buccigross drops the term "hashtag thin mints."
12. Quietly sip when Masters highlights get shown. It's a tradition unlike any other.
13. Drink every time the number of championships or Frozen Four appearances get brought up.
14. Credit for Mavericks fans for taking Mike Eidelbess of INCH (RIP) writing "And then there's Omaha" and turning into something as a mantra for Nebraska-Omaha. It's been on shirts, signs and even was mentioned by a player in an interview. Take five drinks if anyone - Buccigross, Melrose, Starman, a fan holding up a sign - brings up "And then there's Omaha."
14a. This isn't a drink, but now that we're discussing Omaha what's the over/under on places using "MASSAchusetts" for a pun title if UNO wins on Saturday. (Also: UNO would win title number uno with two more victories. Okay I'm done.)
15. Take a drink for every minute Dean Blais has pulled his goalie.
Any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate