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Frozen Four: Long road home for Grzelcyk, BU

Matt Dewkett

BOSTON -- The college hockey season is a long, winding journey and Boston University has officially reached the final stage.

Sometimes, it takes time to put just how long the season is into perspective.

Just ask BU head coach David Quinn.

"Well, obviously when you start in September and here the Red Sox have already opened their season, it tends to give you a slap of reality," BU head coach David Quinn said. "This is a long year, but I know I don't want it to end."

All good things must come to an end but the Terriers are just two wins away from a national championship for the sixth time in program history entering Thursday night's Frozen Four semifinal against North Dakota. Six months after uncapping the year following a 21-loss season, the Hockey East champions are back on the grand stage.

For Quinn, that thought was not out of the realm of possibility with a solid core returning as upperclassmen and a whole lot of confidence.

The belief was not quite so widespread, however, but it only matters in the locker room.

"These guys will tell you I might have thought it was a pipe dream," Quinn said, "and I wouldn't say it too loud because people would check me into a hospital if I told you I thought we could win a national championship this year in September based on what happened the year before."

The group in Quinn's locker room has remained near the top of the heap in college hockey from the season's start to its finish and their reward is a chance at a national title.

The return to prominence was just in the nick of time as the sport's grandest stage is right in Boston for the first time in 11 years. While the Frozen Four is special in its own right, the Terriers wouldn't lying in saying being in Boston adds icing to the top of the cake.

"It's also nice to be back in Boston, not have to travel too far," junior captain Matt Grzelcyk, one of 17 Massachusetts natives playing in the Frozen Four, said. "We've had some pretty good success on this ice so far (with two wins each in the Beanpot and Hockey East Championship), so I think that'll help us really calm our nerves early, and we're just excited to play."

The Terriers are the nation's youngest team, led by freshman Jack Eichel and his 67 points, but they've proved to appear like grizzled veterans to the naked eye when the games counted most.

Grzelcyk's leadership is a major factor in that calm, composed attitude at most times and that will be a big key moving forward as the stage is biggest. Because of that, the nerves have been limited.

"We had ten freshmen, totally new to the whole college scene, on campus, and workouts, whatever it was, he was the guy running everything," Eichel said. "He expects a lot out of himself, and he's definitely hard on himself, but he's an unbelievable player, and he's an even better person. I'm really happy to call him my captain."

The season started in Boston and continued with two championship wins in Boston.

There's one more up for grabs.