Road to Frozen Four cold, snowy, sometimes dangerous

by Kim McCullough | 1/15/02 6:00am

Ohio: the 17th state, the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the birthplace of seven U.S. presidents.

Ohio also has the prestigious honor of being the home state of my fellow co-captain Kristin King '02.

At 5 a.m. this Friday, the Dartmouth women's hockey team will leave the frozen tundra of Hanover and head out for our first-ever trip to Ohio to face off against the Oilers of the University of Findlay and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

It's just the next exotic destination for our team's travels, and odds are that it, too, will be frozen. Flying out to Ohio in the middle of January is just asking for delays, rerouting and turbulence.

As any college varsity athlete can attest, being on the road can be hard. It always seems to be tougher to win on the road, and writing that 10-page paper on a bus or plane always proves to be an insurmountable challenge.

Our team does a good deal of traveling over the course of the long season and, in the last four years, I have been to some pretty cool places. "Cool," of course, being the operative word.

From freezing our limbs off during the Olympic torch ceremony in Lake Placid in December to getting rerouted through Minnesota on our way back from Wisconsin last February, our road trips to play non-conference teams have frequently involved sub-zero temperatures and a lot of snow.

Of course, our many travels throughout the Northeast have not been exempt from the wonderful winter weather as well. My senior teammates have not forgotten our bus almost breaking down on the barren roads of Maine during our freshman year or having to carry equipment up a huge icy hill in Montreal because our bus was stuck at the bottom.

I have always wondered what we would do if all 25 of us were to end up stranded in a snow bank on some dark snowy night in the middle of January. I suppose we could try to burn our sticks for warmth.

On second thought, almost all of us use graphite sticks. But I digress.

Hopefully, our team will qualify for the aptly named "Frozen Four," which thankfully will not be held this year in the unfriendly confines of Mariucci Arena in Minnesota, but instead nearby at the University of New Hampshire.

Of course, I am fully aware that we play a winter sport, where the bulk of the teams and fans are confined to the Northeast and the Midwest.

But the NCAA Championships are held right at the end of Dartmouth's spring break, and I have to admit that I wouldn't mind playing the deciding games in a warm, sunny destination such as California.

They have plenty of rinks out there. We could recruit fans to come out to the games. They would be introduced to the wonderful world of women's college hockey. There would be no burning of sticks for warmth and no frostbite.

It's an idea. OK, it's not a very feasible idea, but it's an idea nonetheless.

Kim McCullough '02 is co-captain of the defending ECAC champion Dartmouth women's ice hockey team.