When ECAC Hockey commissioner Steve Hagwell came up to Lake Placid for last December’s Festivus Faceoff college hockey games that featured Union against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Clarkson versus St. Lawrence, he had a good idea that he where he wanted the league’s tournament championship weekend.
Calling Lake Placid a natural fit, Hagwell confirmed what was first reported Friday. The ECACH tournament final four will return to Lake Placid after 10 1/2-year absence, starting with the 2014 event.
“It’s such a special place,” Hagwell said at a press conference at the Conference Center at Lake Placid Edelweiss Room in Olympic Arena. “The excitement is back within our league. I had the opportunity to come here in December, ... the first time I had been back here in 10 years during the winter months. Just driving in, it was just special. It brought me back.”
The deal will be for three years. Lake Placid, which hosted the tournament from 1993-2002, was one of four sites which put in a bid for the tournament. The others were Albany’s Times Union Center, which held the tournament from 2003-2010, current host Atlantic City, N.J., and Providence, R.I.
ORDA president and chief operating officer Ted Blazer is excited to bring the tournament back to Lake Placid.
“It’s great for us to bring an event like this back to New York state [and] Lake Placid. This is the home of hockey, home of the ECAC. We’re just really pleased.”
Union coach Rick Bennett is pleased with the news.
“Being a new guy who hasn’t seen Lake Placid, I can only go by what I’ve heard from the past,” said Bennett, whose team is the defending ECACH tournament champions, yet were the only league team never to reach the conference final four when it was in Lake Placid. “Everyone that I’ve spoken to about Lake Placid had a real positive experience, and was a destination to get there. Once you got there, it was just a tremendous atmosphere.”
Times Union Center general manager Bob Belber was disappointed in the league's decision, but wished Lake Placid well. Belber added that he will focus his efforts on bringing the first weekend of the NCAA men's basketball tournament to Albany.
"We're proud of the bid we put forward," Belber said. "We had a great title sponsor in CDPHP. I spoke somebody close to the selection committee that confirmed we had the best financial bid on the table. I feel strongly that our facility was one of the best being considered."