There was no sound except the clack of sticks on ice and pucks on sticks.
Occasionally, a cowbell.
Union floated around the ice with a 2-0 lead midway through the third period, a long, hypnotic stretch with no whistles and a whole lot of coordinated play that methodically smothered the life out of the opponent.
The game over, the Dutchmen crowded around goalie Colin Stevens, gave their fans a stick salute and walked down the tunnel.
It could’ve been a non-conference game in November; it was, in fact, the East Regional championship of the NCAA tournament.
You could hardly tell.
The Dutchmen are going back to the Frozen Four for a second time, having beaten Providence, 3-1, at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, and they’ll bring a decidedly different mindset for this trip than they did in 2012.
Coach Rick Bennett said it was a circus in the locker room when Union clinched the Frozen Four berth in 2012, and “I was looking for the rides myself.”
On Saturday, the Dutchmen did their interviews, quietly packed up their stuff and went home.
The profound change that has happened is that now they expect to win a national championship and have no qualms about laying that on the table for all to see.
Not get there. Win the thing.
With that in mind, the celebration was muted. Yep, commemorative ballcaps for everyone, a team picture on the ice, the usual drill.
Junior center Max Novak said 2012 was surreal, as was seeing his goal against Vermont on Friday make the No. 1 spot on the “SportsCenter Top-10” highlights.
“But it was just a goal,” he said.
Junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was pumped up for the 2012 Frozen Four because it meant a trip to Tampa in his home state of Florida; this time, he said they won’t be satisfied until the job is done, which means a national championship.
“We were just happy to be there. This year, we want to do some damage,” he said. “It’s not good just getting there. We want to win the whole thing. We won’t be satisfied until the job is done.”
This is not to say that the East Regional championship was being sniffed at like it was nothing. No, the team is deeply appreciative of the opportunity and the accomplishment, and extremely amped to have so much more in front of them.
“I was a kid in the candy store, just amazed at everything,” Gostisbehere said. “This time, we’ll be a little better prepared.”
“Job’s not done yet,” senior defenseman Mat Bodie said. “This was one of our goals, but not the end goal.”