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The thrill of victory

Union College’s Daniel Ciampini reflects on capturing their first Men’s Frozen Four crown in 2014.

By Daniel Ciampini
As told to Alexia Grevious

Our biggest focus before the championship game against Minnesota was to believe that we could win and know that we didn’t get to the national championship game by accident.

Daniel Ciampini, Union College

We knew how it felt to be the team that headed to the bus after a semifinal loss, unable to advance to the championship game. Losing in the Frozen Four semifinals my freshman year was a motivating factor.

Heading into the 2014 tournament, we knew what to expect. Aware the week would be hectic with media coverage, practices and other events, we were able to prepare for it and still enjoy ourselves. I had never been to Philadelphia before, and having my family present and being able to sightsee was a great bonus.

Everything came together for our tournament run. We had a hard-fought semifinal game against Boston College, winning 5-4, and we knew a tough game awaited against a very skilled and fast Minnesota team.

Once the championship game arrived, the biggest hurdle was to eliminate the nerves. We had to block out playing in front of a crowd of more than 18,000, with lots of cheering and fight songs, and remember why we were there. It was time to focus. We were on a big stage, but we had big-time players step up during the game.

As I looked up and saw a score of 7-4 with 30 seconds left, our coach (Rick Bennett) called a timeout and put five seniors in the game. That’s when we knew it was ours. There were tears of joy, excitement and happiness.

I still get goose bumps recounting the moment. Holding up the trophy in front of the many fans who traveled to see us play felt amazing. It wasn’t just for us; it was for them as well.

Although that was an incredible experience, we are focused and ready to put in the work to get back. Once you know what you are playing for, you become hungrier to relive that moment with a new group of teammates.