Fans stay true to team colors
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Spotted about a few blocks away from the KeyBank Center on Saturday afternoon: Two men in Minnesota Gophers-wear coexisting peacefully with another in a St. Cloud State jersey.
Mike and Jeff Ammann and their father Jerry Ammann — all based in the Twin Cities area — were en route to the NCAA Frozen Four college men's hockey tournament, where the University of Minnesota Duluth would face the University of Massachusetts for the national title Saturday night. Still, they opted for Gopher maroon and Husky red for the occasion.
"We come to watch hockey," said Jerry Ammann, who said they've been traveling to the tourney for at least 22 years. "We're just college hockey fans."
There are 60 Division I hockey teams in the country, and more than half of those teams' jerseys were seen in and around the arena during the two-day tournament. Notre Dame jerseys brunched with Badger jerseys. North Dakota jerseys lingered on the fringe of packs of Bulldog jerseys. One sports reporter counted 30 different jerseys at a nearby restaurant-bar on Thursday night before the semifinal round.
Todd Kummer keeps track of all the jersey he sees. He's a spreadsheet guy, his friends said, as he pulled out the list: Providence, Boston College, Omaha, Clarkson, Harvard. Kummer had collected 41 sightings, and was hoping to still find Arizona State.
Kummer was wearing a blue Snoopy jersey — over a North Dakota T-shirt. His wife, Jodi Kummer, was also in green. But his table also included a friend in a United States Marine Corps football jersey and another wearing UMD. The latter was a fluke.
This crew is in the early stages of a Frozen Four tradition that started three years ago in Chicago — where they all live. Andy Wyse decided that weekend to be a Bulldog fan and adopted the wardrobe.
"I didn't have a dog in the race," he said.
This spontaneous pick has worked for him for three years.
Also part of the group: Dennis Blowers, wearing a St. Lawrence jacket. His was a tribute to the river, not the team.
Dave Mullaney and Matt Rothberg, both from Rochester, N.Y., wore orange Rochester Institute of Technology jerseys. When questioned about the team's Division I success:
"2010 Frozen Four," Rothberg replied.
They've been coming to the Frozen Four for years and this year was especially easy. They estimated 30 other RIT fans in the stands.
"It's like a big family reunion," Rothberg said. "Half of the fun is seeing how many teams you can get checked off. Some years, it's 40."
Darrin Opsal of Eau Claire, Wis., bravely joined the Bulldogs' pregame party at nearby Pearl Street Grill & Brewery — while in Badger gear. He's a hockey fan, he said, and as his children have gotten older he's begun making his way to more games.
"I'm supporting UMD," he said, as he has for the past three NCAA tournaments.
Opsal said he didn't own any Bulldog shirts, though.
"I can't go out and buy one," he said. "Next year it will be Wisconsin and I'll have this maroon thing."