I wrote at the time that this didn't seem to be a good idea, and that most of the Lynah Faithful felt the same way. Our trepidation was largely borne out by what transpired "down the Shore." The games were played at Boardwalk Hall, formerly home of the Miss America pageant, current home of the Atlantic 10(+4) basketball championship, and future home of the Atlantic City Rodeo! The venue, while possessing some ornate beauty, felt ill-suited to hockey. The floor was much longer than two hundred feet, leaving some space between one end and the wall - a wall adorned with a mural of an old wooden ship. Sadly, it was not the good ship Diversity. (During one game, I joked that the players should aim pucks toward the ship's starboard side.) There was no re-entry, so those who wished to see all four of the hockey games were limited to arena food of high price and low quality. When I encounter a hamburger that I won't even finish, then you know it's pretty bad. Though I wasn't interested in purchasing souvenirs, those that were found themselves looking at a limited selection. And having everyone enter at the boardwalk end doesn't seem like the best logistical setup, which might have posed a problem...
...if anything approaching an appreciable crowd had shown up. The attendance figures for both the Friday and Saturday sessions were kept off the box scores, but they have been reported as 3,357 and 4,126, respectively. The latter figure is lower than any of the corresponding numbers for the eight title games held in Albany. (Numbers below.) Even in an arena with only about two-thirds the capacity of the Times Union Center, it looked quite sparse. Imagine what it would have been had Joe Devin not scored in overtime a week ago, and Quinnipiac had gone through.
I myself had a pretty good Friday, shooting down the Garden State Parkway after class and getting to my hotel about 2:30. After settling in, I headed into Atlantic City, parked under Boardwalk Hall, and went inside to take in the two semifinals. Yale easily dispatched Colgate in the first, and Cornell ground out a win in the late game despite being severely out-shot. After the end of the game, I accompanied a few friends who were up from Maryland to the Tropicana for a late meal. We were rejected at Cuba Libre for lack of collared shirts, but Carmine's, right next door, accommodated us nicely. We walked back down the boardwalk. As we did, or just before, the clock struck midnight...
...and so (officially) began a Saturday fraught with frustration. We reached Boardwalk Hall about 12:15...or roughly fifteen minutes after they shut down the lot. I couldn't reconnect with my friends, so I had to catch a taxi back out to Absecon. I woke up late on Saturday and delayed departure, not wanting to spend any more time than necessary in AC. As the cab pulled out from the Fairfield Inn, I felt around in my pockets - and did not locate my keys. I directed the taxi driver to reverse course; once back at the hotel, I tossed the room twice, to no avail. Since there was nothing more I could do there, I got back in the taxi and went, frantically searching my bags throughout. Once we got there, I carted all my stuff out onto the boardwalk, and cleaned it out a couple more times for good measure. Nothing. I even called the cab company. I finally had no choice but to declare my key lost and call Ford to have someone come out and cut me a new one (I have roadside assistance). He got to me about 2:30, and 45 minutes later, I could again access and start my car. This ordeal was slightly lessened by the courtesy of Jim the parking attendant, who game me a chair and some of his pretzels while I waited for the locksmith.
Once I had recovered from the lost key, I still had an hour before the third place game started, so I decided to try to win back some of the money I spent on that key. That didn't work either. I might have been a little out of practice on the basic strategy of blackjack, but regardless, the cards weren't turning in my favor (nor anybody else's - the dealer was pulling a lot of naturals). Finally, I grabbed my iPad and went into the arena. The free WiFi inside helped the third place game pass quickly (as did the lack of media timeouts). But unfortunately for me and most of the spectators in the building, that game was merely a prelude to a coronation of the Yale Bulldogs. If this were the Premier League, one would say that the Big Red were "played off the park." Yale was better in every facet of the game, and it was over by the middle of the second period. 6-0 was a very appropriate final score.
Despite it being only 10:00, and having a few more friends who had come in for the championship game, I was anxious to flee, and quickly did so. Without a place to stay last night, having my car get locked up again simply wasn't an option. As I drove out of Boardwalk Hall, it was a chilly night, so I went for the heat...nothing. Thankfully, that appears to have been something of a fluke, as it worked when I started my car back up after stopping for a soda on the Parkway. I got back to Northport around 1:30.
On the whole, I have to give Atlantic City itself an "incomplete," as I was unable to experience too much of it. Even notwithstanding Saturday night's result, I wasn't too enamored with Boardwalk Hall as a hockey venue. Only time will tell if the tide will turn, but this was an inauspicious debut for the ECAC in its new home.
ECAC Championship Game attendance figures
2011: 4,126 (Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Colgate)
2010: 6,505 (Cornell, Union, Brown, St. Lawrence)
2009: 4,857 (Yale, Cornell, St. Lawrence, Princeton)
2008: 4,851 (Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Colgate)
2007: 5,565 (Clarkson, Quinnipiac, St. Lawrence, Dartmouth)
2006: 7,093 (Harvard, Cornell, Dartmouth, Colgate)
2005: 8,637 (Cornell, Harvard, Colgate, Vermont)
2004: 6,489 (Harvard, Clarkson, Colgate, Dartmouth)
2003: 8,296 (Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown)
(2003-2010 attendance numbers from box scores at collegehockeystats.net. Participating teams listed in order of finish, and are courtesy TBRW?.