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A D.C. Final Four, Frozen in Time

Better than they look: hockey-puck brownies at the Frozen Four party. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

Big Final Four tournament in D.C. this weekend! So, where are all the celebrity fans and flashy parties?

Um, we're talking hockey, people. Hockey doesn't do glitzy.

The Frozen Four is the first NCAA Division I championship in Washington. Great for the tourism industry; not so much for the party scene. Unless you grew up in New England or the snow-covered tundra, hockey's not a VIP magnet.

So Wednesday's reception at the Air and Space Museum was full of burly-looking former hockey players and execs -- mostly supporters of Boston University, Vermont, Miami University (Ohio) or the tourney's Cinderella, Bemidji State of Minnesota. Open bar and brownies in the shape of hockey pucks. Nice, but nothing like the college basketball bashes last weekend.

Mike Lonergan, left, and Tom O'Connell at the party. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

"I was in Detroit -- it was just crazy," said Mike Lonergan. "D.C.'s just different. You don't have people in the street." Lonergan coached at Maryland and at Catholic University before taking the head basketball job at Vermont and, although he knows nothing about hockey, came down with boosters to support the team.

Across the room, we spotted Tara Wheeler, a huge hockey fan years before she became Miss Virginia. When she was a kid, Wheeler said, she was smitten with Julie the Cat, the girl goalie in the "Mighty Ducks" franchise: "I came home and said, 'Mom and Dad, I'm going to play hockey.' " And she did, tending goal at Penn State and even trying out for the U.S. women's Olympic team.

D.C. Council member Jack Evans looked pleased. This tournament, he said, was "too long in coming." He's hoping it will open doors for other big sporting events down the road -- basketball's Final Four, maybe even a Super Bowl. "This is a big deal for the city."

Sure, Jack, if you say so.

By The Reliable Source  |  April 10, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
Categories:  Parties  
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I agree with Jack Evans. It IS a big deal for the city. Hockey fans will tell you that DC is not traditionally known as a "hockey town" but since the Caps have created such a buzz, hockey is ALL people talk about. That's what having a solid, winning team will do. As a frequent reader of the Reliable Source and a hockey fan, I'm disappointed in you guys for not recognizing that hosting the Frozen Four is, in fact, a big deal.

Posted by: ShariLeigh131 | April 10, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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