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NCAA hockey final draws cheers from alumni in Valley

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A college hockey player from Tempe is leading his team to the championship game of the NCAA’s Frozen Four Ice Hockey tournament in Pittsburgh.

Jeremy Langlois scored a goal Thursday night to help the Quinnipiac Bobcats to a 4-1 win over St. Cloud State. Quinnipiac University of Connecticut will face in-state rival Yale in the championship game Saturday night.

The Bobcats have dozens of alumni in the Valley, some of whom gathered at the Blue 32 Sports Grill to watch the game.

Denise Nowak grew up in Connecticut, where hockey is a big deal.

“In the wintertime, my dad would put out two-by-fours, line it with plastic, flood it, and let it freeze .. all of the kids would come over and play hockey in the back yard,” said Nowak. “I grew up with hockey and figure skating.”

Langlois grew up in the Valley and played hockey at the Polar Ice in Chandler. Nowak is amazed that someone from the desert is making it big in hockey back home.

“That’s so exciting,” Nowak said. “To have someone from Arizona be that good in hockey? Wow! What a statement that is!”

She hopes that Langlois is an example for her 8-year-old son. He is about to enter hockey, lured by a beginners program offered by the Ice Den in Scottsdale.

“There was a young gentleman, I don’t know his first name, but his last name was Tanner. He had passed away, and his buddy set up a scholarship in his name to introduce kids to hockey,” said Nowak.

“They give the kids three weeks of free hockey lessons. They give them the equipment to take home and get excited about the sport. They give a hockey jersey and free passes to the Ice Den to introduce them to hockey. My little guy gets started this weekend.”

Meanwhile, she’ll back at the Blue 32 along with other Quinnipiac alums to cheer on Langlois and the Bobcats in the championship game on Saturday night.