LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Until last weekend, Louann Tobias hadn’t been to a Colby College hockey game since she graduated from the school in 1977.

Four decades later Tobias caught the bug. That bug compelled her to drive five hours from her Rochester, New York home to be in the stands at Herb Brooks Arena on Friday for Colby’s first appearance in the NCAA Division III Frozen Four.

“The excitement just kind of built, and I’ve been riding that train ever since,” Tobias said.

A former goaltender on Colby’s women’s hockey team, Tobias was in Geneseo, New York for the national quarterfinals, where current Mules freshman Justin Grillo scored with 1.6 seconds remaining to snap a 1-1 tie and lift Colby to the Frozen Four.

Tobias met friends from Maine in the stands at the arena, the site of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team’s “Miracle On Ice” win. Brothers Mike and Steve Roy, along with Steve’s wife, Valerie, left Portland on Friday morning for Lake Placid.

Mike lives in Waterville, where he is the city manager. Steve and Valerie live in Portland. All three attended Colby College in the mid-1970s. Mike played varsity hockey, as did Valerie on the women’s team, while Steve played two years of junior varsity before coaching the women’s team briefly.

Mike Roy rarely misses a Colby home game, and he’s been to all of Colby’s NCAA tournament games this month. He said it didn’t take long to decide he was going to the Frozen Four.

“About three seconds,” Mike said with a laugh. “I’ve been watching Colby hockey since 1965 or 1966 after growing up in Waterville. It’s been a real revival of the Colby hockey tradition (this season).”

Mike also has a special connection to the win at Geneseo. Grillo wears the same No. 8 that he wore during his playing days.

“He’s the best freshman I’ve ever seen (for Colby),” Mike Roy said.

• • •

A staple of Colby’s five-week run to the Frozen Four has been the team’s ability to avoid tensing up in pressure-filled situations.

Despite carrying the weight of the program’s first Frozen Four appearance in program history, practices this week — including the ones inside Herb Brooks Arena — featured plenty of yelling, laughing and chirping from one teammate to another.

“It’s been a great experience,” senior defenseman Dan Dupont said. “We’ve been really lighthearted. We always joke that we’re ‘fast and loose, young and strong.’ It’s been big for us. A Frozen Four appearance isn’t going to change that.”

Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald says it’s been an important piece of the Mules’ success.

“It’s kind of been our M.O. for a while now,” MacDonald said. “It’s a team that has a lot of good characters and guys that like to have fun. Let’s face it, we’re not solving the world’s problems out here. We’re having a fun time playing hockey.

“We’ve tried to really embed that sort of spirit in the guys.”

• • •

In Friday night’s first national semifinal, Salve Regina found itself having to adjust on the fly — finding itself outshot by a 22-0 margin before the first period against UW-Stevens Point was even 13 minutes old.

“We knew it was going to be an emotional game for us, having never been here. We wanted to get out there and get everybody’s feet wet,” first-year Salve coach Zech Klann said. “They came in full force, and they tilted the ice.”

But the Seahawks regrouped enough to use a 54-save effort from junior goalie Blake Wojtala to get to the first NCAA championship game of any kind is the history of the tiny school from Newport, Rhode Island.

“The mentality was just to stay cool, calm and collected,” freshman Erik Udahl said. “You have to stay calm no matter what happens, you have to be even keel. If something bad happens, you just forget about it and move forward.”

For the game, Salve Regina was outshot 54-21.

• • •

Notes: According to the NCAA.com broadcast of the game, 13 members of the UW-Stevens Point band piled into three cars and made a 20-hour trip east to be in the stands — and perform — during the game between the Pointers and Salve Regina. … Colby goalie Sean Lawrence gave up three goals in the first 11:33 against St. Norbert on Friday night, the first time he’d given up three goals in a game since a 3-3 tie against Wesleyan in Colby’s final home game of the season on Feb. 11. … 1980 U.S. Olympic team members Buzz Schneider and John Harrington dropped the ceremonial first puck before both national semifinals on Friday at Herb Brooks Arena.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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