There was no shortage of commentary about the 2010 Frozen Four championship matchup last Saturday between Wisconsin and Boston College -- a rematch of the 2006 final won by the Badgers, 2-1.
From two current NHL players -- who played in championship games in their NCAA heydays as a Badger and Eagle, respectively -- to fans across the tyke-to-pundit spectrum at Saturday's Fan Fest, all offered opinions and predictions in the 2010 NHL.com Frozen Four fan poll.
Red Wings' defenseman Brian Rafalski -- from next-door Dearborn -- led his Badgers to four consecutive NCAA appearances, the most memorable his freshman season when Wisconsin took it on the chin to Lake Superior State, 5-3.
"I got as close as you can to win a national championship," said Rafalski after the Red Wings' last home game and 24 hours before his Badgers punched their ticket to the final with an 8-1 thrashing of RIT. "You need to focus to get to the final. I told the team at practice: 'Have fun, focus and good things will happen.' There should be a lot of Wisconsin fans there. That's a factor for Wisconsin to go all the way."
Indeed, Ford Field was a sea of Badger red in several sections, but Wisconsin's third-period meltdown gave BC redemption in the 5-0 shutout win.
The night before, Nathan Gerbe's Buffalo Sabres locked up the Northeast Division title with a win against the Rangers. Gerbe played in three consecutive BC title games in 2006, '07 and '08, winning it all in '08, 4-1, against Notre Dame after losing the first two to Wisconsin and Michigan State, respectively.
He was named the 2008 Most Outstanding Player in that Frozen Four.
"I've been three times," Gerbe said. "You lose twice and going in the third time you realize how special it is. We got to get some redemption. I know I had a tough loss to Wisconsin. We need to get that back. I've got BC all the way."
BC went all the way, for sure, and at Saturday morning's Fan Fest, there was no holding back on predictions and commentary from some 50 fans from across the NCAA geography.
Bill Washer from Ogdenburg, New Jersey came closest to the actual final score with his 5-1 call -- for Wisconsin, however.
NHL.com congratulates two fans with their handicapping hats snuggly in place Saturday morning. One had the only call for a shutout -- and for BC; the other came the closest to the final margin of victory with the Eagles on top.
Alex Baker, 12, came all the way from Plainfield, Illinois, with his dad to take in the event. "BC all the way," said Alex, who made a first call of 18-0 before switching to "make that 8-0. BC's just way better than Wisconsin."
Paul Berkowitz, from Kalamazoo, Michigan, said: "I think BC by a 6-2 score. Boston was very strong against Miami who beat a lot of good teams this year."
Congratulations, Paul, on the best call in the 2010 NHL.com Frozen Four fan poll.
Five BC fans nailed the Eagles' five-goal tally accurately. Caleb Ellis, 10, from St. Louis was also with his dad. "I'm going with BC, 5-2," said Ellis with an NHL-based analysis. "BC's got an army of Marty St. Louis'; a lot faster than Wisconsin."
"BC by a final score of 5-2," echoed Steve DeForge from Boston. "Wisconsin can't keep up with them. BC is too quick."
Bob Vechard trekked from Lewiston, Maine, chiming in with: "BC by a 5-3 score. BC has the edge right now. They come to play. Jerry York always has them ready."
Jack Falk, 13, from Granby, Connecticut said: "I think BC will win, 5-3. BC's going to score a lot and lately there's been a lot of scoring."
Ken Lakin from Lexington, Mass., a short drive from BC's campus said: "5-4, BC, no overtime. Both teams have talent up front, but BC has a little more speed. The Muse kid is ready in goal. It will be tight, but BC pulls it out."
Indeed, Boston College did have more talent up front and more speed.
NHL.com thanks the many fans for their time and comments at the 2010 Frozen Four in Detroit.