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I never used to believe in pulling for another team just because they are from your team’s conference. As a Boston University grad, I could never have imagined rooting for New Hampshire or Boston College once the Terriers’ season ended… that was tantamount to treachery, like cheering on the Yankees if the Red Sox’s summer concluded prematurely.

I have a different perspective on things now, as a correspondent for an entire league, but I also see that ECAC Hockey is different from other leagues. We have the longest Frozen Four drought in the country – Atlantic Hockey had RIT just last year, while the ECAC’s last representative was Cornell back in 2003. We have small schools with small programs, seven of which don’t even offer scholarships. Most of our schools’ other athletic programs are in tiny D-I leagues, or – more likely – playing D-II or D-III.

This is our game, and this is our time. Hockey is the greatest athletic opportunity these 12 schools have to stand up, go toe-to-toe with the Wisconsins and Boston Colleges and Michigans and Notre Dames and Ohio States of the country and say, we will not back down.

We’re down to one team now, with RPI’s gutsy but grisly loss today and Union’s gutting defeat yesterday.

Yale isn’t expected to play for anyone in the stands, or anyone back in New Haven, or anyone else around the league. The Bulldogs only have each other to answer to tonight against Minnesota Duluth, but boy will they have an awful lot of support from an awful lot of people in places that people in Boston and Minneapolis and Detroit have never heard of: Places like Schenectady, Canton, and Hamilton, New York. Places like Hanover, New Hampshire, and Hamden, Connecticut. Yale, Ivy and ECAC alumni from Taipei to Tel Aviv to Tuscaloosa will tune in to root on the Elis, and seven thousand boisterous Blue boosters will rock Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard tonight in support of their Bulldogs – the smart kids who aren’t expected to play hockey as well as they practice politics and finagle finances.

It’s not ECAC versus the world out there for Yale tonight.

But it may as well be for the rest of us.

And without further ado, the best hockey pep band song of all time: Beatdown Stomp, originally by little-known ska band Skabba the Hut (later renamed the El Conquistadors) and performed now with great enthusiasm by the Yale Precision Marching Band. May it ring from the rafters thrice more before the year is done.