There may be, as Kevin Bui claims, a number of Quinnipiac guys who know current Yale players. Yet as six of the Bobcats made their way into the media room Tuesday at TD Bank Sports Center, not one of them admitted it.
Hmm, maybe this Frozen Four is chillier than I thought.
"The only acquaintance I sort of have is over the last three years I seem to have a glove save against [Andrew] Miller every year," said Quinnipiac goalie Eric Hartzell, the team's Hobey Baker finalist. "So every time we shake hands at the end of the game, fortunately for us this year it's 3-0, he kind of just gave me that eye and said good game and that he hated me."
Everybody laughed. Hey, it's not Duke-Carolina, but he did use the "H" word.
"It's a fun mutual respect," Hartzell said.
Whether you put a smooth silver spoon or a sharp Bowie knife up against a Yale man's throat, his answer will be the same. Harvard is his biggest rival.
Whether you force feed an Eli Sodium Pentothal or Grey Poupon, the answer doesn't waver. Harvard is the rival.
Still, the games don't lie. I was at Quinnipiac at Yale and Yale at Quinnipiac and both Ingalls Rink and TD Bank Sports Center were rocking on those two February nights. The governor was there. There were bands, dueling chants, sellouts, it was great stuff. Both schools know all this, of course. They live it. For much of the state, it has been something of an untapped secret. Not for long.
Both schools are in the NCAA Frozen Four, Quinnipiac for the first time, Yale for the first time since 1952 when only four teams were in the tournament. If Yale can beat UMass-Lowell and Quinnipiac can beat St. Cloud State in Pittsburgh on April 11, well, let's just say those 8 miles that separate the schools will seem like 8 inches.
"If you come to one of the games, whether at Quinnipiac or Yale, you see it's a rivalry," coach Rand Pecknold said. "It's gotten pretty good at games at Yale and the ones here I don't even think it's a game. It's an event. It's a big-time event."
Pecknold's wife, Nikki, is scheduled to give birth Wednesday and although he said the couple doesn't know if the baby is a boy or girl, you've got to believe the given name won't be Eli, Yale or Boola Boola.
Pecknold said he drives his car from his Fairfield home when Quinnipiac plays at Yale, but the team bus hops on I-91 to get to Ingalls Rink. Why take the longer route when you get there faster, right? That seems to be Quinnipiac's motto. In only its eighth year in the ECAC and 15th year in Division I hockey, the Bobcats not only are in their first Frozen Four, they have carried the No. 1 national ranking for several weeks.
I took the more time-consuming route Tuesday. It takes 20 minutes to drive the 8 miles from Ingalls Rink in New Haven, up Whitney Avenue, through all the lights, past the Eli Whitney Museum, under the Wilbur Cross Parkway, past Hamden Town Hall and up to the York Hill Campus in Hamden.
With such a short distance between the schools, Yale coach Keith Allain was asked what it meant for the area to have Yale's rivals in the Frozen Four with him.
"I'm not really sure what it means for the area," Allain said on a conference call. "Our focus right now is on our hockey team and UMass-Lowell."
There's joy inside that man, but we may need the Jaws of Life to get it out of him for the world to see. Long on success and short on answers, Allain sometimes treats interviews a little like POW interrogations: Name, PairWise rank and serial number. And it must be a little contagious. Asked what he thought, Miller said: "We're not worried about the other side of the bracket, as Coach said, we're worried about ourselves firstly and what we're going to do to plan for UMass-Lowell."
OK, then … a little comparison.
Yale has the Bush boys, George 41 and George 43. Quinnipiac has the Jones boys, Connor No. 10 and Kellen No. 15.
Quinnipiac has supreme power-play scorer Jordan Samuels-Thomas. Yale has Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.
Quinnipiac has the late Murray Lender of bagel fame. Yale has Bill Clinton, who at one time looked as if he had one too many of Lender's bagels.