Eli Goes to Washington
WASHINGTON, D.C. – It took almost exactly 11 months to happen, but it was worth every day of the wait for the Yale men's hockey team, the 2013 NCAA Champions. The Bulldogs, who took the Frozen Four title at Pittsburgh last April, were honored today at the White House as part of its national champions day.
All members of the current team - plus five of the six seniors from last spring - attended the festivities that began with a private bus tour of the city. The Bulldogs had their own two-deck bus for the two-hour tour on a sunny and cool day.
The bus dropped the team at the White House at 2 p.m. and it took less than an hour for all the teams who were being honored to go through multiple security stations. Everyone filed into the White House and roamed around the different rooms of the East Wing admiring the decorations and art and speaking with staffers about the things they were seeing.
The Bulldogs were told to assemble in the East Room to await the arrival of President Obama. It took almost an hour before the nation's leader appeared, but there was plenty going on to keep the guys busy. Secretary of State John Kerry '66, a former multiple-sport Yale athlete, spent some time with the team discussing the college hockey playoffs, foreign policy, the White House and old customs, like a medallion with a U.S. government emblem on it.
He presented Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach, with a U.S. Military "challenge coin," something that at one time might go to the winner of a battle. Now, it's something that would make a nice decoration for a desk, or, as the story goes, prevent you from having to buy all the drinks at a bar if asked to present a "challenge coin."
Kerry, who performed the ceremonial drop of the puck at "Rivalry on Ice" at Madison Square Garden this winter, served as Yale hockey's outreach coordinator today by bringing the Southern California women's water polo team over to the Bulldogs for a combined team photo. The well-conceived move was enjoyed by both squads.
Obama arrived shortly after and was as charming as anyone would have imagined. He was shaking hands, cracking jokes, talking about games and asking questions. He got in the middle of the Elis for a group shot and was happy to hear from anyone who spoke to him.
The teams filed out of the White House and onto the South Lawn for a post-photo session reception. A three-piece band played music next to a refreshment tent near a pretty view of a pond and water fountain. Rows of white chairs lined the grass with a podium in front. After the last team had made its way out of the house, the president delivered a perfectly appropriate speech that touched on a number of relevant topics.
The graduated Bulldogs who were able to attend included Josh Balch, Jeff Malcolm, Nick Maricic, Colin Dueck and Antoine Laganiere.
The Bulldogs, dressed in suits since the bus tour, then walked from the South Lawn to Carmine Anthony's, a few blocks away for a superb dinner before jumping on the bus for the ride back to New Haven.
Yale, which clinched its first-round ECAC playoff series last Saturday, was on the road to D.C. after Sunday's practice. The Elis face Quinnipiac in this weekend's conference quarterfinal series at High Point Solutions Arena. The first game is Friday at 7 p.m.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director