Webster Bank Arena, home of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, is preparing to host the East Regional of the NCAA men’s hockey tournament this weekend. Union College will face the University of Vermont at 2 p.m. Friday, while Providence College will take on Quinnipiac University at 5:30 p.m. The winners of those games will play in the regional final Saturday at 3 p.m.
The NCAA Tournament returns to Webster Bank Arena for the first time since 2012, when the East Regional was played there. Current Sound Tiger Riley Wetmore became acquainted with his future home rink in that regional, as captain of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks. UMass-Lowell took on Miami University in the regional semifinal, and Wetmore scored a second-period goal to give the River Hawks a 3-0 lead. But Miami climbed back into the game with three goals in the third to force overtime. Wetmore struck again in overtime to score the game-winning goal and send UMass-Lowell to the regional final, where they eventually lost to Union.
Wetmore’s NCAA tournament days were not finished. In 2013, he was one of three players now on the Sound Tigers to appear in the Frozen Four. Wetmore and the River Hawks met Yale University in the national semifinal. Jesse Root was a member of that Yale team, and had already had an impressive tournament to that point. Yale had to beat the top two seeds in their regional, University of Minnesota and University of North Dakota, to get to the Frozen Four. Root had the game-winning goal in both Bulldog wins.
In the matchup between UMass-Lowell and Yale, Wetmore had a goal but Yale came away with the victory to advance to the national championship game, where they faced Jeremy Langlois and Quinnipiac. Root scored late, but the Bulldogs already had the game locked up. Yale defeated Quinnipiac by a score of 4-0 and Root earned his national championship ring.
Root is not the only member of the Sound Tigers to win a national championship, however. In 2011, Kenny Reiter was in between the pipes for the University of Minnesota-Duluth when they defeated Scooter Vaughan and the University of Michigan to win the title. Like Wetmore in 2012, Reiter took part in the regional played at Webster Bank Arena that season.
There’s no doubt that hockey fans in the area are excited to see the NCAA tournament return to Webster Bank Arena. If history is any indication, Sound Tigers fans might be able to catch their first glimpse of a future player.