For the first time ever, Chicago hosted the NCAA Men's Frozen Four tournament and it was a huge success.
The championship game between Denver and Minnesota Duluth drew a record-setting crowd of 19,783, which was the largest attendance in a college hockey championship game in a National Hockey League arena — only 2010 had a higher number at Ford Field in Detroit.
The overall attendance across the two days was 39,409, and among them were Hall of Famer Mark Messier, who's nephew Luke Esposito plays for Harvard, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and former Blackhawks defenseman and USA 1980 Olympic gold medalist Jack O'Callahan.
Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito was also honored by performing the ceremonial puck drop before the national championship game. It was a terrific event.
Now let's hear from the players about their experience, some of whom were in awe of skating on the United Center ice, home of the six-time champion Blackhawks.
Evan Ritt, Denver senior forward:
"Coming in this locker room, it's unbelievable. They've been treating us unbelievable, it's been great. Did you see the banners up there? So cool. They're all old school.
"I mean, look right here (pointing to picture frames inside Blackhawks locker room), you got all the most famous NHL players of all time here, it's unbelievable. It's cool to be a part of history. The Blackhawks logo right there (in the center of the locker room), it's really special. Really fortunate. I never would have thought as a kid growing up that I would've made it to this point. It feels really cool."
Tanner Jaillet, Denver junior goaltender:
"It's awesome. Obviously the Blackhawks, pretty awesome franchise. So much history in this building. It was awesome to go out there and be able to pull one out for our program."
Alex Iafallo, Minnesota Duluth senior forward:
"It was really cool, watching NHL games it's a dream come true, especially playing Saturday, it's going to be awesome. A lot of Bulldog fans out there. We owe it to those guys."
Dennis Gilbert, Notre Dame sophomore defenseman and Blackhawks prospect:
"Yeah you can tell it's a very passionate fan base. Hats off to the Blackhawks, they're a class act. They did a heck of a job this weekend putting this on, for all four teams, it's been spectacular. They're definitely deserving to get it back in years to come, I think."
Blake Hillman, Denver sophomore defenseman and Blackhawks prospect:
"It's awesome. I can't say enough. The Pioneer fans, like you said this is the largest crowd we've had outside of Denver, and I don't even know what to say. I'm speechless."