As crosstown hockey rivals Yale and Quinnipiac went into Saturday's Frozen Four Final, the president of each Connecticut university figured that, win or lose, their school would gain.
Richard Levin, president of Yale University since 1993 and a professor there for 20 years before that, has been an avid Yale hockey fan for decades. He took his children to every game.
"This is very exciting for me personally," he said prior to the final. He hopes the publicity may move some high school scholar-athletes to consider Yale. Yale offers no athletic scholarships but has generous need-based aid.
"It would be great if student athletes who are strong academically would recognize that Yale can be nationally competitive," said Mr. Levin, who will soon be stepping down as Yale president.
Mr. Levin arrived in Pittsburgh hours before the final, but said he'd heard from alumni that "they've had a fantastic reception. Pittsburgh is putting on a good show for the Yale fans."
Otto Chu can attest to that. Mr. Chu, chairman and CEO of the Chu Financial Management Corp., is first vice president of the Yale Club of Pittsburgh, which co-hosted pre-game parties for several hundred people. Yale alumni from across the nation showed up, he said.
It's been 61 years since Yale was in a hockey semifinal.
"We've told our alumni that to have a chance to watch Yale's hockey team play in the NCAA Frozen Four right here in Pittsburgh is almost literally the opportunity of a lifetime," he said.
(Those alums chose wisely: Yale won, 4-0.)
The event also shows Yale students at their best, as hockey players hit the books between games and practices in Pittsburgh, Mr. Chu said.
Ivy League athletes "are extremely well disciplined. They have to be," he said. "They are very intelligent, articulate young men who take their academic studies seriously."
Quinnipiac's President John Lahey arrived in Pittsburgh Wednesday and has been up the Incline and to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. About 150 people gathered for an alumni dinner, although Pittsburgh's Quinnipiac alumni chapter is rather small.
"I expect it will be growing," he said.
Quinnipiac has been best known for its political poll, which Mr. Lahey founded 25 years ago. It also made recent news for plans to open a medical school this fall. But the publicity over the Frozen Four left those in the snow.
"Our men's ice hockey program has eclipsed all of that," he said. His son, who lives in San Francisco, reported seeing five stories about Quinnipiac hockey on national television.
"You look at places like the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown and Duke. They are all great universities, but I would say they really established relationships and got the word out about their programs through sports," he said. "This will help us attract students from all 50 states."
Because Quinnipiac and Yale play in the same league just a few miles apart -- Quinnipiac is in Hamden, Conn.; Yale in New Haven -- their hockey rivalry is intense. Quinnipiac, which entered the tournament at first seed, defeated 16th-seed Yale three times prior to Saturday's game. But Mr. Lahey stressed the rivalry is friendly.
Quinnipiac would have been unable to enter the ECAC Hockey League seven years ago if Yale hadn't supported the bid, he said. Yale recently agreed to have its Yale-New Haven Hospital cooperate with Quinnipiac's new medical school.
"We wouldn't be here if not for Yale -- not that I'm rooting for them," Mr. Lahey said before the game. "I'm forever thankful for Yale."
Ann Rodgers: email@example.com or 412-263-1416. First Published April 14, 2013 4:00 AM