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With two big game players returning for their senior seasons by Wearendhockey

could next year be the one that finally ends with winning the last game of the college hockey season?

Throw your empties at me if you must, but over the last few years I have felt my interest in the regular season wane a bit. It might be because all of the people I used to attend games with now no longer go (many reasons why). It could be because I no longer live in the vicinity of Notre Dame, having moved to suburban Cleveland just prior to the beginning of the 2015-2016 season. It might be because over the course of 44 seasons of following this program I have seen just about everything that can happen over the course of a season happen. Except for one thing.

Back in the early days of my fandom, the NCAA tournament was an unknown. A pipe dream that a much younger me knew little about or perhaps even understood exactly what it meant. In 1977 we came close, but somehow managed to lose a total-goals playoff series on home ice after building a 6-1 lead over Minnesota over the course of the first 60 minutes and the first few minutes the next night. We came close again in 1982, but a 4th place finish in the CCHA gave the NCAA good reason to take regular season winner Bowling Green, despite our 2-1 record against them, including the CCHA semi final, played -- for the first time -- in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. We came close again in 1999, finishing as the 13th team in a year 12 teams made it.

But now, NCAA bids are almost a given. Jeff Jackson has completed 14 seasons here, and all but 4 have ended in either an NCAA regional, or a Frozen Four. We've pulled off big upsets, suffered some, played more overtime games than is healthy to watch and came agonizingly close to winning titles a couple of times. Tod Anderson and Derek Shepard can still go to Hell. And the run of overtime games and last minute wins in 2018 and 2019 are not to be believed, had I not witnessed them.

All of that makes me anxious to get regular seasons over with and wait for something truly new to happen.