The four schools competing are all more than 1,000 miles away, and the host for the event more than 600 miles away.
Tampa, Florida -- Thursday afternoon, the puck will drop on the NCAA Men's Frozen Four at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
It's the first time hockey's national championship will ever be decided in the southern United States.
Usually it's the beautiful beaches drawing thousands of northerners to the Tampa Bay area in early April, but this week they're crowded around a sheet of ice. "I loved it when I heard three years ago Tampa got it. My wife's been excited for three years," said Bruce Ellis, who is in town from Maine.
Frank Siiro and his wife have been to 22 out of the past 23 Frozen Fours, but they never expected a trip to Tampa. "Very odd," he said. "We wondered what we were doing to do with the palm trees."
The four schools competing are all more than 1,000 miles away.
Even the host for the event, the University of Alabama-Huntsville, is more than 600 miles away.
"It really gives college hockey more exposure to the rest of the country," said Union College fan Justin Zolot.
Organizers say the main reason the event was awarded to Tampa is the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup run. "It proved that hockey works well in the south. So we immediately started to look at some different events that we may be able to go after, and naturally first and foremost was the Frozen Four," said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.
Of the previous 64 Frozen Fours, one was held in Anaheim, while the next farthest south has been St. Louis.
As of Wednesday evening, tickets for the Tampa event are still available.
While organizers hope to bid for the 2015 or 2016 Frozen Four, if this year's event doesn't sell out, it raises questions about whether the NCAA would seriously consider that pitch.