(NECN: Brian Burnell, Hamden and New Haven, Conn.) - In Hamden, Conn., the pre-dawn hours were dark but hardly quiet. The morning stillness broken by a chant.
"Let's go Bobcats! Let's go Bobcats!"
Yellow-clad supporters of the Quinnipiac University hockey team boarded buses headed for Pittsburgh and the Frozen Four for the NCAA Hockey semi-finals.
"I love QU hockey. It's going to be a lot of fun. Long bus ride, but it's going to be great. Great memories," QU Senior Bridget Fossel said.
Sophomore Alexa Panzarino adds, "To have this opportunity, it's really once-in-a-lifetime, so we're super excited."
Quinnipiac takes on St. Cloud Thursday night for a spot in Saturday's title game. Just down the road a piece in New Haven, another bunch of college kids waited until to sun came up to board their buses bound for Pennsylvania. Yale is also in the Frozen Four and these kids agree with their rivals up the road.
"It's pretty much a once in a lifetime experience. Like, my freshman year we were number one in the country and we thought we'd make it and we didn't even make it then and this year was a total surprise so we're thrilled to be able to skip our classes and head to Pittsburgh," Yale Junior Erin Maher said.
Yale and Quinnipiac have played each other three times this season and the Bobcats have won each game. The players like the neighborly competition.
"There's a mutual respect between the two teams. It's a fun mutual respect and, you know, like I say, if we play them again its going to be a tough game," Quinnipiac Goalie Eric Hartzell said.
Yale’s Center, Jesse Root, agrees.
"I think its a great rivalry. I mean, the ECAC is so close that I think all the teams there's a great rivalry. Obviously there's the location that may enhance it a little bit," he said.
If they do face off again, it will be for the NCAA Hockey Championship.