On Monday afternoon, University of Denver freshman Ryan Dingle was still trying to absorb the events of the past five days.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet," Dingle said about the Pioneers' national championship run. "I'm still numb, and it's a little hard to believe that we actually won it all."
The journey began Thursday in the Frozen Four semifinals, where the Pioneers skated past Colorado College in a 6-2 game.
The road to the title continued Saturday when Denver downed North Dakota, 4-1, to win the NCAA National Championship game, which was played in Columbus, Ohio.
"They were all good teams," Dingle said about the Frozen Four. "We were aware of that and just did our best to prepare to take them on."
The scene on the ice at the Jerome Schottenstein Center after Saturday's victory was like a dream for Dingle, who grew up playing hockey and spent several years in Steamboat Springs from 1998 to 2000. His family still lives in Steamboat.
Dingle moved to Vail in 2001 to play hockey with a AAA team and was drafted by the USHL team in Des Moines, Iowa, and eventually traded to Kearny, Neb.
Dingle had secured a place with Denver last year when the Pioneers won their first national title.
"I was happy they won the title last year because I knew that I was going to get to play for a quality program," Dingle said. "I wasn't thinking about winning another national title at that time -- just playing for a great team."
For Dingle, the idea of winning a national title really didn't start to sink in until he jumped on the ice along with his teammates and started to celebrate Saturday's victory against North Dakota.
"I'll never forget the first time I got to touch the trophy," Dingle said. "I think that's the thing I'm always going to remember from this season."
Dingle said the euphoria of winning the title has not started to fade. The team arrived in Denver early Sunday morning, and Dingle said he didn't waste any time finding his razor and shaving off the beard he had started when the Pioneers opened the NCAA tournament.