While other divisions battle for state titles at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League's Open Cup state championship is held at Robert Morris University Island Sports Center. That means a smaller crowd and fewer frills — like, for example, no singing of the national anthem before the game.
As the Indiana Little Indians and the Quigley Spartans lined up before their championship game on Thursday night, the PA announcer apologized for the lack of an anthem, adding "if someone would like to volunteer to sing, you're more than welcome to sing." Well, it wasn't somebody who stepped up — it was everybody in the crowd, led by teams' student sections. This is awesome:
Logan Lazor, a senior forward for Indiana, provided a little backstory to this stirring moment:
"The two teams haven't met before, and it isn't uncommon for the national anthem to not be played before a game. The Indiana Little Indians, however, are one of the few teams that have the National Anthem played before every one of their home games, which the Indians fans (also known as the Rowdy Rooters), were accustomed to.
"This being the state championship, and with fans at Indiana eagerly wanting to go watch their team win, two pep buses full of 80 students were brought to the game to help cheer their team on. But to their surprise, no national anthem was sung. So as it was announced that there would be no national anthem, the Indiana students took it upon themselves to sing our country's song.
"I am a senior on the hockey team, and heard this go on as did the rest of our team. But by the time the song started, our coach already was giving us our last pre-game speech before the puck dropped; therefore, we didn't turn around. My reaction was just that I was simply proud of my school and our fans. Being my last game in front of these fans who make high school hockey the best memories of my life, it was just a great way for them to go out on top."
Lazor and the Indians fell short of the Open Cup, losing to Quigley in double-overtime, 5-4. But for both teams, the dueling student sections filling in for the national anthem provided a lasting memory of the state title game. We expect nothing less from puckheads.
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