November 13, 2009
Hockey 101 is a weekly feature on U.S. Division I college hockey. Stick around and you just might learn a thing or two.
College hockey is full of traditions that NHL hockey, by virtue of the business of the game, simply cannot carry on. It's difficult to keep up traditions when only a small percentage of a building has fans that attend every game.
But college hockey doesn't have that problem. There are always going to be a large number of season ticket holders and, since most schools grant students free admission, there are traditions that will always be upheld. Half the fun of going to college hockey games, for students at least (and apart from the surreptitious drinking, obviously), is following these traditions.
Because there are so many schools with such varied histories, not everyone does things the same way. Some go a little heavier on the vulgarity (which isn't my cup of tea), some are more clever, some are more organized, some less so.
Here are five awesome college hockey traditions ...
1. The "Sieve!" chant.
Goalies don't like to give up goals as a general rule. They also don't like it when, immediately after doing so, a couple thousand people point at them and remind them that they, in fact, did give up a goal.
A sieve, for those of you that don't know, is a pan with a screen on the bottom that separates large objects from sand or other finer material. To call a goalie a sieve is to imply that he, too, is full of holes. Here's the cheer in action at Wisconsin.
Some schools also like to punctuate it with "It's all your fault." But the best version is clearly at Michigan's Yost Ice Arena, where students will chant, ""Hey, (goalie's name)! You're not a goalie, you're a sieve! You're not a sieve, you're a funnel! You're not a funnel, you're a vacuum! You're not a vacuum, you're a Black Hole! You're not a Black Hole, you just suck! You just suck! You just suck! You just suck!"
2. Throwing a fish on the ice.
Okay, so this is only done at one school all the time, and, to my knowledge, just two total, but it's definitely cooler than throwing an octopus on the ice. Why? Because these fish are huge.
And, unlike Detroit's octopus tradition, which had some amount of symbolism to it, a fish was chosen to be thrown on the ice at the Cornell/Harvard game in the early 1970s because, well, it was gross. This was done in retaliation for Harvard fans throwing a frozen chicken on the ice after a Harvard goal the year prior.
UNH is the only one that throws a fish at every home game immediately after the Wildcats score their first goal. A fraternity picks up the giant fish (donated by a local shop) early on gameday and let it sit out, without ice or anything, until game time. It can get pretty ripe if it takes UNH awhile to score.
3. Organized insults.
This part sort of folds into the sieve section, but the lengths to which one team's supporters will go to insult another are outstanding.
Boston University's student section will, when UNH or Maine come to town, chant, "The wheels on your house go 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round. The wheels on your house go 'round and 'round cuz you're white trash."
Back in the old days, many schools had press boxes with really loud phones, which would ring occasionally when another place wanted a score update. That would prompt many student sections to pick someone (a ref, an opposing player, etc.) and say, "Hey (person), your mom's calling. She says you suck."
Pretty much the be-all, end-all of organized near-hooliganism is Cornell's Lynah Rink, where the "Faithful" have gotten their insults so fine-tuned that they actually have a website (some language borderline NSFW) to help initiate new fans.
4. Regular-season tournaments.
What better way to distract yourself from what would otherwise be a dull out-of-conference game than by adding the drama of a trophy presentation to the end? Imagine how much more you'd enjoy that Wild/Lightning game if it ended with someone getting a nice, shiny piece of hardware out of it.
Plus, those tournaments, like October's IceBreaker and December's Denver Cup are always fun tourneys to which to look forward because they typically feature an excellent team or two and signify something. The IceBreaker means college hockey season is finally here again, and the Denver Cup (along with about 28 other holiday tournaments) mean that the three-week winter break is over and the second half of the season is underway.
And then there's the Beanpot, an awful tournament I hate, every February. It means that the season is entering the home stretch and we have to watch three boring hockey games before BC and BU play in the final. Every. Single. Year.
Pep bands are always going to be a part of college sports culture, but when have you ever been to a hockey game and had an entire side of the rink start doing the freaking Time Warp besides Wisconsin? Where else besides North Dakota are you going to have to watch out for a marching band during intermission? Where else besides BU is a school band going to so blatantly promote alcohol use by minors?
In which I ask a blogger for a noteworthy team five questions. This week's guest is Denver Pioneer blogger DG Goddard from Let's Go DU.
Denver obviously has a lot of NHL draft picks, but who is the best undrafted player on the team and why?
So far this season it's been Junior Kyle Ostrow by a wide margin. He has 4 goals and one assist in eight games. He has great hands, skills and quickness. At 5' 8" and 185 lbs. he's similar in stature to Martin St. Louis(notes).
Which was more of a fluke, struggling against Vermont (going 1-1 and allowing 10 goals) or two shutouts in a row at Minnesota?
Considering the preseason hype, the Vermont loss was a wakeup call. DU was hit by the flu bug and really struggled in the second games against both Vermont & Ohio State. Denver has had really good success against both Minnesota and Wisconsin in recent seasons. Both teams really seem to struggle against DU's team speed, especially on the Olympic sheets in Minneapolis and Madison.
How badly could the loss of Marc Cheverie have hurt the Pios?
(Author's note: Cheverie could be back next week against North Dakota.)
It's a pretty devastating injury to be cut by a skate and requiring 25+ stitches. Chevy has huge upside potential including a real shot at becoming an NHL goaltender. At 6-3 and 180 lbs. he's a very intimidating presence in the nets. His rebound control is excellent and he is really an intelligent player. An injury like this gives backup goaltender Adam Murray a real shot to develop ahead of schedule. So Chevy's short term loss is Murray's opportunity.
What does Joe Colborne bring to a team that casual observers might not notice?
Like all great players, Colborne has two gears. When DU is behind or there is a minute left in the game, Colborne really asserts himself. He did it repeatedly last year and he's shown the trait early this season.
Coming into the season, were your expectations for the team the same as the national media's and have those expectations changed at all given the result of the first eight games?
Everybody gets caught up in the hype. Some might say that those closest to the team, the players, coaches and local media were the biggest offenders. When an NCAA team has five players that could be starters in the AHL (Wiercioch, Colborne, Rakhshani, Ruegsegger & Cheverie) you have to be confident. The early injuries have tempered expectations a little, but there are enough flashes of brilliance to remain optimistic. DU's power play and penalty kill look as good as ever, Cheverie looks even better than last year and the three Freshman defenseman (Donovan, Wrenn & Phillips) are as good a trio as you'll find anywhere in college hockey.
Boston University is going to be without Nick Bonino, Alex Chiasson, Eric Gryba and David Warsofsky in this weekend's series with upstart Merrimack College. [Warrior Rink Rat]
Red Berenson was a bit unhappy with Michigan's pitiful performance against Miami. "I'm embarrassed," Berenson said. "We played like a bunch of spoiled brats, and we've gotta suck it up." Yikes. [AnnArbor.com]
St. Cloud State leading scorer Garrett Roe was be suspended for violating team rules and will sit out his team's game with North Dakota on Friday night. [UND Hockey]
Minnesota Duluth's student section got into a bit of trouble this week. [Duluth News Tribune]
You know things are bad in New Hampshire when they're worried about playing UMass. [Seacoast Online]
Hey USCHO, isn't it a little early to be figuring out who would go where if the NCAA tournament started today? [USCHO]