Barely 30 seconds left in the first period, the Wildcats were skating short-handed, with a man in the penalty box. It was looking bleak, to say the least, and all the homers were hoping that we’d make it to the whistle without allowing a goal. But, suddenly, a UNH breakaway rapidly developed, and next thing I knew, the crowd erupted; applauding the wrist-shot that had just been buried into the back of the net mere seconds before. That’s when the well-known chants rang out, and, surprisingly, a familiar voice to my left joined with the merriment.
“Sieve, you suck! Sieve sieve sieve sieve sieve sieve sieve!”
It was my Dad, who had driven from Vermont to watch the game and celebrate our imminent victory with me. He was waving his hands, hollering at the UVM goalie, and while some students might be embarrassed by their mom or dad’s passionate participation – in front of all their friends, no less – I loved every second of it.
That’s something that all sports – whether at a college or professional level – can accomplish; bringing together fans, regardless of age and social stigma. Plus it’s always fun to see a 50 year old man heckling a 20 year old hockey player.
To be clear, my Dad isn’t that drunk fan in the crowd that ceaselessly boos, burps, and berates players and attendees alike. He enjoys the competition, loves watching plays develop, and is sure to comment and criticize when he sees mistakes. And while he might get overly-fired up at times, he certainly steers clear from the realm of belligerency.
But what makes this event even more fun – besides being able to watch our dominant hockey squad beat up on our home-state team (whom we’ve admittedly never really supported) – is being able to watch a parent, an outsider, be just as engaged and supportive as our nationally-known students section. And even though he was well-versed with the plethora of cheers and taunts, there were a few that surprised him just as much as it surprised first-time attendees as well. In particular, the “DIRTY HIPPIES” and “WE HAVE CHEETOS” chants were among his favorites.
Coach Umile’s squad ended up with a 4-0 lead at the end of regulation, and further solidified their place at #9 in the National Rankings. UNH has looked incredibly solid these past few games, and our goalie, DeSmith, produced his second straight shutout performance. None of these things should come as a surprise, either. Mainly because a Catamount is far, far less awesome looking than this Wildcat, and yes, by definition, an Albino-Bengal-Tiger-Fish counts as a “Wild Cat.” Look it up.
Although the experience was greatly improved because of the Wildcats victory, sitting in the ever-electric bleachers is always more fun with loving friends (but mostly family) by your side. It’s certainly something I would recommend to all students at UNH, although it would be wise to give some disclaimers. Cheek-pinching? Is it adorable and cute and affectionate? Yes. But it should probably be designated as off-limits. Can’t be giving your best friends all that ammunition to make fun of you with, right?
It was our third game together at the Whittemore center, and, just as my superstitious father pointed out, “With us sitting side by side in the stands, they haven’t lost a game.” The recipe surely seems to work, and it’s something that I hope will continue throughout my current and (almost) final year in Durham.