This past weekend I did something that many people may have thought was impossible. I brokered peace between UNH and Maine hockey fans, for an entire weekend, nonetheless. Not since the Camp David Accords in 1978 have two hated opposing sides with years of tension between them been joined so wonderfully. Jimmy Carter would be proud. It was not nearly as hard of a task as I thought it might be. All it took was a couple handles of Canadian Hunter whiskey, a couple 30 racks of PBR and some good music and the Mainers seemed to fit right in at UNH. Now, before you call me a traitor or weak for not only allowing up to five Mainers in my apartment, but also actually inviting them, let me explain myself.
One of my best friends from high school is a student up at UMaine. Many of you may know him as the commenter, "The Maine Guy." He and a couple of his friends bought tickets for the two hockey games and I offered my couches for them to crash on, which they happily accepted. I feel that while there is so much history of hate between the two teams and our fan bases, there is also a feeling of mutual respect for each other. UNH and Maine fans aren't made, we're born. No one is born a Duke basketball fan and that is why I have absolutely no respect at all for those rich, spoiled elitists. It might be hard as a fan or student of one of the schools to realize it, but Wildcat and Black Bear fans are not so different after all.
For the most part we are from small rural towns from blue collar families, are smart about our teams and the game, but most importantly we love hockey. I grew up waiting for the day that I could stand in the UNH student section, and I know for a fact many Maine fans were the same. It is a passion that is inside of us, in our blood, and through good times and bad, our love for our respected teams never fades. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying I like Maine or its fans as a whole, but I do respect them. I respect their traditions and their crowd and atmosphere. I love that they play in that old barn- style arena, which does actually have replay board. The fans have character, and whether you like them or not, you have to respect their passion.
After several whiskey and Cokes we were able to come to the conclusion that BU and BC fans are so much worse, and best of all – and this came directly from a Maine fan born in that state – that UMass is the worst when it comes to its fan base. I don't care if we couldn't agree on one thing, but that right there was enough for me to think they weren't so bad after all.
Of course there were a few U-N-H chants throughout both nights, and the rivalry carried over to the Beirut table, with yours truly defending UNH's glory. We also made sure to bring some thunder sticks back to the apartment, and we broke them out around midnight for one final jab. By Sunday morning not one comment had gone too fan or was there anything close to a physical altercation. Well, unless you count me trying to hurdle the kitchen sink and counter and completely eating it, but that was on my own. Not my proudest moment.
Of course, I probably wouldn't be writing this if UNH didn't sweep the series. The Black Bears didn't give their fans too much to cheer about. I have never seen anything like the first period of the first game, or the third period of the second game. Those are two of the best hockey games I have ever been to. Last year's 5-5 tie against Miami where the teams combined for nine second-period goals was pretty crazy, but that doesn't compare to this weekend's series. I mean, probably one of the best pro prospects in the country, Maine's Gustav Nyquist, missed an empty-netter, and UNH came back with Paul Thompson banking in a backhand shot from behind the net. And when I say Paul Thompson, I mean future Hobey Baker winner Paul Thompson. It's time for the nation to show him some respect. Paul Thompson for the Hobey Baker. Let's do this.
Stay classy, not UMassy