This is my TNH column for the week. It basically expands on what I said last week, but I wanted it to get a bigger audience.
Despite what you may think, I do not always write about partying, barhopping, and being generally awkward. This is college and college life is so much more than those things, especially here at UNH.
For example, there is also hockey. If you are an ill-advised freshman or an upperclassmen who has been living in a box during your time in Durham, hockey is a major part of UNH culture. Our fans live, breathe and die Wildcat hockey.
Friday and Saturday afternoon activities in the fall and winter consist of body painting and sign making. I grew up about a half hour drive from campus, and ever since I attended my first game as a 9-year-old, I looked forward to the day I could stand in the student section.
For the past three seasons, I have only missed a handful of home games and some of my favorite memories of my time at UNH relate to hockey games. If you do not get that excited feeling in your stomach this time of year or irresistibly smile every Monday morning when you pick up your student ticket, you are not a true UNH hockey fan.
UNH hockey fans are our own breed. We are proud of our school, our team and our classmates who make up the team. We may not know the players on a personal level, but you would never know that by the way we support them through good times and bad.
While every student has the right to get tickets and stand in the student section, UNH games are for the most dedicated students. There is a reason why the student section sells out, usually as well as the rest of the arena, for every game. UNH hockey games are for those true UNH hockey fans, not just the students who show up to games just because it is the thing to do.
The season is underway and so far things have been shaky for the team on the ice. They lost a lot last year, but they also return many key players and will be looking for younger players to step up. For the dedicated fans, the slow start has not been too much of a surprise, but we fully expect the team to improve throughout the season and transform into a true contender.
Have faith, because we have Wildcat blood running through out veins and the season is still very young.
Those of you who attended Saturday night's game against Boston College probably noticed a few changes among the crowd.
Namely, the super-fans who have led the student section for years have moved on and passed the cowbell down to current students. This has given us a great opportunity to create new traditions as well as carrying on the old classic ones that make the Whittemore Center one of the best college hockey arenas in the country.
The Wildcat Army, the name the new student leaders have taken up, has brainstormed new cheers, chants and songs. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter by searching their name if you want to learn more. Flyers and cheer sheets are in the process of being made.
Nothing annoys me more, apart from terrible refereeing (cough Hanson brothers), than students who show up to games and don't participate in the cheers. Or even worse, they mock their fellow students who work hard to make the Whitt the intimidating arena that it is. The irony of a kid wearing a "we are the 6th man" t-shirt leaving the game halfway through the third period kills me.
It may take a few more home games for the crowd to return to its normal rowdiness because of the transition, but we believe that this is for the better and will help current students create a better bond with the team. While hockey is, always has been and probably always will be UNH's top sport, we shouldn't forget about our other student athletes who wear Wildcat colors.
While schoolwork may take priority over some games, it is important to try and show your Wildcat pride for all the different sports. Football, both soccer teams, volleyball and field hockey all have a handful of home games left and the basketball and winter sports season is just around the corner. Try to make it to a few of those games to show your Wildcat pride, because college is the last chance you have to really have a connection with the athletes you cheer for.
Stay classy, not UMassy.