In recent weeks, the Yale Bookstore has become quite the hot spot. Rather than looking to buy a textbook, however, students have journeyed down Broadway to get something far more sought-after and far cheaper — men’s hockey tickets.
During this semester especially, Ingalls Rink has been the place to start a weekend evening. For the past month, students have been cramming the student section, which has become so crowded that security guards at the top of the aisles have sometimes prevented students from sitting in the already filled section — even if the student has a ticket for it.
And those tickets have not been acquired easily.
When the hockey season started in November, students could often show up at game time, walk up to the box office and be given a ticket. Recently, however, students have had to go to the Yale Bookstore days in advance to get tickets. After those tickets have all been taken, students who still wanted tickets have had to go the Whale two hours before the game in order to get one of the remaining tickets.
Last Friday, when the team played Cornell, Mike Jones ’12 was one of those students in line hoping to get a ticket. Having already been to six games, Jones was determined to be there for one of the most important games of the season.
After finally acquiring his ticket, Jones proceeded to skip dinner and wait inside Ingalls for the next two hours so that he could reserve front-row seats for him and three of his friends from SigEp, which Jones joined this semester. While Jones had been going to hockey games all season, one of his friends, Nick Makarov ’12, was going to his first.
“I understood that it was a pretty important game and a bunch of friends were going,” Makarov said. “In my high school, there wasn’t a lot of school spirit, so I really liked how the crowd really got into it and how the team really fed off the energy.”
And what a game it was, as the Bulldogs staved off a late Cornell comeback and clinched first place in the ECAC with a 4-2 win.
At Friday’s game, some of the team’s most vocal fans were out in full force in the student section. A group of DKE brothers, including Captain Freedom (Tim Handlon ’10), sat in the middle of the crowd, ringing a cowbell to support the team and rile up the fans.
Although it was only the third time the cowbell appeared at a game this season, it has already become an expected part of the atmosphere.
Trey Rallis ’11, who rang the cowbell throughout much of Friday’s game, explained that the fraternity recently received the instrument from an alumnus, who wanted DKE to continue the tradition of rallying fans at hockey games.
And the hockey team has noticed.
“When you’re out on the ice, you feel the intensity of the crowd,” right winger Sean Backman ’10 said. “The arena is not a big place, so when it fills up, it gets noisy, and we feed off of that energy that is coming from the crowd.”
Center Mark Arcobello ’10, sees the recent hockey fervor as a direct result of the team’s performance.
“When we got nationally ranked, we saw the crowds pick up,” Arcobello said. “As we rose in the rankings, more and more people started to come. They are definitely more involved in the game this year than I have ever seen before.”
Part of the popularity of the hockey games may also stem from e-mails that Handlon and other DKE members sent to students, urging them to attend.
“I think that because of the combination of Captain Freedom’s show and the e-mails that have been sent, we’ve gotten a lot more kids to come out,” Rallis said. “It was pretty slow at the first couple of games that we went to, but after the hockey team went on a big win streak, we started to get more kids to come out.”
While the success of the team has surely caused more people to attend games, Handlon enjoys going to the games and entertaining the crowd because he loves to watch the sport.
“When you’re able to see great Division I hockey for free, you can’t pass that up,” Handlon said.
Whatever the reason people have been attending games, however, it is not merely because it is trendy to go. The crowd has been involved in and focused on the ongoing games in a way seldom seen at Yale sporting events.
Throughout Friday’s game, the crowd was attentive. People booed after penalties, counted down the final seconds of power-plays, and stayed for the entire game — even though it was 3-0 in favor of Yale at one point.
“You can tell that around town there is quite a bit of buzz about our team,” Arcobello said. “Strangers, people we wouldn’t really expect it from, are coming up to us and saying, ‘Good game last night.’ ”
After having won the conference, there is no doubt the team will hear further congratulations today.