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The ultimate Quinnipiac fan weekend
Back in December when I was looking ahead to see what the sports schedule would look like for the upcoming semester, I noticed there was one interesting weekend.
It was a three day span between Feb. 7 and Feb. 9. All four teams that play at the TD Banknorth Sports Center would be playing home games or in the case of women’s ice hockey, a road game just a short trip down Whitney Ave. at Yale. So I decided that I would dedicate this weekend to attending one game for each team and write about it from a fan’s perspective. After 3 days, 4 games, 3 shuttle rides, and a partially strained voice, I have lived through the ultimate QU fan weekend.
The schedule played out like this: Thursday night men’s basketball was taking on rival Central Connecticut at 7 p.m. On Friday night, men’s hockey had a game against rival Yale at 7 p.m. On Saturday, there would be a doubleheader, women’s basketball against Wagner at 1 p.m. and women’s hockey at Yale at 4 p.m.
The first game on the schedule was men’s basketball. My buddies and I jumped on the shuttle about a half hour before tip-off. On the drive over, when the shuttle made the turn onto Sherman, we hit the curb. I remember thinking that this could not be a good omen for the coming days.
When we finally got into the arena I was surprised at how many people were there to watch the game. I know that CCSU is right up the road in New Britain, so they would have plenty of fans travel to see the game. Also, this is a big intrastate rivalry, so it began to make sense why it was so crowded.
One of our buddies was there before us and he saved us seats in Section 111 Row 3. The best part about these seats was the fact that they were only a few feet away from the visiting bench and everyone’s favorite coach, Mr. Howie Dickenman. Howie is an easy target because he flips out over everything and is constantly stepping on the court during game action.
I almost felt bad for him because he received a lot of attention from the student section. As the chants of “Howie” and “Sit down Howie” poured in his direction, I was close enough to see his jaw line tense up. I could tell that he heard what we were saying and clearly was getting to him and that’s just awesome.
In the first half, the game went back and forth and stayed relatively close. The crowd was really into the game and both teams went into the locker room at halftime tied at 30. I don’t know what happened at halftime, but in the second half, I felt as if the crowd and team came out very flat. Nobody was really into the first few minutes, on or off the court, and Central raced out to a lead that the Bobcats would never catch up to.
However, the highlight of the night came courtesy of a Central fan. Because I do not know his actual name, I will refer to him as “the guy.”
The guy was sitting one section over in 112 and he was going crazy about everything all game. Every time the Blue Devils would score he would jump out his seat and after every bad call he would flip on the refs.
I had had enough of the guy and with around 12 minutes left if the game, I decided to let the guy know how I felt. After Central scored and he jumped out of his seat, I turned to him and told him to relax.
He began to flip out and yelled at me and told me to look at the scoreboard. The guy continued to yell and scream as he flailed his arms and jumped around. Instinctively, the whole student section starts to jaw with this guy and before you know it, he is getting so out of hand that Hamden police officers had to come over to calm him down.
As they took him up the stairs to talk to him, we got a nice chant of “Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey goodbye” going. Eventually the police let him come back down to his seat, and he continued to look over in our direction. I couldn’t help but laugh at him every time he looked over at us.
One thing I will say is he was right to tell me to look at the scoreboard. The Bobcats tried to mount a comeback, but the Blue Devils were just too strong, taking the game 85-71. Interestingly enough, on my way out from the game, they put a Hamden police officer in the guy’s row. I made sure to tell the police officer to keep an eye on him because who knows what he would do.
After the first of four games, the Bobcats’ record sat at 0-1, but I had three more games to improve on that record. The next night was the game that everyone on campus had been waiting for months: men’s ice hockey versus Yale.
The game was set to start at 7 p.m., so my buddy and I left to go the shuttle at about 5:45 p.m. in hopes that we could snag some good seats.
In reality, we still had to sit nine rows up, but at least we had seats. Quinnipiac had sold nearly 1,000 additional standing room tickets and it truly was a packed house. Some parts of the arena’s concourse was packed six or seven deep for those who had to stand to watch the game.
I got into the arena at 6:10 p.m. and the student section was already going crazy. I have to say that was the best crowd that we have had at a game before. When the puck finally dropped, I could tell Quinnipiac was definitely the more aggressive team. We were skating faster, hitting harder and we looked sharper than Yale did right from the beginning. When Dan Travis found the back of the net to give us the 1-0 lead every one went crazy. I was happy to see how electric the crowd was on Friday.
After we raced out to a 3-1 lead, my favorite goal of the night occurred. Bryan Leitch skated past everyone and kind of shot it right at Yale’s Billy Blase. Fortunately for the Bobcats, Blase terribly misplayed the shot and it went right under him and into the goal. It was probably one of the worst attempts by a goalie that I have ever seen and I guess Yale felt the same because they pulled Blasé right after the shot. Now that is embarrassing to get yanked right after giving up a terrible goal like that.
As good as the actual game was, the highlight of this night came after the Bobcats had finished off the Bulldogs for a 5-1 victory. Yale’s Chris Cahill was trying to mix it up with the QU players all night. After the game he decided to take out his frustrations on his stick and split into it two as he whacked the net-post. He then threw both pieces at the glass in disgust. It was great to watch from the stands because it was like watching a 3-year-old throw a temper tantrum because he didn’t get his way.
Now my record sat at 1-1. Sitting at .500 after two games was not all that bad and I still had two more games to look forward to. So on Saturday afternoon, I stepped on the shuttle for the third and final time of the weekend and made my last trip up to TD Banknorth. The first game of my Saturday double header was women’s basketball against Wagner.
It was “Think Pink” day, which is a program to help raise awareness for fighting against breast cancer. Many people in the crowd were wearing pink and even the officials were using pink whistles and the players wore pink shoelaces. I felt left out as I didn’t have a spot of pink on me at all.
Maybe my lack of pink was a good luck charm for the team as they ended up crushing Wagner 79-35. Right from the beginning it was no contest. Some times I can just sit in the stands and see that it is clear that one team is better and Saturday was the perfect example. Wagner was just overmatched in every facet of the game. One of the most amazing stats was that we almost doubled them up in rebounding, 59-30.
With three legs of the trip down and a 2-1 record it was off to New Haven to catch the last game of the weekend. The women’s ice hockey game against Yale afforded me a chance to see a game at Ingalls Rink for the first time.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the TD Banknorth Sports Center, but there was something special about Ingalls Rink when I stepped inside its doors on Saturday afternoon. Ingalls has that classic, old-school ice hockey rink feel to it. I felt as if it was a treat to watch a game there.
Yale was hosting “Pink at the Rink,” a ice hockey program like “Think Pink” was for basketball. The Bulldogs donned pink jerseys in support of the fight against breast cancer. Quinnipiac and Yale ended up skating to a 3-3 tie, but I witnessed a great performance by Bobcats goalie Tia Wishart.
Wishart saw 27 shots in the third period alone, and turned away 25 of them. Twenty-five saves in a game is solid, but 25 saves in a period is ridiculous. The Bulldogs just kept shooting and Wishart stayed strong for most of the period. Oddly enough, Wishart made 50 saves against Brown on Friday and made another 50 against Yale on Saturday. I would say that is one heck of a weekend for a goalie to have.
After leaving Ingalls Rink, I began to reflect on the last three days. The Bobcats record sat at 2-1-1 during my ultimate fan weekend, and I felt a lot of school spirit and pride after the last game. I know that if I could go to four games in a three day span that everybody can at least go and watch a game here and there. So, my hope is that everyone can show a little school spirit this year and try to attend at least one Bobcat sporting event.