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Hockey players, fans praise new venue

Chris Barnes | Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Irish hockey team has new ice to chill on this season, and players and fans are praising the new atmosphere.

The Compton Family Ice Arena opened its doors Oct. 21 with a 5-1 win over Rensselaer. Friday, the team will play their second home game on the new ice against Alaska.

“The players love the whole setup of the new rink, which includes an auditorium for team meetings, a weight room, and an equipment room,” said Tim Connor, Notre Dame athletics associate director of media relations. “The ice rink [also] contains message boards and video boards that allow for easy communication within the hockey program.”

Despite player satisfaction with the $50 million venue, Connor said players are still adapting to one aspect of the arena.

“[The players] weren’t prepared for the atmosphere at the Rensselaer game,” he said. “They claimed it felt like an away game, because they had never had 6,000 fans cheering for them at the Joyce Center due to limited seating.”

Freshman Daniel Wiegandt said the fans he sat amongst were what made his first Notre Dame hockey experience feel more professional.

“The Compton Family Ice Arena had a professional feel that I’ve experienced in the past at NHL [National Hockey League] games,” Wiegandt said. “The crowd against Rensselaer [resembled] the student section at football games, where students alternate between cheering together and shouting individually.”

In addition to its professional feel, freshman Carson Running said the new setup allows for a more engaging hockey experience from the stands.

“While watching the game, I felt as though I was part of the action and had an easy time keeping up with the pace of play,” Running said.  “The loud cheering of the students testified to the ease with which one could follow every movement on the ice.”

Fan accommodation and player satisfaction is a goal of the arena staff, Connor said.

“The staff is working on finding the ideal temperature and level of lighting that will benefit the players on the ice and make the fans as comfortable as possible,” Connor said.  

However, Running said more aspects of the stadium need attention.

“The stadium was smaller than I expected,” Running said. “I had a difficult time hearing the announcer’s voice, which prevented me from gaining information after goals were scored and penalties were called.”

Despite the complaints, the new arena left fans wanting more Irish hockey.

“[The Rensselaer game was] the most fun I’ve ever had at a hockey game, and I plan on going to another one really soon,” Wiegandt said.