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Let’s be a hockey school

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Over the past three and a half years, something remarkable has happened to our hockey team. In the 2004-05 season, the year before Jeff Jackson took over as head coach, our team won a grand total of 5 games. Two years later, I sat in Joe Louis Arena and watched as we beat Michigan to win our first ever CCHA tournament championship. Last year, after struggling during the second half of the season, our team shocked the college hockey world by not only making it to the Frozen Four but by knocking off No.1 Michigan in the semi-finals, only to fall to Boston College in the championship game. Thanks to coach Jeff Jackson and the dedication and determination of our players, our team has gone from perennial bottom-dweller in the CCHA to national powerhouse in under 4 years.

Despite this success, our work is not yet done. I was lucky enough to be able to attend Saturday night’s game up in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s Yost Arena is notorious for being one of the toughest places to play in college hockey. After 2 periods of showing why we are the top team in the country by blanking Michigan 3-0 (including our spectacular 3rd goal which left 7,000 fans speechless), Yost began to live up to its reputation. About 5 minutes into the third period, Michigan scored a powerplay goal, and the ice suddenly tilted in Michigan’s favor. About midway through the period, Michigan scored another powerplay goal, sending the place into a frenzy. As I quietly sat in stealth mode in the rowdy student section, I began to realize that we Notre Dame Hockey fans could learn a thing or two from the Michigan fans. Don’t call me a traitor, but instead think of this like our football program: Michigan helped us set up our program so we could grow and eventually be better than them. This isn’t to say our fans are lacking; I think we’re doing about the best we can with the sub-par facility we currently have. By no means am I advocating us using the Michigan students’ constant profanity. Nor am I saying we should throw things on the ice when our team can’t tie a game up in the final minute. We have more class than that. What I am saying is that when our team does get its much deserved new arena in the JACC, it should become one of the most feared places to play in college hockey, like Yost. The seats should be packed tightly around the ice with more capacity than the current arrangement. It should get loud, very loud. Our band should pick a distinctive song to play at every game’s second intermission, much like the 1812 Overture at football games, but the song should be unique for hockey games and should get the fans pumped up. That way, we will always be ready to cheer our team back to victory when we are down 3-0 in the 3rd period. Underclassmen, if you like hockey, take a trip up to Yost next year and see what I mean. Michigan students are dedicated to their hockey team; they pay more than $200 for season tickets. I hope Notre Dame students don’t ever have to pay that much to see the hockey team play, but I hope we can one day become just as much of a “hockey school” as Michigan. I think we’re already more than halfway there; this year I don’t hope that we make it to the Frozen Four, I expect us to.

David Schaller


Alumni Hall

Feb. 2