March 15, 2002

The No. 1 Fan

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I am such a pathetic loser. Last Saturday night, after the hockey team smacked Yale in the second game of the ECAC quarterfinals at Lynah, I could have chosen to go out boozing. But this is what I did instead. I went to Shortstop, grabbed myself a sub, and locked myself in my room. I then proceeded, for the next few hours, to jump between internet radio broadcasts of several college hockey games around the country. I caught Harvard ending double-overtime against Brown on its 68th shot. I heard Minnesota finishing off North Dakota’s season. And I even stayed up to listen to Alaska-Fairbanks defeat Ferris State. And they were playing IN ALASKA! That’s four hours behind Eastern Standard Time!

If none of my friends ever want to talk to me ever again, I would fully understand. The hockey team has done what nothing else could accomplish — it’s made me completely antisocial.

Wanna guess the thoughts that spin through my head while I’m lying in bed each night waiting for sleep to come? No, I’m not thinking about my econ class. Hell, I’m not even thinking about the cute girl in my econ class. I’m thinking about the hockey team. I’m running through possible NCAA Tournament scenarios. What if we win at Lake Placid? Do we have a shot at a bye? Who would we play in the first round — Mercyhurst? Is Minnesota actually any good? I now know more about polls and Pairwise rankings than I ever did about math or econ or chemistry.

You may have noticed that I used the word “we” quite liberally in that last paragraph. I’m not supposed to use “we.” For the last two years, I’ve had the good fortune to cover the hockey team, and by standards of journalistic integrity, I’m supposed to use “it” and “they.” Well, allow me to end the suspense right now: my journalistic integrity was thrown out the window a long time ago.

Ask Gary Schueller, one of my hockey beat partners. When we’re in the Lynah press box on Friday and Saturday nights, he frequently sees me quietly clapping along to chants of “Let’s Go Red!” and tapping my feet to cries of “It’s All Your Fault!” Gary’s used to it by now, and these days just he just flashes me a smile of tacit approval. It now takes me enormous willpower not to jump up and down when Cornell scores. (Greg Hornby, incidentally, is a fan favorite down here at The Sun. And when he scored a goal a few weekends ago, I believe I was so happy that I was actually dancing around the press box.)

Or ask Amanda Angel, my boss at The Sun. She and I were standing solemnly in the press box last Saturday night after the game, watching as everyone else in Lynah was filing onto the ice to throw themselves at the hockey team’s feet. Amanda, as it frequently happens, was thinking the exact same thing as me: “Why the heck aren’t we down there?” So, bright girl that she is, Amanda tugged my hand and dragged me onto the ice. And thank God for that. There we were, standing among a sea of fans. And suddenly, we weren’t reporters any more, we really didn’t care what Mike Schafer ’86 was going to say a few minutes later in the press conference. All we cared about was going to up every hockey player we could find, and saying “Congratulations” and “Thanks.”

It’s funny. My job is to pester the hockey team after every win and every loss. I’m the bad guy, I’m the guy who has to ask all the prickly questions like “Why was the power play so awful tonight?” But when I was down on that ice Saturday night, all those thoughts were a world away. I was a just fan worshipping my heroecs I was standing at the base of Lynah this past Tuesday afternoon, waiting for the hockey players to exit their locker room. It would be one of the last practices I ever attend as a member of The Sun’s press corps. Looking at the rafters and seeing the banners, looking at the Lynah benches and envisioning game nights —