August 21, 2007

Battle: Breakfast Club at Lynah Rink

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This column appears in the 2007 edition of The Sun’s annual Freshman Issue.

In the Battle series, Sports editors chose their favorite Cornell sports to watch, and defended their selection (with valor).

Remember how the movie The Breakfast Club brought together all the different high school social classes into one glorious room, where they enjoyed lunch, friendship and Judd Nelson’s hilarious one-liners? Well at Cornell, that doesn’t really happen too often, and unfortunately, Molly Ringwald doesn’t go here. There is one place, though, which has become a melting pot of the Cornell community — Lynah Rink. At men’s hockey games, fans can sit next to sorority girls, stoners, wannabe athletes, actual athletes, preppies and many, many people who don’t understand the concept of a delayed penalty. What other place on campus can you see two girls first discussing who has the best Uggs, then later arguing about why the referees aren’t calling enough holding penalties?
Aside from the diverse crowd, Lynah Rink is an amazing place to watch a game. The arena is very small and so the sound reverberates easily. During particularly close games, when the crowd chants “Let’s Go Red,” it sounds as loud as an Iron Maiden concert in East Berlin. I remember during the ECACHL playoffs of my freshman year, with Cornell down by one, the crowd essentially willed Matt Moulson ’06 to score the game-tying goal. It is also fun to attend away games, where Red fans go crazy and the opposing crowd acts like they are patrons attending the Buick Invitational.
There are tons of traditions as well. During the introduction of the opposing team, fans read newspapers, then throw them onto the ice (unless they have a worse arm than Johnny Damon). Against Harvard, the Lynah employees search fans for fish as if it were anthrax, but scores of Swedish fish, scrod and squid end up littering the ice. There is even a designated “Cowbell Guy” who is responsible for leading a particularly difficult clapping sequence that takes most fans four years (or more) to master.
When the crowd at Lynah isn’t cheering for the Red, it is busy jeering the opposing team. Scores of students who were victims of ridicule in high school now get the chance to make fun of other players. According to John Goodman’s character from The Big Lebowski, the Supreme Court has outlawed prior restraint, so Cornell fans can say whatever they want (provided that they don’t drop any f-bombs or a-bombs). Opposing goalies can always look forward to the crowd making fun of their mothers, sisters, girlfriends, roommates, pet iguanas, SAT scores and their favorite season of The Real World. Goalies also have to deal with being called a sieve and getting repeatedly poked on Facebook. As if this wasn’t enough, goalies better not take off their mask; even if they look like Tom Brady, the crowd will jeer them as if look like Tony Siragusa.
In addition, the crowd frequently participates in the numerous Lynah rink chants. From “UConn Rejects” (for Yale) to “Princeton is in New Jersey” to “Screw B.U., [insert opposing team] too,” there is never a quiet moment. After attending hockey games, it is practically impossible to hear the national anthem without screaming “Red.”
Oh yeah, did I mention our hockey team is really good? Senior co-captain Topher Scott (along with Elijah Wood and Dakota Fanning) regularly shows us that people under 6-0 can indeed be successful. Classmate and co-captain Raymond Sawada has been Mr. Clutch, notching three game-winning goals last season. Junior Michael Kennedy has a flair for the dramatic, as he scored the game-winning goal against hated Harvard last year. Even though Tony “Half Man, Half Amazing” Romano left for the (allegedly) greener pastures of the Ontario Hockey League, sophomore co-assistant captain Colin “He’s Secretly Better than Romano” Greening will surely pick up the slack, as he led the team in goals in 2006. Between the pipes, junior Troy Davenport and Ben Scrivens make up a two-headed monster that will get even better this year.
Coach Mike Schaefer ’86 has also brought in a bumper class of freshmen, led by Riley Nash, who was drafted in the first round of the NHL draft by the Edmonton Oilers and will join his brother Brendon on the squad this year. The Nash brothers hail from Kamloops, B.C., which has to be the coolest name of a town in all of Canada.
There are other Cornell sports that were more successful last year (like men’s lacrosse) and there are other sports that regularly average more fans (like football). But let’s face it, Cornell is a hockey school. Lynah Rink is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m., and maybe one day Anthony Michael Hall will show up.