September 25, 2011

M. HOCKEY | Fans, Players on Evolution of ‘The Line’

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Hundreds of students gathered for the annual men’s ice hockey season tickets seat selection at The Richard Ramin Multipurpose Room in Bartels Hall Friday evening. This marks the third year in a row that the selection order was determined off site rather than via “The Line” of years past when students camped out for higher places on the ticket line.

In order to receive season tickets this year, students had to reserve a spot online earlier during the week on a first come first serve basis; those who bought tickets in years past selected their seats before newcomers. This is the second time the Cornell Athletics Ticket Office used this process to determine the line order for season passes.

This year’s selection process was relatively smooth compared to 2010, when the event was held in Lynah Rink. Students noted that obtaining tickets was timely, with some three-year ticket holders exiting the Ramin Room less than a half hour after the event’s 7 p.m. start time.

“It was nice that it was speedy, but it kind of ruined the tradition,” said Michael Youngworth ’12, when asked to compare this year’s process to his experience as a freshman camping out on The Line.

Some ticket holders found the expedited system to be too simplistic, arguing that interest in the hockey program could diminish among younger students.

“The process at this point is under convoluted,” said Robert Schur ’12, who purchased season tickets for the fourth time this year. “When I was a freshman, you had to work for it … The Line motivated people to be more interested [in hockey]. They under-valued the process by taking out the camp-out.”

Since each student was able to buy two tickets for the first time in years, Schur was also concerned about the atmosphere in Section B — traditionally the most popular student section and home to the Red’s more seasoned fans.

“I think the idea of two tickets is good, but you are going to see a lot of facetimers in Section B,” Schur said, referring to more marginal fans, who do not regularly attend home games.

As for the team itself, this year’s senior class — the only members of the Red that have experienced The Line — had mixed feelings about the continuation of online purchasing, noting the opportunity for the team to interact with the Lynah Faithful under the old system. Senior defenseman and captain Keir Ross recalled his experience as a freshman, watching goalie Ben Scrivens ’10 fend off shots from eager fans as they waited to pick up their tickets.

“I think the line is great. It’s part of the culture, it’s part of the tradition,” Ross said.

Even without the line “We still have the best fans in college hockey, and to see how dedicated they are … really makes you feel privileged to play here,” he added.

No member of the men’s hockey team has experienced the line and its many incarnations more than head coach Mike Schafer ’86, who took over at the helm of the Red in 1995 — nearly a decade after his four-year playing career at Cornell came to a close.

Schafer, who argued that the Lynah Faithful’s passion rivals that of Duke’s Cameron Crazies, was effusive in his praise of the team’s fans, acknowledging the importance of the intimidating home crowd.

“The atmosphere gets us so excited to play at home,” Schafer said, when asked about the fans impact on his team’s play. “When things are going well you can really gain momentum, and when things aren’t going well they provide that pick-me-up … to get us going.”

“[The atmosphere] makes it so much better to play here,” Ross added. “It gets you so jacked up. The fans are phenomenal … and it makes it an honor to play [at Lynah Rink].”

While the head coach supports The Line as it was constituted during his playing days, Schafer recognizes that safety hazards — most notably the health risks associated with having so many students in such close quarters — have rendered the previous system unrealistic at this time.

Still, Schafer is confident that the current process will not limit enthusiasm surrounding the team entering the 2011-12 campaign.

“There’s always that passion for Cornell hockey, regardless of the process,” he said. “We’ve always sold out our games, we’re always at capacity — we’re just getting there a different way now.”

The Red unofficially begins its season on Oct. 15 in the annual Red-White Game, and closes out preseason action the following weekend with two exhibition games against Canadian squads Guelph and Carleton at Lynah Rink.

Original Author: Andrew Hu