November 15, 2012

2012 M. HOCKEY | Standing Far Above Cayuga’s Waters: The Lynah Faithful

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The 4,267-seat arena filled with Cornell hockey fans encapsulates the best of Cornell athletics and the fanfare that follows.

“[Lynah] is over the top … It is probably the best expression of school spirit that we have at Cornell. It’s one of those where people who are from all different backgrounds come together two nights a week and they have one common interest which is rooting on our Cornell hockey team,” said the man with the cowbell, Chris Spencer. “We have a lot of fun with it. Anybody can be a part of it … I love going to games [at] Lynah.”

Only a handful of rinks can combine history, camaraderie and good hockey all under one roof.

“The first Cornell hockey game that I went to was with my brother when he was a freshman or sophomore here, about five or six years ago and those [games] were always at Lynah. That’s how I first got introduced to the atmosphere. All of the students yelling at the opposing goalie,” said sophomore Mikey Hintsa. “After those experiences, I thought it was a given that I get season tickets when I got to Cornell … I love the atmosphere of the student section. It is just so much fun and you get to the know [all of] the fans around you.”

The atmosphere of Lynah Rink is unparalleled many other stadiums or by many other fans. Experts say that Lynah is one of the most intimidating hockey arenas in the country mostly in part because of the Lynah Faithful fans. It is also statistically proven that, since the opening of the ice in 1957, the Red has lost fewer than 20 percent of its games at home — due in part to the high spirits and intense commitment to Cornell hockey that is apparent once you walk through the doors.

“It is just the energy that you feed off of the crowd if something goes wrong. You know you are killing a penalty and you hear the crowd go crazy or you start to build momentum in a game, that crowd can electrify the bench and get a team rattled,” said head coach Mike Schafer ‘86. “For us, we have to get the crowd into it and play the type of hockey that gets the fans excited.”

The spirit of Lynah relies on the diverse personalities of the many frequenters and a little bit of mutual Cornell spirit mixed throughout. The intensity of the athletes on the ice every time the team takes the ice sets the stage for the actors of the arena: the fans. In the stands sits the notorious Cowbell Chris Spencer, the hordes of student fans who attend every game, the man on the Zamboni that dresses up in costume to resurface the ice, the townies that are just as invested in the team as the students and of course the Big Red band to top it all off.

“We love playing at Lynah. Just the energy at the rink, we feed off of it. On the road it is tougher to get ourselves motivated,” said senior forward John Esposito.

“You never are going to get the attention of 4,000 people for doing something so simple at any other point in your life,” Spencer said. “It is a lot of fun. It is just being part of the experience. It is an honor to be the cowbell guy because this is a [Lynah] tradition that has been passed down for years.”

For just under two hours, the thousands of people that come out to support the team are tied together by one bond: to to take down the opposition. Traditions like the boring cheer where fans read and then throw newspapers when the other team is introduced before the start, yelling sieve at the goalie, or even singing the alma mater between the second and third periods keep the Lynah Faithful culture alive.

“There is a tremendous amount of energy in the atmosphere here. It is one of the reasons why I chose to come to Cornell. It’s a great atmosphere and a great place to play in front of the fans,” said senior defensemen Braden Birch.“It is always great to look up and see all of your peers in the stands cheering you on, especially [with] Harvard. It is a tradition. I think that my mom is looking to throw a fish this year … It’s just great [playing] in front of all of your friends and family … It’s awesome.”

Original Author: Haley Velasco