When I first arrived at Cornell, I truly did not understand the appeal of hockey. Forget understanding the icing or offside rules — I could barely follow the puck. It was not a case of not enjoying sports in general, though. I was, and am, a huge New York sports fan, and an avid follower of global soccer. But for some reason, I was never really able to connect with the sport of hockey.
As a result, when some friends asked if I was interested in going to a Cornell hockey game during my freshman year, I was a bit hesitant. I didn’t want to spend money on something I didn’t think I would enjoy. Plus, after a long week of classes, I was looking forward to a relaxing Friday night.
But after a bit of thought, I decided to take the leap of faith and go. Since then, I have been a mainstay among the Lynah faithful. In fact, I’ve even purchased season tickets for my final year on campus. It is not an overstatement to say that attending Cornell hockey games has been one of the most fun parts of my college experience. So what caused the change of heart?
First and foremost is the sense of community I immediately felt when I entered Lynah. It was quickly apparent that Cornell Hockey has a long history of success, and has perhaps one of the most passionate fan bases in the country, led by a raucous student section full of supporters. From the chanting to the trash talking, it was clear that the fans, and particularly the student section, would do absolutely anything to help the team win on the ice. There is truly nothing like the roar of the Lynah faithful when the Big Red score.
Second, the game itself is fun to watch! The excitement behind every rush captivates the entire arena, culminating in explosive roars when the puck inevitably finds its way to the back of the opposition’s net. In fact, my growing love of hockey has even extended to my hometown New York Rangers, who are coming off a run to the Eastern Conference Finals this past spring. I watched every game of their run, and even attended a few raucous watch parties in Central Park, Bryant Park and even at Madison Square Garden (speaking of which, if you’re in New York City during Thanksgiving weekend, check out Cornell Hockey at the Garden!). These moments were some of the best I’ve experienced as a New York sports fan, and seeing my hometown come alive to support the Rangers was truly special.
Finally, there is the unrivaled sense of school spirit you will find at a Cornell hockey game. There are many other, perhaps better known, college sports programs you may watch on TV. Some that come to mind are large football and basketball programs, such as Ohio State or Alabama Football, or Duke Basketball. While Lynah Rink can only hold a fraction of the spectators that watch any of those programs, I believe the passion and the school spirit shown at each and every game is unmatched. From the craziness you’ll find in the student sections to the enthusiastic alumni and even the season ticket holders among the greater Ithaca community, attending a Cornell hockey game allows everyone in the arena to feel connected to the university.
I say all this to make the point that if you have the chance to go to a hockey game, go! Enjoy a game with friends or family, and get a dose of the incredible atmosphere at Lynah Rink. You don’t have to immediately understand the intricacies of the sport to appreciate the community that shows up for every game. You don’t have to be able to understand every rule to chant along with the rest of the Lynah faithful, or try to distract the opposition goalie. And most importantly, you don’t need to love hockey to love hockey at Cornell.
Isaac Chasen (he/him) is a senior in the Dyson School. He can be reached at [email protected]. Cut to the Chase runs alternate Tuesdays this semester.