Grab your fish and toothpaste now: Cornell Men’s Ice Hockey began their season last Thursday and players, coaches and fans are excited not only for the games but for the culture that surrounds them.
Since its first season in 1899, the Cornell Ice Hockey program has brought crowds of students, faculty and alumni to Lynah Rink. The strong fan culture — which includes inspiring cheers, taunts and rival-university-specific traditions — has made the sport a unique one at Cornell.
This year, fans are eager to return to the rink for the first full capacity season since 2019. Isaac Chasen ’23 knew little about hockey his freshman year, but the Lynah Faithful community of the Cornell Hockey Association—- a fan-led group representing and supporting the Men’s Ice Hockey team —- inspired him to purchase season tickets for his final year at Cornell.
“From the roar of the crowd when we score to the taunting of the opposing team to the singing of the alma mater after the second period, you always feel as though the Cornell community, as well as the wider Ithaca community, comes together at Lynah,” Chasen said.
Players also said they feel the crowd’s energy when they’re on the ice.
“I believe we definitely feed off the fans’ energy during the games,” said Tim Reno ’24, a defenseman. “Whenever the fans are bringing a lot of energy, you can feel it on our bench.”
Captain and defensemen Travis Mitchell ’23 particularly enjoys hearing the pep band play “Gonna Fly Now” and “Gary Glitter” with fans clapping and shouting along to it, which occurs as the players skate onto the ice at the start of the third period.
“As you make that loop around the net, you see all of the fans doing the clap [chant] and it’s a really cool thing to experience,” Mitchell said.
The Cornell Men’s Hockey traditions are often built around historical rivalries with other universities, like Harvard.
“There is nothing like the fan energy for Harvard games, especially away in Cambridge. We call Harvard’s rink Lynah East because our fans travel so well there, and usually outnumber Harvard fans,” Reno said.
When Cornell fans attend the rival game against Harvard, they especially enjoy throwing fish on the ice as the Harvard team skates out of the visiting tunnel. Fans, players and Coach Mike Schafer ’86 believe this tradition is the most famous that the team has.
The traditions, as well as the strong attachment Cornellians have to men’s hockey, create a feeling of community in the rink that no other university hockey fan base can match.
“That’s what sets us apart…a lot of recruits decide to come to Cornell because of our crowd,” Schafer said.
Schafer, having been both a player and coach at Cornell, has watched the Lynah Faithful culture develop over the past three decades. He said the crowd is crucial to the experience of playing hockey for Cornell.
“That’s one of the most exciting moments for a hockey player: to just come on the ice and see that crowd…I can’t emphasize enough,” Schafer said.