Looking back on my time here, which at this point is fair to call a long time, I have seen many variations of crowds at the Pat Burns Arena for games of all types, from early season tune-up games to the 2020 NAPHA finals where Laurence Frenette (Class of ’21) scored the winning goal to give the Spartans their 5th straight league championship. (Laurence recently scored her first NCAA goal with Clarkson while adding two assists this weekend against Holy Cross.) Without a doubt, the idea of a championship brought the crowd out to the rink and, in the end, to their feet with that overtime winner. Also without a question, that was a long time ago and feels even longer than it truly was.
A frequently asked question I get asked when I tour prospective students around campus and the arena is: “How many people come and watch the games?” I always say it is a difficult question to answer because every student is a Spartan and they have their own teams and commitments to the school. I go on to talk about weeknight basketball games which in the tight space of the John Mackay Gym always have a great atmosphere as students, teachers and parents cheer on the teams. I close by talking about the perfect storm, those days where a team is lucky and there are no other games at the same time, no animation activities at that time and most likely poutine being served at the venue. Yesterday was a perfect storm.
With COVID, as we have become used to, always creating a new perspective or set of rules for us to deal with, we now physically have a student section within the arena. This is a cool aspect, but to be honest a physical space does not mean anything without the people inside of it. Last weekend, as a fan in the stands and even more so because of my emotional involvement this weekend from the bench, it was clear and loud to see how strong Spartan pride is early in the year and how much our students are enjoying things that maybe at one time were taken for granted. I noticed this early in the year. In fact, it was the first day and before returning students were back. The skies opened up during our nighttime activity, but no one was looking for a chance to run back inside. People were enjoying the moment and understanding that last year this type of event would not have been possible. We were all appreciating our new norm.
Sports and hockey are about winning and losing but there is little doubt that sometimes things that happen during competition can’t always be shown on the scoreboard. Within all sports, various franchises are seen as having the best home ice, field or court advantage. I don’t think any school had as good of a home-ice advantage as the Varsity Boys Hockey Spartans did yesterday…. I am not certain that our fate changed in the blink of an eye, but with a come-from-behind win with five unanswered goals, I do believe it changed in the noise of “Let’s go Spartans.” So for that we all say “Thank you.”
Hope to see you all again soon, and looking forward to standing courtside, rinkside or on the touch line to pay it forward to you so again “Let’s go Spartans.”