Saturday, January 17, 2009

Opinion: The State of Agganis

by Candycanes99, BU '09

It’s been just over 4 years since Agganis Arena opened on January 3, 2005, replacing Walter Brown Arena as the primary location of BU hockey. Much to the dismay of many who experienced the old rink's glory days, the only time the men’s ice hockey team skates on the Walter Brown ice is when their practices are displaced due to concerts at HAA. Voiced annoyances about the new facility have been numerous, and not without cause. The acoustics are not as conducive to the mind-numbing noise that made Section 8 such an intimidating force. Of course, the low ceiling of WBA couldn't be duplicated in a much larger facility. The surroundings are being made too family friendly for real hockey. The overeager HAA security could probably make up a reason to eject your grandmother from games. Even more recently, an unwelcome goal horn, spurning the traditional band celebration.

Let’s step back and take a look at the resume of the program since the arena opened, and more importantly, how that affects the current team. Despite the success of the teams in the 1990s, recruiting classes were falling short of expectations in early twenty-first century. This 2008-2009 BU team is one of the first where all four classes were recruited to play exclusively in the state of the art facility. There are many other factors that make up a successful team, but it is evident that Agganis has helped the program take a step towards returning as a national power by attracting blue chip recruits.

Still, there remains a perceived difference from Walter Brown in the student sections. HAA118+HAA108≠WBA8. At least not with those two sections at opposite ends of the arena, and it doesn’t appear that the staff will be changing that. The burden has been placed on the students, most of whom have never felt the excitement and passion of a game at WBA, to replicate that environment in a much larger building. Adapting to Agganis Arena has been a challenge for the Dog Pound, and providing leadership has been a tough task for a group that is still trying to establish a solid identity.

However, the student fans still show up every game, cheering at the top of their lungs. Some ad lib vulgar chants don’t make it out of the section (probably for the better) but still rile up the rest of the section. The cheer routines have become a little too predictable over the past few years, but this season’s fan leaders have made great strides in communicating with the fan contingency to establish weekly chants (although I’m still not sure why the “Oh my 'Darling'” cheer didn’t catch on). The group has long striven for creativity, but the raw passion in basic chants has been more consistent of late.

This is finally showing an effect on the ice, too. The Terriers have at last built a home ice advantage, and have won 17 of their last 22 contests at Agganis Arena. The success of the team has drawn even more students to the games in section 108. Having even more students in other sections that need to learn cheers, chants, etc., is a tough task to tackle, but all they need to do for now is show up, stand up, and scream “Go BU!” There will doubtless be many students who show up to the game against our Commonwealth Avenue rival tonight who won’t have a clue who drafted Colin Wilson, and don’t know why Luke Popko just keeps dumping it in, and aren’t really sure why "BC sucks." But, it won’t be long before they learn the latter though, no matter what the outcome of the game is. The experience of being a BU hockey fan will be just starting for those students, and that experience is still one that will bring them back for more.

1 comment:

rkourtz said...

Though not equaling WBA in intensity in the student section....the whole experience of 6200 fans is a real plus.
Just look at all the empty seats and the noise dampening building up the street.
Hell...the students from BU were louder that the other team I listened on the web.

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