Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Stylus columnist discusses the construction issue at Tuttle North and how we can still maintain the home ice advantage...

Negley's Nook: Hockey team losing the seventh man
Cassie Negley

"Sea-of-Green" T-shirt: Check.

Eagles Nest Crazies: Check.

Room for a packed house: Yeah, about that…

Hockey is the biggest sport on campus, absolutely no doubt about it. I haven't been to a single athletic event that could even begin to rival the atmosphere at Brockport Golden Eagles hockey games. The football team's "Game On" season opener is the closest, but there were only a few people really getting into the game. Most people went for T-shirts and left by the second quarter. Fifteen minutes of attendance doesn't count as a good atmosphere.

If you've somehow never been to a hockey game here - whether that be because you're a freshman or just a downright, not-cool type of crazy - I'll paint you a picture of the Arena on any given Friday or Saturday night home game.

The most common situation is a "Sea-of-Green" game, which is how Brockport will kick off its 2010-11 home opener Friday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. Students file into the Arena in forest green T-shirts that say "Sea of Green." At the top row of the student section, five to six guys in crazy yellow and green wigs and school-themed, hodge-podge outfits lead the entire Arena in chants. The second a moment of silence bestows itself on the place, the Eagles Nest Crazies are cranking the noise level back up again.

The observation level holds people at almost every square inch of cement space looking down on the ice. No speck of bleacher can be seen through the mass of standing, screaming supporters. If you leave Tuttle after games with a voice, you obviously weren't doing your part.

The result is an intimidating atmosphere that drives opponents crazy. On more than one occasion in the measly one year that I've been here, teams that come to play against us on our ice have been visibly shaken by Brockport's one and only seventh man: the awesome crowd.

It also results in an impressive home ice advantage. One of the Eagles Nest Crazy leaders, Grant Voges, pointed out the scores of Brockport's games against opponents away compared to here in Tuttle. Oswego: 10-1 loss away, 4-2 loss at home. Potsdam: 6-3 loss away, 4-2 win at home. The home games were late in the season, after the teams had already faced off once, but there's no way the crowd didn't have anything to do with these differences in scores.

The decrease in the arena's capacity will dwindle the seventh man's role down to the role of the sixth-and-a-half man, if that.

No longer will the west side have students crammed in like candy in a trick-or-treat pumpkin. No longer will opponents like Geneseo look up into the stands and see nothing but heads poking out of that hated green with hundreds of voices yelling down at them. No longer will the Arena feel full.

It's a sticky situation. A new building is being put next to Tuttle - one that will be a great asset to the Athletic Department - resulting in back emergency exits that are useless. Useless, that is, unless one wants to escape the potential danger inside by falling 30 feet to potential danger outside. Then it's like getting exactly what you wanted for Christmas.

Taking out the top rows of bleachers were found to be the best option. It makes sense, but it doesn't make it OK. For two years, two entire hockey seasons, the west side will be half full. The arena will look like the stands at football games - utterly empty and extraordinarily unintimidating.

There is a solution. Just make some fast friends and fit as many people as possible in those bottom stands. Pack in people like you pack in Jimmy Z's in a drunken Thursday night. It may not look the same, but we can still make it sound the same. We can make it sound even louder than before. We have a pep band now to add to our growing list of Eagle Nest Crazies. We don't need those bleachers. We'll do fine without them.

So put on your hockey T-shirt, put together a fun outfit - I suggest morphsuits, possibly with some cool boxers on and a nice wig - and join the Eagles Nest Crazies to support the hockey team. We may be losing bleachers, but that doesn't mean we can't still pack the house.