THN road trip: tough to beat the crowd at Cornell

Lynah Rink is the home of the Cornell Big Red and a great place to watch students help their team with home-ice advantage.

The college hockey experience is a unique one, no two ways about it. The fact the fan base will always have a rabid pack of young adults at its disposal never hurts and that’s where the fun comes in at Lynah Rink in Ithaca, N.Y. That’s the legendary home barn of the Cornell Big Red and my destination Saturday night as the team with Ken Dryden and Joe Nieuwendyk jerseys hanging from the rafters took on the seventh-ranked squad in the nation, the Quinnipiac Bobcats.

There’s no Jumbotron at Lynah, no canned music, no ice girls; just pure hockey in an intimate setting. For off-ice entertainment you have the denizens of sections A and B; the pep band and a group of rowdies, mostly students, all of them standing for every minute of play, sitting only during intermission. In honor of those die-hards, here are the top 10 things yelled and/or chanted during the game.

10. “Who cares.” Right off the top, when the visiting Bobcats’ starting lineup was being announced. Accompanied by newspapers in front of the fans faces. I’ve seen the rather-be-reading gag before, but I hadn’t seen those papers then crumpled into a ball and thrown on the ice, then quickly retrieved by team volunteers.

9. “Red” during the national anthem (and the rockets RED glare), accompanied by an emphatic fist-pump.

8. “C.U. (double entendre of ‘Cornell Univeristy’ and ‘see you’), you goon.” Prefaced by waving and a steadily-climbing “whoaaa” chant as a visiting player heads to the penalty box. Quinnipiac took five straight minors to start the game, so the crowd perfected this one. Also, they began mocking Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold for barking at the refs after penalty No. 5. Given Lynah’s cozy confines, Pecknold could be heard really well, even across the ice.

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7. “Thank you.” In response to the rink announcer proclaiming there was one minute left in the period. A fun college crowd standard.

6. “Kill, Red, kill” Uttered when the Big Red was killing a penalty.

5. “I’m blind, I’m deaf, I wanna be a ref,” Directed at, obviously, the refs, when said penalty was called.

4. “Gloveless, gloveless, gloveless!” Not gonna lie, sometimes the chanting was both amusing and banal at the same time, like when Quinnipiac power forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas dropped his glove during a breakout.

3. “UConn rejects!” Preceded by “safety school!” in reference to Quinnipiac. Tough to beat scholastic disses.

2. “Ugly Goalie!” Another college classic chanted during the first and third periods anytime the opposing netminder lifts his mask to get a drink of water. Unfortunately for the Cornell fans, Quinnipiac’s Michael Garteig was excellent on the night.

1. Cornell Fight Song: Sung by the fans on several occasions. That’s the most unique thing about college games; it’s the only hockey circuit in North America where teams have their own songs – and no, “Chelsea Dagger” doesn’t count because it wasn’t written for the Blackhawks.

In the end, Quinnipiac beat the Big Red 3-0, with Oilers prospect Kellen Jones earning two assists. As the crowd filtered out, I saw one student explaining to a first-time attendee that had Garteig surrendered a goal, they all would have chanted “Sieve, sieve, sieve, it’s all your fault!” But alas, the netminder was unbeatable on the night. Oh well – save that one for next time.