What goes into college hockey’s top student sections? Well, each is a little different from the next, but imagine walking into a rink where loud has been elevated to deafening, the environment in the stands can be just as fun as the show on ice and hundreds, sometimes thousands are unified by camaraderie, tradition and of course, the occasional razzing of opposing goalies.
Here are nine of the best:
The Bleacher Creatures have been lining the stands in Ohio since 1978, coinciding with Bowling Green’s first Frozen Four run. Coincidence? Maybe not.
What’s now known as Slater Family Ice Arena maintains a long-standing reputation as one of college hockey’s most hostile road environments. When the Falcons won a national championship in 1984, the Bleacher Creatures cheered on 17 home wins against two losses.
The program made eight postseason appearances in the ‘Creatures first 13 seasons. But the Falcons’ rowdiest fans are more than a good luck charm. They’re loyal. During a 29-year postseason drought, Bowling Green finished with a .500 or better home record 12 times in the final 19 seasons.
Representing the Orange and Brown from the front rows is about more than just making noise. The group organizes multiple monthly theme nights throughout the course of a season while acceptance into its ranks is by application.
Few teams in Division I hockey enjoy playing at home as much as Clarkson. Since moving into Cheel Arena in 1991, the Golden Knights have a 312-150-55 record in Potsdam. Looking deeper into the numbers, Clarkson’s finished six of the past 16 seasons with three or fewer home losses.
The structure of the Clarkson student section is optimized to seat the Golden Knights’ students and band behind the visiting team’s net for the first and third periods of all games. In front is the Clarkson Bonesaw Brigade, carrying — you guessed it — a hand-crafted piece of art made to look like a bone saw.
Students can be seen rocking the bone saw back and forth after Clarkson goals. For more on the history of that, click or tap here.
From 1900 to 1948, Big Red hockey was played outdoors on Beebe Lake. It wasn’t until Cornell was literally skating on thin ice that it eventually moved into Lynah Rink in 1957.
Since then, the “Lynah Faithful” have helped transform Cornell into one of college hockey’s strongest home-ice advantages. The Big Red win close to 72 percent of their home games in the building and haven’t had a losing home record in 20 seasons.
Students and the pep band are situated in the two sections to the left of Cornell’s bench, designed to channel a majority of the noise toward energizing the home team. However, there are plenty of cheers and antics meant to unsettle opponents. More than 40 actually and you can read about them all here.
Mitch’s Misfits was founded in 2004. Though the group’s been around for less than others on this list, they make up for a shorter tenure with additional noise and energy. Just ask any visiting player serving a penalty, the sin bin is right in front of the Misfits’ home, Section L.
In Houghton, the mission is to extend the party beyond Section L. Chants and signs are not just for Michigan Tech players or opposing teams, but also to bring near-capacity crowds to their feet and join the Misfits in a cheer.
That unrelenting sound of Michigan Tech’s students echoes well past Section L. It can even reverberate beyond the walls MacInnes Student Ice Arena. The Misfits can frequently be spotted on the road in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota or even Alaska. And they’re sure to make their presence known.
Minnesota’s 3M Arena at Mariucci can hold as many as 10,000 spectators on a given night. For those keeping count, that’s a lot of potential noise. But some could argue that the most sound is generated by Sections 12-14, better known as the Ice Box.
Don’t let the name mislead you. The chilly moniker only categorizes Minnesota fans with a burning passion for Golden Gopher hockey.
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Opposing goaltenders have enough to worry about with Minnesota’s five skaters on the ice. Factor in another few thousand students behind you, some pressed up against glass and screaming non-stop for 60 minutes. It’s definitely played a hand in the Gophers notching double-digit home wins every season between 2011 and 2019.
Matthews Arena has been around for over 100 years, the oldest arena still in use for hockey. Tucked into its upper level since 1997 is the DogHouse, Northeastern’s rambunctious student section.
Now, you might be thinking, ‘How good are the acoustics in a building that’s over 100 years old?’ Well, loud is loud no matter the sound quality. But the tune of seven seasons with double-digit home wins since the group formed sounds pretty good to those that rep the red and black.
Maybe not for opposing goalies, who spend two periods dealing with the Huskies in front of the net and the DogHouse above and behind it.
Northern Michigan’s been playing hockey since the 1970s. The Puckheads, however, are one of the newer student groups around the game.
They formally came together starting with the 2019-20 season with the goal of getting fans more excited for games. To do so, the Puckheads work with Northern Michigan’s players, collaborating on chants and cheers that will excite both the team and crowd at home games.
In their first half season, the Puckheads helped create one of the largest road turnouts for a rivalry game against Michigan Tech.
As of 2020, Penn State is the second-youngest Division I hockey program. In a short time, the Roar Zone has established itself as one of the top student sections, creating a strong home-ice environment.
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The Nittany Lions have posted double-digit wins at Pegula Ice Arena every season aside from their first in DI. The Roar Zone consists of over 1,000 students dedicated to working on chants posters, props and more. They even perform a choreographed dance with the band midway through the second period of games.
To learn more about the Roar Zone, click or tap here.
Lawson Ice Arena is considered to be the smallest rink in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. It's also considered one of the loudest. Lawson's Lunatics encompass one entire side of the boards — close to half of the arena's seating — and sit right behind the penalty box, keeping the game energized for the Broncos and hostile for opponents.
Western Michigan benefits from the structure of the arena, built with the stands directly on top of the ice, which traps sound and allows the energy to build among the Lunatics. From 2004 to 2019, the Broncos won at least seven home games 15 times.
Don't sleep on these guys either
A special shout-out to Children of Yost, the University of Michigan student section who put a little something together in response to this article:
Are there any other student sections you think deserve mention? Let us know why here and we'll consider them for our next update.