Editor’s Note: This story was written by and republished with the permission of the Big Red Sports Network, which provides excellent Cornell sports coverage throughout the year for alumni, parents, students and fans everywhere.
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Ithaca, N.Y. — It’s that magical time of year again: When thousands of polite, well-mannered Cornell students and locals enter Lynah Rink and scream at/berate the opposing team, while chanting “Let’s Go Red” to the point of exhaustion.
That’s right. It’s hockey season, and that means it’s time for Cornell hockey fans to show the ECAC and the rest of college hockey why Lynah Rink is considered by many to be the most hostile rink in the country.
It is time for all newcomers to the Cornell hockey tradition to learn everything there is to know about the best fans in college hockey (or, for Lynah veterans, to start warming up their vocal cords). More than just a T-shirt, being part of the Lynah Faithful means you will stand by your team regardless of the outcome, while insulting the other team to the point that they snap and do something dumb that gets them ejected—trust me, this happens more often than you would think.
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As a three-year season ticket holder and member of the Big Red Pep Band, I have seen almost every Cornell hockey game, home and away, over the past three years, and from my experience, these are what I consider to be the ten best Lynah Faithful traditions:
10 — Newspapers During Introductions
When the opposing team is being introduced, the student section, along with the Pep Band (and a fair amount of the townies) hold up newspapers while chanting, “BOR-ING, BOR-ING.” After the introduction of the bad guys is finished, we crumple up our newspapers and throw them onto the ice.
9 — “Rockets RED! Glare”
During the American national anthem, the whole rink pumps their fist and yells, “RED!” during this verse. This will often catch opposing players by surprise, which is a sign that the Lynah Faithful is already getting to them. This tradition is especially fun when we play in Madison Square Garden, and over 12,000 people yell at the exact same time.
8 — The Lynah Salute
At the end of each game, win, lose, or tie, the entire hockey team waits until the other team has left the ice, and lifts their sticks to salute the Lynah Faithful. Even though many teams currently do this, Cornell has been given credit for popularizing this tradition.
7 — Alma Mater During Second Intermission
During the second intermission, the Cornell Big Red Pep Band plays Cornell’s Alma Mater “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters”. During play, every student links arms and sways back and forth while singing. It’s a great spectacle not only because this is one of the most famous college alma maters, but also because how the song can bond thousands of Cornell students from completely different backgrounds.
6 — Warm Up The Bus!
This might count as a chant, but it involves physical items, so I’m going to count it as a tradition. When the amount of time left in the game equals the number of goals the Big Red is winning by (DOES NOT apply to one goal games), the Faithful take out their keys, and shake them while chanting “Warm up the Bus! Warm up the Bus!.” Variations include “Warm up the Moose!” when playing teams from Canada, and “Warm up the toilet!” when playing Brown.
5 — Throwing Toothpaste Against Colgate
One of the more underrated rivalries in the ECAC, Cornell-Colgate games have been increasingly tense the past few years. One of the more silly, but equally fun, traditions the Lynah Faithful has is throwing Colgate toothpaste onto the when the Red Raiders first skate onto the ice. (And when we play them at Colgate their fans throw Big Red gum at us.)
This tradition was magnified last year, when during a post-handshake skirmish between the two teams, Colgate players took toothpaste thrown at them by the fan and threw them back at the Cornell players! More to come on throwing things onto the ice in a bit…
4 — Taking Over Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center
On the bucket list for every Cornell hockey fan should be going to Cambridge to take over Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center. While Cornell fans (and the Pep Band) regularly take over opposing rinks, when it comes to Harvard they take it to a whole new level. There have been several instances when games at “Lynah East” have been played in front of crowds that were 80 percent Cornell fans. When I was there last year, there were a few times I actually forgot I wasn’t in Lynah Rink. That’s what you call stealing home-ice advantage.
3 — Six Verse Alma Mater on Senior Night
Every year during the second intermission of the last regular season home game (also known as Senior Night) the Pep Band plays all six verses of the alma mater, instead of the usual two. They used to have to give out sheets of paper with the words to less familiar verses, but now most people use their phones to look up the lyrics.
2 — The Cowbell Guy
Originally a group of students, who played cowbells and other instruments, the “Cowbell Guy” is now a student in section B who leads the rink in a chant when there is less than 10 minutes remaining in the second period, and again at the same time in the third period. This sacred position has been passed down from student to student since the 1960s, and being selected as the Cowbell Guy is definitely better than anything else you could put on a resumé.
1 — Throwing Fish When Harvard Comes to Town
Did you really think it was going to be anything else?
When people get their season tickets, the first thing they check is when the Harvard game is. Unless you’ve been to a Harvard-Cornell hockey game, it is hard to truly understand the atmosphere.
Any Lynah Faithful antics get multiplied tenfold, which leads us to maybe one of the best traditions we have at Cornell: Throwing dead fish onto the ice when Harvard first skates on. This tradition allegedly started roughly 40 years ago as a response to when a Harvard student taped a chicken to the Cornell goalpost.
The tradition has stayed strong since then, as students now throw everything from Swedish Fish and McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches to squids and eels smuggled in to Lynah, God knows how. Juvenile? Maybe a little, but it’s a tradition that many Cornell hockey diehards are most proud of.