It is no surprise that the Clarkson Golden Knight Hockey team has a very large presence on campus. For the majority of the year, every weekend is spent packed inside the Cheel arena cheering on the teams. Before coming to Clarkson, many students have never been to a hockey game or not one on the college level. For a new freshman already on a new campus and in a new state, the hockey games seemed pretty daunting to me, but after that first game against SLU (St. Lawrence), I was hooked. The first week, I was in a class with mostly upperclassmen and when they found out I was a freshman who was interested in hockey, the advice started pouring in. The one tip that stuck with me to most was getting there early, not by twenty or thirty minutes, but by hours, and while that may sound extreme I am glad I listened!
The student section was packed with students with even some standing in the back. The first men’s hockey game of the year was only an exhibition game, but with that not counting for anything hundreds of students found their way to Cheel Arena to cheer them on. After that first game, my college experience as a whole changed and it is now my favorite way to spend a weekend. If you have never been to a hockey game, or are just nervous about the atmosphere of the Clarkson green and gold student section, then this all-encompassing guide to being a student at a Clarkson Hockey Game is perfect for you.
Who should you go with?
Experiencing your first hockey game is always better when you have someone else who is in the same boat as you, and trust me there are plenty of freshmen and even some upperclassmen that are with you. I was lucky enough to have a roommate and friend that grew up going to games and who already wanted to go, but sometimes your roommate or friends may feel apprehensive. My advice is to you if you have no one to go with is to check with your RA to see if they are organizing to bring the floor over to the game.
My RA was the best! For the first month of classes any campus event that was going on we would go as a floor. This is a great way to meet the people who you will be living with for the year, and a bigger group is much less scary than going by yourself. However, if your RA is on duty or may not be going to the game you can always text the floor GroupMe. GroupMe is a text messaging app that every floor has in order for the RAs to communicate with the residents and for the residents to ask questions. My floor would use this group chat to ask about where things on campus were but also see if anyone wanted to go to on-campus events. I guarantee you someone else is in the same position as you, wanting to go to a hockey game without having someone to go with.
There are always groups of people walking to Cheel from the quad (Where the majority of freshmen live) so don’t be scared to go up and introduce yourself. If all else fails, or maybe you just want to, go alone! The hockey games always have people at them you are packed into the stands and in Cheel, everyone is best friends. (as long as we are winning!)
What to wear
Now that you have a plan on who you are going to go with, the next step is figuring out what to wear. Hockey is played on ice, surprise, it is cold in there! So feel free to hit up the bookstore before your parents leave to get a Clarkson sweatshirt. Now, I wouldn’t go a full winter jacket, hats, or gloves, but I usually wear a winter hat, jeans, and a sweatshirt. Before you go buy only green or only gold sweatshirts make sure you check the Clarkson Hockey Instagram or the posters around campus to see if the game has a theme. Some common themes that have happened in the past include a whiteout game, which is a great time to wear your class shirt, other themes include green out, and gold out games where the whole student section matches. If there is no theme then just dress in your favorite Clarkson gear that will keep you warm. As for shoes, I suggest wearing something comfortable because you will be on your feet… a lot.
What to bring
So now you have your group and your outfit planned, but what should you be bringing to the game? The most important thing to remember is your Clarkson student ID. This is the way you get into every hockey game for free! I like to keep mine in the back on a clear phone case, or a lanyard, a wallet works well too. Besides your ID everything else you bring is optional, there are concession stands where you can buy some food and drinks, but you can also bring in your own. I usually brought a water bottle to keep me hydrated and my voice prepared to cheer. My roommate and I also brought our class of 2025 pom poms to use to cheer. At some games, they do have rally towels at the entrance which are always a great way to cheer the team on and a great souvenir to bring home with you.
You and your friends are all dressed and packed for the game, the next step is to head to Cheel Arena!
Before the game
When to get there
Every hockey game usually begins at the same time depending on the team. Men’s games usually start at 7 pm with doors opening at 6 pm. However, I do not recommend getting to the arena at 6 pm, if you want good seats you should get there even earlier. Make sure you check to see who is playing, if it is St. Lawrence (our rival) and you want really good seats, I suggest getting there at 5 pm.
When you arrive at Cheel there are two sets of doors that lead into the rink itself. The first set is for the general public because Clarkson students get free tickets with our student ID we use the second set of doors which is just past the spirit store. The line usually forms there and wraps around all the way to the ticket booth. The last time we played St. Lawrence my friends and I arrived at Cheel at 5 pm and were tenth in line.
You may be thinking that you don’t want to arrive that early just to stand there, but trust me time flies by! One of my favorite things to do in line is to check out the other teams’ stats to see the odds of the game, check Instagram to see who is playing or who may be out this game, and we also like to predict who will be doing the faceoff or starting in goal. Another fun way to pass the time is to get a Hockey puck from the spirit store and pass it around on the ground, we made lots of friends with other people in line by doing this.
Finding your seats
At 6 pm when the doors open you are going to scan your ID and receive a stamp on the back of your hand, this is for when you leave the arena to go to the bathroom or grab food and then come back. As you enter, there is a table with the program and sometimes freebies! Before we were familiar with the players and their numbers I liked to grab a roster so that we knew who made a goal or assisted.
Past the table is the student section, this is where all Clarkson students sit but make sure to not sit in section 17 as this section is reserved for the Clarkson University PEP band!
The PEP band plays at the hockey games and leads the student section in cheers before and during the game. Choosing where to sit is the easiest part, just look to see where there are open seats and head there, my favorite place to sit is in the front row right up on the glass and on the side closest to the pep band. If you do not enjoy loud noises or screaming, I suggest that you sit further back and away from the pep band, as they are really loud and energetic. This way you can enjoy them from afar and still participate in the cheers.
Once you pick your seats, you may want to sit down and wait for the game to start, as during the game you will be on your feet! At approximately 6:30 the stands are filled to the max and the teams are introduced. This is when the festivities begin, there are cheers for almost everything, it is a learn-as-you-go experience, and you pick it up very quickly with lots of upperclassmen to help. After warm-ups, the teams are introduced, and the national anthems (both Canadian and American) are played, if the PEP band is playing the National Anthem, during the Star-Spangled banner you scream Knights and throw a fist in the air during the lyric “Gave proof through the night”. After that, it is time for the face-off and the game begins!
During the game
If you are unfamiliar with Hockey, the game is fast-paced and moves incredibly fast. There are three periods, each being 20 minutes. There are too many traditions and cheers that happen at every game to get into them all, but just watch the PEP band and the rest of the student section if you get lost.
As you will learn quickly, the games can get very intense very fast. The most important thing to remember is that no matter how frustrating or exciting the game maybe do not hit the glass in the front row, watch your language, and your hand signals. All of the games are streamed on ESPN+ by the CCTV club and if you are in the front row or have a loud voice you are being seen and heard on television. If the ushers notice this behavior you will be asked to leave and possibly even receive a suspension or ban from future games, so be sure to maintain sportsmanship even from the sidelines.
Understanding the game
When I arrived two semesters ago I had no clue about the rules, let alone how many players were on the ice at a time, if you are like me, the best way to learn is to sit next to or in front of someone who knows whats going on, if you get confused ask a question, most everyone will be happy to share and teach you about the game.
When not to leave
My biggest and most important tip for you is to never leave a game early! You and your friends may be tempted to leave a game where Clarkson is down 4-0 in the last period, I can not stress this enough, do not leave. The team is motivated by its fans, the more that stay the better chance they have to make a comeback. I was fortunate enough to experience a comeback like this in person. On Saturday, December 4th, 2021 my friends and I were at the Cornell v Clarkson Hockey Game in Cheel Arena.
The whole night we were getting scored on, and not making a single goal. The student section began to dwindle as the third period rolled around, and soon the entire stadium was nearly empty. My friends and I decided to stay and finish out the game alongside the PEP band. The Cornell PEP band was also there celebrating their early victory. Then there were 4:43 left on the clock and we were down by 4, then out of nowhere, Chris Klack scored, putting Clarkson on the board. We were happy as we knew it would not be a shutout. But then with 2:53 left Lucas Kaeble scored, followed by Anthony Romano! Then, There was a penalty, four on four with 4.7 seconds left Zach Tsekos scored, tying the game and sending us to overtime. The cheers that erupted were nothing I have ever heard before, a few people left sounded as if the arena was filled!
Overtime came around and went with no luck sending us to a shootout. This had me more stressed than my final exams. The shootout went back and forth until Alex Campbell scored, leaving Ethan Haider to either make a save or miss and continue the shootout. The second my friends and I saw that puck hit his glove and not the back of the net we screamed, I almost fell down, and everyone in the student section was hugging each other. If you have never watched the game I suggest watching the last five minutes here!
Hockey has allowed me to meet so many new people and develop a strong school spirit. The games are something that you truly can not envision until you are standing amongst your fellow Golden Knights in the student section of Cheel. If there was one takeaway you had from this guide, it would be to just go to a game, just once, to experience it, who knows maybe you will witness one of the greatest comebacks in 100 years of Golden Knight History.