Fans in full force for EWU hockey

Fans+look+on+as+the+Eagles+take+on+WSU+on+Oct.+26.+Average+hockey+attendance+is+up+199+people+from+last+year%27s+average+of+478.
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Fans in full force for EWU hockey

Fans look on as the Eagles take on WSU on Oct. 26. Average hockey attendance is up 199 people from last year's average of 478.

Fans look on as the Eagles take on WSU on Oct. 26. Average hockey attendance is up 199 people from last year's average of 478.

Bailey Monteith

Fans look on as the Eagles take on WSU on Oct. 26. Average hockey attendance is up 199 people from last year's average of 478.

Bailey Monteith

Bailey Monteith

Fans look on as the Eagles take on WSU on Oct. 26. Average hockey attendance is up 199 people from last year's average of 478.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

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The EWU hockey team is off to a 10-1 start in its first season as a member of the PAC-8 Conference, with the URC averaging attendance of 677 people through six games.

“The fans are awesome,” senior defenseman Jason Shuck said after EWU defeated Washington State University on Oct. 26 in front of a crowd of 650 people. “[They] definitely build energy on the bench, and when the crowd gets loud it definitely helps us take it to another level.”

The hockey games are currently second in attendance for all EWU sports in 2018-2019, with only football bringing in more fans.

The URC was jammed full in a season-opening victory over the Idaho Vandals on Sept. 21, and fans arriving late were forced to watch while standing over the balcony that connects the ice rink to The Roost. That game brought in a record 918 fans. The URC seats 800 people, with room for an additional 200 viewers in standing room only.

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that many fans out here this year,” sophomore forward Bobby LaRue said. “When we come to the games on Friday and Saturday nights it’s usually a packed crowd, so it’s really cool to see that many people turn out for a club sport.”

The game against WSU was the highest paid attendance recorded in team history, according to EWU Club Sports Coordinator Travis Allen, with 241 tickets  sold to the general public. In the same game, 362 students and roughly 50 workers added to that total, bringing the attendance of the game to around 650 people. Students get into the games for free, and therefore don’t count toward the total ticket sales.

This year, the average attendance is 677 total fans and 269 students per game. This is a large increase from 2017-2018, which averaged 478 total and 183 students per game.

“We appreciate all the fans whether they’re paying or not,” EWU head coach Pat Hanlon said. “It brings a lot of energy into the building, and it’s good to look up there and it’s like, ‘there’s people actually watching what we’re doing.’ They’re starting to get a little more educated, they’re cheering for the right stuff. […] We certainly appreciate them coming and standing behind us.”

Students cheers can even be heard on mundane plays, and especially so when the Eagles score, or smack an opponent into the boards.

“It’s usually pretty packed out here, [and] a very lively atmosphere,” freshman Justin Plett, a spectator at the WSU game said. “I [enjoy] when they get really physical and they start basically fighting for the win, doing whatever it takes, even bashing people into the walls.”

Freshman Ashlyn McCoy said she enjoys the atmosphere of hockey games more than any other EWU sport, including football because they feel more hyped and have fights.  

Freshman Cassidy Kennedy said that she doesn’t know anything about hockey, but likes to come watch and learn about the sport.

For sophomore Grant Mallery, hockey games have provided an opportunity to have a shared experience with his family and learn about the sport together.

“Hockey’s pretty cool,” Mallery said. “I like watching people slam into each other, and Eastern winning, that’s always great. It’s a nice time to hang out with my family, it’s kind of something we’re going to start doing is we’re going to come out for the games and hang out. It’s always fun watching [the teams] wallop the crap out of each other.’”

The Eagles return to home ice on Nov. 8 and 9 against Montana Tech at 7 p.m. Admission is free with a student ID and $5 to the general public.

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