In an attempt to accommodate the sudden rush of Columbia Hockey fans, first-year hockey players Chris Mendell and Weston Goodman take a break from signing autographs to break down the mysterious, cold, and fast paced sport of Ice Hockey.  

You may be thinking to yourself: “Columbia has an ice hockey team?” It’s an honest and understandable question. The last four years of Columbia hockey have been abysmal. Typically allowing an average of 10 goals per game, the Columbia Lions looked more like a handful of gerbils placed haphazardly around the ice than a cohesive athletic team. Thanks to the addition of rookies Dennis Franklin (third in the conference in goals scored) and Min Choi (highest McKitty Faceoff Positioning Percentage in the league), as well as the return of veteran powerhouses Andy Dunn and Benjamin Vermette (first and second in the conference in goals scored), the Columbia ice hockey team has transformed into not just a formidable competitor, but an electrifying force in the hockey world (even garnering attention from NHL Player Ryan Reaves in a short video). After a metaphorically huge 5-2 win against second place Saint Thomas Aquinas College on January 25, the team is sitting comfortably in first place of the Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference (MCHC), recently clinching a playoff spot. Here’s what you need to know to jump on the bandwagon now:  

To the ignorant, hockey appears to be exclusively designed for polite, toothless Tim Horton goers who bathe in maple syrup and recreationally domesticate moose (by this, I mean Canadians), but it’s actually a super fun sport that anyone can enjoy! We’re here to give you a few tips to feel right at home in the ice rink cheering your Lions to victory. 

1)    Wear something warm: As you may have guessed, ice rinks can get pretty cold. It’s always a good idea to play your wardrobe safe. Bring an extra jacket. Every ice rink has different viewing conditions and it’s hard to predict exactly how cold it’ll be. Our advice? Pretend you’re going to the Arctic tundra – whatever you’d wear there, wear to the game.  

2)    Have a general understanding of the sport: Hockey, unlike most sports, is played with a puck. A puck is just a solid, cylindrical piece of rubber about an inch tall and 3 inches wide. It kinda looks like a jet-black BBQ slider. The object of the game is to put the puck in the opposing team’s net by using a hockey stick to move the puck back and forth. Six players are on the ice for each team. Typically, there are three forwards, two defensemen and a goalie on the ice for any given play. Players are usually substituted on the fly, leaping over the bench and onto the ice every 60 seconds to replace their predetermined, tired player. Unlike football or basketball, hockey has three, 20-minute periods. Plays can potentially last the entire 20 minutes, without a break in action, which is one of the reasons it’s so exciting to watch. The only time whistles are blown is when a rule is broken, a goal is scored, or the puck goes out-of-bounds. Otherwise, it’s non-stop, bone-crushing, body-smashing, smile-inducing, anarchy. 

3)    Know the lingo: One of the most amazing things about ice hockey is all the lingo! We’re going to take a sec and break down some of the most commonly used words. Feel free to use them anywhere. Whether it’s on the ice or in the kitchen baking muffins with grandma, hockey lingo has value in all facets of life.  

  1. a)   Dangle: In soccer you “deke” out a goalie, in basketball you “break ankles,” and in hockey you “dangle someone outta their socks.” To dangle is to embarrass an opposing player by using a variety of different moves to fake them out. Think of it as dangling a carrot in front of a bunny on a treadmill, except that metaphorical carrot is a puck and the bunny is an opposing player. Good luck getting it.
  2. b)   Sniper: Every hockey team has a sniper. Some might even have two or three. Lucky for us, Columbia hockey is chock-full of snipers. Snipers are players with remarkably accurate shots, capable of beating goalies consistently and emphatically. Think Steph Curry, on ice skates, at the beach, trying to shoot a krabby patty into Spongebob’s jellyfishing net. Doesn’t make sense? Well, snipers score goals that don’t make sense. They shoot the puck into the net regardless of logic or reason.
  3. c)     Chirp: To “chirp” someone is to insult them. Winning hockey games is all about which team has the best chirps. It’s easy to assume hockey relies on physical strength and conditioning, however developing strong mental fortitude and being a quick-thinker is important. If you can distract a player with a ruthless chirp, you’re giving your hometown team a split-second advantage to capitalize and score. While there are limits, you’re going for shock value that’ll garner immediate attention. Outlandish = success. Witty = Success. Try to make people laugh.

Here are some popular chirps: “Hey goalie, I’ve seen coupons that save more than you,” “What stinks more? The garbage or your shot?” and “You’re like the Titanic, good till you hit the ice.”

4)    Chirp the refs: Referees can either help you or hurt you. It’s usually best to avoid chirping them until you’re positive they’re making a bad call. That being said, refs make bad calls all the time (almost always when the calls go against your team… actually that’s the only time they make bad calls) and we wanna make sure you’re well equipped with a deep arsenal of lethal insults*.

Here are a couple of our favorites: “You should check your voicemail; I think you missed a few calls” and “It’s a shame you’re not watching, you’re missing a helluva game!”

*Remember – The more outlandish the insult, the better it is.

5)    Drink: Hockey games are on weekends for a reason. Most rinks sell alcohol, but always bring your own drinks, preferably White Claw or Blue Fostahs, just in case.…  But make sure when you throw up you do it in the opposing team’s locker room. Or better yet, projectile vomit directly onto the opposing goalie. You’ll be a hometown hero. They’ll make statues of you all over campus. (Please don’t actually do this).

6)    Bring your boxing gloves: Hockey games can get intense. You’re cheering, chirping, drinking and being all around belligerent. We live in America. You have freedom of speech! Unfortunately, the opposing team’s fan section does too. It’s not uncommon to get into arguments with enemy fan sections. That’s okay! Grab a couple buddies (preferably those trained in close quarters combat) and start a fight! Rules are as follows: 

  1. No weapons. This is strictly a battle of physical dominance. That being said, samurai swords and lightsabers are fair game for some reason.
  2. Whichever team’s fan section wins the fight, wins the hockey game. This means the stakes are high. Your school is counting on you. 
  3. No biting. You can kiss, but not sure why you’d do that… weirdo. Unless you find true love in the hockey stands. Then make a movie about it and remember to invite us to the wedding. We’ll even be your proud groomsmen/bridesmaids.
  4. Kicking is encouraged but harder than it looks. Think long and hard before you go for the three-hundred-and-sixty-degree round-house kick. You’re not Bruce Lee, you’re a Columbia Comp Sci major…

There are countless ways to get hurt… You could get hit by a cannonball that was fired as a salute for you. You could domesticate an orca whale and watch it turn on you. You could lose your one true love because you got a B+ in a class and missed graduating with a 4.0, so you’re suddenly not smart enough for them. You could drop your avocado toast on the way to the table. The point is: there are worse ways to get hurt than in a fight for the athletic reputation of your Ivy League institution, but the worst pain is definitely the heartbreak of losing a game. Don’t let us down. (Again, please don’t actually fight their fans).

7)    Celebrate: Your team just won the game! Are you going to sit around and clap? No! You’re going to jump up into the air and scream until your voice goes numb or you pass out. You’re going to shed a tear of joy. You’re going to take all the teeth you collect throughout the game and cash them into the tooth fairy for a big lump sum. You’re going to take that big lump sum and buy all the fans another drink!  You’re going to go crazy! You’re going to have the best night of your life! You’re going to party, party, party! GO LIONS GO! 

Now that you know literally everything you need to know about hockey, get out there, cheer, and will your Lions to a Championship title!

Next home game:

 February 7 – vs Central Maine @ Ice Hutch Rink

 Notable upcoming games:

February 12 – vs STAC @ Riverbank (Winter Classic – Outdoor Game! – 3 subway stops from campus)

February 22 – First Playoff Game @ Dix Hills (Details TBD)

February 29 – vs Yale @ Ice Hutch

For more info, please visit the official team website


Disclaimer: Bwog does not condone underage drinking or physical violence. Please hockey responsibly!

columbia hockey via Chris