NU club hockey gains campus-wide support through student-created Facebook site

How did the “Harmon Drive Hooligans” become a Norwich University Facebook site tied to the club hockey team?

Blame Zachary Standeford, a 20-year-old psychology major from Plainfield, Conn. for the catchy name, which originated from watching Green Street Hooligans with “the boys” one night, he said.

Little did he know the huge impact that the Facebook group he created “just for fun” would have on the student population at Norwich University – and the team, which would go on to become the regular season champions and then win the club championship in the playoffs.

Standeford first created the Facebook group a few weeks before the season started for the Norwich club hockey team. At the time, he was unaware that the Facebook group would play a role in inspiring the team to win the “ship” this season according to center Ben Cohen.

Standeford first attended club hockey games as a sophomore after his friends told him about “the fights and how rowdy the games get,” he said. “Word of mouth travelled about the club team throughout the student population and more and more fans started coming to the games.”

The increasing amount of fans at games led to the idea of creating a Facebook group to unite fans. “If there is gonna be a fan base might as well as make a group and put a label on it.”

As the amount of people joining the Facebook group increased so did the number of fans in attendance at games, which in return caused the “clubbies” to play better, explained Standeford.

First-year head coach Bruce Baroffio, a resident of Northfield, agreed with this in a discussion prior to the playoffs this past weekend at Conway arena in Nashua, N.H. Going into the playoffs, he knew his team had the capability to “win it all,” however he didn’t want to “curse” the team by making such a bold statement.

The first playoff game was against Springfield College, which the Cadets tied 1-1 during regular season play, said Ryan Clavette, a 19-year-old sophomore criminal justice major from Medford, Mass.

Unlike in the regular season, Springfield College posed no threat to the Cadets. The Cadets blew out the Pride with a 9-2 score.

The next opponent in the championship game was UMass Lowell, also known as “the pride of Lowell,” according to Conor Murphy, a 21-year-old junior criminal justice major from Westwood, Mass.

During the regular season both teams struggled against each other: The Cadets won the first game, 5-2, and lost the second, 5-1.

To get into the championship game, “the pride of Lowell” overcame an early 3-0 deficit against Daniel Webster College and finished the game with seven unanswered goals for a 7-3 win.

The championship game was unlike any other game this season, explained Ben Cohen, a 22-year-old senior criminal justice major from Barnstable, Mass. “Unlike the typically night games we have, the bus actually left at seven in the morning for a 11 o’clock game,” he said. This took some adjusting to get used to playing so early rather than at night, which he and his teammates are used to doing, he said.

Zach Michael, a 20-year-old sophomore mathematics major from Northampton, Pa., admitted that many players were nervous going into the game, as it was the first championship many players had played in a very long time.

However he said that didn’t change the mentality of the game, noting “there was a lot of hype going into it, everybody was amped and ready to go.”

Unfortunately, the earliness and the distance of the game did affect the number of fans at game though, he said. Numerous players noticed how quiet the rink was compared to playing at Krietzburg Arena, according to Clavette. “It was a lot different than playing at home, where the fans are very vocal at our games.”

In order to provide better support for future games, Standeford is trying to unite fans through the Facebook group to car pool or even take a bus to games. While he is early in the process of doing he’s very hopeful to make this happen in the future.

Despite the shortage of fans, the Cadets went on to win 6-2, marking a year for the books as they won the regular season championship and the playoff championship in their first year of ever making post-season play.

Winning the championship game meant a lot to every player on the team, for their own individual reasons. For some it meant being the best of the best, for others it was icing on the cake after a long four years of getting the team organized and established.

For Michaels, it meant a lot to “lace them up for a big win” especially after missing the playoffs by one game last season. “To finally win something was a big deal, it meant a lot to us, to the team and the fans for their support, a great achievement.”

Murphy said he loved how the playoffs were a bonding experience for the team. “It meant the world, I actually think this came before commissioning,” he said.

David Sugrue, a 20-year-old junior criminal justice major from Wilmington, Mass., was excited to “top off the season with a win” for his family and girlfriend who were in attendance at the game.

For senior Ben Cohen, the championship win meant a lot more. Throughout his four years of playing club hockey he has been through it all, including his freshman year where they won just one game.

Over the years he has seen the team mature as more and more fans started attending the games. “The impact of the “Harmon Drive Hooligans” has been huge for us.”

“To win the championship after four years of ups and downs is just an indescribable feeling and I am so proud to be part of it,” he said.

Matt Sullivan, a 19-year-old sophomore athletic training major Baldwin, N.Y. is extremely thankful for this season and for the fans. “The fans mean everything to us, we love having everybody come out to games and get loud for us,” he said.

As the weeks have passed by, winning the championship has still not kicked in for Clavette. “It’s surreal, even now I can’t believe it,” he said.

Members of the team say the club hockey team doesn’t win games just for individual glory. “Any time you win a championship, no matter what league, it’s a great feeling, cause you do it for the person next to you, not for yourself.”

This attitude is what helps attract fans to the games, said Martin Palermo, a 20-year-old junior psychology major from West Palm Beach, Fla. “It’s just an awesome experience going to the games and seeing them win.”

Jerome Petrocelli, a 21-year-old senior athletic training major from Long Island, N.Y., enjoys the atmosphere. “It’s just an overall fun time to go watch some puck with your friends,” he said.

Standeford believes that “club hockey games are not as hyped up as they should be” but is very hopeful that the “Harmon Street Hooligans” will start to attract more and more fans, such as Palermo and Petrocelli.

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