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H-bomb hits the F-bomb

Andrew Van Hoe and Tyler Olson arrived at Ralph Engelstad Arena's student entrance at 10:45 a.m. Friday, nine hours before the puck dropped. It wasn't because the UND students needed hockey tickets. They already had them. The wait was so they cou...

Ryan Bakken
Ryan Bakken

Andrew Van Hoe and Tyler Olson arrived at Ralph Engelstad Arena's student entrance at 10:45 a.m. Friday, nine hours before the puck dropped.

It wasn't because the UND students needed hockey tickets. They already had them. The wait was so they could get the best seats. Student seating is not reserved, but rather first-come, first-served.

For a Minnesota Gophers series, getting the primo seats requires a 6:30 a.m. arrival at the gate. The best of the best are in the first row, next door to the visitors' penalty box.

These students have been at or near the front of the line for every series the past four seasons, even on the nights when their season tickets require them to sit in the upper level.

"We don't even want to think about how many hours we've spent in line," Olson said.

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This background is provided as evidence of their credibility as hard-core Sioux hockey fans. I wanted to see what the die-hards thought of the new Fan Code of Conduct at the REA. "Fan Code of Conduct" is bureaucratic-speak for "Don't Use the F-Bomb."

A decade ago, students used to chant "Puck the Gophers" (or Huskies or Badgers, but never the Seawolves, who weren't worth the effort). The three-word mocking was a winking reference to what they really wanted to say. But, as civility has continued its downward slide in recent years, they changed one consonant.

The chant was tolerated until matters went over the top in the October series against the Minnesota Gophers. "I kept a tally one game, and I think it was chanted 26 times," Olson said. "That was excessive. It was like a mob mentality."

Olson said he personally opposes its use but also defended it. "It's part of the hockey culture," he said. "Hockey is more aggressive than any other sport. With everything more aggressive, fans tend to get more emotionally heated."

But he said matters "felt real awkward" when he noticed that two early elementary age children were "right in the center" of one such student-section outburst in the Gopher series. "That's not OK," he said.

Van Hoe said limited use of the now-forbidden three-word chorus should be allowed. "The F-word will slip out now and then with a college-age fan base," he said. "That's reality."

It's their only X-rated cheer. There's another that would be rated PG-13 where they spell out S-E-X, ask what it spells and then asks what it means. "Score, score, score," is the reply. Pretty tame stuff for that demographic.

Not even the PG-13 version came out Friday night. Most of the students polled were begrudgingly accepting of the F-bomb ban. The reason wasn't because they had an epiphany about its inappropriateness.

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Instead, it's because The Hammer, aka The Hakker, aka Coach Dave Hakstol said to knock it off at a student forum. The Hakstol glare can melt granite. "He definitely commanded the room," Austin Dhuyvetter said. "He opened my eyes."

The eye-opening wasn't about its naughtiness but its bottom line. "Our games are now on the Fox Network, and the chants can be heard on the TV," Dhuyvetter said. "If the games are no longer on TV, we won't get the top recruits. And if we don't get the top recruits, our team won't be as good."

Junior Samantha Dhuyvetter, Austin's sister, agreed. "When Hakstol says it's disrespectful, we need to tone it down. He's a big guy in our university, and everyone respects him.

"When Hakstol said it hurts recruiting, our fans said, 'Oh, now I get it.'"

The Dhuyvetter siblings combined to produce the night's best sign, which had defenseman Chay Genoway's head pasted atop Superman's body, with the words, "Up, up and Genoway."

Clever signs, not crude vulgarities, hopefully now will be the calling card of UND's rabid student section, which creates a dynamic atmosphere when it doesn't make us old folks blush.

Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to rbakken@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: HOCKEYRALPH ENGELSTAD ARENA
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