By Char Grimm - Contributing Correspondent
At the University of Kentucky, there exists a strange tradition. All home hockey games are played at midnight. This creates a unique atmosphere for fans and players alike.
“We’re usually bouncing off the walls by 10:00,” said Aaron Tenfelde, junior goaltender. He added that the atmosphere for home games at UK is unlike any other.
The intimidating atmosphere is something that is not lost on visiting teams on both nights of a weekend series.
On the other hand, Alex Guest, senior goaltender for Ohio University, says that it’s intimidating. “The way the rink is set up, it’s like the fans are right on top of you,” said Alex Guest, a goaltender for Ohio University. “It’s hard to focus on the game and not the crowd.”
But how do the fans see the games? In this non-traditional hockey market of Lexington, Kentucky stands are packed for every home game. Hockey generally ranks third among spectator sports at the university, behind basketball and football. Considering the distance from the school to the rink (about fifteen minutes), this is a feat in itself for the team.
There are typically hundreds of fans at each home game and the near capacity crowds always create an electric atmosphere. Playing at midnight not only gives the players a chance to get pumped up, but the fans as well.
Although some of the fans know little about hockey, they’re at the games to see big hit or any number of big plays. For other fans, the games serve as an outlet to get their hockey fix on a weekly basis.
One thing the fans have in common is their inability to be silent. From the time both teams take the ice, the fans are on their feet and cheering for UK. While each game’s atmosphere is impressively noisy, games against rivals like Louisville or Tennessee are that much louder. One constant aside from Kentucky’s impressive home record over the course of their midnight games is the crowd that makes the atmosphere so unique.
The games are an experience for both fans and players alike. The electric atmosphere is unlike any other across the nation and has transformed a typically non-traditional market into a hockey town.