Monday, September 24, 2012

A Challenge To Saint John Fans

By Tim Lumsden
SN Staff

A nervous little girl waits behind the curtains. Peeking out into the crowd she sees that it’s a sold out audience. She has been practicing for weeks. Day after day, early mornings and late nights have been spent perfecting her twirls and leaps. As the music begins she steps out and lets the music take hold. She sees a smile on a woman’s face in the crowd and she knows she’s doing a good job. The music signals that she’s about to come to the climax of her routine, looking back into the crowd she sees several people stand up. Are they about to give her a standing ovation? The answer is soon realized, they aren’t cheering. They are leaving. By the end of her routine, only half of the audience remains.

If you were her, why would you think everyone left?

You have been waiting for weeks for one of the summer’s most highly anticipated movies to be released. You have watched the commercials to the point you have them memorized. You even went and bought the tickets a week ago to make sure that on opening night, you would be there.  Popcorn and drink in hand, you and your movie going companions hear the hush fall over the crowd as the screen flickers with the first seconds of the film. You watch the heroes battle the forces of evil. You laugh at all the jokes and secretly shed a tear when one of them doesn’t make it through the journey to get there. The final fight is about to begin. This battle decides the outcome of the entire film. You watch as the hero falls to the ground. A sword is poised just above his head as the villain delivers his victory speech. You hold your breath. This is the best movie you have ever watched. What’s going to happen? Suddenly half the theatre stands and starts filing out.

Do you think this would really happen?

Whether it’s ordering an expensive meal and leaving after the first bite, or driving for five hours to go on vacation just to turn around and drive back home just as you pull into the hotel parking lot, it’s something you just wouldn’t think of doing. And yet week after week, we see it happen. People attend the game and within the last five minutes, the mass exodus begins.

While some may wonder if anything you do matters when you sit in the stands, the answer is a resounding “YES!”

During an interview, British Olympian, Mo Farah said "what really gets me through is the crowd, having that energy from the crowd cheering you on.”

It’s human nature. We thrive on praise. When we are doing well, we want to be told that. When we are feeling down, we want to hear encouraging words to help us regroup.

As fans, that’s our job. With each ticket we buy, it’s the unwritten agreement that we will support the team. We will cheer them through their accomplishments and we will encourage them and pick them up after a loss.

I’ve had the pleasure to attend games at a few different rinks and I noticed a few interesting things.

First, a few friends and I made the trip to Screaming Eagles territory last year. While it may not have been a sellout crowd, it was an average attendance. One thing I noticed is how quiet the fans were. During the first period you could practically hear the crickets chirp. As outsiders and some of the few people from Saint John at the game, we got asked to participate in an intermission game. The two of us, both from Saint John had to put on gear and race to the other end of the rink and shoot a puck. I was more concerned with not breaking my neck by falling. The whistle goes and we start. As expected, the fans boo us. But it wasn’t only one or two people booing. We were being hissed at by the entire rink. They had united together to show home team support and pride. After we had humiliated ourselves for a gift certificate for pizza, things had changed. The fans were more vocal. They were cheering and laughing. In heckling us on the ice, they had found their voice.

In Moncton, I have always admired the Wildcats fans. I have personally watched them start and continue a rink wide chant. This doesn’t only happen once or twice. The chants happen almost every game. They cheer until my poor Sea Dog loyal ears are bleeding, but every time I hear their rink wide chant, I’m awestruck.
Finally on a bus trip to PEI, I witnessed a busload Sea Dogs fans drown out the Rocket fan base at the game, during the entire game.

So the question I want to ask is: “Why is it so hard to get the energy level up at Harbour Station?” If a small group of fans can dominate the opposing team’s rink, why can’t we do the same at home?

Is it that we don’t want to look foolish in front of people we may know? When we are in another city, no one knows us? Is it that we figure we don’t have to since other people are cheering?

Let me remind you, dear reader, that the word FAN is shortened from FANATIC which means “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.”

My challenge to all of you is to find that excessive enthusiasm again. Yes we are in a rebuilding year. We have a lot of new faces. Remember that these new faces haven’t experienced how fanatic Saint John fans can get. So the next time you attend a game, bring your bells, paint your faces, wear your jerseys and Sea Dogs gear. Whether they are winning or losing, scream and cheer until you won’t have a voice the next day.

In short, remember that these guys give you everything they have when they are on the ice. All they are asking is for you to do the same when you sit in the stands.

Go Dogs Go!

Photo: Marc Henwood/Station Nation


  1. Well said! MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

    Last year I offered a couple sitting in front of me 2 lower bowl tickets so that my two oldest children could come up and sit in our section with us, they refused. I do think that they regretted their decision to move as I got the stink eye when the lights dimmed and Peter & Stage started to announce our starting line up, I rang my cow bell continuously and screamed my face off.

    Loyal fans who sat behind us, all dressed up proudly in their Seadogs blue, cheered just as loud but when I offered them the lower bowl seats, they jumped at the chance so they could be closer to the action.

    I'm sure that couple had a headache by the end of the night.

  2. Hahaha good for you. I admit, if I am sitting by someone who gives me an annoyed look when I ring the cowbell and scream, I just tend to do it more. I had one woman last year ask me to put it away. I proudly said "I have not missed a game, I'm a season ticket holder. I have not seen you in this seat every game. This is what we do here!" and I almost broke my arm ringing that bell.

    1. @ Tim Lumsden. and maybe this is the reason its not a sellout every night... the casual fan like this lady has such an unpleasant time because of an arrogant season ticket holder (you) and decides not to go back again...

      I go to about 20 games a season and I know when I get sitting beside someone who excessively makes noise I have been known to get a headache by first intermission. I usually just go and find an empty seat and attempt to hit that person with my chuck a puck later on in the evening. But the headache is there the rest of the night affecting my overall experience.

    2. @ Brandon. Obviously you have never been to games in the province of Quebec. That's all they do in their rinks is make noise, and most nights they have full rinks.

    3. @ Brandon No offence to people going to hockey games expecting everyone not to be loud. Its a sporting event, if you asked harbour station about making a quite section they would probably laugh at you. You need to do some research on this. It's a proven fact that a quite crowed lowers the excitement of the game and the energy levels of the players. We are giving the Sea Dogs more energy and passion to win the louder we are. If your saying Saint John doesnt have enough fans with passion to spread on to the ice for the players in our city then maybe they should just leave and go somewhere where the fans will do so. Saint John fans are some of the quietest fans i've ever heard at a sporting event. Fans like Brandon need to suck it up, headache? Seriously? There are people fighting cancer at that game cheering there hearts out and you complain about a headache? Get a life dude. Its a sporting event not your couch. If you cant control the noise where ear plugs and cheer and ring a bell just as loud, problem solved.

  3. The station only gets somewhat loud when they score a goal. i have being told to shut up and be quiet and my reaction is the same every time. Its a hockey game it suppose to be loud. go up the road to moncton the place rocks(even on an icing call they are on the refs its a good vibe) ive being saying this for the past couple seasons i realize it wont go through because the station is a morgue, have a special for a Friday or Saturday night game. and a designated drinking section say down behind the the penalty box or the visiting bench pay 35$ for ticket two beer and a hot dog it would pack the seats in or even a buy1-get1 cause everyone in saint john loves free things. and tell everyone else who doesn't wanna listen to the noise the swearing and everything thing else that is SUPPOSE to happen at a hockey game tune into Timmy rozzell or sit up in sec.28 row 18.AND GET RID OF THE RED VEST DICKS..ALLOW AIR HORN'S BLOW HORNS AND ANOTHER NOISE MAKER..@brandon you obivously are not a true dog fan or a hockey fan at that matter an good for you that you go to 20games a year i go to atlest 40 from the 34home games to roadies to the mem cup even down to lewiston, i spend my last cents to go cheer the boys on its a fun time loosing up a little bit and cheer for the boys, you can find me down in sec.q game after game have a couple cold ones an enjoy the night #GDG

  4. The Station should be rocking every night, no matter how many people are in the building. I too have been to other rinks, some are so quiet you would never know there is a hockey game going on, others you know there is a game from multiple blocks away.

    Last years playoff's when the place was going ballistic until the boys scored was the best time I had at the rink. I couldn't talk for a few days after, a small price to pay for doing my part as a Sea Dogs fan.

    I applaud the OP, and will be to as many games as I can get to, work allowing. When I am there, I will making lots of noise, ringing my bell, or waving my flag to support the 16-20 year old young men, who are, in most cases, sacrificing being close to their friends and family to skate at the station for our entertainment.

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