Many times, the most unique hockey venues can be found in the most unexpected places. This is certainly the case for Taffy Abel Arena.
Within the Upper Peninsula, in the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, you will find the campus of Lake Superior State University. Although smaller than most colleges, home to less than 3,000 students, the Lakers have a pride and tradition within their hockey program that rivals any opponent.
The hockey program at LSSU was founded in 1966 and has seen many success stories over the years, including three NCAA Championships. The program has had to adjust to several new conferences, coaching changes, and the revolving door of players, but one things has remained the same; their student section.
At LSSU, the Laker Legion are the fans who bring the noise. This organization is intended to tie together the hockey community within Taffy Able Arena, by offering constant support for their team. Aiden Wright, current team captain for the Lakers, gave us some insight on the importance of their student section.
“Our student section is everything. They’re the ones that provide the energy and support us no matter the game. As a team, it’s awesome to know we can count on our student section to be engaged and full of energy on any given night.”
Student sections have been a longtime tradition in the NCAA, but fans of college hockey are an entirely different breed. Inside the arena, the Laker Legion bellow out unique chants that offer a boost to the Blue and Gold. Shelbey Smith, current Social Media Chair for the Laker Legion tells us, “We try to customize them to the individual player.” Some of their current original chants support junior Forward, Diego Cuglietta and junior Goaltender, Nick Kossoff.
After an LSSU win, students can be heard repeatedly screaming “To the Bell,” which is a nod to the longstanding tradition of a bell being rung after every victory. In order to award their faithful fans, the players also toss out t-shirts after the game. Even in defeat, you will hear “We Still Love You,” because, as Smith explains, “We support the team whether we win or lose!”
Although the players in Blue and Gold certainly support their home crowd, opposing fans may not be as thrilled. Smith stated, “We know that we get in the heads of opposing teams.” The student section has recently been relocated next to the opposing bench. The Laker Legion surround their rivals with chants, cheers, and of course, chirps. These students are willing to do whatever they can to provide home ice advantage and help earn a ‘W’ at the end of the night.
Beyond the rink, the Laker Legion have worked diligently to spread their passion across campus. They are currently expanding to all home Laker athletic events, as well as continuing to host viewing parties for many away contests. Additionally, they have worked to achieve some philanthropic goals, donating money to the Movember Fund.
At LSSU, hockey is more than just a game, but a way of life for these fans. They give 100% to support their team, regardless of the outcome. Wright noted, “Whether it’s to build momentum, get under the other team’s skin or support us both on and off the ice, our student section is as good as they come!” The Lakers currently hold a record of 3-8-3 overall to begin the season, but with such a good support system at home, there is no doubt they can turn things around.