In Colorado, we have our fair share of hockey fans for the Colorado Avalanche and Eagles, but the sport just isn’t as popular as football or baseball. In the Midwest, it isn’t all that rare to spend time at an ice rink, but here in Greeley, we are lucky to have the Ice Haus and our own UNC Bears club hockey team. The games in Greeley bring big crowds that love to cheer for the Bears and watch the action-packed sport.
UNC gets a good amount of attention for our sports, but club sports are a little different. The players need to pay their way onto the team, and the games are useful to build teamwork and give opportunities for UNC students to play whatever sports they wish to. The emphasis with club sports lays less in the winning and more in the experience according to club sports themselves, but this doesn’t mean that the Bears don’t play their hardest. With the stands at the Greeley Ice Haus full every home game, what makes our Bears on ice so special comes in the production of the game. The music, lights, halftime shows, and even the Zamboni are all a part of the major show that goes into a UNC hockey game. The players are naturally entertaining as they glide on the ice and ram into one another, but the downtime between possession and periods needs to be filled. Announcements, cheers, and music come from the box, as well as the official score and board updates.
Assistant operations manager Katheryn Broderius deals with all the chaos that happens on the ice, as well as the insanity inside the score box. Broderius is a big part of the show part of a hockey game. As a sports administration major, this is the type of real-world experience that students need to understand managing a game and a team. Katheryn said that she feels lucky to be a part of such a popular and fun team at UNC. Sports admin majors need to fulfill an experiential learning requirement, so working with hockey gives Broderius the real-world scenarios that will prepare her for after graduation.
“Getting to experience this kind of in game pressure and stress and learn how to stay focused with the crowd cheering and the person playing music, so you really have to get on top of things. A lot of people don’t realize all it takes in order to run a game like that. It’s also just so fun to be around the boys,” said Broderius.
UNC’s hockey team is unique compared to others in the Big Mountain conference that the Bears play in. The fanbase at home is always strong, and even when the team travels, there are many fans who follow along in person and watch the online streamed games.
The games are typically high energy, with constant loud cheers for the boys on the ice. Fans love to see fights break out and all the excitement that comes with throwing a player into the penalty box. The gameplay is very fast paced, which makes it a great spectator sport, and the crowd always reacts loudly and with big enthusiasm at a Bears score. There are also frequent screams of joy when the Zamboni passes by the crowd when the ice is resurfaced.
Bears hockey will have a few more home games at the Ice Haus, with the next one on December 3.