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October 15, 1998 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-15

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 15, 1998 - 17A

TheVo
The ~Grind
Mark Snyder
e*
choing through The Old Barn, the tumult grows from the opening intro-
duction. Ernest Thayer called it a "lusty yell." The fans call it loyalty. I
call it passion.
Enter Yost Ice Arena on a casual afternoon around 4 p.m. and you'll see the
Michigan hockey team, skating through a normal practice. Even the softest
sound bounces through the arena, off every wall, until fizzling out some-
where in the dead air above the rink.
But on game nights, there is no dead air.
Sixty-five hundred fans pin themselves tighter than humanly possible
inside the arena to stretch their vocal chords to the max. The screams, for
those who have never experienced the shake of Yost's metal benches, are
*ten obscene and demanding, exacting revenge even when none is warrant-
Cd
But that's the beauty of Yost.
Most often, the target is but a mild-mannered CCHA goaltender, eager to
do his job without ruffling feathers - an unavoidable fact when chicken
taunts leap inside his mask's ear holes.
Facing the crowd is brutal. As an opposing goalie, dodging the bullets is
pretty much unavoidable.
When the telephone rings, they'll make jokes about your mother and her
disdain for your ability to protect the net from flying rubber spheres (i.e.
"Hey _, it's your mom, she says you suck!").
They'll taunt you at your lowest point - just after the puck tickles the
ine behind you - and place blame for the incident squarely on the shoul-
ders of the person with the greatest responsibility (i.e "It's all your fault!")
At times, these fanatics - in unison of course after years of practice -
will even spew cuss words in your direction, seeking to rattle you even fur-
ther.
Stories of rattled goaltenders grow in legend year after year.
Yost veterans remember the time two years ago when hot-tempered
Spartan Chad Alban was so flustered he called Marty Turco to center ice,
venting his frustration in front of 6,500 strong.
In some instances, it wasn't the goalie who was bothered. Against Bowling
keen that same November weekend in 1996, the Falcon goaltender's mom
Wed to take on the legions of Yost fans.
The excessive taunting drew her out of her seat and sent her spitting back
fighting words to the Yost faithful.
This is the essence of the arena- and what makes its character so endear-
ing to the home crowd.
Take last season's NCAA regional game at Yost between Michigan and
North Dakota. As emotions go, this game was the pinnacle. Tension was at a
feverish pitch as the two previous NCAA champions met for the right to go
to Boston for the national semifinals. Yost had never hosted a game of such
great importance and the fans knew it.
Michigan, clearly undermanned on the ice, played with power-play inten-
y for the entire game, hanging around, waiting to strike. That's because of
Yost's energy. In the game, the crowd served as an extra Wolverine on the ice,
pushing Michigan to its limit and, eventually, to victory.
These days - the 1990s - are the glory era for the 70-year-old arena. The
primary tenant is the team of the decade in college hockey. Talk of a dynasty
is bandied about regularly. And the building stuffs itself beyond capacity 20
times each year.
And, in contrast to its football counterpart, a classy renovation maintained
its tradition while keeping its technology on the cutting edge.
It's amazing how one building - formerly home to the football, track and
-ketball teams as Yost Field House - could bring together the most pas-
nate fans from miles around.
But the loyalists return.
Fortunately for Michigan fans, Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson reo-
Ognizes its value.
The power of the fans to intimidate visitors often dominates his postgame
comments.
The aura even touched Berenson personally. In a show of appreciation
6efore the game, Berenson wrote a letter thanking Michigan's fans for aiding
In last season's national championship, which was handed out as the fans
passed through the old wooden doors.
That's why Yost is unique. Year after year, legions of fans flock to cheer 'til
ir voices disappear. Throughout the Midwest, there isn't a more intense
ale for collegiate sport.
The best pitch for the arena is a single game. Go tomorrow or Saturday
night against Niagara. Watch Michigan dismantle the opposition before

6,000 screaming fans. Laugh at the chants and cheer on the goals. Experience
the passion in every "lusty yell."
After just one game, you'll feel the same.
- Mark Snyder can be reached via e-mail at nsnyder@umich.edu.
READ SPORTSMONDAY
FOR FOOTBALL COVERAGE
FROM EVANSTON.

Basketball team
talks openly on
season ahead
MEDIA DAY
Continued from Page 13A
for himself and round out the starting lineup. Regardless.
two freshmen - swingman Leon Jones and forward
Chris Young - as well as center Pete Vignier will be
counted on for immediate contributions.
"Leon Jones and Chris Young are going to play,"
Ellerbe said. "They're going to get thrown in the fire.
We're looking to put those guys in some situations early
in their career where by Big Ten season they should be
able to step in and make an impact."
TOUCHED BY GREATNESS: High tea with the Queen of
England. Singing a duet with the late Frank Sinatra.
Taking batting practice with Mark McGwire.
What else could you compare with the chance to run
the courts with basketball legend Michael Jordan? Not
many would be able to describe the experience - but
Michigan guard Louis Bullock is one of the lucky few.
Bullock was given the chance of a lifetime this summer
when he participated in Jordan's basketball camp in a
suburb of Chicago. In addition to playing with 'His
Airness,' Bullock was afforded the luxury of speaking
with Jordan.
"That was amazing," Bullock exclaimed. "I couldn't
say a word when he spoke to me the first time."
In fact, Bullock was even more surprised when Jordan
recognized him.
"He (said), 'Hey, you're the guy from Michigan, and I
couldn't even answer," Bullock said, as he continued
wide-eyed, mouth agape. "I was like, 'Uhhh, ummm' -I
couldn't get a word out."
Hopefully, Bullock made more of an impression on the
basketball court.

FILE PHOTO
When Michael Jordan recognized Michigan's Louis Bullock this summer in Chicago, all Bullock could say
was "uhhh, ummmm."

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