“It Definitely Lived up to the Hype”: An Experience Like No Other

Photo%3A+Kaylyn+Terry

Photo: Kaylyn Terry

Jen Moglia

When I tell people that I’m a student at Quinnipiac University, there’s a list of typical reactions that I come to expect. Most times, they mention the well-known Quinnipiac polls, sometimes they refer to the prominent student media programs on campus, but the most common reaction I receive when I mention the university I attend can be summarized in four words: “big hockey school, right?”

Hockey has been my favorite sport for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching the New York Rangers nearly every night (despite living less than an hour away from where the New York Islanders played) and became obsessed quickly, my closet filling up with jerseys and other team gear by the time I was a teenager.

When I was applying to colleges, I took a much simpler approach than some of my classmates in high school; I applied to three universities, was accepted to all of them, and I knew that QU was the school for me by mid-January 2021. I told anyone who asked that I was excited about the accelerated master’s degree program and the state-of-the-art school of communications, both of which were true, but there was always something else in the back of my mind; I’d finally get to experience Quinnipiac Bobcats hockey.

It goes without saying at this point that COVID-19 threw a wrench into just about everything about “normal” life as we knew it, including college life and sports, and especially college sports. Athletes got their senior seasons ripped away from them, students didn’t have game nights to look forward to, student media members either didn’t have games to cover or covered them through Zoom calls…the list of unfortunate changes goes on and on.

One specific way that Quinnipiac sports were impacted was that there had not been a men’s hockey game against Yale University in nearly two years – that’s right, the last “Yale game” that took place in Hamden prior to this week was on Feb. 29, 2020. Countless students had either missed out on seeing the rivalry in action at home for a large chunk of their career, or, for underclassmen, they had missed out completely.

I wasn’t the only one who had never attended a QU vs. Yale game before, and I was shocked to hear that Paige Pezzella, a 19-year-old sophomore English and Communications major from Harrison, NY, had never been to one either, despite being halfway done with her second year at this university.

“I was already excited before I had even gotten here…the university does a really great job building up our school spirit,” said Pezzella. “This is different from other games.”

Expectations were high for the game between the Quinnipiac and Yale men’s hockey teams that took place on Feb. 22, 2022, especially for myself. I’m a first-year student who has been in love with the sport of hockey for as long as I could remember, and I was finally getting to attend this magical experience known as “the Yale game.” Words can’t describe how excited I was for this, and everything certainly lived up to the hype.

I wanted to get to the People’s United Center a bit early for this game for a few reasons, the first being that this was the first men’s hockey game I had attended at QU, and I wanted some time to soak it all in before the game started. If you’re a student and you’re reading this, chances are you know that just about everyone has this same idea on game day vs. Yale. A little rain on gameday did not stop the countless tailgates in the parking lot or the line out the door waiting for the experience. 

When I entered the arena, the student section was already nearly completely full. I spent most of my pre-game time just walking around the concourse, trying to memorize every detail of what I was seeing. The entire arena was a sea of dark blue and gold, accentuated by face paint, signs, flags, jerseys, and just about anything crazy that fans could get their hands on to wear to the game.

“I walked in and there was a lot of people already, almost a whole filled-out arena,” said Ronnie Dinnel, a 19-year-old first-year film major from Torrance, CA. This wasn’t just Dinnel’s first Quinnipiac vs. Yale game, or even his first Quinnipiac hockey game – it was his first time seeing a hockey game in person.

“I was expecting the atmosphere to be crazy, for sure”, Dinnel said, looking out at the crowd as he spoke. “It definitely lived up to the hype.”

Dinnel attended the game with Julia Schnarr, also 19-year-old first-year film major. Schnarr, a Basking Ridge, NJ native, had heard a ton about this rivalry before she had even applied to the school.

“I had heard that we had beaten Yale before, and I wanted to see what it was all about…I wanted to see us beat Yale again,” said Schnarr. 

Schnarr told me she was glad that Quinnipiac was winning so far during the first intermission, and judging by the way she couldn’t stop cheering for the entire game, I’m sure she was happy with the end result which was a 4-0 Bobcats win.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sound as loud as when the lights turned off after warmups had ended that night, and that loudness and energy didn’t stop throughout the entire game. The room was filled with electricity, cheers overflowing through the roof, from the time the teams took the ice right up until they saluted the crowd with their sticks.

It wasn’t Kripa Patel’s first QU vs. Yale hockey game, but for the 20-year-old Guilford, CT native and junior health science major, things were different this time around. She had never sat in the student section before, and she was loving it.

“It was so great to be back. I didn’t know much about any of the traditions or anything at my first Yale game, so it was good to know them now,” said Patel. “The hype was definitely there.”

It’s obvious that countless things changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s obvious that fans, players, students, and faculty alike were unsure what the live sports landscape at Quinnipiac would look like post-pandemic. After Hamden’s first Quinnipiac vs. Yale men’s hockey game in almost two years, it’s safe to say that the time away only made Bobcat Nation’s hearts grow fonder for their team. 

No matter what was going on in the lives of those spectators outside of the game, they were all able to come together to celebrate finally getting the opportunity to beat Yale once again. I’m so glad I was there to see it all unfold.