Alongside the falling leaves, new cold air and the approach of midterms, there stands a highly anticipated sports season that fills the campus with pride and spirit: hockey season. Since the development of the men’s ice hockey program in 1977, the division I hockey team has become one of the most popular teams to watch in the area.

“When I visited this campus for the first time, so many people would tell me that their favorite UMaine tradition is the hockey games,” second-year student Katherine Reardon said. “Our school is so lucky to have such a great sport that brings everyone together under one roof, cheering on the team and being a community full of excited students. We watch our team battle it out on the ice while we sing our hearts out and celebrate in the spirit of the school.”

What makes the heavily-attended hockey games in the Alfond Arena so popular is the fact that tickets are free for students with a MaineCard, and students can sit together in the designated fan section. This jam-packed section of bleachers isn’t complete without a pep band to get the crowd pumped up with songs and chants or Bananas, the school mascot.

One of the oldest University of Maine traditions, The Stein Song, is played many times throughout the course of each game, allowing students to show off their skills and sing along with friends. Other chants are also led by passionate students and band members, such as “The Fight Song,” “Go Bears” and “Sieve,” directed at the away team’s goalie.

A signature sign that a home game is about to start is the long line outside of the Alfond Arena by the student entrance. In order to get themselves good seats and start getting in the school spirit, fans start waiting outside in a line sometimes up to 3 hours before each game starts.

“Hockey season is my favorite time of year,” fifth-year student Alexandria Newhall said. “Everyone gets so excited and cheers on the team together as a school. The Naked Five and band get people out of their seats and chanting and singing, you can see the smiles on everyone’s faces as we all just celebrate together.”

Other traditions unique to our campus’ arena include the Naked Five, a swinging doll referee, painted faces and banners and signs displaying the numbers of favorite team players.

The Naked Five is a group of five Sigma Phi Epsilon members who often start different chants and get the crowd excited and ready to watch each game. They paint blue letters on their chest, spelling out the word “Maine,” and run around the arena ringing a bell each time UMaine scores a goal.

During the regular hockey season, home games are usually played on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. at the Alfond Arena. Students and people from the community, pack the stands and together create an upbeat atmosphere.

The most heavily-attended games are the UMaine versus University of New Hampshire (UNH) games. UNH is UMaine’s historic “rival” in the world of hockey, and fans go crazy making signs and chants up to prepare for these exciting and intense games.

“The UNH games are always the best of the season. The student section is so crowded that you end up becoming best friends with the people next to you. It’s such a great experience, and fills you with a love and appreciation for our school and how prideful we are of our hockey team,” Reardon said.

To find out more information about UMaine’s hockey teams and other athletics, please visit goblackbears.com. The next UMaine home game is Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. versus The University of Massachusetts Lowell.