The Michigan Daily continues its impressive streak of outstanding sports feature writing with an article by Michael Florek on how Yost became the intimidating barn it is today.
The student section, barely extending blue line to blue line behind the benches, had already started the countdown.
No. 3 seed Michigan was up 4-3 on sixth-seeded Cornell as the seconds slowly counted down in the 1991 Regional. The crowd, staring at the approximately 200 Cornell fans situated near center ice on the side opposite of the student section, belted out the numbers. “Five! Four! Three! Two!...”. But the countdown never finished.
Big Red forward Kent Manderville slapped a backhand shot from the top of the circle past freshman goaltender Steve Shields to tie the game.
Cornell then scored on its first trip down the ice in overtime to end the game, but it was the halted countdown that spurred the veteran Big Red crowd.
“I’ve never heard a countdown stop,” William Sangrey, a Cornell graduate student at the time said. “Five, four, three, two, and it stopped. The whole building just stopped.”
The following night, as the first period waned down, the boisterous Cornellians added a new chant to their already versatile repertoire.
“They would go, ‘Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, OHHH!’ to make fun of the crowd reaction,” then-Michigan graduate student Matt Thullen said. “I was like, ‘hey that was actually pretty clever.’ ”
From there, it was on. The crowd started adopting (stealing) Cornell chants and learning how to make Yost work for them.
The article then retells the Molly McGannon/Blizzard story and closes with Michigan fans overtaking Munn Ice Arena, just the way MSU fans used to do at Yost in the years before the surge in Michigan hockey popularity among the student body.
“When we had all our fans there, it was kind of a slap in the face to them,” junior forward Louie Caporusso said two weeks ago. “It showed how much more we cared, and it really propelled our team to win those games.”
Michigan had finally done to Michigan State what had made Berenson so embarrassed in his early years in Ann Arbor — it had forced the Spartans to play a road game at home.
“It culminated in that,” Berenson said. “We have never had a home-ice advantage at Michigan State in all the years we’ve been here. You can just see there is so much momentum around this program that in a situation this past spring it showed up on the road.”
Early in game one, before the Wolverines pulled the first of four upsets to win the conference tournament and extend their NCAA Tournament streak, the Michigan section used its hallmark of recent years and belted out one of its impromptu cheers. It was a simple, but effective, statement directed at the Spartan student section.
“WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!”