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Michigan expecting a childless Yost this weekend

By Michael Laurila, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 27, 2013

Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson has stressed the importance of keeping the opposing team’s crowd — specifically its student section — out of the game when the Wolverines are on the road.

When Michigan’s at home, Yost Ice Arena is one of the most formidable venues in the CCHA. Its unofficial student section, Children of Yost, shows up early and constantly makes noise while bantering the opposing team’s players.

“They’re unbelievable. They come up with a little of everything,” said senior forward A.J. Treais. “They’ve been great to my class and all the classes that have been here so I think they’re one of the best student sections in the nation. It speaks a lot about the Children of Yost and what they’ve done and what they put together every day we come into the rink.”

Though Yost might have lost some of its intimidation factor this year — the Wolverines (9-15-2 CCHA, 12-18-2 overall) have gone just 7-8 at home — it’s still considered to be a difficult arena to play in. But when Ferris State visits this weekend for Michigan’s regular-season finale, the crowd might not play a big role.

Every year, the CCHA’s final regular-season weekend takes place during the University’s spring break. When the final series is at home, tickets aren’t included in the students’ season ticket packages. Though there’s an option to pay extra for tickets to the games, many students don’t choose that path.

LSA senior and four-year ticket holder Dan Rosenberg chose to buy the extra tickets because, “12 dollars isn’t really going to mean that much to keep people away in terms of how many people are going to show up.”

But he feels that all of the students won’t be in the same boat. Since it’s the first weekend of spring break, they likely already had plans to be out of town.

“I’m definitely in the minority of people who I know that are buying tickets for the game though,” Rosenberg said.

The bigger issue is that the final home series, which includes senior night, falls when the majority of students have pre-arranged spring break plans. Unfortunately, there’s nothing the University can do to affect the scheduling since the CCHA makes the schedule.

“Tickets were not included in the season ticket packages as we knew it fell over spring break and the overwhelmingly majority of students would not be able to attend,” said the athletic department’s chief marketing officer, Hunter Lochmann, in an e-mail interview. “Our primary goal is to have a full arena for Red and the team, so we couldn't risk including the students and not having anyone show up.”

For the past three years, Michigan has been on the road during its final weekend series, allowing the students to see the final regular-season home series and senior night. But before that stretch, the scheduling wasn’t so favorable to the Children of Yost — starting in 2002, six of seven senior nights took place with the students on spring break, though Yost later played host to a CCHA Tournament series in front of the students in each of those seasons.

This won’t be the only time this season that a hockey series was affected by the University break schedule, though. The Wolverines squared off against Bowling Green the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the majority of the students weren’t in attendance. Some were scattered among the regular seating, but Yost didn’t have the same atmosphere.

And the absence of the Children of Yost comes at a crucial time for the Wolverines. Michigan currently sits in eighth place in the CCH, but just five points separate seventh and 10th place. So if the Wolverines have a good weekend, it’s much more likely that they wouldn’t have to play on the road in the first round of the CCHA Tournament.

“It’s not the same without the students,” Berenson said. “But we can’t let that be a factor or worry about that. Our fans have been great and spring break or not, we’re going to get a good contingent of fans. Some students might stay, but it won’t be the same. Nevertheless, we have to create our own energy if it’s not there.”