After Saturday afternoon’s events at Michigan Stadium, a lot of Wolverine fans needed a release, a break from an awful reality: this year’s Michigan football team isn’t just bad by Michigan standards. It’s bad by Mid-American Conference standards too, apparently.

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But even though Michigan football is in the proverbial toilet, there are still outlets on campus where Michigan fans can focus their passion.

A couple thousand students found some solace at Yost Ice Arena on Saturday night.

The Michigan hockey team got its regular season underway with a sweep of St. Lawrence this weekend. The victories weren’t pretty, but the crowd was raucous and that means a lot.

Yost is probably going to become a refuge for a lot of Michigan students during a down year for the football team. That’s good, because Yost is one of the best places in the country to watch a hockey game, and the Wolverines are going to be a fun team to watch.

The student season ticket sales for hockey more than doubled from last season, and rightfully so. Last year’s team reached the Frozen Four, and the Wolverines return tons of talent.

But even if Michigan wasn’t one of the nation’s top teams, students should still be heading to Yost on Friday and Saturday nights.

Going to a game at Yost is one of the best fan experiences on this campus.

From the cheers, to the jeers, to the dancing, the Yost student section is the loudest and rowdiest crowd in Southeast Michigan. Yes, most of the cheers were stolen from a traveling band of Cornell fans in 1991, and it’s not exactly a family-friendly atmosphere, but the level of vulgarity (see: C-Ya chant) is perfect for a couple thousand 18-to-23 year olds with varying levels of sobriety.

Most importantly, the student section at Yost has an impact on the game. I could rattle off at least 10 games in the last two years where the crowd played a key role in Michigan wins.

One that sticks out is last January’s comeback win over Notre Dame. Michigan was down two goals after the first period, but the crowd stayed in the game and helped the team pull even in the third. When Louie Caporusso scored the game-winning goal in the final minute, I thought the roof might come off. The building was literally shaking.

And that’s just one instance. Even when Michigan is losing by wide margins (which doesn’t happen often at Yost), the crowd is in it for the long haul and that’s what makes Yost different from Michigan Stadium and Crisler Arena.

When Michigan football fell behind 19 points to Wisconsin in the first half, a lot of students headed for the exits. That would never happen at Yost.

There are just two home games left on the football schedule, but the hockey team has 15 more game at Yost, plus the CCHA playoffs.

So instead of just jumping off the Michigan football bandwagon, jump onto Michigan hockey’s. You won’t be the only one.

—Sandals can be reached at nsandals@umich.edu.

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