Life in Pegula Ice Arena’s Raucous Student Section
With shoulder length blond hair, a red cape, and a hammer, Thor walks up and down the stands of Pegula Ice Arena’s student section.
The Penn State sophomore, who’s choosing to remain anonymous for now, attends each home hockey game as Thor. He stays in character through his mannerisms—hitting the glass with his hammer while shaking his other fist—and even created a new voice for himself, which sounds something like a British accent from a century ago. “Indeed I do,” says Thor.
He says since he dressed up once, both players and fans expect him to attend games in character. Thor is even looking ahead to future seasons and saving up for a new costume, which he says is not something you’d find at a costume store, but rather at some sort of comic book convention.
Other students come dressed as hotdogs, burritos, or simply, in Penn State garb. And you can see the whole array Saturday night, as the Nittany Lions take on Boston College.
The student section gets intense with 1,000 seats where the bleachers are as steep as regulations allow with the goal of making the arena as loud as possible. Shakers, foam fingers, or thunder sticks are supplied at most games. The energy remains high with familiar songs and chants from Beaver Stadium, including “Hey Baby, “Shout,” and “Living on a Prayer.”
However, hockey fans take the songs and chants a little further by yelling, “It’s all your fault,” when the opposing team’s goalie allows a Penn State goal. They also torment the opposing team’s goalie by echoing his name over and over again to get inside his head.
Sophomore Kyle Hoke says hockey fans tend to be more wild and crazy than other fans due to the game’s fast pace. He says there’s hardly any downtime, so it’s easy to keep the energy high. Hoke, along with senior Nick Panos, runs the student section as members of the Hockey Management Association, which was looking for students to build hype and organize chants to keep the student section enthused throughout the game.
Panos says he was born into hockey. The Pittsburgh native was born the day the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and has been a Pens—and hockey—fan ever since. Hoke didn’t become a hockey fan until after he saw the New Jersey Devils play when he was 11, but after that he was hooked and became a true hockey fan. It’s because of students like him that the arena is so loud.
“True fans of hockey are really passionate about it and doesn’t take much for them to get into the game,” says Hoke.
— Sarah Olah, intern