Turf war: Rival hockey fans out-yell each other for home-ice advantage


Abbi Woodcock screams at EKU fans after a Kentucky goal during the game against EKU on Saturday, January 20, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. The Cats were defeated 6-5. Photo by Rick Childress | Staff

Rick Childress

Left of center ice, the crowd was a sea of blue. To the right it was all maroon.

“U-K sucks, U-K sucks, U-K sucks,” the maroon EKU crowd chanted in unison after EKU scored its first goal of Friday night’s club ice hockey game at the Lexington Ice Center.

The UK side looked worried but still took solace in the fact that their team was up by two goals.

EKU was listed as the visiting team on the scoreboard, but for both teams this was home ice. When both teams play each other in their annual showdown— it’s a house divided. The game is a competition on and off the ice as opposing fan bases duke it out in the stands while the teams do it on the ice.

“It’s like a war zone,” said UK freshman Abbi Woodcock as she stared across the aisle at the opposing EKU fans.

“It’s pretty aggressive because they’re yelling at you and yelling at them,” she said before an EKU fan complimented her toboggan. “She complimented my hat but then we’re back to war again.”

Bryan Spruce, a UK freshman who is a roommate of one of hockey players, said that he and his friends are some of the rowdiest fans in the stands.

“I don’t know about them,” Spruce said while gesturing towards the EKU side. “We’re the most rowdy fans in the state for sure.”

During the games, Spruce said that he usually talks trash to the opposing players when they get close to the glass.

“We don’t say anything too bad, but we don’t normally keep it clean,” Spruce said about a half hour before stripping off his shirt and screaming at EKU players. “Anything to knock them off their game.”

UK fans tried to revive their team but their “C-A-T-S” chants didn’t yield results. The Cats fell to the Colonels 5-6, after EKU scored a breakaway goal midway through the third period.

Daniel Stork, an EKU sophomore who said he goes to every home hockey game, said he came out “to see EKU beat UK.” Stork got his wish as he saw the Colonels come back from an early three-goal deficit to claim the Bourbon Barrel trophy— which is awarded to the winner the annual game.

“U-K sucks, U-K sucks, U-K sucks,” the maroon fans cheered as their team lifted the Bourbon bBrrel trophy while a frustrated UK team angrily left the ice.

UK and EKU take to the ice again Saturday night at 11:55 p.m.