An Inside Look at the Boston University Dog Pound at Agganis Arena.
Picture: Alastair Ingram/Boston College
On a cold and breezy Friday night, the spotlight is on the west side of the Boston University campus.
In men’s hockey, the Boston University Terriers are hosting arch rivals Boston College inside a sold out Agganis Arena. Red and White Terrier jerseys flood the arena, as their mascot Rhett take pictures and high fives fans of all ages.
The Battle of Commonwealth Avenue is the third most played rivalry in all of college hockey. The two teams began playing each other annually over 70 years ago and November 30th’s matchup was the 278th meeting between the two sides.
The two teams first met over 100 years ago in an inaugural contest Boston College won.
Both sides enter the game with sub. 500 records but each team knows that a win against their rival could spark the turning point in their season. Both teams have 10 or more players that have already been drafted into the NHL and will look for them to step up in a big way. However, Boston University has one clear advantage which they hope the can take advantage of, the fan section.
The fan section at Agganis Arena contains two key components: the pep band and the Dog Pound. The band is led by Boston native Aaron Goldberg, who has conducted the pep band for eight years. Goldberg is no stranger on building up hype for all personnel in the building.
“We have 120 songs that are divided into three categories,” said Goldberg. “Songs that the band love, songs that the Dog Pound love and songs the crowd loves hearing.”
According to Goldberg, all three song categories serve the same purpose of building up energy inside Agganis Arena.
As the band is introduced and the referees for that night’s contest make their way onto the ice, the pep band wastes no time and begins to build up the energy in the arena with the playing of a crowd favorite, “Shipping up to Boston”.
Jake Oettinger, a first round pick of the Dallas Stars in 2017, leads the Terriers onto the ice to the tune of Peter Gun. With the crowd hyped and energy flowing throughout Agganis Arena, the starting lineup of the visiting Boston College Eagles is announced. This is where the Dog Pound makes their presence felt.
“We turn our backs when the opposing team are introduced, move our right arm in a circular motion above our head, yelling the whole time, then turn and yell “SUCKS,”” said 20-year-old Katie Hansen, one of the Dog Pound leaders.
Boston College goalie Joe Woll is greeted by the Dog Pound not with the word “sucks”, but with the chant, “Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!”
“We repeatedly yell sieve towards the goalie,” said Hansen. “I sit in the front row most games, so we tend to yell and smack our hands on the glass just for a little extra noise.”
Hansen takes pride in being a leader of the Dog Pound. “It’s honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve made during my time at BU,” said the Illinois native. “I’ve been a hockey fan all my life and coming to a school where hockey was the big sport was awesome and I knew from the beginning I wanted to go to as many games as possible, and get as involved as I could.”
With the Eagles starting lineup announced, the stadium lights dim and only the Terrier players are visible. One by one, each BU starter gets a spotlight on him as they each skate to the blue line with their names echoing throughout the arena. The Dog Pound and the rest of the arena burst into cheers and get as loud as they can. Finally, goaltender Jake Oettinger is introduced and all Dog Pound members simultaneously begin to bow to Oettinger.
After a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, the puck is on the Terrier logo and the game is underway. Immediately the Dog Pound, perfectly in sync, begin with chants such as, “Let’s Go Terriers!” and “Go BU!”
“As for chants, we pass out a paper before the games with the chants listed out for each period as well as just the general ones we do whenever we want the students to get loud,” said Hansen.
Sara Mack, 20, is one of two leaders in the pep band’s clarinet section and she says they have a simple formula to playing in unison.
“The tunes we play are written on a small white board that Goldberg holds up to show us as soon as the previous song is completed,” said Mack. “A band member runs ‘boards’ to write the next song throughout the game, and that’s how we know what to play next. Many band members have most of the songs memorized, but we flip to the next song in the book as soon as we finish playing, so we are ready for the next pause in the game.”
Just minutes into the game, the Terriers gain momentum with the Eagles in penalty trouble. Chad Krys would make Boston College pay, scoring a power play goal and sending the crowd in Agganis Arena into a frenzy. With the Terriers up a goal early on, this further supports the pep band and Dog Pound’s idea that their support plays a role in motivating the team.
“We are the fuse that lights the dynamite,” said Goldberg. “It could just be the band or the students, but the two together with the live crowd and live band just drives up the energy. Former Boston University head coach Jack Parker, who led the men’s hockey team for forty-years, said in his retirement speech that, “the band is always good for a goal and a half. It makes you feel valuable.”
“I think the dog pound adds a really special component to BU athletics, and it definitely helps the BU community to feel more connected,” Mack said. “I think the athletes really appreciate having us there.”
“We’ve actually talked to a few of the guys, and some of them send us messages on social media after big wins, and they thank us and tell us how much they appreciate it,” said Hansen. “It just shows them that they’ve got support and when they’re exhausted, I think hearing us relentlessly cheering for them helps keep them going.”
23-year-old Matt Dressens, who has worked as an intern for the past few years with the BU men’s hockey team, loves the fan section but thinks that more people can get involved.
“The fan section is great,” said Dressens. “Unfortunately, the student crowds have been down the past few years despite the team making the NCAA tournament four straight years. Gone are the days of both end zones behind the goals behind packed with standing students. Today it is far less enthusiastic. There is a dedicated group that goes night and night out, but that group used to be a lot bigger.”
Although Boston University went into the first period with a 1-0 lead, the second and third periods were not as kind to them. Boston College would shutout the Terriers for the remainder of the game and score two goals in each of the remaining two periods. The siren sounds and the Terriers have been defeated 4-1.
Even though this game didn’t go as Boston University had hoped, the Dog Pound and Terrier fans across the country know there will be another night where they will triumph. Dog Pound members will continue to put in hard work to make everything possible and they will always be there to support their Terriers.
“It’s a lot of work and collaboration within a small group but when we see how much people enjoy it, it makes it all worth it,” Hansen said.