By Gillian McMahon
This article is part of the 2022-2023 printed “Hockey Edition” that will be available on campus Friday, Sept. 30 and at both men’s and women’s opening nights. Be sure to get your copy!
The past few winters on Commonwealth Avenue have looked different for Boston University’s primary athletic draw — hockey. The COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2019-2020 season ahead of the Hockey East Tournament, and the 2020-2021 campaign barred in-person fan attendance. Last winter, however, saw the 100th anniversary season of the men’s hockey program, and the start of a return to normalcy.
Although Terrier hockey has a long and storied history, including five national championships, 22 Frozen Four appearances, nine Hockey East championships, and 31 Beanpot titles, the notion of BU as a hockey school has been lost in translation.
At the forefront of promoting BU athletics and the hockey school culture is the student section, the Dog Pound. According to Rafael Perron, the group’s president and a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, if “you’re a student and you’re part of the crowd at any game, you’re part of the Dog Pound.”
At games, the group is known for their chants, posters, and goalie taunts erupting from sections 108 and 118. Behind the scenes, the group plans events and develops content for their social media channels to get the Terrier fanbase excited and engaged throughout the season.
This Fall, however, only the senior class remembers what pre-pandemic BU hockey was like.
“What ended up happening is you have two generations of fans,” said Perron about the state of the fanbase prior to last season. “One [generation is] my freshman year, who watched an entire regular season that got cut off during the playoffs. Then you have another generation that did a year of school, but they never watched hockey. Then you have the incoming freshman.”
These past few years have shown an energy shift, both in the level of play on the ice and the fan engagement off of it. The pandemic slowed the momentum and excitement building around the hockey teams, especially considering a season with no fans allowed.
“Empty buildings and partially empty buildings, it just doesn’t feel right,” said Perron.
Now, as the Terriers prepare for the start of their new seasons without COVID-19 restrictions, the Dog Pound is gearing up for the full comeback. This year, the Dog Pound won’t be made up of “three years of people trying to recoup, trying to figure out what’s going on,” according to Perron. Instead, more returning students have become Agganis regulars and have grown accustomed to sporting their jerseys and screaming the BC chant at the top of their lungs.
Gaining exposure to the student body at events, such as the Terrier Tailgate, SPLASH, and early exhibition games, the Dog Pound has gained exposure and ramped up support ahead of the men’s home opener vs Bentley on Oct. 1.
Together, the Dog Pound and the Terrier hockey teams are fostering an experience and culture that is synonymous with teamwork, dedication, and success.
“At the end of the day, it is an entertainment thing,” said Perron. “[The teams are] there to win. That’s their job and that’s the entertainment they provide. But the entertainment we provide is completely different.”
For the Dog Pound, the 2022-2023 campaign is all about planting the seeds for the future of the Terrier hockey fandom.
“We cannot change BU culture, the entirety, ourselves,” Perron said. “If you hear little things around campus, that means the word is spreading.”