UNH has a long history of successful hockey programs. Dating back to Charlie Holt in the ‘70's to present day coach Dick Umile, it has had great support and is a figurehead among the university community. A prominent tradition within the program has been the throwing of the fish. After UNH scores its first goal, all fans turn their attention to the opposing teams net. Up and over the boards, a fish is thrown onto the ice. The crowd erupts in excitement.
According to Bob Norton, a former UNH assistant coach, the fish-tossing tradition began in the early 1970s. "It goes back to when we were playing a Division II team, and our program had gone way past theirs. I remember (the UNH fans) threw out this little dinky thing and they called it a Division II fish. I guess they were trying to tell them they weren't worthy of a first-rate fish."
This tradition caught on as a local fraternity made it a ritual to throw out the fish after UNH's first goal. The fish was used to resemble the visiting team, "fishing the puck out of the net."
One of Umile's favorite fish incidents occurred in the early 1990s. At that time, the home team received a penalty if fans threw objects on the ice. "At all these different rinks people were throwing things--tennis balls, newspapers --and it was really holding up the game," Umile recalls. "It's the Maine weekend, and the cops won't let the kid in with the fish. I'm in the office before the game, and the students come to get me. So I go down there, get the fish from the cops, and we're walking in with the fish in the bag. The kids say, 'But coach, we're going to get a penalty.' I say, 'Don't worry about it. We'll kill the penalty. Just throw the fish.'"
UNH Magazine Winter 01
Blue and White are the official colors of the University of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is known to be the White Mountain State. White resembles the White Mountains of New Hampshire, located an hour north of Durham. The University of New Hampshire campus is located about a mile from the Great Bay estuary, which runs out to the Atlantic Ocean. Blue resembles the Atlantic Ocean.
New Hampshire Colors
written by E Y Blewett '26
We'll take our stand for New Hampshire
Loyal to colors true
White from ever lasting hill and
from the ocean blue
wherever college men gather
long her worth we'll tell
All your sons and your daughters stand to
Sing your praises Alma Mater Hail.
Whiteout the Whit
The hockey gods also favor rinks with personality--places like Lively Snively, the home of Wildcat hockey from 1965 to 1993. Also known as "the barn with an attitude," Snively's intimate setting spawned rowdy crowds and trademark rituals, including the cowbell, the fish and the taunting chants (some of which drive UNH administrators wild). When hockey moved to "the Whit," many people worried that the bigger venue would sap the fans' frenzy and festival. To the contrary, it's all bigger and better. Mowers, now playing for the NHL's Nashville Predators, says, "The chants when we scored a goal and the fish being thrown on the ice are things you don't really get in Nashville."
Nor can the NHL replicate the atmosphere of a "White Out the Whit" night--a new ritual, christened in the final Maine series of 1999, when the crowd mutated into a raucous chorus, wearing white Wildcat jerseys and chanting "UNH, UNH." Says Mowers, "I saw a tape of that game, and it was unbelievable. When the whole place is one color, it really gets you excited about the event."
Now the UNH Athletic Department recognizes the event as an annual fesitivity as they take on the Black Bears of Maine. Everyone in the audience is encouraged to wear white. Promotional items, like CheerStix, are also given out for each fan to bang and make noise during the game, sending a white wave of excitement around the Whittemore Center.
"There is no experience like it. It's the most anticipated game of the year at the Whit. You just have to be there to understand the energy," said UNH Goaltender Mike Ayers. "This night would inspire anyone to want to wear the Wildcat Jersey with pride."
Exerts from UNH Magazine Winter 01 Steve Hardy
New Hampshire Alma Mater
New Hampshire alma mater
All hail, all hail to thee!
Behind thee tower the mountains,
Before thee roars the sea.
Thy sons and daughters ever
Thy praises loud will sing
New Hampshire, alma mater,
Accept our offering.
We love thee, old New Hampshire,
And to White and Blue,
Where'er our work shall call us
We always will be true.
We'll ever guard thy honor,
Bright shall thy mem'ry be
New Hampshire alma mater,
All hail, all hail to thee!