The Detroit Red Wings are famous for their tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice, which started in 1952, with the legs symbolizing the number of playoff wins it took (at that time) to win the Stanley Cup. The UNH Wildcats have their own longstanding tradition and last night we got to capture it in all its HD glory.
The fish flinging tradition began in the early 1970s, after UNH had moved from Division II to Division I in hockey, and is thrown at every home game after UNH scores its first goal.
“It goes back to when we were playing Bowdoin,” Bob Norton says. “Of course they were in Division II, 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 Bowdoin they weren’t worthy of a first-rate fish.”
Organized sports are nothing if not persistent in eliminating fun from the game, albeit sometimes in the name of safety, and longtime Head Coach Dick Umile relates his favorite fishy story:
In the early 1990s 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,” the coach 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.'”
You can read the full story here, and although that fish looks partially frozen to me, it can’t be any fun to be the guy who gets to grab that slimy, smelly tradition and huck it over the glass – especially when he gets his foot stuck in a seat as he did last night.