Home ice advantage is a very real thing in the NHL. Sleeping in your own bed, familiarity with the city and the arena are a couple of big reasons, and an arena packed with screaming fans on your side doesn’t hurt either. The enthusiasm that a massive crowd brings to a building energizes the players and can give them confidence and motivation to defend their turf.
The Chicago Blackhawks have that. Their fans regularly snap up every ticket available at the United Center and leave very little room for supporters of the opponent. That has to make every other team in the league jealous, especially in the West this season. Why? Because Blackhawk fans don’t just take over the UC for every home game, they invade arenas away from Chicago when their team visits.
Hundreds, thousands of the “Blackhawks faithful” make sure their voices are heard when the Blackhawks get a goal or even make a good play. They start chants and cheers, overpowering the home fans. Their voices reach through the radio and TV and confuse listeners. “The Blackhawks scored – awesome! Hear the fans? Wish I was there! Wait, why didn’t the horn sound? Where’s Chelsea Dagger? Oh, right. They’re in Dallas (or Vancouver, Phoenix, Anaheim, etc.).”
It’s fun to listen to the home broadcasters try to ignore the noise that is obviously all for the visitors. But it is impossible not to notice how many Blackhawks fans are in the crowd at every road game. And who can blame them? Their team has given them every reason in the world to flock to arenas all over the U.S. and Canada – shorthanded goals, blocked shots, spin-o-ramas, stellar goaltending, fourth line rewards, last minute comebacks, breaking records, and setting the bar higher. Of course their fans take over other arenas, because their team is taking over the ice.
The Blackhawks give their fans a reason to be heard far away from Chicago, and it won’t stop anytime soon! In the remaining 18 games of the season, only 7 are away from the UC. Seven more chances for Blackhawks fans to cheer their team into the playoffs. Seven more opportunities to weaken any opponent’s home ice advantage and give it to the Blackhawks wherever they end up at the start of the playoffs.
For now, the Blackhawks can rest knowing that visiting a different city isn’t as hard as it could be. Their fans will be there, waiting to cheer them on at the tops of their lungs and sing out a couple courses of Chelsea Dagger – the a Capella version.
Have you ever been to a Blackhawks road game?