26 minutes and 13 seconds before the game begins. We all stand at the back of the Alfond arena waiting for the 23 minute mark. The stands are full of people were here because they love hockey, they love the sport, they follow the season and tournament standings, everything. Good on them for enjoying what they love. So why are you here? Because you're with the band. // you don't find out who were playing until you see the northeastern team outside the locker room set aside for the band, kicking a soccer ball between them. Their chairs are loud enough to make you grateful for the walls keeping them out. // At the 23 minute mark, the Screaming Black Bears Pep Band play For Maine, Before circling the ice and marching up the concrete steps to the student section. // Squeeze in, shoulder to shoulder, taking up only as much space as we need to. Try to keep your arms in, or you'll elbow a flute player in the face. Watch where you swing your clarinet, or you'll slam the bell right on the drummer's head. Don't lean too far back, or your spine will get a little too well acquainted with a tenor saxophone. // Wait for the music playing on the speakers to die down before opening with Gimme Some Lovin'. It's hard trying to do choreographed movements and play at the same time without hitting your neighbors, but the fans love it, so it's worth it. Fill the time with other staples until the team gets on the ice, then play the Stein Song, immediately followed by You Said It All. // once the game starts, it's a matter of keeping an eye on your director. A timeout can happen at any time, and you need to have the sheet music for the next short song and long song at the ready. // behind the net, in the DD section of the balcony, with the students showing their support, we easily have the best seats in the house. It's not without its problems, though. One: we don't sit. Unless we're playing no. 5, where you get to sit back and lean back and forth for eight measures before getting back up and playing again. Two: no one can see the scoreboard behind the Jumbotron. // stand through three 20 minute periods, playing anytime the team isn't. Wait for the final buzzer. Pack up and head home.

A post shared by Ryan Cox (@ryancoxcmj) on