The Birth of a College Hockey Tradition

College sports are a bastion of tradition.   For example, football fans throw toast at UPenn (not the handsy university in PA, the Ivy League one in Philly), kids wasting their parents money on a worthless college degree attending Ohio State jump in a lake before the Michigan football game and Auburn University students TP their own trees in the middle of campus when they win a big game.

They call it "rolling the corner"

College hockey is a whole different breed of goofy traditions.  Hockey is a sport that lends itself to unwritten rules, traditions and un-codified standards that you just do and things that you just don’t do.*  So we know that college is a tradition-rich environment and we know that hockey is, generally speaking, for borderline insane people.  What amounts is some pretty creative, albeit useless, fun.  Paramount throughout both parts of the equation is a characteristic which we have covered before, ingenuity.
Allow me to elaborate via example.  The University of Michigan recruited a young Swede from Sodertalje, Sweden by the name of Carl Hagelin.**  Many people will recognize that name as that of current New York Ranger Carl Hagelin.  Same dude.  Incredible, I know.  What impressed me most is just how fast he was/is.
Now, Sodertalje is a quick 4,124 miles and change from Ann Arbor so it’s natural that maybe Hagelin felt homesick at times, maybe not.  The student section at Yost recognized this and waved a giant Swedish flag covering a large portion of the student section just for him.

This is where the story gets really good.  Actually, I’ll let the Michigan Daily tell the rest of the story (source):

The monstrous Swedish flag that had made its home in the section for much of the past two years was hoisted over the glass with the yellow cross emblazoned with the black marks of students’ signatures.

Hagelin, a native of Sodertalje, Sweden, took the flag, put it over his shoulder, and skated on. He has more games to play, but this game — a game that ended with last-minute goals by Hagelin both in regulation and overtime — was the last the flag will see.

It’s Hagelin’s now.

At the postgame press conference he said getting the flag was pretty emotional. Engineering junior Rob Eckert, the now-previous owner of the flag, felt the same way.

“It marked that the era of Carl had moved on,” Eckert said. “It had become such a big part of the student section for the past two years, this season and the season before. It was kind of weird having this little — I guess you could say little landmark in the student section be gone … It was a weird feeling handing it off.”

The roughly 120-foot hand-made flag, which Eckert’s mom made for him as a Christmas present, started making appearances between the visitors bench and the band shortly after the start of last year’s winter semester. Since then it has become a mainstay, paving the way for another giant flag to make an appearance — a Texas banner in honor of sophomore forward and Flower Mound, Texas native Chris Brown.

But with Hagelin’s final season coming to an end and no Swedes on Michigan’s radar in the near future, Eckert “figured we should probably do something.” He did as he signed the flag, and walked throughout the entire student section so his peers could do the same. By the time the flag was thrown onto the ice, Eckert estimated some 200 to 300 people had signed it.

And just before the flag was to make its maiden and final voyage onto the ice, Eckert scribbled a quick note and tucked it into the flag.

Carl it’s been a pleasure watching you all these years. Everyone definitely appreciates it. I’m sure everyone in the student section will continue to follow you. Keep your stick on the ice.

Signed,
Rob + The Children of Yost

And a new tradition was born.  For the 2011-12 season, a.k.a flag-year 2, the Yost faithful are rocking the Don’t Mess With Texas theme.  The Wolverines have a big power forward named Chris Brown.***  He’s from the hockey hotbed of Flower Mound, Texas.  So, now the faithful fly this bad boy.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you.

 He’s just a junior, but he may opt for the NHL after this year.  I’m sure he’ll get the signed flag as well either this year or next.  I don’t know if he’s reached Hage-status, but he’s obviously getting close because he has been doing things like this…
And now they’re gearing up for next year already.

UPDATE: It took them a whole 2 hours and 6 minutes to meet and exceed their goal.

According to my sources *cough*social media*cough* next year will have 2 flags.  One which will be a permanent fixture year after year and another Arizona flag for current Junior Luke Moffatt of Paradise Valley, AZ.  I love the birth of new and really awesome tradition.
EDIT (4/23/2012)
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*  Translation for girls and non-hockey fans:  My pseudo-sister Courtney pointed out to me that this is like ordering off the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger.  Once you know about it, it’s the only way to go about it.
**  Recruited is not the right word, but he ended up signing with them.  He showed up at a  camp as a pre-teen out of the (Go) blue and impressed the coaches so much that they offered him a scholarship which he accepted.
***  Insert probably-too-soon Rihanna joke here.
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