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Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Column: Beware the Crease Creatures

The part of the game visiting competitors weren’t ready for: the Crease Creatures.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is officially a hockey school. 

Following the wild weekend of Nov. 3 — the women’s team tying their third-longest winning streak from the season opening and the men’s team sweeping No. 4 Michigan — Madison has cemented itself among the elite. And this comes before both teams were ranked number one

This is no surprise for the women’s team, which has created attention for years and won their seventh national title last season. They were previously tied with Minnesota for the most in the NCAA. 

The record-breaking doesn’t stop there. Renowned women’s hockey head coach Mark Johnson, a member of both the IIHF Hall of Fame and the US Hockey Hall of Fame, and a player for Team USA during the 1980 Miracle on Ice, just reached his 600th win — becoming the first coach in NCAA women’s hockey history to do so. 

The men’s season also started strong. In the five series so far, Badger men’s hockey has nine wins and three losses. This includes remarkable wins against the previous No. 1 Minnesota and a tie-breaking goal in the last six seconds of the series final against No. 4 Michigan.  

What factors does Wisconsin have, besides skilled players and coaches, that help contribute to these wins? Student-athletes at Madison have a wide variety of resources available to them, focusing on their academic and physical prosperity.

But there’s another large component at play: the Crease Creatures. 

The Badger student section, titled “AreaRED,” supports many of the schools’ top-ranked sports teams and rivals other student bodies across the country. With famous traditions like the singing of  “Buttercup” and “Varsity,” spectators don’t have to worry about a lack of entertainment. 

AreaRED encompasses all sports at UW-Madison, and simply being a student at a sporting event means you are a member of AreaRED. They’ve coined names for some of these student sections: soccer’s being “The Colony,” volleyball’s being “MadHouse” and hockey’s being the “Crease Creatures.” 

AreaRED is led and organized by UW-Madison students, allowing students and athletes to connect through their love of sports. It helps students become a part of something meaningful during their time at Madison. 

The night of Nov. 4 was recorded as the highest-attended men’s hockey game at the Kohl Center since Jan. 29, 2022

“That was just such an unbelievable feeling, seeing that many people in the Kohl Center, the student section,” Mathieu De St. Phalle, who scored the final goal, told BadgerExtra after the Nov. 4  game. “That’s just what we’ve been dreaming about going into the season.” 

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Last season, the women’s hockey team recorded six crowds of more than 10,000 fans and was the only school to draw crowds of over 10,000 to women’s hockey games.

Players talked about the crowd as a source for their energy after beating No. 4 Michigan on Nov. 3. 

“Getting the crowd involved and getting the entire school behind us just feeding off of the energy,” said sophomore forward Simon Tassy. 

“The more fans we can get, the better because we need to make this place the hardest place to play,” added graduate student forward Owen Lindmark.

With attendance starting off strong in both the Kohl Center and LaBahn Arena, each team is looking to have an excitement-packed and well-supported year. 

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