Northeastern Women’s Hockey: Dominant, but where are the fans?

The student section in the womens game against Holy Cross

Khalin Kapoor

The student section in the women’s game against Holy Cross

Khalin Kapoor, news correspondent

At the historic Matthews Arena Oct. 24, the Northeastern women’s hockey team dominated the Holy Cross Crusaders to the tune of a 3-1 victory. While the play on the ice was electric, the atmosphere was not. At best, the crowd was sparse, with the NU student section, the DogHouse, less than 10% full and the majority of the other seats empty. The recorded attendance at this game was 702, but it felt like much less than that in the arena. At one point, the loudspeakers blasted crowd noise to emulate the sound of cheering fans, something that was not present at the game.

The day before, when the NU men’s team played against Colorado College, the attendance was 4,650 people. The DogHouse was sold out, and the excitement was palpable in the atmosphere of the arena. Cheers and chants rained down from the student section, and the crowd erupted during big moments in the game. It was a marked difference from the women’s game, to say the least.

The student section in the men’s game against Colorado College (Khalin Kapoor)


This NU women’s team is in the midst of a run of dominance that is unprecedented in collegiate sports. Graduate student and goaltender Aerin Frankel was voted the best player in the country last year. The team went 19-1-1 last year and are currently 7-2 this year. They were the first team in their division to ever make it to the NCAA championship game, and they are well on their way to making another appearance this year. They have multiple Olympians on their roster, including senior forward Alina Mueller who has played in two Olympics and was the youngest player ever to medal in women’s ice hockey when she won bronze in Sochi at the age of 16. Given the dominant nature of this team, it is baffling as to why the attendance is so low this year. In their three home games this season, the average attendance is 947. Contrast that to their counterparts on the men’s team, whose average attendance in their four home games this season is about 3,261. That is more than triple the average attendance for a team that has been unquestionably better over the past few years.

The attendance disparities between these teams brings up a much larger conversation about the promotion and perception of women’s sports.  

“With the women’s hockey team in particular, it’s just getting the word out there … letting people know how great and dominant that team is … building more basic awareness about that team in particular and how well they’ve done is a good starting point,” said Dr. Jacob Depue, an assistant teaching professor in the communications department. 

Northeastern has many avenues with which to market their sports programs like through email blasts, QR codes around campus or highlight videos on social media..  These are simple ways to increase awareness about the team’s and get more fans into the stands.

“It only takes one game,” said second-year business major Darren Yeung. “Once someone goes for the first time, they are hooked for the rest of the season.”

Another issue Northeastern needs to address is the scheduling of these games. All but one of the Northeastern men’s games are scheduled at primetime, 7 or 7:30 p.m. They are often on Friday or Saturday nights. For the women’s team, their games are often scheduled to start in the mid-afternoon, 1 or 2 p.m. While they do have some games that begin at 6 p.m, they have no remaining home games that start at 7 p.m. or later.

“If you put more women’s games on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 p.m., I really think that would go a long way to get fans to go,” Depue said. “Students don’t want to go to games at 2:00 p.m.”

The Northeastern women’s hockey team deserves to have fans packed into the stands every time they play. This is a team that people, especially students at Northeastern, need to know about. They have a shot to make history again this season, and fans need to be there to witness it happen.