It’s the second overtime of the opening round of the 66th annual Beanpot tournament and nearly every ounce of buzz in the TD Garden has leaked away as midnight quickly approaches.
The crowd has been reduced to a murmur, with the majority of the fans in the lower bowl having departed and the Harvard University student section absent.
However, one section of the Garden balcony is flushed with excitement, even as Monday night transforms into Tuesday.
As the Boston University men’s hockey team sought to avenge its previous year’s loss to the Crimson (11-10-4), the BU Pep Band was with them every step of the way, just as they are at nearly any sporting event students attend on campus.
If you have ever been to a BU sports game, there is no question you’re familiar with the sounds of the BU Pep Band.
Regardless of whether the Terriers are being trounced or dominating the opponent, the band is an unmistakable force of team spirit, busting out the classic ballad “Hey Baby” after victories and enthusing the crowd with contemporary classics such as “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore or “HandClap” by Fitz and the Tantrums.
“The band has turned into a perfectly-timed and well-tuned machine,” band member Joey Buzzell wrote in an email. “We fight for our team until the last minute no matter what the score and it is our job to keep up hype no matter what is happening in the game. If there is a situation where the game seems like there will be no redemption, it is our mission to keep spirits alive and really pray for the world’s best comeback if necessary.”
Over the past decade, the BU Pep Band has carved themselves a reputation for doing just that.
With an extensive repertoire of over 100 songs and numerous chants, the band is an irreplaceable force at BU sporting events.
“The band brings spirit and energy,” BU Director of Athletic Bands Aaron Goldberg said. “I’ve never seen a collegiate pep band as dedicated.”
With approximately 130 members, the band is split into two different groups, red and white. To decide which group attends each sporting event, the schedule is divided into “Red Games” and “White Games.”
Given the heavily-populated BU athletics schedule, the time commitment for band members can be a hefty, especially on weeks such as when the Beanpot is happening.
“The time commitment can be a little heavy at times,” Buzzell wrote. “There are weeks where we only have on game and there are other weeks where the band is requested at three or four different venues. Especially during Beanpot and tournament weeks.”
With the men’s hockey Beanpot final on Monday night and the women’s hockey Beanpot final on Tuesday night, combined with a women’s basketball game on Wednesday night, the band’s calendar has been packed.
Weekends can be similarly busy for the band.
The group plays a total of 120 events per year, 100 of which are athletic. It’s not uncommon for there to be a men’s hockey, women’s hockey and basketball game bundled into a short span of 48 hours.
You can expect to see the band at each of these contests as they are a full-time staple at every single home game for both hockey and basketball matchups.
“I’m astounded they can handle this commitment,” Goldberg said. “They have more performances than any other collegiate bands, and they are pretty academic minded students.”
However, the band’s strong membership allows for students to balance a dedication to the band with being a full-time student. If a members of the “Red Team” are unable to make a “Red Game,” a member from the “White Team” can fill in for them and vice versa.
“We are able to be everywhere without burning ourselves out,” Buzzell wrote. “We can always ask a friend on the other band to sub for us. It is a really flexible and manageable commitment.”
The band has weaved its way into being a staple in the landscape of BU athletics, especially with the men’s and women’s hockey teams.
At men’s games at Agganis Arena, the band is positioned at the top of Section 118, with the rest of the BU student section standing below them, hanging directly over the goal.
“They’re awesome,” men’s hockey freshman forward Brady Tkachuk said. “They get me going at the start of every game and during every game, and the student section also.”
At women’s games, the band is positioned in the far corner of the ice adjacent to the press box. Aided with the bandbox-like nature of the Walter Brown Arena, the band has the opportunity to create a lively atmosphere for the players on the ice.
“They’re unbelievably supportive,” BU women’s hockey coach Brian Durocher said. “The atmosphere they create in the building, it makes you feel like there’s 2,000 people in the building when there might only be 300. The band, they bring the energy, they bring the fun.”
Their presence and dedication at games does not go unnoticed.
“Those people work extremely hard and they have a lot on their plate,” Durocher sad. “We’re just super happy that they’re willing — 30, 40 or 50 strong — to [go to] a cold hockey rink for most of our games.”
While TD Garden might not be as frigid as Walter Brown Arena, the band made its meddle tested as the semifinal of the Beanpot progressed into double overtime as the Terriers continued to battle with Harvard.
The band passed the test with flying colors. They decided to stray from their perch atop one of the balcony sections and join the Terriers’ fan section, named the BU Dog Pound.
Immediately, the band burst into the BU fight song and the BU crowd went wild in support of their team.
“It was honestly one of the most touching times I have had as a band member, to feel that loved,” Buzzell wrote. “Everyone was charged and ready for a fight. It was the most pure definition of the reason we play.”