Hockey spirit group returns to campus

Noah Jones and Noah Jones

In student section A of the Ice Arena is where Ron Burgandy, the red “angry bird” and other characters watch each Falcon hockey game.

Masked cheerleaders known as the “Bleacher Creatures” are reviving a notable University tradition, with junior Ryan Sowers leading the charge.

“The Bleacher Creatures are a group from back when BG hockey rose to power,” said Sowers, a business and marketing education major. “Their job, essentially, was to make the section as rowdy as possible and to bring spirit and to give [the Falcons] home ice advantage.”

Sowers and his partners Jordan Dettrow and Josh Hoke are working with the Falcon Fanatics to bring back the lost leaders of Section A.

“The tradition and spirit with the hockey program has really died down a little bit over the years,” said Dettrow, a sophomore AYA Social Studies major. “We decided we wanted to bring some of that tradition back. The Bleacher Creatures were a phenomenal group back at that time.”

The Bleacher Creatures are encouraging more students to come to the hockey games.

“Our goal is to be a huge force at the hockey games. We want it to be hard for the other teams to play,” Dettrow said. “We want students to come out to the games and learn the cheers.”

They may seem similar to Sic Sic, but the Bleacher Creatures are careful not to step on any historical toes.

“Freddie and Freida and Sic Sic are traditions. We want to work with them,” Sowers said. “The difference between us and Sic Sic is that their identities are secret and that they are a long time tradition.

The group especially wants to be acknowledged and recognized by other students and fans.

“I want people to see us at hockey games and say ‘there are the Bleacher Creatures’, and not ‘what are those people doing in Halloween costumes?’” Dettrow said.

Back when the University’s hockey team was ranked fourth in the nation, an article about the team and its fans was published in Sports Illustrated. The article mentioned the Bleacher Creatures and their influence on the hockey team.

“We started the Creatures in 1978, just prior to the season, on a whim,” said Jim Rudloff, an original member of the 1978 group. “Five of us made the debut appearance, at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich., piling out of a couple cars on a side street near there, and pulling on our outfits.”

The new Bleacher Creatures have similar rituals but are putting a twist on the original 1970’s costumes.

“Instead of wearing hockey pads and goalie masks, we are wearing more relatable costumes,” Sowers said.

This season, section A will be sharing seats with Ron Burgundy from the film “Anchorman,” the red angry bird, Katniss from “The Hunger Games”, Robin from “Batman”, Ted from “Ted”, the Avatar, a blind referee and a big baby.

“We still want to be respectful because we are representing Bowling Green,” Sowers said.

The Bleacher Creatures are certain that their presence makes a difference to the hockey teams.

“As a former athlete in high school, I know it is so much better to have a crowd cheering for you getting in the other teams’ head,” Sowers said.

Sowers said that the Bleacher Creatures plan on having theme nights like ugly sweater night, 1980s and country nights, as a way to get students more involved with the game.

“Its great to see them doing this,” Rudloff said. “For them to make the commitment–it is great to see someone doing this again.”

One of Rudloff’s most fond moments came against the Polish Olympic team before the Lake Placid Games in 1980.

“Those guys were cracking up and pointing at us during warm-ups and then we whipped their butts,” said Rudloff.

The group continued their tricks in the stands until all of the Creatures had graduated.

Nearly 35 years later, Sowers hopes to revive interest in the group and a tradition of supporting the University’s hockey program.

“We get the privilege of watching Division 1 across the board for free, why not go out and support them in our athletic endeavors,” Sowers said.