UMass Twitter helps fans attend Frozen Four in person

  • UMass sophomore Quinn McCarron wears a reindeer costume to UMass hockey games. He was able to bring it to the Frozen Four thanks to the generosity of the UMass Twitter community. GAZETTE STAFF/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 4/8/2021 8:25:02 PM

PITTSBURGH — UMass Twitter takes care of its own. When the Minutmen qualified for their second Frozen Four @curryhickssage, one of UMass’ most prominent supporters on the platform tweeted: “Alright #UMassTwitter. Time to open up your checkbooks to get @UmassReindeer and a friend to Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four. He quoted me a budget for two tickets to both games plus a hotel and some gas money. It’s reasonable.”

He then included a Venmo link and contributed $50. @CurryHicksSage, a 35-year-old New York City resident who prefers to go by his screen name, is a longtime fan and originally from the Pioneer Valley.

@UMassReindeer is sophomore Quinn McCarron from Worcester. McCarron wears a reindeer costume to the Mullins Center and sits — more like stands — with the Militia in the student section. At least he did when fans could still attend UMass hockey games.

“I haven’t missed a hockey game,” McCarron said.

Well.

“That was at home,” he said. “With us available to go.”

The reindeer costume was birthed of necessity and happy accidents. McCarron lost a Chewbacca costume his freshman year and needed something to wear for Halloween his freshman year of college. His mom stopped by Goodwill and purchased the reindeer costume, which is too small to fit properly but big enough to still wear.

McCarron then wore the reindeer outfit to a pre-Halloween hockey game thinking other students would be dressed up. He was the only one. UMass won handily, so he kept going to games, and the Minutemen kept winning.

UMass didn’t allow fans all season at the Mullins Center due to COVID-19 protocols. A limited number of family and friends were permitted at the NCAA East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn. The Frozen Four is the first time UMass fans could see their team in person. 

“It’s certainly been something I’ve missed. It used to be a routine every weekend,” McCarron said prior to Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinal against Minnesota Duluth. “It feels so good to be back watching UMass hockey in person. I can’t wait to sing the goal song. I can’t wait to do chants. I can’t wait to scream my head off.”

On Twitter, @curryhickssage wanted to make sure at least some UMass students would be among the roughly 4,000 fans in PPG Paints Arena to watch the Miutemen’s revenge chance against the Bulldogs.

“His passion is so evident, and that’s really what college sports fandom is all about. And college kids are generally broke, so it was a no brainer,” @curryhickssage wrote in a Twitter direct message. “Anyone who’s a passionate fan can see a bit of themselves in Reindeer.”

The effort raised $1,200, meaning McCarron was able to bring three other people with him.

“I’m very thankful to UMass Twitter,” he said. “I thought maybe we’d get maybe just me and one other person. The fact that we were able to raise enough to send four people truly says a lot about the community. I will 100 percent be sure to pay it forward one day.”

McCarron drove out with Nathan Strauss, while Samantha Andrade and one of her friends, Elizabeth McNamara, arrived separately. Strauss, a junior from Newton, quarterbacked the trip’s planning since he has experience planning travel for his job at WMUA, UMass’ student radio station.

The drive in Strauss’ Honda Accord hybrid – he calls it Oslo – went smoothly outside of a flock of birds deciding to assault the windshield somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.

“We flew along, we were well ahead of schedule,” Strauss said. 

They took in some of the city’s sites and attended a Pittsburgh Pirates game Thursday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.

“It was a great experience. It’s a beautiful park,” Strauss said. “Shame about the team, though.”

The Pirates lost 4-2 and remain one of MLB’s worst teams.

“I’m a Cubs fan, so I’m happy I got to see some home runs,” McCarron said.

They’ll stay into the weekend regardless of the outcome of UMass’ game on Thursday night. Visiting a famous Primanti Bros. sandwich shop is on the itinerary.

“Pittsburgh’s been awesome,” McCarron said. “I’ve loved it.”

Neither attended the Frozen Four in 2019 because McCarron was in high school and Strauss was on a gap year. UMass freshman Eli Slovin was in Buffalo with the Minutemen during his junior year at Amherst Regional. Both of his parents attended UMass, as did a couple uncles. His grandparents both work there, and he’s attended games his whole life. He was always the UMass fan in high school while his friends supported teams like Michigan and Notre Dame. Then in eighth grade Slovin found the UMasshoops.com message board.

“I was like, ‘oh wow there’s a lot of people that pay attention and actually care,’” Slovin said.

That same year, he broke his wrist and joined Twitter – UMass Twitter.

“I realized, ‘holy crap there’s people that love this as much as I do,’” Slovin said.

He and his mom, Diana Demers-Slovin, are in Pittsburgh to watch the games. Slovin played hockey for Amherst Regional, and his mother remarked it was the first hockey game she’s attended in person since his senior night in 2020.

“I was going to go no matter what. I was going to find a way,” Eli Slovin said. “But my mom really wanted to go. Who knows how many more trips we’ll get like this with just me and her? I’m getting older, I’m in college now. It’s always been a team effort.”

Some fans weren’t born into the UMass family but found their own way to it. Don Golden is a Tampa Bay native that has attended every Frozen Four since 2012. He and his son, Andrew Golden, sat in the UMass section in 2019 and enjoyed the energy so much that they started to support the program. Andrew Golden applied to UMass and is a freshman this year.

“It was a great choice for him,” Don Golden said.


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