Saturday night in Nashville, Tennessee, Predators fans jumped on a national stage and proved they have one of the most passionate and raucous fanbases in all of hockey.
From throwing catfishes on the ice to destroying a car with the opponent’s logo on it, Nashville has gone from a fringe hockey town in 1998 to one of the best atmospheres in all of sports 19 years later.
According to NHL on NBC, the day of the game catfish were incredibly sold out across the area. This comes days after a Predators fan was arrested for throwing a catfish on the ice at PPG Paints Center.
We have called 13 different places in Nashville today about acquiring a catfish.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) June 4, 2017
Before Game Three, fans gathered on the plaza outside Bridgestone Arena and destroyed a custom-painted Penguins branded car illustrated by Audie Adams. Inspired by the city’s nickname Smashville, former Bills head coach Rex Ryan even joined in on the fun, hitting the car with a larger rubber hammer.
Once inside Bridgestone Arena, the Predators franchise utilizes imagery from its brand and embraces the city’s country roots, creating one of the most unique and authentic atmospheres in sports.
Skating out from the mouth of an inflatable saber-toothed tiger head, Bridgestone Arena began rocking to Guns ‘N Roses’ Welcome To The Jungle played.
The crowd revealed itself to be ruthless during pregame introductions.
As PA Announcer Paul McCann announced every Penguins player, Predators fans screamed “SUCKS.” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan also got sassed after being introduced as the Bridgestone Arena crowd yelled in unison, “He sucks, too!”
Country music superstar Martina McBride sung the national anthem while Hank Williams, Jr. led the crowd in a rally-towel wave before faceoff.
The Predators went down 1-0 quickly as Jake Guentzel scored two minutes into the game. But early in the second period, the Predators finally put a shot past Matt Murray and scored five consecutive goals.
After every goal, the Predators sound their goal horn and play Tim McGraw’s I Like It I Love It.
During breaks in the song, Predators fans, reminiscent of Terps fans at Cole Field House, chant “Hey, you suck!”
After the goals are announced, the crowd serenaded Matt Murray with a “It’s all your fault” chant that is similar to Caps fans’ chants after goals at Verizon Center.
The Predators crowd yelled in unison, “He shoots. He scores. You suck! Mur-ray! Mur-ray! You suck! It’s all your fault. It’s all your fault.”
Former Capitals forward and CSN Mid-Atlantic analyst Alan May was sitting in the lower bowl for Game Three and told me that last night was the “most amazing hockey event I’ve ever been to.”
“The goalie chant was hilarious and so were the intro chants,” May said. “I grew up watching the Oilers win Cups and was an extra AHL farmhand with them in 1988 when they won the Cup. It’s always amazing to be around this atmosphere.”
May, who landed in Washington due to a trade by former general manager David Poile, said that he was proud of what his former boss has accomplished.
“I never once sat down during the game,” May said.
With relatable stars and a rich history of country music, this southern city is becoming a hotbed for hockey. And oh yeah, five catfish were thrown on the ice to match the five goals the Predators scored.
stickhandling some fish pic.twitter.com/YmzEixWYSq
— steph (@myregularface) June 3, 2017
Keep being weird, Nashville.
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