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Cooper Moore ready to be target of taunts by Western Michigan students

The UND sophomore defenseman will be making his first appearance at Lawson Ice Arena this weekend.

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UND defenseman Cooper Moore (4) drives the net on Minnesota Duluth goaltender Ryan Fanti (39) during a December 2020 game at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha.
Tyler Schank / Duluth News Tribune
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Andrew Peski was in Grand Forks this summer, skating with UND hockey players, preparing for a second pro hockey season.

He took the opportunity to pass down some information and give a little warning to sophomore defenseman Cooper Moore: When UND makes its first trip to Lawson Ice Arena in a little more than two years, he will be the target of chants from the Western Michigan student section.

It's nothing personal against Moore.

He's just the opposing player wearing No. 4.

"I've heard from past players and guys on team that they're crazy in that rink," Moore said. "They said it's fun to play in, but you've to be careful to keep your head.

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"I really haven't had to deal with it that much, so we'll see. You've just got to try to focus on the game and tune them out. I think the more you focus on it, the more it affects you. I think you've just got to be dialed into the game and not worry about what they're saying."

This week, former UND players Gage Ausmus and Trevor Olson hosted former Western Michigan defenseman Neal Goff on their podcast, The Has-Beens . They asked Goff about the origin of the No. 4 chants.

Goff said he was told it went back to the days when Torey Krug played at Michigan State (2009-12). Krug wore No. 44 and drew the ire of the Lawson Lunatics.

But because No. 44 is rarely worn in college hockey, the students shortened it and decided to go after No. 4 on other teams.

Keaton Thompson, who wore No. 4 when UND and Western Michigan became conference-mates in 2013, got used to it during his three trips to Lawson Ice Arena. Thompson won all six times he played in Lawson.

Peski had three visits to Lawson during his college career, too. The chants originally left him confused why he was the target of the students, who are nicknamed the Lawson Lunatics.

Now, it's Moore's turn.

"Obviously, it's something they do to try to get in your head," Moore said. "You've got to try to not let them win basically."

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UND fifth-year senior Connor Ford, who played four years at Bowling Green, opened his college career with a road game at Lawson Ice Arena.

"Their infamous whoever-is-wearing-No.-4 chant — whoever is familiar with that — my first game, I thought they were saying, 'Ford' instead of 4," he said. "I thought I was getting it for no reason. It was my first game, so I was like, 'What did I do to deserve this?' But I quickly learned it was No. 4."

Ford said Moore, a draft pick of the nearby Detroit Red Wings, already knows to expect the chants.

"He's aware," Ford said. "It is what it is. It's fun. It's hostile. It's what makes college hockey fun."

Western Michigan is expecting a standing room-only crowd for both games this weekend. The series opener is close to selling out of standing-room tickets, too.

"We have the best atmosphere in college hockey," Western Michigan coach Pat Ferschweiler said. "We have the best student section in college hockey. It's an electric building when you play here. Our guys thrive off that energy and we hope it affects the opposing team in a negative way. It's a great place to play."

UND at Western Michigan

When: 6:05 p.m. Friday, 6:05 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Lawson Ice Arena, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Records: UND 13-8 (8-2 NCHC); Western Michigan 14-5 (6-4).
TV: None.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).
Stream: NCHC.tv.
Of note: A standing-room only crowd is expected to be on hand for this weekend's series.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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