It began with humble origins on a Saturday night this past October.
The scene was Centre 76 in Athens, site of a Jr. B hockey game between the Aeros and visiting Brockville Tikis.
It may not have appeared that way at the time, but the Tikis had a new secret weapon in their midst during that night's 5-3 win over the Aeros: an outfit that has grown to call itself “The Horde.”
A collection of local youth supporting the Tikis, The Horde sprang forth when fans Zach Burke, Chad Selleck and Dylan Riippi decided to make the trip to Athens that October night.
“We were the only ones making noise in the whole building,” recalled Burke.
From that first trip, the group grew to include what Burke refers to as the “core eight” members.
Close in age and united in their passion for the Tikis, the group has become a fixture in Section J at the Memorial Centre this season.
The core group of members in The Horde includes some who are away at school in Ottawa, said Burke, but for the games they can't attend, there is never any shortage of others who attend in place of them.
Selleck and Burke, who are both 19, say the group seems to be growing on a week-by-week basis. Sometimes it takes up most of Section J, as it did for last Friday's thrilling shootout win over Gananoque.
During Friday's game, members chanted, cheered, sang, shouted, tooted toy horns and generally created an atmosphere of excitement every time the Tikis scored a goal, had a scoring chance or goalie Nathan Peters made a big save.
But the group's performance isn't a home-only show.
“They even take road trips with us,” chuckled Tikis head coach and general manager J. B. Ryan, who says his players love having the group around for the energy it creates.
Selleck shared similar thoughts, noting members of The Horde enjoy creating positive energy from which the players can feed.
“We just want to get 'em going and they love being pumped up,” said Selleck.
It's a far cry from last season, when the Tikis had a sole win and crowds were sparse on game nights.
“Last year was tough,” said Burke, who says he didn't attend games during the Tikis' difficult season.
With crowds now on the upswing, and the Tikis in contention for a playoff spot in the EOJHL's Rideau Division, the timing if perfect for The Horde to ply its trade, said Burke.
Selleck agreed, noting he's amazed at how the group has grown.
“Now, it's just a wild ruckus,” he grinned.
TIKIS IN ACTION TONIGHT
The Brockville Tikis are home to the Westport Rideaus tonight. Game time at the Memorial Centre is 7:45 p.m.
The Tikis enter the game in fourth place in the Rideau Division, with 32 points in 33 games played.
Brockville won both its games over the weekend, beating Gananoque 5-4 in a shootout on Friday night and South Grenville 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday night.The Tikis sit seven points up on the Rangers for the division's final playoff spot entering play tonight.