On Friday night, a pal­pable energy will fill the air at Matthews Arena as the men’s hockey team hosts Maine in the first round of the Hockey East play­offs. The team is on a tear, win­ning its past seven games, and 13 of its past 15.

But once the puck drops, another sen­sa­tion will be tin­gling through the North­eastern faithful in atten­dance, one of excite­ment and anticipation.

The minute the first notes drop, everyone’s face lights up and they start singing it,” says Mike Davis, BHS’16, leader of the Dog­House, the hockey stu­dent section.

Davis is describing what has become a beloved tra­di­tion at North­eastern hockey games: the NU Pep Band pre­forming, and stu­dents singing, “Stacy’s Mom,” a 2003 song by the band Foun­tains of Wayne.

Jus­tine Newman Photography

The minute the first notes drop, everyone’s face lights up and they start singing it.”
—Mike Davis, BHS’16

Many in the North­eastern com­mu­nity express intrigue yet befud­dle­ment over how this song has come to cap­ti­vate the crowd at hockey games and become tra­di­tion. Count John Leonard, assis­tant director of bands at North­eastern, among them. “I do think that it is fas­ci­nating how this song has taken off.” As Leonard puts it, “it’s pop music, it’s peppy, it feels good to sing, and everyone just loves it.”

While the NU Pep Band was already playing “Stacy’s Mom” when Leonard arrived at North­eastern in Jan­uary 2012, the song was merely among more than 60 in the rotation—hardly pre­dic­tive of the cult fol­lowing it has today.

Why this song cat­a­pulted to “must per­form” status at hockey games may not be fully under­stood, but how it became a hit is a bit clearer.

During a game in the 2013–14 season, North­eastern alumnus Justin Har­riman, CJ’02, was sit­ting in sec­tion 41 at Matthews Arena, the season ticket holder’s usual spot, when a friend told him the pep band had just played “Stacy’s Mom.” At one of the next breaks in game action, he stood up and started screaming for the pep band to play it again. At the next game, he did the same. And the game after that.

At some point during that season, ‘Stacy’s Mom’ became the song,”
—John Leonard

It took a few games but soon enough, with help from the Dog­House joining Harriman’s calls, the pep band began working the song into its reg­ular rota­tion. More stu­dents joined in singing, and the tra­di­tion grew. Fans would even replace “Go NU! Go NU!” chants with “Stacy’s Mom! Stacy’s Mom!” until the pep band played it, says NU Pep Band Pres­i­dent Matt Tate.

Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

At some point during that season, ‘Stacy’s Mom’ became the song,” Leonard says.

And Har­riman became known as “The Stacy’s Mom Guy” at hockey games.

Har­riman founded the Dog­House as a freshman in 1997. He’d go out­side the res­i­dence halls on Thursday nights and bellow into a mega­phone to let stu­dents know when games were being played that weekend. And at the games, he’d be working to get chants going in the Dog­House. So per­haps it’s no sur­prise that years later, his unbri­dled enthu­siasm and pow­erful lungs served as the gen­esis for the “Stacy’s Mom” sensation.

It’s my way to have a good time,” Har­riman said of get­ting the crowd going during games. “Screaming ‘Stacy’s Mom’ to the band, it was just a lot of fun. And that’s what makes going to hockey games fun. You’re there to sup­port the team and have a good time.”

Leonard says an unfor­get­table moment came during the 2014–15 season. At the Beanpot cham­pi­onship game at TD Garden in Boston, more than 1,000 fans belted out the lyrics, including mem­bers of the pep band once they’d fin­ished per­forming the first sev­eral measures.

Go to the Pep Band’s web­site and the first thing you’ll see is a video of band mem­bers prac­ticing what is dubbed as “the unof­fi­cial theme song of the NU Pep Band and NU Hockey fans everywhere.”

Tate says that the pep band, the Dog­House, and fans alike coming together to sing “Stacy’s Mom”—and other favorites like “No Dig­gity,” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from the Disney film Mulan—has ele­vated the ener­getic and inclu­sive atmos­phere at hockey games to new heights. The song’s pop­u­larity, he says, has strength­ened the cama­raderie between the pep band and DogHouse.

I think the rise of ‘Stacy’s Mom’ a couple of years ago is what brought it to another level,” says Tate, E’16.

Adds Davis: “The Dog­House and ‘Stacy’s Mom’ are syn­ony­mous. You can’t have one and not have the other.”