Needham High School hockey fans are supporting the team – by not showing up. A group of student fans are staying away from Needham High School boys’ hockey games in order to prevent Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association sanctions against the likely tournament-bound team, Principal Paul Richards said.

Needham High School hockey fans are supporting the team – by not showing up.

A group of student fans are staying away from Needham High School boys’ hockey games in order to prevent Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association sanctions against the likely tournament-bound team, Principal Paul Richards said.

Needham High School students were barred from attending a game against Framingham last month due to reportedly unruly behavior at a game against Wellesley. During the game, the students allegedly taunted MIAA officials taking note of their behavior and chanted, “Wellesley sucks.”

At the Feb. 10 School Committee meeting, members of the High School Student Advisory Committee said attendance has been down at games by as much as 80 percent. As a result, the school is losing money on games. Tickets sell for $3 for students and $5 for adults.

“A bunch of students decided on their own that they don’t even want the possibility of jeopardizing the post-season for the hockey team,” Richards said. “It’s not what we wanted to happen.”

Richards estimates attendance has been down by between 50 and 100 fans for weekend games.

The high school increased faculty presence at games this season after the MIAA warned the school about fan behavior during the hockey team’s Division 1 championship run last season. The MIAA threatened sanctions, including banning the team from tournament play, if the behavior didn’t improve.

With the exception of the Wellesley game, Richards felt the fans did improve their behavior this season.

“We had no issues on our end [since Wellesley],” Richards said. “We are going to continue [with our policies]. With the exception of the Wellesley game, it’s been a successful season. The boycott caught us by surprise.”

With the post-season just around the corner and Needham having a good chance of being invited to the Super 8 tournament, Richards expects the fans to be back at full force for the playoffs.

“I think they’re holding off until the playoffs,” Richards said. “We’ll welcome them back.”

Steven Ryan can be reached at sryan@cnc.com.