Cougars and Dinos Duel to Draw
Nail-biter double header brings out best in Canada West
As to be expected the 2017 Crowchild Classic was not lacking atmosphere, excitement or athletic action.
This year’s ultimate crosstown smackdown saw 11,902 fans witness top-notch and classy U-Sport, Canada West action.
The Cougars nabbed the evening’s first victory with the women’s side collecting a 3-1 triumph against arch-rivals, the U of C Dinos.
The men’s side took to the ice for the second half of the annual double header, with MRU getting the first point on the board and holding the lead at 3-2 until near the end of the second period. The chippy Dinos came back, however, forcing overtime in the dying minutes of the final frame, and the boys in blue were eventually defeated 4-3 in the second post-regulation stanza.
The 2017 Crowchild Classic came out as a push on the score sheet, a fitting finale. The ten matchups on the Scotiabank Saddledome ice now leave Mount Royal University with a 5-5 record.
Undoubtedly the buzz around the cowtown leading up to the 2017 classic made the Scotiabank Saddledome the place to be last night.
“It’s definitely strange to see so much blue at the Saddledome,” says Calgary Flames Postmedia beat reporter and a 2005 journalism program graduate, Wes Gilbertson.
Gilbertson, who stakes out National Hockey League (NHL) arenas on a daily basis, was not only impressed by the quality of play, but also the energy surrounding the event.
“It was a great atmosphere, and you could tell that the players were feeding off the crowd. It was good hockey — fast, intense and just really entertaining. Fun to watch, for sure.”
As someone who evaluates NHL talent on a daily basis, Gilbertson believes an event like this can serve as an eye-opener to the calibre of university hockey in our city.
“It’s always been one of the best-kept secrets on Calgary’s hockey scene, but I think the Crowchild Classic is changing that.
“Both games last night were great showcases of the talent level and entertainment value. You could tell that fans on both sides were having a blast, so hopefully they’ll be back at the rink to support their teams again.”
Nearing another Canadian university sports attendance record, the 2017 Crowchild Classic showed just how passionate attendees are for this series.
“As someone that spends a lot of winter evenings watching hockey games at the Saddledome, rarely is the building as loud as it was for the Crowchild Classic. Close your eyes and you might have thought you were at Calgary Flames playoff game,” says Darren Haynes, Calgary Flames beat reporter for the Canadian Press.
“Although the boisterous chants of ‘MRU, MRU’ gave it away,” adds the 1990 Mount Royal journalism program graduate with a cheeky smile.
Haynes, a veteran sports reporter who has seen his share of hockey tilts but attended his first Classic this year with his daughter, echoes Gilbertson’s sentiments. When it comes to atmosphere, the Crowchild Classic is unbeatable.
“It was refreshing to see the Saddledome packed and to be treated to an exhilarating couple hockey games like we saw. Just an awesome evening. It’s definitely an event to circle on the calendar annually and make sure you’re a part of.”
Gilbertson and Haynes weren’t the only two Mount Royal alums to get into the Crowchild Classic spirit. TSN camerman Ryan Varty had to miss the event due to work commitments in Houston, Texas, while covering this year’s Super Bowl. The 1999 broadcasting program graduate made sure fellow TSN personalities, James Duthie and Jabari Green wished the Cougars luck regardless.
Will Nault, Sportsnet radio host, also made sure to let the public know whom his allegiances were with.
At the event itself the Cougars also got support from CBC Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi host Harnarayan Singh, who is a 2004 journalism program grad. Singh was also joined by Calgary Stampeders quarterback and Mount Royal University ambassador, Bo Levi Mitchell.
Regardless of the outcome everyone on hand enjoyed himself or herself
One Mount Royal student left the Classic extremely grateful. Alex Hayvien, a fourth-year Health Sciences student competed in and won the annual tuition giveaway contest. Hayvien showed her skills during the second period intermission of the men’s game and took home $5,000 to be used towards her tuition next semester.
This crosstown clash would not be possible without the support of the Calgary Flames and the Calgary Flames Foundation. Once again the Flames and their staff went out of their way to give the teams and their fans the full NHL experience.
Through the Calgary Flames Foundation, the Calgary Flames support post-secondary institutions in Calgary via a $20,000 donation to each school's men's and women's hockey programs. In addition to their donations, the Flames provided their facilities, time and staff to help make this annual event possible.
The 2017 season series for the Crowchild Classic currently sees the Cougars trailing the Dinos 9-7-2. Lucky for Mount Royal, both hockey teams take the ice in a rematch with the University of Calgary on Feb. 3.
Both games begin at 7 p.m. with the men playing at Flames Community Arena and the women playing at Father David Bauer.
Feb. 3, 2017 ― Jonathan Anderson