The Crowchild Classic
The biggest party in the Canadian Intra-university Sports League
Brendan Stasiewich, Staff Writer
If you were taking a casual stroll outside of Mount Royal University on the morning of Jan. 15, 2015 you would have had to do a double take, followed by perhaps a call to the cops.
Normally this would be the reaction to several university students, athletes, and coaches smashing in a car with a sledgehammer. However this car, painted red with a large University of Calgary Dinos logo on the hood, was driven onto campus for this exact purpose.
It was because in less than 12 hours the Mount Royal Cougars and University of Calgary Dinos men and women’s hockey teams would compete in the third annual Crowchild Classic at the Scotiabank Saddledome. A game that would be witnessed by 8882 fans, breaking the CIS attendance record set by the same event one-year prior. They probably also broke the record for average blood alcohol level in an arena, but that’s strictly speculation.
Since the Cougars joined the CIS four years ago the cross-city rivalry with Calgary has grown stronger with each passing season. However, as seen at the Crowchild Classic, the competitive drive isn’t exclusive to the players on the ice, but in the stands as well. The Classic has turned into the ultimate fan experience, and this year should be no different.
The fourth annual showdown between the intercity rivals is set to go down Jan. 21 at 5 P.M. The game, which is free of charge, promises to again put the CIS attendance record in jeopardy. But what is it about the event that draws such a large crowd?
Whether it is because of the camaraderie, the side games, the beer (more than likely yes, because of the beer), or because of the high level hockey, the game has turned into a yearly tradition for many students.
Having heard about how exciting the 2014 edition was, Mount Royal journalism student Stuart Ross wasn’t going to miss last year’s game, and made sure to have what he called “2015’s can’t miss party of the year” penciled into his calendar weeks in advance.
Eager to get to the game, Ross and some of his friends hurried to catch one of the many shuttle busses driving students from the school to the Saddledome before puck drop. However, Ross, running towards the door of the residence building, reached his hand out to stop his momentum before opening the door. His wrist awkwardly caught the wall and he felt an immediate jolt of pain go up his arm.
He feared the worst, thinking it was more than likely broken. Should he have immediately gone to the hospital? Well yah, duh. But Ross was going to let nothing get in his way of witnessing one of Calgary’s premier amateur sporting events, and entered the bus anyway.
“I tried to will away the pain because it hurt so much,” the third year student reminisced. “I wasn’t going to go to the hospital, I was looking forward to that game for a full week and a half.”
With a throbbing wrist, Ross and co. arrived at the Saddledome and immediately headed down to ice level. Entering the seating area, the crew was met with deafening cheers coming from the Cougars’ faithful rooting the women’s team forward.
It was there that Ross says his group discovered what makes the Classic spectacular. If the Calgary Roughnecks motto is, “come for the party, stay for the game,” then the Crowchild Classic’s motto should be “the game is a party.”
Separated by the sheet of ice, one side of the Dome’ coated in Cougars’ blue and the adjacent side flooded with Dinos red, students from each university were doing their part to prove why their school pride was superior. While the Saddledome has grown accustomed to hosting Calgary’s largest events, the nearly 9000 students were doing their part, through their voice and outfits, to solidify the Classic as the craziest.
To put the number into perspective, the largest students sections at NCAA college basketball games account for less than half of the total attendance of the 2015 Classic.
“Even though my wrist was visibly slanted the game was too fun to miss,” said Ross, who would learn he indeed suffered a broken wrist the next day. “As soon as I got into that atmosphere with everyone around the pain kind of slowly went away.”
T.V. timeouts and intermissions were filled with ice cream eating contests, hockey games between students in sumo wrestler suits, and most notably a modified version of beer pong played on the ice, with the winning team winning a years tuition.
“Our side was all jacked cause of Mount Royal’s early lead but the games between fans in the stands were crazy too,” said Ross. “They took up the entire ice surface to play a huge game of beer pong and everybody just loved that.”
While Mount Royal ended up winning both games that night, in just two short weeks the Dinos will have another chance to reclaim Crowchild Classic stardom. And with the growth of the event, the 2016 edition could be the first ever CIS contest to eclipse the five-figure attendance mark.