Classic Cougar Spirit
Students bring down the house at the fourth annual Crowchild classic and break CIS record in the process
Brendan Stasiewich, Staff Writer
If you’re reading this, it’s too late. The annual Crowchild Classic between the Mount Royal Cougars and University of Calgary Dinos was Thursday Jan. 21 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and it was a hell of a night.
In fact, give yourselves a round of applause, Mount Royal students. You helped accomplish something never before seen at a Canadian University sporting event.
Thanks to the dome beer flowing all night, courtesy of the hard working Saddledome employees, graciously supplied by the Calgary Flames, many of those in attendance may not remember exactly what happened on the ice. But I’m sure you do remember what you did in the stands.
I’ve been perched up in the press box for each of the past three years at the Crowchild Classic. Last night’s attendance number doubled from when I first covered the event in 2014.
There was a new CIS record set, with 12, 859 people in attendance. That number in itself is expected to incite a lot of noise, but when most of those nearly 13,000 hockey fans are university students… Goosebumps.
Seconds before puck drop, that’s what I had. The ‘Dome hasn’t sounded quite like that since the Flames 2015 playoff run.
After the game Mount Royal head coach Bert Gilling had the same enthusiasm, saying that he’s never been a part of anything quite like the Crowchild Classic.
“Twenty years for me in college hockey (mostly down in the states) and this is the best atmosphere by a mile,” said the second year coach. “The sea of red on one side and the sea of blue on another, the energy from fans and the players, and the product on the ice was fantastic.”
But that was expected going in. That was expected when I was greeted outside of EA building Thursday morning by a UofC car being smashed in with a sledgehammer (shoutout to Cowboys for the car donation). It was expected when I had this conversation with a guy in a Cougars jersey getting ready to smash the car in:
Me: Do you play for the Cougars?
Dude: Nah, but I do a lot of stuff with them.
Me: What do you do?
Dude: I fuck shit up.
As the women’s game was set to get underway, fans began flocking to their Saddledome seats. The 3000 some fans who showed up early, probably more than a few cutting their Thursday afternoon classes off short, got to see one of the most exciting women’s game of the year thus far.
Unfortunately goals from Cylenna Alexander and Janessa Jenkins couldn’t propel our ladies past the rivals as they fell 3-2. But for all intents and purposes, Mount Royal outplayed the Dinos for most of the game, so that counts for something, right?
Unfortunately outplaying the opponent but being met with a brick wall was the recurring theme of the night. Just ask those who tried to get into Cowboys after the game — brick wall of students at the door thirsty for the worst draft beer you’ll ever have, but I digress.
Creeping closer to 8 P.M., with a few beer vendors probably nervous that their supply wasn’t going to meet the City of Calgary student body’s demand, Deputy Mayor Brian Pincott dropped the ceremonial face-off.
Puck drop. Remember that brick wall comment from earlier? Steven Stanford was the closest thing you’d find to a brick wall in the Saddledome that night. Probably because bricks weren’t invented way back when the Saddledome was built.
Watching the highlight reel from the game was more like watching the Stanford reel, big save after big save. At one point he dove across the net making a miracle stick save that left Cougars’ forward Cam Maclise on the ice holding his head in disbelief.
Both teams ended up scoring one in regulation, sending the game to four on four overtime. Looking down at my phone I had more than one text reading, “why are there only four players on the ice?” I imagine they were all even more surprised when the five minutes solved nothing and the game went to three on three.
Flashback! Two years ago at the second Crowchild Classic the Cougars capitalized on an overtime power play sending the student section into a frenzy. Unfortunately there was about to be a role reversal. How’s that for poetic justice.
Less than a minute into second overtime Matthew Brown’s stick came up as he tried to get past a defender, applying a lumberjack like chop down into the face of the Dinos’ player. While it was gruesome looking, the jumbotron (or Enmax Energy Board, because they’ll put a sponsor’s name on anything) showed the dude back on the bench yanking a few teeth out and getting ready to hop back onto the ice. That’s hockey. Lebron would’ve been out 4-6 weeks after that.
I think it’s safe to say everyone in the building had a feeling the game was over when the ref put his hand up, gifting the Dinos a four-minute powerplay. A few minutes later, Max Ross scored his second of the game for the Dinos, giving the men their first ever Crowchild Classic victory.
Sure you can question the Cougars’ bold strategy of sending three forwards out for the three on three- but they played to win, and I like it. The one thing you can’t question however was the class shown from Mount Royal students in the stands.
No fighting, no malicious comments (from what I heard, anyways), just a fun rivalry and one of the finest athletics events on the calendar in Calgary.
In the standings the Crowchild Classic is just another game, the win or the loss only means so much in the grand scheme of the season. Sure, University of Calgary students can have their bragging rights, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we got to witness our yearly version of an NCAA bowl game.
The Crowchild Classic isn’t the only time Mount Royal students have the opportunity to cheer on Cougars’ sporting teams. With the men’s hockey team in a tight playoff race, coach Gilling says that it would be great to see the same support week in and week out.
“We’d love to see that spirit at the rest of our games this year,” said Gilling. “It’s the same teams playing. People need to give us a chance because it’s great hockey.
The kids are so passionate and have so much pride, that’s what makes university hockey so great.”