Hockey: Mac's club team looking to join OUA

McMaster is the largest university outside Quebec which does not compete in CIS hockey. It might be of interest that The Sil, whose sports editor is our own Brian Decker, is pointing out some would like that to change.
"Both the men's and women's teams are considered competitive clubs, and do not enjoy many of the luxuries that come with this varsity status. This is not due to a lack of trying on behalf of hockey players at Mac. Still, awareness is key, says Kelly Phair.

" 'We’ve talked with Jeff Giles (athletic director) about it. The main thing is getting people aware about the team, talking about it and knowing about it.'

"The problem is, because McMaster has not had varsity hockey teams for so long, interest can be difficult to find within the student body. Without a rink on campus and sufficient funding, the teams cannot reach varsity status."
It seemed worth linking to Brian's post, if for nothing else to point out that a McMaster team would have to sport jerseys modelled on the Hamilton Mustangs in the movie Youngblood. (Just change the colours from red to maroon and get rid of the horse.) Mac has fared pretty well as a sports school without hockey, which would make not adding it totally understandable. In this case, it would also require building an arena on or close to campus (like Carleton did and like Ryerson is doing with the Maple Leaf Gardens reno). Hamilton has an AHL franchise and is a much different market than North Bay and Thunder Bay, where Nipissing and Lakehead are the high-profile team and play in the city's main arena.
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  1. I can't remember exactly when McMaster shut down its men's hockey program, but it was sometime in the mid-80's, before the Quebec schools were granted playing privileges in the OUA. What I do recall is that Mac had gone through a number of seasons when they were absolutely terrible and they were the worst team in the league in their last year. That's saying something - these were the days when the good teams were regularly running up double digits against RMC and Ryerson, and Mac became part of this less than distingished group.

    it seemed like they got caught in a downward swirl they couldn't get out of - they were not competitve, could not attract good players, did not have a decent arena, and there was zero interest in the team. Given Mac's size, it was always surprising to me that they couldn't get this figured out, but I'm guessing it came down to a financial decision.

  2. (to the Marineland theme)

    There's a place I know in Ontario
    Where a hockey team plays and no one goes
    It's fallin' apart, the scoreboard's gone dark
    Everyone loves the Memorial Centre

    At any rate -- the off-campus rink is a big hurdle to jump. At least the Queen's teams had some student interest when they played their games next door to the PEC, now that that's gone, Queen's is hard-pressed to fill their half of the Memorial Centre during the Carr-Harris Cup!

  3. The last season for Mac hockey was 1988-89. There was a decent tradition including a CIAU Title in 1963 and some highly ranked squads in the early 80's under Bill Mahoney who later coached in the NHL. The problem was always facility, and access to ice time for practise.
    I remember seasons when home games were divided between three rinks that were not ridiculously far from campus, but it makes creating a following nearly impossible when fans are not sure where the games are being held.

    Because Mac was not the primary tenant at any of the three rinks, they had to take the scraps left over as far as available practise times, which made recruiting very hard. And without a constant and dedicated locker room, equipment had to be packed up and moved from venue to venue which was a pain for players and staff/managers.

    The great irony is that around 1980, one of the big Canadian breweries (Molson's or Carling O'Keefe) offered to finance construction of an on-campus arena on undeveloped land that was on the west campus in return for naming rights. The university admin at the time thought a direct association between its athletic programs and a brewery was inappropriate and declined, which started the hockey decline that led to dropping the program. Can anyone imagine a university saying no to corporate support these days? Not bloody likely!