University Cup - Sunday notebook

Tonight's game will be live at 7:00 pm EDT on Sportsnet East and Pacific. Sportsnet West will be tape delaying the game until 7:00 pm MDT. I guess the Oilers take priority in Edmonton.

While the coaches were unanimous against the idea of trying to bring back the bronze medal game for the University Cup, the buzz is that they are in favour of having a true semi-finals added which would be one more day and two more games for the tourney. As I understand it we would still have the six team two-pool round-robin per usual. So that is six round robin games in total, just like the Thursday to Saturday games now, which they would probably start a day earlier if this goes through. Then the top team out of pool A would cross over and play the second best team in pool B in one semi-final while the top team out of pool B would play number two from pool A in the other semi-final; these would probably be TV games on Saturday. Then the two winners face off for the Cup on Sunday. However, this still has to be passed by the CIS and all of the athletic directors at the annual general meeting (in June?), and the coaches don't always get what they want. Which means we could still get a bronze medal game against their wishes.

So the only OUA team to win a game this year was Lakehead, and that came against UQTR. This is the seventh year in a row that either a Canada West or AUS team will win the University Cup, with UNB and Alberta splitting the last five. Not telling the OUA how to enhance their competitive balance, but ...

Have to say it. Not impressed with the crowds in Thunder Bay considering how well they draw in the regular season, and the recent sell-out for the Queen's Cup. The biggest games of the last two years and you don't fill your barn? Is it just because you don't want to buy a tournament pass or the two-game day pass they added this year? And how come the actual attendance for the afternoon games is less than half of the paid attendance?

On the other hand all of the host committee and volunteers in Thunder Bay have been great, especially the volunteer drivers. I hope the crowd numbers haven't hurt their bottom line because the folks here deserve all the accolades and thanks they might get.
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  1. In response to the attendance concerns raised here, I don't think the hockey fans in Thunder Bay care one bit about any of the other teams at the tournament. These are teams that the fanbase rarely to never see play. Personally, I think more cross-over/non-conference games would benefit the attendance.

    Turn-out was great for Lakehead's home games, but because they weren't against heated rivals like Western, McGill, York, Waterloo or Laurier, it probably did not draw as much interest as the author would expect. Regardless, 3000 fans for each those two games is considered a great turnout and a success.

    Local fans, likely did not show up for afternoon games on Thursday and Friday because a) they were working and, b) Lakehead was not on the ice. Regardless, the seats were paid for.

    One thing that is constantly forgotten, is that Lakehead is a small, isolated school. 7000 part and full time students, is not a lot to draw from to fill the rink. Additionally, Thunder Bay is not Edmonton, Fredericton or Moncton in terms of population or corporate sponsorship opportunity. 100,000 people is a small market. I think that plays a part in the perception that attendance has been poor.

    The ticket price point may have been an issue, but for $99 fans got 7 high calibre CIS hockey games, which in my opinion is a very fair price. Day passes were set at a premium of $39 but when broken down, 2 games for $20 each is pretty cheap too.

  2. If they offered the ability to buy a single game ticket (at say $25) for the LU games, they would have sold out. When the Thunderwolves held their annual Christmas tournament (which was not held this year), some fans objected to being forced to buy a two-game pass for those games as well - at a $2 premium over a regular season ticket.

    I agree with the poster above about the isolation factor as well. Manitoba had a good sized contingent make the trip from Winnipeg - still an eight hour drive. Fans from any other school would have had to fly, which is not a cheap proposition. This hurt attendance as well.

    On the bright side, the tournament seemed well run and the setup in the curling club was good as well. Tonight's final was probably the best game played at the Gardens in years.

    Best of luck to UNB as they host for the next two years. I hope to see LU play there.

  3. Two cracks as the hosts,low interest in the tourney, firing two coaches coach over poor performances.
    I think LU will be hard pressed to field a competitive team within two years!?
    The novelty of an independent operation and the lure of a assured birth in a national tournament...are soon fading,OUA hockey teams are fed up going there and the costs associated.
    Thanks to Cavandish support for the tournament other wise I think LU loses $. They are going to been hard pressed to be financially viable very soon, yea needs to win and they simply haven;t!

  4. "Additionally, Thunder Bay is not Edmonton, Fredericton or Moncton in terms of population or corporate sponsorship opportunity. 100,000 people is a small market."

    2006 Census
    Thunder Bay- 109,140
    Fredericton- 50,535

    And I guarantee you even if UNB isn't in the final there will be over 3000 people in the rink for the championship game.

  5. Moncton in terms of population or corporate sponsorhip opportunity? Nice try but there's 65,000 in Moncton (and the metro population of Thunder Bay is just slightly lower than ours) and there are definitely no more corporate sponsorships here either. Biggest sponsor we had was Irving through Cavendish... and so did LU so yeah...

    From what I'm lead to believe we had nicer attendance figures our 2 years here in Moncton than they had the last 2 years at Lakehead. And that's in a way more saturated hockey market than in Thunder Bay... I guess we have more than just homer fans here in Moncton hehehe.

    Seriously though, I still firmly believe the AUS is by far the most closely contested conference out of the three, and with most schools closer by than CW or the OUA, it enables fans to travel to see their favorite team play their road games and even travel to see other games.

    I fully expect that UNB will have a sellout both years and I also will be buying a tournament pass whenever they come out, as I know many people from our organisation will too though we have no intention of needing them ;)

  6. 22,000 in paid attendance for the tournament in Thunder Bay (as per the organizing committee's media release). Unfortunately, not that many made it to the rink

  7. I like the idea about creating true "semifinals" with the top two teams from each pool advancing. This will give the best teams a better shot at winning it all by giving them a second chance should they drop the first game.
    T-Bay did its best, given its limitations. It is what it is. Blame the CIS, if anybody, for the decision to go there. Not everybody wants to play host to this tournament, right. It was a bit of a gamble going into unchartered waters.
    While I'm glad Sportsnet was there to broadcast the last few games, it sure made for poor TV viewing with games in the dark Fort Williams Gardens and the lack of close-up TV angles. It's been much better TV viewing in the past, that's for sure.
    My vote is for the tournament to return to Saskatoon in 2013 and 2014. The CIS will not get better overall attendance anywhere else!

  8. I'd like to see Manitoba take a crack at hosting it at the MTS centre.

  9. While the MTS Centre is obviously a first-class facility, you need much more than a mere building — you need a volunteer base to run the show. That's why a return to Saskatoon (1998, 1999, 2000 University Cups, 2006 Vanier Cup, 2009 CIS women's basketball) would make sense, should Huskies Athletics decide to put in a bid. They've got a proven track record and the all-time attendance records to back it up.

  10. Anyone know if the University of Saskatchewan is interested?

    I heard that U of Regina is going to bid on it?
    How would that be recieved???

  11. The U of S and U of Regina could do a split bid, of course, much like they did for playing host to the CIS women's national basketball championship in 2008 (Saskatoon) and 2009 (Regina). I don't know if the U of S is actually interested, but, I agree, the Huskies should throw their hat into the ring one more time. It was one of the better events to come to Saskatoon over the years, almost right up there with the WJHC and certainly better than the NHL-neutral-site games. And, personally, I'd rather have a hockey event than another Brier (oh, hum.)

  12. split bid?
    did that work well in womens basketball?
    seems like everything else in the CIS equal??
    okay fair!

  13. OK, then, the U of S could simply bid on CIS women's hockey instead! (How's that for equal or fair, M.A.D.???)
    So, better yet, the U of S could make a play for the 2013-2014 University Cup tournaments. The timing would seem right, wouldn't it?
    (Or is it time for the Memorial Cup to return to Saskatoon???)
    Or is it time for Winnipeg or Calgary to take a run at hosting this? Would they even know what they were getting into???
    Let's see who even puts in a bid!!
    And good luck to them . . . they'll need it!

  14. Halifax perhaps, after Fredericton's two years? Dal put together a bid last time which I understand was competitive. Pete Belliveau is doing some solid recruiting and will be competitive by then, and of course, the Huskies just won the whole thing, which would raise awareness of the brand. They'll be competitive too. Halifax has successfully hosted Brier and WJC events as well.

  15. Sorry, the CIS won't keep it in the AUS for four straight years. It won't happen. So forget about Halifax, for now. The CIS likes to move the University Cup around and it would seem to be Canada West's turn. Look for it to go to Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg or Calgary!