The University Cup is coming back to the Prairies, as the University of Saskatchewan has been awarded the 2013 and 2014 men's hockey nationals.
The U of S beat out a trio of Canada West schools (Alberta, Calgary and Regina) along with a lone bid from the AUS in Dalhousie, and newcomers Nipissing out of the OUA to host the championships.
No surprise that this tournament is coming west after Lakehead hosted the last two national tournaments, and with UNB hosting the 2011 and 2012 tournaments. The CIS has stuck with the recipe of rotating the tournament between the conferences, and with four bids from Canada West schools they had a strong pool to choose from.
Saskatoon is no stranger to hosting the tournament after staging the event for three consecutive years between 1998 and 2000, when the tournament was played exclusively out of Saskatchewan Place (now Credit Union Centre), the home of the WHL's Saskatoon Blades. Those three tournaments were the three most successful attendance-wise in the tournament's history with 37,121 spectators in 1998, 37,184 fans in 1999 and a single-year record of 40,956 in 2000.
Credit Union Centre will surely be the home of the University Cup come 2013, and while the arena has seen many changes since 2000 thanks to its hosting of the World Junior Championships this past season, one thing should remain the same when the U of S once again hosts the University Cup – record crowds.
All three of the years the Huskies hosted the tournament at Sask. Place between '98-'00, the Sled Dogs were unable to make it to the championship final yet the fans flocked to both the Huskies games and the rest of the tournament which featured seven games total. That bodes well for another terrific set of tournaments attendance-wise, and don't be surprised to see that 2000 record eclipsed especially if the Huskies make an appearance in the final.
With the Huskies in desperate need for a new home to replace their decrepit home Rutherford Rink on the campus of the U of S, it will be interesting to see what the announcement of the Huskies landing the University Cup has on plans for a new rink.
As Darren Zary from The Star Phoenix reported last month, the university's master plan development, dubbed College Quarter, which will feature student residences among other things, has plans for a twin arena. That College Quarter project is currently in the feedback from the public stage, which essentially means “it's going to take a while for anything to happen” as Rob Pettapiece summed up so aptly to me.
That is exactly the case, with projects like this taking years to go from the proposal state to actually getting a shovel in the ground. Rumours have surfaced intermittently over the years that the U of S was going to pull the trigger on building a new rink, and of course those rumours have never led to a new home for the Huskies. This project seems different though.
If the Huskies hype these national tournaments to the level I know they can (and expect them to) it could do wonders for stirring support for the College Quarter plan. While you won't see any games on the U of S campus come 2013/14 at the University Cup, don't discount the impact hosting nationals will have on the Dogs getting a new kennel on their campus in the next decade – especially if they find a way to capture that elusive national championship.
Dalhousie loses bid to host CIS hockey championship (Glenn MacDonald, The Chronicle Herald)
[Cross-posted to South Campus Sports.]