By Fabian Mayer, January 26 2016 —
Competing chants of “Let’s Go Dinos” and “M-R-U, M-R-U” rang out in the Saddledome on Jan. 21 as students took part in the fourth annual Crowchild Classic.
The crowd of nearly 13,000 provided an electric atmosphere. The sedate businessmen that usually occupy the arena’s lower bowls were replaced with rowdy young people looking to blow off steam. Levels of intoxication varied, but levels of enthusiasm did not. Add in a crosstown rivalry, and you got a truly enthralling event.
Nobody needed prompting from the jumbotron to cheer on their team or join in chants attempting to drown out rival fans. The considerable buzz in the stadium was akin to one of the Calgary Flames’ rare playoff runs.
The crowd’s intensity was matched by the players, who gave the fans exactly what they were looking for — a close-fought, high energy game. Both teams clearly relished the opportunity to play in front of such raucous and plentiful spectators.
And the fans weren’t disappointed, as the teams were never separated by more than a goal in the men’s game, adding to the tension even before the thrilling double-overtime finale.
Since the Crowchild Classic’s inaugural 2013 game, attendance has tripled from the initial 4,275. The event breaks the CIS attendance records for hockey every year and it likely won’t be long before they’re able to sell out the Saddledome.
It’s no secret that the Dinos have some of the worst attendance numbers in the entire country — this year’s Crowchild Classic drew more people than all of the Dinos’ 2014–15 regular season games combined. And complaints among students about the University of Calgary’s lack of campus culture are common.
There are no easy fixes for either of those issues, but for at least one night, Dinos players felt the support of their university community and students proved they have some school spirit. It’s a step in the right direction on both fronts.
“Classic” was a bold label to give the event when it was first held. But just four years in, the marquee game is living up to its name and becoming a highlight of the university and city sports calendar alike.