Last night I saw something take place in a hockey game that I haven’t seen in years.
One of the best games on the hockey calendar is anonymous to all but a few dedicated supporters in the windy, dusty town I call home. It’s the game that the hometown Thompson Rivers University WolfPack take on the hated Simon Fraser University Clan in a contest between the top two teams in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League. The BCIHL, being a private organization and not sanctioned by Canadian Interuniversity Sport or the Canadian College Association of Athletics, remains an unknown league even among the student bodies of schools that host teams.
It’s pay-to-play in most cases, and the lack of funds is apparent. Game times are either very late in the evening or very late in the morning and the atmosphere is made up of a lot of the same people you’d see at minor hockey games. Friends and parents and other members of the player’s families sipping on hot cocoa huddling under blankets because most of the heating in the fan section doesn’t work. The old Memorial Arena in Kamloops is one of those old rinks that is usually colder inside than it is outside.
Also, fighting is "banned" in the BCIHL.
The two teams that saw each other last night hate each other. One side skated in modernized jerseys ressembling the Washington Capitals, the other skating in cheap black and orange sweaters that have the school’s athletic logo stamped on, really indicate the financial inequity between Simon Fraser and, well, the rest of the league. Without the money for the extra ice time in many of their arenas, the BCIHL has a different overtime format than most leagues in hockey do today: None.
David Gore, who was the first ever player to commit to the WolfPack two years ago, tipped home a Cody Lockwood shot (Lockwood is also a first-year holdover for TRU, and has thusly been on both teams that lost in the finals to the Clan) with 1:48 to go to knot the game up at 2s. The game opened up from there, with chances at either side, but goaltenders Riley Wall and Evan Kurylo stood tall and the game ended. A few loyal fans stayed, anticipating the start of overtime, but the teams were already lining up at centre ice for handshakes as the public address announcer was going through the three star selections.
You don’t see the tie game anymore, but there’s something noble about its intent. Two teams, playing a heated game for 60 minutes couldn’t find a goal of difference between the two. Up until 1984, this is how games were determined in the National Hockey League as well. A tie game. One point in the standings, and move on, as the crowds salute both teams for their hard work. Read the rest of this entry »