Home CommentaryStudent Life “A Tale of Two Univer ‘cities’ “

“A Tale of Two Univer ‘cities’ “

by Archives February 10, 2009

With Valentine’s Day approaching, most loved ones cherish the 14th of February as a holiday to spend together. There are flowers, chocolates, small gifts, or even extravagant ones.
In sports it can be very different. The gifts can be pleasant handshakes, high-fives or on the other side of the spectrum, dropping the gloves, getting in each others’ faces, shoving matches or even some verbal exchanges of ‘pleasantries’.
This past weekend in the National Hockey League the Montreal Canadiens played their biggest rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, falling 5-2. The game had only one fight, and it was between reputable tough guys Georges Laraque for Montreal and Brad May for Toronto.
In Concordia sports throughout Saturday and Sunday, the hockey teams faced off against their division foe, and cross-town rivals McGill. Where this rivalry began I do not know but one thing is for sure, it will be around for a very, very long time.
“It’s a tremendous rivalry, where we have respect,” said men’s hockey coach Kevin Figsby. “It’s the competitive factor that overrides all else. It’s great for the city of Montreal. There’s no love lost.”
Having two major English universities in a metropolitan such as Montreal is always great. With both being downtown and only two metro stops away from each other, the close proximity adds onto the edge.
Edgy or not, men’s hockey goaltender Maxime Joyal tries not to let his opponent determine his routine.
“I try to prepare the same but it’s always special,” said Joyal. “They get in my face, but it’s expected. My teammates always protect me even though sometimes I want to leave the crease.”
McGill and Concordia haven’t always been the only two opponents. Université de Montréal had a hockey team, which folded after one exhibition season in 1980.
“It’s very important to foster the relationship in university sport,” said Figsby. “There’s no reason why other schools, UdeM, Laval, can’t join the Quebec university system.”
This past weekend the annual Corey Cup took place at the Ed Meagher Arena, a yearly exhibition game with special significance going to the winner between the two men’s hockey squads. McGill took it this year by edging the Stingers 4-3 in front of a full-capacity crowd.
“We’re fighting for two important points right now (in the standings),” said Redmen head coach Martin Raymond. “Bringing the Corey Cup home is just nice to bring home the trophy.”
In men’s hockey where body checking is allowed, the two teams love to get under each other’s skin.
“On the ice, friendships are lost, in the summertime maybe [we’ll hang out],” said winger Marc-André Element. “I won’t invite them for beer during the season.”
One player who fought with a Redmen is winger Renaud Des Alliers.
“We hate each other. The wins bring excitement,” said Des Alliers. “We don’t want to hurt opponents, but the Redmen are the exception.”
Women’s hockey at Concordia also has their own battles with McGill, where the Martlets are No.1 in the National ranks. It wasn’t always this way. Only a few short years ago in 2005, it was Concordia who took home the National championship title.
“The intensity level is just that much higher,” said women’s hockey coach Les Lawton. “It makes the games (against them) boil the competition that much more.”
“I grew up with some of the Martlets in the West Island,” said women’s hockey player Emilie Luck. “It’s always intense; days before you get pumped. It’s always fun to play, and a challenge.”
Backup goaltender Stephanie Peck has had her own taste of the Martlets this past season. In her first full playing season with the Stingers she has started in four games, three of which were against none other than McGill.
“I have definitely been exposed to this rivalry since I started here at Concordia. I remember the first time I started against them, I was really nervous,” said Peck. “We have to make them fight for what they get, we can’t just give it to them because they’re ranked #1 in the country.”
Not to be outdone by hockey, there are other sports where two universities have heated battles against each other.
“In football, the McGill rivalry takes a back seat,” said wide receiver Dan Rodrigues. “We do want to beat them, but we play in a small conference. Every game matters.”
The Shaughnessy Cup played annually at McGill is a heated one-game regular season battle, with a trophy awarded to the winner.
“It’s (the Shaughnessy Cup) not really that important and no real deal,” said quarterback Rob Mackay. “It’s not hyped enough.”
In their division, the other games against Université de Montréal and Laval carry the bigger rivalries. Laval is No. 1-nationally ranked in CIS Football.
In soccer, veteran goaltender Daniel De Palma has had his own taste of facing McGill throughout his tenure between the posts at Concordia.
“The problem with the last four years facing McGill is we’re constantly the underdog,” said De Palma. “Is McGill a big game? For us, every game is big and there’s a rivalry. We have to prove ourselves.”
On the basketball court, forward Sebastien Martin always enjoys playing games against McGill.
“I’m a nice guy off of the court. They (McGill) play very dirty and when we’re out there, we’re going to get them,” said Martin. “They like to showboat too much, and it pisses me off.”
One person that has been subjected to much of McGill’s wrath and pain is our very own mascot Buzz, the giant six-foot tall bumblebee that can be found at almost every Stingers sporting event, home or away.
“The Redmen fans can be really aggravating, trying to pick fights,” said Buzz. “As soon as I leave the realms of Concordia I can feel the adversity and intensity from the other fans.”

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