MRU game leading up to Remembrance Day raises money for Veterans Food Bank

On a Saturday night when the Mount Royal Cougars faced the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in a Canada West showdown, the outcome of the game wasn’t the most important thing. The win, while important to an 8-1 Huskies team, was more important for Canadian veterans and the Veterans Food Bank.

The event raised a total of $1629 dollars for the Veterans Food Bank.

For every ticket sold at the event, Cardel Homes donated $5 toward the Veterans Food Bank, matched the 50/50 ticket sales, and gave an additional $100 for every Cougars goal in support of Canadian veterans.

At the start of the event, Mount Royal University players Tyler Fiddler and Cody Cartier were honoured for their excellence in leadership and were presented with the 2015 Cardel Homes Leadership Award for Men’s Hockey. Additionally, visiting members of the HMCS Tecumseh, Calgary’s naval reserve unit, played the national anthem.

The HMCS Tecumseh, Calgary’s naval reserve unit, plays the Canadian National anthem before puck drop at the 4th annual Mount Royal Remembers hockey game between the MRU Men’s Cougars and the Saskatchewan Huskies. Photo by Jesse Buchholz

Lt. Adina Danila, the logistics officer with the HMCS Tecumseh, said the event was a good way to bring people together around an important issue. “We heard the team had wanted to carry our crest on their uniforms, so that was some pretty cool symbolism from them, and a show of respect to us,” said Danila.

Her first time at the event, Danila drew a comparison between sports and the military. “It’s the camaraderie, the competition aspect of it, the coming together as a team and us in the military, we’re definitely a team.”

Many returning spectators, including Joanne Hiddler, came for the hockey and the good cause. “I think that it is really great to see that people are showing appreciation for those who give for the country,” Hiddler said. “It goes a long away when people just say thank you, holding 30 seconds of silence for people who risk their lives for us at home.”

Michael Strife, attending for the first time, echoed Hiddler’s sentiments. “Some of these people risk their lives for people that they don’t even know, so we should be able to do what we can to support them,” said Strife. “The little things as well go a long way, you know, donating food to the food bank or donating some change that you have. If everyone does it then some great things can happen.”

Strife also said he hopes events like this won’t be necessary in the future. “They are raising money for the Veterans Food Bank and I would like to say that in the future they won’t have to do that,” said Strife. “From that standpoint I wish they didn’t have to have this game for that purpose. It should be for appreciation because veterans shouldn’t be in need.”

Cougars get off to a rough start

Just over a minute after the puck dropped, and only several after the opening ceremonies, the Huskies got on the score sheet.

Kohl Bauml, in his first year with the Huskies, sped over the Cougars’ blueline and released a wrist shot on Kyle Lanigan, who was starting his third game this season for the Cougars. The re-bound popped right out to the front of the net, where Bauml followed up his shot, sneaking it through Lanigan’s legs.

After killing off a penalty of their own, the Cougars got a chance to go on the power play at 14:45 of the first period. Despite abundant chances, the Cougars went into the intermission, trailing by one goal.

Cougars battle back

Mount Royal players wear their special camouflage jerseys to salute veterans countrywide and to signify that the event is much more than a hockey game. Photo by Jesse Buchholz

The second period started off the same way as the first — quickly.

Just under a minute and a half into the period, Zak Stebner tangled his stick in a Cougar’s hands, resulting in a hooking call and sending Mount Royal to their second power play of the night.

Much like the first power play, the Cougars had an array of chances but finally got a puck past Jordan Cooke, who had lost only one game this season. With less than 15 seconds left in the Cougars’ power play, Cam Maclise passed through a crowd of Huskies, finding Matthew Brown who fired past Cooke to tie the game at 1-1.

The period ended with Cougars forward Cody Cartier taking a tripping penalty that carried over into the third frame of play.

Huskies take over

Fans watch after the Huskies strike first in the game on Nov. 7 game between the University of Saskatchewan and Mount Royal University. Photo by Jesse Buchholz

After Cartier’s late second period penalty, the third came down to a clean slate, and one that could have gone either way. Soon after Cody Cartier left the penalty box, the Huskies took the lead. A shot from Huskies forward Josh Roach found its way past Lanigan, off the post and into the net to put Saskatchewan up one goal.

The Huskies found their first power play marker of the night when Roach fed Stebner a pass deep in the Cougars’ zone. The resulting slapshot from Stebner worked its way through an array of players, untouched, and was perfectly placed to find the net behind Lanigan.

With the Huskies up two goals, and three minutes to play, the Cougars pulled their netminder with a faceoff deep in the Huskies’ zone. However, after the Huskies cleared the puck, forward Levi Cable skated from the Mount Royal corner boards, avoided three different Mount Royal players and proceeded to bury the empty net goal, wrapping up the game for the Huskies and retaining their position atop the Canada West standings with a 4-1 victory.

Outcome of the game was not about the score

On Nov. 7, where the Cougars were working towards a greater cause, the outcome of the game did not seem to matter as much.

“I don’t think teams and people do enough nowadays to show remembrance for people who have served and for people who continue to serve”- Kendall McFaull Captain of Sask. Huskies

“I don’t think teams and people do enough nowadays to show remembrance for people who have served and for people who continue to serve,” said Kendall McFaull, the captain of the Saskatchewan Huskies.

“The guys definitely got fired up after the ceremonies. I think it was an awesome job and it was an honour for us to be a part of this.”

Mount Royal head coach Bert Gilling agreed that it was an honour for both his coaching staff and players to be a part of connecting with members of the armed forces. “Monday, our guys got to spend some time over at the military museum and got to meet some of their personnel and some servicemen,” Gilling said. “They were telling stories and it was very inspirational and very humbling and I think that is the big thing for us. We are very humbled to honour them and support them.”

Although this is only Gilling’s second season behind the Mount Royal bench, the head coach sees potential for the annual Remembrance Day game to move forward and raise more money.

Thumbnail courtesy of Jesse Buchholz.

* This article has been updated to provide relevant information

jbuchholz@cjournal.ca | agrant@cjournal.ca