Having never missed a Crowchild Classic, former Dinos captain Sinead Tracey winces, admitting there’s still a longing every time she watches the annual hockey smackdown between the University of Calgary team and the Mount Royal University Cougars.
“I get nostalgic,” admits the player, once notorious for her penalty kill. “I still wish I was out there on the ice ... I don’t think that hunger will ever disappear.”
You might just spot Tracey and hundreds of other alumni on Feb. 2, chanting “Go, Dinos, Go!” during the annual hockey doubleheader hosted by the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. While fans like Tracey will be plastered in red, the players will be sparkling in glittery gold retro uniforms to mark UCalgary’s 50th anniversary. Although Tracey hasn’t played hockey since she graduated with a BSc in 2014, that’s going to change later this year when she joins the alumni team, the Fossils, in a women’s league.
Early hockey career taught life lessons
Despite her absence from the world she’s known since she was a tyke growing up on blades in St. Albert, the geophysics major, who currently works for Chevron, says she replays hockey’s lessons every day at work.
“Skills such as respect and integrity, and what it means to represent an organization ... and that your actions reflect who you are and who you play for,” she says. “That gets played out every day.
“These factors are all vital for teamwork, but I also learned that diversity is key to a successful team,” says the geophysicist, adding that, at Chevron, “I work on a team where each individual contributes, and, like hockey, the functionality of the organization is highly integrated. The qualities that make a successful hockey team parallel the dynamics of successful work team. There are also similar pressures and expectations to deliver results.”
Some fans may recall Tracey’s five-year reign as right wing by the three Crowchild Classics she played, but one of her other unforgettable university highlights — besides playing alongside Olympians Hayley Wickenheiser (Team Canada) and Iya Gavrilova (Team Russia) — was when the Dinos won the CIS 2012 national championship.
'Almost unstoppable' for 2012 national championship
“Our first game was against McGill, who are notorious for winning nationals,” says Tracey, who chose to play for UCalgary so she could train under Dinos’ head coach Danielle Goyette. “It was close right from the start, but we kept it simple — everyone did the small things right and we came out on top, 1-0. The win was monumental for us; it really revealed the team we were and after that we knew we could face anyone.
“[In] Game 2, we played U of A and won 4-2, then we went on to the final against the Montreal Carabins and won it 5-1. Winning the championship with that team was incredible; it’s almost hard to put into words what it felt like. It was one of the greatest moments of my hockey career.”
Tracey said the win against Montreal proved what can happen when a team really comes together. “It’s really something special when a group of people is all aligned and when each individual’s talents mesh so well that, collectively, you become almost unstoppable. It was the definition of a team,” she says. “We had fantastic support from our families, friends and alumni during the tournament, which made it that much more exciting.”
As for the reasons why Tracey will, once again, return to the ’Dome to watch “the Classic” — she is thrilled to count the ways.
“But mostly,” she says, “it’s just a fun experience that has all the hype of the big stage and entertainment value of a professional game. It’s great way to build school pride and promote athletics.”
On Feb. 2, puck drop for the women's game is scheduled for 5 p.m., with the men's game following at 7:45. Now in its fifth year, the annual hockey faceoff continually sets attendance records. This year, the Dinos and Cougars are aiming to beat last year’s record of 13,000 fans who packed the Scotiabank Saddledome.
About the Crowchild Classic
The Crowchild Classic is an annual competition between the University of Calgary Dinos and the Mount Royal University Cougars in CIS regular-season games across the sports of basketball, hockey, soccer and volleyball. Each year, the school that wins the most games in the series is awarded “The Medal” — a 68-kilogram cast-iron City of Calgary manhole cover. For more information, visit www.crowchildclassic.ca.