Coach Zach Ball and his Lady Mounties did themselves proud and gained the respect of both the opposition and the local community group that offers moral and vocal support here over he weekend as they hosted the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championship tournament.
No, the underdog Mounties did not win on the scoreboard, but more importantly, they stole the hearts of their fans with a gritty display of desire and determination. With only six victories all season the team finished in sixth place and was forced to play the all-powerful X-Women on the first day of play. They battled to the bitter end with a late open net goal resulting in a 3-1 victory for the Antigonish school. Their next date was against defending champion UPEI, and again they showed the college spirit coming up with a 2-1 victory. However, with a -1 goals-for-and-against record they dropped out of contention.
Emily van Diepen of Morrell, P.E.I., was selected to the AUS all-star team. However, goalie Meghan Corley-Byrne, who proved her worth all season and who was primarily responsible for the Mounties being in the two weekend contests, was ignored. This is reminiscent of the casting aside of linebacker Justin Richard for a football all-conference award when he was head and shoulders above one chosen.
It proved to be a rough year as the team started with six games without a victory and they lost 10 games by the margin of one goal, although, at times, the girls rallied and performed brilliantly as they posted key wins over Moncton and UPEI along the way. Thus, their fine showing on the weekend did not come as a total shock.
Ball and his staff will be kept busy during the off-season as they attempt to attract more high quality student athletes to Mount Allison. Not only will they be attempting to improve the overall quality of the team, they will be challenged to come up with replacements for five graduating stars. Missing come next fall will be goalies Janelle Hulan and Corley-Byrne, and skaters Chelsea King, Lauren Oickle and Ashlyn Somers. However, fans report that goalie Kate O'Brien is ready to take over between the pipes.
With the X-Women easily earning top honours on the weekend, the question arose as to how a university not much larger that Mount Allison can afford to support powerful entries in a wide variety of activities. We have reliably learned that it costs one New Brunswick team in excess of a half million dollars to operate its hockey program. St. FX remains competitive with them and also has national-level basketball teams each season in both the men's and women's division, and they field a quality football team and are among tops in soccer.
Basically the same can be said for Acadia. This again demonstrates victory comes to those with the deepest pockets. Information available on the CIS web site shows that in one season the two teams granted athletic awards in the $380,000 range while Mount Allison came in at $60,000. Need more be said?
But where do these relatively small institutions find all the dollars? While their alumni and corporate support for athletics has grown substantially it is understood that their university administrations are far more generous than those at the local institution.
This brings to mind a recent decision taken at the annual meeting of the Mount Allison alumni. A committee headed by Brent Hawkes, a 1972 MTA graduate and recent honourary degree recipient, is to review the relationships between the alumni director and the alumni board and the board and university administration. As one recalls such directors as Robert Inch, Max Hickey, Don McLauchlin and Peter MacRae, perhaps such a review is long overdue.
If the athletic programs at Mount Allison are to be taken to a new level as aspired to by athletic director Pierre Arsenault, members of the vast alumni must dig deeper and encourage the administration to do likewise. Our little university on the marsh has gained a good deal of prestige academically. Perhaps now would be the ideal opportunity to move forward in another direction as well. Winning programs bring amazing public relations results – actually unmeasurable – and as former president Don Wells once said "football gives us the biggest bang for the buck of anything."
For a full recap of all seven games played in the 2013 AUS women’s hockey championships, visit www.sackvilletribunepost.com.
Things they are a-changing in the NHL. Montreal fans – many who claimed they would never watch another Habs game after the 6-0 thrashing handed them by the hated Maple Leafs – have "come out of the closet" in droves as their team has gone on a winning streak unmatched in more than 20 years. They have won 12 times against just four losses and sit atop the Eastern Conference with 26 points. Second is Boston with 24 but the Bruins have three games in hand.
Meanwhile, the Leafs are surprising even their most ardent fans by continuing to win games. They sit fourth in the division with 11 victories against eight defeats and continue to play an aggressive, tough, strong forechecking style that results in a good many scoring opportunities. Some are even referring to them as a return of "The Broad Street Bullies."
It appears as though the lockout of NHL players has resulted in no long-lasting damage with attendance at games on the positive side.
And then there are the Blue Jays. True baseball fans have had a taste of Jay madness with some grapefruit league games being shown on Sportsnet. One matchup saw the Detroit Tigers, with a full starting lineup, host the Jays in Lakeland. Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia and Izerus were the only regulars in the lineup and they still won easily, with unknown relievers holding the Tigers in check.
Fans are chomping at the bit for the regular season to begin – to watch a healthy Jose Batista belt balls out of the yard, to see newcomers like Jose Reyes, Chad Johnson, Mark Buehrle, R.. A. Wilson and Melky Cabrera perform in the Maple Leaf – and enjoy the hitting powess of Edwin Encarnacion and hopes that Adam Lind will live up to his performance in 2010.