On the verge of hockey history, Calgary's university teams are living in the moment
STORY UPDATE: The U of C Dinos men beat the U of A Golden Bears 2-1 to become Canada West hockey champions. The MRU Cougars women's team was defeated 1-0 by the UBC Thunderbirds, earning them the silver. Both teams advance to the U SPORTS national championships.
One step at a time. One shift at a time. One period at a time — that's part of the mentality that has the University of Calgary Dinos men on the cusp of lifting the Canada West hockey trophy for the first time since 1996.
Team forward Jordan Xavier said it comes down to the team having trust in each other and not looking too far into the future.
"We've just been able to string a really good season together ... it's a special group for sure," he said.
On Sunday night, Xavier and his teammates will play the University of Alberta Golden Bears in a winner-takes-all game of a best-of-three series.
It's those teammates, he said, that have got the team to where they are today.
"A lot of our success comes from some of the younger guys," Xavier said. "They're really responsible. I trust them to do their job and they've been incredible for us all year."
As one of the top two teams in their league, they've already secured a spot in the national championship.
Should the Dinos outlast their opponents, they'll be the first men's team from the university to win the Canada West championship in 27 years. And they can win it all on home ice.
"We're really familiar with the little home ice bounces and the little home ice advantages and stuff," Xavier said. "I got a lot of support, my family's here, a lot of friends here, but it's just exciting for us to be in this position."
Eleven minutes south of that arena, the Mount Royal University community is backing their own team in their quest of history the same day.
The MRU Cougars women's team will be playing the league-leading Thunderbirds in Vancouver, with a chance to become the first team in the school's history to win the tournament.
"I think it's a lot of pride just knowing that what we can do here is just going to set the standard for years to come," said Tatum Amy, the team captain of the Cougars.
"Our whole school and MRU as a community is has our backs and is cheering us on from back in Calgary."
The fifth-year forward has a list of individual achievements since joining the team. She's led the league in scoring, won the Sportsmanship and Ability award, the Student-Athlete Community Service Award and was named the Canada West Women's hockey player of the year for the 2022-23 season.
Next on the list — a national championship.
A core group of that team, Amy said, is motivated by a bitter loss in last year's semi-finals. Like the Dinos men, they've secured a place in the national championship.
She doesn't think that's good enough.
"We are the better team and we have deserved to get where we are now, that's definitely what's going to separate us from the other team," Amy said.
The key to winning?
"Just knowing who we are … knowing that we have worked so hard this year."
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