Crowds bring energy
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this building so electric.”
That was how Laurier forward Vanessa Schabkar described the atmosphere inside the Waterloo Recreation Complex for her team’s tournament opener versus St. F.X. 1,276 people were at the arena that night, marking the largest crowd for the weekend.
In total, the attendance of the tournament was 6,114. 2,549 of that came during Laurier’s games, while the gold medal game between McGill and St. F.X. drew 1,032.
But beyond the number of people who showed up to the rink, was the atmosphere they created. Every game was loud, every goal was accompanied by a powerful roar and every team had fans chanting for them when they were trailing.
“I have never seen this place like this,” said Schabkar. “We had so many people out here, it was such a great feeling, I will never forget it.”
For the Hawks, the electric atmosphere was an obvious benefit of hosting nationals. However the sheer amount of screaming, chanting, pot-banging fans clad in purple and gold meant a great deal to the players.
“It was amazing,” said Laurier captain Abby Rainsberry. “It was definitely a different feeling than the last two years. The turnout we got from the fans and the support that we got from not only our friends and family but also the rest of the school. Having that many people come out and support us was a great feeling.”
The fan support at this year’s women’s hockey nationals, though not overwhelming in numbers, was simply better than almost anything that’s normally seen at Laurier sporting events.
While Laurier was clearly the most supported team at the tournament, the fans of the St. F.X. must be given credit. The X-Women faithful came with large numbers and loud voices, something that didn’t surprise St. F.X. head coach David Synishin.
“No matter what the sport is, St. F.X. fans travel well,” he said. “The support we get no matter where we are is fantastic.”