VERDE: University Games a journey worth making from Ottawa

This post submitted by former U SPORTS journalist Carlos Verde

TORONTO, ON – My time covering university hockey ended roughly two player cycles ago.

From bus trips to Trois-Rivieres to overnighting in North Bay and covering women’s hockey nationals in Napanee, I had a blast covering U SPORTS — it was still CIS, at the very beginning — puck on digital, broadcast and print streams.

The most fun I had, by far, was covering the 2017 Universiade in Kazakhstan remotely; waking up at 3:00 a.m. to watch Canada pump Britain, writing previews that 17 people would read and clipping goal highlights when the OUA and U SPORTS wouldn’t was so fun.

With the tournament in a significantly more accessible location in 2023, both in the Canton-Potsdam corridor of upstate New York for the round robin and Lake Placid for the medal round, I strongly suggest any hockey fan within driving distance try to check out a few games.

The round robin is taking place an easy 75-minute drive from Ottawa, and the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid is worth the trip later in the tournament; tickets are priced at $10, and there are doubleheader opportunities for most round robin days. Venue Manager Francesco Palumbo, an old friend from my days calling games at St. Lawrence University, and his team have done a tremendous job branding the Games in the ‘North Country’.

On the ice, storylines abound.

The Ukrainian Under-25 team is courageously playing, and if their pre-tournament results in Western Canada are any indication they could be a threat to medal.

With the Russian entrants — typically loaded with KHL and VHL talent nominally labelled student-athletes on the men’s side, and a virtual medal lock on the women’s side — not invited for obvious reasons, many are projecting a Canadian double gold could be on the cards.

The Canadian women open up this evening against Slovakia (8:00 p.m. ET), while Canada’s men begin their tournament against Ukraine on Thursday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET).

Canadian hockey fans who make the journey will be rewarded with a legitimately high-level game, two strong red-and-white squads that will be fun to cheer for — and in the round robin, at least, a very intimate environment to see international hockey up close.

Make the day trip; you won’t regret it.


A former U SPORTS Hockey Journalist.

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