Downtown St. Catharines was a cauldron of excitement as Brock University hosted an electrifying spectacle at the Meridian Centre on Friday, Sept. 22.
In the much anticipated 23rd Steel Blade Classic, the Brock men’s hockey team triumphed over the Guelph Gryphons with a 3-0 victory, igniting the spirits of 4,500 cheering fans and clinching their 14th title in the hallmark Homecoming event.
Captain Jared Marino, a Brock Accounting graduate student from Niagara Falls, scored twice to the roar of the crowd.
“Winning this game is important to have some mojo going into the season,” he said. “It's nice to get the blade back home and in our possession, so we want to keep that winning tradition alive and pass it off for the next team.”
Newcomer Ryan Stepien opened the scoring early in the first period on a pass from Jacob Roach. The marker would stand as the game winner. Rylan Thiessen also notched an assist on Marino’s tally.
Brock goaltender Connor Ungar earned the shutout with 16 saves in between the pipes. The Badgers registered 19 shots on goal.
“This game is a touchstone event for Brock and U SPORTS hockey — it’s one of the best kept secrets in the country,” said head coach TJ Manastersky. “This game is unique because it’s a high-pressure situation that you can’t replicate in any other game. It’s just as intense as a playoff game and we love to compete in front of our students, staff and alumni.”
Since Steel Blade’s inception, the Badgers have raised the coveted trophy — a sword carried by sergeants of the Upper Canada Artillery Units and Royal Artillery during the War of 1812 — a total of 14 times.
“I think the label of the Steel Blade Classic being an exhibition game gets thrown out the window as soon as you drop the puck,” said Guelph head coach Josh Dixon. “The points don’t matter in the standings, but there’s always bragging rights. These events are great for our league and university game across the country.”
More than $3,000 from tickets was donated to the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) Food First Program, a resource for students aimed to address the growing issues of food and health insecurity among Canadian post-secondary students.