When it comes to university pride, graduates of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish are about as proud as they come.

X grad rings were everywhere Thursday night at the World Trade Centre in Halifax where more than 200 St. FX hockey fans turned out for a pre-game rally for the school's hockey team.

The Atlantic University Sport champions were preparing to play next door at the Scotiabank Centre in the University Cup.

"The beauty of sports is that it brings people together," athletic director Leo MacPherson said.

"It provides a huge platform for us to rally our alumni and supporters."

Green not best choice

Almost everyone in the room was wearing blue and white.

Even though it was St. Patrick's Day, wearing green would not have been a good choice. 

Green and gold are the colours worn by the University of Alberta, the opposition on this night.

There were even some people from Alberta at the rally, like Alice Kuhn, who lives near the Saskatchewan border and has a son, Steven, who plays for St. FX. 

She said her son was impressed by the schools alumni.

"I think that's why Steven chose to go to school here," Kuhn said. "He found the culture was good and suited his needs."


The 2004 X-Men championship ring was worn proudly by Patrick Grandmaitre, the captain of that team. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

'A small university, but the people really care'

The rally was a mix of St. FX alumni and students who made the trip up to Halifax from Antigonish.

Bill Kiley was in the St. FX class of 1967.

"It's a small university, but the people really care," he said. "Our alumni is very active and they will have a lot of these kind of events."

Many of the people at the rally had connections to St. FX hockey.

Stanley MacDonald graduated in 1954 and was the manager of the X-men hockey team.

"We're so much aware that we are really just one big family," he said.

"All the players say the same thing. They feel that they belong to something bigger than themselves. They're proud to wear the St. FX jersey."

Last national men's hockey win in 2004

The last time St. FX won a national men's hockey championship was in 2004.

Patrick Grandmaitre was the captain of that team and was at the rally wearing his Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship ring.

"There's a reason why St. F X alumni is the best in Canada," he said. "There is just such a pride around the school. When you are there, you feel it and you feel it when you leave."

The president of the university was in western Canada this week, but made sure his schedule was cleared in time for him to fly back for the rally.

"Our students get very engaged in student life and that carries on through to the alumni," Kent MacDonald said.

"When we have an opportunity to represent our region and the university, this is quite typical for our alumni and friends of St. FX to come out and support these great student athletes."