While the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men's hockey team gets ready to play for a national championship at home, it can't play in its home rink.
Built in 1929, Rutherford Rink is affectionately known as the Dog House. But there are many reasons the University Cup is being held at Credit Union Centre.
In Saskatoon, only two rinks are available to host a hockey event like the University Cup: the 900-seat capacity Rutherford Rink or 13,000-seat capacity Credit Union Centre.
Rich with history
Ask any member of the University of Saskatchewan's two hockey teams and they'll tell you about the Rutherford's rich history.
"You don't get a college barn like this where you get 900 people into a barn and the roar that happened when the series winning goal went in," Steve Kook, head coach of the Huskies' women's hockey team, said after winning the Canada West championship at Rutherford. "You don't get that sort of environment anywhere else in conference."
'Time's up ... It's served its purpose.' - Dave Adolph, Huskies' men's hockey head coach
Brennan Bosch, captain of the Huskies' men's hockey team, said he'll never forget his time at Rutherford.
"There's a lot of history in this building and it's cool to be a part of it and it's a pretty sweet atmosphere to play in," Bosch said. "When we won Canada West a couple of years ago, it was a building that I'll always remember for that."
Cami Wooster, captain of the women's hockey team, has sat on both sides at Rutherford. Before joining the Huskies, she played hockey at the University of Alberta.
"Other teams we're playing against joke about how bad it is," Wooster said. "When we're warming up, we have to warm up beside the other teams and they give us some snide remarks and say, 'Oh this is such a crappy rink.' But we like it."
'Time's up' for Rutherford
"Time's up," Dave Adolph, Huskies' men's hockey head coach, said. "That's how I'd describe Rutherford. It's served its purpose."
"I love it," he added. "My wife says I love it too much. It's running out of things that can enhance a program. The ice is too small. The dressing rooms don't fit the size of the players."
According to Wooster, there's also a rust problem.
"There's been some rust issues during games and stuff when pucks hit the rafters," Wooster said. "Basically, if you flick a puck up and it hits one of the rafters, rust will come down and spread across the whole ice. So they'll have to stop the game and sweep up the rust."
Andrew Bailey, a fifth-year men's hockey forward, echoed the same concern.
"Yeah, that's pretty much a once-a-game occurrence," Bailey said. "Our trainers get pretty good at getting the broom out and sweeping that across."
New hockey rink could benefit Saskatoon
Basil Hughton, the University of Saskatchewan's athletic director, said they have been looking at ways to get a new rink for about a decade.
"I facetiously always say, 'It's going to happen on a Monday,'" Hughton said. "I'm not sure which Monday."
Hughton said there is always an on-going dialogue about potential opportunities that may exist.
'This city needs a ton more ice' - Steve Kook, Huskies' women's hcokey head coach
"Very clearly they're going to exist with the combination with the private sector or with donor dollars," he said. "It's not going to be with university funding."
But Hughton and players alike agree a new rink would not only benefit the U of S, but all hockey players in Saskatoon.
"It speaks to the need for our community to have a rink that is probably in the 5,000 seat range, for a number of reasons," Hughton said.
Bosch said a lot of people come out support the Huskies and that it would be nice to get another facility in Saskatoon.
"Saskatchewan here and especially in Saskatoon, it's a hockey community," Bosch said. "There's lots of kids who are coming up through the minor ranks and it's even hard for some of them to try and find some ice."
Kook knows that problem all too well.
"This city needs a ton more ice," Kook said. "I have a 10-year-old playing atom hockey and we get odd times and we get times outside of the city and I'd like to see that stop for sure."
University Cup underway in Saskatoon
It's been a great month for University of Saskatchewan sports teams. In the past three weeks, four U of S teams have competed for national championships.
This is the second-straight season the University Cup has been held in Saskatoon.
The Huskies have only won the title once, in 1983. Dave Adolph, head coach of the men's hockey team, was playing for the Huskies during that last championship.
"I know 23 guys who have won a national championship the Huskies," Adolph said. "I happen to be one of them. And our role as alumni, the guys who have done it, is we want somebody else to win it to take the burden off of us."
Despite losing in the Canada West quarter-finals this season, Adolph is confident his team can make a run against the country's best.
"We're just more competitive this year," he said. "We're more skilled. We're a way deeper team. A way more cohesive group. We're not as sensitive. Our guys can push each other and call each other names and get angry get up the next morning and start all over."
The Huskies will play their first game on Friday night at 7 p.m. CST. They'll face off against the loser of Thursday's Acadia-Windsor match-up.
Here is the entire University Cup schedule:
Thursday, March 20
- No. 1 Alberta vs. No. 6 Carleton at 1 p.m. CST
- No. 2 Acadia vs. No. 3 Windsor at 7 p.m. CST
Friday, March 21
- Loser of Alberta/Carleton vs. No. 4 McGill at 1 p.m. CST
- Loser of Acadia/Windsor vs. No. 5 Saskatchewan at 7 p.m. CST
Saturday, March 22
- Winner of Alberta/Carleton vs. No. 4 McGill at 2 p.m. CST
- Winner of Acadia/Windsor vs. No. 5 Saskatchewan at 7 p.m. CST
Sunday, March 23
- University Cup final at 1:30 p.m. CST