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Few games in sports are steeped in history like the Carr-Harris Cup – hockey’s oldest rivalry

Matthew Coyte

Taking place every year between the Queen’s Gaels and the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) Paladins, the city of Kingston, Ont., unites these crosstown rivals to showcase one of the most hard fought and heated rivalries in hockey. A rivalry that resumes on Thursday at the Leon’s Centre.

“We always joke that we could play without a puck for the first 10 minutes and no one would even notice,” says RMC head coach Richard Lim, who played five seasons with the Paladins himself from 2006 to 2011, serving as captain in his final year.

With up to 4,000 fans attending each game, ranging from kids, to grandparents, to university classmates, it’s not difficult to imagine the energy that this game brings. The Carr-Harris Cup, one of the OUA’s premier matchups, draws in every participant, from the ice to the stands.

But for players on both sides who grew up in Kingston watching the Carr-Harris Cup – which will mark its 133rd anniversary this year and remains hockey’s oldest rivalry – this game means even more.

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I remember watching Queen’s hockey games when I was young.

Luke Edwards - Fourth-year sociology major at Queen's

“I remember watching Queen’s hockey games when I was young,” says Luke Edwards, a Kingston native, and fourth-year sociology major at Queen’s, who transferred from the NCAA after watching a few Gaels games. “I knew this is where I wanted to play.”

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The history of the Carr-Harris Cup is intertwined with the history of hockey itself. Some historians credit the City of Kingston as the home of the first ever hockey game, dating back to the 1840s.

Since then, the game has grown in size, talent, popularity and lore. But one aspect that never seems to change is the passion that both schools bring to the Carr-Harris Cup.

Across the bridge at RMC, defenceman Matt Muller looks forward to having Kingston come together to cheer on both schools.

“When the fans get in a setting like this – when I was a spectator when I was young – I always thought that (the Carr-Harris Cup games) were the most exciting games to watch.”

Matt Muller - Defenceman for RMC

As Muller grew up, he began to understand the significance of this game.

“You just see murals all over the city. Being part of that tradition and seeing the history of the two schools and the history of hockey, it’s a really cool experience.”

For third-year Queen’s forward Francesco Vilardi, the game is a can’t-miss event.

“You circle it on your calendar,” says Vilardi. “Months in advance, I have buddies telling me that they’re coming. That’s when you realize how big it is. Over the years playing against RMC, you just hate each other. It’s a great rivalry.”

For the game’s 100th anniversary in 1986, some Kingston hockey die-hards came up with the idea of turning the event into a “Cup” game. Since then, Queen’s leads the series 20-10-2.

“It doesn’t get old...We’re getting in the community more. We want the kids and families to come out, and for their money, they’re going to get a great hockey game.”

Brett Gibson - Head Coach at Queen's

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Despite the insistence from both coaches that their sole focus is the two points, the Carr-Harris Cup means much more, no matter where the two teams are in the standings. It means winning bragging rights, as well as the pride of Kingston


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Matthew is a third-year journalism student at Concordia University in Montreal. He's the social media coordinator at the university's campus newspaper, The Concordian, and has been featured in publications such as The Globe and Mail, Avenue Magazine and WestJet Magazine. This is Matthew's second year as a U SPORTS correspondent.

 

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @MatthewCoyte16 

Matthew's website: https://matthewcoyte.wordpress.com

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