It’s official! The Gryphons will be heading to la belle province in August to face the Université de Montréal Carabins in an inter-sectional preseason game. The UdeM website describes it as a “match hors-concours” – i.e. an exhibition game.
The first story I read on the game was a post yesterday on the Carabins fan blog – AllezlesBleus.ca. [I actually first heard about it the previous day from Coach Lang.]
In my opinion it’s an excellent matchup. A fan of another OUA team emailed me last month asking if Guelph was going to play Laval or Saskatchewan this preseason. I told him no but without even having heard a word of rumour I suggested I wouldn’t be surprised if Stu Lang worked out something with Danny Maciocia, head coach of the Carabins. It made sense. Lang is committed to the idea of playing preseason games with teams from other conferences. Montreal was the type of quality program Lang would want to face. The Carabins also want to host an exhibition game – McGill in 2013, Windsor in 2012 – and make it part of their season ticket package. There was also the CFL connection – Lang and Maciocia may be from different eras but they both have strong ties to the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Carabins are a fixture in the CIS Top 10 Rankings. They are the last team to beat the Laval Rouge et Or, a 23-20 win at CEPSUM in 2012. Both their offensive and defensive lines are as good as any we face in the OUA. Les Carabins are known for being a very physical team with an excellent defense and strong running game, a style of play we don’t see much of in the OUA anymore. That’s the type of challenge that makes this a very good matchup in my opinion. I definitely plan to make the trip in August. It’s been a decade since I’ve been to Montreal so I think I’ll plan on spending a few days there.
Coach Lang wants to face a highly ranked team in a preseason game each year. And whenever possible he wants to go out of province to play them. It’s good preparation. Boarding a plane and travelling cross-country to play a game just doesn’t happen within the OUA. So it really shouldn’t be surprising that OUA teams that travel to other provinces often don’t perform well when they get there. But there are other benefits. Like recruiting.
Many recruits will have to redshirt for a season or two before they play regularly but they know if they commit to Guelph they will have the opportunity to play in a CIS game before they even finish their first training camp. Over a four year career that would add up to some excellent extra experiences. Before this Montreal game was arranged Guelph was scheduled to play a CanWest team in a brand new CFL stadium. That fell through but I expect Winnipeg will be the Gryphons’ destination in August 2015.