Carleton named twice in top 50 Ottawa sports moments

Joining the wave of Canada 150 celebrations across Canada, the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame revealed the top 50 moments in Ottawa’s sports history at its yearly induction gala on June 2.

Carleton was mentioned in two of the top 50 moments, etching Carleton’s athletic feats into the city’s history.

The moments chosen were the Ravens men’s basketball championship dominance and the first-ever Panda Game in 1955.

Ranked as number 13 on the list, the tradition began when a University of Ottawa student donated a stuffed panda bear named Pedro to be used as the trophy for the annual football game between the rival schools.

Following a 14-year absence after the Ravens football program was cut in 1998, the rivalry returned in full force in 2013.

Since then, the game has been the source of many highlight reel-worthy plays, including the dramatic “Hail Mary’”catch by Ravens wide receiver Nate Behar in 2014.

While the top 50 moments include the many decades prior to Carleton’s inception, there is one moment that did have a massive impact on Carleton’s sport history.

In 1891—listed at number three on the top 50 list—Almonte native James Naismith invented the game of basketball.

Fast forward to March 10, 2013, when Carleton’s men’s basketball team hoisted their record-breaking ninth national title overall.

Over a century later, men’s basketball marked the number 43 spot on the top 50 list.

Carleton’s men’s basketball team has now won seven straight national titles and 13 overall, making them the most dominant major Canadian varsity athletic program of all time.

Jennifer Brenning, director (recreation and athletics) at Carleton, said one of her favourite moments in Carleton’s varsity sports history involved the students’ fandom.

The moment occured when Carleton’s men’s basketball team played Acadia in the 2007 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS)—now U Sports—semi-finals.

“Everyone was standing on their feet; the arena was electric. It was an amazing, heart-wrenching game. The crowd was completely engulfed in the moment,” Brenning said in an email.

Carleton would go on to lose to Acadia in double-overtime, just missing the chance at their sixth consecutive title.

However, Brenning said that it was not the scoreboard that had her in awe.

“I realized just how much our community was behind the team,” Brenning said.

Red Zone is an athletic fan club at Carleton that strives to be at each big Ravens game.

Members of Red Zone travelled to this year’s U Sports national final in Halifax, N.S. to cheer on the men’s team as they battled the Ryerson Rams.

“That’s something that basketball, as opposed to hockey for example, really allows for,” said Gabrielle Nichols, a captain with Red Zone.

“Being right there [near the court], almost a part of the game yourself instead of behind the boards or high up in bleachers. Basketball at Carleton always draws an animated crowd, and I think that’s a big reason why.”