Posted April 26, 2018
Some students have to fight to get into UW-River Falls or to stay academically eligible, but Canadian hockey player Rowan Savidant had to drop his gloves and fight on a Texas ice rink to find his way to UWRF.
“The puck went to our net; the goalie covered it, and Charlie, being a hard-nose player, went to the net and tried to poke at the puck,” Savidant recalled of the juniors hockey fight with his now-UWRF teammate and friend Charlie Singerhouse. “I gave Chuck a shove, he gave me a shove, you make eye contact, and you know you have to stand up for your goalie.”
Savidant, who has dual citizenship with the U.S. and Canada, spent three years playing hockey full time in Canada’s Junior Hockey League following his senior year of high school in Michigan. After developing relationships with various hockey players in Canada, an opportunity arose for him to play for half a year in Odessa, Texas.
“We both dropped our gloves, punched each other in the head a couple times, and both of us went tumbling down on the ice,” Savidant said. “For him, he was probably trying to get some energy going for his fans and his teammates.”
Despite his belief at the moment that the fistfight was fully necessary, both Savidant and Singerhouse, landed in the penalty box, where they decided to strike up a conversation.
“We both went to the box, and we were shootin’ the breeze,” Savidant said. “We weren’t really mad at each other, so we were just joking around, and we’ve kept in contact, and now he’s one of my best friends here.”
Sometime after the fight, Savidant’s new friend Singerhouse chose to attend UWRF to play on the hockey team, and he convinced Savidant to join him in doing so. With Savidant being the only Canadian player on the UWRF men’s team, he hopes next year’s Year of Canada theme will bring more excitement to the game of hockey for both fans and players.
“I think Americans as a whole are a lot better at skating than Canadians,” Savidant said. “They stress power skating a lot more in the United States. But people as a whole in Canada are a lot more passionate about the game.”
Also wanting to see some Canadian-style passion brought to the game at UWRF, Head Hockey Coach Steve Freeman recalls some observations he made during a circle tour around Lake Superior with his wife, a few years back.
“It’s a religion up there,” he said. “People live and die with their hockey teams up there. The passion people have for the sport and the pride they take in any success the players might have, it’s something that they get really involved with and very excited about.”
Women’s Hockey Coach Joe Cranston would also like to see greater excitement, but he primarily hopes the Year of Canada brings more opportunities to face off against Canadian teams.
“It would be fun to play a Canadian team,” he said. “This year we played the South Korean Olympic Team here for the Year of South Korea. That was really fun to see the different cultures and have dinner with the team afterwards. This year we have one exhibition game that we still need to fill, so we’re looking to maybe do something like that. That’d be cool.”
Regardless of whether the Year of Canada brings Canadian teams for the Falcons to face, it will for sure bring another Canadian member to the women’s team, according to Cranston, who, in his 19 years of coaching at UWRF has only had one other Canadian player. Though the team has lacked Canadian players, Cranston expects the Falcon Center will attract more to come in the future.
“You get the wow factor,” he said. “When you bring a new recruit out here and you walk them around so they can see the Page Arena and the Hunt arena and the weight room, it’s a big part of it – it’s pretty impressive.”
Though Savidant gives full credit to Singerhouse for being the influencial factor that convinced him to play for UWRF, he remembers his initial fondness of the sports facilities on campus and says it might have also been a factor in his decision making.
“It’s hard not to marvel at how nice the facilities are, both Hunt Arena and the Falcon Center,” Savidant said. “Everything was really first class, so it was a no-brainer to commit here.”