Texas fistfight brings Canadian athlete to UWRF in time for Year of Canada
Falcon hockey players Rowan Savidant and Charlie Singerhouse at the Drewiske Memorial Arena in Hudson on April 21. Photo courtesy of Rowan Savidant
Hockey players at UW-River Falls commonly choose to play for the campus for reasons such as the new $63.5 million sports facility, recruiting efforts and/or the winning tradition of the women’s hockey team, according to both head coaches.
However, for Canadian student Rowan Savidant, his decision to play hockey at UWRF came as the result of a fistfight he had in Odessa, Texas, in 2016.
“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,” he said. “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. After developing relationships with various hockey players in Canada, an opportunity arose for him to play for half a year in Odessa. When taking the opportunity, Savidant did not realize the aggression he displayed on the ice there is what would lead to a major life decision as well as a new best friend.
“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 his rival, Charlie Singerhouse, landed themselves in the penalty box, where they decided to strike up a friendly 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 has had only one other Canadian player in his 19 years of coaching at UWRF. 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 influential factor that convinced him to play for UWRF, he remembers his initial fondness for 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.”