Coach helping Cougars makes jump to CIS
Hockey: Mount Royal bench boss adjusting to university game
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 06:00 am
The former coach of Okotoks’ top girls hockey team is now behind the bench of a woman’s squad making its first foray into Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
Scott Rivett of Okotoks is the head coach of the Mount Royal University Cougars, who are playing their first season in the tough Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) West division after a successful stint in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
“It’s been an interesting adjustment for sure,” Rivett said. “The parity in female hockey, whether it be in the ACAC or CIS, is close. The depth on each team is stronger in the CIS and every team has two or three players who can really capitalize. Before we used to get away with the odd bad shift, but the margin of error in the CIS is so small.”
Mount Royal University (MRU) currently sits in the cellar of the Canada West standings with a 7-14-3 record. The Cougars won two of the last three ACAC championships, including last season; their final one before making the jump to university level.
Rivett said it was time for the Cougars to make the jump to CIS, adding his team has been competitive in each game this season despite what their won-loss record indicates.
He said with Mount Royal having an enrolment approaching 15,000, which is bigger than the majority of ACAC institutions and the school now has university status, the CIS was a natural fit.
“All the (Mount Royal) teams were hugely successful in the ACAC in the past,” Rivett said. “And I think all the teams were ready for the bigger challenge of the CIS.”
Rivett set expectations high, he said.
“Without a doubt we play in the toughest division of the CIS,” Rivett said. “The ladies were excited about it. We have been gearing up for this over the past few years. We knew we would have to play hard, but no question we knew what we were getting into and that we would have some long nights.
“I think we have had few less of those than we expected.”
Playing in the top women’s league means you are playing against the top women. The Cougars held their own against the University of Calgary Dinos, the second-ranked team in Canada, losing 3-1 and 1-0 earlier in the year.
The Dinos feature Hayley Wickenheiser, arguably the most well known Canadian woman hockey player in history.
Before their series with the Dinos, Rivett stressed to his team that although she has a three Olympic gold medals, Wickenheiser still puts her hockey socks on one leg at a time.
“I told them to treat her like they treat any other skilled player,” Rivett said. “Try not to give them room to stop them from making plays. We held her to just one point in the first two games.
“I don’t think our ladies were too awestruck. We tried to treat her like any other player — which obviously she is not.”
Rivett grew up in the Border City and played Midget AAA in Lloydminster. He played the odd game with the always strong Lloydminster Junior B Bandits as well.
He had to quit playing contact hockey due to a concussion so he turned to coaching. However, Rivett had no idea he would be coaching players without the Y chromosome.
“It was just by pure accident,” Rivett said of how he ended up coaching female hockey. “I had graduated from university and I was looking to get involved in coaching. A friend of mine was coaching the SAIT women’s team and looking for an assistant. I just sort of fell into the women’s game.”
Rivett would later be the head coach of the SAIT Trojans. In between his stint with the Trojans and the Cougars he co-coached the Okotoks Midget AAA Oilers with Terry Larson of Millarville, who is now the bench boss of the SAIT’s women’s team.
“I enjoy the female side of hockey,” Rivett said. “I miss the intensity of the male game at times, but if I was to go back, I would miss some things from the female side.”
What he enjoys about the women’s game is his players’ ability to learn and their enthusiasm.
“I would miss their desire to learn,” Rivett said. “They always listen and want to get better.”
As for intensity, that is something he looks for when he recruits players to the Mount Royal program. He said with MRU offering small class sizes and university degrees, the school is an easy sell when recruiting.
He said he believes the future is bright for the MRU Cougars in the future.
“Our first goal is to make the playoffs,” he said. “From there we would like to win CIS West and then beyond that.”
The Cougars close out the CIS regular season against the Dinos this weekend. They play the Dinos Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Saddledome.
The Cougs then play the Dinos on Friday at 7 p.m. at Father David Bauer Arena.