Babcock wins gold with McGill tie


The tie was couriered to him days before the final game. It seems to have worked.

Mike Babcock (BEd’86) coached the Canadian Olympic men’s hockey team to a heart-stopping gold-medal victory Sunday night, wearing a McGill tie sent to him in the closing days of the hockey tournament. It’s far from the first time he’s won while sporting the colours of his alma mater and the tie continues to enjoy a winning record when Babcock is behind the bench, whether at the Olympics or in the NHL, where he coaches the Detroit Red Wings.

Of course, the tie didn’t win, the Canadian players did. All Canada was watching, barely breathing, as the Canadian men scored the country’s record-breaking 14th gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games Sunday, notching a 3-2 overtime win against a powerful American squad that never quit.

With an almost lyrical inevitability, Sidney Crosby sank the overtime goal that clinched Canada’s victory in a nail-biting game that could have gone either way.

Babcock’s success caps an amazing record of achievement for McGillians at the Vancouver Games.

The Games were barely a day old before a student athlete contributed to McGill’s overall Olympic medals tally. And another gold was added Friday night courtesy of Canada’s women’s hockey team.

And then there were the Canadian women hockey medallists, who, like the men, were presented with their medals by McGill Chancellor Emeritus Richard W. Pound, who continued to play an important role at these, the third Olympic Games to have taken place on Canadian soil.

The women’s hockey gold medals earned by current student Charline Labonté, a physical education junior from Boisbriand, and graduates Catherine Ward (BCom ’09) from Town of Mount-Royal, and goaltender Kim St-Pierre (BEd ’05) of Châteauguay, bring the total number of Olympic medals – Summer and Winter Games combined – won by McGill students or graduates since the Olympics began, to 28.

Friday night’s 2-0 victory over the U.S.  gave St-Pierre a third Olympic gold medal, while Labonté, who was between the pipes for Canada’s gold medal victory in 2006 (Turin), earned her second. Olympics rookie Ward earned her first, but probably not last, Games medal. She scored 2 goals and added two assists in five games and was a pillar on the blueline for defending Champions. Ward was on the ice for both of Canada’s goals in the gold medal game and helped kill off a number of Canadian penalties.

Jennifer Heil, a management major from Spruce Grove, Alta., captured Canada’s first medal on the first day of competition at the Games, a silver in women’s freestyle moguls. Heil, 26, and the defending gold medallist in the event, finished second behind American Hannah Kearney, the daughter of two McGill grads: Jill Gass (BEd ‘79) and Tom Kearney (MA ‘79). Tyson Heung (BEd’05), a Montreal teacher originally from Brampton, Ont., skated for Germany, but failed to capture a medal.

Eight other McGill graduates were involved with the current Games in coaching or administrative roles. Peter Smith, the current head coach (on sabbatical) of the hockey Martlets, served as an assistant with Canada’s women’s team.