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TD Place sold out for 50th Panda Game

(Via TD Place)

A tradition like non-other in Canadian university football, the annual Panda Game, in which cross-town rivals the Carleton University Ravens and the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees meet for a thrilling battle of athletic prowess with school pride on the line, is set for September 29.

A new modern-day record crowd of 24,420 packed TD Place in 2017 for another Panda Game thriller as the Ravens claimed victory for a fourth straight season, this time in a double-overtime. The Gee-Gees have bested the all-time series 32-17, but Carleton is 4-1 since returning in 2013, with the four consecutive victories also establishing a school record (uOttawa’s best run was seven wins in a row between 1957 and 1963).

“This event has become one of the most anticipated sporting happening on the calendar, and not just for students and alumni, but the whole city lights up around this game,” said Mark Goudie, CEO of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, owner/operator of TD Place. “Every year the crowds get bigger and the games get more intense. The Panda Game is such a fantastic showcase for the sport, the universities involved and our venue; there is always a great energy that permeates TD Place on that day!"

The first Panda Game was played at Lansdowne Park in 1955 and continued annually until the 1998 season. The Ravens returned to the gridiron in 2013 with the Panda Game returning to Lansdowne in 2014. Since then the rivalry has lived up to its lore treating students, alumni and fans to a ‘Hail Mary’ game-winning catch giving Carleton their first Panda Game win since 1994 and a double-overtime thriller (48-45) when Carleton edged uOttawa in the highest scoring result in Panda Game history.

Over 78,000 students, alumni and fans have experienced the Panda Game over the last four years at TD Place.

“The close games at Panda have been tough – it’s a thorn in our side right now,” said Jamie Barresi, Head Coach of the uOttawa Gee-Gees. “We recruit kids who want to play in this game and it’s important for us to show well in that environment.”

The Gee-Gees enter the 2018 season with a strong core of returning players including 10 starters on offence and seven on defence. Those returning players come off a 5-3 campaign in 2017 which netted a fourth place finish in the OUA regular season despite the double-OT loss at TD Place, and the development in the off-season has been impressive. uOttawa is poised for another playoff run in 2018.

“The Panda Game is an exciting date on our calendar every year,” commented Steve Sumarah, Head Coach of the Carleton Ravens. “It’s a great opportunity for the players and fans to keep our healthy rivalry alive. The Gee-Gees give us a challenge every year and we expect the same from them this year.”

The Ravens will be entering their 6th season of play following their 15-year hiatus from CIS football. With the graduation of the “First Class” of Ravens, the program is settling into a more normal routine.  Change in the players and some changes in the coaching staff has brought a new beginning to the “Second Wave” of the Ravens.