Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the week across Canada West, the OUA, RSEQ and the AUS.
Badgers record seventh-straight title sweep on home soil
The Brock Badgers hosted the U SPORTS wrestling championships this weekend, and they came up with their seventh-consecutive sweep of both the men’s and women’s titles. That marked their 20th men’s title overall and their 10th women’s title.
On the women’s side, Brock finished with 55 points, ahead of the Saskatchewan Huskies (42) and the Alberta Pandas (34), with gold medals from Julie Steffler (who previously competed for the Western Mustangs, but pursued graduate studies in kinesiology at her hometown school this year and joined the Badgers for her final year of U SPORTS eligibility), Hannah Taylor, Skylar Grote and Shauna Kuebeck. On the men’s side, the Badgers posted 76 points to 54 from Saskatchewan and 45 from the Concordia Stingers, with gold medals from Ligrit Sadiku, Clayton Pye and Cruiz Manning.
Brock’s Marty Calder was selected as the Fox 40 Coach of the Year, while Steffler was named the outstanding wrestler on the women’s side. Guseyn Ruslanzada of Concordia was named the outstanding wrestler on the men’s side. Full coverage of the wrestling championships can be found here.
Thunderbirds sweep titles for fourth-straight season, are one back of Varsity Blues for most men’s titles
The U SPORTS swimming championships also took place this week, hosted at Saanich Place by the Victoria Vikes, and the UBC Thunderbirds again came out on top. UBC swept the men’s and women’s titles for the fourth consecutive year.
On the men’s side, the Thunderbirds achieved their 18th national title, one shy of the record held by the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. They recorded 1,087 points to 873 from the Calgary Dinos and 768 from the Varsity Blues, and claimed the Nelson C. Hart Trophy as men’s swimming champions. UBC’s Markus Thormeyer was named Swimmer of the Year for the second straight year, and he not only completed two career Grand Slams (four national wins in the same event, in this case the 100m and 200m backstroke events), he set two U SPORTS record in the process (and also added further golds in the 100m freestyle, the 4X100m medley relay, and the 4X200m medley relay).
On the women’s side, UBC earned their 24th national title, posting 1,092.5 to 978.5 points from the Varsity Blues and 864 from the Dinos. Manitoba’s Kelsey Wog was named Swimmer of the Year after completing a career Grand Slam in the 100m breaststroke, recording the fastest long course 200m breaststroke swim in the world this year (and winning that event for the third straight year, this time by almost 11 seconds), winning the 50m breaststroke, and setting a U SPORTS record while winning the 200m individual medley.
Full coverage of the swimming championships can be found here.
Stingers take down No. 3 Ravens in OUA divisional semifinals, win longest game in OUA men’s hockey history along the way
The best-of-three OUA men’s hockey divisional semifinals this week saw a significant upset in the OUA East, with the unranked Concordia Stingers defeating the No. 3 Carleton Ravens in two games. That first game, at Carleton Wednesday, proved to be epic indeed, going three overtimes before Carl Neill scored to give Concordia a 4-3 win:
That game went 115:18 in total, making it the longest OUA men’s hockey playoff game on record and the fourth-longest U SPORTS men’s hockey playoff game on record. The record is 121:53 from a UNB Reds win over the Acadia Axemen in the AUS semifinals in 2011. The second game between the Ravens and Stingers ended in regulation, with Concordia picking up a 3-1 home win Saturday. That included this remarkable save from goalie Kyle Jessiman after a turnover:
It also included this goal from Jean-Philippe Beaulieu off a rebound following a turnover, one of two goals he scored on the night:
Also in OUA men’s hockey, the No. 10 Ottawa Gee-Gees beat the No. 7 UQTR Patriotes in three games. The Patriotes won Game 1 of that series 2-1 at home Wednesday, but Ottawa bounced back with a 4-3 home victory Saturday to force a third game. The Gee-Gees then won that third and deciding game 4-2 on the road Sunday.
Ottawa will now face Concordia for the OUA East title, while the No. 5 Guelph Gryphons will face the Western Mustangs (who took down the No. 6 Ryerson Rams in three games, including a 3-2 overtime win in the third game Sunday) for the OUA West title. Both divisional champions and the winner of the third-place game between the losers of this week’s series will advance to the Cavendish Farms University Cup national championship (hosted by the Acadia Axemen and Sports & Entertainment Atlantic at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax from March 12-15).
In Canada West men’s hockey, the No. 2 Saskatchewan Huskies beat the No. 8 Calgary Dinos in two games in one conference semifinal series, winning the second game 5-4 in double overtime Saturday. The Huskies will face the UBC Thunderbirds in the conference final thanks to the Thunderbirds’ 2-1 win against the No. 4 Alberta Golden Bears in the third game of their semifinal series Sunday. Both UBC and Saskatchewan have already qualified for the University Cup by advancing to the Canada West final, and that’s particularly remarkable for UBC, which was just the second No. 5 seed in Canada West history to reach that final and hadn’t made it that far since 1978. It also ended the longest University Cup appearance drought at 43 seasons, with UBC last qualifying for the national tournament in 1977.
Elsewhere in U SPORTS men’s hockey, the best-of-five AUS conference semifinals are ongoing, with the No. 1 UNB Reds up two games to none on the Moncton Aigles Bleus and the Axemen up two games to none on the No. 9 Saint Mary’s Huskies. Game three in each of those series takes place Monday night. Both teams that advance to the AUS final will make the University Cup, and if one of those teams is Acadia (already in as hosts), a best-of-three series will be held between the two teams that lost in the semifinals to see who gets the other AUS berth.
No. 9 Pandas knock off No. 2 Dinos in Canada West semifinals
The Canada West basketball playoffs saw both the quarterfinals and semifinals take place this weekend, and on the women’s side, that led to a substantial upset in the semifinals Friday when the No. 9 Alberta Pandas beat the No. 2 Calgary Dinos (the top-seeded team in the Canada West playoffs) 80-78 in Calgary to advance to their first conference final since 2007. The Dinos trailed by 12 points in the first half, but rallied back from that; however, that rally fell short in the end. Vanessa Wild led Alberta with 15 points and five rebounds, while Erin McIntosh posted 28 points and nine rebounds for Calgary.
The Pandas got to that semifinal by beating the UFV Cascades 64-48 in the quarterfinals Thursday (also in Calgary), while the Dinos took down the UNBC Timberwolves 87-68. On the other side of the draw in Saskatoon, the No. 1 Saskatchewan Huskies beat the Victoria Vikes 80-75 in the quarterfinals and then edged the UBC Thunderbirds 76-72 in the semifinals to book their trip to a seventh-straight conference final. They’ll host the Pandas in that clash next Friday.
The OUA women’s basketball quarterfinals also took place this week. A notable result there saw the No. 7 Brock Badgers take down the No. 6 Windsor Lancers 61-57 Saturday. The semifinals next week will see Brock face the No. 5 Western Mustangs, while the No. 3 Ottawa Gee-Gees will take on the No. 4 Ryerson Rams.
No. 9 Carabins defeat No. 1 Stingers in RSEQ semifinals
One of the biggest upsets of the week came in the best-of-three RSEQ women’s hockey semifinals, where the No. 9 Montreal Carabins edged the No. 1 Concordia Stingers in three games. First, Montreal beat Concordia 2-1 on the road in triple overtime Friday:
Concordia bounced back with a 5-3 road win of their own Saturday, but the Carabins then produced a 3-2 road win Sunday. Mylène Lefebvre, Kim Poirier and Annabel Faubert all scored for Montreal in this one. And they were ready to celebrate when the final buzzer sounded:
The Carabins will now face the McGill Martlets in the best-of-three conference final, which begins Thursday.The Canada West semifinals also took place this week, with the No. 4 Alberta Pandas and the Mount Royal Cougars moving on to that conference final (a best-of-three series beginning Friday).
Rouge et Or take down No. 9 Citadins, move on to RSEQ final
The best-of-three RSEQ women’s volleyball semifinals took place this week, and they saw a notable upset, with the Laval Rouge et Or beating the No. 9 UQAM Citadins Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Laval won in four sets (25-18, 25-17, 20-25, 26-24) on the road, and on Saturday, the Rouge et Or picked up a five-set victory (25-23, 20-25, 25-17, 17-25, 15-11) at home. Maud Chapleau (12), Anne-Sophie Tanguay (12), Marianne St-Aubin (11) and Béatrice Lamarche all recorded double-digit kills for Laval in Saturday’s match.
Following a bye week, Laval will now face the Montreal Carabins in a best-of-three conference final beginning Friday, March 6. The AUS semifinals also took place this week, with the No. 4 Dalhousie Tigers sweeping the UNB Reds in two matches and the Saint Mary’s Huskies sweeping the Acadia Axewomen.
Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie will begin their best-of-three conference final series Thursday.
No. 9 Thunderbirds beat No. 4 Dinos to advance to Canada West final
In addition to the home upset suffered by the Calgary Dinos’ women’s basketball team this week, their men’s team also fell to a lower-ranked team at home. The Dinos beat the UFV Cascades 78-63 in the quarterfinals Friday, but then lost 82-71 to the No. 9 UBC Thunderbirds (who beat the Saskatchewan Huskies 88-77 in the quarters) in the semifinals Saturday. Fifth-year guard Manroop Clair led the way for UBC with 26 points, while Jadon Cohee added 23, and the Thunderbirds outscored the Dinos 25-12 in the fourth quarter.
The Thunderbirds have now qualified for the Final 8 (held from March 5-8 in Halifax), but they’ll first face the No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears (who beat the Manitoba Bisons 91-85 in the other semifinal Sunday) in the Canada West final Saturday. The Dinos had won the last two conference championships, so there will be a new Canada West champion this year.
Track and field
Tigers, Rouge et Or, Gryphons, Huskies and Dinos claim conference titles
Each U SPORTS conference held its track and field championships this weekend, and three of the four saw title sweeps. The AUS titles were swept by the Dalhousie Tigers, who claimed their 31st consecutive banner on the women’s side and their 18th in 19 years on the men’s side, while the Laval Rouge et Or swept the RSEQ banners, winning their seventh-straight men’s championship and their third-straight women’s championship. The Guelph Gryphons swept the OUA titles for the fourth-straight year, but the Canada West titles were split; the Calgary Dinos took the men’s title (their first since 2014-15 and their fifth overall), while the Saskatchewan Huskies won their third-straight women’s title (their 21st overall).
All qualified athletes from these schools and more will now head to the 2020 U SPORTS track and field championships at the University of Alberta from March 5-7.
Social media posts of the week:
One of the biggest sports stories this weekend came from David Ayres, the Toronto Marlies’ Zamboni driver who filled in as an emergency backup goalie for the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes Saturday and made eight saves in 28 minutes, helping them post a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ayres became the first emergency backup ever credited with a win, and he also became the oldest goalie ever (at 42 years and 194 days) to win a regular-season NHL debut. Ayres is also the building manager for Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, and the Rams were quick to congratulate him Saturday:
Former Ryerson athletic director Dr. Ivan Joseph (now the vice-provost of students at Dalhousie) also congratulated Ayres:
Also in hockey, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association continued their Dream Gap Tour this week with the BFL CANADA Professional Women’s Hockey Pro Challenge in Montreal and Sherbrooke. Many U SPORTS alums took part, including McGill Martlets’ alums Ann-Sophie Bettez (who served as one team’s captain Sunday) and Mélodie Daoust (who scored a goal Sunday):
In men’s basketball, the Canadian senior men’s national team is facing the Dominican Republic in a pair of FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers. Canada won the first match 89-72 Friday at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center at Ontario Tech University and Durham College, with the rematch to be held Monday in the Dominican Republic. The Canadian team has plenty of U SPORTS alums, including Carleton’s Phil Scrubb, Acadia’s Owen Klassen, and Ryerson’s Aaron Best. Scrubb had 14 points for Canada Friday.
In field hockey, the U21 NEXTGen team (featuring numerous U SPORTS players) took part in training camps and matches against the U.S. in Chula Vista, California this weekend:
And in football, the CFL announced its list of national and regional combine participants, including a lot of U SPORTS alums. A few of the many notable national combine invitees include McGill’s Andrew Senet-Spaulding (a 2019 first-team All-Canadian at defensive tackle who also won the 2019 J.P. Metras Trophy as U SPORTS’ outstanding offensive or defensive lineman), Saskatchewan’s Mattland Riley (a first-team All-Canadian at guard), Ottawa’s Reshaan Davis (a first-team All-Canadian at defensive end), and Carleton’s Jack Cassar (a first-team All-Canadian at linebacker).
Andrew has been covering university sports in Canada since 2005 at outlets such as The Queen's Journal, The CIS Blog, and Yahoo Canada, where he also served as the editor of the Canadian football blog 55-Yard Line. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Queen's University with a major in history, and currently works as a staff writer and editor for Awful Announcing and The Comeback.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewBucholtz