Dinos top Pronghorns in front of over 1,600, while Stingers beat Redmen in front of 1,029
U SPORTS men’s hockey saw a couple of big event games this week. On Thursday, the Lethbridge Pronghorns drew over 1,600 fans to their game against the Calgary Dinos at Lethbridge’s ENMAX Centre (home to the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, it’s also where the Pronghorns will host the men’s hockey national David Johnston University Cup championships in March), while the McGill Redmen drew a sold-out crowd of 1,029 to their own McConnell Arena for the 17th annual Winter Carnival game Friday. Both host teams wound up losing, with Calgary beating Lethbridge 2-0 and Concordia edging McGill 5-4 in overtime, but both contests were close games that delivered plenty of exciting moments for the fans in attendance.
The Calgary-Lethbridge game saw the Pronghorns start out hot, keeping the Dinos from recording a shot on goal for the first five minutes. But Calgary started to control the game from there, outshooting Lethbridge 11-9 in the first period and 15-6 in the second period. Pronghorns’ goalie Garrett Hughson kept the Dinos off the scoreboard for most of the game, making 37 saves in all, but Calgary’s Dane Gibson scored off a turnover with less than seven minutes left to give the Dinos the lead:
Despite some late pressure, Lethbridge couldn’t equalize, and Calgary’s Cain Franson then sealed the game with an empty-net goal. Jordan Papirny made 17 saves for the Dinos to earn the shutout victory. And Calgary then won the back end of this home-and-home series Friday, picking up their third shutout in a row with a 5-0 home victory (with Matthew Greenfield making 16 saves in that one).
Meanwhile in Montreal (a game that marked the first advance sellout in McGill history), the Stingers were first on the board thanks to a Jean-Philippe Beaulieu goal at 1:22 of the first, but Keanu Yamamoto struck back for the Redmen less than a minute later. Jerome Verrier and Guillaume Gauthier added goals to give McGill a 3-1 lead at the first intermission, but Beaulieu made it a one-goal game at the 8:20 mark of the second period with his second goal of the night.
Frederic Gamelin restored a two-goal lead for the Redmen with a shorthanded goal at 16:49 of the second, but Philippe Sanche responded on the power play for Concordia less than a minute later. In the third, Philippe Charbonneau tied it up for the Stingers with just over five minutes left, sending the game to overtime. McGill had some chances in the extra frame, but it was Concordia’s Dylan McCrory who notched the game-winner at the 2:30 mark, assisted by Beaulieu and Bradley Lalonde.
No. 1 Bobcats pull off the first road sweep against the Golden Bears in 19 years
The Brandon Bobcats’ men’s volleyball team earned the first No. 1 ranking in program history this week (after a road sweep of the previous No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans), and they defended it well with an extremely rare pair of road victories against the No. 4 University of Alberta Golden Bears. On Friday night, the Bobcats recorded a 25-23, 26-24, 33-31 victory, their ninth-straight straight-sets win, and on Saturday, they won 25-23, 21-25, 25-22, 25-18. That marked the first time the men’s volleyball Golden Bears had been swept at home in a weekend series since a pair of losses to the Saskatchewan Huskies on January 14 and 15, 2000.
On Friday, Brandon got off to a good start in both of the first two sets, but Alberta battled back to make it close each time. The Golden Bears (riding an eight-match winning streak of their own) then jumped out to an early 8-2 lead in the third set, but Brandon responded, battling back to tie it at 17. Both teams then couldn’t get the edge for a while, leading to the set going to 32-31 before the Bobcats were able to finish it off. Seth Friesen led Brandon with 20 kills and nine digs on the night, while Elliott Viles had 13 kills and seven digs and setter Reece Dixon had a match-high 56 assists.
On Saturday, the Bobcats picked up a 25-23 win in the first set, but the Golden Bears bounced back with a 25-21 victory of their own. In the third set, Alberta jumped out to a big lead, but Brandon fought back for the win, and the Bobcats then pulled away in the fourth set. Robin Baghdady led Brandon with 17 kills, while Viles added 15. Afterwards, Bobcats’ head coach Grant Wilson said some of the adversity his team faced in this one (including in the second set, where they suffered their first set loss in 29 sets, and in the third set, where they fell behind before coming back) was useful for them:
I think we honestly needed it. We took for granted thinking things were going to go our way and they're way too strong of a team to ever think that way. It was a wake-up call for us, and I was glad the guys responded.
If they continue to play that way, the Bobcats are going to be very tough to beat.
No. 2 Pandas and No. 3 Martlets fall to unranked Thunderbirds and Gee-Gees
There were a pair of big upsets in U SPORTS women’s hockey this weekend. On Friday night, the unranked UBC Thunderbirds took down the No. 2 Alberta Pandas 2-0 on the road, and on Sunday, the unranked Ottawa Gee-Gees earned a 2-0 home win against the No. 3 McGill Martlets.
Friday night’s Thunderbirds-Pandas game saw a deadlocked first period, but Ashley McFadden scored for UBC in the second and Celine Tardif added an empty-net goal late in the game. Despite being outshot 27-12, the Thunderbirds came out on top, and a lot of that was about a superb effort from goalie Tory Micklash, who made 27 saves for her ninth win and fourth shutout of the season.
That result snapped a five-game winning streak for the Pandas. Alberta would battle back with a 2-1 shootout win in the rematch Saturday, but UBC definitely got the better of them Friday. The Thunderbirds are now 9-4-3-4 on the year, though, in third place in Canada West and just seven points behind the Pandas, so this wasn’t as shocking as what happened in Ontario Sunday. There, the last-place Gee-Gees (2-9-0 heading into this one) beat the 9-2 and division-leading Martlets, thanks to goals from Melodie Bouchard and Melina Roy and a 36-save shutout from Maude Levesque-Ryan.
Lancers knock off No. 8 Thunderwolves
A significant upset in women’s basketball came Saturday in Thunder Bay, where the visiting Windsor Lancers beat the No. 8 Lakehead Thunderwolves 72-58. That came on the heels of a 54-50 win for Lakehead Friday. On Saturday, Windsor’s offence strugged at times (a carryover from the previous night), but the Lancers played excellent defence, holding Lakehead to 29 per cent shooting. They picked up a lead early on, extended it to 34-27 at the half, and then pulled away in the third quarter.
Eve Uwayesu led the way for Windsor with 17 points, while Samantha Gucciardi had 11 points and six rebounds and Kaylee Anagnostopoulos had eight points and 11 rebounds. Kayah Clarke chipped in 12 points off the bench, while Tyra Blizzard added 10. The win improved the Lancers to 8-6 on the year, third in the OUA West, while the Thunderwolves fell to 12-2.
Track and Field
Gryphons and Blues excel at Sharon Anderson Memorial Meet
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues hosted the Sharon Anderson Memorial Meet this weekend to kick off their season, and some notable results there came from both the hosts and from the No. 1 Guelph Gryphons. Some triumphant Gryphons included Morgan Byng (women’s 300-metre dash), Danielle Jossinette (women’s 3,000-metre run, where fellow Gryphons Hannah Woodhouse and Emma Hubbard placed second and third respectively), and Alec Purnell (men’s 1,000-metre run). Some Blues earning victories included Femi Akinduro (men’s triple jump), Peter Collier (men’s long jump) and Emily Branderhorst (women’s high jump). A full list of results can be found here. Other track and field events this weekend included the Moncton Open in Moncton, the Vert et Or Invitational in Sherbrooke and the Sled Dog Open in Saskatoon.
Social media posts of the week:
On Rogers’ Hometown Hockey Sunday, Danielle Dube (a former goalie for both Canada’s Olympic team and the UBC Thunderbirds) spoke to hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Sloane about how she got started in hockey and what her time at UBC meant to her:
Some sadder news is the news about broadcaster Peter Watts, the long-time CBC and TSN sportscaster. Watts’ health has been declining, and he was placed in a medically-induced coma over the weekend and is not expected to recover. Watts has plenty of ties to Canadian university sports, both with his work with CBC and TSN and beyond that; he got his start at Queen’s campus radio station CFRC, oversaw media relations for the annual BLG Awards, and was honoured with the national Sgambati Media Award in 1987. Plenty of tributes to him poured in on social media this week:
On the international stage, plenty of people with U SPORTS connections made their mark this week. Some of that came at the Pro Swim Series circuit’s first stop in Knoxville, Tennessee, where UBC alum Yuri Kisil and Calgary alum Tristan Cote produced impressive results, as did current UBC swimmer Emily Overholt. Kisil was second in the men’s 100-metre freestyle, while Overholt was third in the women’s 200-metre individual medley and fourth in the 400-metre individual medley, and Cote was second in the men’s 400-metre freestyle.
Another U SPORTS connection came in women’s hockey, at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Obihiro, Japan. That team is coached by University of Alberta Pandas’ women’s head coach Howie Draper, with Ryerson Rams’ men’s hockey assistant coach Kori Cheverie as one of his assistants. Canada eventually won gold there with a 3-2 overtime win over the U.S. in the final Sunday.
And in curling, reigning mixed doubles Olympic gold medalists John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes finished tied for fifth in the high-calibre 36-team field at the Qualico Mixed Doubles Classic in Banff, Alberta. Morris attended Laurier and curled for the Golden Hawks, while Lawes attended the University of Manitoba. Oh, and another famed former Laurier curler, Brent Laing (who was a player-coach in his university days), also finished tied for fifth (teaming up with his wife, renowned Canadian curler Jennifer Jones, who also happens to be a Manitoba alumna).
Back in U SPORTS competition, the Brock Badgers’ wrestling team hosted the Brock Open this weekend, leading to some great photos:
And Western’s campus radio station 94.9 Radio Western did something cool for their broadcast of the Mustangs’ women’s hockey game against the Laurentian Voyageurs Saturday, having only female on-air voices for the first time in station history:
Speaking of the Mustangs, their men’s hockey team played a school day game against Laurier Friday:
And speaking of Laurier, a Golden Hawks’ alumnus and former assistant soccer coach was announced at a pretty cool post this week:
Budalic adds to the long list of former U SPORTS players and coaches making their mark around the globe.