Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the week.
Latest twist in hockey’s oldest rivalry sees Paladins win Carr-Harris Cup over Gaels
The Kingston, Ontario-based Queen’s Gaels and Royal Military College Paladins have been playing each other since 1886 in hockey’s oldest rivalry, and this year marked the 33rd anniversary of that rivalry being formalized with the annual Carr-Harris Cup game. This year’s edition was held Thursday at Kingston’s Leon’s Centre, home of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, and 3,888 people (a Carr-Harris Cup attendance record, edging last year’s 3,524) came out despite rough weather.
And those fans in attendance saw a surprising result, with the Paladins (5-19-2 heading into this) dominating the Gaels (18-8-0 before this one) 5-1. That let RMC claim the “Lennie” trophy, sculpted by Kingston native Joan Belch and depicting Lennox Irving, the Queen’s player who scored the only goal of that 1886 clash.
RMC took an early lead Thursday, with Liam Stagg scoring at the 12:33 mark of the first period and Rhett Wilcox tallying just over four minutes later. But the Paladins really busted the game open in the second period, with Alex MacDonald scoring at the 32-second mark and Stagg adding his second of the night just over a minute later. Queen’s would eventually get a power-play goal from Spencer Abraham later in the period, but that marked their only scoring of the night, and Cameron Lamport added further insurance for RMC at 16:10 of the second. The Paladins hung on from there, and had plenty to celebrate when time ran out.
The Gaels outshot the Paladins 47-30 on the night, but RMC goaltender Austin Hannaford made 46 saves. Queen’s did get one notable moment from fifth-year defenceman Abraham’s goal, though; that was the 116th career point for him, matching the Gaels’ career record for points by a defenceman, which Aaron Fransen set from 1999-2004. And Fransen congratulated Abraham afterwards:
Abraham that broke that record Saturday in Queen’s regular-season finale game against McGill Saturday (a 6-3 win for the Gaels that also gave them a school-record 19 wins this season), and Fransen again had positive words for him:
Huskies take down No. 1 Tigers, while No. 10 Thunderbirds beat Wesmen on Thunderstruck Senior Night
The Dalhousie Tigers’ women’s volleyball team achieved the first No. 1 ranking in program history this week, but then suffered their first loss of the season against the crosstown Saint Mary’s Huskies Friday, falling 20-25, 24-26, 22-25, 23-25. Dalhousie battled back from behind in the first set and was up 20-15 in the second set, but Saint Mary’s pulled off a great comeback and tied things up at 24 before winning thanks to two Tigers’ errors. The third and fourth sets were also close throughout, with the Huskies eventually forcing match point thanks to back-to-back Lindsay Donovan kills and then winning on a Dalhousie service error.
Jaime Rourke led the way for Saint Mary’s Friday with 12 kills and a match-high 19 digs, while Sim Gill had 11 kills and 17 digs and Donovan and Olivia Bell each added nine further kills. For Dalhousie, Victoria Haworth posted 13 kills, while Mieke DuMont and Julie Moore each had 11. The Tigers would finish the weekend with a 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 25-13 win over the Acadia Axewomen Saturday, while the Huskies picked up a 25-20, 25-23, 25-16 victory against the Moncton Aigles Bleus that day, their sixth-straight win.
Another notable women’s volleyball result came in Vancouver Friday night, where the No. 10 UBC Thunderbirds hosted a match against the Winnipeg Wesmen in a Thunderstruck Festival game (UBC’s annual event highlighting women in sports “to celebrate and acknowledge their achievements as well as to remind ourselves of the ongoing dialogue of gender equality in the competitive sports community”), and came out with a 25-16, 25-15, 25-11 win in front of a significant crowd. That match also marked UBC’s Senior Night, with the Thunderbirds honouring graduating players Victoria Behie, Samantha Patko, Ciara Hanly and Danae Shephard. It was second-year outside hitter Kiera Van Ryk who really shone, though, picking up a match-high 16 kills and adding four aces.
Women's and Men's Basketball
Play-in games see women’s Wesmen upset fifth-seeded Thunderbirds, men’s Timberwolves pressure No. 6 Cascades
The men’s and women’s basketball playoffs started this weekend in Canada West, with play-in games featuring teams seeded fifth-through-twelfth by RPI on both the men’s and the women’s sides. (In both men’s and women’s basketball in Canada West, the top 12 teams by win-loss record make the playoffs, with the top four getting a bye; the other eight then face play-in games, with matchups determined by those seeds. Particularly notable outcomes there saw the twelfth-seeded Winnipeg Wesmen women beat the fifth-seeded UBC Thunderbirds 67-64 on the road Saturday and the eleventh-seeded men’s UNBC Timberwolves put up a good road fight against the sixth-seeded UFV Cascades, even leading by 16 points at one moment in the second quarter before eventually falling 67-59.
In that women’s game, the Wesmen came out firing early and took 20-12 and 23-16 leads in the first quarter on the backs of strong three-point shooting from Farrah Castillo and impressive play inside from Canada West regular-season scoring leader Faith Hezekiah (who had a quarter-high eight points and added six rebounds). Winnipeg then took an eight-point lead (41-33) into the half, but UBC closed the gap to 55-52 by the end of the third quarter, and the Thunderbirds looked to be in particularly good shape after Hezekiah (who had 12 points and 11 rebounds on the night) fouled out early in the fourth.
UBC even generated their own 59-55 lead in the final frame, but Castillo got Winnipeg back within one with a three-pointer, and they then pulled ahead. The Thunderbirds created late pressure, but that wasn’t enough in the end to overcome the performances from Castillo (20 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals), Lena Wenke (16 points, three steals and two rebounds), Robyn Boulanger (six points, three assists and two steals off the bench) and others. And Winnipeg coach Tanya McKay was thrilled with her team’s showing afterwards:
“We're incredibly proud, we were ranked twelfth and they were ranked fifth. I'm sure nobody expected that but us, you know we've steadily gotten better all season. And everybody says they only have Faith Hezekiah, she's our only player; well, we've got some hidden gems and those gems came to play today."
UBC coach Deb Huband also said Winnipeg was deserving of the victory:
Meanwhile on the men’s side, the Timberwolves’ underdog story didn’t lead to a win, but they were dominant early on. They led by 16 points in the second quarter and were up 38-.26 at the half. But the Cascades kept chipping away at that lead, and eventually took their first lead of the game late in the third frame before going on to win in the fourth. Sukhman Sandhu led UFV with 18 points and four rebounds, while Jovan Learny had 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals for UNBC.
Tigers claim 22nd and 18th consecutive AUS crowns, while Varsity Blues win 16th and sixth-straight OUA titles
Two U SPORTS swimming conference championships were held this weekend, with the Dalhousie Tigers hosting the AUS event and the Brock Badgers hosting the OUA one. And it was a familiar pair of schools that dominated on both the men’s and women’s side. In Halifax, the Tigers claimed their 22nd (men’s) and 18th (women’s) straight AUS titles at home, while the University of Toronto Varsity Blues shone on the road in St. Catharines, winning their 16th (men’s) and sixth (women’s) consecutive OUA titles.
In the OUA championships, a particularly notable Varsity Blues’ performance came from Kylie Masse, who won bronze in the 100-metre backstroke in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Masse was named the OUA Swimmer of the Year for a fifth consecutive season, and she won six golds over the weekend, four in individual events (the 50-, 100- and 200-metre backstroke, plus the 50-metre freestyle) and two in relays (the 200-metre freestyle relay and the 400-metre medley relay) while being part of four OUA record-breaking times (two individual and two in relays). On the men’s side, OUA Swimmer of the Year went to Western’s Matthew Loewen, who posted three individual golds (50, 100 and 200-metre breaststroke) and helped the Mustangs to gold and silver in relays (the 200- and 400-metre medley relays respectively).
In the AUS championships, a significant showing came from Dalhousie’s Reagan Crowell, who won both the female rookie of the year and female swimmer of the meet awards after winning the 400-metre and 800-metre freestyle and 400-metre individual medley events. Crowell also placed second in the 200-metre freestyle. On the men’s side, the Tigers’ Alec Karsen was named swimmer of the meet after winning the 200-metre and 400-metre individual medley and the 200-metre butterfly and placing fourth in the 200-metre backstroke, and teammate Christian Payne was named rookie of the year for winning the the 50-metre and 100-metre backstroke events and placing second in the 50- metre butterfly and 200-metre backstroke.
Social media posts of the week:
A particularly cool track story came from the Guelph Gryphons’ 4X400-metre men’s and women’s relay teams, who both set collegiate records this weekend at a international meet (the Spire Division I Invitational in Geneva, Ohio), with the men’s mark also serving as the new Canadian record:
Also on the international front, Laurier Golden Hawks varsity swim team member (and 2016-17 team MVP) Tyson MacDonald competed in those aforementioned OUA championships this weekend, and is now off to represent Canada at the 2019 World Para Swimming Series in Melbourne, Australia:
On the subject of the Golden Hawks, their men’s hockey team clinched a playoff spot with a 2-0 win over the crosstown Waterloo Warriors in the Battle at the Aud at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Thursday. The first goal there came from Jake Henderson, a first-year Laurier player who previously played in that arena with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, and the second was the first U SPORTS career goal for fellow first-year player Mac Lewis:
That game also saw Waterloo equipment manager Trevor Black working his 400th U SPORTS game. Black has also been the equipment manager for the U SPORTS team in two editions of the All-Star Series against the Canadian junior team, and for the Canadian team at the 2017 Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Speaking of remarkable accomplishments, University of Toronto Varsity Blues’ women’s volleyball fourth-year outside hitter Alina Dormann was honoured at Rideau Hall a couple of weeks ago as one of the U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadians for the 2017-18 season. The Blues also paid tribute to Dormann’s on-court accomplishments in a special ceremony Sunday before their home match against the Trent Excalibur (they’d win in straight sets), presenting her with the game ball from the Jan. 20th match against the Ryerson Rams where she broke the school records for points and kills:
Meanwhile, the UFV Cascades hosted the Canada West wrestling championships this weekend, which were won by the Alberta Golden Bears on the men’s side and by the Saskatchewan Huskies on the women’s side. But the hosts found some notable accomplishments of their own, claiming 11 medals. One of those was won by fourth-year wrestler and team captain Brad Hildenbrandt, who won his third-straight conference title at 120 kg and also became the first Cascade named Canada West men’s wrestler of the year:
And in curling, the Memorial Sea-Hawks hosted the AUS curling championships , which the Dalhousie Tigers won with undefeated showings on both the men’s and women’s side:
There are also going to be curlers with ties to U SPORTS schools taking part in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Feb. 16-24 in Sydney, Nova Scotia) and the Tim Hortons Brier (March 2-10 in Brandon, Manitoba). In the Scotties, both skip Jennifer Jones and vice-skip Kaitlyn Lawes of the defending champion Manitoba rink attended the University of Manitoba, and in the Brier, a particularly notable participant is Brandon University alum Mike McEwen. McEwen used to have his own rink, but joined long-time friend and opponent Reid Carruthers’ Manitoba team this year, and they’ll now be playing in the Brier in McEwen’s old stomping grounds in Brandon:
And also on the subject of returns, the UNB Reds officially brought back women’s hockey as a varsity sport this season for their first season at that level since 2007-08. That story was featured on Sportsnet’s Hockey Day In Canada coverage Sunday with an interview with Sylvia Bryson, a former Reds’ player who played a vital role in bringing this program back to varsity status: