Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the weekend.
No. 2 Pandas win double-overtime thriller in weekend split with No. 1 Bisons
The women’s hockey season resumed with a clash of the titans between the No. 1 Manitoba Bisons and the No. 2 Alberta Pandas Friday and Saturday in Edmonton. On Friday, tight-checking defence ruled the day, with the two teams combining for just 29 shots in a 2-1 Manitoba win. That was surprising, as both the Bisons and Pandas are in the top 10 nationally in goals scored this year (sixth and eighth respectively after this weekend). But their defences were the ones in strong form Friday, and while Alberta’s Autumn MacDougall scored six minutes into the game on a rebound, the Pandas wouldn’t get anything further. Sheridan Oswald equalized for Manitoba seven minutes later on a breakaway after forcing a turnover, and Erica Rieder scored the Bisons’ game-winner in the third.
Saturday’s game wound up being a back-and-forth thriller. This time around, it was Manitoba that got out in front, thanks to first-period goals from Jordyn Zacharias (just one minute into the game) and Caitlin Fyten. Amazingly, those goals were on their first two shots of the game. Alberta battled back, though, but the Pandas couldn’t get on the scoreboard at first; they outshot the Bisons 12-4 in the first period, but Manitoba goalie Rachel Dyck turned all those shots aside.
Dyck made 12 further saves in the second period, but Alex Poznikoff managed to sneak one by her. The third saw the Bisons playing defensively and the Pandas trying to equalize, which was finally successful when Cayle Dillon scored on a point shot with 15 seconds left. The teams were deadlocked through a first overtime, but Regan Wright scored the game-winner 3:53 into the second overtime frame off a two-on-one with MacDougall. Alberta outshot Manitoba 33-12 on the night, and all those shots were eventually rewarded.
No. 5 Golden Bears win a pair over No. 2 Dinos, No. 10 Rams fall twice in Ottawa
The No. 5 Alberta Golden Bears started the new year off with a bang this week, beating the No. 2 Calgary Dinos 92-79 on the road Thursday and then dispatching the Dinos again Saturday with a 71-61 win at home. Thursday’s game got off to a remarkable start, with Alberta missing shots but collecting four straight offensive rebounds before Austin Waddoups notched the first points of the game on a corner three. The Bears jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, and forward Brody Clark led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He’d be crucial again Saturday night, pouring in a team-high 17 points and recording a game-high 18 rebounds while also contributing four assists in Alberta’s win.
Elsewhere in men’s basketball, it was a tough weekend for the No. 10 Ryerson Rams on their trip to the nation’s capital. They fell 89-80 to the No. 1 Carleton Ravens Friday and lost 81-73 to the No. 8 Ottawa Gee-Gees Saturday. Friday’s game was a rematch of the 2016-17 national championship game (which Carleton won 78-69), and it saw the Rams come awfully close; they even took a 70-68 lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Ravens then went on a 10-0 run, and while Ryerson pulled back to a one-point 79-78 deficit with 2:38 left, Carleton outscored them 10-2 the rest of the way. Manny Diressa led the way for the Rams with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Cam Smythe had 23 points, three rebounds and a block for the Ravens.
On Saturday, Ryerson got off to a great start against Ottawa, leading 41-31 at the half thanks to some strong three-point shooting. But the Rams only connected on one of 12 attempts from deep in the second half, while the Gee-Gees hit five of their 11 three-pointers following halftime. Sean Stoqua led the way for Ottawa with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists, while Diressa had 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals for Ryerson.
No. 5 Heat take a pair from No. 8 Pandas
Canada West volleyball action started this weekend, and the No. 5 UBC Okanagan Heat picked up a pair of home wins over the No. 8 Alberta Pandas. On Friday night, the Heat came up with a four-set victory, winning 25-16, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20. Michelle Jakszuk led the way for UBC Okanagan with 17 kills plus a team-high 20 digs. Siobhan Fitzpatrick had 12 kills, Ann Richards had 10, and Sara McCreary had 46 assists for the Heat. Erin Corbett had 12 kills for the Pandas.
On Saturday, Alberta got off to a better start, claiming the first set 25-23. However, UBC Okanagan then responded with 25-22, 25-18 and 27-25 set wins to take the match. That fourth set went down to the wire, with the Heat eventually emerging victorious thanks to a service ace from Skye Thompson and a match-point block from Erin Drew. Jakszuk and Fitzpatrick again had great games for UBC Okanagan, notching 16 kills apiece, with Fitzpatrick adding 15 digs as well. Corbett had 12 kills for Alberta and a match-high 19 digs.
No. 10 Bisons earn a split with No. 2 Thunderbirds, No. 1 Spartans top No. 7 Wesmen, No. 9 Marauders and Gryphons pick up exhibition wins
The U SPORTS regular season resumed in Canada West this week, and the No. 10 Manitoba Bisons came up with an impressive five-set road upset of the No. 2 UBC Thunderbirds Friday, winning 25-15, 25-23, 23-25, 13-25, 15-13. Adam DeJonckheere led the way for the Bisons with 12 kills, while Brendan Warren had seven blocks and Dylan Sutherland had 25 assists, eight digs and two service aces. Keith West had 15 kills for the Thunderbirds, while Irvan Brar had 13 kills and eight digs. UBC got revenge with a straight-sets (25-18, 25-21, 25-23) win Saturday, led by 12 kills from Fynn McCarthy.
There were no upsets in the cards for the No. 10 Winnipeg Wesmen in a pair of road matches against the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans this weekend. On Friday, the Spartans picked up a four-set (25-17, 25-14, 23-25, 25-21) victory, which saw TWU fifth-year setter Adam Schriemer record 47 assists and become the first-ever Spartan to hit 3,000 career assists (he now has 3,067). Jesse Elser had 16 kills for Trinity Western, while Eric Loeppky and Jacob Kern had 14 each and libero Carter Bergen had 17 digs. David Bommersbach had 10 kills for Winnipeg, while Garrett Jones had six kills and four blocks.
On Saturday, things were a little closer, with the Spartans hanging on despite a Wesmen surge for a 27-25, 25-22, 26-28, 21-25, 15-12 victory. Kern had a career-high 21 kills and Loeppky added 17, while Schriemer tied his career-high mark of 53 assists and Bergen had a career-high 18 digs. Daniel Thiessen and Adrian Dyck had 13 kills each for Winnipeg.
The winter break also saw some interesting exhibition volleyball action. In particular, the No. 9 McMaster Marauders continued their success against NCAA teams; back in October, they beat the two-time defending NCAA champion Ohio State Buckeyes in two preseason matches, and at the end of December, they came up with four-set (25-20, 25-23, 18-25, 25-20) and five-set (25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 21-25 and 15-13) home wins over the NCAA’s current second-ranked team, the Long Beach State 49ers. Andrew Richards led the way for McMaster in the first match with 15 kills, while the Marauders also posted five solo blocks and 10 assists, led by three and a half by Peter Khodkevych. In the second match, Richards again shone with 17 kills, a total matched by first-year teammate Matthew Passalent.
Elsewhere, the Guelph Gryphons are on an exhibition tour of Costa Rica, including games against the senior and junior national teams. And the York Lions hosted a 10-team tournament this weekend, welcoming five other OUA teams (the Queen's Gaels, Windsor Lancers, Toronto Varsity Blues, Nipissing Lakers, and Western Mustangs), the AUS’ Dalhousie Tigers, two Ontario colleges (the Fanshawe Falcons and Humber Hawks) and a CEGEP program, the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Geants. After a weekend of matches, Dalhousie beat Western in three sets for gold, while Nipissing beat Fanshawe in four sets for bronze. Full results are available here. The Royal Military College Paladins also hosted an exhibition tournament on both the men’s and women’s sides, with the Brock Badgers and Trent Excalibur joining, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces’ Conseil international du sport militaire (CISM) teams.
Women’s basketball: No. 4 Ravens beat No. 10 Rams
U SPORTS women’s basketball resumed play in all conferences this weekend, with one particularly notable result seeing the No. 4 Carleton Ravens edging the No. 10 Ryerson Rams 60-53 Friday. Heather Lindsay led the way for Carleton, posting 10 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks. The Ravens dominated the boards in this one, especially on the offensive end; they grabbed 18 rebounds on the offensive glass versus six for the Rams, and outscored Ryerson 17-6 on second-chance points. Lindsay’s nine rebounds were a team-high, with seven of those coming on the offensive end, but four other Ravens’ starters had at least six rebounds. Sofia Paska had a strong night for Ryerson with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Carleton followed that up with a 66-44 win over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues Saturday, while Ryerson fell 66-61 to the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Bisons knock off No. 1 Golden Bears twice, No. 4 X-Men down No. 2 Varsity Reds, No. 7 Axemen best No. 6 Huskies
All conferences resumed men’s hockey play this weekend, and Canada West saw a pair of massive upset, with the unranked Manitoba Bisons downing the No. 1 Alberta Golden Bears 5-4 and 3-1 in a pair of home games. On Friday, Manitoba fell behind 2-0 early in the first period, but the Bisons then responded with two goals of their own. They scored a third in the second period and took a 4-2 lead in the third, but Alberta stormed back to tie the game and send it to overtime. Remi Laurencelle then won the game for the Bisons just 1:04 into the extra frame. On Saturday, Zack Franko scored early for Manitoba, Brett Brooks added a follow-up in the second, and Quintin Lisoway provided insurance after Riley Kieser responded for the Bears. Bryon Spriggs made 30 saves for Manitoba in the win.
Atlantic University Sport also saw two big top-10 matchups that both ended in upsets. The No. 4 St. Francis Xavier X-Men beat the No. 2 University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds 5-2 on the road Saturday, which marked UNB’s first regulation loss of the season. That game was close for most of the night, with Adam Stevens opening the scoring for StFX in the first period and UNB’s Kris Bennett tying it up in the second period. Michael Clarke put the X-Men up 2-1 with less than 30 seconds to go in the second, and StFX then sealed it with three straight goals before a late response from the Varsity Reds. Also Saturday, the Axemen picked up a 4-2 road win over the Huskies thanks to a 36-save effort from goalie Robert Steeves and goals from Mathew Pufahl, Remy Giftopolous, Sam Fioretti and Taylor Makin.
Track and field
Varsity Blues shine at Sharon Anderson Memorial, Tigers and X-Men tie
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues hosted the Sharon Anderson Memorial Meet Saturday, and they came away with a bunch of impressive results. A few key Varsity Blues victories included Lucia Stafford in the women’s 1500 metres in 4:25.19, Anthony Kwan in the 60m men’s hurdles in 8.55 seconds, and Ezana Debalkew in the men’s weight throw with a distance of 16.19m. Some other notable results saw Waterloo’s Tegan Sauer win the women’s 60-metre dash in 7.75 seconds, York’s Sonia Gaskin win the women’s 600 metres in 1:36:38 and Brock’s Kwaku Bonsu win the men’s long jump with a 6.73 metre mark.
Elsewhere, the Dalhousie Tigers hosted the St. Francis Xavier X-Men and X-Women in a dual meet this weekend, and both teams finished with 34 points. Some notable results included StFX’s Angus Rawling winning the men’s 1000 metres in 2:32:70, Dalhousie’s Cal Dewolfe winning the men’s 3000 metres in 8:33:45 and Dalhousie’s Lorena Huebach claiming the long jump title with a mark of 5.25 metres.
Gryphons come out on top at University of Guelph Varsity Club Invitational
The Guelph Gryphons hosted the University of Guelph Varsity Club Invitational Sunday, and they picked up an event-leading 14 gold and 35 total medals. The Laurier Golden Hawks were second with 13 and 31. The York Lions also took part, as did club teams from the Orillia Channel Cats and Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club.
Social media posts of the week
A former Bison makes an impact, and the Gaels add a former NHLer to their coaching staff
A former U SPORTS football star made a big impact on the NFL playoffs Sunday. New Orleans Saints’ defensive tackle David Onyemata, a former Manitoba Bison, came up with a huge sack on Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton:
The Saints would go on to beat the Panthers 31-26. Elsewhere, Queen’s Gaels men’s hockey coach Brett Gibson announced the addition of former Washington Capitals’ defenceman John Erskine, a former teammate of his, to his coaching staff: