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.
No. 10 Gryphons edge Golden Hawks 4-3 in front of 4,942 fans
One of this week’s biggest clashes came from the 11th annual Frosty Mug, the game the Guelph Gryphons host at the Sleeman Centre (home of the OHL’s Guelph Storm) each year. This time around, the No. 10 Gryphons picked up a 4-3 win in front of an sold-out and event-record crowd of 4,942 (the third-largest ever for a OUA men’s hockey game). That marked their seventh win in the 11 Frosty Mug events so far.
Guelph jumped out to a first-period lead thanks to a goal from Todd Winder, but Grayden Gottschalk and Anthony Conti replied for the Golden Hawks in the second period. Mikkel Aagaard tied it up for Guelph before that period ended, and Luke Kutkevicius and Giordano Finoro then added third-period goals for the Gryphons before Conti pulled one back for Laurier. And the Golden Hawks applied plenty of pressure after that, but Andrew Masters stood tall in net for Guelph, and the Gryphons won 4-3.
Afterwards, Gryphons’ head coach Shawn Camp (who’s been coaching the team for 13 seasons, including through all 11 Frosty Mug games) said the audience support was a key part of their victory:
"The student support is unbelievable. The fans are loud throughout the game. It's like having an extra player on the ice. It's just such a fun event to be a part of, we're privileged to be around such a great student body with a great group of players."
The win saw the Gryphons improve to 15-5-5 on the season, and they picked up another win Friday on the road, defeating the York Lions 4-3 in overtime. Out in AUS play, the No. 1 UNB Reds posted a pair of home wins this weekend, taking down the Dalhousie Tigers 5-1 Friday and then beating the StFX X-Men 6-2 Saturday in the 28th annual Mark Jeffrey Memorial Game, with the latter game marking their 10th-straight win. Meanwhile in Canada West, the No. 2 Alberta Golden Bears fell 5-2 and 3-1 to the Calgary Dinos in a pair of home games, and the No. 3 Saskatchewan Huskies beat the UBC Thunderbirds 3-2 and 5-2 in a pair of home games.
No. 1 Huskies suffer first loss of season at home against No. 2 Dinos
A particularly notable Top 10 clash in women’s basketball this week saw the No.1 Saskatchewan Huskies hosting the No. 2 Calgary Dinos. On Friday, Saskatchewan won 66-38, but on Saturday, the Dinos pulled off a 76-71 win. Calgary led 22-19 after the first quarter and 35-27 at the half, and the Dinos went on from there. Bobbi-Jo Colburn led the way for Calgary Saturday with 21 points and five rebounds, while Erin McIntosh added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Liene Stalidzane chipped in 14 points and three rebounds. This marked the Huskies’ first loss this season.
In OUA women’s basketball, the No. 3 Ottawa Gee-Gees beat the No. 4 Ryerson Rams 74-72 on the road Friday, but the Rams rebounded to best the No. 5 Carleton Ravens 51-49 Saturday. The No. 6 Queen’s Gaels fell 76-71 to the McMaster Marauders on the road Friday, while the No. 8 Western Mustangs beat the Guelph Gryphons 71-61 at home Wednesday, the No. 9 Brock Badgers posted a pair of home wins (78-50 against the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks Friday and 84-61 against the Gaels Saturday), and the No. 10 Windsor Lancers beat the Waterloo Warriors 90-50 at home Wednesday before taking down the Gryphons 76-71 on the road Saturday.
No. 1 Spartans post road sweep against No. 2 Thunderbirds
Another No. 1 versus No. 2 clash came this week in men’s volleyball, where the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans went on the road to take on the No. 2 UBC Thunderbirds in Canada West play. On Friday, the Spartans posted a five-set (25-22, 22-25, 25-18, 25-27, 15-10) victory, while on Saturday, they won in straight sets (25-9, 25-23, 25-18).
Friday’s match saw Eric Loeppky lead the way for Trinity Western, posting 21 kills, four service aces, four total blocks and five digs, with those aces giving him a Canada West-record 147 for his career. Loeppky’s second ace of the night saw him pass former Brandon Bobcats’ star Paul Sanderson, who finished with 144 career aces. Jackson Howe also chipped in 16 kills for the Spartans in that clash, while Matt Neaves had 15 kills for the Thunderbirds.
On Saturday, Loepkky recorded a team-high 11 kills while adding another three aces. Jesse Elser also chipped in nine kills, two aces and three digs for the Spartans. Neaves led UBC with 10 kills.
Also in Canada West action, the Mount Royal Cougars beat the No. 10 Calgary Dinos in five sets (19-25, 25-16, 25-22, 16-25, 15-10) in a road school day game Thursday, but Calgary bounced back with a five-set (27-25, 23-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-8) victory Friday. In OUA play, the No. 8 University of Toronto Varsity Blues beat the No. 7 Queen’s Gaels in four sets (17-25, 25-17, 34-32, 25-21) on the road Saturday. And in RSEQ play, Laval Rouge et Or head coach Pascal Clément announced that he plans to retire following this season, his 28th leading that team. Long-time assistant Gino Brousseau (who joined the Laval team in 2010) will take over the head coaching role there beginning next season.
Track and field
25th McGill Team Challenge features 17 universities and 640 athletes, with Rouge et Or sweeping titles
The largest indoor track and field meet in Canada each year is the McGill Team Challenge, and the university hosted the 25th edition of that annual event this weekend. 17 U SPORTS schools took part, including eight RSEQ instutitions, five OUA schools, four AUS schools and one Canada West school, and 640 athletes were involved.
The Laval Rouge et Or (ranked No. 7 nationally on the men’s side and No. 10 on the women’s side heading into this event) swept the men’s and women’s titles here, posting 159 points on the men’s side (45 ahead of the No. 9 Montreal Carabins, who finished second) and 141 on the women’s side (29 ahead of the second-place York Lions). A few of Laval’s gold medals came from Noémie Jeffrey (in the women’s weight throw) and Félix Lapointe-Pilote (in the men’s 3000-metre run). Full results are available here.
UFV squad shines at home Cascades Classic
The UFV Cascades hosted their annual Cascades Classic this week as part of a larger weekend of wrestling (also including the Western Canadian Age-Class Championships Friday and Saturday for elementary and high school wrestlers), and they shone in their home gym. The Cascades’ men’s team was ranked No. 6 nationally heading into this, and they turned in a good performance, with Jason Bains (100 kg) winning gold and Ali Rahguzar (68 kg), Amarvir Atwal (76 kg) and Karan Dhillon (90 kg) each winning bronze. The women’s team also did well, with Calista Espinosa picking up gold in the 48 kg division. And coach Gurjot Kooner was thrilled about how his wrestlers were performing ahead of the Canada West championships (Feb. 8-9 at the University of Calgary).
"They all really showed up for this tournament. They all either met or exceeded their expectations, and they all wrestled pretty well. There are still some areas we can get better at – we'll work on those in the coming week and get ready for Canada West."
Women’s Marauders excel at home McMaster Invitational
This weekend’s McMaster Invitational curling bonspiel saw the host Marauders post three wins (6-3, 7-1 and 5-3 against the Guelph Gryphons, the Brock Badgers, and the Gryphons’ junior varsity team) and a draw (6-6 against the Ryerson Rams) on the women’s side. On the men’s side, the Marauders lost to the Gryphons (3-1), Badgers (7-6) and Sault College Cougars (6-5), but beat the Ryerson Rams (4-3) and the York Lions (7-3).
Social media posts of the week
This year’s U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadians received the seventh-annual Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian Commendation at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa Wednesday. Those selections this year were Canada West’s Seth Friesen (Brandon Bobcats’ men’s volleyball) and Anna Mollenhauer (Victoria Vikes’ women’s field hockey), OUA’s Slater Doggett (Queen’s Gaels men’s hockey) and Zoe Sherar (Guelph Gryphons’ women’s track and field), RSEQ’s Frédérique Beauchamp (Laval Rouge et Or women’s basketball) and Grayg Noireault (Montreal Carabins’ men’s soccer), and AUS’ Ciera Disipio (Cape Breton Capers’ women’s soccer) and Liam Elbourne (St. Francis Xavier X-Men’s men’s soccer).
In women’s rugby, the Canadian women's sevens team (featuring a lot of U SPORTS alums) took silver in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Hamilton, New Zealand this weekend. Captain Ghislaine Landry (a StFX X-Women alum) led the way, especially with this brilliant try in the semifinals against Australia:
In women’s hockey, many of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association members took part in the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 during the NHL All-Star Skills competition in St. Louis Friday. McGill Martlets’ alum Mélodie Daoust was one of the players involved on the Canadian team, which won the event 2-1 against the American team.
Also in women’s hockey, Hockey Canada named the roster for the senior women’s national team for the final three games of the Rivalry Series, Feb. 3-8 against the U.S. in Victoria and Vancouver, B.C., and Anaheim, CA. That event is the final tune-up for Canada’s national women’s team ahead of the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship, which will be held from March 31-April 10 in Halifax and Truro, N.S. That roster includes Daoust and other U SPORTS alums, including Brigette Lacquette (Manitoba Bisons).
In men’s soccer, 2018 U SPORTS player of the year Aboubacar Sissoko of the Montreal Carabins was invited to training camp with MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps:
In women’s soccer, the Canadian women’s senior national team announced their roster for the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the U.S., beginning Jan. 29. The top two teams will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. And the Canadian roster includes Manitoba Bisons’ alum Desiree Scott.
In men’s basketball, Carleton Ravens’ alumnus Osvaldo Jeanty was named the first head coach of the CEBL expansion franchise Ottawa BlackJacks (where the GM is long-time Carleton head coach Dave Smart):
In football, Saint Mary’s University will host a CFL Touchdown Atlantic regular-season game this year between the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 25, with Huskies Stadium being expanded to 10,000 seats for the game. That event will also include a mini Grey Cup festival stretching out over multiple days.
And also in football, McGill alumnus Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is set to suit up for the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL’s Super Bowl next Sunday, becoming just the fifth U SPORTS product to play in a Super Bowl. And this comes after he also graduated from McGill’s Faculty of Medicine in 2018, becoming the only active medical school graduate in the NFL:
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