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.
Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif wins Super Bowl as Chiefs’ starting right guard, becomes second U SPORTS football product to win a Super Bowl ring
When the Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC Championship Game against the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago, Chiefs’ starting right guard Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (the only current NFL player who is also a medical doctor) become only the fifth U SPORTS product to actually compete in the Super Bowl. Duvernay-Tardif played for McGill from 2010-2013, winning the J.P. Metras Trophy as Canadian university football’s outstanding offensive lineman in 2013, and continued his studies at the university’s Faculty of Medicine even after Kansas City selected him in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft. He graduated from McGill’s Faculty of Medicine in May 2018 with a doctorate in medicine and a master’s in surgery.
As mentioned above, Duvernay-Tardif is one of only five Canadian university products to actually play in the Super Bowl. He follows Jon Ryan (Regina Rams, won Super Bowl XLVIII with the Seattle Seahawks and lost Super Bowl XLIX with the Seahawks), Israel Idonije (Manitoba Bisons, lost Super Bowl XLI with the Chicago Bears), Jean-Philippe Darche (McGill, lost Super Bowl XL with the Seahawks) and Ken Clark (Saint Mary’s Huskies, lost Super Bowl XIV with the Los Angeles Rams).
Other Canadian university products like David Foucault (Montreal Carabins), Dan Federkeil (Calgary Dinos), Samuel Giguère (Sherbrooke Vert & Or), and Tyrone Williams (Western Mustangs) have been on NFL teams that have reached the Super Bowl, but didn’t actually participate in the game. So Duvernay-Tardif’s accomplishment here is rare, especially when it comes to playing in and winning the Super Bowl; he joins Ryan on a very short list of Canadian university products to pull that off.
It’s also notable that Darche, one of those five Canadian university alums to play in the Super Bowl, is also a McGill alumnus, and is also a doctor who earned his medical degree from McGill. In fact, he’s a team doctor for the Chiefs.
Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid also has connections to McGill, as his mother earned a medical degree there. So that’s quite a list of connections there. And this was a remarkable accomplishment for Duvernay-Tardif, who spoke to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani after the game, and also posed on the field with his mom and dad:
Duvernay-Tardif is a native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, about 30 kilometres from Montreal. And his participation in the Super Bowl drew a lot of local interest; more than 100 people gathered to watch Sunday’s game at Taverne 1909 in downtown Montreal in an event that raised over $40,000 for the Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Foundation, an organization Duvernay-Tardif leads that aims to “enhance the time devoted to sports and the resources for teaching art in elementary school by offering, among other things, multi-sport and multidisciplinary days that encourage children to cultivate a variety of passions.” That event included Duvernay-Tardif’s aunt and cousin, and they were both thrilled for him, as they told CBC’s Simon Nakonechny:
"It was a crazy game. It was very stressful and a lot of emotions," said Duvernay-Tardif's aunt, Liette Duvernay. "I thought they were going to lose."
"It's incredible. One word, incredible," his cousin, Anne Sylvain, added. "He deserves it."
Sylvain and Liette Duvernay both look forward to telling Duvernay-Tardif how proud they are of him.
"He worked hard to get to this step," said Liette Duvernay.
Quebec premier François Legault also offered support for Duvernay-Tardif on Twitter:
Dinos beat Cougars in eighth-annual Crowchild Classic before record crowd
The eighth annual Crowchild Classic between the Calgary Dinos and their crosstown Canada West rivals, the Mount Royal Cougars, took place at the Scotiabank Saddledome (home of the NHL’s Calgary Flames) Thursday, and featured both men’s and women’s hockey games and an audience of 10,002. That marked a U SPORTS women’s hockey record, and the Dinos won that game 4-1, improving their record in this game to 6-2.
For the third straight Crowchild Classic, it was Calgary goalie Kelsey Roberts who particularly stood out. Roberts made 20 of 21 saves on the night and earned first star honours for the third consecutive time in this event. Meanwhile, Rebecca Clark scored the Dinos’ first goal early in the first period, and Elizabeth Lang put them up 2-0 in the second.
Nicolette Seper responded after that to make it 2-1 heading into the third, and Mount Royal applied pressure from there. But Brooke Dennett sealed the deal for Calgary, scoring the Dinos’ third goal with less than four minutes left on a nice one-on-one rush:
Dennett then added an empty-netter for insurance. Afterwards, she said it felt good to score there following some opportunities she couldn’t capitalize on earlier, but the team still had some things to work on going into Friday’s rematch at Mount Royal.
"I had a couple one-on-one opportunities earlier in the game, I got the pass and it was me one-on one and I knew I needed to make a move, I cut across the ice and shot far blocker. We're feeling good heading into tomorrow – we definitely need to clean some things up in our defensive zone, support our defence better and support Kelsey better, win our battles."
And that rematch proved quite tricky for the Dinos indeed, with the Cougars winning that one 2-1 in double overtime on a goal from Breanne Trotter. Notable other U SPORTS women’s hockey results this week included the Ottawa Gee-Gees taking down the No. 1 Concordia Stingers 2-1 at home in RSEQ play Sunday, the No. 2 Saint Mary’s Huskies beating the Mount Allison Mounties 2-0 in AUS play (in their annual Bell Let’s Talk game) Friday, and the No. 3 University of Toronto Varsity Blues shutting out the Western Mustangs 3-0 in OUA play Friday. There were two Top 10 clashes Friday as well, with the No. 7 McGill Martlets edging the No. 6 Montreal Carabins 3-2 at home in overtime in RSEQ play and the No. 8 Nipissing Lakers beating the No. 9 York Lions 4-3 at home in OUA play. And Ottawa also hosted the Mélisa Kingsley Memorial Game Friday in honour of a former player who passed away at 20 from sarcoma in 2018; there, the Gee-Gees beat the Carleton Ravens 4-0.
Cougars edge Dinos 5-4 in double overtime at Crowchild Classic
The aforementioned Crowchild Classic at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary also included the Dinos and Cougars’ men’s hockey teams facing off earlier in the night, and the Cougars came out on top in that one, winning 5-4 in double overtime. That one was scoreless through the first period, but Mount Royal’s Chris Gerrie notched a goal early in the second, and teammates Hunter Zandee and Allan MacPherson followed suit to put the Cougars up 3-0 heading into the third. However, Calgary bounced back in the third, with Mitch Cook, James Shearer and Coda Gordon all scoring to tie it up.
After that, Sean Richards put Mount Royal back into the lead, and the Cougars looked set to take the win. That didn’t happen immediately, though, as Kaden Elder scored for the Dinos in the final seconds of the third to force overtime. Mount Royal would get their win in the end, though; the first overtime went by scoreless, but Ryley Lindgren scored the decisive goal just over a minute and a half into the second overtime period.
The Cougars then won the road rematch against the Dinos 3-1 Friday. Meanwhile, another notable men’s hockey results this week saw the No. 1 UNB Reds beat the No. 10 Acadia Axemen 4-2 on the road in AUS play Friday. And in OUA play, the No. 3 Carleton Ravens edged the No. 6 UQTR Patriotes 2-1 in a shootout at home Friday, while the No. 9 Western Mustangs defeated the Guelph Gryphons 5-4 in the initial Faceoff at the Forks (at the Budweiser Gardens, home of the OHL’s London Knights) and the Laurier Golden Hawks beat the crosstown Waterloo Warriors 5-4 in the annual Battle at the Aud (at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, home of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers).
No. 4 Golden Bears defeat No. 2 Dinos twice, snapping 16-game win streak and moving into first in Canada West
Canada West men’s basketball saw a pair of highly-significant results this week in clashes between the No. 4 Alberta Golden Bears and No. 2 Calgary Dinos. That started Thursday, when the Golden Bears took down the Dinos 70-69 at home. That result came thanks to a key late performance from Alberta’s Adam Paige, who hit both of his free throws with 4.8 seconds left to give the Golden Bears a 70-69 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. After that, Calgary’s Ezeoha Santiago missed a three, and Paige (who had 15 points on the night, tied for the team lead with Ivan Ikomey)recovered the ball and was fouled with less than a second left. He didn’t make his final shots, but that didn’t matter, with the Golden Bears already ahead; it just led to them celebrating the win.
That win meant that both Alberta and Calgary were tied for first in the Canada West standings , and that the Dinos’ 16-game win streak was snapped. And the Golden Bears followed that up with a 103-87 road win over Calgary in a rematch Saturday, led by 28 points from Brody Clarke.
Badgers claim sixth and fifth consecutive OUA wrestling titles, are set to host U SPORTS championships
The Brock Badgers continue to dominate the OUA wrestling scene. At the OUA championships this weekend, hosted by the Guelph Gryphons, the Brock women’s team (ranked first nationally) picked up their sixth-straight conference championship, posting 63 points to the second-place Western Mustangs’ 51. Meanwhile, the men’s team (ranked third nationally) earned their fifth-straight conference title, recording 95 points to the second-place McMaster Marauders’ 66. The Badgers won 10 of the 19 gold medals handed out on the day. Head coach Marty Calder said this was an impressive showing from his wrestlers, even if there’s still more improvement they can find before they host the U SPORTS Wrestling Championships from Feb. 21-22 in St. Catharines.
"We're proud of the effort our kids have put in day-in and day-out, and the progress they've made over the course of the season. I thought we wrestled really well during the day, despite struggling a bit at night, but we faced some great competition here tonight. We've got some work to do ahead of U SPORTS, but we're excited for the opportunity to wrestle at our home gym for a national championship."
Also in wrestling, Brock alumnus Jevon Balfour will wrestle Jasmit Phulka for the men’s 74 kg place on the Canadian team at the Pan-American Olympic Qualification Tournament. That match will take place Saturday in Calgary.
Social media posts of the week
Many U SPORTS schools and the national office took part in the 10th annual Bell Let’s Talk campaign for mental health awareness and fundraising this week, through social media (especially on Wednesday, the official day of the campaign), through the release of national best practices guidelines, and through schools hosting special Bell Let’s Talk games. Here are a few posts from some of those efforts:
In men’s basketball, the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s Saskatchewan Rattlers (the defending CEBL champions) announced Chad Jacobson as their new head coach Wednesday. Jacobson is currently the lead assistant coach with the Saskatchewan Huskies, a role he’ll retain as well, and he’s spent over seven years as an assistant there. Jacobson played with the NCAA’s Minot State Beavers from 2001-04 and then with the Brandon Bobcats from 2005-07, then coached with the Bobcats in 2008 before heading to the high school level and then to the Huskies. Jacobson was an assistant coach with the Rattlers last year, and the Rattlers’ new GM is Huskies’ head coach Barry Rawlyk, so there’s plenty of familiarity there.
The CEBL broadcast schedule on CBC was also announced this week:
In rugby, the Canadian women’s sevens team finished second at the Sydney Sevens in Australia, while the men’s sevens finished 10th. Both teams include plenty of U SPORTS alums. On the women’s side, Canada went to the gold-medal match thanks to a 34-0 win over Australia in the semifinals, and team captain and St. Francis X-Women alum Ghislaine Landry scored one of the tries there.
And in women’s soccer, the Canadian women’s national team is heading to the semifinals of the 2020 Concacaf Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship after a string of strong performances in Texas this week. A 9-0 win over Jamaica Saturday sealed that advancement, and Manitoba Bisons’ alum Desiree Scott wore the captain’s armband for that one, her 150th match for the Canadian senior women’s team:
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