author: john loeppky | sports editor
Games to watch across campus
With the Rams and the women’s soccer team’s season well underway, it is getting close to the time where all of the Cougars squads will begin their quests towards success. With every year comes a number of dates that fans have circled on the calendar. Here are the games you won’t want to miss this season for each team that reps the green and gold.
Rams football (Oct. 1 versus University of Saskatchewan Huskies)
Or, by its stage name, the SaskTel Classic (I wonder if it has to worry about privatization, too – too soon? Too bad). This game will pit the U of R Rams against the U of S Huskies in a rematch of week one, an overtime loss for the green and gold. The team is on track to shatter the Canada West attendance record because Rider fans want to see the new stadium as soon as they can. From what I hear, the Rams are mighty excited to play in front of more people than the program probably has over the last decade. Should be fun.
Men’s basketball (Nov. 4-5 versus University of Victoria Vikes)
This is opening weekend for the Cougars and this year’s team is even more of an unknown quantity than last year’s edition. The team returns a number of backcourt players who contributed significantly last year – guards Aaron McGowan, Alex Igual, and Brandon Tull being the most notable – but gone is the team’s most influential player, Jonathan Tull, as is post force Will Tallman. Forwards Brian Ofori, Travis Sylvestre and Stephen Shields should make for a solid season.
Women’s basketball (Oct. 6-8, Cougar Classic)
Gone from the team are the vital trio of Kehlsie Crone, Sidney Dobner, and Alyssia Kajati. With fifth-years Charlotte Kot and Katie Polischuk leading the charge it will be interesting to see how well the team does, what with games against the OUA’s Ryerson and Carleton sandwiched with a tilt against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Look for sisters Kyanna and Kyia Giles to be important contributors as well as Dalhousie University fifth year transfer Ainsley MacIntyre.
Women’s hockey (Nov. 26 versus University of Calgary Dinos)
By the last home game before the winter break, we should know the status of the team. Sure, some of the same old crowd will be relied upon – Kylie Gavelin, Krista Metz, Jacee Magwood, and Emma Waldenberger come to mind – but what will be the true test of this team is whether the relatively inexperience goaltending tandem of Morgan Baker and Jane Kish can routinely keep the puck out of the net with award-winning standout Toni Ross lost to graduation.
Men’s hockey (Oct. 21 versus University of Manitoba Bisons)
When the clock ticks down to the opening whistle of the team’s home opener, it will have meant that they will have completed seven games. A small sample size at best, but enough to project – even just a little bit – as to how well the team will fair this year. This program hasn’t been known for its excellence, the last time they were in the playoffs being during the 2012-13 season where they were bounced from the running in the CanWest quarters by the U of M Bisons.
Wrestling (Nov. 19, Cougar Invitational)
Harder to quantify than the pure teams sports, what will be interesting is how both teams fair because of their experience, or in some cases, lack thereof. The men’s team features previous standouts Gaelan Malloy, Jacob Luczak, and Lucas Hoffert alongside a foursome of O’Neill graduates: Skylar Deschambault, Jordan Tholl, Joshua Zimroz, as well as Paul Tokarz.
Swimming (CIS Nationals)
Master’s student Oscar Vila and talented swimmers Noah Choboter and Brian Palaschuk round out the athletes who will look to add to their record setting totals from last season. Also there to create an impact is Eva Madar and Jacee Kaczmar.
Women’s volleyball (Oct. 28 versus Trinity Western)
The Can West home opener for the women’s team will have seen them play in three tournaments, in Regina, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon. Molly Wade-Cummings and Haley Wagar will shoulder most of the load as the Cougars look to climb up the Canada West rankings.
Men’s volleyball (Oct. 14-16, Cougar Invitational)
This newspaper has not always been the biggest supporter of our volleyball teams, but the men’s squad this year stand a chance to turn it around, much like the other volleyball team on campus. Even with the graduation of Andre and Jacques Borgeaud the team should be able to retool behind Bronson Busch, Brad Millers, and Dalton Wolfe.
Track and Field/Cross Country (Feb. 24, 2017, Canada West Championships)
This year’s edition of the competition is being held at home so it will be interesting to see if the home cooking can get the Cougars on a roll. Sure, the CIS meet is the be all and end all, but watching how the team comes together and is able to compete nationally is far more fascinating that watch athletes either flame out or win. Speedster two-sport athlete Kahlen Branning and women’s squad members Elisabeth Fortier and Joy Becker will likely lead the Cougars into the fray.