As yet another academic year comes to a close, so too does the Huskies’ athletic season. With plenty of highlights, wins and some outstanding performances, 2015–16 was one of the most memorable years in recent history. As you prepare to see your final academic grades, the Sheaf did a little grading of our own — ranking the performances of each and every Huskie team on campus.
Coming into the season as the defending Canada West champions and losing three of their key players from last season, the Huskies knew it would be a tough season. Finishing with a 7–7–3 record and fourth in the conference, the Dogs drew a tough playoff match-up with the top ranked University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. Although they battled valiantly, their bid for a repeat fell short. The squad will lose four members for next season and will look for some new leadership and a bounce back year.
For the first time in program history, the women’s soccer team had 10 wins in a season and won the CanWest regular season title. On the back of one of the deepest teams in Huskie history, they earned the right to host the CanWest Select Six after beating Lethbridge 3–0 in the quarterfinals. Finishing 7–0 on home turf, the Dogs extended their home winning streak to 21 matches. Second year head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton also took home Coach of the Year honours.
A Swedish rookie was the spark that the cross-country team needed, as they had their most successful season in quite some time. In his first year with the program, Erik Widing won the Sled Dog Open and took home a bronze medal from the Canadian Interuniversity Championships — the first medal at nationals won by a Huskie since 2002. Widing was also named to the All-Canadian first team, but he wasn’t the only runner who had strong showings. Taryn Heidecker, Reid Balezantis and Brooke Mentanko also had top-10 finishes for the year.
It was a very disappointing year, in terms of the program’s history and expectation for excellence. Finishing with a 3–5 record in the CanWest, the Huskies made some major changes towards the end of the year and will look to improve next year with a young lineup. Although they gave undefeated Calgary a run for their money in the playoffs, it wasn’t meant to be and the Huskies were handed their seventh straight playoff defeat. Veteran head coach Brian Towriss won’t accept another season below .500.
Looking to get back into the Canada West playoff picture, the Huskies fell just short of their goal, but made significant strides with a young team. A 10–14 record is their best in 14 years, and rookie head coach Mark Dodds has this team moving in the right direction. Freshman Taylor Annala was recognized for her significant contributions on the court and named to the CanWest All-Rookie team. Graduating just two players, the majority of the team will be back again next year and will look to compete hard and make the post-season.
In a season where they weren’t expected to excel, the Huskies did just that. Winning six straight matches to get into the playoffs, they rode their wave of momentum all the way to nationals and wound up in fourth place in the country. C.J. Gavlas won CIS Rookie of the Year honours and fifth-year Robert Graham was named the top student-athlete in the country for his performance on and off the court. The boys made the school proud, as they won all of their post-season games on the road — no easy feat, especially in the toughest conference in the country.
It was one of the best seasons in Huskies history, as they earned their first CanWest championship in 30 years. Katie Dutchak and Josh Bodnarchuk both took home Wrestler of the Year honours in the CanWest and both took home hardware from the CIS Championships. At the national championship meet, five medals went to the green and white, with Bodnarchuk taking the lone gold in the 57-kilogram weight class.
Track and Field
Hosting the Canada West championships, the Huskies aimed for a strong showing at home all year long. When the time came, the Dogs delivered and captured the men’s championship banner, while the women wound up in second. There were many amazing individual performances, with a handful of athletes qualifying for nationals, where Huskie athletes took home six medals in total, including three golds.
A strong season from the women’s hockey team had them seeded fourth heading into playoffs, where they showed true Huskie pride. They didn’t quit and it took the longest game in CIS hockey history to eliminate them from the post-season. They got great performances from goaltender Cassidy Hendricks and defenceman Julia Flinton all year long. With a young core of players, this team will compete hard again next season and look to avenge their playoff loss.
Although it ended in heartbreak, to call the 2015–16 season for the Dogs anything but a success would be sacrilege. After being ranked number one in the CIS for numerous weeks, the team earned the top seed in the CanWest and swept the two-time reigning national champions on home ice, giving them their first conference title in five years. They went on to finish fourth at nationals, playing in the two longest games in University Cup history.
After hosting the CanWest Final Four in 2015, it was a major step back for the usually strong men’s basketball team. Finishing 8–12 and missing the playoffs was disappointing for sure, but a bright spot for them was All-Canadian rookie guard Chan de Ciman. The return of injured forward Matt Forbes will be a huge addition to the front court next year. Graduating just one senior player, look for the Huskies to be back at the top of standings next year.
First place in the Canada West regular season: check. CanWest banner on home court: check. National champions for the first time in program history: check. It was a record setting year for the Dogs, as they lost just twice all season and claimed their first CIS banner. Defeating Ryerson by 14 in the championship game was the icing on the cake, as head coach Lisa Thomaidis finally earned her first national title in her 17th season.