Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Why not the Huskies: Can the U of S be the wildcard in CIS football?

             In the world CIS football, it would be nice if what was old could become new again.
            Over the past 11 years the ruling storyline in CIS football is the Vanier Cup is Laval’s to lose. The Rouge et Or have won it seven times during that time span including the last two straight seasons.
            The Canada West Conference has almost become as predictable. The once ultra competitive loop has seen the Hardy Trophy almost become the permanent possession of the Calgary Dinos. The Dinos have won the last six straight conference titles.
            When the initial top 10 CIS football rankings came out on Tuesday, Laval topped the list and Calgary was ranked second. Coming in at the 10th spot was the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
            A thought then crosses the mind. Why not the Huskies? Why can’t there be a flashback to the 1990s?
            The U of S finished last season with a 5-3 record before bowing out to the University of Manitoba Bisons in a Canada West semifinal game. The two teams open their respective regular season campaigns with a head-to-head match on Friday at 7 p.m. at Griffiths Stadium.
            While every season sees a whole host of new recruits join the Dogs’ roster, a glance at the roster shows there is a core of players who are hitting their mid years of university eligibility and have been together for three years.
            Head coach Brian Towriss and his staff always seems to field a well-prepared team. Even in contests where the Huskies get creamed, they always seem to bounce back the next week.
            With all that said, a lot of time has passed, where the Huskies have been the top dog. Their last Canada West title win came back in 2006 and their last Vanier Cup victory was in 1998.
            Going in the current campaign, the Huskies could conceivably play role of a wildcard. The ride through the season will have its bumps, but it would be nice a nice change to see them knock off a couple of current day powerhouses.
            Besides, Laval always winning Vanier and Calgary always capturing the Canada West title is getting boring.

Dogs’ drug testing turns heads

            Towriss caught the attention of CIS football followers back in March, when he had his entire team tested for banned substances.
            The man who holds the record for all-time victories in CIS football took this step after one of his former players was arrested on drug charges.
            Rick Westhead, a senior TSN correspondent, put together a lengthy story about drug testing in CIS football, which is right here.

Rival week at Gordie Howe Bowl

            For an early season CJFL game, things don’t get any bigger than they do Saturday, when the Saskatoon Hilltops make their return to Gordie Howe Bowl.
            Fieldturf was installed at the Hilltops storied park, and they reopen the facility with a 1 p.m. showdown against the defending CJFL champion Regina Thunder. Both teams are 1-1.
            Back on Aug. 17 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, the Thunder prevailed 19-16 in overtime over the Hilltops in an intense early season match.
            The fires in the Regina/Saskatoon football rivalry are sure to be stoked in this contest and it should prove to be very entertaining for fans.
            This meeting also marks the only time Saskatoon fans will get to show how much they don’t like their football rivals from Regina in the regular season, because the University of Regina Rams aren’t slated to play the Huskies at Griffiths this year.

Soccer squads could be strong

            The Huskies men’s soccer team aims to show their appearance in last year’s CIS championship tournament wasn’t a once-shot deal.
            They start the season rated sixth in the CIS top 10 rankings. They return nine starters from last year’s 8-5-2 season and open by hosting the Calgary Dinos at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Field 7 in PotashCorp Park.
            The Huskies women’s team posted an 8-2-2 record last season and fell in the conference quarter-final 2-0 to the eventual CIS champion Trinity Western Spartans. Co-head coaches Jerson Barandica-Hamilton and Janine Harding guide the Huskies this season.
            During exhibition titles last Saturday and Sunday on home turf, they downed the ACAC’s Medicine Hat College Rattlers by scores of 9-0 and 6-0 respectively each day. In Saturday’s win, the Huskies looked impressive tactically, and if they keep that up, will be tough to deal with in the Canada West season.
            The Huskies head to Winnipeg this weekend to face the University of Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday and the University of Manitoba Bisons on Saturday.

Rutherford Rink needs to go

            The Huskies hockey teams had a big surprise on Tuesday.
            A leaky pipe at the ancient Rutherford Rink wreaked that day’s on-ice activities. Men’s team forward Matthew Spafford tweeted a photo of water shooting out of one goalposts holes where a net is suppose to sit. For all the weird sites you can see at the old barn, that one takes the cake.
            If any more reason is needed to show the Rutherford Rink needs to be replaced besides graduated women’s team captain Cami Wooster telling stories about how rust from the roof falls on the ice to cause delays and other problems, this is it.
            Both Huskies teams are supposed to be gearing up for exhibition action that believe it or not is quickly approaching.
            The women’s team is slated to travel to Swift Current on Saturday to play the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. After that match with the Pronghorns, the defending Canada West champs are slated to host the Red Deer College Queens at the Rutherford Rink on Sept. 13 and 14 in exhibition action.
            The men’s team is slated to travel to Regina on Sept. 10 to begin play at the University of Regina’s tournament against the host Cougars.
There hasn’t been any further word what is happening with the leaky pipe.

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