Sunday, 10 November 2019

Huskies playoff exit stings

Football team agonizingly close to big things

Adam Machart had a record breaking season for the Huskies.
    The family feeling inside of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team might be as strong as it has ever been over the past 10 years.
    It is that family feeling that makes a playoff exit tough to take. On Saturday, the Huskies fell 29-4 to the host University of Calgary Dinos at McMahon Stadium in the Canada West Conference championship game – the Hardy Cup.
    One year earlier the Huskies captured the Hardy Cup 43-18 against the Dinos in that same venue.
    The Huskies went into the 2019 campaign returning a large group of players from the squad that won the conference title one year earlier. Hopes were high amongst the Huskies that they would win the Hardy Cup for a second straight year and maybe advance further on the U Sports post-season trail and capture the Vanier Cup as national champions for the first time since 1998.
Nelson Lokombo was the top defensive player in Canada West.
    The fact the Huskies won’t be gathering for film sessions on Monday and hitting the turf at Griffiths Stadium for a full practice on Tuesday seems numbing.
    Still, the Huskies in the current day are still trying to build a new tradition of success that can link back to the team’s glorious past.
    U of S entered the 2018 post-season having lost eight straight playoff games and having missed the playoffs entirely in 2017.
    When the Huskies won the Hardy last year for the first time since 2006, the success felt new again and excitement was high. The 2018 playoffs came to an end in a U Sports semifinal contest, when the Huskies fell 47-24 to the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in the Mitchell Bowl.
    The Huskies added another playoff win this season, when they downed the University of Alberta Golden Bears 28-23 in a Canada West semifinal game on Nov. 2 at Griffiths Stadium. That was the Huskies first post-season home game since 2014 and first playoff home win since 2009.
Mason Nyhus had a solid campaign as the Huskies starting QB.
    While post-season wins are starting to come, the Huskies are still going to experience some learning and growing pains in attempting to make playoff success a habit again.
    For the second straight year, the Huskies posted a 5-3 record in the regular season, but this time that mark was good enough for a second place finish in the Canada West standings. U of S placed third in Canada West in 2018 with a 5-3 mark.
    The Huskies were at their best when they played at home this season winning all four of their home dates in the regular season and their one home date in the post-season.
    It was a different story on the road, where the Huskies posted a 1-3 record in the regular season and lost their lone road playoff game in the Hardy Cup.
    Looking back at the regular season, the Huskies would likely have some regrets for letting two road contests get away.
    On Sept. 21, they dropped a 19-17 decision to the Golden Bears in Edmonton, Alta., and fell 38-37 to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Oct. 19 in Vancouver, B.C.
Losing Colton Klassen to injury was a blow to the Huskies.
    Had the Huskies won just one of those games, they would have finished first in Canada West due to the fact they held the standings tiebreaker against the Dinos. The two sides met once in the regular season with the Huskies pulling out a 29-15 victory on Sept. 27 at Griffiths Stadium.
    Due to the fact Canada West hosts one of the two U Sports semifinals this season, the Huskies would have had home field advantage in the playoffs with a first place finish in Canada West up until the Vanier Cup.
    Those road losses show how much of a difference a play or two can make towards how a season plays out.
    The Hardy Cup could have played out differently had the Huskies been successful on a third-and-goal gamble from the Dinos two yard line on the final play of the first half.
Evan Machibroda made big plays for the Huskies.
    Had the Huskies been successful, they would have had an 8-4 lead at halftime and might have not been chasing the game like they ultimately did in the second half.
    Also, losing star utility player Colton Klassen to a campaign ending broken right leg in the final contest of the regular season hurt a tonne too.
    Of course, the Huskies had lots of highlights this season. Third-year quarterback Mason Nyhus became the Huskies starter and completed 138-of-228 passes for 1,739 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Regina, Sask., product was a highly touted recruit joining the team as a red shirt in 2016 and looks to be on his way to fulfilling star potential.
    Running back Adam Machart had a dream season being named the player of the year for Canada West via unanimous selection. Machart carried the ball 156 times for 1,330 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns.
    He set a Huskies team record for most rushing yards in a regular season and most combined yards in one regular season at 1,534.
    Fifth-year defensive tackle Evan Machibroda was named the most outstanding lineman for Canada West. Defensive back Nelson Lokombo picked up honours as the most outstanding defensive player.
Mattland Riley, centre, and the offensive line made the Huskies go.
    Linebacker Ramsey Derbas had an unreal season at age 18 picking accolades as the rookie of the year for Canada West via unanimous selection. Derbas led the Huskies with 43 total tackles to go along with an interception and a half sack.
    In his third campaign guiding the Huskies as head coach, Scott Flory took home honours as the coach of the year for Canada West.
    The five individual Canada West awards won by the Huskies this season was an all-time high for the program. All five winners could possibly claim those same accolades at the U Sports national level.
    The future is still bright for the Huskies, and they may accomplish their lofty team goals next season by winning another Canada West title and the Vanier Cup.
    Still in the more immediate aftermath in the Hardy Cup loss to the Dinos, the disappointment lingers of what might have been.

Rouge et Or get tweet of the week

    You have to love U Sports athletic department Twitter accounts that have a sense of humour.
    Due to the fact main university communications departments keep track was what is posted on the social media accounts of the institutions’ respective athletic departments, humour is often avoided.
    Still, the Universite Laval Rouge et Or posted a total winner in the humour department on Saturday. Since 1999, the Rouge et Or football program has won the Vanier Cup as U Sports national champions 10 times. Laval’s 10 Vanier Cup titles are the most by any U Sports football team.
    The Rouge et Or entered the 2019 season as defending Vanier Cup champions and were hoping to qualify for the U Sports title game for a fourth straight year. Laval plays host to this year’s Vanier Cup.
    In the last two Vanier Cups, the Rouge et Or faced the University of Western Ontario Mustangs, and the Mustangs won the national title in 2017.
    This season Laval topped the Quebec Student Sports Federation conference standings with a 7-1 regular season record. On Saturday, the Rouge et Or fell in the QSSF title game – the Dunsmore Cup – 25-10 to their archrivals the University of Montreal Carabins.
    The Mustangs finished first in the Ontario University Athletics conference standings with an 8-0 record. On Saturday, they fell in the OUA title game – the Yates Cup – 29-15 to the McMaster University Marauders.
    Following their respective U Sports post-season losses, the Rouge et Or sent a tweet the Mustangs way asking if they wanted to join the Quebec powerhouse squad to drink away the sorrows.
    With Laval’s season having come to an end, it should be noted that Rouge et Or head coach Glen Constantin has the second most career wins in the history of U Sports posting a 186-33 record including action in both the regular season and post-season.

Stars’ Kliewer shines on the national stage

    Arden Kliewer is a natural when it comes to excelling in the spotlight of big games.
    On Satruday, Kliewer, who is a star netminder for the Saskatoon Stars female midget AAA hockey team, played one of her best games ever on national television for Team Saskatchewan at the National Women’s under-18 Championship in Winkler, Man.
    The 17-year-old did her best to steal the gold medal game for Team Saskatchewan turning away 32-of-34 shots sent in her direction. Kliewer had three stops shared on the Women’s Sports Highlights Twitter account.
    While Kliewer had a stellar game, Team Saskatchewan still fell to a powerful Team Ontario Red 3-1, which included an empty-net goal by the Ontario side.
    Kliewer is in her fourth season with the Stars and has posted a 39-9 record, a 1.80 goals against average, a .918 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 49 career SFMAAAHL games. She is the all-time wins leader in the history of the Stars program.
    Kliewer helped the Stars win SFMAAAHL titles in each of the past two seasons and appear in the Esso Cup female national midget AAA championship tournament.
Arden Kliewer in action last season with the Stars.
    The Stars made the championship game of the 2018 Esso Cup falling 2-1 to the Alberta-based St. Albert Slash.
    Kliewer has often been an underrated part of the Stars team as the Stars carried a number of elite level players on their roster like Mackenna Parker, Grace Shirley, Anna Leschyshyn, Joelle Fiala, Ashley Messier and Chase Sperling.
    Kliewer has committed to joining the University of Regina Cougars women’s hockey team next season.
    This season, Kliewer, who is playing her final midget AAA campaign, is doing her best to give her Stars a chance to be in most games as they go through a huge rebuild undergoing a lot of turnover in players and coaches.
    In six regular season appearances in the current campaign, Kliewer has a 1-5 record, a 3.51 goals against average and a .893 save percentage.
    Kliewer was joined on Team Saskatchewan by current Stars teammate Makena Kushniruk and now Stars alums Messier and Sperling. Messier was named the most valuable player of the National Women’s under-18 Championship.
    The silver medal finish marked the first time Team Saskatchewan has earned a medal at the National Women’s under-18 Championship.
    Messier currently plays for the Selects Hockey Academy in Rochester, New York.
    Sperling is playing this season for the Pursuit of Excellance Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C.

Clark hat trick powers Canada over U.S.

    Emily Clark had one of her biggest days on the international stage on Sunday.
    Playing for Canada’s senior national women’s hockey team, Clark scored a hat trick to power Canada to a 5-3 victory over the United States in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. Clark tallied goals at even strength, on the power play and short-handed in the win.
    Canada was playing a two-game series against the United States taking the first encounter 4-1 on Friday.
An Emily Clark hockey card.
    In Sunday’s encounter, Canada held a 3-0 lead after the first and second periods. Canada was up 4-1 in the third before the United States cut the lead to 4-3.
    Clark sealed the victory scoring her short-handed goal with 4:14 remaining in the third period.
Melodie Daoust and Natalie Spooner netted singles for Canada.
    Kendall Coyne Schofield, Dani Cameranesi and Kelly Pannek replied with singles for the United States.
    Emerance Maschmeyer made 31 saves to pick up the win in goal for Canada. Kaitlin Burt turned away 23 shots to take the setback in goal for the United States.
    Clark, who is 23-years-old, played female midget AAA hockey with her hometown Saskatoon Stars from 2009 to 2012 collecting 45 goals and 46 assists in 82 regular season games.
    The skilled forward played four seasons with the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team starting in 2015 and wrapping up last season with an NCAA national championship win. Clark piled up 70 goals and 76 assists in 147 overall games with the Badgers.

Will Roughriders versus Blue Bomber CFL West final sellout?

The Roughriders and Blue Bombers will battle in the West final.
    It appears the Saskatchewan Roughriders ticket sellers and marketers received an early Christmas gift.
    The Roughriders, who finished first in the CFL’s West Division with a 13-5 record, will host the West final on Sunday, November 17 at 3:30 p.m. at Mosaic Stadium. To make that contest more enticing, the opponent will be the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (12-7).
    This past Sunday, the Bombers advanced to the West Final by upsetting the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders 35-14 at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta. The Stampeders finished the 2019 campaign with a 12-7 overall record.
    The Roughriders have had strong attendances, but they aren’t selling out as many games as they once did. Their only sellout this season was the Labour Day Classic back on Sept. 1, when they downed the Bombers 19-17.
    The question remains will a sellout crowd of 33,356 spectators attend the West final between the two sides.
    There was a time Roughriders playoff home games would sellout in a matter of hours, especially during the rare occasion when they host the West final.
The Roughriders celebrate their win in the Labour Day Classic.
    The last time the Roughriders hosted the West Final was 2009, when they downed the Calgary Stampeders 27-17 at Taylor Field. Before the 2009 game, the Roughriders previously hosted the West final way back in 1976, when they downed the Edmonton Eskimos 23-13 at Taylor Field.
    Checking the Ticketmaster map of Mosaic Stadium after Bombers beat the Stampeders, there were still lots of tickets available for the West final, especially in the upper decks. The Pil Country standing room section is sold out.
    At the moment, the entire sports industry in Canada is seeing attendance declines. In recent years, people don’t seem to want to attend live football games in cold weather that is slightly cold.
    One would think a West final at Mosaic Stadium between the Roughriders and Bombers would automatically sellout, but these are different times in the current day.

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