U of Calgary men, U of T women enter University Cup hockey tournaments on top

The Calgary Dinos’ playoff run to the men’s hockey Canada West (CW) title wasn’t quite as spotless as their regular season.

A regular season that included a record 23-game winning streak, but a pair of 2-1 series wins over the Saskatchewan Huskies and Alberta Golden Bears was more than enough to secure the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s 2023 University Cup.

Calgary’s quest for their first national title will begin on Friday in Charlottetown against the No. 8 UPEI Panthers, a team granted an automatic berth as hosts that exited the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) playoffs in the first round at the hands of the Moncton Aigles Bleus.

Moncton was dispatched in a four-game series by the eventual AUS champion UNB Reds, who enter the tournament as the third-seed, drawing the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze medallist Concordia Stingers in a Thursday quarterfinal matchup.

Last year’s U Sports champion Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) Patriotes earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament after taking down Concordia in the OUA semis before topping the Windsor Lancers in the Queen’s Cup thanks to Felix Lauzon’s triple-OT winner.

The Patriotes will open the tournament on Thursday against No. 7 Saint Mary’s, while the No. 4-seed Lancers will take on the country’s top offence in the form of the CW finalist Golden Bears on Friday.

All events, including the upcoming women’s hockey and men’s and women’s volleyball championships, will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, CBC Gem and the free CBC Sports app.

After being upset by the Nipissing Lakers in the OUA East Final in 2022, the Toronto Varsity Blues women’s hockey team seems to be on a mission to secure their first national title since 2001.

The No. 1-seed in this year’s U Sports Women’s Hockey Championship beginning on Thursday in Montreal backed up another first-place regular season finish (23-2-2) with a 2-1 comeback victory over the Lakers on Saturday in the OUA McCaw Cup Final, and will draw the No. 8 Mount Royal Cougars.

The stingy Thunderbirds were named the No. 2-seed, and will play U Sports leading scorer Maggy Burbidge’s StFX X-Women on Friday.

The two-time defending AUS champion UNB Reds are slotted into the fourth-seed, drawing the host Montreal Carabins team that lost 2-1 in the RSEQ final series to the defending U Sports champion Concordia Stingers.

The No. 3 Stingers will close out quarterfinal play on Friday night against the No. 6 Lakers in a rematch of last year’s final that Concordia won 4-0, with 25 saves from now fourth-year goaltender Alice Philbert.

Also beginning on Friday in Vancouver will be the U Sports Women’s Volleyball Championship, where the Trinity Western Spartans capped a 22-2 season with a CW title over last year’s U Sports finalist, and this year’s No. 3-seed, Mount Royal.

The Spartans will look to defend their national title in a field of eight teams that features the OUA champion Brock Badgers, RSEQ champion UQAM Citadins, and AUS champ Dalhousie Tigers — the latter two of which will open the tournament at 4 p.m. ET.

The men’s Alberta Golden Bears team, who likewise had a 22-2 record en route to a CW title over Trinity Western, will also look to repeat in the men’s tournament, beginning on Friday in Hamilton, Ont.

The No. 3 Spartans will try to get back to an eye-popping seventh consecutive U Sports final in a field that includes OUA champion McMaster, and RSEQ champ Sherbrooke Vert & Or.

Guelph widens gap at Track & Field Championships

If one name could encapsulate the Guelph Gryphons’ dominant run in Track & Field, it would be Mark Bujnowski.

The fifth-year added two gold medals in the weight throw and shot put competitions over the weekend at the 2023 U Sports Track & Field Championships in Saskatoon to bring his total haul to seven over his decorated career.

The Mount Brydges, Ont., native’s era of unquestioned dominance in his field lines up with the Gryphons rattling off six straight national titles in the men’s competition and five straight in the women’s competition.

In a fitting cap to his university career, Bujnowski broke the U Sports record for men’s shot put with a throw of 19.08 metres, topping Andrew Smith of Saskatchewan’s mark that stood for 12 years by 60 centimetres.

The gap of 2.68m to his closest competitor in the event was reflective of Guelph’s performance over the three day event that saw the Gryphons win 14 gold, eight silver and six bronze medals.

The Gryphons topped the women’s standings with 166 points — 100 ahead of silver medallist Western, and 101 ahead of third-place Saskatchewan — while the men’s 123 points were well ahead of second-place Toronto’s 55.5, and bronze medallist Manitoba’s 55.

Fourth-year Craig Thorne broke another U Sports record for Guelph in the men’s 60m hurdles with a time of 7.77 seconds, 0.02 seconds faster than Sekou Kaba’s mark he set for Ottawa in 2014.

Guelph’s depth also showed on the track, with fifth-year Sadie-Jane Hickson defending her title in the women’s 1,000m with a time of 2:44.49, and adding two more first-place finishes in the women’s 4x400m and 4x800m relays.

Third-year Cameron Ormond, who missed this season’s Cross Country U Sports Championships due to illness, finished just 0.93 seconds behind her Guelph counterpart in the 1,000m to take silver.

Ormond joined Hickson on top of the podium in the 4x800m, and got her own shining moment in the 1,500m with a gold-medal winning time of 4:24.47.

“I’m just really grateful to be back and healthy,” Ormond told CBC Sports heading into the competition. “This is about redeeming myself in my own eyes, showing myself I pushed [through adversity].”

Jacqueline Madogo (women’s 60m), Zoe Sherar (women’s 300m), Daniel Harper (men’s 300m), Max Davies (men’s 1,500m) and Brennan Seguin (men’s pole vault) also collected individual gold medals for Guelph, while Jennifer Elizarov, Lynton Lam and Mia Rodney completed a Gryphons’ sweep of the podium in the women’s pole vault.

One of the most sensational moments of the weekend occurred in the men’s triple jump competition where gold medallist Kenneth West of Western (16.24m) duelled second-place Femi Akinduro of Toronto (15.98m) in an event that saw both clear a 10-year-old U Sports record mark of 15.81m.

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