Mount Royal Cougars year in review
Men’s hockey the highlight for Cougars athletics
By Dan Khavkin, Staff Writer
MRU’s footy team had a year to remember, finishing 8-4-4 and reaching the quarter-final in the Canada West division.
For the first time in program history MRU was nationally ranked, peaking at ninth with a mid-season record of 6-1-1.
The Cougars had an incredible winning streak of six games after losing their first of the season, posting five wins, keeping three clean sheets, and outscoring opposition 16-3 during the stretch.
The team finished the season on a rough stretch, going 2-2-3 to push the Cougars to third place in the Canada West to set up a conference playoff matchup against Trinity Western. Unfortunately, Mount Royal dropped the decision 3-0.
Fifth years’ Cody Cook and Tyrin Hutchings were named to Canada West’s second all-star team.
Cook led the Cougars in with eight goals, good for fourth in Canada West while Hutchings captained the rock-solid defence.
Other highlights included Goalkeeper Kamil Zielinski who placed tenth in goals against among keepers with a minimum of 10 starts.
The Women’s soccer team finished its campaign on the pitch with a 3-4-3 record, also reaching the quarterfinals in Canada West, losing 1-0 to MacEwan to close out their season.
A strong ending to the season made up for the sloppy start as the Cougars finished with a 2-2-0 record to snag one of two final playoff spots.
MRU was one of two teams in the Prairie Division and the third Canada West squad to make the playoffs despite letting in more goals than they scored.
The Cougars only mustered 11 goals on the season, three of which coming from rookie Carlyn Neis.
The highlight of the season came when the Cougars upset the highly favoured Alberta Pandas on senior night.
Clean sheets were held in three of the four wins in the season.
MRU once again produced an impressive season and had a year for the record books.
The Cougars were eliminated in the Canada West semi-final against the second nationally ranked Saskatchewan Huskies, nearly taking the Huskies down.
The legendary career of captain Matt Brown came to an end, breaking the Cougars all-time point record gathering 102 points in 110 games.
Mount Royal was nationally ranked all season until a rough start to 2017 with a 4-8 record, only beating teams out of playoff contentions which subsequently bumped the Cougars off the country’s top ten list.
Highlights down the roster included rookie Jamal Watson, who never played a playoff game in his junior career, who managed to have that “first” happen in his young career. Watson was named to the Canada West rookie all-star team alongside offensive defenseman Jesse Lees.
Lees was also named to the CIS all-star team with fellow teammate and ex-Calgary Hitmen Connor Rankin who was the point scoring champion in the Canada West, resulting in him being named to USPORTS second all-star team and Canada West’s first team.
MRU’s women’s hockey team were slow out of the gate
in their season but managed to slip into the final playoff spot thanks in large part to Emma Pincott’s effort in the goal crease. A 5-5 record to end the season was enough for the Cougars to make the playoffs for the first time, dropping the matchup in two games to the Manitoba Bisons.
MRU finished 11-13-4, lacking offense all season as they were also the only team to make playoffs with more goals scored against them than scored.
The Cougars dropped 10 one-goal games which must’ve been frustrating for seasoned team veteran Emma Pincott who backstopped the team as well as being a leader.
Highlights include Tianna Ko being named to Canada West’s rookie team.
An 8-12 record wasn’t enough for the Cougars to make the postseason, dropping their last three games to narrowly miss the playoffs.
Brett Layton was named to Canada West’s third all-star team after carrying the Cougars all season, averaging a double-double with 16 points and 9.5 rebounds a game.
Unfortunately for the Cougars they will lose the graduating Layton next season. Mount Royal will need to find a way to make up for Layton’s presence in the key both offensively and defensively next season.
Other key players included Josh Ross, who was dynamitefrom the three point line this season, and Glen Yang who controlled the game from the point.
While the Cougars doubled their win count from a season earlier, the Cougars women’s basketball team still had a season to forget.
A 4-16 record tied them for last place in Canada West as three of those wins were against teams who were out of the playoff picture.
Becky Nash, who was the only true post player for the team, had a stellar season to build on while Drew Knox also had a positive season.
The highlight of the season came when they defeated a formidable UBC squad. However this was a one-off event as the young and outsized team will have some room to grow next season.
The Cougars men’s v-ball team had a decent season, finishing just over 0.50 with a 13-11 record, good enough to send them to the playoffs where they would lose to the eventual nation representative Alberta Golden Bears.
The Golden Bears proved to be too much when they mauled MRU to end the Cougars season.
Going 11-11 against the higher group of the standings, the two wins that ended up being crucial to the Cougars season were victories against Manitoba.
Tyler Schmidt had another monster year for the Cougars, often being the most feared man on the court.
Highlights include third year Jonathan Phillips who had the fourth highest number of digs on the season with a total of 221, averaging 2.40 per game. Fourth year Riley Friesen had the fifth highest number of kills in Canada West with 332.
MRU’s women’s team had an even 12-12 record in their 2016/2017 season where a five-game winning streak to end the season sent them to the playoffs against Trinity West (TWU) in Canada West’s quarter-final.
TWU beat out the Cougars in a weekend sweep to close the season.
Like the men’s volleyball team, the women went almost even against the top half of the standings but getting extra points from the basement teams boosted confidence and spots up the standings.
Taylor Pelland stood out this season for her strong play, especially in the most important moments of games.
Other standout athletes included Maddi Quinn in her fifth and final year and setter Amy Gordon who quietly had a fantastic season for the blue and white.
Overall, we learned that all across the board some games can change seasons and even playoff implications so it’s important for the athletes to take every game one weekend at a time and always aim for upsets against the big teams.