Monday, June 22, 2020

Golden Bears Suspend Hockey For Season

In a shocking announcement, the University of Alberta has suspended their men's and women's hockey, basketball, and volleyball teams for the entirety of the 2020-2021 season due to financial concerns.

It had previously been reported that Canada West would not hold any athletic events until January at the earliest, so it appears Alberta decided it did not make sense financially to only play, at most, half a season in these sports.

According to the press release, "Cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant, the demand by the Alberta government that universities balance their budget and reduce expenditures in-year, and the reduction to the University of Alberta Athletics and Recreation student fee...has produced a worst-case scenario for University of Alberta varsity sport."

It's worth noting that the University of Lethbridge also stated that cuts from the provincial government played a role in their decision to discontinue their hockey programs back in April.

It's never good when a school the size of Alberta is forced to make these kind of cuts, especially when it involves the most-storied university hockey program in the country. However, while conference rivals such as Saskatchewan and Calgary are undoubtedly licking their chops at the prospect of a Golden Bears-free season as it constitutes a prime opportunity to make a championship run, it is very likely Alberta's season-long absence will ultimately prove to be inconsequential as there is still a very real possibility the entire season eventually gets canceled anyway.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Stienburg Steps Down

Long-time Saint Mary's Huskies head coach Trevor Stienburg has stepped down from his coaching duties, the team has announced.

Stienburg spent 23 years behind the Huskies bench, leading the team to a school-record 369 regular season victories, three AUS Championships (2002, 2009, 2010), and their first University Cup in 2010. Additionally, he helped the Huskies to a national silver medal (losing to UNB 2-0 in 2013) and national bronze medal (in 2016). He was named the national Coach of the Year on three separate occasions.

Since both teams annually field contending teams, it isn't a shock that the the Huskies and Reds have had their share of epic battles over Stienburg's tenure. While the stakes were never bigger than when they met in the 2013 University Cup final, perhaps their most intense meetings came in the 2008 and 2009 AUS Final. The Reds swept the Huskies in 2008 with a pair of overtime victories only to have the Huskies return the favour the next year, blasting the Reds 5-1 in the 3rd and deciding game at the AUC to capture the conference banner.

Other postseason match-ups took place in 2003 (2-0 UNB series win in AUS quarter-final), 2013 (2-1 UNB series win in AUS Final), 2014 (3-1 SMU series win in AUS semi-final), 2016 (4-0 UNB win in UCup semi-final), 2017 (3-1 UNB series win in AUS semi-final), and 2018 (3-0 UNB series win in AUS semi-final).

Stienburg has stated a desire to spend more time with his ailing parents, as well as watch his son Matthew - a 3rd round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche who currently plays at Cornell University (NCAA) - play as motivation for his decision.

No replacement has been named as of yet.

AUS Cancels Fall Sports Schedule

As most of you have heard by now, the AUS have announced that they have canceled all conference sporting events until January 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made in conjunction with the OUA, Canada West, and U Sports.

It was also announced that an announcement regarding the the fate of winter sports, as well as two-term sports such as hockey, basketball, and volleyball, will be made in the fall.

Reds Athletic Director John Richard issued a statement on the news.

Although this news is disappointing, especially given how well the Atlantic provinces have fared in terms of containing the virus thus far, it is not terribly surprising. Many schools have already announced they will be offering primarily on-line courses this fall and, as we are seeing with numerous professional leagues, there are still plenty of logistical hurdles that need to be figured out to put on sporting events safely for both the players and spectators.

We now hold out hope that we will at least see part of a season, beginning in January.