It was a memorable year for campus sports teams at the University of Alberta. From the football Bears winning their first game in four years to the Bears hockey and volleyball teams dominating at nationals, the Bears and Pandas represented the school well this season.
5. Both curling teams win nationals
Having one team win CIS nationals is an accomplishment by itself, but having both teams win on the same stage is an historic achievement. Both the Golden Bears and Pandas curling teams took home Canada’s top university honours this year, and did so in impressive fashion. Combined, the Bears and Pandas finished the tournament 13-1, with the only blemish being a Pandas’ round robin loss to the Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack.
The Pandas cemented their first ever national title with a furious comeback in the seventh end against Trinity Western, entering the end down 5-3, and emerging up 7-5. The Bears rounded out the incredible team performance by beating Laurier 6-4 in their final, capturing their second consecutive national title.
4. Swimming program wins first gold since 1997
When you think about the fact that some first-year students may not have even been born since the last time that Bears swimming won a gold medal, you realize how long of a drought that actually is. When you also consider that the U of A isn’t a traditional swimming powerhouse, you realize how special this medal is.
Joe Byram, Nick Kostiuk, Josiah Binnema and Tom Krywitsky found themselves on top of the podium after winning the 4×100 metre freestyle relay, considered by many to be the flagship event of the meet. The Bears team parlayed the gold medal in the relay into a strong overall performance, placing fourth overall, which was their highest finish since 2012.
3. Bears volleyball has perfect nationals
It’s an impressive feat any time you can win Nationals without losing a game, not only did Bears volleyball do that, but they didn’t drop a single set throughout the entire tournament, sweeping their way to victory. It was the Bears’ second straight CIS championship, and they repeated on the back of strong play from tournament MVP Ryley Barnes, who had 11 kills in the deciding game against Trinity Western. Overall, it was the Bears’ eighth championship in their history.
2. Bears hockey sells out playoff game
One would normally associate sold out games with professional teams, but the Bears hockey team had a packed house for their second game of the Canada West finals against the Calgary Dinos. With a packed house, you’d hope that the team would rise to the occasion, and the Bears did just that. Late in the third period, eventual Rookie of the Year winner Stephane Legault broke a deadlock with a breakaway goal to give the Bears the win and ultimately the series. The Bears would go on to win nationals, their second title in a row.
1. Bears football wins their first game in four years
It was a long run of futility that spanned over three full seasons, but the University of Alberta Golden Bears football finally team won its first game since Nov. 6, 2010 on Sept. 20, 2014, besting the Regina Rams 44-42. Expectations certainly weren’t high as the team was coming off a heartbreaking last second loss to the Saskatchewan Huskies the previous week, and endured a legendary 73-0 shellacking at the hands of the Calgary Dinos in the opening game of the season. Even though Calgary would eventually forfeit that game, seeing a game actually won within the confines of Foote Field was a great sight to behold.