Westman teams made their mark at the provincial and national level in 2013.
That success created plenty of competition to pare down this year’s list of 10 finalists for the Mike Jones team of the year. Here’s a look at the finalists — listed in alphabetical order — for the Brandon Sun’s 40th annual team award, with the winner slated to be announced in the Jan. 2 edition:
After finishing sixth with a 13-9 record in the always-tough Canada West conference in the regular season, the Brandon University Bobcats turned it on in the playoffs, winning four straight matches to capture their first league title. The Bobcats were seeded No.1 for nationals in Quebec City. There, coach Grant Wilson’s team beat the Montreal Carabins 3-1 in the quarter-finals before dropping a five-set semifinal to the host and eventual champion Laval Rouge et Or. The Bobcats bounced back to bring home the bronze by beating the Western Mustangs in five sets. The Bobcats have started 2013-14 with a 7-5 record and are ranked fifth in the country.
BRANDON AAA WHEATIES
Brandon finished first in the West Division of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League with a solid 32-10-2 record in 2012-13. Coach Ken Schneider’s Midget AAA Wheat Kings then swept the Kenora Thistles in the best-of-five quarter-finals before falling in four games to the Winnipeg Thrashers in the semifinals. Brandon has bounced back better than ever to start 2013-14, leading the league with an impressive 27-2-0 record and now riding an 18-game winning streak.
BRANDON AA KNIGHTS
The Brandon Knights posted a perfect 5-0 record to win the provincial Midget AA baseball championship in July, with Brandon clinching the title by blanking host Neepawa 3-0. Manager Dale Whelpton’s Knights then advanced to the western Canadian Midget AA championship in Swift Current, Sask., in August, going 3-1 in the round robin to earn a spot in the final where Brandon beat the host Swift Current Indians 6-2.
CANADIAN TIRE CARDINALS
Perfect seasons are rare, in any sport or any league. But the Canadian Tire Cardinals completed the feat in 2013 by going 20-0 to win the Brandon Senior AA Baseball League title. The Cardinals beat the Joe Beeverz Young Guns 16-7 to sweep the best-of-five league final and finish the season with an overall record of 29-0 in tournament, regular-season, playoff and provincial championship play. In addition to their league title, the Cardinals captured the Clearwater Canada Day Tournament by winning four straight games and went on to win the provincial Senior AA title in Hamiota with five straight victories.
Stacy Fordyce’s Brandon Curling Club team of Christy Erickson, Stacey Irwin and Pam Gouldie brought another national curling title back to the Wheat City this season. Fordyce’s foursome went 8-0 at the Dominion Curling Club Championship in November in Thunder Bay, Ont., capping their championship with a 6-4 victory over Heather Burnett’s Saskatchewan team in the final. The Dominions are geared towards top club-level curlers from across the country, with teams allowed only one player who has elite provincial or national championship experience.
Lois Fowler guided her Brandon Curling Club team of third Gwen Wooley, second Lori Manning, lead Joan Robertson and fifth Jill Hazelwood to the provincial senior women’s curling title in Souris in February by winning eight straight games. Fowler’s foursome went on to earn a bronze medal at the Canadian senior women’s championship in Summerside, P.E.I., going 8-4 before falling 10-4 to Alberta’s Deb Santos in the semifinal to finish third.
Virden’s pairs team of Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers earned a bronze medal at the 2013 Canadian figure skating championships in January in Mississauga, Ont. The national team duo — coached by Patty Hole — also competed internationally, placing sixth at the Four Continents event in Osaka, Japan, sixth in the NHK Trophy in Tokyo and fourth in the Skate Canada International in Saint John, N.B. Lawrence, 23, and Swiegers, 26, can clinch a spot in the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia if they can earn another top-three finish at nationals next month in Ottawa.
The Neelin Spartans came up one set short of winning their second straight provincial AAAA varsity girls’ high school volleyball championship earlier this month. For the second straight season the Spartans, a AAA-sized school, moved up to the AAAA ranks and made it all the way to provincial final before falling 3-2 to the MBCI Hawks in a rematch of the 2012 gold-medal match. Coach Kevin Neufeld’s Spartans led 2-1 in the final, but couldn’t finish off the Hawks. It was a tough end to a super season for the Spartans, who amassed a remarkable 53-4 match record and placed Paige Thomson and Amy Gordon on the provincial all-star team, and Alison Quiring, Thomson and Gordon on the six-player Volleyball Manitoba all-star team.
OAK RIVER AA BANTAMS
Oak River captured the provincial Bantam AA and western Canadian Bantam AA baseball titles in 2013. Oak River rolled over Pilot Mound
8-1 in the provincial final at Brandon’s Simplot Millennium Park in July, then went on to capture August’s western Canadian championship in Swift Current, Sask., with an 11-2 triumph over Muenster, Sask. The Midwest League champions, managed by Derek Shamray, capped their year by being named the grassroots team of the year at the Baseball Manitoba awards.
The Souris Sabres boys completed a year to remember by winning the Westman High School Rugby League boys’ title with a perfect 8-0 record and going on to shut out the Minnedosa Chancellors 17-0 in June’s provincial high school final in Oakbank. In addition to winning their first provincial title, coach Brian Yon’s Sabres set team records for most points (397) and most wins (10) in a season, while placing eight players on the provincial all-star team.
» Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 26, 2013