Cameron Burgess: Assistant Sports & Health Editor
Throughout the year I’ve had the opportunity to cover a lot of different teams, but the one game that sticks out to me was when the Men’s Volleyball team beat the Ryerson Rams at home. The Badgers had just come off their first win of the season to end their nine game losing streak and the Rams were sitting at first place in the OUA East.
The season got off to a rough start for the Badgers, but it was clear that the team was moving in the right direction. They were able to stay in games against tough opponents earlier in the year, but fell short. The win against Guelph helped to build some confidence, but the win against Ryerson began to change the tides of the season in Brock’s favour.
In just their second season back in the OUA, the expectations for this team were relatively low. There was plenty of skill, but they were young and inexperienced compared to many of the teams they were up against. There was a learning curve for many of the young players, such as Logan House and Peter Schnabel, that was taking a bit longer than expected. Despite their record, fans continued to show up to Bob Davis Gym to support the team, and they were rewarded with the best performance of the season.
While many expected the Rams to run away with the game, it was the Badgers who looked like the better team early on. Brock played almost flawlessly on their way to a 25-15 first set victory, which excited their fans. Building off the momentum from the ‘best fans in Canada’ and their performance in the first set, Brock dominated once again in the second set to win by a score of 25-18. By this point, the gym was the loudest it had been during a volleyball game all season long, but the Rams were not about to go down without a fight.
The Rams made a few lineup changes to bring their starters back into the game after leaving them on the bench to start, likely thinking that they would be able to give them some rest against a supposedly weak Brock team. These charges brought some life to a Rams team that had struggled to generate much of anything early on. The Rams stormed back to win a close set 25-22 and followed it up with a strong performance in a 25-18 win.
After the strong start for the Badgers, momentum had shifted in the opposite direction and it felt like the match had slipped away. The fans had gone quiet after the Badgers fell behind 4-1 to start the fifth set, but the Badgers battled back and the gym started to get louder with every point scored. Both teams continued to exchange points, until eventually the Badgers pulled ahead 18-16 to take the set, giving them their second and, arguably, biggest win of the season. The win was their second of five consecutive, a run that for a while had the team not too far outside of the playoff picture. Looking back on it now, this was a turning point for the team not only this season, but also moving forward as a program.
John Gobin: Assistant Sports & Health Editor
It was a home game away from home and one of the best experiences of my life. From the atmosphere to the actual action on the court, it was a wild ride and one that I will never forget. This past November, the “We Are Ready” team sent five busses full of raucous Badger fans down the QEW on a road trip to “Attack the MAC (Mattamy Athletic Centre)”. It was a doubleheader for the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams as they faced off against the Ryerson Rams and the crowd was intense from start to finish.
Even though we were in the corner of their gym, it was far louder every time Brock made a great play. We showed Ryerson and the entire OUA how passionate our fans can be and what lengths Badgers will literally travel in support of our school. Although the women’s game ended up being lopsided in favour of the Rams, the men’s game stole the show amid the fantastically dramatic finale that involved high stakes for everyone.
Ryerson and Brock both were top teams in the OUA and would eventually end up facing each other in the playoffs with a spot for the National Tournament on the line, but we all knew how that ended up going for the Badgers. However, Brock had a chance to come into a place where Ryerson had been absolutely dominant for quite a while and make a statement not just to Ryerson, nor just the OUA, but the entire country that they had a legitimate case to make a run not only to the tournament, but in it as well.
Although the performance of the team couldn’t live up to the hype or potential that they garnered during this game, the impact that their overtime win had sent shockwaves across the university basketball scene. Every possession pulled the loudest cheers and jeers that you could bear to stand, without both sides bringing their instruments to celebrate the occasion. Of course, what made the game my favourite experience was the fact that at the end of the day, Brock was able to leave the MAC and return down the QEW with the dub.
Isabelle Cropper: Sports & Health Editor
At the conclusion of a long season of Brock and Niagara sports, there are many great events to reflect on. I was able to attend the Steel Blade Classic, the Niagara IceDogs home opener and opening playoff game, numerous Brock hockey playoff games and the Queen’s Cup.
My favourite event that I covered this season was actually not a home game, despite the numerous events at Brock and around Niagara that were worthy of great coverage. My favourite event was game three between Brock men’s hockey and the York Lions at Canlan Ice Sports in Toronto (York).
The crowd at the game grew louder and more fierce as the game went on. It was tight match between the two teams for a spot in both the Queen’s Cup championship and a berth to U SPORTS nationals, making it one of the most thrilling games of the season. For a job where we have to stay neutral and keep our emotions aside, it was hard to not have experienced excitement and fear during that game, regardless of who you were there to see. For the Brock fans, it got silent when they went down 2-0 in the first period. York had all the momentum early on, but once Brock tilted the ice back their way, the presence of the proclaimed best fans in Canada could be felt throughout the entire rink.
When the clock struck zero at the end of the third period, Brock had come out on top with a 3-2 win to take the series 2-1. The Badgers left the ice returning to both the Queen’s Cup and the national tournament for the first time in 10 years, with the current group of seniors and first year head coach Marty Williamson leaving quite a stamp on the program.
Satbir Singh: Editor-in-Chief
I don’t have a lot of options to pick from for my favourite Brock sports event or even from what I covered. I was mostly, if not only, at basketball games. I was limited in coverage this year to only basketball and this was my fourth year covering the men’s team — starting during my volunteer days with The Brock Press and has continued into my fourth year with the newspaper.
I could simply say the Meridian Centre was my favourite, as I also worked Brock TV that day — the first time in my amateur journalism career that I got to work two roles. However, I can’t say the December 2 game was my favourite, although the game went to overtime. I can’t even say the Halifax trip to the Final 8 was my favourite, even if I was sitting only a few seats away from the Sportsnet table.
My favourite event to attend or cover has to be the RBC Classic exhibition tournament held in October by the men’s basketball team. I’m a sports fanatic so getting to sit there for six games in the span of three days, what more can I ask for?
There were so many headlines in the span of that one weekend as well. It was Brock’s first opportunity to show that they were ready to be in the conversation with the best of the best in Canada. Ryerson was coming off an OUA Championship and an appearance in the National finals. Brock’s 2016-2017 season ended because a committee decided Calgary was better — the two played each other during this weekend. And the final headline that didn’t exist during October, but exists now, is Calgary and Ryerson played each other which eventually became a preview of the U Sports Championship.
During that exhibition matchup, Calgary hit a shot at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. The Dinos would go on to eventually beat the Rams 87-85 — they also won by two in the ensuing national finals.
Now, I know I’m supposed to focus on a Brock event, which this is. The RBC Classic, which is hosted by the men’s basketball team, is the best event of the year for any basketball fan because so many games are played in one weekend. In the past, the tournament has included seven teams and it could go back to that this coming October.
Overall, the RBC Classic is an event that allows the U Sports Basketball world to see the best of the best go up against each other ahead of the regular season. As this past year proved, it can be a preview of an OUA semi-final matchup or even a U Sports final. Now that I look back at that tournament it is by far my favourite because we eventually came full circle in Halifax.