As another season of Brock Badgers athletics comes to an end, the time has come to look back at a winter term that was filled with ups, downs, championships, records and awards, and recap the season it was for all Badger programs:
The Badgers won five fewer games than they did a season ago, but a slight drop off is to be expected after a coaching change. With Charles Kissi becoming an assistant coach with the Raptors 905, Madhav Trivedi took over the Badgers in his first head coaching role in the OUA. Nevertheless it was still an eventful season for the Badgers; both Johneil Simpson and Cassidy Ryan were named as OUA All-Stars (first and second teams, respectively) in their final seasons, while Simpson became the second highest scorer in program history, etching his name amongst the best to have worn Badger red. The Badgers won two playoff games that included a buzzer-beating floater from Tyler Brown to propel Brock over Western in the second round. To cap it all off, Brown was also drafted by the local Niagara River Lions of the CEBL in the entry draft this past weekend. The Badgers ended up losing to the Carleton Ravens in the third round, who would go on to win both the OUA and U Sports championships. There are a lot of question marks surrounding this team moving forward; Trivedi was brought in with the interim role, and with Simpson and Ryan are both graduating. The future of the program lies a little cloudy as of now.
Like their male counterparts, the women’s team also saw major changes take place in the summer. Ashley MacSporran was let go, and Mike Rao was brought in as the interim head coach. Rao turned a 6-18 team into a playoff team, and led the Badgers to their first playoff win since 2012 before losing to the eventual U Sports champion McMaster Marauders. Melissa Tatti returned to Brock after a one year hiatus, and the 5’4 guard finished the season second in the OUA in scoring, third in assists and first in steals and minutes. She was named as a second-team OUA All-Star, and was a huge reason why the Badgers were able to get back to relevancy. The Badgers saw Courtney McPherson and Allie Columbus play their final games as Badgers, but are optimistic about the incoming recruits to fill the holes. The first of which is Sam Keltos, who is returning to her hometown of St. Catharines after spending the past two years playing for the St. Francis Terriers of the NCAA’s DI. All signs point to what should be a second straight successful season moving forward.
A second-round sweep by the Western Mustangs was a disappointing end to what was a historic season for Brock. Marty Williamson led the Badgers to the most wins and points in program history, and swept the York Lions out of the playoffs in round one. Individually, the Badgers racked up accolades all over the ice; Williamson was rewarded for his record-breaking season by winning the OUA Coach of the Year award for the second straight year. Logan Thompson was named the OUA Rookie of the Year, OUA Goalie of the Year, and was selected as a first team OUA All-Star. Thompson capped off his terrific season by signing with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder, a minor league affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. Defenceman Connor Walters was also named an OUA All-Star after recording 14 points from the blue line. Captain Brody Silk is one of six players who are graduating this year, however the Badgers top five scorers are all returning for next year. With Williamson at the helm, and the Badgers core intact, the success should continue moving forward.
The Badgers finished third in the OUA largely due to the stellar play of forward Annie Berg and goaltender Jensen Murphy. Both were named as second team All-Stars, with Berg finishing the season fourth in scoring, with 11 goals and 14 assists. Murphy meanwhile led the league in saves with an incredible 807 this season, over 200 more than the next highest. She also led the league in wins with 13, and her .944 save percentage was good enough for third in the OUA. Like the men, the women’s team will also bid adieu to their captain, as Brenna Murphy is one of five graduating Badgers. The Badgers will see a number of new faces next season, and will have a new captain — very possibly Berg — leading the charge next season.
It’s been a slow start since the men’s volleyball program was revived three years ago. The team repeated their record from a season ago, and Doug Hanes’ teams have won just 13 games total in this new era. Help should be on the way however, as the team signed a pair of Niagara Rapids teammates in Grant Reddon and Hawkin Paleczny. One bright spot for the Badgers was the terrific play of Logan House. House was named a first team All-Star for his play, while Marcelo Correa and Peter Schnabel were selected to the second team. All the focus is towards the future for this program, and with Ethan Kalef and Mark Naqvi being named to the OUA All-Rookie Team, the Badgers should see improvements next year.
The Badgers snapped a three year postseason drought by winning the most games in program history. Leading the charge was Laura Condotta, who was named the OUA West Player of the Year and a first team All-Star. Darby Taylor was selected as a second team All-Star, while Jamie Holland made the All-Rookie team. The Badgers ultimately lost to the eventual champion Toronto Varsity Blues in the first round of the playoffs, marking the end of the road for five graduating Badgers. While the team will see some significant roster turnover come next winter, the core of Condotta and Holland along with coach Delaney is a good foundation for a program that is trying to build long term success.
The most successful program in Badgers history continued its legacy this season with another pair of OUA and U Sports championships. Marty Calder took home three more coach of the year awards (OUA men’s and women’s, U Sports men’s), and led his team to the eighth national title in program history for the women, and 18th for the men, respectively. Hannah Taylor was named the OUA Most Outstanding Female Wrestler, while 14 different Badgers brought home at least one medal. The dynasty continues.
Another under-the-radar program at Brock ended up being one of the most decorated, with the men’s program winning their first OUA gold in over a decade, while the women brought home a provincial bronze and a national silver. Both teams had representatives on the All-Canadian First Team, with Doug Thomson and Terri Weeks both receiving the high honour.
The Badgers men’s fencing team saw some success during the season, but a majority of it was generated by Aaron Olmstead. The Kingston, Ontario native brought home multiple medals this season including a provincial silver and bronze, and a national gold and bronze. Olmstead and captain Malcolm McLeod were both named OUA All-Stars. The women on the other hand were not as successful, as they failed to medal in any event in either the OUA or U Sports championships, ultimately finishing second to last in the OUA.
The Badgers ringette team brought home a provincial silver after winning six games during the championship weekend before falling to Carleton in the finals. Nevertheless, the Badgers had a successful year, as they won a number of previous tournaments during the regular season. Captain Allison Sage led the way for the Badgers in what was her final season playing for Brock.
While the Badgers played host to the OUA championships, they were unable to capitalize on home turf by finishing in eight and ninth place, respectively. Gokhan Bozyigit was the lone Badger to medal, winning silver in the men’s 1500m freestyle event with a time of 15:42.32.