Field Hockey Canada > FHC/CIS Championship kicks off in Guelph

FHC/CIS Championship kicks off in Guelph

November 4, 2010 | Field Hockey Canada |

FHC/CIS Championship gets underway in Guelph 

November 4, 2010 

The 2010 FHC/CIS tournament gets under way Thursday at the University of Guelph with the first of three days of round-robin competition and culminates Sunday at 1 p.m. with the gold-medal final.  This is the first time the tournament has been hosted in Guelph.

Established tournament favourites for the second straight season on Monday, the Gryphons are hoping for a better result than a year ago when they settled for a disappointing fourth place in Victoria.

Also returning from the 2009 tourney are the defending national champion UBC Thunderbirds, seeded No. 2 this week; the third-seeded Toronto Varsity Blues, who finished fifth 12 months ago; and the Victoria Vikes, ranked No. 4 a year after claiming CIS bronze.

The Waterloo Warriors round out the list of participating teams. Waterloo will be making its first appearance since a fourth-place finish in 2004.

In order to put their hands on the first McCrae Cup in program history, the Gryphons, whose best result at the event remains a silver medal in 2007, will have to beat the odds and overcome the challenge that presents the “Big Three”.

Between them, UBC (12), Victoria (11) and Toronto (10) have captured 33 of 35 titles since the inaugural national championship in 1975. The T-Birds claimed their record 12th McCrae Cup in 2009 thanks to a dominating 6-0 gold-medal win over Alberta.

The only other teams in history to win the CIS banner were Alberta in 2005 and Dalhousie, way back in 1976.

Guelph can take some comfort in the fact the host team has claimed the title three of the past four years including Victoria in 2008, Toronto in 2007 and UBC in 2006. But the Gryphons’ confidence is also the result of their own stellar play and the presence in their line-up of fourth-year forward Brienne Stairs, arguably the best university player in the country.

The Kitchener native, who was named CIS player of the year in 2009 and is the two-time reigning MVP of the Ontario conference, scored an incredible 32 goals in 14 games during the regular season – 17 more than the next-best player – and added 27 assists as Guelph led the OUA with 85 goals, 21 more than second-place Toronto.

High-scoring Guelph enters the CIS championship sporting a remarkable 15-1 overall record, including a 3-2 win over Toronto in last Sunday’s OUA final. The Gryphons went 2-0 against fifth-seeded Waterloo this season and 2-1 overall versus the No. 2 Varsity Blues, who beat them 3-1 in conference play back on Oct. 16 for their lone loss of the campaign.

Toronto was 3-0 overall against Waterloo, including a 2-0 semi-final victory. The Warriors downed Western 3-1 to claim OUA bronze and secure the last conference berth into the CIS championship.

Meanwhile in Canada West, it was business as usual for the Thunderbirds (9-1-2) and Vikes (6-4-2), who once again finished 1-2 in the conference standings. The four games between the two archrivals this fall ended with 3-2 and 2-0 UBC wins, a 3-2 Victoria victory, as well as a 1-1 draw.

There are no playoffs in CWUAA field hockey.

This most recent Canada West title, their eighth in a row, can still be considered a major achievement and somewhat of a surprise for the T-Birds, who lost nine of 11 starters from their 2009 championship squad.

Led by conference MVP Sarah MacAulay, UBC is looking to repeat as McCrae Cup champion for the fourth time in team history. The storied program from Vancouver has previously accomplished the feat in 2003-2004, 1998-1999 and 1982-1983.

Second-seeded UBC opens its title defence against No. 1 Guelph Thursday at 9:30 a.m. The two teams also met in the 2009 opener, with the Thunderbirds prevailing 3-1.

For tournament coverage please visit the CIS Website