Neate Sager

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Neate Sager is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports.

  • Ottawa's Caleb Agada (centre) had a double-double in Saturday's semifinal (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Two teams from one city hooking up for the W.P. McGee Trophy has never happened before in Canadian university men's basketball annals, meaning sleep is overrated.

    With daylight savings time beginning Saturday night and the CIS Final 8 championship game tipping off at 2 p.m. ET at Sportsnet 360's request, that meant the Ottawa Gee-Gees will only have about 12½ hours of R&R between their 78-70 semifinal win over the Victoria Vikes and a date with destiny vs. the rival Carleton Ravens, who downed Alberta 79-55. Whether the short window is conducive to optimum performance on the parquet at Canadian Tire Centre remains to be seen, but the matchup is without precedent. So no need to make excuses about an early start, even though No. 2 seed Carleton will get a couple extra hours' rest and the pace-pushing top-seeded Gee-Gees had the tighter turnaround.

    "This is what I've been waiting all season for, it's nationals and Ottawa versus Carleton," said Ottawa's sophomore combo forward Caleb Agada, whose 12 points and 10 rebounds helped the Gee-Gees hang in against a Victoria front line that includes 6-foot-10 Chris McLaughlin, who was valiant with 19 points before fouling out late.

    "This is what we've been waiting for. My energy is the highest it could possibly be."

    It's been 36 years — longer than some of the coaches in Sunday's tilt have been alive — since two teams from such close proximity met in the national final. Back in 1978 in Halifax, the hometown Saint Mary's Huskies beat Atlantic conference rival Acadia, from nearly Wolfville, N.S., 99-91. That contest, still remembered vividly down east by fans of a certain vintage, drew more than 11,000 fans.

    Read More »from Carleton-Ottawa cross-town CIS final an unprecedented matchup, but will crowd size and casual-fan support reflect it?
  • Carleton Ravens have unsettled score in CIS hoops final, regardless of opponent

    Phil Scrubb looks for a passing lane as Tyson Hinz gets tangled up with Alberta's Rob Dewar (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Sports)

    When Dave Smart starts buttering up a team, quite often they're about to become someone's lunch.

    When the Carleton Ravens' 55-game CIS hoops win streak was snapped with a last-second loss in the Ontario final seven nights ago, they soaked in every bit of the Ottawa Gee-Gees' euphoria before leaving the floor. Saturday, after sending the Alberta Golden Bears packing with a 79-55 win in the early semifinal at the CIS Final 8, the Ravens politely acknowledged the obvious storyline — "revenge is always nice, but we want the national championship whether it is it Ottawa or UVic," forward Tyson Hinz said before the Gees and Vikes tipped off — even while many had an inkling they really wanted another crack at Ottawa.

    Such is the bar the Ravens have set. Winning a 10th national championship after losing their final matchup of the season against Ottawa might leave a slight void.

    "It was kind of a bitter feeling," Ravens guard Thomas Scrubb, who added to his tournament MVP application with 22 points and seven rebounds vs. Alberta, said of watching the Gee-Gees put guard Johnny Berhanemeskel on their shoulders, among other celebrations. "I wasn't surprised they would do that. It's definitely easy motivation if we meet them in the final. We'll be ready to play. We won't let something like that happen again."

    Read More »from Carleton Ravens have unsettled score in CIS hoops final, regardless of opponent
  • Tolchinsky was undrafted in 2013 but was quickly signed by Carolina (OHL Images)

    If you look up anhedonic — lack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it — there's a picture of someone who didn't enjoy this Sergey Tolchinsky goal.

    On Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes prospect who shines for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds showed some magic sleight of hand with a between-the-legs goal during a game against Sarnia. The 19-year-old Russian dervish had a clear breakaway to plan what move to try against Sting goalie Taylor Dupuis and did the ol' turn-sideways, put-stick-behind-leg and go-top-cheddar move to astonish the crowd at RBC Centre. It is like there was a need to do something special to celebrate the 'Hounds clinching the West Division title, since the club backed into it on Thursday when it was shut out by London while second-place Windsor also lost.

    Read More »from Carolina Hurricanes pick Sergey Tolchinsky scores sick between-the-legs goal (VIDEO)
  • Terry Thomas (right) paced Ottawa with 24 points on Friday (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Parts of the Saskatchewan-Ottawa boxscore — which ended with the top-seeded Gee-Gees winning 94-73 behind 24 points from Terry Thomas — looked like they were taken together from other games.

    Canadian university basketball teams generally do not sink 14 threes in a CIS Final 8 game at Canadian Tire Center, a notoriously unforgiving shooting environment with what Gee-Gees point guard Mike L'Africain called "tough rims." Nor does any team worth a tournament ticket go 4-for-16 from the free-throw line. Nor does the coach of a team that won by more than 20 surmise that his charges "were just a little bit sluggish" like Ottawa's James Derouin did. Yet that all fit together on Friday when Ottawa did its thing while dispatching the wild-card Huskies. (Ottawa had a tougher time on its home floor with Ryerson, which many believe should have been the wild card, two weeks ago in the OUA East semifinal; but that's neither here nor there.)

    That sets up semifinal Saturday, with No. 3 Alberta and No. 2 Carleton hooking up in the early game (6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT, Sportsnet 360). Ottawa will face No. 4 Victoria and 6-foot-10 centre Chris McLaughlin in an 8 p.m. tilt between the country's highest-scoring team (96.2 points per game) and its stingiest (60.2 against).

    The Gee-Gees and Huskies were even at 50 late in the third quarter, honest. Then Thomas, who had nine rebounds and five steals, scored seven in a row during an 11-0 Ottawa outburst. The hopeful Huskies, with star guard Stephon Lamar harried to no end (5-for-18 shooting with seven turnovers en route to a hollow 15 points and eight assists), came back briefly. Then an 11-2 quarter-bridging run highlighted by forward Vikas Gill's buzzer three settled the issue. Ottawa's starters came out on a high note: a L'Africain-to-Thomas alley-oop capped off the statement win in front of a crowd of 3,545.

    "We found our groove and that separated us," said Thomas, the East Preston, N.S., native. "We're a great three-point shooting team, probably one of the best in the country and once it starts going, it helps our whole game. It limits their transition opportunities.

    "We just take what we've learned from Carleton and apply it to every team."

    In a nutshell, that is what makes Ottawa stand out regardless of how the next days unfold. It borrows principles from the CIS lodestar across town and pours it into a high-tempo game. Carleton has what Dave Smart calls "attack mode," but Ottawa pushes the ball like few else. The Gee-Gees took 76 shots in a 40-minute game and only had nine turnovers.

    "We're going-going-going, but we know how we're going, the different reads made at fast speeds," said L'Africain, who had 10 points with a 7-to-2 assist-to-turnover ratio. "We've done it so many times. Tonight we probably had our 15th lob between Terry and I and he only played half the season [while sitting out until Nov. 29 after transferring from St. Francis Xavier]. That all goes back to the summer. We spent so many hours in the gym learning how each of us plays."

    "Our defence turns into our offence. When you get a play like that on offence you want to get back on defence as fast as you can."

    Read More »from Ottawa Gee-Gees have method to their madcap style, making them able to challenge Carleton Ravens
  • Thomas Scrubb hooped 20 and hauled down 14 in Carleton's ouster of McMaster (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Back in the day of Dean Smith there was the de facto Anybody but Carolina banner. It would be only understandable if ABC stood for Anybody But Carleton in the realm of Canadian university hoops.

    Feelings toward the indomitable Ravens, in the unfamiliar position of being seeded No. 2 at the CIS Final 8, are not quite like that — "it's all about respect; they're at the pinnacle that we're all trying to reach," is how long-time Concordia Stingers skipper John Dore put it on behalf of the coaching fraternity. This time around, the question revolves more around the possibility of any team spoiling a potential all-Ottawa showdown on a championship Sunday at the Canadian Tire Centre. That meant No. 3 seed Alberta, which was paced by fifth-year star Jordan Baker's 17-point, nine-rebound, five-assist effort in its 72-62 win over Saint Mary's, was under more of a microscope than anyone else during Friday's quarter-finals. Carleton pulled away from McMaster to win 82-64, with Phil Scrubb (21 points and five assists) and Thomas Scrubb (20 points, 14 rebounds) counting for half the Ravens' total.

    The Golden Bears didn't go ahead for good until the third quarter, when Baker, their Swiss army knife of an all-Canadian forward, started driving and dishing. An eight-minute drought also did in the No. 8 Huskies, setting up one-half of an Alberta-Carleton semifinal matchup. It will be a rematch of the 2012 final. Four players on each side were around for that one.

    "It's good — we owe them for two years ago," said Baker, who played for Carleton coach Dave Smart (and with Ravens star Phil Scrubb) for Canada at the 2011 Pan-Am Games. "We're going to have to play a lot better if we're going to be able to knock off the next team in the semifinals. It'll be a steeper challenge."

    Read More »from Alberta Golden Bears advance at CIS Final 8; can they challenge Carleton on Semifinal Saturday?
  • Koekkoek dinged up for Spits, Knights discipline Domi: the coast-to-coast

    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    While Tim Bozon battles Neisseria meningitis in a Saskatoon hospital, the Kootenay Ice play Friday for the first time since losing their standout forward. (Cranbrook Daily Townsman, CBC, CTV Saskatoon, Medicine Hat News)

    Aside from Bozon, there has been only one confirmed case of meningitis in Saskatchewan this winter. (Metro, News Talk 650, Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    So what is going on with this game of franchises playing musical cities? (The Pipeline Show)

    Winning Jets second-rounder Eric Comrie needs 75 saves to set a Tri-City single-season club record. Don't get smart ask if he'll get all tonight, since the Americans face Everett. Annie Fowler tracked down record holder Aaron Baker, who kicked out 1,751 shots for a 17-win Ams team 16 winters ago. Quoth Baker: "There are a few other stats I have from that season that I don’t want. That was a rough season." (Tri-City Herald)

    Goalie Daniel Wapple is not on the Regina Pats road trip due to a foot injury, making Dawson MacAuley the man in net for two big games in the Eastern Division race. The Pats will have a reunion game Friday with their old buddy Teagan Sacher in Lethbridge. (Regina Leader-Post, The Pipeline Show)

    Kelowna's magic number for clinching first overall is down to two. (Kelowna Capital News)


    Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder Slater Koekkoek nearly got through the season unscathed, but the Windsor Spitfires captain is now "day to day" after injuring an arm in a fight during a loss to Saginaw. (Windsor Star)

    What would an all-star team of first-time draft-eligible players look like? (

    Max Domi was benched for the entire first period, but London shut out Sault Ste. Marie to earn two critical points. (London Free Press)

    Aaron Ekblad set the Barrie Colts record for goals in a season by a defenceman during a comeback win over Owen Sound, but the fifth-place Colts are running out of track with only four games left. (The Barrie Examiner)

    Read More »from Koekkoek dinged up for Spits, Knights discipline Domi: the coast-to-coast
  • Margarita Gorbounova (right), with guide Andrea Bundon, has qualified for four events in Sochi (James Netz Photography, Cross-Country Canada)

    Margarita Gorbounova had her medal around her neck when she set out for Sochi. Inscribed on it are two words that mean the world for the second-time Paralympian.

    Not “Sochi 2014,” but the words "Tanya" and "Cherish" on a necklace that the visually impaired Nordic skier wears in memory of her sister-in-law by marriage and sister for all other intents and purposes. Tanya Martin, whose spirit belied her endless health challenges — "life was a battle for her," says Cliff Martin, Tanya’s brother and Margarita’s husband — died Dec. 4, five months after cancer was discovered in her esophagus.

    There are all the minutely detailed training programs for the Games. There is no how-to for juggling being 'all in' while your best friend — who is only 35 years old, whose wedding you wanted to plan since she saved the day so many times while planning your big day three years ago — clings to life. Gorbounova's recourse has been to push on as much as realistically possible. Grief cannot be jammed into a sports metaphor.

    "When she was sick, I often thought about it — it was so hard to manage my training," Gorbounova, a part-time skier and federal government French-English translator who is due to represent Canada in three cross-country races and one biathlon event, said prior to leaving for Sochi. "In an Olympic year, you can’t just half-ass it — it is 'I have to do this training. It has to be exactly as planned.' Then there is this whole, 'Tanya is sick and I want to go visit her.'

    "It was a struggle for sure, that part,” added the 29-year-old, who was born with cataracts and has only about 10 per cent of her vision. "I think a few times for sure I thought about whether I should just quit and be there with her. But you always think that she wouldn't want me to do that — she would want me to keep going."

    Read More »from Canadian Paralympic skier Margarita Gorbounova pushes on, 3 months after losing best friend to cancer
  • Greg Marshall was most recently with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos (CP)

    Greg Marshall is going to be coaching the Queen's Golden Gaels — no, not him; the other one whose expertise is on the defensive side of the ball.

    The divide between the Canadian Football League and Canadian university football seems to be constantly getting smaller, with coaches moving back and forth between the two largest streams of the three-down game. Over the past two off-seasons, Queen's lost two defensive coaches to the CFL. Coordinator Pat Tracey signing on as the special team coordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Former defensive line coach Leroy Blugh is in his second year in the league, having hopped aboard with the first-year Ottawa Redblacks after a season in Edmonton.

    Now, according to sources close to the Gaels, Marshall, who was defensive coordinator for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2013, will be trying his hand at the university game as DC with the storied Kingston, Ont.., program. Queen's announced Tuesday only that Marshall will be a guest coach during preparation for the Ontario University Athletics football season.

    Read More »from Long-time CFL defensive coordinator Greg Marshall joining Queen’s Golden Gaels — sources
  • Freddy Gauthier sustains Rimouski roll, Petes pick up pace: CHL Hot & Cold

    Gauthier has helped Rimouski run its win streak to 11 (Ghyslain Bergeron, CP)

    In a year where parity is the watchword out east, Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder Frédérik Gauthier and the Rimouski Océanic are bucking the odds with an 11-game win streak at crunch time.

    Big things were expected for the Océanic after it has a centre, Gauthier, defenceman Sam Morin and goalie Philippe Desrosiers contribute to Canada ending a four-year U.S. reign at the IIHF world under-18 championship (where the Great White North is typically without several stars whose junior teams are still in the playoffs). The potential is panning out, with Rimouski chipping into what once seemed like a secure cushion for Quebec League-leading Baie-Comeau. Gauthier's all-around game and recent scoring outburst has been a big cog.

    Let's look at who is ebbing and who is flowing entering the regular season's penultimate week.


    Hot: Peterborough Petes

    The Jody Hull-helmed Petes are on a similar arc to last season, when they had to play desperate to catch up to the playoff pack. Peterborough,

    Read More »from Freddy Gauthier sustains Rimouski roll, Petes pick up pace: CHL Hot & Cold
  • Portland Winterhawks, Guelph Storm trade spots atop BTN Dynamic Dozen

    Guelph Storm veteran Zack Mitchell signed with the Minnesota Wild organization this week (OHL Images)

    The ides of March, in junior hockey, are otherwise known as 'hurry up and let the playoffs get here.'

    All five of the top teams in the Buzzing The Net Dynamic Dozen lost at least once over the past seven days, four to teams much farther down the standings. It happens when one club has a cushion and its opponents have far, far more imperative to chase points late in the season. So one shouldn't read a lot into the results.

    Portland and Guelph each had a stumble, but the Winterhawks nose into top spot in what BTN guru-in-residence Rob Pettapiece has dubbed the hipsters vs. hippie rivalry. This would make more sense if the University of Guelph had been the setting for a cable sketch comedy series with a cult following, which come to think of it, should have happened by now.

    Read More »from Portland Winterhawks, Guelph Storm trade spots atop BTN Dynamic Dozen


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