Catchin’ up with the Clan

Max Barkeley has been a standout so far this season.

The Peak may take December off, but that doesn’t mean the world of SFU sports stopped. Here’s a guide to what happened in December and the last bit of November:

Cross Country

On November 21, the men’s cross country team broke new ground with a 12th place finish at the NCAA Division II National Championship in Joplin, Missouri, marking their best performance at the national championship.

This marks only the second time that that the men’s team have qualified for the national championship, having placed 20th in 2014.

“The hardest thing to do is to qualify for nationals, and we did that, and we improved on our previous performance,” Head Coach Brit Townsend told SFU Athletics. “Our young guys did better than expected and will be real leaders in the future for us now that they have had this experience.”

Junior Oliver Jorgensen led the pack, placing 48th with a time of 30:41.2 on the 10 km track. Senior Marc-Antoine Rouleau placed 56th, freshman Sean Miller 103rd, freshman Rowan Doherty 121st, redshirt senior Cameron Proceviat 125th, senior Brendan Wong 139th, and sophomore Phillipe Gravel finished 189th.

The men’s team finished with an average time of 31:16, which gave them 372 points, while first-placed Colorado School of Mines finished with an average time of 30:22, and 100 points.

The race included 32 teams and 246 runners.

For the first time since 2012, the women’s team did not qualify for the national championship, having placed seventh in both 2013 and 2014. However, junior Rebecca Bassett earned an individual invitation to the nationals after placing ninth in the West Region championship.

“Our women have battled injuries all season long but we will be back,” Townsend told SFU Athletics. “We just need to get our confidence back because we have the people to get us right back where we need to be.”

Despite the disappointment of the team missing the cut, Bassett made up for it with her performance, finishing 21:05.9 on the six kilometre track, placing 24th out of 247 runners, and making the top 40 cut for All-American status.

Men’s Basketball

The men’s basketball team has struggled out of the gate, having only achieved one win in their first nine games.

Having lost key players from last year like Sango Niang, Justin Cole, and Patrick Simon, the team has only managed a win against Douglas College — a member of the Pacific Western Athletic Association (consisting of local colleges and universities in BC), and is certainly a step below Division II play — and none against Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals or any American team.

And it’s not likely to get any easier.

In previous years, January was kryptonite to the men’s basketball team. In the 2013–14 season, after going 7–3 before the New Year, the men’s basketball team only put up one win in eight games in January. Last season, after putting up a respectable 6–3 record before the Christmas break and gaining media attention for their high-paced offence that scored 100+ points nearly every night, the team went 2–7 in January, and ending the season with a 11–15 record.

Whether this drop in play is due to the long break forced by the NCAA in which teams aren’t allowed to practice, or simply due to the fact that much of November and December is spent playing non-conference rivals, the fact is Januaries aren’t kind to the Clan.

However, this is par for the course. In an interview with The Peak before the start of the season, first year Head Coach Virgil Hill emphasized the focus was on the future, and on building a culture.

“Right now, it’s just about culture,” he said. “It’s about developing culture and having some of the young guys being able to compete every night. If we can compete for 40 minutes, whatever the result is, it is.”

And there are certainly bright spots. Junior transfer Max Barkeley has looked impressive, leading the team in points-per-game with 17 and playing with an in-your-face attitude. Freshman Oshea Gairey has also shown potential, and returners from last year like JJ Pankratz, Michael Harper and Hidde Vos have stepped into key roles on the team.

Men’s Hockey

The men’s hockey team went into the Christmas break on a two-game winning streak after wrapping up the 2015 calendar year with a dominant 8–2 win over Selkirk College — who had swept SFU in last year’s BCIHL Finals to win a third straight championship — on December 5.

The victory also avenged a 5–0 loss to Selkirk on the road at Halloween.

SFU opened the scoring with second-year forward Adam Callegari notching his first of the year just minutes into play. However, Selkirk would tie it up with 6:11 left in the first, then would take the lead on a power play goal with 42.5 seconds left in the period.

SFU would have the last laugh (of the period), when Callegari beat the buzzer tying up the game with only nine seconds left in the first.

From then on, it was all SFU. With two goals in the second period and four in the third, SFU had seven different and goalscorers and 14 players credited with a point.

In addition to Callegari, Brendan Lamont, Saylor Preston, Darnel St Pierre, Jesse Mysiorek, Brandon Tidy, and Michael Sandor added goals.

“It’s awesome to see guys who don’t necessarily get powerplay time and first line minutes step up and score a goal,” said Coletta. “Our guys, [if] you give them a chance, they’ll score.”

With the victory, the Clan sit in third place in the BCIHL with a 7–4–0 record, behind Selkirk College and Trinity Western.