It might be the most uniquely Canada In The 21st Century set of finals. Eight teams, seven provinces, each official languages, and the X factors in making this happen where a Calgary baller named Jasdeep Gill and a UBC puck-chaser with the handle off Haneet Parhar.Four CIS championship games tomorrow, not a single #1 seed. Love it!— Gord R. (@GARandall) March 20, 2016
Channeling 2016 Gord Miller, if he was doing the work of 1994 Gord Miller: does it get any more Canadian than this?
Pushing past the creeping Carleton net-cutting to come in the last final of the day, Championship Sunday offers a rarity. When the women's hockey Gryphons and men's basketball Rams fell on Saturday night, none of the four national finals will include a No. 1 seed.
Talk about a talking point that shows the depth of good teams in the country. That's the positive light to put it in. It should be leavened by pointing out that this is an off-shoot, as well, of having a very empirical, linear criteria to decide the tournament seeding. Even that is a good thing, since it should be a prompt for the observers to really focus on the matchups.
Anyway, here is what we have today:
- Women's basketball: (4) Ryerson vs. (2) Saskatchewan, in progress, SN360 — Central Canada finesse against Prairie functional strength. Carly Clarke against Lisa Thomaidis in the coaching matchup; always great when the women's basketball final involves a pair of head coaches who are women.
- Women's hockey: (4) UBC vs. (2) Montréal, 2:30 ET, SN360 — The West Coast first-timers, by the margin of the Haneet Parhar decider in the eighth round of the shootout, ousted No. 1 Guelph. Their reward is a matchup against Les Bleus, who have been in this situation previously.
- Men's hockey: (5) UNB vs. (3) St. Francis Xavier, 5:30 ET, SN360/TVA2 — An all-Maritimes matchup that reprises the AUS final where the chaser, Brad Peddle's X-Men sweep Gardiner MacDougall's Varsity Reds to get the higher seeding. It arguably worked out that the V-Reds sliding to 5 helped, since they played the second-best OUA team, then Saint Mary's took care of Trois-Rivières.
- Men's basketball: (4) Calgary vs. (2) Carleton, 8:30 ET, SN360 — Dinos reserve Jasdeep Gill pouring in 24 points off the bench in the semifinal was a microcosm of U of C coach Dan Vanhooren being willing to fly by the seat of his pants with a hot hand. Carleton is Carleton; the dynasty doesn't die, it just regenerates with new cogs.
Men's basketball had the B.C. Interior involved with that splash of Thompson Rivers orange, too. This is a good reminder there is a lot of good out there, even when CIS sometimes seems like a logistical impossibility: trying to create a fabric out of 56 schools spread about 6,000 km apart, and on budget.
Based on this, the law of averages would dictate some CIS gold and silver is lurking for Brandon, Manitoba, Memorial, UPEI or Winnipeg.