Ontario Dominates at 2017 Wheelchair Rugby Nationals

Team Ontario sweeps both divisions at this year’s Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Championship

(Ottawa, ON – May 31st) A dominant Team Ontario swept both divisions at this year’s Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Championship, which were held from May 26th to May 28th at the David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre in Hamilton (Ontario). Garett Hickling (right) battles for the ball against Mike Whitehead (left)

In an all-Ontario Division 1 Final, the Ontario Lightning caused an upset by defeating the Ontario Thunder, winners of five of the last six national championships.

The Lightning would set the pace early on in this hard-hitting matchup, taking an early 15-11 lead after the first quarter. In the second and third quarters, there would be very little to separate the teams, with both competing fiercely for every point and playing some truly excellent wheelchair rugby. The fourth, however, would see the Lightning pull away and win the championship 58-53, thanks in part to standout performances by Patrice “Pico” Dagenais, Travis Murao and Garett Hickling.

Cody Caldwell (left) defends the ball from Shayne Smith (right)

In the Division One bronze medal game, Québec 1 defeated British Columbia 52-32.

In Division 2, standout performances by Ian Crowe, Faisal Burale and Jamie Sopha helped guide the Ontario Storm to a 57-44 gold medal victory over the Alberta Bighorns. Saskatchewan went on to defeat Québec 2 for the bronze medal.

Ian Crowe keeps the ball away from Alberta players Mike Audette and Ashley Munro

At the closing banquet, the CWSA formally announced that they will be establishing the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Hall of Fame later this year. In addition, the jerseys of two long-serving Team Canada members, Garett Hickling #5 and David Willsie #14 were submitted to the Hall of Fame Selection Committee for consideration to become the first jersey numbers permanently retired from Canada’s roster.

The CWSA would like to extend a special thank you to all the individuals and organizations that have worked to make this year’s nationals a memorable event; the athletes, coaches, team support staff, sponsors, volunteers and the dedicated family members and friends who came out to support and encourage their teams.

Congratulations to the All Stars and MVPs:

Division 1 All Stars
0.5 Rob MacIsaac (AB)
1.0 Trevor Hirschfield (BC)
1.5 Yanick Racicot (QC)
2.0 Travis Murao (ON)
2.5 Shayne Smith (ON)
3.0 Mike Whitehead (ON)
3.5 Garett Hickling (ON)

Most Valuable Player DIV 1: Patrice Dagenais (ON)

Division 2 All Stars
0.5 Mike Audette (AB)
1.0 Britt Mayer (SK)
1.5 Faisal Burale (ON)
2.0 Andrew Davis (BC)
2.5 Alexi Macias (QC)
3.0 Jamie Sophie (ON)
3.5 Eric Lavoie (QC)

Most Valuable Player DIV 2:  Ian Crowe (ON)

Most Sportsmanlike: Faisal Burale (ON)

Judith Zelman Memorial Award for Rookie of the Year: Max Arsenault (NB)