We have already offered up our top-read sports stories from the year. Here are some other stories that will become synonymous with sport in 2023.
Emotional night for everyone in The Dome: Sinclair’s ground-breaking career ends to thunderous applause of 48,112 (Dec. 7)
Burnaby’s Christine Sinclair finished a glorious 23-year stint with the Canadian national women’s soccer team at B.C. Place, which so happened to adopt the name Christine Sinclair Place for the evening.
The crowd was the largest for a women’s soccer friendly in Canadian history.
Sinclair was named Canada’s Soccer Player of the Year 14 times. She finished with 331 caps and 190 goals, the most International goals by any player, male or female.
Abbotsford midfielder Sophie Schmidt also played her final game with the team that night. It was her 225th.
“Tonight was incredible. This is exactly how we wanted to send off those two legends,” said Canada forward Cloé Lacasse. “Of course it was so emotional just going out there, the starting 11 having Sinclair lead us out. I think everyone had tears in their eyes. But being able to end their careers in this incredible place — Christine Sinclair Place — with a victory, I mean, I think it’s a dream for those two and they honestly deserve it more than anyone else.”
Nick Taylor: From Ledgeview to legend with riveting, historic Canadian Open triumph (July 12)
Nick Taylor drained a 72-foot eagle putt on the fourth playoff hole at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club in North York, Ont. — amid all the rain and a raucous and chaotic crowd hanging on every stroke — and in the process ended a 69-year drought for someone from this country to capture the Canadian Open.
It resonated with sports fans from coast to coast. It hit home particularly at Ledgeview Golf and Country Club in Abbotsford, which is where Taylor fashioned his game.
“There are going to be juniors who have never picked up a club all over Canada who want to go and play,” said Ledgeview general manager Brad Clapp.
Playoff pushes good for bottom lines; Upper bowl opened at B.C. Place as 30,000-plus expected for Lions, Whitecaps home games (Nov. 2)
For the first time in B.C. Place’s 40-year history, the stadium had the upper bowl open for back-to-back games featuring the B.C. Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Lions had an announced crowd of 30,149 for their 41-30 win over the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL Western semifinal on Nov. 4. The Whitecaps then had an announced crowd of 30,204 for their 1-0 loss to LAFC in the second leg of their MLS Cup first-round playoff series on Nov. 5.
The loss, followed a 5-2 setback to LAFC on the road to open the series, ended the Whitecaps’ season. The Lions dropped a 24-13 game on the road to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Western final the following weekend to wrap their campaign.
Could Bedard and the boys make this the best B.C. draft In NHL history? (June 26)
As expected, North Vancouver centre Connor Bedard followed up a stellar WHL season with the Regina Pats by being picked No. 1 overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Draft. He was followed by Chilliwack winger Zach Benson of the Winnipeg Ice (No. 13, Buffalo Sabres), Nanaimo winger Matthew Wood of UConn (No. 15, Nashville Predators), and McBride defenceman Tanner Molendyk of the Saskatoon Blades (No. 24, Nashville) when it came to the first-round contingent from this province.
There were two early second rounders, too, in Prince George winger Nico Myatovic of the Seattle Thunderbird (No. 33, Anaheim Ducks) and Vancouver winger Andrew Cristall of the Kelowna Rockets (No. 40, Washington Capitals).
B.C. has had just two first rounders in the prior five drafts, thanks to Port Moody forward Kent Johnson of the University of Michigan (Columbus, No. 5, 2021) and Cranbrook defenceman Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants (Colorado, No. 5, 2019).
This draft goes into the conversation for best B.C. draft at the very least, along with the likes of 2007, which had five first rounders thanks to New Westminster centre Kyle Turris (No. 3, Phoenix), Burnaby defenceman Karl Alzner (No. 5, Washington), Port Coquitlam centre Zach Hamill (No. 8, Boston), White Rock centre Colton Gillies (No. 16, Minnesota), and Kamloops centre Riley Nash (No. 21, Edmonton.)
Canadians sold to an American company; Former owners will remain part of franchise under New York-based Diamond Baseball Holdings (April 5)
Local businessmen Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney, who bought the Vancouver Canadians in 2007, sold the minor league ball club just before the season to Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH), a New York-based company that already owned 16 minor-league clubs at the time.
Terms were not announced.
DBH left the C’s day-to-day operations team in place, headed up by team president Andy Dunn, who was brought to town initially by Kerr and Mooney.
The C’s also remained a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate and they went on to win the Northwest League high-A crown, with manager Brent Lavallee leading the way. Lavallee is from North Delta and had a large entourage of family and friends the September night they clinched the trophy.
A childhood buddy of his even snuck onto the field to bear hug him in the middle of the post-game media scrum.
“It’s surreal. What a crazy opportunity,” said Lavallee, 37, who was a catcher with the B.C. Premier League’s Delta Blue Jays between when they had Jeff Francis and Justin Morneau and when they had James Paxton. “What a blessing. You couldn’t draw it up any better.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought or expected to be in this role.”
BCHL set for regular season after controversial summer split from Hockey Canada (Sept. 22)
The BCHL dropped out of Hockey Canada over the summer, becoming an independent league. The 17-team Junior A loop felt that the national governing body’s rules were too restrictive.
Things got messy immediately. Soon after BCHL announced it was going on its own, Hockey Canada sent out a letter to all its members, saying that it was going to enforce its longstanding rules about non-sanctioned leagues. That included that any player, coach or official who took part in a non-sanctioned league after Sept. 30 would be suspended from any Hockey Canada activity for the remainder of the season, even for events such as national teams.
There is still much to be determined. B.C. Hockey, which is Hockey Canada’s provincial branch, is taking aim at filling the Junior A void. They have promoted all three Junior B leagues in the province to Junior A Tier II, and they are looking at moving some of those teams up to Junior A.
Simon Fraser punts its football program; Red Leafs alumni furious about decision to discontinue varsity sport it has offered since 1965 (April 5)
SFU announced that it was folding its football program effectively immediately days after the end of spring practice to prepare for their 2023 season. The university’s athletic director Theresa Hanson explained that team would lose its spot in the Texas-based Lone Star Conference beginning in 2024, and with NCAA Div. II football dwindling the school didn’t want to prolong the inevitable.
Players and alumni were furious, saying that they didn’t get a voice prior to the decision. They felt that SFU didn’t put enough effort into looking at alternatives, such as bringing the football team back to play in Canada West, the U Sports league that features the UBC Thunderbirds.
SFU had played there previously. The football team dates back to 1965 and has produced countless CFLers. It had struggled since moving to NCAA Div. II in 2010, including going 4-62 over its last seven years of competition.
There was a court case. Hanson and the school parted ways. SFU contracted an adviser to do a review of football opportunities and his report, which came out in September, was critical of the entire athletic department.
A final decision on whether SFU will restart football has yet to be announced.
Canucks make statement with Warriors hire; Owners bring in former Calgary lacrosse team’s coach Malawsky with impressive record (July 18)
The Vancouver Canucks, who own the National Lacrosse League’s Vancouver Warriors, brought in Curt Malawsky as general manager and head coach in the off-season, looking to turn around a team that went 4-14 last season and had made the playoffs just once in the previous nine seasons.
Malawsky’s contract with the rival Calgary Roughnecks had just run out. The Coquitlam native had a successful decade run as their head coach, including winning the league title in 2019 and being named coach of the year last season.
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