It was the first weekend of action for the Ooks. Some seasons have started, while others are still in pre-season. Here’s how the blue and gold fared.
The women’s hockey team hosted the Blue and Gold Tournament, where women’s hockey programs from the Edmonton area faced off in a series of exhibition games.
On Friday, September 8, the Ooks played their first matchup against the Edmonton Wolves. NAIT flew out the gate scoring two goals in the first period. They held their lead and scored another, finishing the game with a 3-1 win.
On Saturday, NAIT faced off against the University of Alberta Pandas and got off to a rough start, being outshot by the Pandas 13-2 at the end of the first. Things didn’t improve as the Ooks trailed the Pandas 7-26 shots on goal after 40 minutes of play. The Pandas offence came alive in the third, and they finished the game with a shocking 6-1 win.
With the weekend’s final game ahead of them, the Ooks were 1-1 in the tournament and played the Grant MacEwan Griffins on Sunday. The Ooks fell behind early, as the Griffins struck first to make it 1-0 at the end of the first. MacEwan came out in full attack for the final 40 minutes as they scored five consecutive goals to shut out the Ooks 6-0.
The team finished the tournament 1-2 and will continue their series of exhibition games on Friday, September 22, as they hit the road to take on Minot State before stopping to play Midland University and the University of Regina on September 23 and September 24.
After a nine-year absence from ACAC competition, NAIT’s Golf team returned to the links this weekend. The season’s first tournament was the North Regional, hosted by the Concordia University of Edmonton at Jagare Ridge Golf Course on Saturday and Sunday.
Day one was a success on the men’s side, with NAIT’s Mason Gorski ending in fourth with a score of 154 and Blake Feth ending in ninth position with a score of 163.
The men’s team was tied for second on day one but fell to third place after posting a +100 Total to Par Gross, just three shots back of tying Concordia for second.
Meanwhile, Michaella Kibblewhite led the way for the women, shooting 102 and placing seventh out of the 15 golfers on day one. Kibblewhite scored 102 before improving to third place on day two of the North Regional, ending the tournament with a 190.
Despite Kibblewhite’s strong start, the women’s team shot a combined +136 for the weekend, as the Ooks finished the North Regional in last place.
Despite the last place finish, Head Coach Tyler Leicht was impressed with the team. “We learned a lot about ourselves as a team and as individuals on the Golf Course and we will build from here,” he said to the Nugget.
With the North Regional in the rear-view mirror, NAIT will head to Desert Blume Golf Course as Medicine Hat College hosts the South Regional on Sunday, September 17 and Monday, September 18.
The Ooks cross-country team visited Gold Bar Park to start their season on Saturday as the Concordia University of Edmonton hosted the Running Room Grand Prix #1. NAIT had three representatives: Hannah Warford, Shawn Gunnink and Burr Ho.
Warford finished 23rd of 32nd, running a 30:54 in the six-kilometre race. Ho posted a time of 42:40, finishing in last place. Gunnink was the standout, finishing 13th with a time of 30:03.
Next, the Ooks will travel to West Confederation Park in Calgary for the Running Room Grand Prix #2 hosted by SAIT Polytechnic on Saturday, September 16.
On Saturday, the men’s and women’s soccer teams kicked off their regular season at home against the Lakeland Rustlers.
The women’s team was first to take the pitch, and the Ooks wasted no time getting on the board. In the sixth minute, #6 Midfielder Lamisi Sirett found the back of the net after battling for the ball in front of the right post, giving the Ooks a 1-0 lead.
In the 23rd minute, #7 Ally Martineau sent a crossover pass from the left side of the box to connect with #2 Sarah Weremczuk, but it was ruled offside, so the Ooks lead remained at one for the time being. However, late in the half, Sarah Weremczuk would find the back of the net again from a pass by #12 Angelina Quaia, bringing their lead to 2-0.
With NAIT up at the start of the second half, they didn’t let up the pressure, allowing only 4 shots in the final 45 minutes. They hung on to their 2-0 victory over the Rustlers, clinching Dhee Govender’s first win as Head Coach.
In a post-game interview, the first-year Head Coach was happy with the team’s performance. “This was only our third game since preseason, so our first regular season game, so it was only our third one in. I thought we had a good performance,” Govender said.
He’s optimistic about the rest of the season. “We’re excited. It’s good, three points is where we want to get at. One down, you know, 11 more to go and see how many we can get.”
The men had their shot against the Rustlers later that day. The game started slow, with both teams unable to get anything going offensively, but it did not take long for the Ooks strikers to break the deadlock. Lakeland struggled to contain NAIT’s offence, as #23 Rodolfo Aguilar-Longo scored 13 minutes into the match before #10 Alister Huang and Elijah Bossio each found the back of the net to extend the Ooks lead to three before the end of the first half
In the second half, NAIT’s #5 Andrii Khymchuk was awarded a yellow card for tripping Rustlers #10 Nathan Tran in the penalty box, setting up for a penalty kick. Tran used the opportunity to shoot to his left and beat the goalkeeper, putting Lakeland on the board at the 64th minute.
Despite the Rustler’s goal, NAIT limited the Rustlers to just three shots in the half compared to the Blue and Gold’s six, gaining the Ooks their first victory. Head coach Jeff Paulus called the team’s win “very important.”
“They [Lakeland] were actually our toughest opposition last year; they were the only team to take a point away from us during regular season play … But overall, yeah, I think it’s a great start,” Paulus said.
The men’s and women’s teams will play against the Portage Voyageurs on Friday, September 15, before coming home to take on the Concordia Thunder on Sunday, September 17.