Top Nanaimo sports stories of 2018

By Dan Marshall
December 27, 2018 - 10:43am Updated: December 27, 2018 - 9:30pm

Lacrosse, volleyball, and hockey sports stories make up the top three for 2018

NANAIMO – There were a lot of great accomplishments for local athletes and teams in 2018.

Trying to rank them isn't easy but if it sparks some debate, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I'll highlight a few of the key events chronologically and then give the NanaimoNewsNOW top three for the year.

Back in January Nanaimo's Van Osch sisters won the BC Curling Championship and earned a berth in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, while VIU men's basketball coach Matt Kuzminski hit a milestone with his 100th career victory.

Also early in the year Phil and Brenda Levesque, owners and founders of the VIJHL's Buccaneers, announced they would be stepping away from the club after six seasons.

March saw VI Raiders Coach Doug Hocking recognized by the BC Lions.

He won the 2018 Community Coach of the Year at the Orange Helmet Awards.

In October the VI Raiders would be inducted into the BC Football Hall of Fame, an amazing accomplishment for a program in existence for only 14 years.

Hocking made news later in the year as well when he stepped down as head coach, making way for alumni Curtis Vizza to take over the reigns.

The gym at VIU was buzzing in early March with the Mariners hosting the PACWEST Provincial Basketball Championship.

The men won silver, while the women's squad finished in fourth place.

April isn't exactly a month most people are thinking about curling but there was a historic banner raising at the Nanaimo Curling Club.

Just the third banner in 61 years went up to the rafters.

It was actually won in late 2017 by Bart Sawyer and his rink at the Travellers Championship in Ontario.

The summer months saw both of Nanaimo's senior lacrosse teams make the playoffs.

The Senior B's won the WCSLA regular season and playoff titles, while the Senior A Timbermen made the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

Nanaimo athletes performed well at the BC Games in Cowichan.

The Vancouver Island-Central Coast team led the way with 63 golds and 155 overall medals.

Many of those medals were won by local athletes including teenagers Olivia Lundman, Ethan Katzberg, and Madison Paugh.

In the fall the VIU Mariners women's soccer team won the PACWEST championship.

Defender Cara Dunlop was named the MVP of the tournament in Coquitlam.

One of the most popular events of 2018 was the World Junior exhibition game between the Czech Republic and Slovakia at Frank Crane Arena.

The event sold out in about an hour as local fans wanted to get a sneak peek at the players they would be following at the annual tournament held this year in Vancouver and Victoria.

That leaves three stories left to battle for top spot in 2018.

 

The number three story is actually in two parts.

In April Nanaimo Clipper Alumni Sheldon Rempal signed a pro contract with the LA Kings.

Then in October he made his NHL debut.

He led the BCHL in goal scoring just three years ago when he had 59 for the Clippers in 15-16.

Up to Christmas Rempal had appeared in seven NHL games for the Kings.

The VIU Mariners women's volleyball team made headlines once again in March by winning the CCAA national championship.

It was the second time in three years Shane Hyde's team won the title.

Since 2011 the Mariners have won three titles, picked up a national silver medal, and three bronze medals.

VIU also ends 2018 as the number one ranked team in the country.

The number one Nanaimo sports story of 2018 is the President's Cup lacrosse tournament.

The Senior B Timbermen hosted the eight team event and won the national silver medal.

They lost out in a thrilling final in overtime to the three time defending champs the St. Albert Miners.

Frank Crane Arena was packed on the Labour Day weekend as Nanaimo caught lacrosse fever.

It wasn't just the performance of the Timbermen that made the event standout, it was the entire scope of it.

Eight teams from across Canada and the US, in a tournament that saw 36 games in eight days.

Watching every team have to play twice in one day is a feat that you likely won't see anywhere else in team senior level sports.

Members of the organizing committee were honoured by the BC Lacrosse Association for their roles in the President's Cup with Shawn Swanson, Natalie Cashmore, and Ed Seidel taking home awards.

Those are the stories that captured the headlines on Nanaimo News NOW in 2018... now bring on the new year!

 

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On twitter: @danmarshall77

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