18 The Chronicle February 27 - March 5, 2018 chronicle.durhamcollege.ca Sports Lords reach for playoffs The Durham Lords men's basketball team hopes hot streak to end regular season continues in the playoffs Matt Henry The Chronicle The Durham Lords men’s basketball team won its final eight games to finish the regular season 15-5 (third in the eastern conference), but head coach Desmond Rowley says his team isn’t getting ahead of themselves. After losing six of seven between late November and mid-January, the Lords rode a hot streak into the playoffs (Durham played Sunday, after the Chronicle’s deadline). The Lords are playing their best hoops of the season at the right time. “We want to make sure we position ourselves first. Our whole focus is one game at a time an that’s all we’re looking at right now.” Rowley said. The Lords have been successful offensively this season, with the focal point being ball movement. Durham has been averaging upwards of 85 points per game this season. Centre Esmail Danso credits his team’s success to sticking to fundamentals and the players trusting each other. “We always give confidence and boost each other. Whoever is hot that day, feed that person. We can score inside or outside. We have wonderful guys who can shoot at any time.” Fourth-year guard Trae Lawson, says the coach’s blueprint has been the key to the team’s overall success. “I honestly got to give all the credit to the coaching staff. They’re putting us in great positions to be effective on the offensive end.” Lawson has loads of confidence in his teammates and says rebounding and defence have created the foundation necessary to be successful on the floor. “Offensively I honestly think we can play with anybody, it all comes down to our defence. As long as we get stops I think we can win any game in this league.” The team’s leading scorer, Brandon Halliburton, admits the team struggled to find chemistry early in the season. However, as the season progressed the team began to click. Halliburton is averaging just under 23 points per game, while shooting 44 per cent from the floor. He sits fourth in the league in scoring. “For the rest of the season we have to keep working hard in practice. Keep gelling together, because once we play together I think nobody else can stop us in the league. The only time we lose is if we beat ourselves. As long as we’re sticking together I think the sky is the limit for us.” The Lords won all three of their remaining games over the family day weekend. An 88-70 defeat of the Algonquin Thunder on Feb. 17, a 103-87 victory on Feb. 18 over the La Cité Coyotes and concluded their season on Feb. 20 with an 81- 64 victory over Centennial. If Durham beat Fanshawe Sunday in its first playoff game, it will qualify for the OCAA championships which take place at Niagara College in Welland, Ont. from Mar. 1-3. Durham Lords men's basketball team's leading scorer Brandon Halliburton. Photograph by Cristina Nikolic
Sports chronicle.durhamcollege.ca February 27 - March 5, 2018 The Chronicle 19 UOIT student wins OUA award Tracy Wright The Chronicle Zhiyi Chen has been playing badminton for more than six years. When he was younger, his parents let him try different sports. He chose badminton and has stuck with it ever since. Chen, 18, currently plays badminton for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks. He was awarded the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) peak performer in January. This is a first for Chen and for the Ridgebacks badminton team which came into existence two years ago. He initially did not know he was awarded the OUA peak performer until a group chat with his friends. He did not know what the award was either. The next day his coach Wayne King, shook Chen’s hand and congratulated him on the award. The peak performer award is given to an athlete who has improved. Chen is a freshman at UOIT and is studying engineering. Chen was born in Singapore and grew up taking part in soccer and running. “There were no ice Zhiyi Chen, a badminton player at UOIT. sports,” he says as he smiles. His family moved to Colorado in the United States and lived there for three years. At the age of eleven his family moved to Canada and he now lives in Richmond Hill. “I think this year I have improved quite a lot,” says Chen, who has American player caps off first year with Ridgebacks Jackie Graves The Chronicle Sports were important in Tucker White’s family home in Holden, Mass. His father Bob played centre for the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys. His parents felt that sports were important to build strong leadership and social skills, and it was common for each of the five children to play. Hockey, however, wasn’t common in the household. His family had no history with the sport, and it wasn’t until his father built the family a backyard ice rink that his interest in it “caught fire.” White, now a defenceman with the UOIT Ridgebacks’ men’s hockey team, played his first game with a group older kids, not knowing yet how play. After his feet began to blister, he came off the ice in tears. “The first time I stepped on a rink, it was the worst experience ever,” White said. “I came off the ice crying to my dad, and he’s like a tough dude, so he told me to suck it up and get back out there.” This experience didn’t deter White. Eventually, he was drafted into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, playing first for the Moncton Wildcats then the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and finally for the Maritime Hockey League’s Miramichi Timberwolves. After four years in Canada, White connected with the coach of the Corpus Christi Ice Rays through a mutual friend and moved to Texas to further pursue his hockey career. “He said we’re right on the water, we get 4,000-5,000 fans a night, and you’ll be playing good hockey,” White said. “I said, you convinced me there.” It wasn’t until White began considering his future education that he heard about UOIT. His former coach referred him to UOIT coach Curtis Hodgins, who was in need of a defenceman. Hodgins decided the 6-foot-5 White was exactly what he needed, and White’s desire for adventure and playing hockey made him accept the offer. “I’m very adventurous, I’ve never been to Ontario or the Toronto area,” White said. “It was almost a no-brainer to come here.” After one season with the Ridgebacks, White has found his place on Canadian soil and said he has connected well with his team. He is currently enrolled in UOIT’s Communications program. He said he received assistance from his major junior league to help pay for his schooling, while the U.S. to Canadian dollar exchange has helped pay for the rest. White said he has adjusted well to living in Canada, even though Photograph by Tracy Wright worked at his sport for many hours this year. The school year started out with four, two-hour, training sessions a week and Elite Training his family is far away. He attributes this to the kindness of Canadians, UOIT students, and his team. He said others should have no fear of following an international path to Canada as he did. “What I like about Canada is that everyone is welcome, doesn’t matter what race, colour or religion,” White said. “It doesn’t Service (ETS)where strength and cardio training is done for an hour once a week. When not working out or training for badminton, he can be found in a study room or library. As for his parents’ involvement, Chen says, “my parents were really involved when we were younger but when we got older they became less involved to the point where they just drove me to tournaments. My mom sometimes watches my games but my dad doesn’t which is a good thing I feel because there is less pressure when they are not around.” Chen says most communication is done by coach King, “He talks to them about all the technical stuff of how I performed.” Another first for Chen is playing with his brother, Sheng Chen, who is also a student at UOIT. “I have played more with my brother recently as coach Wayne thinks we’re pretty good as pairs in doubles so we play together a lot. He is better at doubles and I’m better at singles,” says Chen. King is pleased for his young athlete. “This is a really special award. Zhiyi is richly deserving of it,” says King in a press release. Photograph by Jackie Graves Tucker White, an American hocky player with the Ridgebacks. matter where you’re from, you will be accepted.” White said he could end him up anywhere the road decides to take him once he finishes his education. However, should he remain in Canada, he said he would feel content, saying it’s just like his home in the U.S. “just with two different flags.” Ben Blasko bids farewell to the Ridgebacks Jasper Myers The Chronicle The UOIT Ridgebacks men’s hockey team played the Laurentian Voyageurs three times this season but the final matchup held special meaning for assistant captain Ben Blasko. “It actually kind of hit me before the game tonight that this was my last regular season home game,” he said at a post-game news conference. After three years with the Ridgebacks, the Kingston, Ont., centre said goodbye when the season ended. “He’s had a great time, really enjoyed it here. He’s going to miss it,” said Blasko’s father, Rob, who was at the Campus Ice Centre with other family members to take part in a farewell tribute at the start of the final regular season game. Blasko learned to skate when he was three, started hockey a year later, and played in a league by five, according to his father. After playing hockey in various leagues, he ended up at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. At Nazareth, Blasko played in the NCAA Division III league for two years. After two years he transferred to UOIT where he joined the Ridgebacks. “The hockey’s better here,” Rob explained about the transfer from Nazareth. He said his family has tried to go to most university games since Blasko’s return to Canada. “We’re from Kingston so we come down to the home games, most of them,” he said. “We go to all the Queen’s and RMC games, and we’ll even go to Ottawa on occasion. We get to a lot of games. It’s good hockey, we really enjoy it.” Although the younger Blasko will graduate from the criminology and justice program later this year, he still plans to play hockey. “I’m hoping my hockey career’s not over from here,” he said. “I’m going to keep playing.” His father said Blasko has been contacted about potentially playing pro hockey. “He’s been contacted by a couple of pro teams and if he’d like to, if he could, play some pro hockey in the next couple of years,” said Rob. He said a couple of agents and two pro teams have also contacted Blasko. During the 2017-2018 season, Blasko set the single-season record for points by a Ridgeback with 36. UOIT’ s season ended following a two-game sweep by the Concordia Stingers in the first round of the playoffs.