U SPORTS: The Mount Royal Cougars Best Stories of 2019-2020

There were a lot of great moments and stories from across U SPORTS this past year. In this series, 49 Sports takes a look at each school’s best moments. Although there were many great accomplishments, we have kept it to two per school. Enjoy

Toronto, ON- It was a historic year for some of the Mount Royal teams, and for others it was a perfect example of a bounce-back. From the ice to the field, it’s the Mount Royal Cougars in the latest edition of U SPORTS reflections.

The Wild Ride for Women’s Hockey

For their first seven seasons, the Mount Royal Cougar’s women’s hockey team’s history could best be described as “meh.” The program made the playoffs three times but never finished above .500 or won a playoff series. However, in 2019-2020 things took a small step forward, and then took a BIG step forward.

In year number eight, head coach Scott Rivett and the Cougars found themselves on a roller coaster ride of a regular season. They seemingly traded wins and losses for all of first semester before hitting a valley of five straight defeats but a peak of back to back to back victories to close second semester. With all of that, the Cougars would finish at exactly .500 for the first time in program history.

The Cougars three headed beast was what led the way for them all season. Up front, 4th year veteran Anna Purschke would pace the team with 11 goals and 7 assists, earning herself 2nd team Canada West All-Star honours.

(Mount Royal Athletics)

On the back end it was the rookie, Emma Bergesen, who ran the show from the blue line as the 1st year grabbed four goals and six assists including five power-play points and was awarded a spot as a 3rd Team Canada West All-Star along with U SPORTS All-Rookie honours.

Mount Royal Athletics

Joining Bergesen on that 3rd team was the last member of the big three in goalie Kaitlyn Ross. Another 1st year, Ross came to MRU and absolutely stole the show, posting an 8-3-0 record whilst finishing 2nd in Canada West in GAA at 1.14 and third in SV% at .943.

1D2_7938.jpg (2.46 MB)
Mount Royal Athletics/(For USports.ca)

It would be in the playoffs though were the Mount Royal Cougars would truly shock Canada West. Finishing 4th in Canada West the Cougars would get home ice advantage in Round One against the team they share a name with, the Regina Cougars.

In Game One, a Jayden Thorpe Double-OT winner sent the Calgary Flames Community Arena crowd into a frenzy. The next night, a 24 save Kaitlyn Ross 2-0 sent the Mount Royal Cougars to the Canada West semis for the first time ever.

In the Semi-Finals, the Cougars would match up as hardcore underdogs against a University of Calgary Dinos squad that finished 16 points up on them in the regular season. After splitting Games One and Two with 3-2 victories each, on February 23rd 2020, at 4:22 of Double Overtime, history would happen as Breanne Trotter buried the winner and send the Cougars into the Canada West Final and their first trip to U SPORTS Nationals.

The Canada West Finals were swept by the top seed Alberta Golden Bears but it was the National Championships that firmly cemented MRU’s new place in U SPORTS Women’s Hockey lore. As the seventh seed, they matched up against the OUA Champion Toronto Varsity Blues in the QuarterFinal and it would be Tatum Amy who would deliver another dose of history.

The National Championships would ultimately be called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic so we will sadly never know if they could complete the job but for this Mount Royal Cougars team, the 2019-2020 season will easily go down as the most memorable of all time.

A Strong Soccer Season for the Mount Royal Men’s Team

After struggling throughout the 2018 season to a 5-8-1 record, the Mount Royal Men’s Soccer team bounced back in 2019. At 9-4-1 in Canada West Conference play the Cougars collected their first winning record since 2016.

A lot of that success can be attributed to Dane Domic. The first year midfielder would come out flying with a goal and two assists in his first game against the Calgary Dinos and would end the season with an even seven goals and seven assists. For his efforts, he was awarded both Canada West and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year honours.

Domic PK
Mount Royal Athletics

The Cougars came out flying at the start of the year , with an opening day 5-0 trouncing of the Calgary Dinos. They continued their strong start but stumbled as the season wound down, winning just one of their final four matches. Entering the playoffs as the top seed in the Canada West Quarterfinals they would match up against the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack. The teams would trade goals in the 1st half before a 58th minute goal from Justin Anderson-Louc would be enough to send MRU to the Final Four.

In the Final Four they would matchup against the same Calgary Dinos they dominated in their season opener but this time it would be a 77th minute goal from Mark Bohdan of the Dinos that would stun MRU and see their Canada West Championship dream snuffed out. The Cougars weren’t finished though, as the next day they played the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West Bronze Medal game. After giving up the early lead would pot three straight goals to win the 2019 Canada West Bronze Medal

MSOC Playoffs
Bob Frid for UBC Athletics

It was obviously not the perfect season that the MRU Cougars probably thought it might end as, but just the same as it was for Women’s Hockey, the Men’s Soccer program showed tremendous growth after a string of tough seasons and managed to pick up their first Canada West Medal, making it truly a season to be proud of.

Other schools in this series:

ACADIA AXEMEN/AXEWOMEN

THOMPSON RIVERS WOLFPACK

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