Basketball Lions return to Tait this weekend

Brittany SzockyjThe York University Lions men’s and women’s basketball teams will play their first home games of 2010 this weekend when they welcome a pair of teams from Kingston to the Tait McKenzie Centre. The men’s and women’s hockey teams are also on the weekend home schedule.

The Queen’s Gaels basketball squads will be in town on Friday night, with the women beginning at 6pm and the men following at 8pm. On Saturday, the Lions will face the Royal Military College Paladins at the same times.

Left: Lions’ Brittany Szockyj

Both York basketball squads will be in tough against their more experienced counterparts from Queen’s. The Lions women (1-10) are currently eight points out of a playoff spot with 10 games left on the schedule while the Gaels (8-4) find themselves tied with Carleton atop the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East standings thanks to a five-game winning streak that started at the end of November. Last year, the Lions defeated the Gaels in both match-ups, winning each contest by only three points.

David TyndaleRight: Lions’ David Tyndale

Despite a 1-9 record for the Lions men, they have shownsome positive signs as of late, specifically last weekend when they stayed close to the No. 9 nationally ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees throughout the game before falling by just nine points. The Lions trail the sixth-place Laurentian Voyageurs by just two points in the OUA East standings, putting a playoff spot well within reach.

After starting the season with only two wins in their first seven games, the Gaels men’s team has won four straight to climb into a tie for third place in the OUA East with 12 points. The two teams split their season series last year with the home team winning each time.

The Lions should be more evenly matched with the Paladins, as both RMC teams are still looking for their first wins of the season. Last year, the Paladins women (0-12) collected their first win in team history – after 128 straight losses – with a 64-61 victory over the Lions. The Paladins men (0-11) did not fare as well, losing their first match-up with the Lions by 51 points and the second by 31.

The men’s hockey team will kick things off with a home game against the Brock Badgers on Thursday evening at 7pm. The Lions won two games in a row for the first time since late October with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks at home last Thursday night. The victory kept the Lions in fifth place in the OUA West standings, just one point up on sixth-place Guelph and two ahead of Windsor. At 9-8-1, the Lions are also above .500 for the first time all season.

Courtney UnruhRight: Lions’ Courtney Unruh

The women’s hockey team has a pair of games against the Gaels and the Ridgebacks at Canlan Ice Sports York.

A 2-1 week to start 2010 moved the Lions back into the Canadian Interuniversity Sport rankings at No. 9 and kept them in third place in the OUA standings with an 11-5-1 record. The game against Queen’s on Saturday promises to be a thriller as the Gaels are currently ranked No. 7 and sit just four points ahead of the Lions with a record of 13-3-1.

The two teams split their previous two meetings this season. The Gaels defeated the Lions 4-0 in their season opener, but the Lions returned the favour with a 4-1 victory in Kingston in mid-November.

A win over the last-place Ridgebacks will be crucial if the Lions hope to keep pace with the top teams in the OUA. UOIT has already eclipsed its win total from last year with 10 games still to play but they remain eight points out of a post-season spot. The Lions eked out 3-2 victories in both of their previous games against the Ridgebacks this season, including one in a shootout.

The men’s and women’s volleyball teams are on the road this weekend in Kingston and the track & field squad will be participating at the Can Am Meet in Windsor.

Submitted by Alyson Fisher, sport & recreation information officer with Sport York