Granada, Spain – A pair of UBC Thunderbirds will represent Canada at this year Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain. Fifth-year captain Sarah Casorso will suit up for the women’s hockey team, while third-year defenceman Neil Manning will play for the men’s hockey team.
Casorso follows in the footsteps of teammate Tatiana Rafter and assistant coach Christi Capozzi, who helped Canada to a gold medal at the 2013 Winter Universiade in Italy. A CIS First Team All-Canadian in 2013-14, the Kelowna, BC product leads all defencemen in scoring in the Canada West this season (8g, 13a, 21pts). Currently the Thunderbirds sit in third place in the conference with four games remaining in the regular season schedule.
A Nanaimo, BC native Neil Manning has never missed a game in his three seasons with the Thunderbirds. A Second Team Canada West All-Star in 2013-14, Manning finished the regular season with one goal and eight assists, helping the Thunderbirds to a fourth-place finish and its first home playoff date since 1971.
Unlike the women’s team which is selected from all the CIS teams across the country, the men’s team is comprised of just players from the Canada West conference.
“It is a huge honour to represent your country and to wear the red and white jersey,” said Manning. “I’m looking forward to the experience and hopefully we can bring home the gold medal.
In 14 all-time appearances at the Universiade tourney, the Canadian men have tallied an impressive 13 medals (4-3-6), including gold medal triumphs in 1981 (University of Alberta), 1991 (senior national team), 2007 (AUS all-stars) and 2013 (AUS all-stars). Canada (2013, 2007) and Russia (2011, 2009, 2005, 2003) have combined to win the last six men’s tournaments.
The Canadian women enter the Granada tournament with a 21-0 all-time record in Universiade competition, including a 3-1 gold medal win over China in 2009, a 4-1 defeat of Finland in the 2011 title match and a 5-0 championship victory over Russia in 2013.
The hockey tournaments of the 27th biennial Games get underway on Tuesday (men) and Wednesday (women), with the gold-medal finals set for Feb. 12 (women) and Feb. 14 (men).
Canada opens the men’s competition Tuesday at 5 p.m. local (11 a.m. EST) against South Korea and kicks off the women’s tournament Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. EST) versus Kazakhstan. The men’s game will be streamed live on www.fisu.tv.
WOMEN”S SCHEDULE (all times local/9 hours ahead of PST)
Wednesday, Feb. 4 (20:30): Canada vs. Kazakhstan
Sunday, Feb. 8 (20:30): Canada vs. Russia
Wednesday, Feb. 11 (TBD): Semi-finals
Thursday, Feb. 12 (17:00): Bronze (www.fisu.tv)
Thursday, Feb. 12 (20:30): Final (www.fisu.tv)
MEN’S SCHEDULE (all times local/9 hours ahead of PST)
Tuesday, Feb. 3 (17:00): Canada vs. South Korea (www.fisu.tv)
Thursday, Feb. 5 (17:00): Canada vs. Sweden (www.fisu.tv)
Saturday, Feb. 7 (17:00): Canada vs. Russia (www.fisu.tv)
Wednesday, Feb. 11 (TBD): Quarterfinals (www.fisu.tv)
Friday, Feb. 13 (TBD): Semi-finals (www.fisu.tv)
Saturday, Feb. 14 (12:00): Bronze (www.fisu.tv)
Saturday, Feb. 14 (16:00): Final (www.fisu.tv)
~ with files from the CIS