OTTAWA (CIS) – Canadian Interuniversity Sport and national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) announced Monday the eight finalists for the 24th annual BLG Awards.
The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with CIS.
On Monday, May 2, the eight national nominees will be honoured at the Martha Cohen Theatre in Calgary. The female and male winners will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship, while all finalists will return home with a commemorative gold ring from Jostens and a watch from Timex, the official suppliers of CIS.
This year’s event will mark the 21st presentation of the awards gala in Calgary. Over the years, the event has also held been held in Toronto (2009, 2013) and Vancouver (2011). The 2016 ceremony will air nationally later in May on Sportsnet.
Although the 2016 recipients will be determined by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit board which has selected the winners for the past 23 years, the general public is once again invited to vote online, building on last year’s pilot project which generated over 10,000 votes. Fans can vote through the following websites:
BLG Awards: www.blg.com/blgawards
“We are extremely excited to be hosting the 24th BLG Awards in Calgary,” said Doug Mitchell, National Co-Chair of BLG. “We continue to be amazed by the talents and accomplishments of these outstanding athletes. Each year, as we follow the past winners and hear about their accomplishments or what they are involved in, we realize how important their university sports background has been to them. We congratulate the universities who have provided the great education and athletic programs for these students to succeed in their careers.”
“The BLG Awards represent the highest honour for our student-athletes and are always a highlight of the CIS season,” said Graham Brown, chief executive officer of CIS. “This year’s national nominees are not only exceptional athletes, each of them is also a leader in the classroom and in the community. They are tremendous ambassadors for the entire CIS membership and our universities.”
The 2016 nominees for the Jim Thompson Trophy presented to the female BLG Award recipient are basketball player Paloma Anderson from Acadia University, hockey player Mélodie Daoust from McGill University, swimmer Kylie Masse from the University of Toronto and volleyball player Iuliia Pakhomenko from Thompson Rivers University.
On the men’s side, the finalists for the Doug Mitchell Trophy are hockey players Jordan Murray from the University of New Brunswick and Guillaume Asselin from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, as well as volleyball player Stephen Maar from McMaster University and football player Andrew Buckley from the University of Calgary.
Daoust (2013) and Buckley (2015) are both repeat BLG Award nominees, while Pakhomenko and Asselin became the first-ever finalists from their respective institutions.
Anderson, a sociology student from Phoenix, Arizona, became the first player in school history to be named MVP of the AUS conference in women’s basketball. The diminutive 5-foot-1 guard, who was also voted a first-team all-Canadian, finished second in the country in league play with 18.7 points per game and was one of the main reasons the Axewomen improved from a 4-16 record a year ago to 16-4 this season.
Daoust, a physical and health education student from Valleyfield, Que., was named RSEQ MVP and a first-team all-Canadian thanks to her superb 18-16-34 dossier in only 20 regular season contests. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist claimed the Quebec scoring race and topped the nation in both goals (0.9) and points (1.7) per game while helping the Martlets reach the RSEQ final and the CIS championship tournament.
Masse, a kinesiology student from LaSalle, Ont., was selected as the CIS female swimmer of the year after she guided the U of T women to their first national title since 1997. At the CIS championships, the 20-year-old sophomore, who recently qualified for the Rio Olympics, captured seven medals in as many finals, broke the meet record in all three individual backstroke events, and set a new Canadian senior long-course standard in the 50-metre back.
Pakhomenko, a master of business administration student from Donetsk, Ukraine, became the first Thompson Rivers player to merit CIS-MVP honours in women’s volleyball. In her second season with the WolfPack after transferring from Northwood University in Michigan (NCAA Div. II), the 6-foot-3 left side hitter topped CIS in kills (4.67) and points (5.5) per set while leading her team to a playoff berth only two years after TRU finished with an 0-22 mark.
Murray, a business administration student from Riverview, N.B., was chosen CIS defenceman of the year and a first-team all-Canadian before guiding the Varsity Reds to their fifth University Cup triumph in the past decade. The 6-foot-1 rearguard, who played with Acadie-Bathurst and Drummondville in the QMJHL, tied for the lead among AUS blueliners with 28 points in 27 league games and helped UNB post the second-best defensive record in the country.
Asselin, a business administration student from Quebec City, claimed the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy as CIS player of the year after leading the nation in goals (27), points (47) and game-winning goals (6) in 28 conference games. The 5-foot-11 right-winger, who starred with Montreal and Chicoutimi in the QMJHL, helped the Patriotes capture the Queen’s Cup as OUA champions and qualify for the University Cup tournament.
Maar, a history and political science student from Aurora, Ont., was voted OUA player of the year and a first-team all-Canadian thanks in large part to his conference-leading 4.29 kills and 5.0 points per set. The towering 6-foot-7 outside hitter guided the Marauders to first place in Ontario with an 18-2 league record, their fourth straight OUA banner and a silver medal at the CIS championship.
Buckley, a kinesiology student from Calgary, claimed his second straight Hec Crighton Trophy after he rewrote the record books while leading the Dinos to an undefeated 8-0 regular season. In his final university campaign, the 6-foot quarterback and 2015 draft pick of the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders set a single-season CIS record for most passing yards (3,162), established a new Canada West standard for completion percentage (72.0) and kept the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the nation (19-1).
AUS: Paloma Anderson, basketball, Acadia (Phoenix, Arizona)
RSEQ: Mélodie Daoust, hockey, McGill (Valleyfield, Que.)
OUA: Kylie Masse, swimming, Toronto (LaSalle, Ont.)
CWUAA: Iuliia Pakhomenko, volleyball, Thompson Rivers (Donetsk, Ukraine)
2016 Male BLG Award Nominees (Doug Mitchell Trophy):
AUS: Jordan Murray, hockey, UNB (Riverview, N.B.)
RSEQ: Guillaume Asselin, hockey, UQTR (Quebec City, Que.)
OUA: Stephen Maar, volleyball, McMaster (Aurora, Ont.)
CWUAA: Andrew Buckley, football, Calgary (Calgary, Alta.)
All-Time BLG Award Winners:
2014-15: Korissa Williams – Windsor (basketball) / Ross Proudfoot – Guelph (c country & T&F)
2013-14: Justine Colley – Saint Mary’s (basketball) / Philip Scrubb – Carleton (basketball)
2012-13: Shanice Marcelle - UBC (volleyball) / Kyle Quinlan - McMaster (football)
2011-12: Ann-Sophie Bettez - McGill (hockey) / Marc-André Dorion - McGill (hockey)
2010-11: Jessica Clemençon - Windsor (basketball) / Tyson Hinz - Carleton (basketball)
2009-10: Liz Cordonier - UBC (volleyball) / Erik Glavic - Calgary (football)
2008-09: Annamay Pierse - UBC (swimming) / Joel Schmuland - Alberta (volleyball)
2007-08: Laetitia Tchoualack - Montreal (volleyball) / Rob Hennigar - UNB (hockey)
2006-07: Jessica Zelinka - Calgary (track & field) / Josh Howatson - Trinity Western (volleyball)
2005-06: Marylène Laplante - Laval (volleyball) / Osvaldo Jeanty - Carleton (basketball)
2004-05: Adrienne Power - Dalhousie (track & field) / Jesse Lumsden - McMaster (football)
2003-04: Joanna Niemczewska - Calgary (volleyball) / Adam Ens - Saskatchewan (volleyball)
2002-03: Kim St-Pierre - McGill (hockey) / Ryan McKenzie - Windsor (cross country & T&F)
2001-02: Elizabeth Warden - Toronto (swimming) / Brian Johns - UBC (swimming)
2000-01: Leighann Doan - Calgary (basketball) / Kojo Aidoo - McMaster (football)
1999-00: Jenny Cartmell - Alberta (volleyball) / Michael Potts - Western (soccer)
1998-99: Corinne Swirsky - Concordia (hockey) / Alexandre Marchand - Sherbrooke (T&F)
1997-98: Foy Williams - Toronto (track & field) / Titus Channer - McMaster (basketball)
1996-97: Terri-Lee Johannesson - Manitoba (basketball) / Curtis Myden - Calgary (swimming)
1995-96: Justine Ellison - Toronto (basketball) / Don Blair - Calgary (football)
1994-95: Linda Thyer - McGill (track & field) / Bill Kubas - Wilfrid Laurier (football)
1993-94: Sandra Carroll - Winnipeg (basketball) / Tim Tindale - Western (football)
1992-93: Diane Scott - Winnipeg (volleyball) / Andy Cameron - Calgary (volleyball)
University of New Brunswick
Year of eligibility: 3
Academic Program: Business Administration
Hometown: Riverview, N.B.
On a team that has achieved unparalleled success in recent years in CIS men’s hockey, Jordan Murray has established himself as a leader and the cornerstone of one of the best defensive units in the country.
A product of Riverview, N.B., Murray joined the powerhouse UNB program in the fall of 2013 following a three-year QMJHL career with Acadie-Bathurst and Drummondville. Named to the CIS all-rookie team in his university debut, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound rearguard has been voted to the first all-Canadian squad each of the past two campaigns, and this season became the first Varsity Red to earn CIS defenceman-of-the-year honours.
Not bad for a player who was originally cut from his Midget AAA team.
While there is no shortage of standout defencemen across CIS hockey, it would have been hard to pass on Murray when the time came to vote for this season’s best D-man. The business administration student not only excelled in his own end, posting a +24 rating and helping UNB finish with the second-best defensive record in the nation, he also tied for the lead among AUS blueliners with 28 points in 27 league games.
Murray’s all-around strong play was in full display at the University Cup championship in Halifax, where the Varsity Reds outscored their opponents 12-2 over three contests en route to their remarkable fifth national title in 10 years.
Among his greatest influences, Murray lists his grandfather, 73-year-old Fred Murray, who regularly took his grandson to practice and attended games during his minor hockey days, and now travels from his Moncton-area home to Fredericton for every UNB home game, just as he used to make the trip to Bathurst for Titan’s contests.
“Hockey has taught me many life lessons. Without sport, I don’t know who I would be. I couldn’t imagine being in university without playing hockey. It has made me who I am today,” says Murray, who last December was selected to the CIS all-star squad that split a two-game series against Canada’s national junior team hopefuls in Toronto. “I aspire to play hockey for as long as I can, whether in North America or in Europe. I want to play at the highest level I can.”
The 23-year-old is the third UNB men’s hockey player to be nominated for the BLG Award after 2010 finalist Hunter Tremblay and 2008 winner Rob Hennigar, now the V-Reds associate coach.
“Jordan’s skill level separates him from a lot of other players. He’s a very intelligent player,” says Hennigar. “Off the ice, Jordan is a very happy-go-lucky person, but on the ice, he’s focused, ultra-competitive and always wants to succeed. He holds his teammates in high regard and always expects and encourages them to perform at the best of their abilities.”
The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). The Awards are based on athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship and leadership. Each of the 56 CIS schools nominates one female and one male athlete of the year. From these nominees, one female and one male athlete are chosen within each of the four regional associations: Atlantic University Sport (AUS), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA). To be eligible, a student-athlete must have competed in a CIS sport for a minimum of two years and cannot be a previous recipient of a BLG Award.
All nominees receive a commemorative gold ring and a watch from Timex – the official supplier of CIS - and winners are presented with a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship to attend a Canadian university graduate school. Winners are selected by the Canadian Athletic Foundation (CAF), a not-for-profit board established for the purpose of administering the BLG Awards and protecting the integrity of the selection process. The CAF Board of Trustees consists of 19 members from five Canadian cities representing major corporations from across the country who are committed to ensuring that Canadian university athletes receive the recognition they deserve.