Year in Review: Top Vancouver sports stories of 2015

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Image: Canada Soccer

It was an interesting year in sports for Vancouver in 2015, and not just concerning Vancouver’s professional teams. Let’s take a look back at what made news in 2015.

Eddie Lack Mania

When Ryan Miller went down with an injury on February 22 in a game against the New York Islanders, the Canucks had to rely on Eddie Lack to help get them in the playoffs.

Lack was already a fan favourite, but hadn’t seen much game action playing behind the team’s new high priced starting goaltender, Ryan Miller.

What happened next? Vancouver fell in love with Eddie Lack.

People wanted to know what Eddie Lack had for dinner (was it tacos??), if his mom was going to watch him play, and what he was saying on Twitter. The usually quiet Rogers Arena crowd were inspired enough to chant “Eddie Eddie” repeatedly. But the smiley Swede wasn’t just a treat off the ice, he was lights-out on it too.

As the team’s starter with Miller out down the stretch, Lack posted a sparkling .927 SV% in 23 games.

 

Steve Nash retires

Image: NBA

Image: NBA

Victoria’s Steve Nash officially retired from basketball in March, capping off what is sure to be a Hall of Fame career.

Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, is without a doubt the greatest basketball player this country has ever produced. He played in 8 All-Star Games and is the NBA’s all-time leader in free throw percentage.

Nash’s playing career may be over, but he isn’t gone from the sporting landscape. He is the general manager of Canada’s national basketball team, as well as a part owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

 

Canucks return to the playoffs

The 2014-15 season started off with a lot of uncertainty. How would new GM Jim Benning’s moves pan out? How would Willie Desjardins do in his first year as an NHL head coach? Are the Sedins still elite players?

The last question sounds kind of silly in hindsight, but it was a very real worry with a lot of fans.

The Canucks exceeded all expectations, making the playoffs, finishing second in the Pacific Division with 101 points, and earning a home playoff game. If you saw all of that coming, I don’t believe you.

 

Canada’s run at the Women’s World Cup

The FIFA Women’s World Cup came to Canada in 2015, and Vancouver was host to some of the most prominent games. Those games included both of Canada’s games in the knockout rounds, which captivated the city.

After finishing on top of Group A with a record of 1 win, 0 losses, and 2 ties, Canada’s march through the knockout rounds would go through Vancouver.

Canada defeated Switzerland 1-0 in the round of 16, in front of 53,855 fans at BC Place on June 21.

Burnaby’s Christine Sinclair scored a goal in the quarterfinal for Canada in front of 54,027 excited fans on June 27, in a game that Canada lost 2-1 to England.

 

Women’s World Cup Final

Vancouver was invaded by the United States for both of their games at BC Place, which included the Final on July 5.

The United States jumped on Japan early and often, getting out to an insurmountable 4-0, just 16 minutes into the match. The Americans eventually won the game by a score of 5-2, taking home their first championship since 1999.

 

Big Trades: Lack, Bieksa, Kassian, and… Torts

Jim Benning had a busy offseason for the Vancouver Canucks, making three controversial trades in the span of five days.

Benning dealt fan favourite, Eddie Lack, to the Carolina Hurricanes for a third round pick at the NHL Draft. Three days later, 10-year veteran Kevin Bieksa was on the move to the Anaheim Ducks for a second round pick in 2016. And on the first day of free agency, Zack Kassian was traded to the Montreal Canadiens (along with a fifth round pick) for Brandon Prust.

The best move of the year for Vancouver was made by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who hired John Tortorella and had to hand over a second round draft pick to the Canucks as compensation.

 

Emergence of Jonathon Jennings

It was a tumultuous year for the BC Lions, but one bright spot was the emergence of 23-year-old quarterback Jonathon Jennings. Jennings started the year as the Lions’ third-string QB, playing behind veterans Travis Lulay and John Beck.

It took injuries to Lulay and Beck, but eventually Jennings showed what he could do. Jennings completed 66% of his passes for 2004 yards through the air, throwing for 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 7 games.

 

Whitecaps host first-ever MLS playoff game

Vancouver Whitecaps FC hosted their first-ever Major League Soccer playoff game this season, losing 2-0 to the eventual MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers.

While the result was not what Whitecaps fans wanted, hosting a playoff game for the first time was an important achievement for the year-5 MLS team. There was a charged atmosphere, at least to start, as 27,837 fans packed the lower bowl of BC Place.

 

UBC wins Vanier Cup

There was a championship team in Vancouver this year. The UBC Thunderbirds won their first Vanier Cup in 18 years in November, defeating the University of Montreal Carabins on a last second field goal from Quinn van Gylswyk.

 

Don’t call it a comeback, they’ve been here for years

And finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about what Henrik and Daniel Sedin have done in 2015. They turned 35-years-old in September, but they’re not showing signs of slowing down. Despite being ridiculously being called “2nd liners” by many, Henrik and Daniel finished the season in the top-10 in NHL scoring in 2014-15.

sedin

At the Christmas break, the Sedins are back at it again. Daniel Sedin is 8th in the NHL scoring race, while Henrik is 11th. Alex Burrows, Radim Vrbata, Jannik Hansen… It doesn’t seem to matter who is on their line, they just keep producing.

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Rob Williams Sports Editor at Vancity Buzz covering all sports in Vancouver.
@robthehockeyguy

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