From Carleton’s Basketball Championship to Jon Gott’s Beer Chug: Counting Down the Top Ottawa Sports and Social Media Moments of 2018

2018 was a memorable sports year in the nation’s capital. While not everything was rosy, including the Redblacks loss to the Stamps in the Grey Cup and just about everything surrounding the Ottawa Senators, the year provided plenty of fun and inspiring moments from many of the city’s teams.

Before counting down the top 10 Ottawa sports moments and top five sports social media moments, I think it is important to remember someone we lost this past year who was an important part of the Ottawa sports community.

Jonathan Pitre, known as the ‘Butterfly Boy’, passed away this April. Jonathan inspired the city and country with his courageousness and positive outlook on life. He was a diehard Senators fan that signed a ceremonial one-day contract with the team and was an honored speaker at the 2015 WE Day festivities in Ottawa. Jonathan will be sorely missed.

10. Erik Karlsson Returns to the Capital

The lead up to and eventual trading of star defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks was a painful experience for Ottawans. But his first game back in Ottawa as an opponent was a special moment for Karlsson and the Senators fan base, even if it was a bitter moment of reflection of what could have been.

9. Gee-Gees Beat Ravens in OUA Playoff Series

The Gee-Gees and Ravens met in the first round of this year’s Queens Cup playoffs, which crowns the best team in the OUA. Despite Carleton having home ice advantage in the three-game series and that they lost game one, U of O came back to win two games in a row and the series. It was an impressive accomplishment for the new Garnet and Grey, winning their first playoff series since the program suspension in 2016.

Ottawa went on to lose in their second round series against McGill but along with their football victory in the Panda Game, more on that later, it was a strong athletic showing from the Gee-Gees in 2018 against their rivals.

8. Brad Sinopoli’s Historic Season

Brad Sinopoli has been a known quantity in Ottawa for quite a while now but he outdid himself in 2018 for the East Division champions. He set career highs in receiving yards and yards after the catch. But most impressively, Sinopoli set a CFL record with 116 catches, the most in a single season by a Canadian receiver in league history.

7. Ottawa 67’s Acquire a Star Goaltender

This is a rather recent storyline (Michael DiPietro was acquired on December 4th) but the blockbuster trade shook the Ottawa sports landscape.

Michael DiPietro is the premier goaltender in the OHL. He is a Vancouver Canuck-draftee and will start for Team Canada in net at this year’s World Junior Championship. DiPietro already has Memorial Cup pedigree as well and joins a 67’s team that is convincingly in league contention. They enter the holiday break as the #1 ranked team in the province.

The full impact of this trade is yet to be seen but as the 67’s head into the second half of the OHL season atop the standings, but the move for DiPietro indicates that Ottawa is all-in on the 2018-19 season. More on this 67’s team a bit later on.

6. Gee-Gees Finally Get Over Panda Game Hump

University of Ottawa and University of Carleton football are uniquely linked by their proximity to one another and the annual showdown that began as a result fifty years ago.

The Panda Game is Canada’s most storied university rivalry game. Played annually at TD Place, the game is always a raucous environment highlighted by big plays and two passionate university fan bases.

On one of the sport’s biggest stages, the Gee-Gees had come up short in four consecutive years. Between 2014-2017, the Ravens had won every Panda Game, often in dramatic fashion. This year however, Ottawa put up 38 points on Carleton and rolled to a statement victory over their archrivals. Pedro the Panda, as well as bragging rights, will be at the University of Ottawa campus until next fall.

5. Brady Tkachuk Makes Early Impact with the Senators

The Senators have been nothing short of a circus this past year and a half. From the Karlsson trade saga to the infamous Uber video, Ottawa has struggled to find its way out of a tailspin of its own making. Nailing the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft seemed crucial to getting the franchise back trending in the right direction. With their highest draft pick since 2001 (Jason Spezza), the Senators selected American forward Brady Tkachuk.

Whether or not the franchise itself is on the upswing is debatable, but the performance of the fourth overall pick is not.

Tkachuk has missed some time due to injury this season, but has looked impressive when healthy. In 23 games for Ottawa, he has scored nine goals, eight assists and has a +/- of +5. Beyond that, Tkachuk has endeared himself to ‘Sens Army’ with physical and fiery play. The Senators chose Tkachuk over other prospects because he played with a ton of heart and soul during his time with Boston College and the U.S. World Junior team. He has carried that attitude, and skill, to Ottawa.

Add in defenseman Thomas Chabot, who is second on the team in points and a bonafide Norris Trophy contender, and the future is starting to look a little brighter.

4. 67’s Ascend to OHL’s Elite

Last season under first-year head coach Andre Tourigny, the 67’s barely snuck into the playoffs with an inexperienced yet talented roster. They are now the OHL’s highest-scoring team and sit atop the league standings.

Leading the way is 20-year-old Tye Felhaber, who is leading the OHL in goals and piquing the interest of professional teams. Earlier this month, he tallied two hat tricks in a three-game span.

Throw in the acquisition of Michael DiPietro and Ottawa has positioned itself to compete for not only the J. Ross Robertson Trophy, but the Memorial Cup as well.

3. Lewis Ward Mania

Lewis Ward went to Redblacks camp without a guarantee of a roster spot. By year’s end, the rookie brought home multiple CFL awards and set a professional football record. No professional kicker north or south of the border has done what Ward accomplished in 2018.

Ward, the CFL’s 2018 Rookie of the Year and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player, captivated the league with his nearly season-long perfect kicking streak. The star kicker made 48 straight field goals attempts. Not only did Ward’s streak set a CFL record, it set an overall professional football record. Not to mention, he set the mark with a 52-yard field goal. That is the longest in-game make of Ward’s university or CFL career.

Redblacks fans will certainly have something to look forward to heading into the 2019 season, as Ward’s regular season streak remains alive.

2. Ravens Come Up Clutch to Capture First National Title

The Carleton Ravens women’s basketball team won their first-ever national championship, capturing the Bronze Baby trophy earlier this year. The Ravens blew out the Saskatchewan Huskies in the tournament final, but it was their semi-final game that will be the enduring memory of the 2017-18 team.

The score was tied at 44 and less than five seconds remaining against McGill when star forward Catherine Traer collected the ball and threw up a running jump shot. Coming off her hands, the shot looked like a prayer, but it banked off the backboard and in and sent the Ravens on to their first ever national championship game.

In a rare season where the school’s men’s team fell short (they had previously won seven straight championships), the women’s team carried the torch to make their own history. Taffe Charles’ squad proved that Carleton’s basketball excellence runs deeper than one team.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Ravens Complete Comeback in Colonel By Classic
  • William Powell Tops 1000 Rushing Yards for Second Straight Season
  • Fury Qualify For Canadian Championship Final
  • Carleton Men and Women Win at Capital Hoops Classic

1. Redblacks Beat Ti-Cats in Eastern Final

The Redblacks delivered with a blowout over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 46-27 in this year’s Eastern Final. The city of Ottawa has become accustomed to professional success and the Redblacks once again delivered with that in 2018, with their third division title in the last four years, but one of their star players delivered a shocking and signature performance.

The country knew what a Henry Burris-led Redblacks team could be (two East Division titles) but in certain league circles, quarterback Trevor Harris had yet to live up to those lofty expectations.

In the Eastern Final, Harris doubters were silenced. He completed 29 of 32 passes for 367 yards and six passing touchdowns, setting multiple CFL playoff records in the process. Against the East’s top contender, including the regular season matchups, Harris went a perfect 4-0 to help send his team to the big game.

Ottawa may have fell flat a week later against Calgary in the 106th Grey Cup, but their pitch-perfect performance in the Eastern Final once again showed the CFL that the division still belongs to the Redblacks.

Bonus: Top 5 Ottawa Sports Social Media Moments

Not in-game sports moments but fun social media moments involving Ottawa athletes.

Jon Gott Celebrates Touchdown in a Unique Way, Goes Viral on Both Sides of the Border

Drew Doughty and Gee-Gee Hockey Player Kevin Domingue Pose for a Picture Together. Can You Tell Them Apart?

Brady Tkachuk Spawns a Brand-New Reaction Gif

Brian5or6’s Infamous Erik Karlsson Trade Rumours Video

67’s Recreate The Opening From The Office