5 most-read Hamilton sports stories of 2022

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Published December 24, 2022 at 12:00 am

The year 2022 was one of transition and triumph on the Hamilton sports scene.

The city showed its major-league merits by selling out both a World Cup Qualifying match during Canada’s men’s soccer team’s march to Qatar, and when it hosted its first NHL game in more than a quarter-century. Local hockey star Sarah Nurse set a scoring record for the Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team to spur her squad to a gold medal at the Beijing Winter Games.

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had a more-down-than-up CFL campaign, but the Canadian Premier League’s Forge FC, Canadian Elite Basketball League’s Honey Badgers, and Ontario Hockey League’s Bulldogs all won their league championships. But the pending redevelopment of the downtown arena hastened the basketball team moving to Brampton and the hockey team searching for a new arena.

Without further ado, these were the top 5 sports stories in Hamilton, as decided by page views.


5. Tickets for World Cup Qualifying soccer match in Hamilton priced in the thousands

There are presales, of course, but otherwise, the WCQ match between Canada and the United States at Tim Hortons Field on Jan. 30 was a tough ticket. Five days before the game, seats at close to field level were going for more than $3,000 each, and the cheapest price to get in was $178.

Canada beat the U.S. 2-0, strengthening its position to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar and end a 36-year drought. So it was probably worth every toonie for fans who helped created the cold-field advantage for Canada and Hamilton-raised goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Canada went winless at the World Cup, but at least it did not get shut out thrice in a row like the 1986 squad. Alphonso Davies became the nation’s first male player to score in the tournament. Two of their group stage opponents, Croatia and Morocco, made it all the way to the semifinals.

4. Homage to Hamilton: NHL unveils logo for 2022 Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Field between Leafs and Sabres

The NHL might not be able to give a straight answer about why it has doubled down times 10 to the 12th power on saving the Arizona Coyotes, who cannot sell out a 5,000-seat college arena. But readers loved the fulsome explanation from the league about the symbolism of the logo for the 2022 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, which matched the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs at Tim Hortons Field in March.

“The logo is inspired by the strength and character of the city of Hamilton and its historic steel industry,” reads an official media release from the NHL.

“The colours used are inspired by those of the Maple Leafs, Sabres and City of Hamilton crest. The stamped metal ‘Heritage Classic’ typography, forged sticks and steel-plated crest pays homage to the City of Hamilton’s history in the Canadian steel industry and the six rivets represent the total number of NHL Heritage Classic games including this year’s edition.”

The game drew a crowd of 26,119, and snow that fell throughout the day made the scene postcard-perfect. Nurse and her Olympic gold-medallist teammates were also honoured before the game. The puck luck was with the Sabres, who won 5-2.

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats legend and 7-time Grey Cup champion dead at 85

Hamilton, home to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, treasures its deep history in the gridiron game. So perhaps it is not surprising that a widely read football article was the obituary of a sportsman who was central to Tiger-Cats triumphs in both the 1960s and ’90s.

Former defensive back and coach Don Sutherin died on Jan. 11 at age 85, just 66 days after the death of his defensive mate from the ’60s, the legendary lineman Angelo Mosca. Sutherin was a seven-time Grey Cup champion with four different teams. But Hamilton was the only team where he raised the Grey Cup as a player — in 1963 and ’65 — and as a coach, dialling up defensive schemes for the championship 1999 Tiger-Cats. Notably, he thrived as a defensive coordinator under head coach Ron Lancaster, even though he had been in the top job previously.

Tiger-Cats players from that era felt the loss deeply.

“My life would not be the same (without) his influence,” former all-star defensive lineman Mike Philbrick wrote on social media.

2. Russian, Belarusian players’ eligibility for draft OHL teams in Hamilton, Mississauga, Oshawa and St. Catharines take part in a hot topic

The sports world had to decide how to react after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in a major escalation of the eight-year-old Russo-Ukrainian War. Athletes from Russia and ally Belarus were bounced from the Beijing Paralympics, and numerous other sporting bodies imposed sanctions. The 2023 world junior hockey championship was yanked from Russia, which is why it is being played in Halifax and Moncton. Legendary Czech goalie Dominik Hasek called for the NHL to suspend all Russian players, but nothing came of that.

Russians and Belarusians play in the Canadian Hockey League, which allows each team to carry two European players. There was speculation that the CHL, the parent of the Ontario league that the Bulldogs compete in, might alter its import draft. Ultimately, in April, the CHL created restrictions for its annual import draft, barring teams from drafting players from Russia and Belarus. But it decided that players who are already in the league, such as Bulldogs defenceman Artem Grushnikov, could continue to pursue pro careers here.

1. WATCH: Hamilton Bulldogs star keeps Team Canada alive just before world juniors golden goal

Late on a Saturday night, late in his shift in next-goal-wins-gold overtime, Mason McTavish of the Bulldogs made an all-time game-saving play for Team Canada in the world junior championship. Finland had a gold-plated opportunity to bury the winner after McTavish blew a tire behind the Canada net and lost the puck. But the captain got up and knocked down a shot by Finland defenceman Topi Niemela that goalie Dylan Garand had no hope of stopping. That kept Canada extant, and McTavish’s teammates scored on the ensuing transition.

That play capped off the final act as a junior for McTavish. Coming off winning the OHL title with the Bulldogs, the forward captained Team Canada, and earned MVP honours after tallying a tourney-most eight goals and 17 points. Two other natives of the Hamilton area, goalie Sebastian Cossa and defenceman Ethan Del Mastro of Freelton, were also part of a winning effort at a tournament that was delayed to August due to COVID-19 health protocols.

Two stars of that Bulldogs championship team have stepped directly into the NHL. McTavish is a regular with the Anaheim Ducks, while defenceman Arber Xhekaj has cracked the lineup of the Montréal Canadiens.

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