Burlington, Ont. – Hilary Hanaka and Mikkel Aagaard have been named IG Wealth Management Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Athletes of the Week, powered by Planters, for the period ending March 3, 2019.
Female Athlete of the Week – Hilary Hanaka (Hamilton, Ont.) – 5th Year – McMaster Marauders
If there is ever a way for a senior player to put a feather in the cap of their provincial career, it is with a championship under their belt, and for Hilary Hanaka, she was able to do just that in the Critelli Cup this past weekend. The fifth-year senior played a leading role in helping her McMaster Marauders claim provincial glory and advance to the U SPORTS Final 8 Championship.
In what was a heavyweight bout from start to finish, the Hamilton native proved she was up to the task against the top-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, with her veteran leadership and poise on the court helping McMaster overcome their hot-shooting opponent and answering the bell at every toll. Hanaka, who earned Player of the Game honours for the championship-winning Marauders, was the team’s most effective shooter on the night, connecting on 8-of-19 shots from the field – including 3-of-6 (50%) from downtown – and also fulfilled her usual role as distributor from the point (five assists). To round out her stat-stuffing performance, the first-team OUA all-star added three rebounds.
The numbers say a lot, but beyond the stats, Hanaka was a true leader when her team needed it most. She helped them overcome an early deficit, offered up big responses to keep her team in contention all game long, and came through in the clutch with several key fourth-quarter buckets and the decisive free-throws to lead her side to the championship win. All-in-all, Hanaka left everything she had on the court to carry Mac to their first Critelli Cup title since 2008 and cement her status as one of the best players the league has seen since she first stepped onto the university hardwood five years ago.
Male Athlete of the Week – Mikkel Aagaard (Frederikshavn, Denmark) – 3rd Year – Guelph Gryphons
Aagaard is a relative newcomer to Guelph, but he has already had a massive impact on the Gryphons men’s hockey team in a short time; a tenure that includes a playoff performance for the ages in the team’s three-game battle with the Western Mustangs in the quest for the Queen’s Cup division finals.
The native of Fredrikshavn, Denmark joined the Gryphons in the second half of the season with a pedigree that includes being a member of the Danish national junior team, while also playing with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League. The experienced forward has felt right at home on the OUA scene, meanwhile, with the latest example coming when his team needed it most.
The talented forward had a week he will always remember, scoring five goals and adding an assist as the Gryphons advanced to the Queen’s Cup with a dramatic Game 3 win. Aagaard picked up his first points of the series with a power-play goal and an assist in the Mustangs’ 4-3 comeback. He was also among the catalysts offensively as Guelph evened the series with a dominant 6-1 performance on home ice, scoring the all-important opening goal before adding his team’s fifth of the night later on. But Aagaard had his best performance in the series finale; a double-overtime thriller that will go down as one of the best OUA playoff hockey games in recent memory.
He scored what looked to be the winner early in the third period when he got to the middle of the ice and put one past Western goaltender Luke Peresinni for a 3-2 lead. But the Mustangs would notch a dramatic equalizer with 1:40 left in regulation to send the game to overtime. With 5:16 remaining in the second extra period, Aagaard struck again, pouncing on a loose puck in the slot and wiring it past Peresinni for the goal that would send the Gryphons back to championship game. Aagaard now leads all OUA players with eight goals and 16 points in the postseason.