Just a quick note that No. 10 McGill completed their playoff upset of No. 5 UQTR, winning 2-1 tonight in Montreal to sweep the OUA East final 2-0.

The Redmen have been airtight in the playoffs, with goalie Mathieu Poitras stopping 140-of-147 shots for a .952 save percentage during their 6-0 run through the playoffs. Aside from Game 2 in the first round against Carleton, they haven't been scored on twice in the game game.

UQTR just wasn't up to matching that stinginess after losing their No. 1 goalie, Sylvain Michaud, just 5½ minutes into Game 1. Of course, they just as easily could have lost with him in goal, the way McGill was playing its own end.
The long and short of the two upsets in the Canada West semi-finals is that one of the teams which have been 2 and 2-A since New Year's is not coming to Ottawa for the Final 8.

Calgary and Brandon each lost on Friday night, to UBC (77-69 winners) and Alberta (85-79) respectively. So now the winner of the Bobcats-Dinos matchup in the Can West bronze medal game tonight should go to the big dance (then again, what if it's a poor game and No. 4 Acadia doesn't win the Atlantic championship next weekend?)

The lads at cishoops.ca and The Scrum can give a more authoritative blow-by-blow of the games. Alberta got a terrific night out of Alex Steele (21 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, all team highs). Brandon had four players score all but eight of their points, which isn't going to win many games at this time of year.

Likewise, gotta do a mea-culpa with UBC. It had seemed like the Thunderbirds just muddled through their first two playoff rounds while their star, Chris Dyck, counted around 12-14 points a night. He had 26 last night and the T-Birds just kind of hitched on to his rising star to win on Calgary's home floor.

The fallout from Friday also means there should be only one berth at stake at the AUS Final 6 next weekend.

The bottom line is, by tomorrow three teams that have been ranked in the Top 5 in the country -- Toronto and Windsor being the first two -- are going to be done for the season. That shows how competitive CIS basketball is across the country; it puts the lie to the common gripe that the same teams win every year.

The fact more than one good team won't get a shot at the national championship because of one off-night in their conference playoffs might renew the call for a 16-team, two-weekend championship (which will happen in the women's game starting in 2010). The counter-point is that any team which is meant to win a national title would have won its way into the Final 8 or impressed the committee enough to receive the wild-card berth. It's that whole team of destiny thing.
It's been apparent for a while that Mark Wacyk has crazy pull... he puts up a post at cishoops.ca this morning asking the powers-that-be to please not put the OUA men's basketball division finals on at the same time on Saturday.

Lo and behold, it's a 2 p.m. tip-off for the Western-Brock tilt and 8 p.m. for Ottawa-Carleton. Should be fun to follow.
A funny thing has happened to the OUA's two national hockey powers on their way to the University Cup.

The No. 3 Lakehead Thunderwolves and No. 5 Trois-Rivières Patriotes each find themselves down 1-0 in the best-of-3 conference finals after losing the openers last night.

The Brock Badgers edged Lakehead in Game 1 of the West final 3-2 last night by virtue of Matt Harpwood's goaltending. Granted, not having been there, perhaps Lakehead was pulling the old Junior B trick of playing possum on the road in order to get an extra home game. Lakehead doesn't lose at home often. They have already come back once in the playoffs by winning Games 2 and 3 at the forbidding Fort William Gardens in the last round vs. Laurier.

McGill, 4-1 winners on the road last night (just their fourth win in 19 post-season visits to Trois-Rivières Patriotes), will have home ice for Game 2 on Friday. Mathieu Poitras was solid in goal yet again, while UQTR's Sylvain Michaud was forced out of the game after taking a shot off the collarbone. In all honesty, McGill winning might not be a stunner, since Trois-Rivières seemed to get through the second round vs. Ottawa on talent alone.

The Redmen might be on the verge of something unprecedented. A win Friday would give them three straight 2-0 sweeps in the playoffs. Has that ever happened? It's only recently that the OUA made the conference final a best-of-3, plus McGill probably should not have had to play in the first round. They were clearly a superior team to Queen's, who got the No. 2 seed since it won a weak division. As an alum of the school, understandably it was great to see Queen's finish first, but in hindsight the reward should be proportional to the size of the accomplishment.
Clearly, being ranked No. 5 in the in the media poll is the kiss of death. First Toronto lost out on the weekend, now the Windsor Lancers are looking at an early spring after being upset 77-71 by Western tonight in the OUA West semi-final.

Western, who'll face Brock on Saturday in a game to go the Final 8, is reprising the football Mustangs' playoff run so badly that it's not even funny. They barely beat an average McMaster team at home, but now they're 40 minutes (be it against the Badgers or in a potential play-in game vs. Ottawa) from nationals. It is clutch, though. As cishoops.ca notes in its game write-up, for the second straight game the Mustangs got a late three when they absolutely had to have one, this time from Alex Brzozowicz.

Greg Layson over at Big Man on Campus did a liveblog of Brock''s 78-74 win over Guelph in other semi-final. (Layson, for one, has touted Brock's chances from the get-go this season.)

Brock guard Brad Rootes gave a fifth-year senior effort. His 17 points, 11 assists basically helped the Badgers nurse a double-digit lead until Guelph made a late run.

Not to look past this weekend, but if Carleton beats Ottawa in the OUA East final, then there will be a play-in game involving the Gee-Gees and the Brock-Western loser, with the latter hosting. Ottawa beat Western by 17 points at home earlier this season, but split a pair with the Badgers, including an 11-point loss in St. Catharines on a night when Rootes shot 1-for-12. Suffice to say, Western is probably a better matchup for the Gee-Gees.

(Now some poor SOB sportswriter at one of the Ottawa dailies is caught in the middle of a cross-town rivalry.)
The teams still in some playoff race as of this morning are denoted with * and the rankings have also been included for the Top 10 teams. (Don't worry, these nothing-but-numbers posts will end soon.)

Team GP W L Pct PF/G PA/G Diff/G
*Carleton (1)
22 22 0 1.000 85.0 59.9 25.0
*Acadia (4)
20 18 2 .900 86.8 65.8 21.1
*Brandon (3)
22 20 2 .909 85.5 71.8 13.7
*Windsor (5)
22 17 5 .773 80.9 67.9 13.0
*Cape Breton
20 14 6 .700 79.5 66.8 12.7
*Calgary (2)
22 18 4 .818 88.5 75.8 12.7
*Laval (10)
16 13 3 .812 81.4 69.1 12.3
*StFX (8)
20 15 5 .750 81.6 70.1 11.6
*Ottawa (7)
22 16 6 .727 76.4 65.7 10.7
*UBC (6)
23 18 5 .783 84.8 74.9 9.9
Toronto (9)
22 17 5 .773 77.8 69.1 8.7
22 16 6 .727 84.1 75.7 8.5
22 16 6 .727 79.5 72.0 7.5
Queen's 22 14 8 .636 72.8 65.4 7.4
*Saint Mary's
20 14 6 .700 83.6 76.8 6.8
Saskatchewan 22 12 10 .545 83.0 77.5 5.5
Victoria 23 14 9 .609 70.8 65.8 5.0
*Western 22 12 10 .545 79.4 74.6 4.8
*Guelph 22 13 9 .591 76.4 74.4 2.0
*Dalhousie 20 10 10 .500 76.4 74.8 1.6
*Concordia 16 9 7 .562 76.6 75.8 0.8
Simon Fraser 23 12 11 .522 75.7 75.3 0.4
*UQAM 16 8 8 .500 78.2 78.3 −0.1
Regina 22 10 12 .455 76.2 76.5 −0.3
Laurier 22 8 14 .364 70.6 71.5 −0.9
McMaster 22 9 13 .409 73.4 75.1 −1.7
Lakehead 22 8 14 .364 73.9 76.7 −2.8
UCFV 23 11 12 .478 76.0 78.8 −2.8
Winnipeg 22 9 13 .409 76.5 80.2 −3.7
York 22 7 15 .318 72.6 77.4 −4.8
Ryerson 22 7 15 .318 75.4 80.5 −5.2
*McGill 16 8 8 .500 73.1 78.9 −5.8
Manitoba 22 6 16 .273 73.9 80.2 −6.3
*UPEI 20 7 13 .350 71.1 78.0 −6.9
Waterloo 22 6 16 .273 69.5 76.5 −7.0
Bishop's 16 2 14 .125 69.4 76.5 −7.1
Trinity Western 23 7 16 .304 75.7 84.8 −9.1
Thompson Rivers 23 2 21 .087 77.4 91.5 −14.1
Laurentian 22 4 18 .182 69.6 87.0 −17.4
UNB 20 2 18 .100 69.1 86.6 −17.5
Lethbridge 22 2 20 .091 74.4 93.2 −18.8
Memorial 20 0 20 .000 64.2 93.5 −29.4
RMC 22 0 22 .000 51.0 90.2 −39.2

Most points per game
Calgary, 88.5
Acadia, 86.8
Brandon, 85.5
Carleton, 85.0
UBC, 84.8
Alberta, 84.1
Saint Mary's, 83.6
Saskatchewan, 83.0
StFX, 81.6
Laval, 81.4

Fewest points allowed per game
Carleton, 59.9
Queen's, 65.4
Ottawa, 65.7
Acadia, 65.8
Victoria, 65.8
Cape Breton, 66.8
Windsor, 67.9
Laval, 69.1
Toronto, 69.1
StFX, 70.1

Source: CIS standings (see the first two comments below for a related discussion).
One poor half vs. Regina on Friday has caused Brandon to slip behind Calgary ahead of this weekend's Canada West Final Four in the Stampede City

Beyond the first four teams, this was the hardest ballot fill out yet:
  1. Carleton (1): So far they've beaten by Ottawa by four and by two. The more serious thoughts on Carleton-Ottawa are farther down the post.
  2. Calgary (4): I've had the Dinos in the 2-hole pretty much since late January, so no argument here. It wouldn't be a shock if they come out tight in the Can West semi-final on Friday vs. UBC and then get untracked toward the midway point of the game.
  3. Brandon (3): It's been 2 and 2-A all year. The Bobcats face Alberta in the Can West semi-final on Friday
  4. Acadia (2): Still solid; the folks down East can vouch if there are any holes.
  5. Windsor (6): The Lancers got bumped up four spots by process of elimination. Beating Laurier by seven isn't that impressive.
  6. UBC (5): This is coming from an Ontario guy who's only seen the T-Birds twice on webcasts, but this seems a bit high. Sure, they swept, but UBC probably had to work even harder than Brandon did to get out of its division.
  7. Ottawa (8): There's a great breakdown at cishoops.ca explaining what Gee-Gees coach Dave DeAveiro did to give his team a chance to beat Toronto in a low-scoring game last Saturday.

    The Gee-Gees held Carleton to 70 and 75 points in the regular-season games; the Ravens are averaging close to 84 even if you take away a couple of their blowouts. Dave Smart will probably spend his week trying to find ways to initiate the offence quickly and DeAveiro will be trying to figure out how to slow them down. Josh Gibson-Bascombe will have to go 37-38 minutes again in Ottawa's backcourt, it goes without saying.
  8. St. Francis Xavier (11): There's a good argument taking shape over which conference should get the Final 8 wild-card -- the Atlantic or Canada West. Each has four quality teams, but the Atlantic's fourth-best team -- be it Cape Breton or Saint Mary's -- probably has a better shot at winning the conference tournament.
  9. Toronto (9): The Varsity Blues' case should be one of those who believe it's time to go to a 16-team tournament spread out over two weekends. Toronto is still a Top 10 team, even with its season over after a three-point loss to Ottawa. They would probably beat a lot of the teams which are still playing.
  10. Laval (12): Lost their only game to UQAM, but remain favourites to win the Quebec title.
  • Dropping out: Cape Breton (10), Alberta
  • Also receiving votes: Cape Breton 50; Brock (which is 7th in the coaches' poll) 45; Alberta 28; Saint Mary's 11; Concordia 1.
Latest word on the off-season coaching carousel is that Danny Laramee, who had pretty good defences at Ottawa the past couple seasons, has taken a new post as the defensive co-ordinator at Saint Mary's.

Laramee comes advertised as someone who's a speed, strength and nutrition coach on top of being an X's-and-O's football guy. The Huskies are getting a good one — and Laramee won't change to change his coaching wardrobe much, going from Gee-Gees' garnet and grey to SMU's maroon and white.

(UPDATED, 4 p.m, Feb. 26: Ottawa has announced that Phil Roberts, a long-time assistant who coached in the CFL with the Renegades, has been promoted to the co-ordinator's role. No doubt he'll get down to business as soon as he done's coaching high school basketball — his team is in the Ottawa city championship tonight, as a matter of fact.)
It seems to make the most sense to focus on the conferences that are into playoffs. Some teams' seasons are going to end this weekend. Canada West is an obvious starting point.


  • Ottawa 63 Toronto 60: Ottawa guard Josh Gibson-Bascombe kept it together for 39 minutes to shepherd the garnet-and-grey to a return visit to the OUA East final — they're assured of playing a game to go to nationals. (If Carleton wins on Saturday, the division runners-up play for a berth at the Final 8.)

    Gibson-Bascombe put up 19 points, eight rebounds, six steals (for the second straight game) and five assists in what must have been a tense game. The Gee-Gees played a terrific road game, with just nine turnovers and 15-of-19 free-throw shooting. There's a deep reservoir of empathy for coach Mike Katz and the Varsity Blues, who have been the best team in the country to not go to the Final 8 for two years running. It would have been a great story to see U of T in the Final 8.
  • Carleton 96 Queen's 44: The final score looked like the blood pressure of a very unhealthy person; to think there were a few of us out there who were giving the Golden Gaels an outside chance (hey, they even led Carleton for a half during the regular season). The Ravens just couldn't be touched. It's their time of year.

    That said, under coach Rob Smart there are people in Kingston talking about Queen's hoops, maybe for the first time ever.


  • Guelph 69 Laurier 59: The Big Man on Campus, Greg Layson, has this one covered off, pointing out forward Duncan Milne's gritty effort was a big part of the Gryphons advancing to an OUA West semi at Brock on Wednesday.
  • Western 82 McMaster 81: The endgame, as described by the London Free Press, could have been predicted by a lot of the diehards who have been harping on the officiating in the OUA West all season along. The foul call that put Western's Alex Brzozowicz on the line to make the winning free throw with 3.9 seconds left might be described as the right call being made by the wrong ref (the foul was whistled by the back official, not the one who was closest to the play).

    Western, which got 16 points from Andrew Wedemire off the bench, will need to be miles better against Windsor on Wednesday.
CANADA WEST (division finals)
  • Brandon beats Regina 2-1: So really, Brandon played one terrible quarter (that 30-7 second in Game 1) in three games. It's really kind of a moot point but some Top 10 voters might flip-flop them with Calgary ahead of Canada West Final Four. The two teams are still 1 and 1-A; who wins Canada West probably rests on who has the tighter backcourt act.

    Paul Gareau, who put up 31 points in 22 minutes for Regina on Friday, is clearly a player -- early in the season he hooped 14 in just 18 minutes vs. Alberta, but who could have expected him to put together this kind of night, at this kind of year? That's like an aurora borealis located entirely within someone's kitchen.
  • Calgary sweeps Alberta 2-0: The Dinos dominated the last six quarters, winning the clincher 90-66 on Saturday. There's not much more to say. Alberta will have the wild-card if Brandon finishes off Regina tonight.
  • UBC sweeps: Forward Bryson Kool's double-double (18 and 11) steered the T-Birds to another maybe-not-so-emphatic win, 86-77 over the Vikes, in Game 2 of the CW Pacific Division final.

    One mark of a winner is getting to the line... UBC made more free throws (42-of-57) than UVic attempted (20-of-36) in the two games. Veteran guard Matt Rachar led UBC with 13 points, including 7-of-8 at the line, in Game 1.


  • Saint Mary's beat Concordia this afternoon, gift-wrapping a first-round bye in the AUS Final 6 for St. FX.


  • Concordia and McGill meet tonight. Winner hosts the semi vs. third-place UQAM, loser falls heir to a semi-final at Laval. The Citadins beat Laval 93-83 on Saturday.
The short version:

  • All teams averaged 19.9 minutes per game; Canada West teams averaged 22.6
  • Alberta were the least-penalized team if you adjust for conference average
  • York were the least-penalized team if you don't adjust, but six others were within two minutes per game (i.e., one extra minor penalty per game)
  • Most-penalized team: Lethbridge (29.9, 32% above CW average)

The long version:

Sources: AUS, Canada West, OUA. Standard caveats about the reliability of the statistics apply. Everyone played 28 regular-season games, making comparisons easier.

Average penalty minutes per game (conference-wide)
Canada West, 22.6
AUS, 19.9
OUA, 18.8

Fewest penalty minutes per game
York, 14.1
Queen's, 15.3
Western, 15.7
Lakehead, 15.9
Acadia, 16.0
Alberta, 16.0
Guelph, 16.1
Brock, 16.6
UNB, 17.3
Carleton, 17.9

7 of these 10 teams are from Ontario, and Ontario teams, generally speaking, took fewer penalties. So that makes sense. If we adjust for conference average, though, we get a different order (cut off at 10% below average):

Fewest penalty minutes compared to conference average
Alberta, -29%
York, -25%
Acadia, -20%
Queen's, -19%
Western, -16%
Lakehead, -16%
Guelph, -14%
UNB, -13%
Brock, -11%

Alberta jumps to the top as you might expect after seeing the high average for the West. Interestingly, Acadia took fewer penalties than anyone in the AUS but they finished ahead of only Dalhousie in terms of goal differential.

Most penalty minutes per game
Lethbridge, 29.9
Saskatchewan, 23.9
Moncton, 23.8
Regina, 23.8
UQTR, 23.6
Waterloo, 23.4
St. Thomas, 22.2
Manitoba, 21.7
Ottawa, 21.7
UBC, 21.6

The Pronghorns (now there's a team name) are way above everyone else. To compare, Saskatchewan were called for 14 ten-minute misconducts in their 28 conference games. If the Huskies went nuts and and doubled that number of misconducts, they wouldn't catch Lethbridge.

Most penalty minutes compared to conference average
Lethbridge, +32%
UQTR, +25%
Waterloo, +24%
Moncton, +20%
Ottawa, +15%
Ryerson, +15%
St. Thomas, +12%
McGill, +10%

Pretty much the same list.
It's always good to keep on top of what various athletic departments are doing to get their scores and highlights out there.

McMaster has got on the YouTube bandwagon, putting highlight packages on the school website. The reels (put together by Jody Kingsbury, who interned last summer with the Ottawa Lynx, the capital's late and lamented Triple-A baseball team) pretty much capture a CIS atmosphere. It's professional work, but it has just enough DIY trappings to it that you remember you're watching a university game in Canada. (Man, that sounds syrupy -- sorry, maple-syrupy.)

Schools are going to have get more do-it-yourself with storytelling as newspapers continue to face more of a staffing and space crunch. Another point is that school athletics websites down in the U.S. have fetched corporate dollars. There's probably potential to do it on a smaller Canadian scale, but quality content that's going to draw some eyeballs will have to be there.
The first impulse around 11 p.m. last night when there was no score up from the Carleton-Ottawa women's hockey playoff game on the CIS website was to assume that someone was slowing getting the data entered.

Nope, it turns out the Ravens and Gee-Gees were still playing. Carleton's Kerri Palmer got the series-winning goal after 59:27 of overtime, some 4½ hours after the opening faceoff. To put it mildly, it's quite a way for Carleton to win a playoff round for the first time in the program's three-year history. It's the second-longest women's playoff game ever, next to a Toronto-York game in 2000 that needed 65:07 of overtime.

Ottawa's Melissa DiPetta stopped 57 shots in the marathon, while Carleton's Valerie Charbonneau blocked 53. (Granted, Charbonneau stopped that many shots in regulation time a few times during Carleton's first two seasons.)
"I can honestly say we've practised without sticks after someone forgot to bring them."
-- Queen's men's hockey coach Brett Gibson

The Kingston paper really captures what both Golden Gaels shinny concerns have dealt with this season, splitting home games between two arenas off-campus (the men's team even goes to a third rink to practise). The rink on campus was torn down last spring, so the Gaels have been using the ancient Kingston Memorial Centre. Their second home in Napanee is an arena that's less than five years old, but it's a 50-km trip down Highway 401, so you can imagine what this has done to student fan support.

Does this make the Queen's women the gritty underdog out of the four teams left in the OUA playoffs?

On the road ... again; Gaels teams enjoy success despite nomadic lifestyle (Brock Harrison, Kingston Whig-Standard)

Calgary Dinos hoopp star Henry Bekkering is continuing to get his minutes -- he's referenced in a Sports Illustrated article by Chris Ballard on the cultural significance of, you guessed it, the slam dunk.

S.I., also showed some respect for the Canadian university game, pointing out it's accommodated Bekkering's total skill set better than his previous stint at Eastern Washington.
"In 2006 he transferred to the University of Calgary, where this season he is
averaging 20.5 points and three dunks a game as a fourth-year junior small
forward. 'I wanted to establish myself as a basketball player,' Bekkering says
of his decision to return to Canada. 'In dunking circles they were always
saying, "There's that white kid who can jump." That's not everything about
basketball.' "

Feel free to pass the link along to any associates who claim "no one dunks" in Canadian university ball.
The dot-orgers are talking like it's done deal that Mike McLean will be the next football coach at York.

McLean recently left the Vanier Cup-finalist Saint Mary's Huskies after a successful stint as their defensive co-ordinator. This is a huge score for York if it's the case and if the university is prepared to back it up with a commitment to football. (York will have a new AD this summer, incidentally.)

From afar, McLean has a rep as a defensive guru. That side of the ball has traditionally been the Lions' strong suit, plus focusing on defence might provide a faster road to respectability. Recruiting and retention are going to be 1 and 1-A for York's next coaching staff. Meantime, we'll see what this means for the incumbent coaching staff, which includes Andy McEvoy, who had the interim tag in 2007, along with former Argos defensive back Clifford Ivory and ex-Queen's QB Tom Denison.

Incidentally, the Toronto Star reported two weeks ago that former Hamilton Tiger-Cats coaches Ron Lancaster Jr. and Jamie Barresi were on the shortlist for the job. Apparently two ex-Tabbies running programs in the OUA was enough. Sorry, that's the Argos fan talking.

More news will be passed along as it becomes available.

(UPDATED: It's official. Andy McEvoy will stay on as an assistant coach.)
Final regular-season standings, 2007-2008 season.

UNB 28 26 1 1 136 59 77 53
Lakehead 28 23 4 1 129 68 61 47
UQTR 28 22 5 1 112 59 53 45
Alberta 28 21 5 2 126 77 49 44
Saint Mary's 28 20 5 3 130 90 40 43
Western 28 18 5 5 108 68 40 41
McGill 28 18 9 1 102 66 36 37
Waterloo 28 18 10 0 119 87 32 36
Laurier 28 16 9 3 120 96 24 35
Moncton 28 17 10 1 110 91 19 35
Saskatchewan 28 17 5 6 88 74 14 40
York 28 14 11 3 103 90 13 31
Calgary 28 16 8 4 107 97 10 36
Brock 28 17 8 3 94 85 9 37
Ottawa 28 14 12 2 83 80 3 30
Toronto 28 13 13 2 86 84 2 28
UBC 28 12 16 0 84 92 −8 24
Manitoba 28 13 13 2 82 91 −9 28
Guelph 28 12 13 3 82 91 −9 27
St. Thomas 28 11 11 6 85 95 −10 28
Queen's 28 13 12 3 77 93 −16 29
Regina 28 10 15 3 60 77 −17 23
Concordia 28 11 14 3 95 113 −18 25
StFX 28 12 12 4 83 103 −20 28
Carleton 28 12 13 3 88 110 −22 27
UPEI 28 10 16 2 97 123 −26 22
RMC 28 10 16 2 71 98 −27 22
Acadia 28 11 14 3 79 108 −29 25
Ryerson 28 9 16 3 95 133 −38 21
Lethbridge 28 9 18 1 76 115 −39 19
Dalhousie 28 5 20 3 81 132 −51 13
UOIT 28 6 19 3 60 128 −68 15
Windsor 28 6 21 1 72 147 −75 13

I took in Game 2 of the York vs. Western first-round men's hockey match-up on Saturday afternoon, a 6-1 win by the Mustangs that was a real dismantling of what looked like an overmatched Lions team.

Sitting up in the restaurant area in the Canlan Ice Sports complex at York, it was hard not to notice an NHLer there, briefly, taking in the action. The Oilers' Raffi Torres, a Toronto native, hasn't played since mid-December due to a knee injury, but met with a few friends during the game at the table next to us. He didn't stick around long.

Given there were only a handful of non-parents in the crowd for this one, Torres was hard to miss.
To briefly recap the first round: the Battle of Waterloo came down to the last 40 seconds after Waterloo won the first game 5-0, Ottawa knocked off Toronto in overtime of Game 3 (in front of the Varsity Blues' Mark Heatley's brother Dany), Western dealt with the Lions as expected (5-1 and 6-1 wins), and the McGill Tribune got their wish.

McGill vs. Queen's

Golden Gaels head coach Brett Gibson sure appreciated Ryerson's win over the bye-challenging Varsity Blues at the end of the season: "We've had a nice little break to get back from injuries. I was really only going with three lines and five defencemen, and the guys showed true character," he told the Queen's Journal.

Note that while Game 3 would be played at the Kingston Memorial Centre, Game 1 is apparently in Napanee. This should provide an excellent getaway for students used to boring old Montreal.

Ottawa vs. UQTR

59 goals against in only 28 games for the Patriotes is excellent. Sylvain Michaud played 19 of those games (or 20, if you use the UQTR stats instead of the OUA stats), stopping 380 of 420 shots (or 346 of 383) for a goals-against average of 2.12 (or 2.20).

UQTR beat Ottawa three out of four times during the season and the lone loss was in overtime in October.

Western vs. Brock

Coming from the competitive OUA West, the Mustangs might have the advantage in this series despite their lower seeding. They "outclassed" the Lions, said York coach Bill Maguire. Western won 6-0 and 5-3 over Brock during the season, though they haven't played each other since November 17.

Laurier vs. Lakehead

You can keep reading if you want, but much more detailed information on this series can be found in this release from Lakehead's Mike Aylward.

The Thunderwolves scored more goals and won more games than anyone else in the OUA. Dan Speer (14 goals, 33 assists), Brock McPherson (17, 29), and Mark Soares (22, 22) are three big reasons for Lakehead's standing at the top of the league. Aylward refers to them as the SSM line, so re-order those names appropriately.

Thunder Bay's Source reminds us that Laurier coach Kelly Nobes protested his team's February 1 game at Lakehead when "their WestJet flight slid off the runway in icy conditions" and the game was not postponed. These teams also met in the playoffs last year and the series went to the Golden Hawks, so there's certainly some history.

The travel rule in this series puts the first game at the Waterloo Rec Complex. It appears to be the only semifinal series to take advantage of this rule.
The cough-and-cold bug seems to have subsided enough to provide a rundown on how the top teams made out over the weekend. Among the leagues who haven't begun their playoffs, the Atlantic is the most up in the air. St. FX and Saint Mary's still have a mathematical possibility at snatching the first-round playoff bye away from Cape Breton.

  1. Carleton: In the wake of the Ravens' unexpectedly tight 75-73 win over Ottawa on Saturday, it seems obvious that there's some great organizing principle that ensures every Canal War clash will go down to the last shot.

    The Ravens never betrayed a hint that they thought they might lose, even after each of Ottawa guard Donnie Gibson's three lead-changing shots in the fourth quarter. Don't read too much into this result. Honestly, it seemed like it was meant to be for the Ravens from the point early in the second half when Aaron Doornekamp front-rimmed a three-pointer and had the ball drop through.
  2. Brandon: The Bobcats host Regina in the best-of-3 Plains Division final next week.
  3. Calgary: Will host a best-of-3 Central Division final vs. Alberta, whom they beat 3-out-of-4 in the regular season.
  4. Acadia: A pair of easy wins over Memorial wrapped up top spot for the Axemen. A tip of the cap to Leonil Saintil, whose 262 rebounds on the season are a conference record -- with two games to spare.
  5. Cape Breton: A split at Saint Mary's next weekend would give the Capers second place and the all-important rest day before the semi-final at the AUS Final 6.
  6. Windsor: Small forward Kevin Kloostra, whose season has been marred by an injured knee, had a six-minute cameo in Saturday's regular-season finale vs. Waterloo. Let's keep our ears peeled for word on how much he'll be able to contribute in the playoffs. The Lancers (17-5 in the OUA West) will host the lowest surviving seed in a conference semi-final next Saturday.
  7. Toronto: Fifth-year point guard Mike DeGiorgio had an 11-point, 12-assist double-double in an 100-78 rout of Ryerson that secured home court for next Saturday's OUA East semi, likely against Ottawa.
  8. UBC: The T-Birds are still standing after a two-game sweep of Fraser Valley in the first round; Victoria can't be considered too big an underdog for the final. They were behind by double digits in Game 1. The closer, a 72-66 win, was nip-tuck all the way, as Bryson Kool (20 points) and Blain Labranche (13 points on a perfect shooting night) made up for a tough night by Chris Dyck (4-for-11).
  9. Alberta: Guards Alex Steele (13 points on 5-of-7, plus six assists) and Andrew Parker (16 points on 6-of-10) found their form to help the Golden Bears get past Saskatchewan and Andrew Spagrud 76-61 in Game 3 of the division semi-final on Sunday. The X factor in the division final vs. the Dinos is probably going to be taking care of the ball; Alberta beat Saskatchewan despite having 55 turnovers over the three games. Granted, you can expect that with teams that are playing each other for the fifth or sixth time. By that point, there are no surprises.
  10. Laval: Rouge et Or guard Jean-François Beaulieu-Maheux had such a hot hand that he had to stick it in a snowbank afterward for his own safety. He was 17-of-23 from three-point range over the weekend. Some players don't shoot 17-of-23 from the foul line in practice.
  11. Ottawa: The Gee-Gees got an idea of how they'll have to play in the post-season in that two-point loss to Carleton. Gibson and Sean Peter (22 points, but only four after the half) responded well at times to having a lot put on them.
  12. Brock: The Badgers await their semi-final game after getting good games out of both Brad Rootes and Mike Kemp in Saturday's regular-season finale vs. Laurier. They'll likely see a surging Western team next Saturday in St. Catharines.
  13. St. Francis Xavier: The X-Men can still sneak into second in the AUS if they win their last three and Saint Mary's sweeps Cape Breton next weekend.
In case you missed it, Allan Maki had a feature in yesterday's Globe and Mail about Kiraan Posey and Warren Thomas, a pair of Americans playing basketball for Lakehead. (To Maki's credit, it's not a "why are these talented guys not in the States?" story.)

Posey's near the top of the OUA in points per game after previous academic troubles caused him to sit last year. Thomas comes off as world-weary ("I've seen it all and basically done it all. I want to see better things.") and appreciative of the differences between Washington and Thunder Bay ("You leave the keys in your car in Washington and someone will drive off with it.")

Both players are averaging 30 minutes per game, but it's probably about more than court time with the 8-13 Thunderwolves. As Posey puts it: "I talk to my mother every day, sometimes twice a day. She wants me to get an education. This is my chance."

'A great group of dudes' (Allan Maki, Globe and Mail)
It will shock nobody who spent any time on campus during the last two weeks that the undergraduate student body at the University of Waterloo just voted to remove the student funding from CKMS, the campus radio station. (We can argue all day whether 2280 "anti-radio" votes, less than one-tenth of the number of undergrads, are sufficiently binding, but we won't.)

Waterloo isn't the first university to question the benefits of funding a radio station, but CKMS, and only CKMS, broadcasted Warriors' basketball and hockey games. Now, with most of their funding--about 90% of it, depending on whom you believe--taken away, who expects that to continue?

In the big picture, Neate's note on Monday about this being "a mostly positive year for CIS coverage" still rings true. But if you combine the Imprint's minimal sports content with the (likely) end of live game broadcasts, it's hard to say the same for the Waterloo Warriors.
Every year at Final 8 time, you can usually count on TSN replaying the footage of Eddie Pomykala, who's retiring at the end of this season after 24 years with the Bishop's Gaiters, giving a locker room speech before the 1998 national championship game.

That clip really was a window into the entire Bishop's community, which Pomykala will continue to serve by working in student recruitment. No would want to trivialize what a natioanl title means to a school the size of the U of Alberta, UBC or Laval, but when their traditionally strong teams go to a Final 8, a Vanier Cup or a nationals in volleyball or hockey, they're basically playing to add to their banner collection.

The Gaiters, at that moment 10 years ago, might have felt they were playing simply for the same thing. At the end of the day, it was just another basketball game, right? That said, the vibe I always got, as a small-town guy, is that Pomykala's Gaiters wanted to show the entire country what BU is all about, why people opt to spend four years in Lennoxville tucked way down in the Eastern Townships, when they could just as easily stay close to home or in a major urban centre. People who attend Bishop's tend to be, relatively speaking, very proud to have had the experience, and that clip always helps explain why. As we get farther and farther from it, that Bishop's national championship stands out more and more.

It's funny... ask 10 people who are somewhat acquainted with Canadian university sports to name the smallest school to ever win a national championship in basketball and chances are at least half of them would answer, "Brandon." Sorry, wrong BU.
Some notes on the first playoff round of OUA hockey, with three games scheduled for tonight...

Carleton vs. McGill

If the 12-13-3 Ravens fall to the 18-9-1 Redmen, somebody at the McGill Tribune will be happy: "We want another chance to get sloshed and chant about amorous relations between the Golden Gaels and sheep, so let's hope the Redmen can reel off a couple quick wins." We also learn from the Tribune that Redmen coach Martin Raymond considers the Ravens a big team who "play a very physical brand of hockey" (like most good Canadian kids).

A player to watch in this series is McGill fourth-year goalie Mathieu Poitras, who has continued his first- and second-year success while studying mechanical engineering. Not exactly a popular major among varsity athletes.

Toronto vs. Ottawa

Information on this series seems hard to come by. Then again, both teams are .500 or worse and were almost outscored by their opponents during the season. Note that Game 1 tonight is in Toronto because, as the Ottawa Citizen thinks, the Blues "[took] advantage of a rule that helps limit travel." These two teams have played twice and Toronto won both times, outshooting the Gee Gees 36-26 and 26-16.

York vs. Western

Clarke Singer, the Mustangs' coach (note: not Stinger; thank you for catching that, Tyler) told the London Free Press that he's looking forward to this series because York is pretty good: "They are very similar to us. They have great goaltending, a couple of lines that score for them. They play very, very solid defensive hockey." Singer may be selling his own team short, as Western gave up only 68 goals in the regular season, tied with Lakehead for the fewest in the West (third overall), and York has allowed 90 goals, or almost a goal per game more.

Another point in Western's favour is that their fourth-year forward Kevin Richardson is third overall in the OUA with 18 goals and 26 assists. Salvatore Peralta is not far behind with 18 and 23. Goalie Brad Topping also finds himself in the top 5 of the country in save percentage and goals against average.

Laurier vs. Waterloo

Waterloo goaltender Jimmy Bernier stopped 89.6% of the shots he faced during the season, which isn't the highest in the league, but he probably faced more shots than any other OUA goaltender whose team made the playoffs. I say "probably" because Queen's' Ryan Gibb is at 906 to Bernier's 910 and more likely than not, a four-shot difference on the OUA website is not to be trusted.

If you do believe the OUA statistics, Laurier's first-year forward Craig Voakes led the province (and the country, it looks like) with 23 goals. However, these appear to be two evenly-matched teams. Laurier won 4-1 a week ago at Waterloo and took the Warriors apart 6-3 in January at home, but those two wins only split the season series because Waterloo won 8-2 and 6-2 back in the fall.

First-Round Playoff Schedule
Unless otherwise noted, the second team listed for each matchup hosts the first and third games of the series.

Carleton vs. McGill

Game 1: Wednesday (13th), 7:00
Game 2: Friday (15th), 7:00
*Game 3: Sunday (17th), 5:00

Toronto vs. Ottawa
Game 1 at Toronto: Wednesday (13th), 7:30
Game 2 at Ottawa: Friday (15th), 7:00
*Game 3 at Ottawa: Sunday (17th), 7:00

York vs. Western
Game 1: Thursday (14th), 7:00
Game 2: Saturday (16th), 2:00
*Game 3: Sunday (17th), 7:00

Laurier vs. Waterloo
Game 1: Wednesday (13th), 7:30
Game 2: Friday (15th), 7:30
*Game 3: Sunday (17th), 7:30

* If necessary
It seems important to keep our readers informed of positive developments with the CIS and media coverage, so hopefully everyone saw that the Halifax Daily News is no more.

The Halifax Herald goes all out with their university sports coverage, but the Daily News' Chris Kallan and Jody Jewers always provided a second great source for letting us know what was going on with the teams down East.

This does come in what has been a mostly positive year for CIS coverage. There's been a couple more dedicated blogs. We've seen a basketball player get airtime on Canada AM (despite what critiques some people might have had with the questions). Beat writers such as Greg Layson in Guelph and Chad Lucas in Halifax are really showing how a blog can be a good appendix to their newspaper work.

Many schools are also becoming a lot self-directed in getting information out in forms other than a standard dry press release. Losing the Daily News is still a huge blow. Like the Toronto Sun Family said just yesterday with respect to being reduced to a one-newspaper town, "You don't know what you got until it's gone."

(UPDATE: One would have to be a real jerk to mine people losing their jobs for humour, but have no fear, Marty York did so today: "The CFL will have to live with this: Metro newspapers have beaten the league to the punch by expanding to Halifax.")
Our Big Man on Campus, Greg Layson from the Guelph Mercury, saw something at Saturday's Gryphons-McMaster Marauders game that he calls "an absolute, inexcusable utter embarrassment" to the OUA:
"With 1:19 to go in the game, and Guelph trailing 64-57, Guelph's Nick Pankerichan stepped to the line and sank two free throws. I repeat — and my running totals in my notebook prove it — he sank two free throws. He clearly sank two free throws.

" 'I hit them both,' Pankerichan told me after the game.

"And he did. But the refs — and there were three of them, all supposedly 'qualified' —said he missed the first.

"To put this in perspective, it's like two referees and two linesmen saying a hockey player didn't score on a penalty shot when he clearly did."
The ball going through the basket, that's usually an absolute.

Again, it goes back to the main point: More specialized media coverage of the CIS, especially on the blogs, might force some examination of the standards of officiating and record-keeping. There's really no excuse for that happening. Guelph coach Chris O'Rourke, whose team lost 68-60, is figuring out how to appeal, Layson reports.

UPDATE, Feb. 11, 12:15 a.m.: Layson's latest post clarifies that two of the three officials who worked the game -- but not the crew chief -- made efforts to apologize to Guelph, one in person and one via e-mail. It's still up in the air how this will be resolved.

UPDATE, Feb. 11, 11:50 a.m.: Layson points out that it might have been more of a scorekeeping error -- and McMaster hasn't had a whole lot to say about the matter.
After about six minutes of play, it seemed like Waterloo would be behind by 10 points more or less throughout yesterday's game. As you might expect from a last-place team, the level of play wasn't inspiring.

The third quarter provided some excitement as the Warriors outscored the Mustangs 28-18, mostly thanks to their newfound ability to connect on long passes. The team and crowd went nuts when they pulled ahead 61-60 as time ran out in the third. However, Waterloo fell behind again in the fourth with more of the same offensive lapses that have played a big part in their 15th-place standing in points scored in the 16-team OUA. A disgusted Dan White sank a three-pointer at the buzzer. Nobody was in a mood to celebrate that quarter-ending basket, however.

It's little consolation to the Warriors that White was the leading scorer on either side yesterday with 22 points. (Western shot 52.5%, but they had more traveling calls than I've ever seen in OUA basketball.) In fact, White shot 57% from the field, which is exactly twice as high as his cumulative percentage since the winter school term started (he was 22 for 44 in two games at Lakehead in early January). Well, at least the Warriors' last three games are all at home, and they'll get decent attendance, right?

Not really, no. The first game against Laurier, presumably a good draw, conflicts with Waterloo's playoff hockey game (also against Laurier). The second and third games are scheduled for the first weekend of reading week, and good luck on student attendance there. They would only have one weekend game if not for the gender-specific extreme weather last Wednesday, which postponed the men but not the women.
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