Men's hockey championships: UNB may not be a lock

A profound thanks to the other guys for letting me join the tremendously talented team here. Everything seems to be favoring the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds at this year's CIS men's hockey championships: they went 26-1-0-1 in conference play this year, are defending national champions, were the top-ranked team all year, led CIS in goals for and tied for first in goals against. They also have the player of the year on their roster, who led the country in points this season. Yesterday, they emphatically beat Brock 6-1 despite being kept off the scoresheet for the first half of the game. Furthermore, they recorded 48 shots and held a good Brock team to just 21. They only need to beat Canada West silver medalists Saskatchewan tomorrow to clinch a berth in the final.

All of the above would point to a UNB repeat as a sure thing. Sure things haven't happened much this year in sports, though: consider the Giants and Patriots, or perhaps Appalachian State and Michigan. Upsets have been even more common in CIS play. Of the eight championships from this year I looked at, only two of the top-ranked teams going into the championships actually won (Alberta in men's volleyball and McGill in women's hockey). UNB could very well be the third, but upsets have been pretty frequent this year. The breakdown is below.

Men's basketball
Who won: Brock
Their rank: 7th in the last coaches' poll, seventh-seeded in tournament, 16-6 regular season, 2-1 playoffs, entered as OUA third-place team
Who was #1: Carleton
What happened to them: The five-time defending national champion Ravens were upset by Acadia in the semifinals.

Women's basketball
Who won: UBC
Their rank: 2nd in the last coaches' poll, second-seeded in tournament, 21-2 regular season, 4-3 playoffs, entered as Canada West champions
Who was #1: Simon Fraser
What happened to them: The defending national champions lost their first game to the eighth-seeded Laval Rouge et Or but rebounded to claim fifth place.

Women's hockey
Who won: McGill
Their rank: Top-ranked in tournament poll and seeding. Finished season undefeated.
Notes: This is the first exception to the rule: however, Laurier managed to knock off the two-time defending champion Alberta Pandas to get into the finals against McGill, and the final could have gone either way. By the way, the Pandas finished fourth after losing the bronze-medal game to fifth-seeded Manitoba, so the tournament wasn't without upsets.

Men's soccer:
Who won: UBC
Their rank:6-5-3 regular season, 1-1 playoffs, 9th in the last coaches' poll, entered as Canada West semifinalists and tournament hosts
Who was #1: Carleton
What happened to them: The Ravens failed to make it out of OUA play, losing to Western in the semifinals and Queen's in the bronze-medal game.

Women's soccer:
Who won: Cape Breton
Their rank: 5th in the last coaches' poll, 11-1-1 regular season, 2-0 in playoffs, entered as AUS champions and tournament hosts
Who was #1: UBC
What happened to them: The Thunderbirds lost to Cape Breton in the semifinals, but rebounded to win the bronze

Men's volleyball
Who won: University of Alberta
Their rank: 1st
Notes: Alberta is obviously the other exception to the rule here. However, this tournament wasn't without upsets: second-seeded McMaster had their undefeated season blown to shreds when they lost their opening game to the seventh-seeded Winnipeg Wesmen.

Women's volleyball:
Who won: UBC
Their rank: 3rd in the last coaches' poll, 4th in tournament seeding, 17-3 regular season, 3-1 playoffs, entered as Canada West bronze medalists
Who was #1: Alberta
What happened to them: The Pandas lost to UBC in a hard-fought five-set semifinal, and finished fourth.

Update: I didn't originally include football in this due to the different structure of its championship games, but there were some big upsets there as well, notably No.4 St. Mary's knocking off No.1 Laval in the Uteck Bowl and the Western Mustangs (who had been out of the national rankings for most of the season, but cracked the final coaches' poll at No.10) winning the Yates Cup as OUA champions. The No.3 Manitoba Bisons eventually claimed the Vanier Cup.
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  1. it's a good thing Brock won the men's basketball title this year, because the Badgers are in for a huge rebuilding year next season.
    Their top three guards are gone, as Murray, Rootes and Steen were all 5th year.
    Owen White, Dusty Bianchin are eligible to come back, but how effective they would be
    depends on a relatively inexperienced back court.
    Unless Ken Murray comes up with a hellacious recruiting year, this is likely one and done for Brock.

  2. Yeah, repeating is also a tough task in CIS play generally, given that most of the championship teams tend to be veteran-heavy.