Hockey: Top 10 tracker; Alberta splits, Lakehead swept

The Nos. 2 and 4 teams each lost Friday night to ranked opponents, so it was a pretty good Friday:
  1. UNB Varsity Reds (180) (14-0, 6-0-0 AUS) — Unblemished week with a 7-3 win over Acadia on Friday couple with a 2-1 OT win over St. Thomas. Saturday's game with Saint Mary's is called off due to H1N1 concerns.

    No doubt a few people were surprised the V-Reds needed OT to beat St. Thomas Tommies 2-1 on Wednesday. Well, STU goalie Charles Lavigne was on (39 saves) and the valiant Tommies were able to keep the game at their pace. There were 79 faceoffs, which is a lot in a game that only had three goals. (For instance, when UNB beat Acadia 3-2 last weekend, there were 55 draws.)

  2. Alberta Golden Bears (155) (9-3, 6-1-1 CW) — Beat Manitoba 5-3 Saturday in the wake of a 3-2 loss Friday.

  3. UQTR Patriotes (125) (9-2, 7-0-0 OUA-E) — Four-point weekend; Francis Charland had his sixth goal of the season and had the only successful shootout attempt in Saturday's 4-3 win over U of T. Beat RMC 5-0 Friday. Their strength-of-schedule is, how do you say, questionable at best.

  4. Lakehead Thunderwolves (120) (7-3, 5-2-1 OUA-W) — Swept 3-2 and 3-1 by Waterloo, so they might drop even though the No. 5 team was rendereed idle and No. 6 split.

  5. Saint Mary's Huskies (105) (7-3, 3-1-0 AUS) — Only game was postponed. Next action is Nov. 4 vs. St. FX.

  6. Manitoba Bisons (92) (11-5, 6-3-1 CW) — Split at No.2 Alberta. Goalie Steve Christie had 33 saves in that 3-2 win over No. 2 Alberta.

  7. McGill Redmen (78) (8-2-1, 4-0-0 OUA-E) — Had a successful weekend in Kingston, beating RMC 5-2 Saturday hours after a 10-1 whuppin' of Queen's where they set a school record for the fastest three goals, tallying back-to-back-to-back in a span of 30 seconds.

    Evan Vossen had four goals. The only Gaels goal was a shorty, oddly enough.

    Queen's ended up beating Concordia Saturday afternoon, which was a nice bounce-back for them and raises questions of when the Stingers will ever win a game.

  8. Laurier Golden Hawks (61) (8-4, 5-1-1 OUA-W) — Lost 4-3 to Western Saturday by the margin of a goal by the Mustangs' Scott Aarssen with one second left in the second period. Visit Lakehead next weekend.

  9. Nipissing Lakers (18) (8-4, 6-1-1 OUA-E)Josh McKinnon scored the OT winner in a 5-4 verdict Friday over Ottawa, apparently both teams were unable to ice a full squad.

  10. Waterloo Warriors (15) (8-3, 5-1-1 OUA-W) — Swept Lakehead, as noted, with Keaton Hartigan stopping 66-of-69 shots. Waterloo is without Pier (as in former goalie Pier-Olivier Pelletier), but Hartigan had no peer this weekend.

    Kirt Hill's short-hander with 7:52 left capped a three-goal third-period comeback in Friday's game.
Also receiving votes: Brock Badgers (13), Acadia Axemen (10), Calgary Dinos (10), Lethbridge Pronghorns (6), UBC Thunderbirds (2)
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  1. Does anyone know the geographic breakdown of the CIS top 10 voters? I'd imagine the AUS and CW will start to creep into the 6-10 spots more as they play more games, but i agree with the earlier comment on how the only game Nipissing has played against a "top" OUA team, UQTR they got smoked..and UQTR got smoked by UPEI..and UPEI is a middle of the line AUS team, but UPEI is 2-3 playing two of the top teams in the country UNB and SMU. Like I said i'm sure this will even out later on as the games played even out. I just find it hard to believe that people think Nippising, Brock, Waterloo and Laurier could defeat Acadia. Time for RPI!!!

  2. I believe it's 21 voters, the poll administrator and 5 apiece from four regions. I'd have to double-check distribution of the 10 voters from central Canada. At the same time, we all have the Internet, we can all talk to people in other regions to get a better-informed opinion of a team. These regional flame wars every week get tiresome.

    If anyone wants to tabulate RPI, please be my guest.

  3. It's really tough to rank teams 3-10 on any given week this early in the season. The only clear cut rankings are UNB at #1 and Alberta at #2. It's early in the season, so it's tough to be critical of the rankings at this point. Luckily for us this isn't the BCS and the only time rankings matter in the least is for seeding at the National tournament.

  4. While I agree it is more difficult in the early season, I don't think we should ignore recent history. If I see a team like say Queen's (sorry Neate), RMC, Ryerson, UOIT, Dalhousie, etc. who were outclassed last year, I wouldn't expect a huge improvement this year. So therefore I would consider any win over them as "expected", and thus "discount" those wins in comparing UQTR and Nipissing's record against say Acada, StFX, Manitorb or Calgary for example. But it is apparent that is not the way everybody does it.

    Bottom line, you can't take early Top 10 polls too serious when there are only two AUS teams and two CanWest teams and six OUA teams on the list. There, I said it.

  5. Hey, I only voted for four or five OUA teams.

  6. David, thats the same gripe many AUS and CW fans had last year, and look at who made it to the National Championship...

    Yes, Western never played Alberta but they beat a very very good Huskies team...7-2. And Alberta barely squeeked out a win over a Lakehead team that was, in many opinions, just the third or fourth best in the OUA last year...if that even, Western was obviously better, Laurier beat Lakehead in the playoffs and UQTR is always a threat, this is without even mentioning McGill and even Waterloo who could beat anyone on any day with the way they play.

  7. So OUA has had 1 team in the CIS finals in the last 3 years even though they have 2-3 teams in the championship every year (08-UNB vs. Alberta, 07-UNB vs. Moncton). I don't see too many OUA teams heading south to play NCAA teams let alone compete in the games like the AUS.

    Of course I'm UNB biased...but UNB has played many (exhibition yes) games against top OUA teams the last few years including Brock, Mcgill and UQTR and they haven't been competitive at all. When Acadia, St.Fx, SMU plays] UNB you always expect it to be at least competitive.

    I don't think Nipissing would win many games if they played in the AUS. I don't think they'd be within 5 goals of Acadia/StFx/UPEI.

    I wish there were more games between conferences, but I know it is just too expensive. Could you imagine a Christmas tourny of UNB/SMU/Alberta/Sask..would be great

  8. FWIW, Manitoba has played a few OUA teams in recent years at the Thunder Bay tournament. They have wins and losses aganst Lakehead and have beaten Laurier, York, and Toronto. This year they played and beat Carleton and Brock twice each. They beat UQTR the time they made nationals. In that period they ranked between #3 and #7 in CW. These results tell me that the upper OUA teams are within the range of the #3 to #7 teams in CW, and the middle and lower OUA teams are below that. The OUA standings are deceptive because they have more smaller programs, which is not a bad thing either. From what I have seen, to compare OUA teams to AUS or CW teams you need to look more at their records against the top third of their league.

  9. One more thing, I thought Carleton looked to be a pretty good hockey team when they played in Manitoba. The are chippier than the teams I usually see but I could see them being tough in the playoffs, evidently like they were last year.

  10. Too Early to worry too much about these rankings, while I agree the Canada West and Atlantic Conference produce stronger teams as a whole, the upper part of the OUA has been making strides the past few years

    Last Years Nationals Lakehead put up a decent showing againts Alberta and UNB. And yes Lakehead did not make it as a OUA rep, but I think most would agree Lakehead never did play to their potential or expectations. And what Western did againts St Mary's can't be taken too lightly.

    Its hard to Judge, I definately think Acadia is one of the top teams in the Country and over the course of the year will show it. Is Nippising Better them Acadia, no but right now on paper yea their 5-1-1 record looks good.

    Do I think UQTR would have the same record if they played in the AUS or CW, definately not. Even when UQTR won a national championchip in Fredericton in 2003, they deserved to have been smoked by UNB being outshot 56-22, not many National Chamions let the shot clock run like that but we ran into a hot goalie and some bad luck, since than in games vs UQTR I remember the 6-0 UNB win at the nats in Moncton, I remember Back to back exibition games at UNB were the Reds only won by a goal each game but had over 50 shots on goal each game, I remeber I think Alberta beat them at the Nationals like something to the tune of 11-0 in 2005 or 06? These were all UQTR Teams that breezed through the OUA regular season with crazy win loss records barely ever losing a regular season game, but when it came time to play the big boys it was like putting a competitive team againts the same citys AAA team, just overmatched.

    I will say the OUA West teams are more dangerous now than 3 years ago.

  11. Luke,

    I've said for a long time that the top OUA teams can compete with the top AUS and CanWest teams, but not the bulk of them. In recent years only a handful of OUA teams have shown they can compete with the top AUS and CanWest teams at the University Cup. Especially in the OUA East, there are a lot of teams who quite frankly, are not that competitive against the better teams. Most of the historically stronger teams look to be in OUA West. Note I said most, not all. So top teams in the OUA East are going to have easier schedules, and padded stats.

    As for last year in particualr, SMU imploded like I have never seen before - probably the worst and most bizarre period in the history of their program. Western played well, bur frankly, there wasn't much doubt who would win their championship game against UNB - UWO had one shot in the first period, and it came late. But I agree, Western was (is still?) a good team. Lakehead? They looked out of shape at Nationals compared to their opponents. I wouldn't characterize Alberta as "squeaking" by Lakehead, as the only Thunderwolves goal came after Alberta pulled their goalie as they needed to win by more than 3 goals.

    So I think we agree that the top OUA teams can be competitive with AUS and CanWest teams. But I don't count six right now ...

  12. Historicly, the CIS rankings have always had Canada West and AUS Teams occupy the Top 2 spots, and more often than not, 4 of the Top 5.

    Other than Brock, Lakehead has not played strong competition in the OUA regular season as of yet. However, Lakehead has annually produced quality clubs that have contended to end in the OUA. The club has made multiple appearances in the National Championships since their inception in 2001 (including a trip to the final game vs Alberta in Alberta).

    As a result, I would take exception to Mr. Kilfoil's questioning of the quality of the Lakehead squad, and I am quite certain that come the Cavendish Cup he will express the respect deserved of the perenniel contender over his radio broadcasts and news submissions.

  13. Don't get me wrong, I like Lakehead. I just thought at last year's Nationals they looked like they were missing some zip, and was surprised actually. I think the long layover from the end of their playoffs didn't do them any good. Did you think they played up to their potential in March? Could it be why there was a coaching change?

    For the last few years I think you have to have Lakehead in a Top 10 - they were in my Top 10 this week.

  14. Lakehead played poorly at the Nationals last year. From what I saw, practice sessions lacked enthusiasm, structure and speed. Could have been due to lay-off, could have been to morale.

    The coaching change came as a surprise to me, and many others. Perhaps not so much as there was a change but for whom they hired as a replacement. Coach Scherban does have them playing well right now, but we'll see how they do when they face some stiffer competition down the stretch.

    That said, I did not see a lot of the games at the Nationals last year, as I was busy making sure you had a working phone line in the press box and functioning internet connection in the media centre ;)

  15. Re: AUS vs. CW vs. OUA

    Over the last eight years at Nationals.
    Alberta is 8-0 vs. OUA teams at the University Cup outsocring them 47-12.
    In the same time frame the Bears are just 2-5 against AUS teams and have been outsocred 23-25.
    It should be noted that the two years Alberta hosted the University Cup (a huge advantage) they did not get to play an AUS team.
    I think this shows us a pretty clear picture as to which Conference is strongest, and which is weakest.
    There should never be more then four teams OUA teams in the CIS top ten.

    Bob Stauffer
    Oilers Radio

  16. I'll take Bob at his word.

    I will say we run up against this in many sports ... 19-of-34 men's hockey teams, 55.8 per cent, are in the OUA. Of course it's going to end up with more ranked teams if all voters look at are won-loss records.

    I am a first-time voter this year; I've tried to balance out my ballot 3 CW-3 AUS-3 OUA-plus one, but I'm not married to that.

    And again, if anyone takes it upon himself to compile RPI, we'd all be smarter for it.

  17. As someone who has been on the CIS hockey top ten for the last five years or so as a rule of thumb I have had four OUA schools, three of four AUS teams, and two or three CW teams in my top ten.
    The AUS is the strongest Conference, and certainly has the best team ,UNB, this season.

    Bob Stauffer
    Oilers Radio

  18. So this should straighten out once all AUS teams have played 5-6 games, to give us more of a sample size?

  19. Although Lakehead reached the University Cup final a few years back in Edmonton, they were out-played and out-shot in their "semifinal" game against Saskatchewan that year. They had some opportunistic scoring but, more importantly, their goalie stood on his head.
    In those one-gane scenarios, anything can happen — just like when St. Mary's imploded against Western Ontario last season. These are likely one-offs and not general trends. Yes, at times, OUA teams will have their success against AUS and CW teams, but it will be the exception and not the rule.
    Heck, I remember Saskatchewan outshooting UQTR 20-1, at one point, in one period at the University Cup and UQTR getting the only goal that period on the power play. These things happen.
    The only time we can compare apples with oranges and bananas is with multiple games against each other in one season at different venues. Of course, that rarely happens.

  20. Bob, Do we need to take your temperature? You feeling OK?? Since when are you such a lover of the AUS and UNB, last time I checked your Bears were a very close #2 and we all know the best game played at Nationals wasn't the championship game. You seem to be discounting the Bears great accomplishments to try and build up UNB, trying to become the under dog this year?

    I also agree on the 3 AUS, 3 CW and 3 OUA + 1 floating spot

  21. I don't think I can agree with the statement that "OUA teams will have their success against AUS and CW teams, but it will be the exception and not the rule".

    Top OUA teams (Western, UQTR, Lakehead, McGill) have all had success against AUS and CW teams over the past ten years, and not just in one-game scenarios. I recognize I am reaching back a few years, but 2005-2006 (the year Lakehead reached the National finals) Lakehead sported a 6-3-0 record in non-conference/National Championship games. Two losses came to a powerhouse Saskatchewan team, that I believe was ranked number at one point that year.

    Wins that year against St. Mary's, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Acadia demonstrate that this was no "exception".

    In more recent seasons, Lakehead has not had as great a success, but have had a .500 or close to .500 record in non-conference matchups, including 2 wins in 2008-2009 against Saskatchewan, 1 against St. Mary's and another over Manitoba. As a result I fail to understand how this is an exception.

    I do feel it fair to state that CW and AUS are stronger conferences from top to bottom, but the top OUA teams (Lakehead included) pose a serious threat to those conferences in games that count.

  22. I'll just add my two cents....

    For as long as I can remember, Alberta has played at level beyond virtually every other program in the country (with honourable mention to Saskatchewan some years). They often seemed to get tripped up at the Nationals by a hot goalie or by just having a bad game. I'd say that it is now Alberta and UNB that are in a class of their own.

    Beyond this, I would say the the top OUA teams (Lakehead, Laurier, Western, Waterloo, UQTR, and McGill) are pretty much on par with the best of the rest in CW and AUS, and are better than some of the others. A big reason for this, I think, is that there are more good OUA teams now than in the past and they are benefiting from the competition. When Western went through two undefeated regular seasons earlier this decade, they did so against pretty weak competition and it showed during the playoffs.

    David...comments like yours make me shake my head. So SMU lost the game themselves and not because Western beat them? Did they shoot 5 pucks into their own net in the 3rd period? Give Western some credit...they were the better team. Further, your statement "there wasn't much doubt who would win their championship game against UNB - UWO had one shot in the first period." is ridiculous. Yes Western had one shot in the first period, but the shots were 29-26 Western the rest of the way. As for "not much doubt" - please, it was a 3-2 game until MacIntosh scored an empty netter in the last minute (which, if you watched the game, came right after Sal Paralta missed tying it up by about an inch). I agree UNB fully deserved the win, but it was a highly competitive game after the first period.

  23. Ok, you got me there ... maybe I was projecting. After their strong first period, at the time I never felt UNB was in danger of losing that game against UWO, which in hindsight and after seeing the video, I was probably being overconfident.

    As for SMU's implosion? I am convinced that if SMU and UWO were to have played a 2-game, 3-game, or 5-game series SMU would have come out on top. That was a very uncharacteritic game for SMU. Of course Western did beat them, so they were the better team that day, but ir you were to compare "the body of work" for both teams last season, SMU has the edge. Does that really matter in a one-off? Obviously not, just ask Alberta after their first period against UNB. However, I haven't met anyone who didn't consider UWO's win over SMU an upset. Maybe you're the first.

  24. While it is early to speculate on who will qualify for the Nationals, give Nipissing credit for the performance they have put on to this point.

    While the Lakers may not have played some of the higher ranked teams in the OUA (perhaps aside Trois-Rivières - and lost), the team is putting on a show for hockey supporters in North Bay. Considering the success ratio of expansion teams in any sport (and that some people didn't want to give the Lakers the thought of a chance of competing), 5-1-0-1 is looking pretty good.

    Hosting Ottawa vendredi soir at the Gardens.

  25. ottawa had only 14 skaters but nipissing only had 13.

  26. gamesheet lists 18 skaters and 2 goalers, though. I'm not doubting you, I'm just saying you have to work off the available info.

  27. A quick look at the OUA West standings and you'll see that the top four spots are finally occupied by the teams you would expect to be there. They all played head-to-head this weekend and every game was close, so this should be a great battle all season. I expect all 4 will be in the top 10 this week, after Western joins the other three (they've won 5 straight after an 0-2 start).

    Waterloo's secret weapon this year is keeper Keaton Hartigan. They are 6-1-1 against one of the toughest schedules in the country so far this year, despite being outshot in 7 of those 8 games (Hartigan has started 7 of those games).

    Anyone else notice that McGill has only allowed 6 goals against in four games?

  28. I note here that UNB is listed at 14-0. They actually lost one exhibition game, 4-2 to the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League on Sept. 30. By all accounts, they deserved a better fate, but didn't get it. It's their only loss to date, but it is a loss

  29. Bill,

    I go with what the Top Ten committee says; I don't think it counts games vs. pro teams.

  30. OK. Wasn't sure. Just pointing it out in case it was an oversight...

  31. OUA fan here. I am a big supporter of the 3-3-3 and 1 floater team idea.

    Like another posted (Todd) I am also very excited for the battle in the OUA west. Like the CIS blog prediction, I expected Guelph to be more in the mix, and Brock looked strong for awhile, but it may come down to Lakehead, Laurier, Waterloo and Western in the top 4 again. Waterloo I expected would have a mediocre year after losing so many graduating players and Pier Pelletier, but Keaton Hartigan has played them to the top. After a slow start, Western has picked it up again to maybe be the team that most of us thought they would be prior to the season. I am excited for my Hawks to see how they fare in Thunder Bay this weekend, as they enter a very difficult month schedule wise.

  32. Dear Mr. Ken Kokanie:
    Your defence of the Lakehead Thunderwolves' .500 or better record against non-conference competition (including Canada West and AUS) teams overlooks one important factor. Please tell me, how many of those games were played in the Wolves' home den, which is a distinct advantage?

  33. Anon:

    I cannot argue with the fact that it is an advantage to play at home, and I think the majority of those games against AUS and CW teams were in Thunder Bay (a handful were played at the Nationals in Alberta).