Hockey: Top 10 tracker; 3 OUA teams in top five (watch for falling sky)

Thursday's Western-Laurier showdown highlights this week's OUA slate. The upshot of Acadia being ahead of Saint Mary's is they square off Friday, so that will render all of our chin-wagging academic!
  1. UNB Varsity Reds (170, all 17 first-place votes) (21-0, 13-0-0 AUS) — Tighter than expected results on road vs. St. Thomas (3-2 OT win) and Moncton (7-5).

  2. Alberta Golden Bears (153, all 17 second-place votes) (17-3, 14-1-1 CW) — Swept Lethbridge (6-2 and 4-3 in OT). The Golden Bears have McGill in Dec. 28-29.

  3. Western Mustangs (132) (15-3, 13-2-0 OUA-W) — Won 5-3 at Western on Saturday. Forward Keaton Turkiewicz scored the decider in Thursday's 5-4 win over No. 9 Laurier.

  4. UQTR Patriotes (92) (15-4, 13-2-0 OUA-E) — Blanked RMC 5-0 on Saturday; beat Toronto 4-3 in overtime on Friday.

  5. McGill Redmen (82) (14-4-1, 10-2-0 OUA-E) — Saturday's 4-3 road loss to the pesky Toronto Varsity Blues (Joe Rand got the winner with 8:26 left) means McGill is even in the loss column with UQTR. Won 7-2 at Nipissing on Friday.

    Strange occurrences can take place when teams are winding down toward the exam break, but no, that does not explain away the Redmen beating Ottawa 15-4 on Tuesday (Francis Verreault-Paul had seven points, including a first-period natural hat trick).

  6. Manitoba Bisons (76) (16-6, 9-3-2 CW) — Swept Iowa State 8-3 and 1o-2 in a friendly series.

  7. Acadia Axemen (72) (13-7, 11-3-0 AUS) — Matching 4-3 wins over St. FX and Saint Mary's.

  8. Saint Mary's Huskies (62) (11-8, 7-3-3 AUS) — Split two OT games, beating Dalhousie (6-5) and losing to Acadia (4-3).

  9. Laurier Golden Hawks (37) (13-7, 10-4-1 OUA-W) — Split a pair of one-goal decisions, beating Brock (3-2) after that 5-4 home loss to Western.

  10. Lakehead Thunderwolves (30) (13-5, 11-3-2 OUA-W) — Won 3-1 and 5-3 at Guelph.
Also receiving votes: St. Francis Xavier X-Men (26), Waterloo Warriors (2), Saskatchewan Huskies (1). The X-Men (the No. 10-A team) lost 6-4 to Dalhousie on Saturday.
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  1. If Stfx played all 5 teams in the OUA in the top guess is that they'd win 4. They play 1 game this week, beat the previous number 3 seed, and go nowhere. hmmmmmm.

  2. St. FX got 26 points; Lakehead got 30. Four points is not enough of a molehill to make a mountain.

  3. I cannot comprehend how week after week UQTR remains so highly ranked. Their record is inflated by a weak schedule and the only victory they have had against decent competition is against Laurier. Last week they lost to Concordia, possibly the worst team in the country (I say that based on a 2-10 record in the weakest division in the weakest conference).

    Stfx probably deserves to be ranked, but it's tough to drop Lakehead on the basis of a shootout loss in game where they outshot RMC something like 50-17.

    I haven't seen Stfx play, but I'd take that bet about them going 4-1 against the top 5 in the OUA. These are solid teams.

  4. As I posted on Hfboards, I was really surprised UQTR moved up in the standings (though I understand it was also part SMU moving down). I still never thought that a week which included losing to the 19th place team in the OUA (and 34th team in the CIS)would help you make it to the top 4 in Canada.

    The team to beat seemed to be UOIT (at last in the OUA west), as one home win against them was enough to propel McGill in front of Manitoba and they were one of UQTR's wins this week. Weird.

    Western is playing great hockey and got a landslide of votes into 3rd place, and I still feel that teams like Laurier and Lakehead are where they should be in that "bubble range" but again, no idea why McGill and UQTR are so high. They played their crossover games, each got blown out and won one close one, and it showed that they are simply "in the mix" with the top 4 OUA west teams, not in the mix for the top 4 in the country. I think all the OUA teams have an argument for being in the top 10, but outside of Western, I think they should be dispersed more in that 6-10 range.

    As for St. FX, they were so close, I would agree with sager, they are essentially in.

  5. Keep an eye on the Huskies!
    The two teams to watch in the second half of the season are going to be Saint Mary's and Saskatchewan.
    Based upon their line-ups both teams have under-performed to date.
    IMO the only team that can stop UNB from returning to University Cup for the fourth consecutive March is Saint Mary's.
    Though I have never been completely sold on the "reverance" in which Trevor Steinberg is spoken of by the media that covers the AUS (The Daily Gleaner boys and Gordie Sutherland); one can't forget that SMU beat UNB in the Conference Final last season.
    As for Saskatchewan, there is no excuse for them not to be better. When a team adds what they have up front (five legitimate WHL forwards-Bortis, Bailey, Bosch, Dowd and Regina-transfer Ross)there should have been a huge step forward...alas it hasn't happened.
    Anyone know why?
    Out west the Bears have been a surprise, I don't think think anyone thought they would be this good.
    I also think Calgary has a chance to be relevant again under former Bears' Mark Howell and Cory Cross.
    They had real structure and process in their game in the series with Alberta but didn't get the saves.

    Bob Stauffer

  6. For what it is worth, I did vote for X (my conference breakdown was 4 AUS-4 OUA-2 CW, let's leave it there) and had McGill & UQTR lower than either is ranked, just because I like the results Acadia and Manitoba have been posting up.

    Not sure if St. FX would go 4-1. That might be a bit of fanbole. How about two wins and two OTLs?

  7. AUS big time fan11/25/2009 11:11 am

    Commenting on Mr. Stauffer's post, the Saint Mary's Huskies are a team on the decline, due in part to the residual effect from last year's blowout against Western at the nationals. They've got goaltending issues -- Verge has never been a big game goaltender and the Neil Conway kid remains untested -- and their top forward, Marc Rancourt, is in his fifth year and playing like he's prepared to ride into the sunset. Defenceman Andrew Hotham is overrated. They've got some gritty guys who play hard for Stienburg, but against teams like UNB, Acadia and possibly St. FX, the Huskies might be coming up a buck short

  8. AUS that you Fred?
    I'll concede I don't have the best handle on the AUS...but some of the experts had them as the second best team in the Atlantic.
    Saskatchewan should be better then they are...but they have never been held accountable in their market...even when they haven't had the kind of National success they should have...


  9. With their recruiting class, all the talk I heard coming from out west was about how the Huskies were ready to challenge. Their results were terrible from the beginning, but I will give them credit for their recent play. It seems they have turned it around somewhat. If Alberta and Manitoba finish 1-2, then the race for third could have huge importance. If Saskatchewan makes it to third spot for example, what happened earlier in the season is irrelevant, as they showed this past weekend that they are now at least capable of staying with Manitoba (earning 1 win in 2 games in Manitoba). With the West sending 2 teams this year, that number 3 seed become so much more important, as (no disrespect towards a great Manitoba squad) I think most teams would rather take their chances in a 3 game series against Manitoba (assuming of course Alberta Manitoba finish 1-2) to make it to nationals than the Golden Bears.

  10. Saskatchewan's goaltending hasn't been good enough in the Harvey era when the games really matter. Top-two goalies in the league: Yonkman and Christie. Not a coincidence their respective teams will be 1-2 in the conference midway through the season. Luckily for the Dawgs two teams get out of the west, so of course they have a great shot to make it to the conference final and earn a berth to T-Bay, but don't jump on the bandwagon yet. Manitoba hasn't gotten enough respect - they're not a fluke.

  11. From Manitoba here ...

    Don't discount Calgary. They looked better than Sask. IAE, I'd be shocked if any of the bottom 3 came back to make the playoffs.