Hockey: Top 10 tracker; Patriotes upset in OT by Carleton

How about Saskatchewan, which had a meh first half in Canada West, knocking off No. 8 Lakehead 5-2 and 4-3 at Fort William Gardens on Friday. Granted, the Thunderwolves have the Christmas airlift coming soon.

Carleton also made some noise on a quiet weekend by upsetting UQTR 3-2 (and it didn't seem so much like an upset as the better team winning; if Carleton ever discovers some consistency, LTFO).

The Ravens' win and put UQTR one behind McGill in the overtime loss column heading into the second half. Those teams have only played once, so essentially there will be a best-of-3 between McGill and UQTR for top spot and playoff home-ice advantage in the OUA East. Carleton also has some confidence if it ends up meeting the Patriotes.

  1. UNB Varsity Reds (180, all 18 first-place votes) (22-0, 14-0-0 AUS) — Host Saint Mary's on Sunday; beat UPEI 7-0 on Friday.

  2. Alberta Golden Bears (163, all 18 second-place votes) (17-3, 14-1-1 CW) — Host McGill Dec. 28-29.

  3. Western Mustangs (140) (16-3, 14-2-0 OUA-W) — 3-2 overtime win over Windsor to extend nation's second-longest win streak to 14 games; have a tournament Dc. 28-30.

  4. Acadia Axemen (106) (13-7, 11-3-0 AUS) — Idle; play Dalhousie on Jan. 2.

  5. UQTR Patriotes (100) (16-5, 14-2-1 OUA-E) — Lost 3-2 in overtime at Carleton on Saturday after doubling up Nipissing 4-2 the night before, meaning McGill closed the gap slightly.

    Carleton, harkening to last season's playoff series (which went the distance and then some, double overtime in Game 3), has matched up well with the Patriotes. The Ravens outshot UQTR 35-24 (at least that's what was posted on the scoreboard), with Brett Halstead scoring the winner 1:48 into OT. Both Halstead's winner and Joey Manley's tying goal with 7:13 left were to low to the blocker side on UQTR 'tender Jean-Christophe Blanchard.

  6. McGill Redmen (91) (16-4-1, 12-2-0 OUA-E) — Swept Ryerson 7-0 and 8-5 on the road. Francis Verreault-Paul had his second hat trick in 10 days in the first game.

  7. Manitoba Bisons (78) (16-6, 9-3-2 CW) — Play Lakehead Dec. 29-30.

  8. Lakehead Thunderwolves (51) (13-7, 11-3-2 OUA-W) — Those 4-3 and 5-2 losses in Saskatchewan (bearing in mind there could be extenuating circumstances) might hurt their ranking heading into the New Year.

  9. Saint Mary's Huskies (38) (12-8, 8-3-3 AUS) — At New Brunswick on Sunday; beat St. FX 4-1 on Wednesday.

  10. Laurier Golden Hawks (27) (15-7, 12-4-1 OUA-W) — Easy wins over York (8-3) and UOIT (7-0) to close out their pre-holiday schedule.
Also receiving votes: Saskatchewan Huskies (12), St. Francis Xavier X-Men (3), Calgary Dinos (1) Waterloo Warriors (1).
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  1. re Lakehead versus the Saskatchewan guys in Men's hockey. What were the extenuating circumstances?

  2. Lakehead was missing their top scorer and top scoring defenceman, and played their backup goalie in the second game. Saskatchewan was missing 10 players, including 8 regulars. Lakehead also has some top recruits who become eligible at the end of this month.

  3. that is why the CIS and their top ten selection
    comittee needs to take non conference out of the equation!! I see Steve Knowles of CW still includes overall standings and stats in his packages?
    Playing non conference prior to the start of league and even during the dececember period are not refective of a teams full potential. They are evaluative at the beginning and in alot of cases novelty games during December!
    AND some teams even play lesser opponents to get their confidence back after getting pummled in the regular season. Looks to me like Sask and the T-Wolves had a good battle, regarding the penalties... Lakehead area only has two refs up there and they are both homers!!!! Turns out they had the 4 man system going this past weekend , yikes!! Kelly Nobes would have had 2 GMs just for looking suspiciously at his pregame coffee if he had been there. HAHA!!

  4. CIS Top 10 for hockey has historically not been worth the paper its printed on.

    Little is done in regards to evaluate teams against the quality of competition, and there are not enough cross-conference games to pass judgement on how one Top10 team would fair against another.

    At the end of the day, what is the value of the rankings from September to Feb? Oh right, it helps determine the seedings at the national championships that happen at the end of March.

  5. even then you can protest them (the top 10 for seeding purposes) if you dont like the seed you have been given!! and they (the CIS) listens to you!!

  6. @10:57: Evan has that covered off in his post.

    To the others, I believe people are evaluating teams against the quality of competition. That is why UQTR is not No. 3 and might even be left off some ballots.

    As noted during football season (I vote in each poll), it is not gospel. It is an opinion poll which is meant to spark a debate and generate interest. That does not mean voters are not charged with taking it seriously, and they should consider not only records but goal differential, home vs. road showing and so forth.

  7. UQTR is a borderline top 10 team. I would like to see them meet Carleton again this year. Last year it was double overtime in the deciding game as stated, before UQTR got swept by McGill. So far, their one game against Carleton has been a loss. Carleton will be interesting to watch, as they are inconsistent (not winning a single crossover game), but seem to be able to hang with the best. After their recent win over UQTR, 5 of their next 11 games are against either UQTR or McGill, including 3 more against UQTR. The unforunate problem seems to be not that UQTR is not number 3 right now, but that teams like Western only seem to be in front when they have a higher winning percentage, despite playing against tougher competition. Despite Western spanking UQTR 5-1, if Western dropped just a few against teams like Waterloo, Lakehead or Laurier, while UQTR beats teams like RMC, I would fully expect UQTR or McGill to move into that 3rd position.

  8. I agree with a lot of what's been discussed above. To me, those voting need to be aware that Saskatchewan and Lakehead both played with depleted lineups in their two friendlies this past weekend and throw these results out. Based on the number of players missing on both sides that others have mentioned, it's just not possible to draw accurate conclusions about either team based on these results. The use of these non-conference games where teams are not playing with a full lineup is one of the major flaws in the rankings.

    Also agree with the comment above about Western, and I suspect you'll see this play out after the holidays. Western plays Lakehead 4 times in January and a split is probably realistic. And if this happens, they'll probably drop to number 7 or 8 while McGill and maybe UQTR will likely continue to win against weak competition and keep their rankings.

    I think the inaccuracy of the rankings was really exposed last year. Western got off to very slow start, going 2-5-1 out of the gate. They then went 13-1 before losing two meaningless games against Lakehead on the last weekend of the season. They then basically ran the table in the playoffs right up to the University Cup final. Through all of this, they were only ranked in 6 of 14 polls, and their highest ranking was 6, which they achieved on the second last poll of the season. They were clearly one of the top teams in the country but the level of difficulty in their schedule was not recognized and their slow start hung around their neck all year. This is the exact situation many AUS fans (rightly) complain about regarding the ranking of their conference's teams each year.

  9. As Neate said, voters are hopefully putting as much thought as possible into their picks, and not just looking at standings ...

    I for one did not put UQTR in my Top 10 this week (am I allowed so say that? Too late ...) and any other week I never had them ranked as high as many voters have, because frankly I feel they have a soft schedule and an inflated record. For me McGill is the class of OUA East.

    As for the weighting of out of conference exhibition games - they matter to me. Good teams try to win every game. If a team treats it just as an "exhibition" and a road trip and don't show up on the ice, you're damn right I hold that against them.

  10. @4:54: You don't need to be a graduate of Boise State, Cincinnati or TCU to know where you start in the poll matter. That's why Texas is in the BS title game ...

    It was the same phenomena in football this season. Everyone voted Western No. 2 and Queen's started No. 8. The Mustangs were ranked higher until they lost a game.

  11. To anon 4:54...
    Did you grow up in the UK?
    Dude, nobody on this side of the pond calls exhibition hockey games "friendlies".
    In fact, putting the words hockey and friendly together is an oxymoron.
    Getting back to the point of this discussion...if a team is depleted when playing these exhibition games well that's just too damn bad as far as I'm concerned.
    Why should these teams be given a mulligan for that?
    Injuries, illness,'s all part of the game.
    If you don't want to put your reputation on the line playing exhibitions then don't bother scheduling them.
    Just shut up and play.

  12. I believe that non-conference games should be given some weight. They also help gauge the relative strength of the conferences.

    The striking thing this year is the way that the top 14 have separated from the rest. Of course, the Official Hollywood Top 34 has more in-depth analysis! (see HF boards)

    Here are some points to consider:

    Against the A-level teams (the top 14), Sask is now 4-5-1 and Lakehead is 1-5-0.

    The only teams with winning records against A-level opponents are: UNB, Alberta, Manitoba, Western Ontario, and Waterloo.

    UQTR and McGill are both just 1-1 against A-level teams. Everybody else in the top 14 have played at least 6 games against A-level teams.

  13. DAVID

    give up the tough guy ...hold it against them deal!!
    Non conference games in the preseason are evaluative games and December games are dependent on avaiabilty and exams. Post Christmas games are tune ups!!! all coaches play to win just ask them BUT they understand and plan for evauation and development.
    Your cooments on the top ten give me more reason to discount the darn thing and bring on hollywoods top 34!!! It has some teeth and no real bias! keep on living the dream

  14. Well I've never been accused of being a tough guy before ...

    It is a level playing field for non-conference games, other than one team is travelling (which is the case in almost any game). Both teams are in their pre-season, or Christmas break, or whatever the situation is. Both teams are dealing with exams or injuries or rustiness or too much Christmas turkey. Therefore one should be able to assess or compare fairly the relative competitiveness between two teams, within reason, such as the performance of rookies in preseason versus veterans on another team.

    If UNB blanks Brock twice in the preseason it should be fair to say that a)Brock is offensivley challenged and b)their young goaltending isn't as good as UNB's. Therefore in the first CIS poll of the regular season, no one should have been picking Brock ahead of UNB -- but someone did, and they must have just been looking at the OUA regular season stats as Brock was undefeated at the time. Brock also lost to Manitoba twice in the preseason. Should we ignore that as well? Look where Brock is now in their standings and rankings. Could there not be a better correlation to how Brock looked in the preseason against UNB and Manitoba versus their first few games against weak OUA teams - and where they are now?

    When I evaluate or "rank" CIS teams, (and I have been doing this in casual discussions for years in trying to predict who will be at the University Cup, and who will win) I always believe you have to consider out of conference play, and performances at the UCup. Is it the only factor? No. I believe wins on the road are more important than wins at home. I believe that the second game of the weekend is a better indicator of the strength of the team than the first game on fresh legs. How teams play with key players injured is a good indicator of roster depth. I'm less affected by blow-outs versus expected-blowouts-that-didn't-happen because some teams do save their energy for more important games against stronger opponents, and I don't think that is a bad thing. On the other hand, getting upset (and not just because the other goalie stands on his head) tells us something.

    So what am I really saying? I believe that ALL games played matter, and it is up to each of us to judge their importance.

  15. I would have to agree with the above post. To borrow from an un-named football coach, sure they "play to win the game" but at the end of the day, pre-season games are to narrow down the roster and cut guys, while December games on the whole are just tune-ups.

    In terms of accounting for strength of schedule, I have to ask, with Western on a 14 game win streak, with multiple wins against Laurier, and Waterloo, and a drubbing of UQTR, how come they are not ranked #2 in country? Is Alberta's sched really that much tougher with 4 wins against Lethbridge?

    To me, it looks like the Canada West favortism is continuing this year as it has over the past 9 or 10 years and supports the argument that the CIS Top 10 for hockey is fun fodder for a few media types that rarely see any of the teams they attempt to rank.

  16. Alberta is 6-1-1 against top 14 teams, Western Ontario is 5-1. Against the B level teams UWO is 5-1 and Alberta is 8-0. So indeed Alberta has the better record. (BTW Lethbridge's stats against A level and B level teams is almost the same as York's.) In the OHT34 I have UWO in 4th in a virtual dead heat with Manitoba. We'll get a better gauge after McGill plays Alberta and Manitoba plays Lakehead after Christmas.

  17. First off, the address bar says last top 10 tracker of the calendar. There was one yesterday as well. It is the last one of the calendar year.

    I completely disagree with 3:14. If anything, I feel that the Canada West has been getting the shaft. They are a strong conference and have TWO teams in the top ten. The OUA has five, but more importantly, 3 of the top 6, and last week 3 of the top 5. Also, there is no way in my mind that I am putting Western ahead of Alberta right now. I think Hollywood has a great setup, with UNB and Alberta as being the top A+ teams, and then the next 12 being fairly close.

    Look at Saskatchewan, they have yet to be in the top ten this year, and they sweep Lakehead on the road. Just to look at Lakehead's record, using Laurier as an example, Lakehead in the last 4 years is 8-6 against Laurier at home, and 1-7 on the road. Saskatchewan without 9 players in the lineup sweeps Lakehead in the Wolves den, and still does not make it into the top ten (I know Lakehead was depleted too). Just for some background, I am an OUA guy. I like the OUA conference, and feel that the top OUA belong and can compete in the top 14 that have pulled away, but there is no denying how strong the CW and AUS are as well. If any conference is getting the benefit of the doubt, it seems to be the OUA. It is not that I don't feel that Laurier and Lakehead should not be in the top 10, but there are teams like St.FX that could also be argued belong, and week in and week out, receive little or no recognition, while teams like UQTR can be as high as 4th.

    I also agree with David and Hollywood with the importance of non-conference games. Maybe they are not 100% indicative, but I feel there is so much debate about how conferences would do against each other, rather than go by blind specualtion, I would rather look at the games actually played. They may not be as reliable as regular season games, but I think David's statement that they demonstrate the relative competitiveness is perfectly put. The example of Brock was one I was going to post earlier. They lose 4-0 and 5-0, and some idiot ranks them first and defending champions UNB 5th.

    I look forward alot to the series between McGill and Alberta. McGill has been ranked in front of Manitoba for the last few polls. When Manitoba played Alberta, they earned a split. If McGill earns a split, wins both, or loses two nailbiters, then I will acknowledge that maybe McGill should be where they are. On the other hand, if they get outshot 40-15 in both games, and lose 5-0 or 5-1, then that would be telling too.

  18. I think you also have to look at past records at nationals and other inter-conference play. There was a thread at HF boards where an Albertan showed their scores at nationals (along with shots on goal) and it safe to say that over the past decade Alberta has dominated the OUA way more than they have dominated teams like Sask, Manitoba, and Calgary.

    Meanwhile, in a year when Calgary was mid-table they went to Thunder Bay and won their tournament. Manitoba did likewise, and over the years ois close to .500 in Thunder Bay. Against other OUA teams they are 8-0 in recent years. They beat Toronto, York, and Laurier in Thunder Bay, beat Brock (away) and Carleton (at home) twice each in non-conference games, and UQTR at the nationals. In all those seasons Manitoba ranked between #3 (usually) and #7 (once) in the CW.

    While an exhibition game (or weekend) may not count for much the cumulative results over several years do allow one to draw conclusions.

    My conclusion is that a slightly better-than-average team in the CW (usually Manitoba and Calgary) rank on par with the championship teams and top contenders in the OUA (usually UQTR, Lakehead, etc.).

    And the AUS seems on par with the CW, albeit with more mobility at the top of their standings and an occasional stinker of a season from some of their bottom teams.

  19. I think that solidifies the idea of UNB and Alberta being A+ and the rest following. You talk of Calgary being around a .500 team. If the OUA was simply a 6 team league, similar to the 7 team league of the west, then many of the teams would be at, or below .500. Only Waterloo and Western would be above .500, and the game between Sask and Lakehead would see Saskatchewan with actually a better record heading into the game. Based on their winning percentages against the top, you would have had 4th place Sask vs 6th (last) place Lakehead. Much more even. Take Alberta out of the CW, and the "championship" teams would now be the Manitoba's, Calgary's and Saskatchewan's, and we would likely see the top in both conferences being fairly competitive. I think we both likely agree that Alberta and UNB are the classes in their conference, but take them away, and all three conferences at the top are at least fairly comparable.

    I look forward to the end of the month however, as (by CIS top ten rankings) number 2 in Canada West takes on number 5 in the OUA.

  20. I actually have UBC, Lethbridge, and Regina in between the likes of Brock, Carleton, York, and Toronto. But I would agree that UNB and Alberta are a cut above and after them you have 12 teams (6 OUA, 3 CW, and 3 AUS) that are all comparable.

  21. RE: Lakehead's Top 10 Status
    Those losses in December were AGAINST Saskatchewan, but NOT "in" Saskatchewan. Just wanted to clarify that.