Hockey: Men's Top 10 tracker; UNB loses; wild West lives up to name

You might have heard: UNB missed its chance for a 28-0 season on the same weekend the Simon Fraser women's basketball team had its 54-game win streak snapped. Hey, the Olympics are on in Canada, it's time for the favourites to stumble.

In the OUA West, Waterloo found its own level. The top three teams, Western, UW and Lakehead, finished in order that corresponded to their RPI, so maybe it was supposed all finish that way. All it took was the Mustangs winning a couple overtime games and the Warriors blowing a two-goal lead and losing 6-4 to eighth-place UOIT.
  1. UNB Varsity Reds (170, all 17 first-place votes) (37-2, 27-1-0 AUS, 1st RPI) — Beat Dalhousie 5-2 on Saturday (the Tigers scored two short-handed goals on the same penalty), but all anyone will want to talk about is the 4-3 home loss to St. FX and whether it means the V-Reds are vulnerable.

    Look at this way: No one ever said UNB was superhuman, and if the fifth-place X-Men could come back after falling behind 3-0 on the road ... well, it is a small sample size but it validates the opinions there are no givens in the Atlantic.

  2. Alberta Golden Bears (149) (26-6, 21-4-1 CW, 2nd RPI) — Split with UBC (4-1 loss, 7-1 win), as Evan Daum discusses here.

  3. UQTR Patriotes (129) (25-7, 23-3-2 OUA-E, 7th RPI) — Dotted the I's by beating Carleton (6-4) and crossed the T's with a win over Ottawa (6-1), making first place official. UQTR's one-goal win at McGill on Monday effectiely settled the division race a week early.

  4. Acadia Axemen (121) (22-13, 19-6-3 AUS, t-5th RPI) — Lost 2-1 in a shootout to Moncton on Saturday. Pier-Alexandre Poulin, the big brother of Team Canada forward Marie-Philip Poulin, scoring the decider to put the Aigles Bleus into the playoffs.

    Acadia also won 5-2 over St. Thomas.

  5. McGill Redmen (96) (27-11-1, 22-6-0 OUA-E, 3rd RPI) — Did a nice little stat-pad Saturday, 9-0 over Ottawa with Francis Verreault-Paul scoring a hat trick to beat his UQTR namesake, Francis Charland, for the OUA scoring crown.

    McGill needed 48 shots on Con U's Maxime Joyal to a get a 4-3 OT win over the eighth-place Stingers on Friday.

    That 5-4 loss to UQTR early in the week assured coach Jim Webster's Redmen of facing Nipissing in the 2-vs.-7 OUA East quarter-final.

  6. Western Mustangs (70) (23-10, 21-7-0 OUA-W, 4th RPI) — In the words of Rob Faulds, "What do you think about that?"

    The Mustangs wrested away first place in the division with a pair of 3-2 extra-time wins over UOIT (shootout) and Laurier (in overtime). Keyvan Hunt stopped 75-of-79 shots, plus both shootout attempts vs. the Ridgebacks, over the weekend. That must have been some money goaltending.

  7. Waterloo Warriors (62) (23-10, 20-7-1 OUA-W, t-5th RPI) — Go figure how Waterloo contrived to lose 6-4 to eighth-place UOIT, and lose first place. It would probably be mean to say that's like holding an Olympic ceremony and having the cauldron lighting go awry because a $1.50 part malfunctioned.

    Waterloo, which will face Windsor, blew leads against two potential playoff opponents. They beat the Lancers 4-3 on Friday after surrendering a three-goal lead. They had been doing a good job of closing out teams, so a regression was perhaps inevitable.

  8. Lakehead Thunderwolves (60) (22-11, 19-7-2 OUA-W, 8th RPI) — Nice to see captain Jordan Smith score the overtime winner in the final game before the playoffs, a 3-2 decision at Brock.

    The T-Wolves lost 4-2 to Laurier on Friday, but the only way they could face the fourth-place Golden Hawks would be in the division final.

  9. Manitoba Bisons (38) (21-11, 14-8-2 CW, 9th RPI) — Bye week ahead of next weekend's playoff preview series at Saskatchewan.

  10. Saint Mary's Huskies (21) (21-14, 16-8-4 AUS, 11th RPI) — Beat St. Thomas (7-4) and Moncton (6-1) to enter the playoffs on a four-game win streak. They'll face Moncton in the first round.
Outside the top 10:
  • The ARV teams: Laurier (8), Saskatchewan (6), Calgary (2).
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  1. As much as Laurier has fallen off the radar, i think this is exactly where we want to be.

    If Waterloo finishes first and Laurier fourth, then they would likely face each other in the second round, and Laurier has i believe 3 one-goal losses to the Warriors this year as opposed to being blown out of the water by the mustangs and wolves.

    Then one of lakehead and western will take each other out and whoever comes out of the waterloo/laurier matchup will have an easier road to the final.

  2. Daniel Da Silva2/09/2010 2:04 pm

    I think all three of those teams would love to
    1) finish above Lakehead to have home ice and
    2) avoid Lakehead period...especially Western

  3. For sure Dan, one thing that will be interesting to note is that home-ice advantage is rather meaningless (compared to say Lakehead's) in a series between laurier and waterloo, the rinks are a 2 minute drive away from each other.

    The only difference is that Columbia Ice Fields would be packed with waterloo fans (in all of the 100 seats that arena has :P )

    And the Waterloo memorial rec complex would still be empty just because of how large it is.

    So maybe you give and edge to waterloo having a small but loud packed house, but still it's nowhere near as key as it would be for Lakehead or Western to get home ice

  4. Luke: with all due respect, I disagree that 4th place is where Laurier wants to be. If there's one team I don't want to play right now...especially in a short's Guelph, and that's who Laurier gets in the first round if they stay in 4th. Guelph is 7-1-2 since the holidays, and that includes wins over both Laurier and Western. I'm not a Guelph fan, but it would not surprise me at all to see them sneak up and take the division.

  5. Well that will certainly be the first round matchup to watch i feel, but in terms of the second round, Laurier has to like playing Waterloo more than they would Lakehead and Western.

    They can't look past Guelph by any means, but if they can past the Gryph's they have a better chance at making the OUA West Championship than if they were 2nd or 3rd

  6. I posted in the other thread about how as a Laurier fan I really wanted Waterloo to finish first and Laurier fourth as I also feel that Laurier's best chance would be against Waterloo (as opposed to Lakehead or Western). I also wanted York to come 5th, but what can you do? I think drawing Lakehead, especially without home ice (or even with home ice where you start playing away) would be the worst draw. That being said, I am not sure of your "blown out of the water" comment though, as both games between Laurier and Western so far have been one goal games with Laurier outshooting the Mustangs. Laurier's only win against any of the top 3 also did come against Lakehead, but that was with a substantially different roster. That being said, having watched all 3 teams, I like Laurier's chances against Waterloo the most.

    The point about Guelph is very true. All season long I have been impressed with their play (though they were a bit inconsistent until rather recently). They had a great recruiting class and since Christmas have been on fire. All 3 games between Laurier and Guelph were very closely contested, with each side taking one in regulation, and Laurier taking one in the shootout. While Laurier may be a bit of a favorite going into the series, in my mind it is by a thread, and an argument could be made that with their recent play Guelph should be favored.

    Of possible concern for Laurier is JM Rizk did not play this past weekend against Windsor. He did have a rough collision against Lakehead (sort of a knee on knee) though I am purely speculating. Hopefully he is back against Lakehead Friday, and if not, then back for the playoffs. He is arguably Laurier's best player, and a loss of him would seriously set back Laurier's chances of winning against Guelph or Waterloo.

  7. I think everyone is underestimating Waterloo's ability. They play stingy defense, and again in a short series are capable of knocking off Western, Laurier, or Lakehead, home ice advantage or not.

    Waterloo is dangerous, no bones about it.

  8. The OUA West is so difficult to pick right now - the second half was so different from the first half. I think all of the "big 4" are vulnerable in the first round, although Waterloo's defensive style may be an advantage for them. For sure Laurier will be in tough against Guelph, and Western really struggled in two of three games against UOIT in the second half - losing one and winning one in a shootout. The standings since Christmas may surprise some - not just the order, but the compression between the teams:

    Waterloo 9-2-0-18
    Guelph 8-1-2-18
    Lakehead 8-4-0-16
    Western 7-5-0-14
    Laurier 5-3-3-13
    UOIT 5-6-1-11
    Windsor 4-5-2-10
    York 4-5-2-10

    No question that Waterloo and Guelph have been the strongest in the second half. Lakehead has the talent, but they continue to be inconsistent. Both Western and Laurier look vulnerable. Should be fun to watch this week.

  9. Great stuff, man. Marlin Muylaert has done a good job with UOIT.