Hockey: Men's Top 10 tracker: Wacky Wednesday and Frantic Friday, playoff-wise

It seems like every top 10 team hosts a playoff game Wednesday and goes on the road for another on Friday. Exceptions: UNB and Acadia, who reside in the conference that understands the concept of a bye week; and Alberta and Manitoba, who aren't yet done their regular season.

Sunday saw at one top-10 team eliminated by a not-even-close-to-a-top-10 team, and another team lose twice to likely be dropped out of the top 10.

Highlights of this week's schedule: Bisons @ Huskies (Fri/Sat), Lions vs. Thunderwolves (Wed/Fri/Sun*).

  1. UNB Varsity Reds (160 points) (27-1 AUS, 1st RPI) — Bye week.

  2. Alberta Golden Bears (137 points) (21-5 CW, 2nd RPI) — A pair at lowly Regina this weekend. The first was a 5-4 win which saw Regina lead 2-0 in the first. Four straight goals (all from different goal-scorers) put Alberta up for a bit, then Regina scored two more in the third and it took a 15:01 goal from Ian McDonald to put them away. Greg Gardner assisted on that one plus another as part of his three-point night. The second game was another one-goal win, another 5-4 score, but this time in OT as the Bears needed a goal at 18:07 of the third to tie it, and then Eric Hunter got the winner 30 seconds into the extra frame.

  3. UQTR Patriotes (129 points) (23-5 OUA, 4th RPI) — Rode big two goals from Felix Petit to beat Concordia 6-2 in their first game. Olivier Donovan added a pair late in the game as well. Concordia won the second game 2-1, though, despite being outshot 47-21. This time, Donovan was on the ice for both Concordia goals...he probably preferred his plus-minus from Wednesday. The third game was Sunday afternoon and went the way of the Patriotes, 4-2, as Maxime Levesque scored twice.

  4. Acadia Axemen (108 points) (19-9 AUS, t-7th RPI) — Bye week.

  5. Western Mustangs (89 points) (21-7 OUA, 3rd RPI) — After finishing first in the OUA West, drew the University of Ontario Institute of Applied Learning and Advanced Technology Technical Institute of Technology Ridgebacks in the first-round series, which started Wednesday with a Mustangs loss. UOIT scored twice on the powerplay to win 2-1. And the 'stangs were very close to devoting themselves full-time to school after Friday's game: UOIT led 2-1 with five minutes to go, the game was tied with two minutes to go, and finally Western gained the lead on a Kyle Lamb goal off a rebound from Yashar Farmanara's shot; it was the latter's second point of three in the third. The series concluded Sunday in London, and Western rode three first-period goals to put it away quickly.

    Luke has more on the OUA West opening night of upsets, but it really does reveal how meaningless the OUA regular season has become.

  6. McGill Redmen (88 points) (22-6 OUA, 5th RPI) — Nipissing is their first-round opponent, and the series started...yep, Wednesday. The 4-1 win by McGill was actually just 2-1 until 14:08 of the third. Maxime Langelier-Parent had the second and fourth Redmen goals. There were quite a few penalties called in this one, especially late in the third, but after all McGill had more PIM than anyone else in the conference during the season. McGill then won 7-2 in a game that doesn't even sound close, and why am I not surprised that the Lakers took two ten-minute misconducts late in the third? Attendance was 1638, which is not bad for a small school during reading week.

  7. Waterloo Warriors (43 points) (20-8 OUA, 6th RPI) — So much for finishing first overall: a defensive team giving up six goals to nearly-last-place UOIT precludes that from happening, wouldn't you say? And what of the same team that gives up three (plus an empty-netter) at home to Windsor? The Warriors lost 4-2 in front of what had to be about 38 fans, some of whom were not related to the players. Windsor's Kyle Tront matched Waterloo with two goals of his own, both on the powerplay. Waterloo won Game 2, but they had to hold on to their one-goal lead for the entire third period. Two assists and the winning goal from Shane Hart likely earned him First Star honours.

    Game 3 (Sunday at Waterloo) was, I'm told, "heart-breaking" for the home side: at 13:37 of the second overtime, Tront showed up again on the scoresheet and sent the fans home unhappy. He also had an assist on an earlier goal. For Waterloo, Jarrett Schnurr and his surfeit of double consonants had a goal and an assist.

  8. Lakehead Thunderwolves (42 points) (19-9 OUA, t-7th RPI) — Start with one at York on Wednesday, of course, then two more at home (if needed) in their best-of-three. Shockingly, they lost in double OT to the Lions, and wouldn't have even gotten that far if not for a 19:42 goal from Kris Hogg in the third. This all sets up a very interesting Friday night in the OUA. The balance was reset when Lakehead won that one 9 to 5. Mark Seares had two goals and two assists; he scored twice in the third as Lakehead netted five in the period.

    Game 3 lets us pretend that first game never happened, as York lost by four goals again and were outscored 15-7 in Thunder Bay. Scott Dobben had two goals and two assists in the Thunderwolves' 6-2 series-winning performance. Only giving up six goals was actually quite a feat by the Lions, since according to the boxscore they had no goalie in the net for a good 20 minutes.

  9. Manitoba Bisons (36 points) (14-10 AUS, 10th RPI) — Two four-pointers coming up in Saskatoon, with Manitoba and the U of S each at 30 points entering the weekend. Evan should be all over this one, especially because the Huskies won the first 4 to 1, scoring in the first five minutes of each period. The second game went Saturday night and the Huskies won it 4-1 as well; Kyle Bortis had a pair for Saskatchewan. I suspect someone might be out of the top 10 after this week...

  10. SMU Huskies (34 points) (16-12 AUS, 11th RPI) — Best-of-three with Moncton, the opener of which was delayed from Wednesday due to an unholy amount of snow. When they got around to it on Friday, SMU won in double OT, 2-1; the winner came from David MacDonald and Mike Danton scored the earlier goal. Game 2 was Saturday in Moncton; this time a 4-2 win for SMU, with Danton scoring again (this time a powerplay goal to put the Huskies up 3-0 in the second) and Justin Munden netting a pair. Moncton actually came back to a 3-2 score but let in the empty-netter with 20 seconds to go.

Also receiving votes: Saskatchewan (8), Laurier (4), UPEI (2).
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  1. Don't like the new OUA playoff format at all. Would have much preferred to see the top six in each division make the playoffs, with the top 2 in each division getting a bye - the old way but without the gratuitous higher rankings for the previous Mid East and Mid West division leaders. In a short series it is too easy for a good team to get stoned by a hot goalie and be gone - there should be more reward for having a good regular season and no reward for having a not so good season (I'm talking to you Concordia and Nip U). I don't think they'll do it, but UOIT has a real shot at upsetting Western - they have proven they can hang with the big boys (at times) in the second half.

  2. there is no team in the oua east that is safe, except for maybe UQTR. Watch out McGill! Nipissing is on reading week though so there may be a few hundred less people at the game unless the townies step it up

  3. Expect a packed house Friday Night at Memorial Gardens for Game Two (McGill vs Nipissing).

    3088 at the game against Ryerson last Friday.

  4. Game 1 of the Moncton/Saint Mary's game scheduled for tonight (Feb 17th) has been postponed due to weather (Halifax received 20-30cm of snow earlier this morning, and although conditions have improved in the city not sure what it's like on the highways). No word yet on when the game will take place.

  5. From the AUS website...

    "Please note the following revised schedule for the best 2-of-3 AUS men's hockey quarter-final between Saint Mary's and Moncton.

    Game 1: Friday, February 19th - Moncton at Saint Mary's, 7:00pm

    Game 2: Saturday, February 20th - Saint Mary's at Moncton, 7:00pm

    Game 3: Sunday, February 21st - Moncton at Saint Mary's, 7:00pm* (*if necessary)"

  6. Three "upsets" in 8 series (I personally don't consider Guelph beating Laurier an upset), and 6 of 8 series needed 3 games. I'm not really sure what this says about the quality of play in the OUA vs. the other conferences, but this is the most competitive I've seen the league in the 20+ years I've been following it. I'd like to think the bottom teams have come closer to the top - which I think they have - but I also think that the conference lacks the one or two dominant teams that it seems to have every year. I still think these playoffs are wide open and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see a team like Guelph or Carleton win the championship.