Hockey: OUA West Playoff Parity

Parity, thy name is OUA West.

Is having Laurier lose to Guelph that big of a shock? No.

Is having Waterloo lose to Windsor that big of a shock? Yes.

Is having every series go to three games that big of a shock? Yes.

Each series didn't just go to three games, however: with the exception of perhaps the final two games between Lakehead and York, each game and each series was competitive. There's a clear distinction between series that are competitive and series that just go the distance.

Having these games be competitive shows that the "lower" teams, the teams outside the "big four" are quickly shaking off that mantle. While fans of those four traditionally strong teams may hate the parity, we should recognize that parity is essential for any strong conference and league and helps to draw in fans, and more fans could definitely help the OUA and University hockey at large.

Windsor for example is as hot as any spot for hockey in Canada right now...with the exception of 800 Griffiths Way of course. If the Lancers, coming off their 3-2 double overtime victory over #2 Waterloo can wrest a headline away from the Spitfires and get a few more curious fans, notably UWindsor students, out to their upcoming games...well, how can that possibly be bad for the sport?

It can't.

In Guelph you have a city that makes up the "tri-cities" with Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, another traditionally strong hockey market considering the Rangers are perennial contenders and University hockey in Waterloo having its own strong niche. Maybe now U of Guelph can carve a niche for themselves; certainly taking the series 2-1 over Laurier helps this cause as they took down a hated rival (Agriculture students vs Business students makes for good old fashioned hatin') to add a bit of context to their victory. The Guelph Storm have always had strong support and Gryphon football is on the rise which only helps to lend more attention to University sport in a city with little sporting competition with the Gryphon teams.

The market, as those "aggie" kids would call it, is ripe for the pickin'.

Speaking of emerging markets, how 'bout them Ridgebacks!

UOIT is not a school you read about very often here on The CIS Blog, but that's inevitable when the school only fields seven varsity teams over four sports. (Not including their dancing team...for obvious reasons)

But considering what we've seen UOIT do this year. On five separate occasions they beat one of the "big four" in the regular season, their program is only a few years old, they won their first ever playoff game against the top-seeded Mustangs, and were five-minutes away from sweeping the 'stangs, in front of a sellout crowd the likes of which is almost never seen this side of Thunder Bay.

You have got to think that UOIT is one of the best things to happen to the OUA in a while. An expansion team recruiting top players, finding instant success, filling their arena, and giving the established programs all they can handle. At the very least, it's a terrific story, a story only helped by parity.

Game one between Lakehead and York was a good story...until games two and three happened. Regardless, that series still went three games, and York still had strong showings at times in the series.

You look at all these aforementioned situations and circumstances, and I cannot think of the last time the playoffs looked like this, or the last time the sport was looking so promising going into the future.

The greatest thing about parity though? We still don't know what that future will look like.

Surely though we can all agree we're excited for whatever it holds.
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  1. Great first round series all around.

    Here's something to consider: If Lakehead defeats Guelph in Round 2, does this mean that the winner of Western/Windsor is automatically in the University Cup?

  2. I don't think so. Lakehead would still have to beat the Western/Windsor winner before it gets complicated. I believe (but I'm not positive on this) that if Lakehead makes it to the Queen's Cup, there will be a playoff between the East and West finalist to determine the OUA's third representative.

  3. If Lakehead makes it to the Queen's Cup, then whoever they play would make it to the University Cup, no matter the result of the Queen's Cup.

    Same system as the CHL has for the memorial cup.

    Being a native Vancouverite i remember the year the Giants hosted they played Medicine Hat in the WHL CHampionship, a series most consider the greatest in league history, even though it was rather meaningless as both the Tigers and Giants were playing for a title as both would be in the Memorial Cup since Vancouver was host.

  4. there is three teams out of the OUA this year. so there would still need to be a playoff for the third.

  5. Ah, my mistake, thought it was only 2

  6. So in other words, if Lakehead DOESN"T make it to the Queen's Cup, whichever two teams DO make it, are in the University Cup

  7. Here is my question though...if Lakehead makes it to the Queen's Cup the team they play out of the OUA East would also make it to the University Cup (obviously)...and the OUA West and OUA East runner-ups would play for the third spot...but would they play a series or just a one game winner-take-all?

  8. I'll have to ask -- and why weren't you watching Virtue & Moir! -- but I would think a one-game playoff.

  9. I would have to think it would be a one-gamer, i'll see if i can find the answer for you by looking into old seasons in the CW OUA and Quebec, unless of course someone knows off the tops of their heads

  10. From the OUA Rules and Regulations for Men's ice Hockey:

    3.4 Bronze Medal Game (Third Place Game) – played to determine third berth to CIS Championship

    In the event that an OUA school is hosting the CIS Championship and also wins their conference
    (reaches the Queen’s cup), the third place game will be hosted by the team with the best overall record; if the records are identical the OUA general tie-breaking procedures will be
    used to determine the host of that game.

  11. Bronze Medal Game:


    Wilfrid Laurier 2-1 UQTR (in Trois Rivieres) after Laurier lost to Lakehead and UQTR lost to McGill in the OUA west/east finals. Laurier's win against UQTR gave them the bronze and they moved on to the nationals in Alberta.

  12. In a case like this, if Lakehead wins in the West, and say McGill wins in the East, then there would be a one game playoff between Western (I will assume) and UQTR (I will assume), played in the rink of the team with more regular season points (in this case UQTR).

  13. Wow, anonymous

    Good call on the layout of the OUA playoffs up to the queens cup.