Women's hockey: Who's going to nationals? (dedicated playoff post)

This is going to be a long post with a hopefully long shelf life, updated often between now and the time that the six teams are set for the national championship. We'll break it up by conference and update the results as we go.

There are six berths at the championship, held March 11-14 in Antigonish, N.S.: one for host St. F-X, another for the AUS, two for the QSSF, one for the OUA, and one for Canada West. For each conference below, we'll summarize the setup of their playoff system, provide the playoff schedule, and predict who the conference winners will be.

AUS (two berths, including St. F-X)

The AUS championship follows a similar format as the CIS championship, with two pools of three teams playing at a predetermined site. Dalhousie, St. F-X, and Saint Mary's are on one side of the draw; UPEI, host Moncton, and St. Thomas are the other group. One from each pool plays in the final, and if St. F-X isn't one of them, then that game will decide who goes to nationals.

Thu Feb 25:
Dalhousie 0 vs. St. F-X 6 (poor Ashley Boutilier, who was pulled after 210 seconds)
UPEI 2 vs. Moncton 6 (with her team down 2-1 after two, Mariève Provost had a hat trick in the third)

Fri Feb 26:
Dalhousie 6 vs. Saint Mary's 8 (no, really)
UPEI 1 vs. St. Thomas 5 (four powerplay goals for STU)

Sat Feb 27:
St. F-X 3 vs. Saint Mary's 5 (a good back-and-forth game, with Kyla Thurston's 4 points and Lauren McCusker's 2 goals leading the Huskies)
Moncton 3 vs. St. Thomas 1 (12 shots for Provost here...more than half the Tommies' total)

Sun Feb 28:
Saint Mary's 6 vs. Moncton 2
- Another upset win for SMU, who overcame long odds to make it to Antigonish. This game was, surprisingly, not close at all: 2-0 after one, 5-1 halfway through. Moncton kind of had a chance with five minor penalties called against SMU in the third, but only converted on one of them.

Expected outcome
As of Feb. 24: 71% chance Moncton wins, 17% chance St. F-X wins, 7% chance Dalhousie SMU wins. Since the X-Women have a berth regardless, you can look at it this way: there's an 86% chance UdeM gets the other berth, either by winning the AUS or by losing it to St. F-X.
Through Feb. 25: 70% chance Moncton wins, 21% chance St. F-X wins, 6% for Dalhousie.
Through Feb. 26: Two teams have been eliminated, but they didn't have great chances to begin with so our expectations don't change greatly.
Final: It'll be St. F-X and SMU representing the AUS, in a huge upset for the latter.

QSSF (two berths)

We have the semifinal/final setup in the Q, with both finalists making nationals.

Schedule: round 1
Wed Feb 24:
McGill 2 @ Carleton 0 (1-0 until an empty-netter put it away at 19:45 of the third)
Ottawa 3 @ Montreal 5 (les Carabins had two three-goal leads)

Fri Feb 26:
Carleton 0 @ McGill 3
Montreal 3 @ Ottawa 7 (the Gee-Gees exploded for five in the second)

Sun Feb 28:
Ottawa 2 @ Montreal 3

And Montreal goes to the nationals, as expected. Wish I could tell you what happened in this game, but neither team's website has a summary (as far as I can tell) and the conference doesn't have the boxscore posted and CIS doesn't have it either.

Schedule: the unimportant round (Montreal/McGill)

Game 1: Wed Mar 3 at McGill
McGill 5, Montreal 2: Three in the first sort of put this one away early. The Martlets had more shots in the first 20 minutes than the Carabins did in all 60. Rebecca Martindale scored twice and Jordanna Peroff also had a three-point night.

Game 2: Fri Mar 5 at Montreal
McGill 3, Montreal 0: Same margin of victory, but different process: McGill scored with five minutes in, but both goalies stood their ground until 7:26 of the third when Ann-Sophie Bettez scored one, then scored another to essentially end the game at 14:44.

McGill wins the QSSF, shocking the world.

Expected outcome
As of Feb. 24: As if you have to ask. McGill has a 99.7% chance of winning the conference, Montreal has a 0.2% chance, and the rest is split with the other two. There is about a 72% chance McGill and Montreal go to nationals, and nearly a 28% chance McGill and Ottawa go.
Through Feb. 24: After both series openers, there's a 93% chance both McGill & Montreal make nationals.
Through Feb. 25: McGill's already advanced, but Montreal's loss to Ottawa means they need to win Sunday to advance, and they have about a 75% chance of doing so.
Actual: McGill and Montreal advanced.

OUA (one berth)

It's NFL-style in the OUA (6 vs. 3, 5 vs. 4, 1 and 2 have byes). They had single-game matchups in the first round, then best-of-3 after that.

Schedule: round 1
Sat Feb 20:
Windsor 3 @ York 2 (2OT)
Toronto 0 @ Guelph 1

Thu Feb 25:
Guelph 7 @ Queen's 4 (hat trick for Erin Small, four assists for Jessica Zerafa)
Windsor 0 @ Laurier 6 (Pass.)

Sat Feb 27:
Laurier 2 @ Windsor 1 (Windsor was up 1-0 for 13:07, then tied for 22:20 more--a worthy effort)
Queen's 2 @ Guelph 5 (just 2-1 after two, but it wasn't meant to be)

Schedule: OUA Final (Guelph/Laurier)

I cannot stress how entertaining this series is going to be and I trust those of you close enough to K/W and Guelph will try to see one or two of these games. I've seen these teams play twice this year, once at each arena, and it's nothing short of nasty hockey between two teams that hate each other. (Case in point: during their Jan. 31 game, a Gryphon hit her head on the ice, took a while getting up, and was helped off the ice, admist a "1-2-3, Hawks!" chant from the other side.)

Game 1: Thu Mar 4 at Laurier
Laurier 2, Guelph 0: highlights are here. Looks like WLU was actually outshot for once, and Liz Knox really had to work for this shutout. Abby Rainsberry set up the first goal with a beauty of a pass from the corner to in front of the net.

Game 2: Sat Mar 6 at Guelph
This game goes at 2 pm ET, live on SSN, with (I believe) Greg Layson and Mike Treadgold on the call.

Game 3 (if nec.): Sun Mar 7 at Laurier

Expected outcome
As of Feb. 24: This also isn't close: I get 99.4% for Laurier, 0.6% for Queen's, and tiny chances for Guelph and Windsor.
Through Feb. 25: No change; still going to be Laurier in all likelihood.
Through Feb. 28: Ditto, though the final may go three games.

Canada West (one berth)

Same as the Q, except with one berth at nationals, and all games are played at the higher-seeded team's rink.

Schedule: round 1
Thu Feb 25:
Saskatchewan 1 @ Manitoba 2
- This one sounds like a thriller: Nellie Minshull picked up a goal in front of the net with less than two minutes left.

Fri Feb 26:
Saskatchewan 2 @ Manitoba 1 (this series really deserves more attention; Game 2 had a very tense third period as the Huskies shut down offensively to protect the lead, being outshot 16-1 and 37-18 in the game)
Regina 0 @ Alberta 3

Sat Feb 27:
Saskatchewan 2 @ Manitoba 3 (two third-period Huskie goals couldn't get them back in this one, as rookie goalie Tara Lacquette played and won her second straight game as an injury replacement)
Regina 3 @ Alberta 4 (OT) (a powerplay winner ends the Cougars' season after they scored with 0:26 left in regulation)

Schedule: Canada West Final (Manitoba/Alberta)

Game 1: Fri Mar 5 at Alberta
Alberta 2, Manitoba 0: A quick game, taking less than two hours and featuring only 33 shots and six penalties. Manitoba's "stifling defence" couldn't keep the Pandas off the board, though. Meagan Cornelssen pounced on a rebound for the first goal five minutes in and Nicole Pratt scored on what sounds like a bad-angle shot in the second.

Game 2: Sat Mar 6 at Alberta

Game 3 (if nec.): Sun Mar 7 at Alberta

Expected outcome
As of Feb. 24: 95% chance Alberta wins.
Through Feb. 26: Still around 95%, which is unfortunate for the teams in the other exciting semifinal.
Through Feb. 28: 92% Alberta, 8% Manitoba.

Most likely teams at national championship
As of Feb. 24: St. F-X (host), Moncton (AUS winner), McGill (Q winner), Montreal (Q runner-up), Laurier (OUA winner), Alberta (Canada West winner).
Through Feb. 25: Same six teams, probability of all of them making it at about 68%.
Through Feb. 26: X and McGill are in; the other four are still expected to make it, now with probability 53% or so. (That's how big the uOttawa win was.)
Through Feb. 28: X, SMU, McGill and Montreal are all in, and Alberta and Laurier are likely to join.
Through Mar. 5: Same as above, but now "very likely" rather than likely.
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  1. Rob,

    Considering that Dalhousie finished 5th in the AUS standings, how do they have a 7% chance at winning? Shouldn't 3rd place SMU or 4th place STU have better odds? Dal beat X twice but lost to Moncton every time. SMU didn't beat either Moncton or St-FX this year. STU beat X and Moncton once.


  2. They don't, actually - that's a mistake, and should read SMU has a 7% chance of winning the conference, not Dal.

    The chances for everyone:

    70.8% Moncton
    17.4% St. F-X
    7.1% Saint Mary's
    3.3% St. Thomas
    1.4% Dalhousie
    <0.1% UPEI

  3. In other words, you were right.

  4. This can't be right: attendance of 68? For a playoff game? At a gigantic school in a huge city?

  5. My university stat classes having happened over 20 years ago, I'm just curious here...how are all your probabilities calculated?

  6. I came up with an expected winning percentage for each team, based on regular-season results, their RPI, and other team rankings. For example, I determined Dalhousie to have a 41.1% chance of beating the average team (probability of .411), and the X-Women to have a 68.7% chance. Then a bit of math tells us that Dal has a 58% chance of losing to St. F-X.

    For each conference, I figured the odds for every game, and then found the probability that each team would win the series and advance to the next round or (in the case of the AUS) win the round robin and advance. Then we repeat that for the next round, until we have a winner.

    And as the games are played, I go back and update the odds based on the latest results--for example, we can say there's a 100% chance St. F-X will beat Dal on Thursday, because they already did.

  7. So St.Thomas must have a pretty decent probability now... Yesterday they beat UPEI 5-1 (with SMU defeating Dal 8-6). So if STU can somehow beat Moncton today (and provided X beats SMU today as well) then STU would be assured of a spot in the Nationals...

  8. St. Thomas's chances are not that much higher than they were on Thursday, though...every game so far has gone "as expected." I had STU with a 5% chance of making nationals before the tournament started. After Thursday's and Friday's games, I have them at 5.5%. Not much change; again, that's because no surprises have happened yet.

    If X wins today (another expected result), STU has just a 6.2% chance because they still have to beat Moncton.

    So that's 5, 5.5, and 6.2...you can see that it takes a really huge upset (which hasn't happened yet this weekend) to shift the probabilities in a noticeable way.

  9. Speaking of huge upsets...SMU defeated X 5-3!! Awesome!

  10. Moncton wins 3-1 against St Thomas, shots 37-22 for Moncton...caught the game online from CHSR-FM out of Fredericton.

  11. Hot damn!!!! SMU defeats Moncton 6-2 to win the AUS championship!!!

  12. Game 3 - QSSF Final
    Boxscore located here: http://www.leaguestat.com/qssf/femmes/en/stats/schedule.php?season_id=/

    As for the game itself, MTL controlled early taking a 1-0 lead before Kayla Hottot tied the game up shorthanded. She stole the puck just inside the blue line, did her famous toe drag and deeked Catherine Herron for the goal.

    This is where I said to myself, but there's a lot of time left on the PP and Édith Aubert-Lehoux rifled a shot top shelf from the right point to give MTL the lead for good.

    The Carabins scored top shelf early in the second period to take a 3-1 lead, but Ottawa battled back to cut the lead to one (I forget who scored).

    Herron made some solid saves late in the game, but Ottawa seemed to not be able to penetrate the offensive zone in the final 90-seconds with the net empty.The best the Gee-Gees could do was chip it in and not very deep which allowed for MTL to get the puck out easily.

    One comment about the two QSSF semi-finals (having broadcast parts of both) is the difference in the pace of the CU-McGill series and the Ottawa-MTL series. night and day.

    CU-McGill was free-wheeling, fast moving - games that lasted under 2-hours, while the Ottawa-MTL sereis was 2:30 there abouts and a lot of play between the blue lines (except for the second period of game 2). The series was also VERY physical and Leclerc-Auger got hit hard... and often.

    Which sets up an interesting final between MTL and McG. The Martlets can wheel and deal with any team, but it will be interesting to see if MTL plays an aggressive style to try to slow the Marlets down, or will they try to match them stride for stride, which they have the speed to do.

    All games of the QSSF final are on SSNCanada.ca.

  13. The Alberta Pandas just scored an OT goal in game 2 of the western final, eliminating the Manitoba Bisons.

    Also, McGill won the QSSF championship friday evening at Universite de Montreal.