University Cup - Day 1 Recap

I'll save myself some writing and include the links at the bottom of this post for the coverage from our Evan Daum as well as local Thunder Bay writers Leith Dunick and Reuben Villagracia, who between them have captured the game play and all of the good quotes from the post-game press conferences. Leith, who doesn't have the space restrictions of Reuben, has been generating lots of copy this week in T-Bay (or you can just give him credit for being more productive than Reuben!).

From my viewpoint Manitoba admittedly surprised me in battling back from the two-goal deficit against McGill after the first period. To be fair the Bisons missed several open nets in the first 20 minutes, and rung a couple of pucks off the iron. The scrambly goal by Ian Duval with 4.8 seconds left in regulation was dramatic to tie it, and then Mike Hellyer's goal in overtime, his second of the game, off the pass by Duval was obviously huge for the 5-4 win. It was interesting to hear McGill coach Jim Webster single out, and not compliment, the refereeing in the post game news conference. Webster stated the tight calling of penalties forced McGill to ease up their strong fore check after the first period, and he felt that helped the Bisons get back in the game.

In the evening game, Alberta for the third year in a row came out flat in the first period. UQTR was quicker on the puck and the Golden Bears defence struggled to break out of their zone cleanly with the puck. If Jesse Gimblett doesn't score that power play goal in the last minute of the first period to change the momentum, one wonders what might have happened. Like Webster, UQTR head coach Jacques Laporte was not happy with the officiating and the penalties they had to kill in the final two periods. I thought their last two hooking calls were simply because Alberta had their feet moving and UQTR was sagging under the pressure. After the 4-2 loss both Laporte and his players said that their dramatic comeback against Western in the Queen's Cup gives them confidence in what they can control - how they play their game.

If you're keeping score that is two wins for Canada West and two losses for the OUA. Just sayin'.

So 2:00 pm this afternoon we have McGill looking to bounce back against Saint Mary's, who are on their own redemption tour. UQTR gets to face Lakehead at home at 7:30 tonight, when we should finally see a big crowd here at the University Cup. We'll have liveblogs here for both games.

Best of the West (Reuben Villagracia, Chronicle Journal)
Bisons shock Redmen in OT (Leith Dunick,
Golden Bears double Patriotes (Leith Dunick,
Bears top Patriotes to open nationals (Evan Daum, South Campus Sports)
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  1. Bisons shock Redmen in OT (Leith Dunick,

    David, can you tell Leith Dunick that no one else in the nation is "shocked" to see the #2 CW team beat the #1 OUA team, wouldn't be a shock to see a #4 or #5 AUS or #3 CW team beat the #1 OUA team.

  2. Sitting across from Leith. He sees the "shock" as McGill having the 4-1 lead and then losing in OT.

  3. I agree that it is shocking to see a team blow a 4-1 lead. However, a re-watched the game last night and the Bisons did not deserve to be down 4-1.

    It is also shocking to see UQTR and McGill follow up by each blowing a 2-0 lead. And in all three games they hardly mounted any 3rd period scoring chances.

    This makes me ask: Is the OUA schedule (especially OUAE) way too weak? Manitoba, Alberta, and Saint Mary's have had tough games all year long and know what those games are all about.

    This also shows how the CIS Top 10 consistently over-rated those teams. The OHT34 (of course) was much better!

  4. Not everyone on the Top 10 committee over-rates the OUA teams ...

    SMU coach Trevor Steinburg said today at the post-game news conference that they are in tight games all season in the AUS, and thus have gained some experience to the pressure.

    I think it is pretty apparent that the OUA East is the least-competitive conference in the CIS, and their top teams suffer accordingly ... other than having some pretty regular season stats.

    Saying that, I like this UQTR team. At least they don't fold the tent like their teams that were in Moncton.

  5. Hey David ...

    I am sure that SOME voters may have been more in line with the OHT34 but the bottom line polls DID over-rate the OUA, and especially the OUAE.

    And Coach Steinburg's comments are basically what I said.

    I am just wondering what they can do about this in McGill and UQTR. McGill scheduled a western Christmas tour (to Alberta and UBC) and played UNB in pre-season. Pretty significant investment in travel and commitment to the program.

  6. First, perhaps I should have been more clear.

    I completely agree with you that some of the voters over-rate the OAU, especially the OUA East, and I find it more than a little frustrating ...

    I think McGill is doing the right things, like that visit to UNB and Alberta that you mentioned. They also played against some good NCAA teams this year.

    The simplest solution to me, but it probably is too costly, would be to have a LOT more crossover games between the west and east in the OAU.

    Even better, but it will never happen, is to create a two-tier system in OUA hockey. Divide the teams in half based on their record in last 4-5 years. Use relegation like the EPL. Bottom 4 teams each season move down, while top 4 in "second division" move up at the end of the season. Don't want to recruit seriously -- 2nd division for you. Expansion teams works their butts off -- promotion to first division for you. Want to go to Nationals? Have to win the first division.

    Something like that would give the top OUA teams a more competitive schedule more in line with the Canada West and AUS I think.

  7. Can't recall who told me, but the OUA almost went to a 2-tier league several years ago. It was discussed but never made it to a vote; ultimately the concern was if you told teams they couldn't go to nationals, they would fold the programs.

    I'd love to see the divisions reorganized in both OUA men's hockey and OUA basketball to better reflect schools' commitment to the particular sport.

    You would still have to allow for that second division to have a shot winning its way to nationals, though. Not having that ... deal-breaker!

    If the OUA got a 20th team (for argument's sake, Mac), you could divvy them up into 2 groups of 10 ... move the top 2 up and the top 2 down.

  8. Right, and maybe have a play-in game(s) for the top team(s) from the second division to advance into the first-division playoffs ... so you would still have a feint hope of advancing to Nationals.