From the start of the season to the end, The Full 90 will bring to light some of the challenging issues in CIS soccer in an effort to encourage discussion and debate of the beautiful game on our campuses in an open forum.

Last week I challenged the mandate of the recent initiative taken by the OUA to begin offering athletic scholarships to incoming first year students. I remarked that I am worried that far down the path this initiative will take the OUA, we might lose some of the parity that has become a hallmark characteristic of CIS soccer.

Although I also expressed concern about our school institutions turning into businesses and having their focus turn from graduating young people who are prepared and qualified for a career towards churning out star athletes like some sort of production line, the loss of parity would be to me, the loss of the essence of sport.

For myself as a fan I believe that a league without true top-to-bottom parity is a lame duck league and just floating along like a piece of driftwood out in the wide open ocean of sport: forgotten and lost.

For myself as a writer I believe that a league without true top-to-bottom parity is dull and predictable which usually are two words that are not wanted to be associated with sport let alone any form of entertainment.

It is because I believe parity is the root of sporting entertainment, a foundational characteristic that has given us our fondest memories and the most spectacular moments.

Even so, for something so basic and necessary it is perhaps the most complex and dynamic of all sporting occurrences. Difficult to define, impossible to predict, and sometimes even unbelievable when it is happening before your very eyes.

CIS soccer is an ideal venue for parity; the smallest mistakes can have the largest consequences by virtue of the simple fact that scoring in soccer is almost always low, meaning each goal is worth proportionally more than scores in other sports.

A poor challenge here, a misplayed ball there, and hitting a crossbar once in a while could be the difference between being bounced from the postseason early, or making a run at a provincial or national championship.

Many teams that get into the postseason in the third or fourth seeds rely on those types of breaks to make a run. Look at the McMaster Marauders last season, or the Golden Hawks the year before. Both teams won all their playoff games by a single goal, and both won the OUA Championship by a 1-0 score against vastly superior teams in terms of skill...but not heart.

The Marauders endured a penalty kick shootout to claim their Blackwood Trophy, where one miss by the Blues was the difference between champions and losers, and the Golden Hawks got their extra-time goal off a misplayed ball by York’s keeper.

Little mistakes made all the difference in those games, so I wonder if it will in this year’s CIS postseason yet again.

So let’s take a look at how the postseason is shaping up at the halfway mark, and see what storylines we should all be paying attention to during the stretch run--and whether there are any teams like Laurier and McMaster that might be lucky enough to catch a break, or two, or three.

Teams to watch: Calgary, Saskatchewan, Trinity Western

Canada West is maybe best known for having the most established powers in CIS soccer and it is very hard for the lower tier teams to break into the top four. Between TWU, UVic, UBC, and Alberta (the only teams to ever win a Canada West soccer championship) there often times isn’t much parity because there is such an excessive discrepancy.

However, this season is certainly a peculiar one. Two-time defending CW champion Victoria hasn’t won a game all year and CIS championship mainstay Trinity Western is at risk of missing the playoffs while upstart teams such as Calgary and Saskatchewan are clinging onto the three and four spots.

It’s difficult for there to be much parity in a conference where only four teams make the playoffs, and two of those go onto nationals. The possibility of parity gets confounded further when the majority of CW teams year in year out would be top-tier teams in any other conference.

Regardless, the best storyline for the remainder of the year is undoubtedly which two of Calgary, Saskatchewan and Trinity Western will make the playoffs; it would be an embarrassing hit to the Spartan program if they failed to make nationals this year.

Because of the relatively small size of the Canada West all three teams have fairly equal schedules for the remainder of the season, they all play the powerhouses and the bottom feeders, so really in the purest sense, the team that plays best will be rewarded. Should be good to watch.

Teams to watch: Toronto, Ryerson, York

Moving east we have the most parity-stricken conference in the CIS. The OUA is a mess almost every year: despite having historic programs from Western and Toronto and the more contemporarily strong program at York in recent years the top programs just haven’t gotten it done in the postseason. McMaster, Laurier and Carleton have all won the Blackwood Trophy over the last five seasons, with York and Western winning it the other times.

Finding out why the parity is so pronounced in the OUA is difficult; it could be by virtue of the fact a total of 12 teams make the postseason, six from each the OUA West and East. Building block-level mathematics will tell you that the more teams you put into the postseason the greater the chances are one of them will make a deep run. A lower seed team in the OUA can play twice as many games as their counterparts from the Canada West for example.

Regardless, the best storyline for the remainder of the year is whether or not the Toronto Varsity Blues can put together a strong run in the postseason and not get into Nationals through the backdoor. Also, of course, whether they can be the first team to win a National Championship at home since 2007 when UBC did it.

Some teams I would watch over the last half of the season would be those Rams from Ryerson, they have quite the record; 2-0-4. Twice as many draws as wins and not a single loss. While that isn’t good enough to get them anywhere near the top of the table that’s not a bad record to carry into the postseason. Only two teams have allowed fewer goals against than Ryerson: Toronto who have allowed three and Carleton who have yet to allow a goal against. No team can win the Blackwood Trophy without winning a few squeakers along the way, and Ryerson seems to have the stingy defense that is required to hold the fort long enough to get a lucky bounce here or there.

While Carleton and Toronto are running away with the East, Western is running away with the West...shocker, right?

The York Lions are in an unfamiliar position being in the middle of the table and having suffered two losses and a draw so far this season. Most agree they have lost some of the overbearing talent they enjoyed the last few seasons, so whether the Lions can wrest their way back to the top remains an interesting storyline for the remainder of the year.

Teams to watch: Laval

We have another team running away with their conference. Nobody has been able to stop reigning CIS champions Laval this year, who have scored 11 times as many goals as they have allowed...there’s your quirky stat of the day.

Outside of the Rouge et or however the next four teams are separated by just four points. Intriguingly, the team Laval defeated in the National Championship last year, McGill, is at the bottom of that list with only six points this year.

As for strength of schedule, McGill and UQAM have a more difficult stretch run than UQTR and Montreal. Both Trois-Rivieres and the Carabins play doormats Sherbrooke and Concordia three times in the final seven games, whereas McGill and UQAM only play them twice.

Regardless, I think the best storyline for the remainder of the year isn’t even the battle for playoff positioning that will surely be electrifying right to the finish, but whether Laval, having finally built a championship side, can continue its success much the same way their “other” football team has. Let’s be honest, the complexion of CIS football was dramatically altered when Laval began winning, will the same happen to CIS soccer?

Look for Laval to cruise to Toronto this fall, practically unopposed; who gets that second berth however is anyone’s guess. I can promise you this though: it will ABSOLUTELY be a team from Quebec. You can take that to the bank.

Teams to watch: Memorial

Finally, the AUS is also a mess much like the OUA, but unlike the OUA it’s because of scheduling. Some Maritime teams have only played four games this year to Saint Mary’s seven. As such this is the most difficult conference to handicap at this time of year.

St. FX looks like it will run away with the conference title and seemingly only Saint Mary’s right now can put up a decent challenge. This past Sunday’s game between the two is a perfect example. The 3-2 win over the Huskies vaulted the X-men to the top of the table and was a see-saw affair as most games are between the best teams.

I really don’t expect anyone outside of St. FX or Saint Mary’s to compete for the, inexplicably, one and only AUS birth to Nationals. However, if one team could get into the final outside of those two, I think Memorial has acquitted itself very well this year.

The Sea-Hawks are a very, very young team; only Defender Andre Le could be considered a senior as he is the only fifth-year player on the team and there aren’t even any fourth-years. They returned all but one player from last year, a rare occurrence in any varsity sport.

Improving on a one-win campaign in 2009, the Sea-Hawks have only one blemish on their 2010 record, a one-goal loss to leader St. FX.

They are young, offensive, and have proven that even early on in the year they could hang with the big boys. Imagine what they will be by the end of the year when those young guys have even more experience under their belts.

There are undoubtedly some good storylines going into the last half of the regular season in CIS soccer, as there always is, but the truly great thing about this season?

The storylines that we won't have even seen coming, the teams we can't even imagine winning, and the games we won't even believe are happening even when they will be happening before our very eyes.
It's been exactly 185 days since a Canada West hockey team played a meaningful game. That game of course was the national final that featured the Alberta Golden Bears, who fell 3-2 in overtime to the Saint Mary's Huskies.

Thankfully for CIS hockey fans out west, the wait will finally come to an end tomorrow night, as a new season of Canada West hockey gets underway with a pair of games.

With the Regina Cougars and Saskatchewan Huskies set to officially drop the puck on the 2010-11 season tomorrow night in the Queen City, it's time to preview each of the conference's seven teams. If these short previews leave you wanting more, just click on the links at the end of each team to read my full-length previews over at South Campus Sports.

Alberta Golden Bears ( '09-10: 23-4-1 CW - 1st, 1st nationwide in RPI) Conference champs, National runners-up

The Bears in 250:

Talk about new faces. The defending conference champs went through major changes this offseason with 11 new players joining the fold for the 2010-11 season.

Alberta will have a very different look up front after the departures of six forwards including top six producers Jesse Gimblett and Brian Woolger.

Those two holes have been filled by newcomers Johnny Lazo, who will play with Gimblett's former linemates Sean Ringrose and new captain Eric Hunter, and Alex Rodgers who will get the opportunity to play with reigning CW MVP Chad Klassen and centre Derek Ryan.

Defence could be the Bears' greatest strength this season, with Kyle Fecho, Jason Fransoo, Colin Joe, and Ian Barteaux all back along with the additions of Ben Lindemulder, Jesse Craige, Jarrett Toll and Drew Nichol (who very well could end up in a forward role). Lindemulder could be the biggest addition to the Green and Gold this season, with his skating ability putting him in an elite category.

Not to be left out of all the change was the goaltending situation. Travis Yonkman is no longer with the program (he's signed on with Alaska of the ECHL), but Real Cyr is back for his third year. Cyr split the regular season last year with Yonkman, before Yonkman was tabbed as the starter for the entirety of the playoffs. Cyr will be joined by newcomers Kurtis Mucha, and Linden Rowat.

Expect a short leash for the goaltenders this season, with three viable options in net for head coach Eric Thurston.

Quoting the coach:

Thurston on blue-chip recruit Johnny Lazo - “He’s obviously not a big guy, but man, can he shoot the puck. I think he’s got a great wrist shot and snapshot. Playing with Ringrose, who works very hard along with Hunter — who also works very hard and is sort of a thorn in the side — Johnny will add that offensive upside.”

U of A hopes new faces bring big results – South Campus Sports

UBC Thunderbirds ('09-10: 8-19-1 CW - 7th, 29th in RPI) Missed playoffs

The T-Birds in 250:

It could be a long season in Vancouver where the T-Birds will be looking to improve on a dismal 2009-10 season.

Head coach Milan Dragicevic had a lot of holes to fill this offseason with double-digit departures from the program including second leading scorer Brandon Campos who signed on with Idaho of the ECHL.

In goal Francois Thuot's graduation after four years with the program left Dragicevic needing to fill the void left by the serviceable starting netminder.

For a while it appeared that the T-Birds had found that goaltender with the commitment of Torrie Jung, but not so fast. In mid-August Dragicevic got word from the former Edmonton Oil Kings starting goaltender that he would be plying his trade with Laredo of the CHL instead of at the CIS level with UBC.

That recruiting loss would be a big blow, with Jung the centrepiece of a recruiting class lacking much in the way of highly touted talent.

With not much in the way of offensive talent coming to UBC this season, and an inexperienced CIS goalie in Jordan White most likely getting the majority of playing time in net, the T-Birds will once again be forced to play a defence-first style, taking whatever they can offensively.

With little in the way of potential impact rookies, and a core that is going to have to shoulder more than its fair share, the T-birds may be left well back of the Canada West playoffs again.

Quoting the coach:

Milan Dragicevic on his team's identity - “We're not blessed with a whole lot of offensive players - we know that. That's not our identity, that's not who we are. We're going to be a hard working, defensive team, and a team that has to do all the little things to be successful."

UBC looking to rise from the ashes – South Campus Sports

Calgary Dinos ('09-10: 13-9-6 CW - 4th, 16th in RPI) Lost to Alberta in CW semis

The Dinos in 250:

A return to the postseason in 2009-10 was the story in Calgary, where the Dinos will be looking to continue improving as a program under now second-year head coach Mark Howell.

Offence could be an issue however for Calgary, after the Dions netted 84 goals last season compared to 91 against, making them the only team out west to qualify for a playoff spot while being outscored by their opponents.

On the recruiting front Howell's class is highlighted by netminder Kris Lazaruk who put up solid numbers at the WHL level, including his career year back in 2007-08 with Kootenay when the Edmonton product posted a 26-17-4 record. Lazaruk will be battling last year's number one Dustin Butler for playing time.

Along with Lazaruk two other recruits carry major junior résumés. Defenceman Brett Bartman who played with Spokane will be a serviceable defender who should play good minutes, and Colton Grant of the Chilliwack Bruins will most likely slot into a secondary role offensively this season. Those additions though in themselves won't be enough for the Dinos to garner a home playoff date.

Calgary appears to be in for a dog fight when it comes to a playoff berth this season, but just how much Howell can get out of returning players remains to be seen. He illustrated that he could get more out of a team last year than his predecessor, and if that continues the Dinos will once again be in the postseason.

Quoting the coach:

Mark Howell on changing the culture of the program - "We wanted to come in as a coaching staff, and that was our biggest thing, make sure our players started to respect and appreciate what was required to move forward and become a championship team. I think we laid that groundwork and now we can move forward."

Dinos eying more progress – South Campus Sports

Lethbridge Pronghorns ('09-10: 13-11-4 CW - 5th, 15th in RPI) Missed playoffs

The 'Horns in 250:

After coming on late last season with to a 9-3-1 second half record (but just narrowly missing the playoffs), head coach Greg Gatto and company will be looking to carry over their success from the end of last year into 2010-11.

With some big losses up front, including their second- and third-leading scorers in Adam Chorneyko and Jason Roberts, finding players to fill the offensive void left by those two players will be crucial to any success the Pronghorns will have this season.

That being said, Gatto will have Brian Matte and Winston Day Chief in the lineup from the get-go; both those players joined Lethbridge after Christmas last year and combined for 31 points, coming out and suddenly catapulting the 'Horns into the playoff hunt.

Recruits Taylor Gal from Medicine Hat, Tyler Melancon who played junior A in Ontario last year after three OHL seasons, Ryan Letts from Spokane, and Nicholas Hotson who transfered from Manitoba will all be looked to for some offence.

Scoring, however, wasn't Lethbridge's biggest concern last year, notching the third most goals in the conference (96), but giving up the second most in Canada West as well (106).

Tightening up defensively will be the key if the Pronghorns hope to make a return to the playoffs after falling just two points short of the postseason last year.

With a decent recruiting class, the confidence of last season, and an experienced goaltender, Lethbridge should challenge for the playoffs and could surprise.

Quoting the coach:

Greg Gatto on expectations - "We're setting expectations high. Two teams are going to nationals - why can't we be one of the two? We've shown we can play well with every team in our league. We've played well against the U of A, great against U of C."

'Horns look to pick up where they left off – South Campus Sports

Manitoba Bisons ('09-10: 16-10-2 - 3rd, 6th in RPI) Lost to Alberta in CW final, qualified for nationals

The Herd in 250:

It was a breakout season for the Manitoba Bisons last year, making it all the way to the national tournament thanks to a second place finish in the conference playoffs.

Backstopped by the winner of the inaugural CIS Goaltender of the Year award in Steve Christie, the Bisons put together a season that should have hopes high for the 2010-11 campaign in the Manitoba capital.

With Christie back in goal, and the additions of some good recruits, Manitoba will once again be a playoff team – there should be little doubt about that, but just how good is the real question.

Defenceman Dane Crowley, who was a 6th round pick of Tampa in '06, along with Jeremy Schappert who put up 48 points last year in Seattle will both bolster an already strong blue line. Myles Rumsey also rejoins the team after a one year hiatus from the program.

Couple an improved defence core with the return of the best goaltender in the nation last year, and shutting down the opposition shouldn't be the issue in Winnipeg.

With fifth leading scorer Rick Wood and his 16 points being the only major scoring threat leaving the team from last year, Manitoba should still be able to put up enough offence to win close games with the strength of their defence and goaltending.

Apparently the coaches agree with me: the Herd garnered three first place votes in the preseason coaches poll, finishing only one point back of Alberta for top spot.

Quoting the coach:

Mike Sirant on why Manitoba boys love playing in the 'Peg (all of Sirant's 2010-11 recruits hail from Winnipeg) - "We have an excellent university, and an excellent hockey program here to offer them that really is a tremendous opportunity for them. We emphasis and build on that pride of being from Manitoba, and coming back to represent your province.”

Bisons hoping to build on big year – South Campus Sports

Regina Cougars ('09-10: 9-17-2 - 6th, 22nd in RPI) Missed playoffs

The Cougs in 250:

Goals were hard to come by in the Queen City last year, so what did head coach Blaine Sautner do this offseason? He went out and got two 30 goal players from the WHL to hopefully spark the renaissance of Regina's hockey program. Those 30 goal scorers are former Regina Pats Matt Strueby (37 goals last season) and Brett Leffler (33 goals in 2008-09).

Whether those two additions will be enough to turn the Cougars into a legitimate top-four team in Canada West remains to be seen, but it was certainly a step in the right direction for a program that has been outpaced by its provincial rival for top end Saskatchewan talent for a long time.

Along with optimism thanks to the addition of two gifted WHL players, head coach Blaine Sautner and company will also have some fancy new digs to call home. Regina will be moving into a new arena this year, practicing and playing out of the Co-operators Centre which sits just a stones throw from the home of the Pats - the Brandt Centre.

After splitting time in goal last year, Adam Ward will be the undisputed number one after the departure of Brant Hilton who signed on with Mississippi of the CHL this summer.

Sautner has certainly improved his team this offseason, and the Cougars should be more competitive, but don't expect a huge breakout from this group. Regina is building in the right direction, but are still laying the foundation for the future.

Quoting the coach:

Blaine Sautner on landing some offence - "We've always wanted to score more, we just haven't been able to. We've been able to land 20 goal guys out of the Western League, and now we have a couple of 30 goal guys. We're hoping that helps our offence, but we need more than Strueby and Lefler to score for us. If we're just relying on two first-year guys to score for us then it won't happen."

Cougars add offensive bite – South Campus Sports

Saskatchewan Huskies ('09-10: 16-8-4 - 2nd, 13th in RPI) Lost to Manitoba in CW semis

The Dogs in 250:

Last year was a major letdown in Saskatoon where the Huskies started the season slow, and finished with a whimper.

With a three game series loss to Manitoba in the conference semis, head coach Dave Adolph and the Saskatchewan Huskies headed into the offseason looking to add some gritty pieces to the puzzle for 2010-11.

Focusing on players that would come to the rink ready to compete every night, Adolph brought in a number of hard-nosed players to help add some grit to his team after being a self-confessed easy team to play against last year.

Enter Craig McCallum, Cody Smuk, Ryan Funk, Curtis Kulchar, and Garrett Thiessen who will all play a role in the character rebuild. McCallum had the most prolific junior numbers, with 72 points last year in Prince Albert, but also brings a well-rounded game to the table.

Adolph will be hoping those players help mould his group into a harder team to play against, while some of his skilled players who didn't impress last year with their competitiveness do so this time around.

In the crease Saskatchewan will have a new look, after fifth-year Jeff Harvey graduated from the program. The backup last season David Reekie – who got the start over Harvey in Game 3 of the CW semis – will likely split time with rookie and former Medicine Hat Tiger Ryan Holfield.

Expectations will again be high for the Huskies, with Saskatchewan looking to return to the national tournament after a two year hiatus.

Quoting the coach:

Dave Adolph on finding character players - "The character in our dressing room was somewhat lacking [last year]. We went interviewing kids - I spent an awful lot of time in April, May, June trying to introduce myself to all the 20 year-olds in the Western Hockey League. I got around Western Canada and had good chats with most of them. Character was a big thing and I really wanted to be impressed by guys who wanted to come to university and make a difference."

Hustlin' Huskies look for more heart – South Campus Sports
When I talked to Stingers head coach Gerry McGrath after his win last week over the McGill Redmen, he all but admitted that he was looking at the playoff picture in week three. "We knew whoever lost this game would have an uphill battle to make the playoffs," he said.

There are still five games left in the new QUFL regular season, and while there seems to be a gap between Bishop's and Concordia and Sherbrooke and McGill, that isn't necessarily the case.

You see, when taking a look at the remaining schedules of all the teams, there is one team with a distinct advantage, but it remains to be seen how that will affect the playoff picture.

The Sherbrooke Vert et Or are 1-3, with their only win coming at home against Mount Allison. But, in their three losses they have only faced UdeM and Laval twice. The hard part of their schedule is now over, having faced the No. 1 and 3 teams in the country.

Their remaining schedule? 2 games home and away against Bishop's and McGill and at home against Concordia. Their playoff fate is still very much in their hands.

Their remaining schedule of 8-12 is the easiest in the conference. By a long shot. All other teams face at least a 11-5 schedule. That doesn't mean Sherbrooke will win both games against McGill and coast to the playoffs, it's just something that teams should look past their 1-3 record and see why they are getting Top 10 votes.

Here are the remaining schedules for the other teams in the conference:

Laval: vs CON, @ MTL, vs BISH, @McG, @ CON (11-5)
Montreal: @ BISH, vs LAV, @ McG, vs CON, vs BISH (12-8)
Bishop's: vs MTL, @ SHE, @ LAV, vs SHE, @ MTL (14-6)
Concordia: @ LAV, vs McG, @ SHE, @ MTL, vs LAV (13-7)
Sherbrooke: @McG, vs BISH, vs CON, @ BISH, vs McG (8-12)
McGill: vs SHE, @ CON, vs MTL, vs LAV, @ SHE (12-8)

Players of the week
Offence: Rotrand Sene, MTL had 202 yards running on 22 carries. He had his third straight QUFL player of the week and third straight 200 yard game in the come from behind victory against McGill.

Defence: Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, LAV had four tackles and two sacks in the win 23-7 over Sherbrooke.

Special Teams: Josh Maveety, BIS had three field goals and a key single on a kickoff which provided the margin of victory against Concordia.

1. LAVAL 4-0
3. BISHOP'S 3-1
6. McGILL 0-4

The Week Ahead:
Sherbrooke (1-3) @ McGill (0-4), Saturday 1pm [TV/Webcast: Radio-Canada, Webcast: SSN]
No. 3 Montreal (4-0) @ No. 8 Bishop's (3-1), Saturday 1pm [Webcast: SSN]
Concordia (2-2) @ No. 1 Laval (4-0), Sunday 1pm

Radio-Canada wishes they were at Bishop's this week, but Sherbrooke-McGill should at least be a close game. Concordia makes their visit to Laval and have to hope that Robert Mackay has recovered from the post-concussion syndrome that has kept him out since the season-opener against Bishop's, as that may be the only way they could knock off Laval.
As you wonder whether "Mount up!" has replaced "Suit up!" in New Brunswick ... okay, it probably hasn't.

  • Even if you play for Toronto or York, you can still have bulletin-board material, right? Nathan Riva provides them with some when he talks about the Mustangs' upcoming game against Queen's: "This is the last game pretty much. We have York and Toronto and there’s also a bye." (London Free Press)

  • More optimism in Sackville! And lots of quotes from Kelly Jeffrey. (Times & Transcript)

  • Arden Zwelling runs down three potential Hec candidates. Rotrand Sené is hard to turn down at this point... (University Rush)

  • Jade Etienne, standout receiver with Saskatchewan, had "just two catches prior to this season." I think he's matched his career high... (The Star-Phoenix)

  • Ryan Funk, who formerly spent four years in the WHL in Saskatoon, is one of the U of S's recruits this year. (The Star-Phoenix) Coach Dave Adolph told our Evan Daum that he was immediately impressed by Funk, whose gregarious personality preceded him. (South Campus Sports)

  • Most people, after suffering a severed jugular and nerve damage, and losing a third of their body's blood, probably would not return to the very same activity that caused those to happen. Kurt Jory, however, is back in goal for Brock. (Welland Tribune)
I've got a cold, so we must be playing hockey games in the AUS. But better than being the Athletics Director at Saint Mary's this past week. First you lose hosting the Uteck Bowl to Moncton (I know, technically the AUS "hosts" the Uteck Bowl, but it was always at Huskies Field). Then the Huskies football team loses 23-21 to Mount Allison, breaking a 23 game winning streak, in a neutral site game, in Moncton naturally. Then Saturday night the reigning CIS champion hockey team gets hammered 10-3 by UNB in Fredericton. Good thing it was an exhibition game I guess. The Huskies did win their game against UPEI 6-4 on Friday afternoon, a scrappy, chippy game that featured seven 10-minute misconduct calls.

The Acadia hockey team, projected my many (including me) to be a national contender this year, continued to struggle in the preseason. While they did beat touring UQTR 4-3 Friday in Greenwood, NS, when they got back to the Olympic ice in their own building Saturday night the Axemen lost 5-1 to les Patriotes.

In the consolation final at UNB's Fall Classic Tournament, UPEI seemed to take a while to wake up from their loss the afternoon before. Lucky for them, the Guelph Gryphons seemed to be in the same plight, as they gave their all the night before in losing to UNB 4-2. Rookie Gryphons goalie Cody St. Jacques, and the team penalty kill, was the difference between a loss and a blowout, as they were outshot 40-15. So Saturday after a slow start the UPEI-Guelph game was a pretty even back and forth affair, finally settled by Panther Graham McNabb midway through overtime for the 6-5 win. As mentioned, the evening championship game was anti-climatic, as UNB came out flying and SMU couldn't respond, not helped by only average goaltending. Kyle Bailey and Jordan Clendenning each had hat tricks for the V-Reds in the 10-3 win, while CIS player of the year Hunter Tremblay had the night off with a minor injury and Mike Danton stayed behind in Halifax, a little banged up himself.

The only other game on the weekend was in Grand Falls, NB, where STU beat UdeM 5-2 in a game that apparently got chippy in the late going.

This coming week sees four AUS teams head south of the border to play NCAA teams, with the rest of the teams playing exhibition games in the region. Wednesday night Acadia is at Dalhousie, while Thursday night the Tommies return to their roots in the Miramichi, where they host StFX. UdeM is hosting two games in the village of Cocagne, NB this weekend - UPEI on Friday and Dal on Saturday. Also on Saturday, SMU will be visiting Summerside, PE, where they meet up with UPEI.

The NCAA games Saturday see UNB at UMass (Amherst), Acadia at Northeastern, StFX at New Hampshire, and STU at Holy Cross. On Sunday afternoon UNB is at Vermont, Acadia is at Maine, StFX is at UMass-Lowell, and STU is at Quinnipiac. UNB stays in the States until Tuesday, when they play RPI.
This weekend the eyes of Canadian football fans everywhere turned to Moncton, New Brunswick, as Atlantic Canada soaked up the spotlight. In both professional and amateur ranks the talk of the town was whether or not football could thrive in this Maritime city not named Halifax.

But for all the talk of CFL expansion and Université de Moncton possibly taking the field as part of the AUS in the near future another compelling event took place on the field: for the first time since 1998 the Mount Allison Mounties beat the perennial conference champions Saint Mary’s Huskies to remain undefeated in interconference play this season. The Mounties' 23 game losing streak to the Huskies has officially come to an end.

The Mounties are better known for bouts of futility rather than thrilling victories. Just last season Mount Allison once again posted a winless campaign, something not uncommon for this program unfortunately. And when facing the Huskies the game is usually decided before the opening kickoff: back in 2001 the Huskies famously won 105-0 over the Mounties, sending the program into a complete state of disarray.

This weekend however the Mounties struck back. Playing on a neutral field in front of 3,500 spectators Mount Allison took advantage of an SMU team that has been reeling this season, and now has an 0-3 record - an anomaly for the usually dominant Huskies program. With most fans of CIS football cheering them on Mount Allison held on to claim the 23-21 upset win.

The upsets by last season’s also-ran programs on the east coast, combined with a poor showing in interlock play against Quebec, has lead to doubts about the Atlantic conference this season. But it’s pretty hard to look at the standings, where Mount Allison is tied at the top of the AUS along with Acadia, both teams sporting a 2-1 record, and not smile. Moncton was easily the most interesting place in the world of Canadian football this weekend.

As for the FRC-CIS Top 10 teams...

The Laval Rouge et Or (#1) continued their winning ways with a 23-7 victory over Sherbrooke. Laval sat their starting quarterback in favour of back up Tristan Grenon this week, who has also performed well throughout the early part of the season when called upon. The future at the pivot position may not be a concern for the Rouge et Or.

The Ottawa Gee-Gees (#2) also maintained their perfect record but it was not without some adversity. Visiting Kingston for “fauxcoming” Queen’s gave the Gee-Gees all they could handle; despite breaking out to an early 14-0 lead over Queen’s, the Gaels pushed back and sent the game into overtime before Ottawa won by a field goal, 27-25. Queen’s missed their field goal in OT, settling for a rouge that was unable to hold up for the victory. Despite the loss the Gaels still managed to put up 546 yards of total offence on the day.

The Montreal Carabins (#3) were given a scare by their crosstown rivals McGill. While the Redmen have not been winning they are playing teams very tight in their games so far. The Carabins pulled away towards the end of the game for the 24-11 victory. Rotrand Sené kept pace as the nation’s leading rusher with another 200-yard game (202 yards).

The Calgary Dinos (#4) saw a 17-point first-half lead against the Manitoba Bisons evaporate but were able to hold on for the narrow 26-25 win. The Dinos, an injury-plagued unit, once again found a way to pull out another close contest in the highly competitive Canada West conference.

The Western Mustangs (#5) met their newly-ranked conference cousins the Guelph Gryphons (#10), and in a battle of defensive superiority won a low scoring affair 15-7 in front of a raucous crowd of 9,000 at Guelph’s Homecoming. Interesting stat: Donnie Marshall ran for as many yards as he passed for on the day (116 yards each way).

There was no magic this weekend for UBC as the Regina Rams (#6) handed them a 41-6 defeat. And the Alberta Golden Bears (#7) were equally unlucky. After a strong start to the season the Golden Bears lost for the second straight week, this time at the hands of the previously ranked Saskatchewan Huskies to the tune of 33-9.

A comfortable 39-3 win was on tap for the McMaster Marauders (#8) this weekend as they downed their opponents the Windsor Lancers. And the Bishop’s Gaiters (#9) round out the Top 10 teams in action this weekend, rallying for 14 fourth quarter points to squeak out an 18-17 win over the Concordia Stingers.
It's time for our fourth look at the FRC-CIS Top 10 voters' poll and a rundown of how our staff's ballots compare. This thread will be updated as contributors turn in their ballots. Please keep in mind it is solely for fomenting discussion and only wins and losses will matter in November.

Neate Sager's ballot:
  1. Laval (4-0 QUFL) (1st in last week's poll, 1st on my ballot) — No reason to change.

  2. Montréal (4-0 QUFL) (3,2) — Nice second-half rally over a McGill team which plays just well enough to lose.

  3. Ottawa (5-0 OUA) (2, 3) — The point of their 27-25 overtime win at Queen's was that the Gee-Gees won by having superior athletes who would not quit. That trait has not always been in evidence with the Gee-Gees. They also cleaned up their penalty problems (just 78 yards) and turnover woes (only one Bradley Sinopoli interception).

    Some are wondering if the Gee-Gees are taking pains to keep Sinopoli in the pocket — they even broke out a double tight-end set in the second half for extra protection — because he's playing hurt.

  4. Calgary (3-1 CW) (4, 4) — The Dinos' wins have been by three, nine and one points, but in what appears to a deep and strong Canada West.

  5. Regina (3-1 CW) (6, 6)No giveaways in a 35-point road win over UBC, that is what you do against a second-rung program, although the Thunderbirds did actually beat a team ranked on this ballot.

  6. Western (4-1 OUA) (5, 5) — The upshot of the Smokes-and-Mirrors Bowl is it proved there is an OUA team which deserves the 6 slot. Greg Marshall might actually be putting together a pretty good coaching job by not having the roof fall in despite an offence which is an one-note act..

  7. Bishop's (3-1 QUFL) (9, 8) — The best team from an English-language school located between Port Hawkesbury, N.S., and Hawkesbury, Ont.

  8. Saskatchewan (2-2 CW) (NR) — They're baaaaaack! (Apparently.) Now Brian Towriss' team just needs to win a game played outside the province of Alberta, where both of their victories have occurred.

  9. Alberta (2-2 CW) (7, 7) — Two-spot drop for a home-field shellacking, 33-9 to those above-mentioned Huskies. As previously noted, very little mental strain should go into picking the Nos. 9 and 10 spots in a pool this small.

  10. Concordia (2-2 QUFL) (NR, 9) — Still pretty even with Bishop's, plus having a fourth Quebec team in ahead of a third Ontario University Athletics team seems prudent at this juncture.
In the words of George Costanza, "I fear no reprisal."

Evan Daum:

1. Laval (#1 last week) – Self explanatory.

2. Ottawa (2) – They squeeked out another close win this weekend, but found a way to win against the defending Vanier Cup champs.

3. Calgary (3) – Call it being set in my ways, but the Dinos are still one of the three best teams in the nation regardless of only a one point win over the lowly Bisons. They're still finding ways to win without Erik Glavic.

4. Montreal (4) – 13-point win over McGill holds them steady, as they continue to knock on the Dinos' door in my top 10.

5. Western (5) – 15-8 win over Guelph thanks once again to a powerful rushing attack.

6. Regina (6) – They're for real. They went out and took care of business against a mediocre UBC team – something the Huskies didn't do two weeks ago.

7. Bishop's (7) – got a tight win over Concordia this weekend in the battle for #7 in my poll.

8. Saskatchewan (NR) – Didn't take long for the Dogs to reappear in the top 10. A thorough, dominating win over Alberta proved this team just needs to battle the opposition and not themselves.

9. Concordia (8) – Narrow loss to Bishop's drops them down one spot.

10. Alberta (9) – Just barely hang onto a top 10 spot after I threw out the challenge flag to review my decision to have Guelph in here instead of the Bears. Upon further review Alberta keeps a ranking.

Jared Book:

1. Laval (1)
2. Montreal (2)
3. Ottawa (3)
4. Calgary (4)
5. Regina (5)
6. Bishop's (9)
7. Western (6)
8. Saskatchewan (10)
9. Alberta (7)
10. Concordia (8)

Reasoning: Essentially the same as last week. I thought about leapfrogging Montreal over Laval but will not do that yet. No team was worthy of changing 3-5 as both Ottawa and Calgary had trouble with inferior opponents. I think of the one-loss teams, Bishop's gets the edge over Western. I have Saskatchewan over Alberta and Concordia lost to a team ahead of them and should have won. No reason to move them out.

Andrew Bucholtz: (last week's rankings in parentheses)

1. Laval (1)
2. Ottawa (2)
3. Montreal (3)
4. Calgary (4)
5. Western (5)
6. Regina (6)
7. Bishop's (9)
8. Concordia (7)
9. McMaster (10)
10. Saskatchewan (NR)

Dropping out: Alberta (8)

Rationale: My top six stayed constant this week. Laval seems like the obvious #1 still. You could make an argment for Montreal over Ottawa given that it took the Gee-Gees overtime to beat Queen's, but that isn't an easy win on the road, especially in a Fauxcoming atmosphere. Ottawa still looks awfully good to me; they just keep finding ways to win. Montreal stays third after beating up on winless McGill, while narrow wins by Calgary and Western keep their spots intact. Regina's a very good sixth-place team, and they showed that with a 41-6 thumping of UBC this week, but I can't justify moving them further up just yet. Bishop's narrowly edged Concordia 18-17, so they take the Stingers' spot, but I think both are still solid teams. McMaster demolished Windsor, which isn't saying much, but it's enough to stay in my Top 10; Alberta's 33-9 loss to Saskatchewan isn't. There are several teams with claims on the #10 spot, but I went with the Huskies thanks to their dominant win over a good Alberta team; I think they still have a chance to make some noise in Canada West this year, so putting them back in the Top 10 this week made sense to me.

As you feel like telling the Hamilton Spectator how to pluralize words ending in -man ...


  • The lede for SMU's loss is as follows: "The Saint Mary’s Huskies are now officially a mess with just over a month to clean it up." Yikes. And I guess it wouldn't be sporting to point out that the Huskies, in a game they lost by two, cost themselves about two points with bad third-down decisions.

    Gary Ross was also hurt in the game, but now that Mount A isn't winless, they might be interesting to watch without him for a change. (The Chronicle-Herald)

  • You'll never see an easier way to obtain a steak-and-eggs meal than is described in this article about Mac's 39-3 win over Windsor. Presumably Pat. J Galasso has no problem with the result on the scoreboard. (Hamilton Spectator)

  • Concordia coach Gerry McGrath does not have any issues with the officiating in his team's loss to Bishop's, none at all, and he especially has nothing, nothing at all, to say about the David Haddrall reception-that-might-not-have-been-a-reception near the end of the game. (Montreal Gazette)

  • Regina kicker Chris Bodnar was also, briefly, a quarterback and running back, thanks to a few special-team fakes in Regina's win. (Regina Leader-Post)


We've finished the September games this year, so it's a good time to check in on some early-season performances of note.

When we looked at the Hec Crighton nominees last year, we used a simple process to figure out who added more yards or touchdowns (or fewer interceptions or fumbles) than expected. The example given was Michael Faulds, who had 10.4 yards per attempt against Toronto: since every other QB had 9.4 yards per attempt, Faulds only got credit for that one extra yard. It's a quick way to control for the competition that a player faced (and pretty much the best way, given the limited CIS stats we have to work with).

What do the results look like so far in 2010?

Let's start with quarterbacks. For this list, we'll just look at total passing yards. For example, Brad Sinpoli threw for 345 yards in 38 attempts against Windsor. Windsor's pass defence against everyone but Sinpoli gave up 7.2 yards per attempt, or about 274 per 38 attempts, giving Sinopoli 71 surplus yards against Windsor. He also had 100 or more surplus yards against each of Western, McMaster, and Queen's. Add up all his games and you get 493 yards.

Passing leaders (total surplus yards)
1. Brad Sinopoli, Ottawa (+493 yards)
2. Kyle Quinlan, McMaster (+298)
3. Jean-Phillipe Shoiry, Sherbrooke (+257)
4. Laurence Nixon, Saskatchewan (+204)
5. Justin Chapdelaine, Queen's (+162)
6. Bruno Prud'homme, Laval (+112)

I'll cut it off there at 100 yards. Clearly Sinopoli is far above any other quarterback this year. We haven't considered touchdowns or interceptions or non-passing plays, but he's 195 yards ahead of the next-closest QB, and 195 yards are worth about 13 points in Canadian football (ask me why and I'll talk your ear off). Which means that Sinopoli, by this crude measure, has been worth about two and a half points per game.

Note that running lots of short passing plays won't necessarily make you look better in this ranking, because you're being compared against all other QBs who have faced that defence. So quarterbacks on pass-happy teams are not given more credit, unless they gain more yards per attempt than the average QB has against that defence.

How about the best receivers so far?

Receiving leaders (total surplus yards)
1. Jade Etienne, Saskatchewan (+223 yards)
2. Simon Charbonneau, Sherbrooke (+162)
3. Matthew Bolduc, Ottawa (+86)
4. Ryley Richardson, Saskatchewan (+82) (on only eight receptions)
5. Michael DiCroce, McMaster (+81)

Going beyond the top 5 doesn't mean much at this point of the season, so we'll stop this list here as well. The Huskies are doing quite well with the Jade and Laurence show, though, and it makes sense that we have more Marauders and Gee-Gees and Vert er Or players in this list.

Best rushers?

Rushing leaders (total surplus yards)
1. Rotrand Sené, Montreal (+236)
2. Donnie Marshall, Western (+234)
3. Nick FitzGibbon, Guelph (+154)
4. Jeremy Hipperson, Western (+151)
5. Brad Sinopoli, Ottawa (+131)
6. Sébastien Lévesque, Laval (+120)
7. Eric Dzwilewski, Calgary (+117)
8. Nick Coutu, York (+109)

Just in case you needed any more proof of Western's special No-Pass offence.

Rotrand Sené is far ahead of Donnie Marshall in pure rushing yards, but he's also had twice as many attempts, and has played teams whose rushing defence isn't as good. So the difference between them dwindles down to two yards. Marshall, who seems more and more like a tailback playing quarterback, even outpaces his own team's leading rusher in this ranking.

Punt return leaders (total surplus yards)
1. Raphaël Gagné, Sherbrooke (+198)
2. Chayce Elliott, Ottawa (+153)
3. Craig Butler, Western (+124)
4. Daryl Townsend, Windsor (+108)
5. Nathan Coehoorn, Calgary (+106)

You know, for a 1-3 team that's fourth in its conference in points scored, Sherbrooke really has some offensive and special-team talent. (At least, they've had good results in their first four games.) If nothing else, we've now mentioned Raphaël Gagné for the first time on this site. This top 5 mostly mirrors the top of the unadjusted punt return yardage list.

Kick return leaders (total surplus yards)
1. Jeff Thompson, McGill (+183)
2. Chayce Elliot, Ottawa (+104)
3. Alex Anthony, Laurier (+62)
4. Chris Dobko, Calgary (+51)
5. Spencer Betts, UBC (+50)

Remember the confusion over Jeff Thompson not winning special teams player of the week? 143 of his 183 surplus yards came in that game against Concordia.

So that's a quick and simple look at some positional leaders so far this year. All of this will change as the season progresses: not only will players get more reps and more (or fewer) yards, but the teams they played against will play against other teams, changing the baseline for comparisons. (Put another way: if Sinopoli doesn't throw another pass this year, but Windsor's pass defence gets better in its remaining games, Sinopoli's stats will improve anyway.)
It's officially the midway point of the season, and with four weeks in the books things are starting to become more clear out west. While Regina's early season success has certainly been surprising to some, the Rams continued to prove they're for real this weekend on the West Coast.

The Rams' potent offence was on full display yet again this weekend in Vancouver where Regina pounded the ball against the UBC Thunderbirds, to the tune of 241 yards on the ground in a 41-6 shellacking.

Fifth-year running back Adrian Charles accounted for 193 of those rushing yards, including a 90-yard run touchdown run in the second quarter - Charles' second major of the game (that run was the second longest in Regina history behind only Ronald Arnold's 97-yarder back in 2000).

The Rams also had a little trickery in the playbook for the T-Birds when punter Chris Bodnar hooked up with Matt Yousie on a fake punt for a 73-yard TD in the fourth.

Turnovers were a problem for the T-Birds, as QB Billy Greene threw a quartet of interceptions. The UBC offensive attack was abysmal at best, with the home side unable to get the ball inside the Regina red zone once all afternoon.

It was a thoroughly dominant victory for the Rams who continue to look good. QB Marc Mueller was solid, going 16 of 27 for 186 yards throwing a TD and no interceptions, with the ground game doing more than enough to get the win.

In Edmonton Friday night the Saskatchewan Huskies showed why, despite their 1-2 record entering the week, the talk leading up to their clash with the Alberta Golden Bears revolved around how they were poised to wake up from their early season funk.

That's exactly what Brian Towriss' team did, coming out and taking it to the Bears at Foote Field in a 33-9 dismantling of the Bears.

Despite coming into the game with some doubt as to his health, Saskatchewan's Laurence Nixon turned in a QB performance for the ages going 25 of 34 with no interceptions, three touchdowns and 423 yards through the air.

Nixon's favourite target under the Foote Field lights was big play specialist Jade Etienne, who had 171 yards including touchdowns of 53 and 41 yards respectively.

On the other side of the QB battle, Alberta starter Julian Marchand and the offence struggled for the second consecutive week, with Marchand throwing three interceptions, and the offence's only major score coming late in the fourth thanks to backup Curtis Dell's 12-yard pass to a wide open Jess Valleau.

After a 2-0 start the Bears have seemingly come back to Earth with back-to-back home losses, but remain in a tie for second with the Huskies who appear to be back on track.

In the final Canada West game of the weekend Calgary downed the Manitoba Bisons, just not in the fashion many experts had expected, eking out a 26-25 win in Winnipeg.

Down 20-3 at the half, Manitoba came out and scored on consecutive possessions to open the second half with QB Khaleal Williams throwing for the Bisons first major, and running in their second.

Those scores made it 20-17 for the Dinos with more than a quarter of football to go.

Calgary would add a safety, an Aaron Ifield field goal and rouge to round out there scoring.

The Bisons would get their final score thanks to Matt Henry scoring with only 25 seconds to go in the fourth to make the game 26-25 including a successful two-point convert, but it was too little too late.

The big story for Calgary was once again their potent rushing attack with rookie QB Eric Dzwilewski at the helm. Dzwilewski wasn't great through the air going 11 of 18 with a pick, but rushed for 114 yards. Steven Lumbala also had 106 yards on the ground, not to mention Matt Walter's 137 yard performance. Talk about a three-headed rushing monster, with the trio combining for 357 yards.

It wasn't the second half Calgary was looking for, but it was just enough to run their record to 3-1, good for a tie atop the standings with Regina, while Manitoba fell to 1-3.
Join us here for your exclusive live coverage of the UNB Fall Classic hockey tournament championship game between the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds and the Saint Mary's Huskies. Game time is scheduled for 7:00 pm (6:00 pm EDT) and this liveblog will be the only way for you to keep abreast of the action!

Join us this afternoon for Game 3 of the UNB Fall Classic hockey tournament - the Guelph Gryphons vs. the UPEI Panthers. Game time is 4:00 pm (3:00 pm EDT). Unfortunately there will be no audiocast, webcast or live stats of the game, so this liveblog will be the only way to keep abreast of the game. We'll also be liveblogging the tourney final between UNB and SMU at 7:00 pm (6:00 pm EDT) tonight

These had some success last year: of the 54 games I gave a spread for, the favourite covered 27 times. But the season is still relatively young, and some of these might look right stupid in a few hours.

I almost can't believe what my computer spit out for York/Laurier, but then again it is York. (And they might have rain today in Toronto.)

Saint Mary's at Mount Allison (+15)
St. F-X at Acadia (pick 'em)

Bishop's at Concordia (-7.5)
Sherbrooke at Laval (-27)

York at Laurier (-35.5)
Windsor at McMaster (-17.5)
Ottawa at Queen's (-10)
Western at Guelph (+8) (liveblog run by Arden Zwelling here)

Canada West
Calgary at Manitoba (+7)
As you wonder how many times you can mock an upcoming opponent before the karma police take notice ...


  • That win over the Huskies is looking more and more like an outlier for the Thunderbirds. They didn't get in the red zone once against Regina on Friday night and lost 41-6. (Little Man on Campus) Also notable? Adrian Charles had a 90-yard TD rush, the second-longest in Rams history and the longest in ten years. (@reginacougars)

  • The 24-11 final score in the Carabins' win over McGill is somewhat misleading, considering that the Redmen started out with a 10-0 lead. (Rue Frontenac)

  • Alberta's loss to Saskatchewan sure sounds like it was ugly. (Edmonton Journal)

  • At least one Saskatchewan observer was mighty impressed with Jade Etienne's game in that win over the Bears. (Huskie Football Outsider)

  • Erik Glavic on Eric Dzwilewski (or "Junior"): "He’s really poised. I think that’s the biggest thing about him that’s really impressive to watch. He’s definitely looking like a — I wouldn’t say a fifth-year vet — but he’s looking like an experienced quarterback out there. He’s not making too many rookies mistakes. He’s done really well."

    And Junior on Glavic: "He’s kind of been the second quarterback coach and been the second set of eyes for me. If I have any problems on the sidelines, I go visit with Erik because he’s been there. He’s been in the same situations. He’s been on the field through the same stuff I have. So it’s a really big help. I just try to pick apart his brain and use the information he gives me and try to apply it on the field." (Calgary Sun)

  • Mount A receiver Nick Kukkonen is looking forward to playing in his hometown of Moncton today. (Times & Transcript)

  • The Globe and Mail checks in with "the longest training camp in history" in Waterloo, where it's found that players strongly dislike the UW administration, only eight current Warriors have CIS experience, and Dennis McPhee might have some recruiting trouble. (Globe and Mail)


  • The Regina women's team need to fill the setter role for a few weeks, and they're turning to a pair of rookies in Talayna Tremblay and Ceanna Lindquist. (Regina Leader-Post)


  • The Mustangs' men's roster is set. I guess we should get cracking on those basketball previews, eh? (Mustang Backcourt Club)

  • About 40% of top high school players are playing in CIS this year, if you're looking for a keeper in the 13th round in the MUBL this year. (


  • SMU and UNB battle for a tournament championship may just be preseason, but tell that to the players, specifically Kyle Bailey. Also note that we'll have live coverage of both games today (Guelph/PEI being the first one) with David Kilfoil on the liveblog. The Daily Gleaner

  • UOIT, the school for people who want to attend both a university and an institute of technology at the same time, is hoping to improve the Ridgebacks' men's hockey team some more after a 11-15-2 season last year. Coach Marlin Muylaert says UOIT has "perhaps the best athletic training facilities of any Ontario university." Anyone know if that's true? (North Bay Nugget)
Join the fun with the liveblog for Game 2 of the UNB Fall Classic hockey tournament, as the Varsity Reds host the Guelph Gryphons.

Every week, Five to Ponder will highlight five upcoming games that might be worth your attention. After the weekend, Five for Pondering will recap the five games that were actually worth our attention. Hopefully the games we encourage you to watch end up being the interesting ones. This is hardly ever the case.

1. The 2010 Fraudulent Bowl
Football: Western at Guelph, Saturday, 1:00pm ET

I had to steal the title from Greg Layson, who says that by the end of Saturday, "one of these two teams will be exposed for the overrated, overachieving team it is at this point in the season", and predicts this game will be as much fun as that clichéd dental procedure everyone uses when they want to describe how painful an event will be.

2. A 1-2 Canada West Team Plays A 2-1 Canada West Team
Football: Saskatchewan at Alberta, Friday, 7:00pm MT

It was hard to pick just one game in this conference: if Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and UBC all win then we'll have a six-way tie for first on Monday. But that seems rather improbable, so let's just pick one game: Saskatchewan at Alberta, the first matchup of the weekend. SSN webcast link is here.

3. An Afternoon At The Roxburgh
Women's soccer: Alberta at Trinity Western, Saturday, 5:00pm PT

They're the only undefeated teams in Canada West, both nationally ranked. A pretty simple pick for this article. Here's your webcast link, and here's a brief video preview of both of TWU's weekend games:

Before you ask: no, I don't know where you can get activewear with your initials adorning your shoulder.

4. The Other McGill-Montreal Game at CEPSUM
Women's soccer: McGill at Montreal, Sunday, 1:00pm ET

It's the first time they've met since last year's QSSF final (which the Carabins won 2-1). In fact, three years in a row, the Martlets have been eliminated from the playoffs by Montreal. They are hoping to reverse that trend this year, one assumes, and perhaps a win on Sunday will help them to believe they can do it.

5. Wait, Who's 0-2?
Football: Saint Mary's vs. Mount Allison in Moncton, Saturday, 1:00pm AT

Wouldn't it be an overload of symbolism if the Huskies lost a game in Moncton in the same week that Huskies Stadium lost a semifinal game to Moncton? Eyes will also be on Micah Brown in his CIS non-Laval-debut.
For those of you who might be starving for some CIS hockey chatter (and maybe it is only me ...) I will be hosting liveblogs here for all four games for this weekend's UNB Fall Classic tournament. Granted these games aren't being webcast, but hey, you work with what you have.

The reigning CIS champion Saint Mary's Huskies will face off against the UPEI Panthers at 5:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. EDT) today at the Aitken University Centre in Fredericton. Then at 8:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. EDT) the host University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds will meet the visiting Guelph Gryphons.

SMU is coming off winning the Don Wells Memorial Tournament in Wolfville last weekend; Guelph won the RBC Steel Blade Tournament in St. Catharines; and UNB is coming off their sweep of Calgary and UofA. And UPEI is coming in cold. Ouch.

Tomorrow either SMU or UPEI will play Guelph at 4:00 p.m. (3:00 EDT) and the other team will play UNB at 7:00 p.m. (6:00 EDT), depending on who wins today.

As you make plans for a carpool to Moncton for a 2014 CIS-CFL doubleheader ...


  • Duane Forde, CFL analyst for TSN, has posted his two-part series on the top draft prospects for 2011 and beyond, many of whom are from CIS. Forde, when talking about Rotrand Sené (#9 for 2012), also credits les Carabins with running the wildcat offence better than any CFL team. (TSN: Part 1 and Part 2)

  • Justin Dunk has posted the Guelph half of the preview for Saturday's Mustangs-Gryphons game. (University Rush)

  • L'Université de Moncton has ordered up a feasibility study ("a close, honest look") for the possibility of adding varsity football, something university president Yvon Fontaine thinks would cost in the neighbourhood of $500,000 per year. (Times & Transcript)

  • Western grad and Riders star Andy Fantuz has a new product out in Regina, and Kate McKenna takes a break from raw-meat helmets to tell us about it. (TicatsTV)


  • V-Red defensemen Ben Shutron and Ben Wright both suffered injuries on UNB's Alberta trip. Eric Frere was the Dino who delivered the hit that resulted in Shutron's broken femur; Shutron says a hit like that is part of the game, whereas coach Gardiner MacDougall thinks it was an avoidable situation. (The Daily Gleaner)

  • The U of A men's team hosts a pretty decent tournament this weekend: Regina, Saskatchewan, and Calgary are all in town, though the Dinos and Bears don't appear to be playing each other. Then again, the Canada West season starts in eight days, when they do play each other. (The Gateway)

  • Three goaltenders are vying for the #1 spot for the Lakers: Matt Hache, Kyle Cantlon, and Billy Stone. (North Bay Nugget)


  • Mitch Jacobsen is an early recruit for the 2011 T-Birds. Coach Kevin Hanson says Jacobsen can play any position regardless of whether they're in CIS or not. I wonder what Jacobsen, who has a nationalistic view and thinks Canadian ballers should stay in Canada, thinks about UBC moving to the NCAA. (Howie's High School Hamper, not to be confused with Howard Tsumura's other blog, Little Man on Campus; click through for the HHSH banner alone)

  • Mark Wacyk has a full preseason schedule posted to add to your bookmarks. (, also seen at Big Man on Campus)

  • The 1974-75 national champion Waterloo Warriors will be back at Waterloo in October as part of the annual Naismith Tournament. 1975, of course, was the year Mike Moser died in Florida in the middle of Waterloo's championship season. Moser is mentioned in the video, which also includes some awesome shots of a packed Waterloo PAC back in the day. (Warriors Men's Basketball)
As you wonder what getting drafted 20th overall in the MUBL can do for you...

  • How long will Chris Ioannides be out? The Queen's receiver might miss the season. (Kingston Whig-Standard)

  • Interesting story on Samuel Narkaj, a top linebacker/running back in the Greater Toronto Area, who moved from Albania to Toronto by way of Detroit and presumably has an eye on the OUA for next season. (Toronto Star)

  • Jamir Walker, cornerback with Regina, has had a confident start to the 2010 season. (Regina Leader-Post)

  • What does Regina coach Frank McCrystal think about "punting to win" (as Andrew has referred to it many times lately)? He has some experience in the matter. The coverage of the 2000 game referred to in this article was also reprinted earlier this week. (Regina Leader-Post)

  • Shawn Camp and the Gryphons are looking forward to the Fall Classic tournament at UNB, which also features the eastern Huskies and PEI Panthers. (Daily Gleaner)

  • Cross Mitch Leger off your MUBL draft boards: the now-former Golden Gael is off to play ball in Germany--with Stu Turnbull's former team. Both Leger and Turnbull played for the same high school (Frontenac), as is my understanding. (Kingston Whig-Standard)
From the start of the season to the end, The Full 90 will bring to light some of the challenging issues in CIS soccer in an effort to encourage discussion and debate, of the beautiful game on our campuses, in an open forum.

It’s been three years this fall since Ontario University Athletics decided to begin offering athletic scholarships of up to $3,500 to students who get at least an 80% average in High School.

The decision, although pathetically long overdue, was nonetheless adopted with fanfare among the student-athlete body.

The reasoning behind the decision was simple enough; Canadian athletes were snubbing Canadian schools who did not offer enough financial aid in favour of American schools that handed out financial assistance like it was their day job…which I suppose it actually sort of is.

In addition, Ontario universities feared that incoming students would begin selecting schools based on the financial assistance provided instead of the academic excellence of the university and would begin enrolling at schools out west or east.

However, judging the success of the initiative is not so simple. It was an initiative undertaken to level the playing field between Canadian schools and American schools as well as keep Ontario a competitive destination nationally for their best and brightest student-athletes.

Yet what some believe is that it has had the complete opposite effect within Ontario and has unbalanced the playing field of many major sports such as soccer.

This fall is the first season in which many student-athletes, which have taken advantage of the new scholarship structure, have become leaders and seniors on their teams. The majority of the rosters are comprised of players who have been brought in under these new rules and as such perhaps now, three years later, is a reasonable time to take a first-look at how effective the new structure has been.

While talking to various coaches within the soccer sphere of the OUA one thing has become clear; there is no consensus on the effectiveness of the program. Some coaches have benefited, others have not-yet remain unconcerned, while others are claiming that their program is now at a disadvantage.

The latter complain that this program only serves to benefit the large, rich schools that can afford to dole out money and not suffer any damaging repercussions to their budget. While small schools in Ontario are walking a fine line and in some cases have been forced to cut staff and sports, the larger more omnipresent schools have a much larger buffer to protect their bottom line.

The former say that it shouldn’t be the mandate of a smaller school to concentrate money into athletic programs and that in times of tight purse strings their money should be going to more academic pursuits and projects. The obvious flaw in logic here is that there is a direct correlation with academics and athletics; one simply cannot be a student-athlete without first being a student.

Soccer is a bellwether sport in the CIS; not significant enough to be immune to the fluctuations in financing yet not insignificant enough to be refused a seat at the table during negotiations. It is an efficient barometer for the tweener sports in the CIS yet is also a sport on the rise in terms of training and producing talent and graduating those talented players to the professional leagues.

Coaches are also wary of losing the parity that is a hallmark of CIS soccer. All of football, hockey, and basketball - the three premier sports in the CIS - have suffered at the hands of powerful programs like Laval, UNB, and Carleton respectively. While those schools have no problems with the system, practically every other student body becomes disenfranchised from following and supporting their varsity teams because they honestly believe their school has no shot at glory.

Can you ever see the Guelph Gryphons winning a Vanier Cup? Could you see the Windsor Lancers winning a University Cup? Could you see the Waterloo Warriors winning the Final 8? I believe all of us can honestly answer "no" to each of those.

Could you see any of those programs winning a CIS Soccer Championship? I believe all of us can honestly answer "maybe" or “yes” to each of them.

In each of the last two National Championships, a team from the OUA has earned a berth despite being severely under skilled and over matched. Both Laurier and McMaster had unforgettable runs to the Championship weekend and during those weekends, Laurier lost 1-0 to a Trinity Western team that lost to York in the final, and McMaster lost 1-0 on penalties to a McGill team that lost to Laval in the final.

Clearly parity and quality can be found from the top of the OUA to the bottom, but can the same be said of the other three major sports?

However, how much longer can we claim parity in soccer?

Even though it is still in its infancy, I believe, from talking to various student athletes at my school as well as staff, that this scholarship initiative will be resoundingly effective in retaining top Canadian talent, producing more skilled and successful athletes, and of course making University more financially viable for student-athletes.

However, after seeing what influxes of money and funding have done to football, hockey, and basketball in the CIS I am of the opinion that I do not want to see any future initiatives move the culture of CIS sport closer to that of the NCAA or professional leagues and I believe our culture and authenticity of sport is at risk.

What we have right now is something special.

Soccer at the University level is one of the last bastions of sport where hope, optimism, and the belief that the impossible is always possible, still reign in the hearts of its fans.

The same cannot be said of other sports. U of T football fans know when anyone but York comes to Varsity Stadium there will likely be an “L” beside the Varsity Blues in the boxscore. One of the quintessential aspects of sport is the unexpected and the upset because it is those moments that provide us with our childhood memories and our stories when we are older.

The entertainment that sport is supposed to provide has been diluted.

University soccer is a sport driven not by money but by young people who walk onto the field with little more than the numbers on their chest and fire in their hearts, and when you have that, anything often happens.

I point this out because I wonder at what point does this quixotic pursuit of pseudo-professionalism in University sport begin to rend and tear the very spirit of the sport out of it.

Student-athletes on a varsity soccer team in Canada are not playing for a career; they play for memories, the love of the game, and glory for their school. For most of them their time wearing their school’s crest will be the highlight and the pinnacle of their athletic careers.

In closing, ask yourself a question; why do you love sports? Do your answers fall in line with what the athletic scholarships are trying to accomplish? Or do your answers fall in line with what student-athletes are trying to accomplish?

Are we losing what we love about our sports?
Well, today is just a Monty Mosher-based day at, isn't it?

Hours after the Chronicle-Herald reporter broke the news about the 2011 Uteck Bowl going to Moncton, we learn that SMU QB Jack Creighton has quit the team.

One assumes Creighton has left because he was benched last week, among other reasons (he told Mosher "it hasn't been fun since the end of last season"). Last year he was ranked fifth among quarterbacks nationwide, and was the highest-ranked among those returning to play this year, so his departure is certainly of national interest. And if I understand my eligibility rules correctly, Creighton can next appear in a CIS game on September 18, 2011 (he was on the roster for SMU's most recent game even if he did not play). So you'd think any number of schools would be happy to land him for what would be most of next season.

Micah Brown didn't have a great game in place of Creighton last week, but it's tough for anyone to have a great game against Laval. He certainly has the wheels and the arm to warrant further attention from SMU; whether they gave too much attention to him instead of their incumbent quarterback remains to be seen.

(There's a joke in here about Creighton joining Waterloo, which is about a two-hour drive from his hometown and, like him, the school becomes eligible to play again in 2011, but I'm not witty enough to make it.)

QB Creighton quits Huskies after being benched [The Chronicle-Herald]
The Quebec conference had a pretty good week, sweeping the Atlantic conference. The result was having five teams who received votes in this most recent Top 10.

From now on, the Quebec conference's focus will be friendly fire and playoff positioning.

Concordia (1-1) @ McGill (0-2) :: 34-29 Concordia

Once again McGill was involved in the most exciting game of the week. Once again they came off on the losing end.

McGill opened up the game with Jeffery Thompson returning the opening kickoff 102 yards. Oddly it was Austin Anderson who was named Special Teams player of the week in the Q who kicked three of his six field goals in the first half as McGill opened an 18-3 lead.

Terrence Morsink got his second straight start in place of Robert Mackay who is still day-to-day after suffering an injury in the first half of the season opener against Bishop's. He started off slow as the running game took a while to get going, but exploded in the second half and Concordia's defence held McGill without a major.

Right before half time, Morsink found Edem Nyamadi to make the score 18-10. Early in the fourth quarter he hit Liam Mahoney with a 33-yard pass to make the score 24-20 and after Anderson's sixth field goal, Mike Donnelly scampered for 15 yards to tie the game at 27 with 3:47 to go.

Then, after a McGill two-and-out, Kris Robertson returned the punt 62 yards for a touchdown and Concordia completed the comeback.

However, with 54 seconds remaining, Concordia coach Gerry McGrath made the odd decision to concede a safety instead of punting allowing McGill to get the ball back where a touchdown would win the game instead of forcing a tie. McGrath wanted to stay away from kicking the ball to Thompson who had 236 total return yards on the day. McGill started driving and used a couple of pass interference penalties to have 1st-and-goal from the 1 yard line. After a stop, McGill was called for procedure to move it back to the 6 yard line before Kyle Smith intercepted the ball in the end zone on the game's final play.

Key Stats:
Terrence Morsink (CON): 24/42, 317 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Liam Mahoney (CON): 9 catches, 122 yards, TD
Austin Anderson (MCG): 6/8 field goals, 1/1 XP

Mount Allison (1-0) @ Sherbrooke (0-2) :: 44-10 Sherbrooke

Simon Charbonneau-Campeau caught a 75 yard touchdown pass from Jean-Philippe Shoiry late in the first quarter to make the score 14-3. The score was 20-3 before Mount Allison had their big touchdown play, a 75 yard touchdown reception from Gary Ross. Sherbrooke went on to dominate the second half, scoring 24 unanswered points to get their first win of the season.

Key Stats:
Simon Charbonneau-Campeau (SHE): 7 catches, 183 yards, TD
Gary Ross (MTA): 10 catches, 194 yards, TD
David Dumas-Goulet (SHE): 9 rushes, 92 yards, 2 TD

#3 Montreal (2-0) @ St. FX (0-1) :: 27-10 Montreal

Playing without their starting quarterback who didn't make the trip to Antigonish, it was all Rotrand Sene in Montreal's big win, and that's par for the course for the CIS's leading rusher. Sene had 220 yards on the ground with a touchdown and the Carabins had under 90 yards in the air while keeping the X-Men scoreless until the fourth quarter.

St. FX's only scoring was on special teams as Montreal held them to a single, a field goal and a punt return for a touchdown and 112 yards of offence.

Key Stats:
Rotrand Sene (MTL): 33 carries, 220 yards, TD
Mathieu Labelle (MTL): 5 carries, 55 yards
Dylan Hollohan (FX): 10 tackles, 119 yard punt return TD

#1 Laval (2-0) @ Saint Mary's (0-1) :: 45-7 Laval

Laval opened up a 44-0 lead, including 20 second quarter points before the Huskies were able to find the scoreboard with three minutes remaining in the game. Sebastien Levesque had two touchdowns and Christopher Milo had three field goals while Laval racked up 465 yards of offence.

Saint Mary's lone touchdown was a three yard run by Devon Jones. Micah Brown struggled in his first CIS start, going 8/24 for 163 yards.

Key Stats:
Sebastien Levesque (LAV): 18 carries, 99 yards, 2 TD
Bruno Prud'homme (LAV): 13/19, 190 yards, TD
Ryan King (SMU): 10 tackles

#10 Acadia (1-0) @ Bishop's (1-1) :: 31-16 Bishop's

Bishop's defence was stout, allowing a point through the first three quarters while their offence went to town early and often against the Axemen.

Josh Maveety also scored on a fake field goal when he took a lateral and ran 15 yards for the score. Jesse Andrews threw for a touchdown and ran for one and the defence created four turnovers.

Acadia's best moments came in the fourth quarter when A.J. Durling had a 33 yard touchdown reception from Kyle Graves

Key Stats:
Jesse Andrews (BIS): 18/29, 219 yards, TD; 7 carries, 52 yards, TD
John Jean-Baptiste (BIS): 11 carries, 80 yards
Kyle Graves (ACA): 15/24, 142 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT; 12 carries, 61 yards

1. LAVAL 3-0
3. BISHOP'S 2-1
6. McGILL 0-3

The Week Ahead:
McGill (0-3) @ Montreal (3-0), Friday 7pm
Bishop's (2-1) @ Concordia (2-1), Saturday 1pm [Radio: Team 990, TV: Radio-Canada]
Sherbrooke (1-2) @ Laval (3-0), Sunday 1pm

The biggest game is at Concordia where Bishop's and Concordia play for the second and final time this season. It will go a long way in deciding who will finish third in the QUFL and these team's couldn't be closer. Their first game was 17-14 in Bishop's home opener and they were separated by one point in this week's CIS-FRC Top 10.

Elsewhere, McGill and Sherbrooke will be in tough to battle for playoff positioning as they have to face the top two teams in the conference. The good news for Sherbrooke is that they won't have to see Laval again this season after Sunday.
Halifax is about to lose a major athletic event, and a piece of its sporting culture, to Moncton.

A source close to the matter says Atlantic University Sport will hand Moncton the rights to host the 2011 Uteck Bowl Canadian Interuniversity Sport national football semifinal at the new $20-million stadium at the Universite de Moncton campus. It is not known if the deal extends beyond one game.

The AUS has called a news conference Wednesday morning in Moncton, which is gearing up for this weekend’s Touchdown Atlantic CFL game, to announce details "of an exciting sporting event coming to Moncton."
Monty Mosher, The Chronicle-Herald

Unless anyone knows of any other exciting AUS sporting events coming to Moncton, this report seems pretty spot-on.

This new stadium is, of course, hosting a CFL game this weekend, and is at the very least a better venue for the semifinal bowl game (it has more seats, it's newer...). Coming at a time when "club football is booming in the Maritimes", and also right before SMU and Acadia Mount Allison play a game in Moncton—at another stadium, ironically—one also wonders what this announcement might do to help the AUS and its "expand or disband" problem.

And whether adding the Uteck Bowl does anything for Moncton's chances of being the next CFL expansion team is a question best left to Mr. Bucholtz.

CBC followed up on the story this morning and spoke to the mayor of Halifax, Peter Kelly, who is concerned about losing the culture and tradition (read: restaurant and hotel spending) associated with the Uteck Bowl. He wants "some further follow-up" done, which usually means city staff have to fabricate an analysis which "proves" Halifax is a better site for the game, but we'll leave municipal politics behind and talk about football.

Frankly, it can't hurt to move some AUS events out of the HRM for a change. Halifax seems like the centre of the Maritime universe sometimes, and part of the tradition of the game is that it's almost always held in Halifax—which, by the laws of physics, means it's almost never held in another city, and perhaps it's time for that to happen.

The men's basketball championship was in held Sydney last year, and while I don't personally know how successful it was, in theory that was a good decision. On the other hand, you could argue that until SMU starts losing AUS championships, or expansion teams in New Brunswick are successful, there isn't the appetite for CIS football in the rest of the Maritimes like there is for basketball in Cape Breton (and of course there's no CIS football team currently in Moncton).

The bottom line, though, is that moving the Uteck Bowl around can only help. Holding the 2011 game in a city with a brand-new stadium and other high-level interest in football is a no-brainer.

UPDATE (Sep. 22): It's official. The release doesn't say when the Uteck will come back to Halifax, if that's been decided yet, but Mosher says it's looking like 2017 and that he "better get to like Moncton in November."

Halifax mayor bemoans football loss [CBC]
Source: 2011 Uteck Bowl bound for Moncton [The Chronicle-Herald]
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