Sunday, February 28, 2010
#10 Saskatchewan @ Lethbridge
Needing a sweep of Saskatchewan and a sweep by Regina to make it to the postseason, the Lethbridge Pronghorns came out and played a hard-nosed series against the Huskies, picking up a win Friday night 4-3 on the back of Adam Chorneyko's 15th and 16th goals respectively, but despite the win, the 'Horns playoff hopes had already been dashed thanks to a Bisons win earlier in the night against Regina. That Manitoba win coupled with the Saskatchewan loss put the pressure on the Huskies to win Saturday night to secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
In what amounted to a meaningless game Saturday night for Lethbridge, Saskatchewan needed a win to assure themselves second place in the conference, and got that much needed victory in overtime. Kyle Ross scored his fourth of the year in the extra frame on the power play to lift the Huskies to the win, and lockup second place in the standings.
Lethbridge, who went 8-1-1 down the stretch to put themselves in the playoff race finishes the season with a 13-11-2-2 mark good for 30 points and fifth place - two points behind fourth place Calgary. Saskatchewan finishes the regular season with a 16-8-3-1 record and 36 points - 11 behind first place Alberta.
Regina @ #9 Manitoba
Playing for both their playoff lives and second place at the same time, the Manitoba Bisons got it done this weekend in one respect, clinching a playoff berth while falling short of second place in the conference standings.
Manitoba locked up a postseason berth Friday night with a 4-1 win at home over the Cougars thanks to three power play goals, as the Herd went three-for-five with the man advantage - their most productive output of the season. Brandon Lockerby led the Bisons with a goal and an assist in the winning effort, with Steve Christie picking up the win in net for Manitoba.
With the playoffs a certainty, the Bisons were looking to put the pressure on Saskatchewan for second place in the conference Saturday, which Manitoba did successfully with a 5-3 win. With four unanswered goals, Manitoba successfully came back from a second period 3-1 deficit to secure the win, but it wasn`t enough to earn second place as Saskatchewan, as summed up earlier won their Saturday night game to edge the Bisons out in the standings.
Regina finishes the season with a 9-17-2-0 record, good for 20 points and sixth place. Manitoba compiled a 16-10-0-2 mark for 34 points and third place.
Next weekend the conference semis get underway with the Calgary Dinos heading to Edmonton to take on Alberta in one series, and the Bisons travelling to Saskatoon to take on the Huskies in the other best-of-three.
- UBC (17-1, 1st RPI): Host Alberta in best-of-three series. The first one was a 92-62 blowout with Kyle Watson scoring 25 in 23 minutes: he was 8-for-10 from the field and 9 of 10 from the line. Game 2 was Friday night, and another 30-point win and then some: 103-68. I had UBC as 87% favourites to win the Canada West playoffs (99.3% to beat Alberta), and they're well on their way. Brent Malish played just six minutes in this one as Kevin Hanson ran out a different starting lineup.
UBC has now clinched home-court advantage up until the Final 8, and play Saskatchewan in the semifinal.
- Carleton (20-2, 2nd RPI): York on Saturday. An early spread on that one is about 26 points, but York did their part and kept it within half of that. Kevin McCleery had 22 in the Ravens' 78-65 win. Carleton now plays Ottawa, once again, in the OUA East final.
- Cape Breton (17-1, 9th RPI): Rematch at St. F-X on Friday as their regular season winds down. Not to reduce it all to the last minute, but: they pulled within one on a Paris Carter three-ball with thirty seconds to go and then stopped the X-Men, leaving them about half that time to get a basket. Carter tried from downtown again and missed, and no other shots came as CBU lost 81 to 80.
- St. F-X (17-1, 5th RPI): As noted, beat CBU 81-80. It was the Riiny and T-Bear show: Christian Upshaw got 33 points; Riiny Ngot came in to replace Alberto Rodriguez (who had four fouls) and blocked four shots right away. Another great game between these two teams...let's hope they meet again for the AUS championship.
- Ottawa (18-4, 7th RPI): Host Queen's in OUA quarterfinal, who ran out a short lineup (only seven players got more than three minutes on the court) and fell behind early. Ottawa won it 77-61, Josh Gibson-Bascombe hitting 25 and Warren Ward also reaching 20 to offset the 23 and 10 rebounds from Mitch Leger.
- Calgary (15-5, 6th RPI): Host Lethbridge starting Friday in best-of-3. Wayne Thomas has more. They won the first 62 to 57, but that score hides the story of the game: another second-half collapse vs. Lethbridge. The Dinos were up 42 to 19 at the half and were outscored 22-9 in the third. They shot just 31%, Tyler Fidler going, wait for it, 0-for-14. I'm not really sure how they won.
The rubber was an eight-point win by Calgary (87-79), and even though the Pronghorns had five players in double digits, so did the Dinos: 26 from Robbie Sihota and 20 from Fidler, who was a much-better 8 of 19 this time out. Ross Bekkering had four blocks, channeling his brother.
- Windsor (17-5, 3rd RPI): Beat Laurier by the same score that Calgary beat Lethbridge. This one saw WLU go 4 of 6 from the line, but Windsor went 14 of 15; in other words, the entire margin of victory. Take from that what you will. Isaac Kuon had nine points in the fourth to hold Laurier off, as part of his game-high 22. Lakehead now comes to town next Saturday for the OUA West final, and the winner earns a spot in the Final 8.
- Lakehead (17-5, 10th RPI): Host Waterloo in OUA quarterfinal. Did you watch this game? You should have watched this game. Waterloo pulled away early but Lakehead's D held them down in the second half. At a time when the Thunderwolves were down by double digits, Ryan Thomson put the team on his back and kept them as close as he could; he ended up 8-for-13 with 20 points. Waterloo had their chances, but their shooting hurt them: outside of Dave Burnett and Matt Hayes (both playing their last CIS game) the team shot 28%.
- Simon Fraser (14-4, 4th RPI): Host Regina in best-of-3 series. It's the first playoff game the Clan men have hosted in a long time, says Howard Tsumura, along with other notes on SFU here. The Clan fell behind in the first half, down 40-26, and lost 77-71. Tsumura called the second game "a near carbon-copy in reverse" as SFU won 82-75 to stay alive for today's 3 pm PT elimination game.
And they won that game quite easily, 96-77, including a 36-22 third quarter. SFU now pulls Calgary in the semi next weekend at UBC.
- Saskatchewan (14-6, 11th RPI): Welcome UFV for their series. Perhaps one of the four top players in the conference that the Huskies have will see them through with a sweep in this one. Showron Glover and Michael Linklater each broke 25 points and Troy Gottselig, the third of those four, had a double-double in the Huskies' 96-85 Game 1 win. Game 2 was Friday and Glover went off for 41 points and Nolan Brudehl was an efficient 7 of 8 for 21 with eight boards. Saskatchewan advances to the Canada West Final Four next weekend at UBC.
- UNB (27-1, 1st RPI): The only team to beat them this year did so again in Game 1: St. F-X won 3-2 on a Brennan Wray goal with three minutes left. It sounds like the X-Men trapped their way to victory against a UNB team that hadn't played in nearly two weeks.
And in Game 2, surely the biggest win of the CIS hockey season so far: St. F-X won 3-2 again in what had to be frustrating for the Reds: only six shots all game from the X-Men, and none in the third. St. F-X had a two-goal lead for most of the second and a 3-0 lead for about eight minutes. Phil Mangan scored twice for X, Bryan Gillis stopped 29 of 31 shots, and Ben Shutron had two points for UNB.
This series continues Tuesday.
- Alberta (23-5, 2nd RPI): Idle.
- UQTR (25-6, 4th RPI): Won 6-3 at Ryerson to start their series Thursday. Then they're at home Friday and Saturday if necessary (which it isn't). The Rams actually outshot them by one in Game 1 but they were down three goals at three different points in the game. UQTR won Game 2 6-3 as well. There's not really much to say here.
- Acadia (20-9, 6th RPI): Already beat SMU 2-1 in the first game of their semifinal; they lost 4-1 on Friday. Lots of penalties in this one: the Axemen's only goal came on the powerplay in the second period.
- McGill (24-6, 3rd RPI): Upset by Carleton at home in Game 1, 5 to 2; the Ravens had a 3-0 lead after two and scored four powerplay goals. Game 2 was a 5-1 win for McGill and doesn't sound like it was close at all once McGill tied it at 1 with six minutes to go in the first. Alexandre Picard-Hooper had a three-point night. The rubber match is Sunday night at McGill.
- Western (23-8, t-4th RPI): Beat Windsor 5-2; second game was Friday in Windsor and Western won 3-1 behind goals from Aaron Snow and Geoff Killing (two headline-friendly last names, there), and then Yashar Farmanara iced the game late in the third. Seems like good effort from Windsor, but they're eliminated.
- Lakehead (21-10, 7th RPI): In Game 1, beat Guelph in Guelph in overtime; Andy Hyvarinen scoring the winner. Game 2 is in Thunder Bay on Friday and should be a raucous one, and it should have been: Scott Dobben tied it with 1:02 in the third and then Matt Dias took a break from slugging .488 with the Atlanta Braves to complete a hat trick 4:19 into overtime.
Lakehead and Western play each other starting Wednesday in Thunder Bay in the OUA West final. Yet another great series that you should all pay attention to.
- Saint Mary's (18-12, t-10th RPI): Down 1-0 in best-of-five to Acadia, with another game in Wolfville on Friday. SMU won this one, though, 3 to 1 plus an empty-netter. First Star Cody Thornton had two goals.
- Saskatchewan (15-11, t-12th RPI): At Lethbridge for two to finish the season, starting Friday. They lost the first 4-3; their two third-period goals not being enough to offset the four Lethbridge goals in periods 1 and 2. A point from the U of S in Saturday's game gives them second-place, but a regulation loss and a Manitoba win puts them in third. And they beat Lethbridge 3-2 in overtime. Steven Gillin had a hand in all three goals.
- Manitoba (14-12, 9th RPI): Host Regina Friday and Saturday. They beat Regina 4-1 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday, outshooting them nearly 2 to 1 over the weekend, and outscoring them 7-1 after the first period. Kyle Howarth scored three times in the two games.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
So here's what's viewable for today:
3:00 ET: Women's basketball, Ottawa at Carleton, OUA East final
Why you should have watched: I'm cheating here with the first game, because it's over now, but had I posted this earlier, you could have watched Ottawa secure a spot in the Final 8 for the second straight year by beating their crosstown rivals.
6:00 ET: Women's basketball, Brock at Windsor, OUA West semifinal
Why you should watch it: The Lancers are one of the best teams in the country, but still need to win this game plus another against Western to make the Final 8.
6:00 ET: Women's hockey, St. Thomas at Moncton (webcast in French), AUS semifinal
Why you should watch: The winner plays SMU tomorrow to determine the other AUS berth, and as good as les Aigles Bleues are, the Tommies have about a 10% chance of winning, and have already beaten them once this year and taken them to overtime in another game.
6:30 ET: Women's volleyball, McMaster vs. Toronto, OUA final
Why you should watch: it's a conference championship, the winner goes to nationals in Edmonton, and the loser doesn't. Enough said.
7:00 ET: Men's basketball: Waterloo at Lakehead, OUA West semifinal
Why you should watch: Waterloo's the only remaining OUA West team that's kept it close in Thunder Bay twice this year, losing by a combined nine points in their weekend there. And the great group of dudes, of course, are in the middle of their most successful season in a while and are hosting their first playoff game in...wow, a long time. The outcome here is not very predictable.
9:00 ET: Women's basketball, UBC at Alberta, Game 2 of 3.
Why you should watch: It's a must-win for UBC, after losing in overtime to the Pandas yesterday. Whoever wins this series advances to the Canada West Final Four with host SFU, Saskatchewan, and Regina, and one win there puts a team in the Final 8 in Hamilton.
How did the Guelph Mercury treat coach Kyle Walters' departure? As of right now, all it has on its website (perhaps there was more in Saturday's print edition) is a short, unbylined article with a Walters quote copied-and-pasted from the school's news release. No reaction from the players whom Walters recruited to come to Guelph, nothing from athletic director Tom Kendall. The release went out at 10:20 a.m., so there was plenty of time for the paper to play catch-up.
This just isn't an old media fail. It reeks of clock-punching apathy.
Consider the contrast to how everyone stepped to it when Denis Piché resigned from the same post with the Ottawa Gee-Gees. All three dailies (the Citizen, Le Droit and the Sun) had updates on their websites. They followed up with full stories, with reaction from the coach and AD Luc Gélineau. Lee Versage, who holds down the late-morning slot at The Team 1200, lined up interviews with Piché and Gélineau.
People had heard there was discontent between several uOttawa coaches and the department, but since coaches have to play politics and keep a stiff upper lip, it hadn't been written. But people sprang into action when it became official.
Meantime, Guelph newspaper readers got press-release-rewrite journalism.
Please don't take this as calling out any individual. People are stretched thin throughout the business as staffing levels have been rolled back.
As this site has evolved, there has been a place for advocacy, explaining why traditional and major media outlets should put more time and effort into CIS coverage. It's good to send some attention to the many, many hard-working, talented journalists (too numerous to mention) who go well and beyond the call of duty and their scheduled hours to give Canadian Interuniversity Sport its due.
Well, that means having to ask why when that does not happen with such a major story.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Emily Bolduc, Alberta
Robyn Buna, SFU
Alex Cole, Calgary
Lindsay DeGroot, Saskatchewan
Kayla Dykstra, Victoria
Caitlin Gooch, Winnipeg
Zara Huntley, UBC
Jane Meadwell, UFV
Georgia Popvici, Alberta
Stephanie Price, Lethbridge
Brittany Read, Regina
Lia St. Pierre, UBC
Alex Vieweg, UBC
Joanna Zalesiak, Regina
Renata Adamczyk, Laurier
Amanda Anderson, Western
Darrah Bumstead, Laurentian
Taylor Chiarot, McMaster
Ashleigh Cleary, Carleton
Jessica Clemencon, Windsor
Jasmine Douglas, Guelph
Lindsay Druery, Lakehead
Whitney Gorges, Brock
Bojana Kovacevic, Windsor
Katelyn Leddy, Western
Nicki Schutz, Toronto
Taylor Smith, McMaster
Hannah Sunley-Paisley, Ottawa
Angela Tilk, Ryerson
Hillary Woodside, Brock
Michelle Auger-Bellemare, UQAM
Marie-Michelle Genois, Laval
Anneth Him-Lazarenko, McGill
Marie-Pascale Nadeau, Laval
Kristin Portwine, Concordia
Alise Brown, Acadia
Justine Colley, Saint Mary's
Laurie Girdwood, Dalhousie
Kelsey Hodgson, CBU
Kirsten Jones, St. F-X
Amanda Sharpe, UNB
Ashley Stephen, St. F-X
Victoria Thistle, Memorial
Not listed above, but tops on their team: Katy Germain of Bishop's, Brandon's Nicisha Johnson, Manitoba's Kayla Klassen, Brittany Moore of Queen's, TRU's Kaitlyn Widsten, TWU's Lauren Doubroff, Waterloo's Laura Becotte, York's Brittany Szockyj.
The press release says Walters "will be parting ways with the Gryphons to focus on pursuing coaching ventures elsewhere at the professional level."
Mike Treadgold, the sports and health editor of The Ontarion (Guelph's student newspaper), tweeted this morning that a source informed him Walters is off to Winnipeg to become the special teams coordinator with the CFL's Blue Bombers, and also mentioned that rumour on his blog. It isn't completely confirmed yet, but that certainly sounds plausible given both the Bombers' coaching turnover and Walters' apparent desire to seek opportunities at the professional level.
Gryphons great Michael O'Shea has joined the Toronto Argonauts' defensive staff, so that is also a possibility to keep in mind. Walters has a young family. Working in Toronto would prevent having to relocate.
Guelph will miss Walters. He was coach for four years (13-18-1 record), but the team certainly seemed to be on the rise recently. The Gryphons made the OUA playoffs for the last three seasons and went to the final in 2007. Guelph slumped to a 3-5 record this year, but still clinched the last playoff spot and had last-second losses to Queen's and Western.
Walters might have had a difficult time replacing some of his star veterans, including the five players attending the CFL's evaluation camp and quarterback Justin Dunk. Still, at least from this perspective, Guelph seemed to be an up-and-coming program. It will be interesting to see if they can continue that momentum with a new coach.
The larger issue here, as I covered with Paul James' departure from York and this site discussed with Denis Piché leaving Ottawa, is if CIS programs are doing enough to retain elite coaches.
Informed sources (i.e., most certainly not the Guelph Mercury sports editor, who failed to publish a single article about Walters' contract situation) say Guelph athletic director Tom Kendall declined to go more than year to year with the coach's deal.
One may think Walters wanted a sense his alma mater was committed to him long-term. He did lift a program from the OUA's second tier to being close to the first tier.
There has been progress on that front recently, with more schools establishing full-time coaching positions, but many CIS coaches still have to split their coaching duties with another job (whether internal or external to their university). Even the full-time coaches generally aren't paid a lot, considering the massive amounts of work they have to do.
Football in particular is a huge challenge for coaches, given the amount of athletes involved and the massive amounts of work required. Having a successful program is not just about the head coach, it's also about putting a committed group of coordinators and assistants together to support him.
Investing in the coaching positions is one of the smartest moves a university can make in my mind. It will be interesting to see who the Gryphons tab as their new coach. In any case, with both Walters and Piche gone, the OUA football landscape will be quite different next season.
(Cross-posted to Sporting Madness)
Thursday, February 25, 2010
In the OUA East, the York Lions gave retiring coach Bob Bain at least one more game to coach, as the 6-16 Lions knocked off the U of T Varsity Blues, who I had maintained all season were heavily overrated. The Lions now get the enviable task of travelling to Ottawa to take on the Carleton Ravens, but keep in mind that York shocked the nation earlier this season when they knocked off the Ravens. Can they do it again?
In the West, the #5 Laurier Golden Hawks travelled to London and absolutely destroyed the #4 Western Mustangs 89-70. Take a look at the box score and note the rebounding differential. That's NOT a mistake...Laurier outrebounded the Mustangs 48-27. They will now advance to face the top seeded Windsor Lancers on Saturday. In the last week of the season, Laurier fell to Windsor 91-90. This semifinal should be a good one.
I was actually at the other OUA West semifinal between the #6 Waterloo Warriors and the #3 McMaster Marauders. In a relatively sparse crowd at the Burridge Gym (due to the Canada-Russia hockey game), and with Keenan Jeppesen still out of the lineup, the Warriors were optimisitic coming into the game, despite having lost 7 of their last 8 games, and with Coach Tom Kieswetter never having won at Burridge.
Prior to the game, UW was not sure if top scorer Cam McIntyre would even play due to a number of different injuries, including bone fragments in his leg, and a possible broken toe. But he did play, and the Warriors led for most of the game, fuelled by seniors Dave Burnett, who started off 6-6 from the field before finishing with 18 points (including a 4-point play), and Matt Hayes, who had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and a number of timely blocks.
A great finish to this game. Down 62-60 with less than 10 seconds to play, the Marauders were forced to foul, and when they sent the injured Cam McIntyre to the line, he hit both free throws to put Waterloo up 64-60. After a clutch 3-pointer by Victor Raso, Mac once again fouled McIntyre, who again sunk both free throws to put Waterloo up 66-63 with 3.7 seconds left. At the buzzer, it was Raso once again with the shot to tie, but it was no good, and the Warriors came away with the upset win.
A couple of thoughts from seeing this game. First, it was quite a scene to see the Warriors mob Coach Kieswetter on the court after the final buzzer. This win meant a lot to the team. Second, that clutch 3 by Raso to narrow the lead to one far outweights the miss at the buzzer, and while the rookie guard will likely be stinging for a few days, this is a future all-star in this league, and that was a lot of pressure for a rookie in that situation. Third, Cam McIntyre going 4-4 from the free throw line in the closing 10 seconds is as clutch a performance as I've seen in the past decade.
The Warriors now advance to play #2 Lakehead in Thunder Bay on Saturday, and is there any place that would be tougher to play than Lakehead in the playoffs? It's an uphill road for the Warriors, but they are capable of beating the Thunderwolves. Remember that they only lost by a combined 9 points in their two games vs. Lakehead this season.
On a side note, why does the OUA East re-seed the quarterfinal winners for the semifinals, but the OUA West keeps the matchups concrete as if it were a bracket format? I would suggest that it should be the same for both.
'Heroic' Warriors bounce Mac (The Spec)
Untimely stinker sinks season for Mustangs
No commentary is provided below, since I will do that in more detail with the final rankings (due to come after all regular-season games are completed). I also haven't included the actual number I used to rank everyone; it is essentially a poor-man's version of PER, but the details don't matter to us for now. This is all about making a short list of possible nominees, and providing a basis for debates (well, and also acting as a sneak preview for my end-of-year rankings, too).
Anyone with 400 or more minutes (20:00 times 20 games) qualifies for these lists (though I relaxed the requirements here and there). Players are listed in alphabetical order, and the number of players per conference equals the number of teams in that conference.
Ross Bekkering, Calgary
Dany Charlery, Brandon
Jacob Doerksen, Trinity Western
Tyler Fidler, Calgary
Sean Garvey, Thompson Rivers
Showron Glover, Saskatchewan
Troy Gottselig, Saskatchewan
Kris Heshka, Regina
Michael Lieffers, Saskatchewan
Michael Linklater, Saskatchewan
Jeff Price, Lethbridge
Robbie Sihota, Calgary
Greg Stewart, Thompson Rivers
Josh Whyte, UBC
Boris Bakovic, Ryerson
Josh Gibson-Bascombe, Ottawa
Tyson Hinz, Carleton
Keenan Jeppesen, McMaster
Dejan Kravic, York
Isaac Kuon, Windsor
Mitch Leger, Queen's
Nick Magalas, Toronto
Kevin McCleery, Carleton
Jay Mott, Guelph
Jamie Searle, Lakehead
Clinton Springer-Williams, Brock
Andre Smyth, Windsor
Elliot Thompson, Carleton
Warren Ward, Ottawa
Andrew Wedemire, Western
Matthew Thornhill, McGill
Hermon Tesfaghebriel, Bishop's
Evens Laroche, Concordia
Michael White, McGill
Olivier Bouchard, McGill
Scott Jaspers-Fayer, CBU
Joey Haywood, SMU
Christian Upshaw, St. F-X
Simon Farine, Dalhousie
Alex Desroches, UNB
William Silver, St. F-X
Phillip Nkrumah, CBU
Alberto Rodriguez, St. F-X
Not listed above, but tops on their team: Acadia's Alexander Traikov, Alberta's Jordan Baker, Laurentian's Manny Pasquale, Laurier's Kale Harrison, Manitoba's Eric Garcia, Memorial's Jason Shepherd, RMC's Simon Dakin, SFU's Matt Kuzminski, UFV's Sam Freeman, UPEI's Manock Lual, Victoria's Zac Andrus, Waterloo's Matt Hayes, and Winnipeg's Nick Lother.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Is having Laurier lose to Guelph that big of a shock? No.
Is having Waterloo lose to Windsor that big of a shock? Yes.
Is having every series go to three games that big of a shock? Yes.
Each series didn't just go to three games, however: with the exception of perhaps the final two games between Lakehead and York, each game and each series was competitive. There's a clear distinction between series that are competitive and series that just go the distance.
Having these games be competitive shows that the "lower" teams, the teams outside the "big four" are quickly shaking off that mantle. While fans of those four traditionally strong teams may hate the parity, we should recognize that parity is essential for any strong conference and league and helps to draw in fans, and more fans could definitely help the OUA and University hockey at large.
Windsor for example is as hot as any spot for hockey in Canada right now...with the exception of 800 Griffiths Way of course. If the Lancers, coming off their 3-2 double overtime victory over #2 Waterloo can wrest a headline away from the Spitfires and get a few more curious fans, notably UWindsor students, out to their upcoming games...well, how can that possibly be bad for the sport?
In Guelph you have a city that makes up the "tri-cities" with Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, another traditionally strong hockey market considering the Rangers are perennial contenders and University hockey in Waterloo having its own strong niche. Maybe now U of Guelph can carve a niche for themselves; certainly taking the series 2-1 over Laurier helps this cause as they took down a hated rival (Agriculture students vs Business students makes for good old fashioned hatin') to add a bit of context to their victory. The Guelph Storm have always had strong support and Gryphon football is on the rise which only helps to lend more attention to University sport in a city with little sporting competition with the Gryphon teams.
The market, as those "aggie" kids would call it, is ripe for the pickin'.
Speaking of emerging markets, how 'bout them Ridgebacks!
UOIT is not a school you read about very often here on The CIS Blog, but that's inevitable when the school only fields seven varsity teams over four sports. (Not including their dancing team...for obvious reasons)
But considering what we've seen UOIT do this year. On five separate occasions they beat one of the "big four" in the regular season, their program is only a few years old, they won their first ever playoff game against the top-seeded Mustangs, and were five-minutes away from sweeping the 'stangs, in front of a sellout crowd the likes of which is almost never seen this side of Thunder Bay.
You have got to think that UOIT is one of the best things to happen to the OUA in a while. An expansion team recruiting top players, finding instant success, filling their arena, and giving the established programs all they can handle. At the very least, it's a terrific story, a story only helped by parity.
Game one between Lakehead and York was a good story...until games two and three happened. Regardless, that series still went three games, and York still had strong showings at times in the series.
You look at all these aforementioned situations and circumstances, and I cannot think of the last time the playoffs looked like this, or the last time the sport was looking so promising going into the future.
The greatest thing about parity though? We still don't know what that future will look like.
Surely though we can all agree we're excited for whatever it holds.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Sunday saw at one top-10 team eliminated by a not-even-close-to-a-top-10 team, and another team lose twice to likely be dropped out of the top 10.
Highlights of this week's schedule: Bisons @ Huskies (Fri/Sat), Lions vs. Thunderwolves (Wed/Fri/Sun*).
- UNB Varsity Reds (160 points) (27-1 AUS, 1st RPI) — Bye week.
- Alberta Golden Bears (137 points) (21-5 CW, 2nd RPI) — A pair at lowly Regina this weekend. The first was a 5-4 win which saw Regina lead 2-0 in the first. Four straight goals (all from different goal-scorers) put Alberta up for a bit, then Regina scored two more in the third and it took a 15:01 goal from Ian McDonald to put them away. Greg Gardner assisted on that one plus another as part of his three-point night. The second game was another one-goal win, another 5-4 score, but this time in OT as the Bears needed a goal at 18:07 of the third to tie it, and then Eric Hunter got the winner 30 seconds into the extra frame.
- UQTR Patriotes (129 points) (23-5 OUA, 4th RPI) — Rode big two goals from Felix Petit to beat Concordia 6-2 in their first game. Olivier Donovan added a pair late in the game as well. Concordia won the second game 2-1, though, despite being outshot 47-21. This time, Donovan was on the ice for both Concordia goals...he probably preferred his plus-minus from Wednesday. The third game was Sunday afternoon and went the way of the Patriotes, 4-2, as Maxime Levesque scored twice.
- Acadia Axemen (108 points) (19-9 AUS, t-7th RPI) — Bye week.
- Western Mustangs (89 points) (21-7 OUA, 3rd RPI) — After finishing first in the OUA West, drew the University of Ontario Institute of Applied Learning and Advanced Technology Technical Institute of Technology Ridgebacks in the first-round series, which started Wednesday with a Mustangs loss. UOIT scored twice on the powerplay to win 2-1. And the 'stangs were very close to devoting themselves full-time to school after Friday's game: UOIT led 2-1 with five minutes to go, the game was tied with two minutes to go, and finally Western gained the lead on a Kyle Lamb goal off a rebound from Yashar Farmanara's shot; it was the latter's second point of three in the third. The series concluded Sunday in London, and Western rode three first-period goals to put it away quickly.
Luke has more on the OUA West opening night of upsets, but it really does reveal how meaningless the OUA regular season has become.
- McGill Redmen (88 points) (22-6 OUA, 5th RPI) — Nipissing is their first-round opponent, and the series started...yep, Wednesday. The 4-1 win by McGill was actually just 2-1 until 14:08 of the third. Maxime Langelier-Parent had the second and fourth Redmen goals. There were quite a few penalties called in this one, especially late in the third, but after all McGill had more PIM than anyone else in the conference during the season. McGill then won 7-2 in a game that doesn't even sound close, and why am I not surprised that the Lakers took two ten-minute misconducts late in the third? Attendance was 1638, which is not bad for a small school during reading week.
- Waterloo Warriors (43 points) (20-8 OUA, 6th RPI) — So much for finishing first overall: a defensive team giving up six goals to nearly-last-place UOIT precludes that from happening, wouldn't you say? And what of the same team that gives up three (plus an empty-netter) at home to Windsor? The Warriors lost 4-2 in front of what had to be about 38 fans, some of whom were not related to the players. Windsor's Kyle Tront matched Waterloo with two goals of his own, both on the powerplay. Waterloo won Game 2, but they had to hold on to their one-goal lead for the entire third period. Two assists and the winning goal from Shane Hart likely earned him First Star honours.
Game 3 (Sunday at Waterloo) was, I'm told, "heart-breaking" for the home side: at 13:37 of the second overtime, Tront showed up again on the scoresheet and sent the fans home unhappy. He also had an assist on an earlier goal. For Waterloo, Jarrett Schnurr and his surfeit of double consonants had a goal and an assist.
- Lakehead Thunderwolves (42 points) (19-9 OUA, t-7th RPI) — Start with one at York on Wednesday, of course, then two more at home (if needed) in their best-of-three. Shockingly, they lost in double OT to the Lions, and wouldn't have even gotten that far if not for a 19:42 goal from Kris Hogg in the third. This all sets up a very interesting Friday night in the OUA. The balance was reset when Lakehead won that one 9 to 5. Mark Seares had two goals and two assists; he scored twice in the third as Lakehead netted five in the period.
Game 3 lets us pretend that first game never happened, as York lost by four goals again and were outscored 15-7 in Thunder Bay. Scott Dobben had two goals and two assists in the Thunderwolves' 6-2 series-winning performance. Only giving up six goals was actually quite a feat by the Lions, since according to the boxscore they had no goalie in the net for a good 20 minutes.
- Manitoba Bisons (36 points) (14-10 AUS, 10th RPI) — Two four-pointers coming up in Saskatoon, with Manitoba and the U of S each at 30 points entering the weekend. Evan should be all over this one, especially because the Huskies won the first 4 to 1, scoring in the first five minutes of each period. The second game went Saturday night and the Huskies won it 4-1 as well; Kyle Bortis had a pair for Saskatchewan. I suspect someone might be out of the top 10 after this week...
- SMU Huskies (34 points) (16-12 AUS, 11th RPI) — Best-of-three with Moncton, the opener of which was delayed from Wednesday due to an unholy amount of snow. When they got around to it on Friday, SMU won in double OT, 2-1; the winner came from David MacDonald and Mike Danton scored the earlier goal. Game 2 was Saturday in Moncton; this time a 4-2 win for SMU, with Danton scoring again (this time a powerplay goal to put the Huskies up 3-0 in the second) and Justin Munden netting a pair. Moncton actually came back to a 3-2 score but let in the empty-netter with 20 seconds to go.
#2 Alberta @ Regina
With first place in the bag, the questions for Alberta heading to the Queen City for a weekend series against the Cougars who will be on the outside looking in come playoff time, was: would a starting goaltender emerge, and would the Bears put together a full 60 minute performance. The answers to both appear to be no, as the Green and Gold eeked out a pair of 5-4 wins, including an OT win Saturday night. Travis Yonkman got the start in goal for the Bears Friday night, as Alberta found themselves down 2-0 late in the first period before Derek Ryan got the Bears on the board to make it 2-1 with less than a minute to go in the first frame. Alberta would score three in the second to go up 4-2, before Regina eventually evened the score at 4-4 in the third. Ian McDonald got the game winner for the Bears, however, in the third as they skated away with the win.
Saturday night the Bears looked like they were well on their way to capping off their regular season with a convincing win, taking a 3-0 lead before the Cougars scored four consecutive goals to take a 4-3 lead with 9:44 to go in the third period. Dale Mahovsky got the equalizer for the Bears with less than two minutes to play in the third, and Eric Hunter got the OT winner 30 seconds in to salvage the win and avoid blowing a three goal lead. Real Cyr got the win in net for the Bears.
The Bears split every conference weekend this season in goal, and who will start come playoff time remains. Alberta has now completed their regular season schedule, finishing the year with a 23-4-01 record. They will host the fourth place finisher in one of two conference semis March 5-7. Regina on the other hand ends their season next weekend in Manitoba.
#9 Manitoba @ Saskatchewan
With their playoff destiny in their hands, the Manitoba Bisons travelled to Saskatoon for a pair of games against the Saskatchewan Huskies with second place in the conference on the line.
Friday night saw the Huskies, who entered the weekend tied with Manitoba at 30 points a piece in the standings, race out to a 3-0 lead thanks to a pair of goals from Steven DaSilva (each inside the first five minutes of the first and second periods) and a marker from Andrew Bailey. Manitoba got on the board in the third thanks to a Mike Hellyer goal, but that proved to be too little too late, as Kyle Ross capped off the scoring with an empty netter.
Jeff Harvey got the start for Saskatchewan Saturday after David Reekie manned the crease in the 4-1 win Friday night, and the result was much the same in the second game of the weekend as the Huskies once again raced out to a 3-0 lead, surrendered a goal, and then added an empty netter to secure a comfortable 4-1 win over the Herd. Kyle Bortis lead the way Saturday with a two goal performance.
The sweep now means that Saskatchewan needs just a single win in their final weekend of the season this week against Lethbridge to assure themselves a home playoff series in the Canada West semi finals, while Manitoba is now sitting in fourth place heading into the final regular season weekend - two points behind Calgary who has completed their conference schedule. Manitoba hosts Regina this coming weekend.
UBC @ Calgary
The Calgary Dinos wrapped up a playoff berth this weekend with a sweep of the UBC Thunderbirds.
UBC opened the weekend scoring Friday night as Cam Brodie scored at the 0:32 of the first period. That would be all the T-Birds could muster Friday, however, as Calgary scored three unanswered goals to skate away with a 3-1 win. Torrie Wheat and Reid Jorgenson both had one goal, one assist nights to lead the Dinos to the win.
Saturday night UBC once again opened the scoring when Scott Wasden scored on the power play at the 16:48 mark of the first. Teegan Moore though scored a pair of second period goals for Calgary to give them the lead heading into the third. Both sides would exchange third period goals, as the Dinos got the winner at the 18:47 mark when Brett O'Malley scored to earn the series sweep for Calgary.
Calgary finishes the season with a 13-9-3-3 record, and have qualified for the playoffs along with Alberta and Saskatchewan. UBC has also concluded their regular season, and finish the season with a 8-19-0-1 mark. Calgary will await the final regular season weekend to see who they will face in the first round of the playoffs.
Alberta, Saskatchewan and Calgary have all clinched playoff berths, while Manitoba and Lethbridge are still in the playoff race with one weekend to go - although Lethbridge is in tough having to sweep Saskatchewan and get help from Regina in order to earn a playoff berth.
Calgary will face either Alberta or Saskatchewan in the first round, depending on how the final weekend plays out.
In all likelihood the playoff matchups will be: Alberta vs. Calgary and Saskatchewan vs. Manitoba - with the matchups being finalized this coming weekend as the regular season wraps up.
StFX and UPEI opened the playoffs Wednesday night in Charlottetown. X-Men captain Chris Hulit missed the last dozen games of the regular season while his team went 4-6-2, but he was back in the line up and set up the first goal of the game and got the winner in the third period as the X-Men won 3-2 in a mild upset between the 4th and 5th place teams. The series moved to Antigonish Friday night and it was another 3-2 win for StFX, except this time the X-Men had an early two goal lead only to see the Panthers score in the last minute of both the first and second periods to tie it up. The game went into the second overtime period before rookie Ryan Sparling scored the winner at 12:14. StFX will now play UNB starting Thursday and Friday night in Fredericton in their best-of-five semi-final. The X-Men of course are the only team to beat the Varsity Reds this season, but can they do it three more times?
Saint Mary's game on Wednesday against Moncton was postponed due to a snowstorm so the series started Friday night in Halifax. After the teams traded goals in the second period, this one also went into double overtime with SMU defenceman David MacDonald getting the winning goal in the 2-1 victory. On Saturday the teams were in Moncton, in a game that was by all reports very chippy with the referee letting a lot, or everything, go. Justin Muden scored twice in 22 seconds just over a minute into the game to pace the Huskies, and Mike Danton added a power play marker in the second. Moncton got two goals in the second period to draw within one, but sniper Cody Thorton sealed the win with an empty netter. SMU outshot UdeM 46-28 in the 4-2 win. Saint Mary's will now meet Acadia this week in their best-of-five semi-final that will put the offensive-minded Huskies against the defensive-minded Axemen.
UPDATE: The schedule is now out for the UNB-StFX series. As already stated, the series opens in Fredericton on Thursday and Friday, and switches to Antigonish Tuesday for game three, and game four if necessary on Wednesday night. If there is a game five, the series comes back to Fredericton on Saturday, March 6.
Acadia will host Saint Mary's Wednesday and Friday night in Wolfville to start their series. The games will then shift to Halifax on Monday, March 1st and Tuesday if necessary. If there is a game five it would be back in Wolfville on Friday, March 5.
"Judge John Embree handed down his verdict this morning in the case of a23-year-old Tyler Richards of Dartmouth, a former A-U-S all-star; and 20-year-old William Donkoh of Nepean, Ontario; a current member of the team. Embree found Richards not guilty on a second charge of threatening to use a knife while committing an assault. Richards and Donkoh were charged after a man was punched and kicked on James Street in Antigonish last February. The victim testified he required 15 to 18 stitches to close a cut above his eye. Richards and Donkoh will be sentenced on April 21st."One option is to be adamant and say no way. Committing a crime should mean forfeiting playing privileges. The world does not owe anyone a roster spot.
However, that invokes a double jeopardy situation. St. FX did suspend Donkoh, Richards and Eamon Morrissy after they were charged last February. You would be suspending a player for being charged and for being convicted on said charge. There is an element of forgiveness.
Morrissy was convicted earlier and received six months of house arrest. Richards was found innocent on an additional charge of threatening to use a knife. Donkoh is the only one who is still a going concern for St. FX's basketball fortunes.
Highlights of this week's schedule: X-Men @ Capers (Wed), Mustangs @ Thunderwolves (Fri/Sat), Gee-Gees @ Ravens (Sat).
- UBC Thunderbirds (477 points) (17-1 CW, 1st RPI) — One of many top 10 teams to have a bye week before the Canada West playoffs tip off. The relevant series here is Alberta @ UBC, starting a week from Thursday in Vancouver.
- St. Francis Xavier X-Men (437 points) (15-0 AUS, 5th RPI) — Somewhat improbably, they still have regular-season games up to March 5. This week, they have three games, including a weekend pair at home against Memorial, but the big-ticket showdown comes Wednesday night in Sydney as they play Cape Breton for, wait for it, the first time all year. And that matchup didn't disappoint: a thrilling game played in front of a large, raucous crowd, coming down to the last shot. Or so the nine minutes of highlights tell us. CBU won 85-82, with St. F-X grabbing just four offensive rebounds all night. Jeremy Dunn scored 20 in a losing cause, hitting more than half his threes just like X did all night.
They then won their first at MUN 82-48, with everyone getting on the court: 12 different players played nine minutes or more. It wasn't really that close. The second game, third this week for X, is Sunday afternoon.
- Carleton Ravens (403 points) (19-2 OUA, 2nd RPI) — Finish the regular-season Saturday night against Ottawa, and a win or a loss by less than eight preserves the Ravens' spot atop the OUA East. A three-ball at the buzzer pushed this one to OT, where Kevin McCleery (15 points) sank one of two foul shots at the end of the period to go up 87-86, which is where it would stay when Ottawa couldn't get a shot off. That's 10 wins in a row for Carleton over Ottawa. Elliot Thompson led Carleton with 20.
- Cape Breton Capers (363 points) (16-1 AUS, 10th RPI) — Just the game against X this week (and the rematch next week in Antigonish). CBU was up by 12 at the half, but had to scramble at the end for the win. Paris Carter had 21 and Jimmy Dorsey had 19. There was a very, very nice full-court drive by one player, but it wasn't clear from the video who it was. He might have had a 3 in his number. (Also, coincidence? The Capers had 12 more rebounds and took 10 more shots.)
- Ottawa Gee-Gees (316 points) (18-3 OUA, 9th RPI) — Host Carleton, as noted above. Warren Ward had 27 before fouling out, including 10 of 10 foul shots, part of Ottawa's 23-for-26 performance on the night. Josh Gibson-Bascombe played all 45, as you'd expect.
- Lakehead Great Group of Dudes (256 points) (16-4 OUA, t-7th RPI) — Two
at Westernat home against Western to finish the season. These games might be closer than you'd think. Lakehead's got their first-round bye locked up, but a loss Saturday or a Windsor win means they don't have home-court throughout the playoffs, a huge advantage for a Thunder Bay-based team.
Their first game was a thrilling 60-59 loss (well, thrilling for the other team) with neither team shooting well, but Western's 19-for-24 line from the charity stripe gave them an edge. Yoosrie Salhia was only 1 of 8 on the night. They did beat Western the next night, by 24 points, but lost home-court advantage when Windsor won. Jamie Searle had 28 in just 31 minutes. Western shot just 33% in the loss.
- Calgary Dinos (250 points) (15-5 CW, 6th RPI) — Host the voted-into-the-playoffs Lethbridge Pronghorns in their first-round matchup, starting Feb. 26.
- Windsor Lancers (189 points) (15-5 OUA, 3rd RPI) — At Guelph on Wednesday, host McMaster (7th in RPI) on Saturday. I actually caught the end of the Guelph game, with friend of the blog Greg Layson on the call, and it seemed like they were easily set to knock off the Lancers, like they almost did with Carleton earlier in the year, but instead of losing 75-74, they lost 84-83. Isaac Kuon led with 24, and Guelph's Jay Mott had 22 points in his last game at home. The Lancers then handled McMaster quite easily, with 42 points in the fourth quarter (no, really) to win 104-88. Mac only ran out eight players all game, though, with four players getting 33 minutes or more, and Keenan Jeppesen didn't play. Nigel Johnson-Tyghter and Enrico Di loreto both had 20, but it was Andre Smyth grabbing 12 along with 14 rebounds and six blocks that kept some guy's MUBL team in contention a little while longer.
- SFU Clan (179 points) (14-4 CW, 3rd RPI) — Host Regina starting next weekend.
- Saskatchewan Huskies (85 points) (14-6 OUA, 11th RPI) — Idle; host UFV next week.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
"The win-loss record is one that has been built over time and is almost a footnote to how Bain has persevered through both lean and prosperous times. He’s survived a near life-claiming car accident that almost robbed the coaching profession of one of its 'lifers.'York will get the final OUA East playoff spot if it beats Laurentian tonight. Once that happens, to echo one of our more persistent commenters, the sixth seed in the OUA East will only needs seven more consecutive victories to become OUA and CIS champion.
"The bio won’t tell you how he has dedicated himself to the university and the game of basketball and given all that he has to his players and his chosen field. But most of all it won’t tell you how he epitomizes what a coach should be.
"Simply put, he’s the guy that demonstrates solid character and at an academic institution as he tries to instill and reinforce those same values that every parent tries to give their kids. Bain is one of many men in the field that do that.
"He is also one of the many that do it in Canada for the right reasons ... These men do it, not because like their counterparts south of the border, there is fame and fortune as a spinoff. Nope, in Canada these men toil and grind it endlessly because they love game and realize the importance of shaping lives of student athletes as they pass through their program."
Final buzzer for a great man? (Paul Jones, sportsnet.ca)
Friday, February 19, 2010
On the women’s side, Windsor and Western have locked up the #1 and #2 seeds, and a first round playoff bye. Laurier is stuck in 6th place and can’t move, but the spots 3rd through 5th are still to be determined. McMaster has a 2 point lead over Brock and Lakehead, so a win over Windsor on Saturday would clinch third place for the Marauders. A Lakehead sweep of Western could tie the Thunderwolves with the Marauders, but Mac would win out on the tiebreaker (1-1 record, +3 point differential).
In all likelihood, Windsor beats McMaster, and Brock beats Guelph to set up a tie between those two teams, which Brock would win on the tiebreaker (1-1, +7 point differential). A Lakehead sweep would vault them into 3rd place, with Brock 4th and Mac 5th. A Western sweep would have Brock in 3rd, Mac in 4th, and Lakehead in 5th. And a Lakehead-Western split would set up a three-way tie, and then let the math begin!
So, in essence, more than anything, Laurier want Western to sweep the Thunderwolves on the weekend. The last thing the Golden Hawks want is a mid-week flight to Thunder Bay for a playoff game. Keep in mind that those latter scenarios are based on Windsor (19-1) beating McMaster (13-8), but that’s anything but a sure thing. Remember that the Marauders are the only team to beat Windsor all season, and they can do it again.
On the men’s side, Lakehead and Windsor have locked up the #1 and #2 seeds, but since they are currently tied, this weekend’s games will determine who finishes 1st and who finishes 2nd. Can the Thunderwolves go wire-to-wire, or will the Lancers steal it at the buzzer, as they did in Guelph on Wednesday night? McMaster and Western are locked into 3rd and 4th place, respectively, and know they will play Waterloo and Laurier, but they don’t know which one yet. Saturday’s Waterloo-Laurier game will determine the #5 and #6 seeds. With both teams tied with a 9-11 record, the formula is quite simple, the winner will play Western in London, and the loser will travel to Hamilton for a playoff date with the Marauders.
With Lakehead playing two games and Windsor only playing one game, a number of different situations could arise, but keep this in mind: if Lakehead and Windsor are tied at the end of Saturday, Windsor will win the tiebreaker (1-1 record, +20 point differential).
Now that I’ve covered all of the playoff implications that lie with this weekend’s games, I wanted to give my choices for this season’s All-Star teams and major award winners. I will preface my selections by saying that I ‘loosely’ chose by position, and by that I mean that while I may not have followed the traditional PG-G-G-F-C formula, I chose a team where the players on the All-Star team could logically be started together on the floor at the same time and slotted into those positions. There were a couple of borderline picks that almost made my women’s and men’s All-Star teams, and while I did not pick a second team, I did list them as honourable mentions. I’m sure this will elicit a lot of conversation in the Comments section, and I look forward to your opinions and/or alternate selections.
OUA West Women’s All Stars
Taylor Smith - McMaster
Amanda Anderson - Western
Tasia McKenna – Lakehead
Renata Adamczyk – Laurier
Jessica Clemencon – Windsor
MVP – Amanda Anderson
Rookie of the Year – Jessica Clemencon
Coach of the Year – Chantal Vallée – Windsor
Honourable Mentions (Katelyn Leddy – Western, Jasmine Douglas – Guelph, Shavaun Reaney - Windsor)
OUA West Men’s All-Stars
Isaac Kuon – Windsor
Clinton Springer-Williams – Brock
Jay Mott – Guelph
Keenan Jeppesen – McMaster
Andrew Wedemire – Western
MVP – Keenan Jeppesen
Rookie of the Year – Clinton Springer-Williams
Coach of the Year – Scott Morrison – Lakehead
Honourable Mentions (Ryan Barbeau – Western, Jamie Searle – Lakehead, Jesse McDonald – Laurier)
A couple of quick comments on my selections to head you off at the pass. I know I picked no players from the Lakehead men’s team, who has led the OUA West for the entire season. But my point is that they have done it as a team, with no real standout performances. If I could pick the team as an All-Star, I would. And yes, I picked Jay Mott as a first team All-Star from a last place team. I would argue that no player in the OUA West was more vital to their team than Mott was to the Gryphons this season. While the Gryphons only had 5 wins, they had 11 other winnable games, almost all of which were due to Mott’s performance on the court. Also, I think Shavaun Reaney is the top guard in the league not named Smith, Anderson, or McKenna. I couldn’t justify 3 point guards on the All-Star team.
The MVP, Rookies of the Year, and Coach of the Year awards (on both sides) are all no-brainers to me, and keep in mind that I do NOT subscribe to the belief that first place team = Coach of the Year. But Windsor’s dominance warrants a second straight win for Chantal Vallée, and Lakehead’s surprise surge into a top team in this division gives the award to Scott Morrison. I’d love to hear arguments for any other MVP, ROTY, or COTY choices.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The OUA playoffs opened tonight, only Laurier and Guelph didn't play Game 1 of their opening round best-of-three series, and playing against three giant programs in Western, Lakehead, and Waterloo, the UOIT Ridgebacks, York Lions, and Windsor Lancers, respectively, were all giant-killers.
The Ridgebacks frustrated the top teams in the OUA all year: two wins over the Thunderwolves and two wins over the Warriors and one win over the Mustangs proved to Canada that UOIT can play.
Did they ever play tonight.
Josh Vatri scored the game-winning goal on the power play in the second period and Jason Guy stopped 36 of 37 shots to lead UOIT to a shocking 2-1 victory over the defending OUA Champions from Western that were clearly far from championship material.
Not to be outdone, the York Lions hosted a Lakehead Thunderwolves team that is nigh-unbeatable at The Gardens, so if York wanted to have any chance at taking the series, they needed to take advantage of home-ice and go into Thunder Bay up 1-0.
And they will do exactly that after a thrilling 3-2 double-overtime victory.
The game almost didn't get to the first overtime however, trailing 2-1 late, Lakehead needed a miraculous goal from Kris Hogg with just 18 seconds remaining in the game to send it to the extra frame.
The seasoned veteran for Lakehead however, would be outdone by the most seasoned veteran on the Lions bench.
Fifth year forward Tyler Harrison, playing in his final games for the Lions, beat Kyle Moir mid-way through the second overtime period to send the Lions to Thunder Bay up one, with their confidence sky high.
Perhaps the least shocking of the night's shocking upsets came in Waterloo (shocking being a very relative term in this instance).
With the Warriors leading 2-1 going into the third, a very comfortable position for the stingy Waterloo team, Windsor scored three goals in the final frame, one at the start, one in the middle, and one in the final few seconds to pace themselves to a 4-2 victory.
You would think that up a goal with just 20 minutes remaining is exactly where the Warriors want to keep their competition, a big team with a mean streak and a strong defensive system should be able to close those games out. No doubt something's going to have to change in their game plan before their game in Windsor, otherwise they will have a great reason to be even meaner.
With just one game on tap for Thursday night, perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the entire first round, that will see the currently blazing hot Guelph Gryphons visit the perennially strong Laurier Golden Hawks, one has to wonder what kind of fireworks we'll see from this fiery matchup given the previous day's results.
Brock (12-8) vs Laurier (8-12)
Laurier is locked into the 6th and final playoff position, and Brock can still finish anywhere from 3rd to 5th, so this is a potential playoff matchup next week. The Badgers beat the Golden Hawks by 31 points the first time they met this season, so it’s tough to pick against Brock in this one, as tough as Laurier is on their home floor. With so much to play for, I can’t see the Badgers letting this opportunity slip by, as much as Paul Falco’s team will be looking to end their home schedule on a high note.
Remaining (Brock): vs. Guelph
Remaining (Laurier): @ Waterloo
Windsor (19-1) vs Guelph (2-18)
Windsor has locked up the OUA West regular season title, and the Gryphons are still locked in the basement, as they have been all season. Some may say that Chantal Vallee’s Lancers have nothing to play for in this game, but with Windsor’s goal all season being nothing less than the CIS National Championship Tournament, they definitely want to keep winning to maintain their #3 national ranking, which will help them in the seeding process. The Gryphons’ season is mercifully close to the end, and in their final home game tonight, they will honour their only senior, Team Captain Alex Russell. The 4th year forward from Paradise Valley, Arizona is the team’s leading scorer this season. The Lancers win this one, while working to fine tune their lineup for the playoffs.
Remaining (Win): vs. McMaster
Remaining (UG): @ Brock
Waterloo (4-16) vs. McMaster (12-8)
As with the Brock-Laurier game, this matchup features one team with a lot on the line, and the other with nothing on the line. The Warriors are out of the playoffs and are looking to play the spoilers to the Marauders, who are currently tied with the Brock Badgers and Lakehead Thunderwolves for 3rd. The final 2 games on the schedule are going to decide who gets the home playoff dates, and who ends up going out on the road. With McMaster’s final game on the road at Windsor (19-1), this is a must-win game.
Keeping in mind that Waterloo beat Mac 57-54 at the PAC back in January, the Marauders will obviously be looking for revenge, but when you add in the emotional element of Taylor Smith being honoured on Senior Night, I can’t see anything other than a Mac win in this one. Western’s Amanda Anderson scored 35 points in her Senior Night game last week…can Taylor Smith trump that performance?
Remaining (UW): vs. Laurier
Remaining (Mac): @ Windsor
Brock (8-12) vs Laurier (8-12)
This is the key matchup of the night as these teams are currently tied for the 6th and final playoff spot in the West, only 2 point behind the Waterloo Warriors. To sum it up succinctly…one of those 3 teams will miss the playoffs. Laurier won their previous matchup by 17 points, so Brock will definitely want to even the season series with a win at The Hawk’s Nest.
The Lakehead Thunderwolves did a good job last weekend holding rookie sensation Clinton Springer-Williams in check, so the question tonight will be whether or not the Hawks can keep him down, or if he will rebound tonight with a big game. While Springer-Williams has pretty much locked up the Rookie of the Year Award in the OUA West, this game does feature who I believe to be the top two rookies in the division, in Springer-Williams and Laurier’s Max Allin. Prior to the game tonight, WLU Seniors Jesse MacDonald and Andrew Pennycook will be recognized as graduating players.
I think the Hawks come out on top of this one, and if they do, that will eliminate Brock from playoff contention. Even if Waterloo loses at McMaster tonight, that would put WLU and UW tied with 18 points and Brock with 16 points heading into the final weekend. With Waterloo and Laurier playing each other, one team will move to 20 points, and one will stay at 18. A Brock win vs Guelph on Saturday would tie them with the losers of the WLU-UW game, but they would lose the head to head tie-breakers to either Waterloo or Laurier. If Brock loses tonight, they are out.
Remaining (Brock): vs. Guelph
Remaining (Laurier): @ Waterloo
Windsor (15-5) vs Guelph (5-15)
Windsor still has a shot to catch the Lakehead Thunderwolves for first place, so they will definitely be looking for a win tonight in Guelph. It’s tough to pick against a team that is 15-5, even with the 5-15 Gryphons honouring their lone senior, 5th year Captain Jay Mott. As I detailed last week, the Gryphons have had a tough season, and Mott has been in the centre of it all, from missing games due to a concussion suffered in practice, to scoring 33 points in a heartbreaking loss to Western last week. Should be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to Nigel Johnson-Tyghter, knowing that he had originally committed to Guelph, but then end up at Windsor. (check out this story from 2008 and this one from 2009)
As much as I’d like to pick the Gryphons in this one, I think Jay Mott goes out on a high note with a big game offensively, but it just won’t be enough.
Remaining (Win): vs. McMaster
Remaining (UG): @ Brock
Waterloo (9-11) vs. McMaster (13-7)
The Warriors halted a 6-game losing streak on Saturday with a dominating win over the Western Mustangs. Jesse Tipping led the team with 20 points, but it was an all-around team effort, the same type of game we saw Waterloo play earlier in the season. This is a team that is capable of beating any team on any night in the OUA West. With the playoffs on the line, the Warriors can clinch a playoff spot with a win, but that’s easier said than done as Warriors head coach Tom Kieswetter has never won at the Burridge Gym. That’s right, 18 years of regular season and playoff games…zero wins. Does the streak end tonight?
The big question mark in this game will be whether or not Keenan Jeppesen will be playing. After injuring his ankle in the Western game last week, Jeppesen missed McMaster’s game on Saturday, a 22-point win against the Guelph Gryphons. Mac had big contributions from rookie Victor Raso (19 points) and Tyrell Vernon (13 points, 8 rebounds) in Jeppesen’s absence, but will he be able to play on a night that McMaster honours him as a graduating senior? If Jeppesen plays, the #10 ranked Marauders win, but if he’s still out of the lineup, I think the Warriors end their streak.
Remaining (UW): vs. Laurier
Remaining (Mac): @ Windsor
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Full results are here.
First, the standings through Week 10 of 11:
1. Sager 54-25-1
2. Pettapiece 46-32-2 (7.5 points behind)
3. Bucholtz 44-32-4 (8.5)
4. Masters 39-40-1 (15.0)
5. Lund 26-50-4 (26.5)
6. Layson 23-53-4 (29.5)
This week's matchups: 1 vs. 2, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5.
With only eight potential points left for each team, it's down to a two-man race, with Neate only needing to win or tie in any one category to take home the first Masters University Basketball League title.
Last week, Keenan Jeppesen's injury really hurt Chris (and by extension myself and Andrew), whose team ended up forfeiting three of the eight categories due to a lack of minutes played and shots taken. Winning any two would have brought Neate's lead down to 6.5, which is marginally more manageable to overcome. But even with a 7-0-1 week from the first-place team, some other guy had a 7-0-1 week of his own to stay level with the Sager Bombs. (I'm allowed to chirp the Big Man on Campus now that he hasn't beaten me again, and because he would be at risk of relegation if we swung that way.)
One wrinkle in Week 11 is the absence of any Canada West players, which hurts your humble narrator a little bit, given that just eight of my roster of 12 are from the other conferences, and two of those eight don't even play this week.
It'll be an interesting finish, and thanks to the inaugural participants for coming out to the draft, frantically searching for a Concordia forward who is still eligible to play, and following along and keeping in touch from November to February.
(If you'd like to participate in Year 2 of the MUBL, send me an e-mail and we'll add you to the waiting list. Yes, there is a waiting list.)
Monday, February 15, 2010
First Team All-Stars
F – Hunter Tremblay, UNB; John Scott Dickson, UNB; Marc Rancourt, SMU
D – Andrew Hotham, SMU; Luke Gallant, UNB
G – Travis Fullerton, UNB
Second Team All-Stars
F – Cam Fergus, SMU; Matt Carter, UPEI; Kyle Bailey, UNB
D – Jonathan Harty, UNB; David MacDonald, SMU
G – Kris Westblom, Acadia
All Rookie Team
F – Chad Locke, UPEI; Spencer Jezegou, Acadia; Chris Culligan, UNB
D – Ben Shutron, UNB; Dylan Quaile, UPEI
G – Neil Conway, SMU
AUS Most Valuable Player (Kelly Trophy): Hunter Tremblay, UNB
AUS Rookie of the Year (A. J. MacAdam Trophy): Ben Shutron, UNB
AUS Coach of the Year (Bob Boucher Trophy): Gardiner MacDougall, UNB
AUS Most Sportsmanlike Player (Done Wells Trophy): Marc Rancourt, SMU
The Godfrey Award (Dr. Randy Gregg Award Nominee): N/A, as I don't know enough about off-ice activities of players.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
St. Thomas had to win their game against Acadia Friday to stay alive in a feint hope to make the playoffs, but they lost 5-2 with rookie Spencer Jezegou pacing the Axemen with two goals. Dalhousie was in the last playoff spot to start the weekend, with just a point edge on Moncton. Friday night Dal got hammered by UPEI 7-2 with rookie Jared Gomes scoring the natural hat trick. Maybe the had an off weekend because they didn't have their favourite sticks? Dal stayed alive because Moncton at the same time lost 6-1 to Saint Mary's, with Cody Thorton scoring twice on the power play. Thorton would finish the regular season with a conference leading 15 of his 24 goals coming with the man advantage.
So on Saturday Dal was once again looking for the win to stay in in the final playoff spot, but they appeared to come out flat against a fired-up UNB team, rebounding from their first lost of the season. Hunter Tremblay had two apparent early goals waved off but the V-Reds did score two that counted in the first period, and another two in the second period, one in each period by Tremblay. A sloppy UNB five-minute power play in the third period saw Dal score two goals and finally wake up and get in the game, but UNB salted it away with an empty netter for the 5-2 win.
With the Dal loss, Moncton had hope and they made the most of it. The score was 1-1 after the ten minute overtime against Acadia, and Pier-Alexandre Poulin got the shootout winner – propelling les Aigles Bleus past Dal into the last playoff spot. StFX scored twice in the third period to force a tie with UPEI, and the overtime settled nothing. Panther Michael MacIssac got the shootout winner to make it a 6-5 win for UPEI. In Halifax it was a back and forth game for two periods, but the Huskies blew it out in the third period in beating St. Thomas 7-4. SMU captain Marc Rancourt got a pair of goals to close out the scoring.
So with UNB and Acadia getting the first round bye, the best-of-three AUS quarter-finals will see UdeM at Saint Mary's and StFX at UPEI on Wednesday night. The games shift to Moncton and Antigonish on Friday night, and then back to Halifax and Charlottetown if necessary on Sunday.
It took extra time both nights in Toon Town this weekend, as the Calgary Dinos and the Saskatchewan Huskies split their weekend series in a pair of overtime games at Rutherford Rink. Friday night Saskatchewan scored the games first two markers, before coughing up that two goal lead to the Dinos, who eventually tied the game at 2-2 in the third period thanks to Cory Pritz's marker at 4:48 of the third period. Calgary would cap off the comeback thanks to Reid Jorgenson at the 3:52 mark of overtime to secure the 3-2 win for the Dinos.
In the second game of the weekend series, it was the Huskies this time that would come out on the right end of an overtime affair. Andrew Bailey evened the score at 1-1 in the third period picking up his eighth goal of the season to get Saskatchewan on the board at 14:19 of the third period. The final 5:41 of regulation solved nothing, as the Dinos and Huskies went into overtime for the second consecutive night. In the extra frame, Evan Schafer provided the heroics as he picked the perfect time to notch his first of the season to lift Saskatchewan to a 2-1 win.
With three points in the weekend series, the Huskies now sit tied with Manitoba in the standings with 30 points (Manitoba owns the current tie-break having one more wins than Saskatchewan), setting up a series next weekend in Saskatoon that will go a long way in determining second place in Canada West as the Bisons come to town for a pivotal two-game set. Calgary with the trio of points now sits only one point up on Lethbridge who swept their weekend series against Regina. The Dinos host last place UBC next weekend, as both those teams will wrap up their regular season schedules.
Regina @ Lethbridge
In Lethbridge this weekend, the Pronghorns kept their playoff hopes alive by picking up a sweep of the Regina Cougars, and in doing so gained ground on fourth place Calgary. Dustin Moore sparked the Pronghorns to a 4-1 win Friday night, as he picked up a pair of goals for the 'Horns. Scott Bowles came up big in net for Lethbridge, making 42 saves on 43 shots to pick up his 11th win of the season. In goal for Regina, Brant Hilton got the start, but allowed three goals on just nine shots in a span of 9:41 before being pulled in the first period of play.
Saturday night Lethbridge, who ran out to a 3-0 lead Friday night, had another three-goal lead as they took a 4-1 advantage into the third period. Moore came up big once again for Lethbridge, scoring another pair of goals, while Adam Chorneyko scored his rookie leading 14th of the season as well to lift the 'Horns to a 4-3 win. Regina scored a pair of third period goals to make things interesting, but it was too little, too late as the Pronghorns got a much needed sweep at home.
Lethbridge is off next weekend before wrapping up the regular season at home against Saskatchewan in a series that is sure to have playoff implications, while Regina returns home to host Alberta next weekend.
UBC @ #2 Alberta
In a series that meant nothing to UBC having been eliminated in the standings, it was the Golden Bears that came out Friday night looking like they had punched it in early as the T-Birds surprised the number-two ranked team in the nation in a 4-1 win for the visiting squad.
Former Edmonton Oil King Brennan Sonne had a goal and an assist Friday night, as UBC came into Clare Drake Arena and played a very simple, opportunistic game to hand the Bears their third loss in four games. Real Cyr surrendered two goals on the first five shots he faced in goal for the Bears, but played the entirety of the game in the 4-1 Alberta loss.
Saturday night in what was a far better performance from the home side, Alberta raced out to a 4-0 first period lead and never looked back en route to a 7-1 win over the T-Birds to salvage the split. Derek Ryan was among five Bears who had multiple-point games, as his two goal performance earned him first star honours. Reade Wolansky who was a healthy scratch Friday night came out Saturday with one of his best performances of the second half, scoring a goal on the power play and adding an assist to help the Bears earn the split.
UBC heads to Calgary next weekend looking to spoil the Dinos return home from Saskatchewan, while Alberta travels east to the Queen City next weekend to wrap up their regular season against the Cougars.
In the OUA West, Waterloo found its own level. The top three teams, Western, UW and Lakehead, finished in order that corresponded to their RPI, so maybe it was supposed all finish that way. All it took was the Mustangs winning a couple overtime games and the Warriors blowing a two-goal lead and losing 6-4 to eighth-place UOIT.
- UNB Varsity Reds (170, all 17 first-place votes) (37-2, 27-1-0 AUS, 1st RPI) — Beat Dalhousie 5-2 on Saturday (the Tigers scored two short-handed goals on the same penalty), but all anyone will want to talk about is the 4-3 home loss to St. FX and whether it means the V-Reds are vulnerable.
Look at this way: No one ever said UNB was superhuman, and if the fifth-place X-Men could come back after falling behind 3-0 on the road ... well, it is a small sample size but it validates the opinions there are no givens in the Atlantic.
- Alberta Golden Bears (149) (26-6, 21-4-1 CW, 2nd RPI) — Split with UBC (4-1 loss, 7-1 win), as Evan Daum discusses here.
- UQTR Patriotes (129) (25-7, 23-3-2 OUA-E, 7th RPI) — Dotted the I's by beating Carleton (6-4) and crossed the T's with a win over Ottawa (6-1), making first place official. UQTR's one-goal win at McGill on Monday effectiely settled the division race a week early.
- Acadia Axemen (121) (22-13, 19-6-3 AUS, t-5th RPI) — Lost 2-1 in a shootout to Moncton on Saturday. Pier-Alexandre Poulin, the big brother of Team Canada forward Marie-Philip Poulin, scoring the decider to put the Aigles Bleus into the playoffs.
Acadia also won 5-2 over St. Thomas.
- McGill Redmen (96) (27-11-1, 22-6-0 OUA-E, 3rd RPI) — Did a nice little stat-pad Saturday, 9-0 over Ottawa with Francis Verreault-Paul scoring a hat trick to beat his UQTR namesake, Francis Charland, for the OUA scoring crown.
McGill needed 48 shots on Con U's Maxime Joyal to a get a 4-3 OT win over the eighth-place Stingers on Friday.
That 5-4 loss to UQTR early in the week assured coach Jim Webster's Redmen of facing Nipissing in the 2-vs.-7 OUA East quarter-final.
- Western Mustangs (70) (23-10, 21-7-0 OUA-W, 4th RPI) — In the words of Rob Faulds, "What do you think about that?"
The Mustangs wrested away first place in the division with a pair of 3-2 extra-time wins over UOIT (shootout) and Laurier (in overtime). Keyvan Hunt stopped 75-of-79 shots, plus both shootout attempts vs. the Ridgebacks, over the weekend. That must have been some money goaltending.
- Waterloo Warriors (62) (23-10, 20-7-1 OUA-W, t-5th RPI) — Go figure how Waterloo contrived to lose 6-4 to eighth-place UOIT, and lose first place. It would probably be mean to say that's like holding an Olympic ceremony and having the cauldron lighting go awry because a $1.50 part malfunctioned.
Waterloo, which will face Windsor, blew leads against two potential playoff opponents. They beat the Lancers 4-3 on Friday after surrendering a three-goal lead. They had been doing a good job of closing out teams, so a regression was perhaps inevitable.
- Lakehead Thunderwolves (60) (22-11, 19-7-2 OUA-W, 8th RPI) — Nice to see captain Jordan Smith score the overtime winner in the final game before the playoffs, a 3-2 decision at Brock.
The T-Wolves lost 4-2 to Laurier on Friday, but the only way they could face the fourth-place Golden Hawks would be in the division final.
- Manitoba Bisons (38) (21-11, 14-8-2 CW, 9th RPI) — Bye week ahead of next weekend's playoff preview series at Saskatchewan.
- Saint Mary's Huskies (21) (21-14, 16-8-4 AUS, 11th RPI) — Beat St. Thomas (7-4) and Moncton (6-1) to enter the playoffs on a four-game win streak. They'll face Moncton in the first round.
- The ARV teams: Laurier (8), Saskatchewan (6), Calgary (2).
- UBC Thunderbirds (509) (17-1 CW Pacific, 1st RPI) — Blain LaBranche (32 points) and Josh Whyte (24) carried the T-Birds' scoring during Saturday's season ender, a 90-83 win which eliminated Trinity Western. That's become a pretty good rivalry, so one gets the sense UBC was only too happy to play it straight-up, especially with a bye week coming up.
- St. Francis Xavier (459) (15-0 AUS, 6th RPI) — Sixth man extraordinaire Charlie Spurr (20 points in 22 minutes, 6-of-9 on threes) provided the instant offence in an 83-69 win at Acadia on Saturday. Alberto Rodriguez had his way inside with the young Axemen, scoring 22 to set up a matchup on Wednesday of 15-0 St. FX against 15-1 Cape Breton.
- Carleton (444) (19-2 OUA-E, 2nd RPI) — Hit the century mark both nights in Kingston (108-65 over Queen's and 121-54 over RMC). The scores, for our purpose at least, speak for themselves.
- Cape Breton (388) (14-1 AUS, 10th RPI) — Hosting UPEI again on Sunday as a final step before the long-awaited showdown with St. FX (Feb. 17, mark the calendar).
In the first game of the series, the Capers won 103-77 with five double-digit scorers, topped by Tremaine Fraser's 19 points.
You tell me how Cape Breton was credited with 36 assists on 40 baskets. Either the stats crew there is really generous, or this is the greatest passing team since the Bob Cousy-era Celtics.
- Calgary (340) (15-5 CW Prairie, 5th RPI) — Lost 58-56 at Lethbridge on Saturday (Dinos guard Jamie McLeod's heave from deep hit the rim at the buzzer), meaning Canada West has to decide whether to take the Pronghorns (10-10) or Victoria (9-9) as the eighth playoff team.
Calgary played its starting five for most of the game, but four of them combined to hit the Mendoza (10-of-50 from the floor). Full mark to the Pronghorns. That was 11 points better than Calgary's previous low for the season, and only the third time the Dinos have been held under 80.
- Ottawa (303) (18-3 OUA-E, 8th RPI) — While the Ravens hit a hundred in both their games in K-town, the Gee-Gees buckled down on D and held their foes to a combined 99 points (94-40 over RMC and 72-59 over Queen's). First-year guard Ryan Malcolm-Campbell, whose initials are RMC, had a team-high 18 points vs. the Paladins. Funny how that worked out.
Ottawa has the traditional season-ender with Carleton on Feb. 20, this time at the Ravens' Nest.
- Simon Fraser (265) (14-4 CW Pacific, 3rd RPI) — Lost 77-67 to Victoria, which will be considered along with Lethbridge for the final Can West playoff berth and first-round date with Calgary.
Full credit to the Vikes, who got a 21-point night from Ryan MacKinnon. Cyril Indome, who could have been playing his last game, also had an all-around night. Cue the cliches about how he's not ready to stop playing.
- Lakehead (212) (16-4 OUA-W, 9th RPI) — Swept Brock in two typical tight games, 64-45 and 72-53. Power forward Yoosrie Salhia was nails, leading LU in scoring and rebounding on each night (all told he had 34 points and 22 boards, on 15-of-24 shooting and none of it will count toward someone's MUBL results since that person started a different OUA player).
Brock's frosh sensation, Clinton Springer-Williams, was held to 11 points on 2-of-11 in the second game.
- Windsor (171) (15-5 OUA-W, 4th RPI) — Isaac Kuon scored 30 Saturday to bring it home for the Lancers in a 91-90 OT win at Laurier. Throw in 23 from Nigel Johnson-Tyghter on the inside, and that made them tough. Laurier had a look at a game-winning shot in the overtime, but Kale Harrison could not get it to go.
It probably was must-win for coach Chris Oliver's Lancers, who have a tiebreaker split on Lakehead with two games left but couldn't really count on the Thunderwolves getting swept at home by Western.
Kuon should be OUA male athlete of the week. He had 56 points for the week, including 26 (on 11-of-22 shooting) in a 76-64 win at Waterloo on Wednesday. Point guard Josh Collins, among the CIS leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, had 14 in that all-UW matchup.
- McMaster (94) (13-7 OUA W, 7th RPI) — With power forward Keenan Jeppesen sitting out, the Marauders blew out Guelph 86-64 on Saturday with Victor Raso having one his best stat lines all season, 19 points on 8-of-11. It was probably part good shooting and part Guelph defence, but the Marauders were money from three, making 11-of-19.
Jeppesen had a knee-on-knee collison with former teammate Andrew Wedemire early on in Mac's 92-86 loss to Western on Wednesday (irony: It was his former team's Senior Night). Jeppesen briefly came back and try to test out his knee, but finished the game with a big ice pack around it. Mac will surely finish third in the division, but be a tough out in the post-season.
Mac had positives, such as Cam Michaud's 27 points and Jermaine De Costa nullifying Western point guard Ryan Barbeau. It was a tough night mostly, with coach Joe Raso getting a technical foul on a night when the Mustangs shot 45 free throws, making 37. Forty-five foul shots is three games for some teams.