Happy Monday, Kyle Walters. Your table is ready.

To the surprise of pretty much no one — the Super Bowl parties hosted by certain Lancers football alumni are probably gonna be a bit more jovial — the door is open to the Windsor Lancers having their next football coach in place in time for training camp in August. The nightmare scenario that involved being forced to use an interim coach this fall since 13-year head coach Mike Morencie was intent on staying on the job until June 30 seems to have been averted. Morencie, à la George Costanza at Play Now, will be staying on, but they're working around it. It's win-win-win for a program that does struggle to put three wins together most seasons.

That seems win-win for Windsor, since it can now take applications right at a time when most coaching staffs in the CFL and CIS are taking form. Greg Layson, as you would recall, suggested Walters, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers special teams coach who was previously at Guelph, would be ideal for the job. He took the Gryphons to a Yates Cup berth (their only one since the OUA went to 10 teams), has mad recruiting chops and knows from competing with That School To The East of Windsor.

Who knows if that is how Windsor is leaning, but that is a good place to start. Whoever takes over will have no excuses for not producing a competitive team. The Lancers are arguably Ontario University Athletics' biggest football underachiever when one factors in its facilities, recruiting territory, modicum of past success (although it's been a while) and academic programs. It is successful in many major team sports, so why not in football, and why not with Walters?

It does beggar credulity that right up until the end people variously tried to claim he couldn't be fired based on his record or split hairs over the timing. Losing records, of course, never rest entirely on the coach. It stops with the highers-up. However, you know the saying, if you're not a part of the solution ...
In a week of CIS volleyball that presented little in the way of mouth-watering match ups, it's no great surprise that the schedule played out entirely to form. In fact, there was not an upset of any magnitude to rattle the rankings or pose any new questions. The only seeded team to lose over the course of the weekend was the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, and they did so twice to the team currently without a conference loss to its record in Canada West.

#1 Laval Rouge et Or (1st in RPI)

Another week and another pair of routine wins for the Rouge et Or, who seem determined not to break a sweat this season. The Laval outfit begin their weekend with a trip to Sherbrooke on Friday, where they dropped a set (gasp!), before dismissing the Vert et Or in four frames. The typically immense Karl de Grandpre exploded for 28 points in the victory, converting a masterly 25 of 51 hitting in the process. Saturday saw the Rouge et Or return to their home gym and dish out a hefty beating to the Montreal Carabins. Laval cruised to the sweep, losing no more than 17 points in a given set.

Next Week: vs. Sherbrooke on Friday (Feb. 4)

#2 Alberta Golden Bears (2nd in RPI)

The Golden Bears did what was entirely expected of them by sweeping aside the lowly Winnipeg Wesmen in consecutive matches this past weekend. No surprise that it was the tandem of Spencer Leiske and Jay Olmstead who paced the Albertans to those wins. Leiske was particularly lethal on Saturday night, posting up 18 points on 16 of 28 hitting. Another easy weekend should be ahead, with Alberta due to entertain the conference doormats from Saskatchewan.

Next Week: vs. Saskatchewan on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 4 and 5)

#3 Calgary Dinos (4th in RPI)
#9 Thompson Rivers WolfPack (12th in RPI)

In a slow week, it was the Dinos who provided the most important results, as they dealt consecutive defeats to the #9 seeded TRU Wolfpack. Calgary swept both contests in straight sets, even while the visitors made a match of it on Friday, losing all three sets in the minimum of two points (26-24, 26-24, 25-23). Unsurprisingly, it was middle Graham Vigrass who led the Dinos' scoring charts over the weekend, posting team-leading totals of 13.5 and 16.5 points on Friday and Saturday respectively. The schedule only gets harder for the Calgarians however, as they travel to fifth-ranked Manitoba for a two-game set this weekend.

To their credit, TRU kept things exceedingly close in the first match, but simply could not demonstrate any killer instinct in the dying stages of their sets. TRU will undoubtedly squeak into the post-season, but the big question is whether they have the tools to escape from the first round.

Next Week: Dinos: @ Manitoba on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 4 and 5); WolfPack: vs. Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 4 and 5)

#4 Trinity Western Spartans (8th in RPI)

The Spartans had the easiest of possible assignments this past weekend, with the dream task of travelling to Saskatchewan to take on the single-win Huskies. Naturally, TWU did not drop a set in their two matches, making quick work of the worst team in Canada West. Middle standout Rudy Verhoeff led the way for the Spartans, posting up 28 points in the six sets played.

Next Week: @ Brandon on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 4 and 5)

#5 Manitoba Bisons (9th in RPI)

Nothing to report on the Bisons' front, as Manitoba did not play this past weekend. Probably a good thing too, because they'll need all the rest and preparation they can manage as they look forward to a home double-header against the conference-leading Calgary Dinos this weekend.

Next Week: vs. Calgary on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 4 and 5)

#6 Western Mustangs (5th in RPI)

The Mustangs played only a single match on home court this past weekend, welcoming their neighbours from Windsor and quickly dispatching them in three lop-sided sets. Windsor remains one of the most disappointing and inconsistent teams in the OUA this season. As for the Mustangs, they rolled through the match after winning the first set by a 16 point margin. Left side Garrett May topped the charts for Western, managing 17 points on an impressive 16 of 25 hitting.

Next Week: vs. Laurier on Friday (Feb. 4), vs. Waterloo on Saturday (Feb. 5)

#7 Brandon Bobcats (11th in RPI)

Much like the majority of the other major players from Canada West, Brandon enjoyed a relatively easy weekend, visiting Regina for back-to-back contests against the then 2-10 Cougars. The result was yet another pair of straight-set victories (this is not a recording). Superman, turned outside sensation Paul Sanderson tallied the relatively human total of 16 points on Friday night, before returning to his usually otherworldly ways in notching 25 the following night. A much tougher task awaits the Bobcats this weekend, as they play host to the Trinity Western Spartans.

Next Week: vs. TWU on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 4 and 5)

#8 Queen's Golden Gaels (6th in RPI)

Similar to their rivals from Western, the Gaels enjoyed a relatively low-key weekend, hosting the Toronto Varsity Blues in their sole match of the week on Saturday. With the usual suspect Joren Zeeman having a sub-par day, it was middle hitter Niko Rukavina who stepped up to provide the offence for the Gaels. The senior managed to notch 19.5 points while converting on a ridiculous total of 19 of 23 hitting attempts with two errors, good for a final percentage of .696. Queen's should pad their record this coming weekend, as they swing through the Big Smoke.

Next Week: @ Ryerson on Saturday (Feb. 5), @ York on Sunday (Feb. 6)

#10 McMaster Marauders (3rd in RPI)

The Marauders added two more wins to their total with consecutive home matches against mid-table Toronto squads. They dealt four set defeats to both York and Ryerson, but were not entirely convincing in doing so. Wing play continues to be erratic for the Marauders, and they are likely anxious for the impending return of starting rookie setter Chris Spack to the lineup following an ankle injury in December. Luckily for the Marauders, the ever-steady Tyler Santoni was typically efficient in the middle over the weekend, putting up 27 points over the course of eight sets.

Next Week: vs. Toronto on Friday (Feb. 4), @ Guelph on Saturday (Feb. 5)
Other than UNB putting more space between them and the pack and clinching first place, the AUS tightened up considerably on the weekend, with four teams tied briefly for second place after Friday night, and then after Saturday's games it was all about layers, with two teams tied for second place, two tied for fourth, and two tied for sixth place, the last playoff spot. Only St. Thomas is on the outside looking in.

It wasn't a great week for Saint Mary's, and they're probably glad they won't see StFX goaltender Joey Perricone again this season. Wednesday night in Antigonish, SMU had the edge in shots (37-17) and territorial play but still lost 3-1. Friday they were home at the Halifax Forum and the shots were a lot lower (23-18) but Perricone got the shutout in a 2-0 win, putting his team into a second place tie with the Huskies. Saturday night the Huskies offence finally came uncorked. SMU was up 4-1 after a period and made it 8-2 by the end against Dalhousie, led by Lucas Bloodoff with a hat trick and a pair of goals each for captain Justin Munden and Cory Tanaka.

On the other hand, it was a good weekend for Moncton, who find themselves back in the playoff hunt. Friday night they led UPEI 3-0 going into the third period, and then watched the Panthers launch a furious charge. P.-A. Marion made 22 saves in the final 20 minutes, but two pucks got by him to allow UPEI to draw within a goal. Fortunately for les Aigles Bleus captain Dean Ouellet got the empty netter to make it a 4-2 win. Saturday night they were in Fredericton to play St. Thomas, and like the last time they were at the LBR this one went into overtime tied 2-2, with STU goalie Charles Lavigne the difference maker. Oh, and don't forget STU pulling Lavigne while on the power play to tie the game with 39 seconds left in regulation time. However 70 seconds into overtime Ouellet came in on a two-on-one and patiently waited for Lavigne to open his legs before going five-hole for the winner.

UNB is really rolling now, with most of their injured players back in the line-up. Friday night they were down the hill to play St. Thomas, and for half a game this was pretty close. But then the Tommies lost their legs and the Varsity Reds cruised to a 7-1 win with Hunter Tremblay notching a hat trick. Saturday the V-Reds were on the Island and were up 2-0 after the first period. The referee reportedly allowed “the boys to play”, which gave the Panthers lots of opportunities to hack and impede the quicker UNB team. They scored the only goal in the second period to make it 2-1. The third period saw the V-Reds go into their shutdown forecheck mode, and therefore few scoring chances offered to UPEI. It got wild at the end when UPEI pulled goaltender Mark Guggenberger. After a V-Red was hauled down on a two-on-one rush towards the empty net, and no call made, the Panthers came back the other way to swarm the UNB net and ring a shot off the post. With 3 seconds to go Tremblay scored into the empty Panthers net to record his second goal of the game for the 3-1 win. Make that nine in a row for UNB now.

Acadia needs some wins if they want to contest for second place. Friday they were all over Dalhousie. They outshot the Tigers 45-35, went 3-for-5 on the power play, and won 4-2 with Ryan Graham scoring the empty netter to seal the deal after assisting on the Axemen's first two goals. Saturday they weren't so good. The X-Men were up 5-0 before Acadia got on the board, with Bryce Swan bagging the hat trick. Brett Morrison had three assists and Matt Bragg had a goal and two assists. Acadia did score two goals, but it was too little, too late in the 5-2 loss. And now the streaky X-Men are riding a three game winning streak.

So SMU and StFX are tied for second place with 29 points, and they each have four games left. Just two points back are UPEI and Acadia, each with a game in hand on SMU and “X”. Nice symmetry, huh!? In the battle for the last playoff spot Moncton and Dalhousie are tied with 20 points, and improbably, still have a mathematical chance of finishing in second place.

Next weekend UNB has big games at StFX and SMU, as do their travel partner UPEI. In my book these are all Top-10 teams. In other games Dal and their travel partner Acadia are at Moncton and STU. This is going to be fun right 'til the end.
The trend of games coming down to the wire in the QUBL continued this week, where two of the three games were decided by one possession. Playoffs are fast approaching and teams in the Q are fighting for home-court advantage and a chance to raise the QUBL banner.

However, the teams in the Q are not just hoping to win their conference for the pride of that banner, but for financial reasons as well. With Canada West hosting the second-place QUBL team in the West Regional this year, that means that the the qualifying team has to travel to the west in order to compete for berth at nationals--which themselves happen to be a 10-hour bus ride from la belle province, in Windsor.

This week's power rankings:

1. McGill Martlets

The Martlets have been outscored in the second half in the past three of four games and are making a habit of relying on last second antics to seal a win. Their win against the Rouge et Or on Friday saw them give up 24 in the fourth quarter (and scoring only seven) as an 18-point fourth-quarter lead dissipated into thin air. With the game tied and two seconds left to play, Marie-Eve Martin drained her sixth three-pointer of the game at the buzzer to give McGill the 62-59 win. That brings Martin’s season total to a league-leading 31 threes while also averaging the best three-point percentage with a sizzling 40.1%. Marie-Eve Martin’s outside shooting, paired with Anneth Him-Lazarenko’s inside presence is one of the reasons why the Martlets have been so successful this season. Their win against the Rouge et Or brings their record to 9-1 as they sit comfortably in first place.

2. UQAM Citadins

The Citadins faced the Bishop’s Gaiters this week, a matchup that saw seven lead changes in the fourth quarter and a thrilling 64-63 win for UQAM. The hero of the night proved to be Karine Boudrias who gave UQAM the go-ahead basket with eight seconds to go. The player of the game however, went to Emie Simard who scored 20 points in 16 minutes of game time. UQAM made some good adjustments going into the second half by being more aggressive and pounding the ball inside. After attempting no free throws in the first half, the second half saw them attack the basket, go 11-15 from the line, and take advantage of the rebounding issues that have plagued Bishop’s for the duration of the season. They face the Stingers next week in what is turning out to be a battle for second place.

3. Concordia Stingers

The Stingers took care of business this week, defeating the Gaiters 76-53 and playing solid basketball for 40 minutes. One of the more impressive statistics coming out of this Stingers team is the number of steals they average per game, 14.1. They had 20 in their game against Bishop's and have four players who average at least two steals per game (all league-leaders). The Stingers are athletic and versatile but still make poor decisions on the offensive end, shooting a league-worst 34.8% from the field. Concordia will have to shoot better next week as they face the Citadins, whom they have yet to beat all season.

4. Laval Rouge et Or

You have to feel for the Rouge et Or. Ever since coming back from winter break, all their games have been decided by four points or less. During that stretch they’ve gone 2-3 and only find themselves one game ahead of Bishop’s in the standings. It’s clear that Laval has come back a better team in the second half, but they might still miss the playoffs for the first time in a very long time (10+ seasons). They put together a spirited fourth quarter push against the Martlets, as mentioned above, but it proved all for naught as they lost 62-59. Turnovers continue to plague the Rouge et Or, who committed 27 of them to McGill’s 17. They face the Gaiters next week in what is shaping up to be a must-win for both teams to keep their playoff hopes alive.

5. Bishop’s Gaiters

The Gaiters played two games at home this week, going 0-2 and bringing their record to 2-9. They were outplayed by the Stingers on Thursday night, losing 53-76. They let the Stingers dominate the offensive boards, giving them 20 in their own end on a night where they only had eight (though they pulled even defensively to keep the total rebounding margin at 12 in Concordia's favour). Weak offensive rebounding, combined with the fact that they committed 27 turnovers, means that the Gaiters never had a chance to make it a game. Their second game of the week saw them lose by one against UQAM even though they only collected 36 boards to UQAMs 56. The Gaiters had the last possession of the game but couldn’t find the back of the basket as time expired. The Gaiters have 5 games left in the season and face the Rouge et Or twice in that span. The final playoff spot will come down to those two matchups – the first one of which is February 5th at Laval benefitting the Shoot for the Cure campaign.
Two Raven blowouts, two Thunderdome wins from the Great Group Of Dudes[Teammates], and a top-five split in Langley highlight this week's men's basketball action.

#1 Carleton Ravens (2nd in RPI):

Their 101-24 win over RMC on Friday had a few people wondering if there was some sort of typo, while an 81-41 thrashing of Queen's in their final regular season home game came without much surprise. Of note in that Queen's win was that Golden Gael star Dan Bannister was held to just four points on 1/12 shooting, while no Raven other than Phil Scrubb played more than half the game.

Earlier in the week, Carleton overcame an inexplicable first quarter to run away from Ottawa in the Capital Hoops Classic. This might sound a little crazy, but I'm not surprised Carleton fell behind by 19 to the Gee-Gees early. They've hardly been tested by anyone this season, and an inspired Ottawa team came right at them early. Credit to the Carletons for dealing with the adversity well. 25 and 10 in that game from Tyson Hinz tells me he's not just feasting on blowout wins.

Next week: At Laurentian and York.

#2 UBC Thunderbirds (4th in RPI):

Enjoyed a bye week. They'll go to Regina for two next week, not this weekend, as some idiot said in a post a week ago.

#3 Saskatchewan Huskies (11th in RPI):
#4 Trinity Western Spartans (5th in RPI):

The Huskies came up with a big time character win 101-93 over Trinity Western on Saturday night. Trailing by 13 at the half and in danger of falling in back-to-back games to a conference rival, the Huskies turned it up a notch, limiting the always-beastin' Jacob Doerksen to a slow second half, and getting a huge three in crunch time from Jamelle Barrett. Rejean Chabot came back from a sub-par performance on Friday to score 35. Sasky had fallen 102-91 the previous night to the Spartans.

I don't think it's worth trying to make too much of the nos. 3 and 4 teams splitting a pair of back-to-back games. That's probably what you would think should happen, even if they're both in one team's barn. Still, the fact that the Spartans had a chance to put the hammer down in the second half and sweep the weekend over Saskatchewan is troubling, especially when they shot just 33 per cent after halftime.

Next week: The Huskies host Alberta for two, and the Spartans host Brandon for two.

#5 St. FX X-Men (3rd in RPI):

Those who questioned X's no. 5 ranking last week were somewhat vindicated this week after a shaky week by Steve Konchalski's squad. They somehow pulled out a win against Saint Mary's despite being down eight with just over a minute to go. No, you didn't misread that. But after beating UNB 102-85 thanks to 28 from Christian Upshaw, they let five Varsity Reds score in double digits and got out-rebounded 35-24 in a 94-82 loss.

I don't want to sound like a hater. It's just that X have had too many weeks like this to still be considered a top-10 team.

Next week: at Dalhousie on Saturday night.

#6 Cape Breton Capers (1st in RPI):

Slugged their way through a 78-69 win over UPEI despite 25 turnovers.

Next week: At Saint Mary's for two.

#7 Windsor Lancers (9th in RPI):
#9 Lakehead Thunderwolves (3rd in RPI):

The Lancers have now lost four of their last six after falling twice to Lakehead in Thunder Bay. Hey, remember when we were talking about Isaac Kuon as a potential POY candidate? He went 6-for-25 in Friday's 73-65 loss, and then 1-for-14 in a 77-66 Saturday loss. Ouch.

And what a signature weekend from the GGOD[T]s. Their depth is terrifying, and they've now got a two-game lead atop the brutal OUA West.

Next week: The Lancers host Guelph and then Laurier in another huge game, possibly for second place in the division; the Thunderwolves go to Waterloo for two.

#8 Laval Rouge et or (16th in RPI):

Got by McGill 72-66 thanks to a near triple-double from Jérôme Turcotte-Routhier: 13 points, 11 rebounds and nine turnovers. Oh, wait...

Next week: at McGill, then host Bishop's.

#10 Laurier Golden Hawks (7th in RPI):

Fell to 82-79 Western after Matthew Buckley missed one of three free throws that would have tied the game. They managed to survive by escaping with a 95-90 OT win over Brock on Saturday, thanks to a beastly 24-point, 17-rebound performance by super rookie Pat Donnelly.
Saskatchewan sweep spices up first place race - With a pair of three-goal victories at home over the weekend the #7 - and soon to be higher-ranked - Saskatchewan Huskies are now hot on the heels of the slumping Alberta Golden Bears for first place in the Canada West conference.

Friday night #9 Calgary rolled into town looking to keep the momentum they'd gained last weekend after they swept Alberta for the first time since 2008. It didn't take long for the Dinos to fall behind the eight ball though, with the Huskies' Kyle Bortis opening the scoring 2:40 into the first giving Saskatchewan a lead they would never relinquish.

Bortis was one of five U of S players with multiple points in the Huskies' 6-3 win over Calgary. The Dinos got all their offence via the powerplay with Cory Pritz, Reid Jorgenson and Jerrid Sauer all scoring on a night that saw Calgary go three-for-eight with the man advantage.

League-leading goaltender Dustin Butler didn't have his best outing of the season in net for the Dinos, surrendering five goals on 23 shots, and was pulled 4:58 into the third period after Michael Kaye made it 5-1 Saskatchewan.

In the rematch Saturday night it was all Huskies on the scoreboard, shutting the Dinos out with a 3-0 victory. Brett Ward, Andrew Bailey and Brennan Bosch found the back of the net for Saskatchewan, while rookie goaltender Ryan Holfeld secured his first U of S shutout after watching David Reekie pick up the win a night earlier.

With the sweep Saskatchewan is now a mere two points behind Alberta for top spot in the conference, while Calgary is only two points up on Lethbridge and UBC for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Huskies were expected to make things interesting in the second half of the season, and with the Bears faltering as of late it's first place and not second that Saskatchewan has their eyes on now. The Huskies have a trip to UBC next weekend where they'll need to take care of business before looking forward to a February 11-12 series in Saskatoon against Alberta where first place could very well have a new owner. As for Calgary, don't look now but with three more games against the Pronghorns to come this season - including that midweek game on February 16 - the playoffs aren't a foregone conclusion for head coach Mark Howell and company.

Pesky Cougars make life tough for Manitoba - Adam Ward and company may not have spoiled Manitoba's first place hopes over the weekend by splitting with the #8-ranked team in the nation, but the Regina Cougars certainly made the race a whole lot more interesting.

Ward made 34 saves on Friday night in what amounted to a picture-perfect execution of the game plan for Regina - keep it scoreless as long as possible, get one goal and try to weather the storm. That's exactly what the Cougars did thanks to a third period goal off the stick of Dillon Johnstone - the lone goal of the game, with Ward doing the rest to record his third career U of R shutout in a 1-0 Cougars win.

After the disappointment of Friday night it appeared the table was set for a dominating Manitoba win on Saturday - much like what happened the first weekend of the season when the Cougars won 5-2 Friday night in Winnipeg before the Bisons kicked it into gear the night after in a 7-0 win. That wouldn't happen this time around, with the two teams needing a shootout to crown a winner.

A night after Ward was brilliant in goal, rookie A.J. Whiffen looked like he was headed to his first CIS shutout until Manitoba would finally score in the Queen City. Johnstone had scored in the second to give Regina a 1-0 lead, and the Cougars had once again protected that lead to perfection until, with only 36 seconds left in the third, Dane Crowley finally beat Whiffen to even the score at 1-1. Overtime would solve nothing, and Tyler Dittmer's shootout goal was difference in a 2-1 Manitoba win. It took 119:24 for the Herd to finally score, but they did to salvage something out of an otherwise miserably unproductive weekend.

It was too close for comfort in the Queen City for the Bisons who are now in a tie for second place in the conference as opposed to tied for first had they swept the Cougars. Manitoba has Calgary next weekend on the road before taking on UBC, Saskatchewan and Alberta to wrap up the regular season. The Bisons still control where they finish in the standings with games against both teams they're chasing, but the two points they left on the table against Regina makes their room for error minimal if they hope to host a playoff series or two.

Still a six team race - With nothing less than a sweep - and in regulation - good enough to keep their playoff hopes alive and well, the Lethbridge Pronghorns came out and took care of business this weekend with two wins on home ice over the UBC Thunderbirds. With two regulation wins, the 'Horns pulled even with UBC in the standings and are now only two points back of Calgary for the fourth playoff spot.

Andrew Courtney's hat-trick Friday night was the difference for Lethbridge in a 5-2 win that saw the Pronghorns big guns of step up and lead their team to victory. The two sides combined for 66 shots on goal, with Scott Bowles outshining his UBC counterpart Jordan White in goal. Bowles made 29 stops on 31 shots while White gave up four goals on 34 shots.

Saturday night it was former Medicine Hat Tiger Taylor Gal's turn to spark the Pronghorns to victory. Gal had two goals and a pair of assists to lift his team to a 5-1 win, and in the process pull the 'Horns even with the T-Birds in the standings and push Lethbridge to a position where they now too own their playoff destiny. Bowles was once again stellar in net Saturday stopping 33 of the 34 shots directed his way.

After looking like their postseason dreams were all but gone after last weekend when Calgary swept Alberta and UBC swept Regina, Lethbridge all of a sudden is very much in the thick of things. UBC has the toughest remaining schedule of the three teams fighting for the final playoff spot having to play Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta in their final six games of the season. Lethbridge on the other hand doesn't exactly have a cake walk after their bye week, playing Saskatchewan twice and Calgary three times, but they do have a series against Regina - although, as Manitoba found out that isn't an automatic two wins. I still think Calgary will find a way to make the postseason, but Lethbridge will have their chance late in the season once again to make a return to the playoffs only a week after it looked like that wouldn't be the case.
A couple of big hoops matchups highlight this weekend's ponder-worthy games ...

1. Saskatchewan 91-101 at Trinity Western 102-93 (men's basketball)

The Huskies haven't played an above-.500 team since October, so winning 10 in a row is not as impressive as it sounds. Certainly not after going down 59-42 at the half on Friday, and losing by 11. This is not altogether unexpected (the U of S has the lowest strength-of-schedule in the country, so they may not be on the Spartans' level) but I'll still go with a split as the most likely outcome here.

And what do you know, that's just what happened. Both games were covered by Howard Tsumura (Friday, Saturday). Game 2 saw just as much offence as Game 1, but this time the Huskies came out on top: Rejean Chabot scored 35 on 19 shots and Jamelle Barrett scored 31 on 22 (10 coming on free throws). Watching those two play it's a shock when they don't score 30.

2. Windsor 65-66 at Lakehead 73-77 (men's basketball)

The GGOD[T]s came away with a win on Friday, effectively shutting down Isaac Kuon (6 for 25) and overcoming an eight-point deficit in the fourth. Curiously, Lakehead only went to the line once (Venzal Russell hit both). Saturday was a repeat: another nothing night for Kuon (1-14!), and Monty Hardware was similarly stumped (1-13). Lakehead overcame a 10-point deficit.

3. StFX 2 at SMU 0 (men's hockey)

Two top-five teams in the RPI sure don't face off every week. Our David Kilfoil put it thusly: "I think Friday's StFX at SMU is HUGE! The X-Men rode their goaltender [Wednesday] night, and the Huskies goalie was not great (when have we seen that movie before ...), so now when they meet on Friday a win could put X in a multi-team tie for second place."

Dave says below, "SMU lost 2-0, while reportedly outplaying the X-Men. Going 0-for-5 on the PP doesn't help." Another bad case of "five something in a row" comes in the L column: this is the Huskies' fifth loss in five games, all of which came in regulation. But who's counting?

4. Laurier 2 at Brock 3 (women's hockey)

Brock did win this one as I kind of predicted, even if I forgot that Liz Knox was off in Turkey (at a university sporting event even I can't bring myself to follow). The game-winner came from Maja Samborski on the powerplay with three minutes left in the third.

5. Toronto 1 at RMC 3 (women's volleyball)

Everyone's favourite 5-9 women's volleyball team has won another swing game, this one against U of T, whom they now lead by one game, with two in hand, for the last playoff spot in the OUA East. The CIS Blog Research Group will have to determine the last time an RMC team made OUA playoffs.
From an in-person standpoint, last night's Saskatchewan - Trinity Western men's basketball clash largely lived up to its billing as a clash of the third- and fourth-ranked teams nationally. The game finished 102-91 for Trinity Western, but it wasn't a particularly even contest for most of the evening. There was plenty of offence, though, which you'd expect from teams that came into this contest ranked first and fourth in points per game as Saskatchewan and TWU did.

The Spartans came out firing and led Saskatchewan 35-24 after the end of the first quarter. They stretched that lead to 59-42 at the half, and looked set to completely pull away, largely thanks to knocking down shots at a ridiculous rate (Rob calculated their FG% as 56 per cent midway through the third quarter, compared to the Huskies' 51%, and it was even more pronounced in the first half). Perhaps even more crucial was the way they were winning battles on the boards; Saskatchewan has a few talented bigs, but they're nowhere near as deep as Trinity; one of the Spartans' keys to rebounding success was they have several massive players who can play as guards. That list includes 6'7'' Tonner Jackson (13 points and three rebounds), 6'8'' Kyle Coston (11 points, two rebounds), 6'5'' Calvin Westbrook (10 points, six rebounds) and 6'5'' highly-touted rookie Eli Mara. Those guys are all agile enough to handle the ball in the backcourt, but their size presented plenty of mismatches for the Huskies and opened up space for TWU forwards like Jacob Doerksen (21 points on 8 for 14 shooting, six rebounds) and Tyrell Mara (eight points, seven rebounds).

By contrast, Saskatchewan's a pretty small team in general, and their size issues were made worse by Michael Lieffers' ongoing foul trouble. Lieffers was reasonably effective when on the court, picking up four points, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal, but he was limited to only 20 minutes of playing time before he fouled out. Duncan Jones and Nolan Brudehl were able to get things going on the boards in the second half, particularly when Trinity started using more subs, and Saskatchewan only finished three rebounds behind on the night, but the Spartans won the post battles at the crucial moments. It wasn't just about rebounding, either; Trinity's bigger players also demonstrated great ability to close out on shooters and get hands in their faces, which contributed to some of Saskatchewan's shooting woes.

Despite being on the wrong end of the score, it was a Huskies' player who stole the show, though. Jamelle Barrett, a Sacramento-born point guard playing his first season of CIS basketball this year, definitely showed off the talent that's allowed him to put up an incredible stat line (23.7 PPG, 51.4 FG %, 44.2% 3PT%, 6.2 APG and 3.1 RPG) so far this season. He dropped 42 points on Trinity in 29 minutes of play, but even more impressively, did so while hitting 18 of his 24 field goal attempts (75 per cent). That line was made more incredible still in person, as Trinity was keying on him for much of the game (and generally guarding him with guys much bigger than Barrett's listed height of 5'10''). Many of his points came off crazy spin moves and contested layups off drives, and there were at least a couple of plays where he drove the lane, laid it in over a couple of defenders and drew a foul in the process. Barrett also added two steals, two rebounds and an assist on the night (and he'd have had more assists if his teammates had turned in a better shooting display). The rest of the Huskies didn't offer him anywhere near enough support to come away with a win here, and the score might not have been as close if the Spartans had gone pedal-to-the-metal for the whole game, but Barrett showed he's definitely a special talent.

Worries about the Huskies' poor strength-of-schedule inflating their record proved justified last night, but they still have quite a bit of talent. Barrett's performance last night in particular has to provide plenty of hope for Saskatchewan fans. If he can turn in a similar showing in tonight's rematch against Trinity (7 p.m. Pacific, Langley Events Centre, webcast here) and can get some more help, don't count the Huskies out just yet.
As you wonder what you did to deserve four one-possession games (including an OT thriller) in one night ...


Five different players scored 14 or more points for Ryerson last night, with Jordon Gauthier doing so on just eight shots, though they lost 82-80 in overtime. It was a "tremendously exciting and wild game." (CISHoops.ca)

Might the Spartans-Huskies men's matchup be one to Ponder tomorrow? It might. If only to settle this disconnect between the U of S's coaches poll ranking (3rd, one ahead of TWU) and RPI ranking (13th, nine behind TWU). (Dinos Hoops News)

Arden Zwelling, who still has some amateur sportswriter eligibility remaining, writes about the men's Mustangs' 82-79 win over Laurier. (Western Gazette; and the women's game as well)

Wayne Kondro hopped on the space shuttle and made the long journey into low orbit to visit Scotiabank Place last night, filing on both games of the Capital Hoops Classic, including Carleton 71-63 Ottawa (2OT) in the women's game. And even if the men's Ravens weren't the only undefeated team in the country, Dave Smart would find a way to convince his players they were being treated as such. (Ottawa Citizen)

This better be a case of the Hirji Bump, this feature on U of A basketballers Jordan Baker and Todd Bergen-Henengouwen, since the former is on the MUBL roster of someone who really needs to pick up some wins in the coming weeks. (The Gateway)

More on the Bears from Matt Hirji at the U of A paper. (The Gateway)

Another tight game with an AUS team overcoming a large(ish) lead? Of course. (The Chronicle-Herald)


Windsor coach Mike Morencie's future is "still up in the air," though there is mention of a report from CanadaFootballChat.com (first referred to as "an Internet website" but the full name is later given, how nice of them to do that). However, CFC since backed down from that statement, and claimed that Morencie was "informed [Friday] that his services are no longer needed". Windsor SID Elisa Mitton, from the first article: "To date, the committee has not completed its job review and will be meeting again in the near future." (One Windsor newspaper)

Earlier, re: Morencie, there was a letter to the editor of that same Windsor newspaper that criticized Bob Duff for using "coach's win-loss record and spectator ticket sales as the measure of a 'successful program.'" Coincidence alert: the letter-writer is a professor in Windsor's faculty of human kinetics; last year, Morencie got a vote of confidence from the school's "founding dean of "--wait for it--"human kinetics."


McGill now has more Molson money, in the form of a $1 million donation to the men's hockey team that, according to coach Kelly Nobes, will be used in part for a full-time assistant. (The Gazette)

Bill Hunt's advance for Friday's UNB-STU game. (The Gleaner)

Sounds like there's going to be a decent ending in the Canada West men's conference this year. (The Star-Phoenix)

Nipissing forward Brogan Bailey says he doesn't mind going from a Junior A regular to CIS fourth-liner: "I'm extremely pleased I made the decision to come here. I love all the guys, we have a great group and I love my linemates. It's definitely something I'm proud of, that I made this decision and I'm definitely looking forward to the next three years." Just a great group, not a great group of dudes. (North Bay Nugget)
Thanks to Jaehoon Kim at The Fulcrum, we will have liveblogs of both the women's and men's games at this year's Capital Hoops Classic tonight.

The Carleton women (ranked #6 last week) are 12-2 in league play, having won eight in a row, and are undefeated against OUA East teams. The Gee-Gees are three games behind them in the standings.

For the men, the Ravens are as dominant as ever: 14-0 in league play and 21-0 overall, number two nationwide in our RPI, but number one at CISHoops.ca, in another ranking system, in the CISHoops.ca Top 10 and of course the CIS Top 10 (as of Monday). It's a little different for Ottawa than it has been in recent years; a coach and a star leaving aren't always easy to recover from. But they're 4-2 in 2011 and just three games behind U of T for second place.

Both matchups will also be webcasted on SSN (women's, men's) for those in the Ottawa area not willing to travel all the way to Nipigon. I mean, Scotiabank Place.

The look atop the CIS top 10 rankings changed slightly this week with the Western Ontario Mustangs sliding into the number-three spot, flip-flopping positions with the now number-four ranked Alberta Golden Bears. UNB remains the top team in the nation, with McGill continuing to hold down the number-two spot after both teams won both their games over the weekend.

1. UNB (17-4-0) / 178 pts (16) / (1)
2. McGill (21-0-2) / 156 (2) / (2)
3. Western Ontario (17-1-4) / 130 / (4)
4. Alberta (13-5-2) / 126 / (3)
5. Saint Mary’s (13-7-1) / 104 / (5)
6. UPEI (12-6-3) / 82 / (7)
7. Saskatchewan (11-7-0) / 60 / (6)
8. Manitoba (10-4-4) / 60 / (8)
9. Calgary (11-6-2) / 34 / (NR)
10. Lakehead (14-7-1) / 21 / (10)

Other teams receiving votes: Acadia (13), StFX (12), UQTR (10), Nipissing (3), Carleton (1).
Dropped from the top 10: St. FX (#9 last week)

Top three tales: Steady as she goes for the UNB Varsity Reds who picked up a pair of victories over the weekend, first over SMU 4-1 on Friday night before notching their second win over a top 10 team in as many days Saturday with another 4-1 win. UNB has clinched a playoff berth, and is a full seven points up on SMU - it's now only a matter of time before the national hosts clinch home-ice for the AUS playoffs.

As for the Redmen, they're in action tonight when they'll take on Concordia after beating Carleton 4-2 Friday night and a 4-0 shutout win over UQTR the following night. McGill remains the only team in the nation that has yet to lose a game in regulation, sitting with a 21-0-2 record heading into tonight's game against the Stingers.

Making their debut inside the top three this week is Western Ontario after a 4-3 OT win over Laurier and 5-4 SO win over Windsor this past weekend. The Mustangs are nine points up on second place Lakehead in the OUA West, and last lost January 8th against Laurier by a score of 2-1.

Best of the rest: For the second consecutive week the Alberta Golden Bears dropped in the rankings and now sit fourth after being swept by Calgary. It was the first time since 2008 that the Bears had been swept, and with their win Friday night Calgary scored their first win at Clare Drake Arena since October of 2006. Alberta is now 2-3-1 to start the second half, but still hold down top spot in the conference - four points up on Manitoba and Calgary.

The Bears only slipped a single spot thanks to Saint Mary's dropping both their games this weekend to hold steady in the fifth spot, while UPEI moved up a spot into sixth by way of wins over St. FX and the aforementioned Huskies.

The Canada West is well represented in the bottom half of the rankings with #7 Saskatchewan, #8 Manitoba, newly minted #9 Calgary and #10 Lakehead out of the OUA rounding out the top 10.

Top 10 games this weekend: #9 Calgary at #7 Saskatchewan (Friday and Saturday in Saskatoon), #1 UNB at #6 UPEI (Saturday night in Charlottetown)
This weekend features arguably a pair of the most important basketball games played here on the Thompson Rivers University campus since joining CIS. That is to say, TRU has never had a playoff basketball team, but our women's team have a chance to give themselves a little security at the eighth and final seed this weekend with a slate of home games against Calgary.

After a quick 7-3 start in a back-loaded schedule, the TRU WolfPack have lost eight straight games, but still find themselves in playoff position. The Calgary Dinos, who saw top teams Victoria, Winnipeg and Regina before the December break, have won three of five and find themselves at 6-10, effectively tied with the WolfPack using the 'games back' standings model.

While I think my frustrations at the way the WolfPack market their games on campus is probably served for a different platform than The CIS Blog, you'd figure there would be at least some buzz on campus for this game. Oh well.

It could be worse. At Brandon University, they have won six conference games since the start of the 2004 Canada West season.


The number one Saskatchewan Huskies solidified their #1 ranking with a pair of wins over the aforementioned WolfPack, 78-60 and 86-64. The league's best offense was paced by Katie Miyazaki, who had 6 assists in each game and 24 points over her 65 minutes. Jill Humbert and Kim Tulloch both put up 25 on the Friday night affair. With 17 on Saturday, Tulloch remains atop the league lead in scoring.

Saskatchewan climb to first place in Canada West over Alberta.


Previous number four Regina Cougars dropped a spot, thanks in part to a 65-63 Saturday overtime loss on the road to the Winnipeg Wesmen, despite Joanna Zalesiak's miracle half-court shot at the buzzer to send the game to the extra frame. Amy Ogidan scored 22 for Winnipeg before fouling out, and Stephanie Kleysen got her team's lone double-double with an 11-point, 17-board performance.

The Friday affair was also low scoring, even for two of the three best defenses in the Canada West. It was 54-49 in favour of the road squad, with Zalesiak scoring 18 and earning 12 rebounds (all defensive) and 19 points from Lindsay Ledingham. Kleysen had 15 more rebounds and now has a comfortable lead as the top rebounder in the league.

So both team's escape with a split. Winnipeg host Alberta this weekend, matching one of the league's best offenses against one of its best defenses, while Regina will travel to UFV, who are also trying to secure their playoff spot. While the Cougars lost a spot in the rankings, the Wesmen actually increased from 10th to 9th, overtaking conference rival Alberta.


Speaking of those Alberta Pandas, they managed just a single victory against the Manitoba Bisons this weekend. Despite coming into the weekend 3-13, the Bisons surprised Alberta on Friday with a 78-76 win... on the road no less. Despite not having as many assists or rebounds, Manitoba's shooters were strong. Kayla Klassen was 6-for-9, including 3-for-5 beyond the arc, with 15 points and Allison Balasko was 5-for-9 with 12. Klassen, along with teammate Mubo Ileleboye, hogged an astounding 37 minutes of floor time. Top scorer Marisa Haylett was out of the lineup for Alberta.

Haylett returned Saturday, and the scoreline reflected expectation with a 69-57 win for the Pandas. The Bisons went from shooting 54% to 37% while the Pandas went to the dirty areas and were rewarded with foul shots, 29 of them, and making good on 22. Georgia Popovici had 15 and three assists with five steals.


I alluded to the Brandon Bobcats up top, and, well, things didn't go better for them as they hosted the UBC Thunderbirds. They lost a pair of games, on Friday 64-51, a very modest 13-point defeat compared to an 83-23 shellacking on Saturday. They were held to single digits in every quarter but the second. Lia St. Pierre had a team-high nine assists out of the team's 23, and Devan Lisson had 20 points for the Thunderbirds.

UBC have a bye this weekend before traveling to Regina in an important set of games that could determine home court in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Brandon falls to 0-16 in conference play. As Rob pointed out last week, it's a good thing they had that 65-64 exhibition win against Manitoba back on October 8th, lest they go 0-for-the-season.


Also happening, the Victoria Vikes swept the Lethbridge Pronghorns 65-61 and 63-44, and Calgary won a pair over the TWU Spartans 80-62 and 70-64.
At basketball practices at SFU, our coach always put out a paper schedule before we started. Mostly, it was for his benefit: he had each drill timed to the minute, and as well as we could (unless we were royally screwing up and needed extra time for punishments) we always stuck to the predetermined times. As well as times, of course, this sheet also listed the drills we were going to do, and they were usually of great variety: post breakdown drills; free throw pyramids; defensive shell; screen and roll repeats. For the most part, these schedules calmed us: like toddlers, or bus stations, we required a definitive routine to calm our simple minds and deep-rooted superstitions. By knowing what we were up against, we could mentally prepare for it -- at least for the most part. With some drills, knowing they were coming just made the pain hurt even worse.

There were few of these aforementioned "death drills", but the ones that existed were both terrifying and painfully familiar. The recurring theme? You screw up, you don't stop. In fact, you screw up, you start from the beginning, and you have to do the whole sequence over again -- perfectly! -- or... well, actually, there was no "or". You screwed up, you started again, simple as that. You kept screwing up? You kept going. The longest individual turn, in my memory at least, was nearly 15 minutes. 15 minutes, you think? Oh, that's not that hard. Fifteen minutes is nothing. Ha! I shake my head at you. And again, I say, ha! These drills were awful; they were like death sentences even before you made a mistake. And there were two of them that were the absolute worst, at least in majority opinion: three man weave touch the sideline (eek), and post gauntlet (double eek).

Three man weave touch the sideline started out, as most would think, with a three man weave -- but there was a catch. As a group of three, you needed to make three passes -- no more, no less -- in each single length of the court. As well, before you caught the ball, you had to touch the sideline; then, without travelling, you had to dribble once and then pass the ball. Oh, and on top of that: no layup could be missed, and no rebound off said layups could ever touch the ground. Once again: the ball bounces four times, no more and no less: three on the ground, and once off the backboard. There is no travelling, and each player must touch the opposite sideline between each pass they make. So, for an individual player, it went like this: rebound, dribble, pass to outlet, sprint to touch right sideline; catch pass, dribble, score layup, touch opposite sideline; catch pass, dribble, pass, touch opposite sideline; repeat process for desired number of times. Usually this meant five down and backs -- i.e. ten perfect layup sequences -- which, of course, could be easily screwed up by things like travelling, missing layups or rebounds, not running hard enough, or not talking (the last two of which were completely arbitrary decisions made by a coach). Needless to say, it was hell.

Perhaps the only drill worse than this was post gauntlet. It pitted three posts (i.e. three people of relatively equal stature -- all positions had to participate), with one sub, at each hoop in the gym, with one ball in each group. There was no travelling and no fouling allowed (although the second rule was flagrantly ignored, to the great pleasure of "this will toughen them up"-mentality coaches) and the clock usually ran for somewhere around the ten minute range. When the whistle went, it was a violent cacophony of one-on-one-on-one: you scored however you could, and as frequently as you could, through two mauling defenders with the same grudge as you. As soon as one person scored three baskets, they switched out for the sub on the sideline, and were granted a brief (usually only a few seconds' worth) break while the new threesome continued to battle it out. It was a brutal drill, and not just for the physicality -- bloody noses and black eyes abounded -- but the most painful part was when you just could not score. You see, it was a vicious cycle: if you couldn't score three baskets, you had to stay in the drill; and if you had to stay in the drill, you were stuck playing against fresher people for round after round after round, until eventually you were so tired that you could barely lift your arms to land a layup without any defenders at all.

Needless to say, while I have many fond memories of varsity basketball, I consider neither of these drills among them. In fact, were it possible, I would try to obliterate them from my memory -- as it is, I'm stuck with the painful mental trauma of  6AM training camp and that cursed practice plan.

Now, long-winded that this diatribe may seem to be, it has a point: you see, these drills, and this mentality, is in my opinion a strong parallel to the top 4 teams (okay, I'm still considering Regina 4th. I'm allowed to. It's how I feel). Look at it this way: Western and Windsor (#2 and #3) are the two giants of the East, while Regina and Saskatchewan are the juggernauts of the West. The Cougars and the Huskies play each other -- a lot -- as do the Mustangs and the Lancers. They're in the same conferences -- it happens. So, think of it like this: in practice, there are drills that come around on a fairly regular basis that you absolutely cannot stand. Why? Because they are difficult, and draining, and they get the adrenaline ringing in your ears like a bad caffeine trip, and though you know you'll be better for having done them you can't help but wish sometimes that they'd just go away so you didn't have to face them again. Saskatchewan playing Regina is like three man weave touch the sideline: with Brittany Read out, these teams have relied more on their speed and basic panache in competition with one another than they have in (at least in my opinion) any recent years previous. And Windsor and Western? As the colour commentators from Wednesday so artfully put it, Western's Matteke Hutzler is "a one-woman wrecking ball", while Windsor's Jessica Clemençon is a posting powerhouse of her own.

In both the Western and the Eastern matchup, these teams have faced each other numerous times, each taken wins off one another, and (as I'm sure the players will agree) enter more agitated and leave more drained than most any other contest in their respective leagues. Why? Well, first of all, they're all in the top 4 (like I said, I'm keeping Regina there -- their OT split with Winnipeg on Saturday is just not a substantial enough loss for me to change my mind). And the second thing? It's the crisis of recognition. The rivalry is there, simply put, because they see each other often. Familiarity breeds contempt, remember; and in the sporting world, contempt leads to knuckle-biting games like this one.

In fact, if I had it my way, I would throw all four teams into one enormous grudge match (perhaps in a dusty underground fighting pit, just for dramatic effect), dangle the bronze baby just out of reach, then toss them a single basketball and let them have at 'er. The last team standing gets to keep it (and full fight coverage on pay per view!). Seriously, though? While I still put Regina at a solid 4th out of 4, I have no doubt that any of this upper quad could take the title on a good day. After all, on a good day, each of these teams has done big things. In fact, in the season so far, not one of these teams has fallen below sixth in the coaches' rankings -- and even then, it was only week 1 and 2, in which Saskatchewan was placed in that spot by a preseason vote and took an extra week to work themselves out of it.

So, my advice to all you betting types out there? Put good money on these four. No, I am most certainly not discounting the obvious strength of other teams in the top ten -- I'm just saying that as far as consistency goes, you really can't go wrong here (as, so far, neither can they). Further points in their favour? Not one of these teams is winless -- a fact that might at first seem detrimental but in fact aids them more so than if they had remained an undefeated squad. Why? Without a loss, you can't truly understand the taste of defeat, and so wins are (subconsciously or not) held in lower regard as a result. As for these groups, though? They've traded wins and losses with each other as easily as preschoolers trade the common cold -- arguably, however, with more than a few extra elbows and hard-hipped boxouts. And so, when the national tournament finally does arrive, you can not only expect these four to be in it --

--you can expect me to be watching it, too. And with some popcorn and 3D glasses, I think, because this year's going to be INTENSE.
With the release of the new CIS Top Ten rankings, we break down the movers and the shakers among the nation's premier ball-volleying men.

(Official CIS Rankings - RPI Rankings)


#3 Calgary Dinos (LW: 4): Facing one of the toughest tests of their season, the Dinos wiped the floor with the Trinity Western Spartans over the course of two crucial road contests this past weekend. Calgary dropped only a single set in the process, and the Dinos have solidified their spot atop the Canada West standings with a perfect record of 12-0. The sledding won't get any easier for Calgary though, who face series against Thompson Rivers (#9), Manitoba (#5), and Alberta (#2) to close out their conference season.

#8 Queen's Golden Gaels (LW: 9): The Gaels understandably move up the rankings this week, thanks to a hard-fought five-set win over the Western Mustangs in London on Saturday. Encouragingly for Queen's, they managed to find points from players not named Joren Zeeman. An impressive performance from Zeeman's outside partner Brian Fautley led the Gaels' scoring charts, and proved just enough to topple the team in purple.


#4 Trinity Western Spartans (LW: 3): TWU experiences a minor slide this week, after failing to take a match off of the conference-leading Calgary Dinos this past weekend. The Spartans remain a force to be reckoned with in Canada West, but they will be disheartened by the comprehensive nature of their losses to the Dinos. If they are to challenge at the rapidly-approaching end-of-season festivities, TWU has much work left to do.

#9 Thompson Rivers WolfPack (LW: 8): Thompson Rivers' tumble this week is yet another case in which it matters less that you've won, and much more who you've beaten. Despite winning both of their games this past weekend, the WolfPack has been leapfrogged in the CIS rankings by Queen's. Why is this? Because while Queen's was busy squeaking past the OUA leading Mustangs, TRU was handing consecutive beatings to the Canada West bottom-feeders from Saskatchewan. They'll get their opportunity to claim a more high profile scalp this weekend, when the WolfPack visit the Dinos in Calgary.


Queen's @ Western: I could very easily have given this distinction to any number of Canada West nail-biters. Alberta's two-point fifth set thriller over the Manitoba Bisons on Friday night stands out as perhaps the best of these. But in the interest of switching things up, I'll focus on the biggest contest from the OUA this past weekend. Queen's came into their crucial match with Western needing a definite pick-me-up. They had just dropped a match to the middle-of-the-road Waterloo Warriors the week before, and looked rather bad in doing so. But on Saturday, the Gaels would fire on all cylinders, riding the hitting prowess of Joren Zeeman and Brian Fautley, and the creative force of setter Dan Rosenbaum, to a much-needed five set win. The result vaults Queen's back into the OUA discussion, and casts further question on whether Western can beat its closest competitors in Ontario.


Thompson Rivers @ Calgary: I really don't like picking Calgary again (or talking about the Dinos again in any capacity come to think of it), but in a relatively uneventful week of matches, the two-game series between the Calgarians and TRU is the undisputed highlight. The consecutive road games against the best in Canada West present a huge opportunity for the WolfPack to prove doubters (such as myself) wrong, and propel themselves past the Brandon Bobcats into fifth position in the conference. For Calgary, the series provides the chance to further consolidate their place at the head of the division, and stretch their 12-game winning streak in the process. Thompson Rivers will be hungry, but my money is on the Dinos to continue their winning ways.


1.) Calgary: I picked them as head of the class last week, and if anything, they've only shown themselves to be even better. 12-0 and still rolling.

2.) Alberta: Two tough, five-set wins over a sterling opponent like the Bisons is further proof that the Golden Bears are the real deal. Circle their season-ending series with the Dinos on your calendars sports fans.

3.) Laval: The Rouge et Or cemented three more wins this past weekend, one of which actually came against a tough opponent: the Dalhousie Tigers. That four-set decision is the most competitive volleyball Laval can hope to play in their conference. I'll say it again: amazing squad, but don't be surprised if they flop in Langley at the end of the season.

4.) Trinity Western: For all the love I show them, the Spartans go out and eke out only a single set against the Dinos this past weekend. Thanks a lot. Seriously though, the Spartans possess a wealth of talent and promise, but will need to be better down the stretch if they are to shine on home turf at the CIS Championships.

5.) McMaster: The Marauders make it to number five without doing a thing. That's because Western - the team I lauded just last week for their consistency - have begun to show another kind of pattern. An inability to beat the best in their division.

6.) Manitoba: I entirely forgot the Bisons in my mock rankings a week ago. This perhaps is why I remain less than a real journalist. Manitoba put up an admirable fight against Alberta this past weekend, and the Bisons' heavy-hitting duo of Dane Pischke and Chris Voth remain a formidable proposition for any squad. I only wonder if they can hope to overcome Canada West's best when the time comes.

7.) Queen's: The Gaels did much to dispel my worries this past weekend. Not only did they dispatch the Mustangs, but they managed to find the scoring touch that had so alarmingly left them, even if only for a moment. Their last weekend clash with McMaster will be a classic, and should go a long way to determining the OUA's front-runner leading up to the playoff turkey shoot.

8.) Brandon: The Bobcats rebounded nicely to sweep the Thunderbirds on Saturday night, while Paul Sanderson locked down a little bit of history. He became Canada West's all-time career kills leader. Bravo big man.

9.) Thompson Rivers: I'm still not entirely convinced by the WolfPack, but the fact that someone other than Kevin Tilley managed to score some points is a promising sign. Big test upcoming for TRU though, as Calgary is looking deadly.

10.) Dalhousie: Oh the Tigers. The poor buggers are shunted off of the Top Ten last week after consecutive losses, only to actually drop a contest this weekend against the Rouge et Or. But while Laval came out on top, it was by no means an easy feat, as three of the match's four sets went to extra points. Besides, by the standards of their conference, the Tigers should probably be given a medal just for taking a set off their Quebecois opponents.
When I mentioned the MUBL at a recent McMaster basketball game with Brian Decker, he said he wished I hadn't brought it up. His record below should tell you why...

In the last two weeks, he's lost 7-1, first to Neate Sager and then to Cam Charron. Brian's players went 26-for-68 from the field in Week 5 and 33-for-86 in Week 6. Ouch. His only category wins came on blocks.

The standings after six of 11 weeks are:
1. Tourigny
2. Lund (2.5 wins behind)
3. Sager (6.5)
4. Charron (8)
5. Layson* (9.5)
6. Pettapiece (9.5)
7. Bucholtz (12.5)
8. Decker (19.5)
* Holds tiebreaker

In the last two weeks, Mr. Decker lost 7-1 twice, first to Neate Sager and then to Cam Charron. Brian's players went 26-for-68 from the field in Week 5 and 33-for-86 in Week 6. Ouch. His only category win came on blocks.

In first place, of course, is Alex Tourigny. Rejean Chabot scored 58 points in 59 minutes in Alex's Week 5 win over Cam, with 13 rebounds in addition to Greg Stewart's 32 (!) boards and five blocks. Those latter two performances, on their own, were enough to give Alex two wins on the week. He then picked up 41 assists in Week 6: 13 from Jimmy Dorsey in three games, and 13 more from Chabot. Considering Chabot was a mid-season "waiver wire" addition to his lineup (along with Ryerson's Jahmal Jones, who is also getting regular minutes in his starting five), Alex is doing...um, quite well.

In second place is Chris Lund, getting a (King) Handle on the Bannister. Joey Haywood provided him with 104 points in 118 minutes in Week 6, nearly half of Chris' team's total points in that week. (Sounds kind of like SMU themselves.) Dan Bannister, I only mentioned because his name works better in that pun than Manock Lual.

Last year's champion, Neate Sager, lost 5-3 this week...but only because UFV had the week off and Evens Laroche didn't play (at least, not more than eight minutes).

Next week's schedule, which technically begins tomorrow, marks the last new opponent for everyone (Weeks 8-11 are a repeat of Weeks 1-4) and it is ripe for upset, with no top teams facing each other.

More infrequent updates of the world's most widely-enjoyed CIS basketball fantasy league will come. Full results are here; corrections are welcomed.
Each Tuesday, we'll take a look at the CIS men's hoops rankings and analyze the movement of the nation's best teams.

(Official CIS rankings; RPI standings)


No. 4 Trinity Western: After a 14-game winning streak, the Spartans have made it a trio of Canada West teams pursuing Carleton as the CIS' top dogs. And this weekend's matchup with the Saskatchewan Huskies will be a huge factor in figuring out which of them are the real challengers and which are the underdogs.

No. 6 Cape Breton Capers: This, I do not get. They defeated three top-10 teams in a week. They came back from 19-down in their biggest rival's barn to win in the best game of the CIS season so far. They are 1st in the RPI with the toughest strength of schedule. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, they moved up just two spots and trail a team they just beat for the second time this year. That's right, they're not even the highest-ranked team in their division despite dominating it. They trail no. 5 St. FX by one spot, despite thoroughly beating them in late November and then beating them again in last week's thriller in Antigonish. I am officially making 'Haters gon' hate' the CBU team slogan.

No. 9 Lakehead Thunderwolves: If I'm Scott Morrison (and I am surely not), this is about right where I want to be: ranked high enough just to get noticed, but playing so well that some team is going to have a 'holy crap' moment when they run into this blue-and-gold buzzsaw. I got a pair of up-close looks at the team this weekend when they beat McMaster twice; to me, they seem to be pretty streaky and fairly dependent on outside shooting, but extremely deep with a few very dynamic athletes.

No. 10 Laurier Golden Hawks: In the crowded, brutal OUA West, success can be short-lived. But Laurier's shown consistently this year, the ability to stay afloat above the crowd, and at 10-4 are one game back of the lead. The Max Allin point guard project has worked well, Pat Donnelly is having a wonder-rookie year, and Kale Harrison is as dangerous a scorer as anyone in the conference.


No. 5 St. FX X-Men: I've already expressed my skepticism about this being a top-5 team this year. But now I just don't get it. Is X's preseason victory in early October somehow worth more than the two times the Capers have beaten them recently? Does coach Steve Konchalksi have the other coaches in his pocket? Someone explain this one to me.

No. 8 Laval Rouge et Or: I guess there has to be one Quebec team in here, right? The division has been so shaky, but if I'm betting, I'm liking Laval to get their act together and still separate themselves from suddenly-sagging Concordia and a resurgent McGill team.

NR - Toronto Varsity Blues: Back-to-back weekends with losses to divisional opponents will drop you out of the top-10. Especially when one of those teams had two wins coming in and beats you on your own floor.

NR - Concordia: This was a great story - Concordia coming back from a brutal 2009-10 to contend behind an amazing season from Kyle Desmarais. But losses to McGill in each of the last two weeks and a pair of ankle injuries to Evens LaRoche will make the continuation of that story a little more difficult.


In commemoration of Lakehead returning to the Top-10, it's time to revisit the time Kiraan Posey called the Thunderwolves the "great group of dudes," or GGODs, if you like.

Jacob Doerksen and the TWU Spartans made an appearance in the Langley Times.

This one's outside the top-10 (sort of), but Monty Mosher of the Chronicle Herald tells how Joey "King Handles" Haywood scored half his team's points and they still lost.

The Charlatan will have a liveblog of tomorrow's Capital Hoops Classic, in addition to The Fulcrum's, though the game may not be so classic this year with Ottawa sitting at just 6-8.

Going with Laurier for the second week in a row: Golden Hawk Kale Harrison, who hails from Stratford, went for 38 points on 12-20 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists in an 87-75 win over Guelph. Yes, I know Haywood scored 46. SMU lost by 14.

Windsor's Isaac Kuon, who put up a 1-for-15 gem in a bad 62-60 loss to Brock. Yikes.

  1. Carleton - Undefeated season, anyone? It's a long way to go, but it seems within reach now.
  2. UBC - Get a bit of a test for a change with 10-6 Regina this week.
  3. Saskatchewan - This weekend at Trinity Western is huge. Nothing else to say about it.
  4. Cape Breton - Haters gon' hate. See? it's catching on!
  5. Trinity Western - See no. 3.
  6. Windsor - This weekend at Lakehead is also, you know, pretty big.
  7. Lakehead - The GGOD are rollin'.
  8. Laurier - The second-best team named after a bird in the top-10.
  9. St. FX - Need to prove they can win the tough ones, not just beat up on bottom-feeders.
  10. Laval - I think - I hope - they'll squash resurgent McGill in their next two games.
Last week, the only way I could describe my feelings towards Guelph was an annoyed groan.

They spent the last few years as the plucky, lovable losers that try so hard and were on the cusp of competitiveness but always fell short. Which puts them in line with most of the other Gryphons teams, especially their football team – I kid, I actually do like Justin Dunk despite his feelings toward my school.

But, this season, they were expected to make that leap into legitimate championship contender status. Move over Laurier and Waterloo, here come the Gryphons.

The team is experienced, has talented defencemen, and has more than a few go-to goal scorers. Or so we thought coming into the season.

Turns out, they are missing some even more important tools that separate the best from the rest. They don’t have consistent goal-scoring and they don’t have goaltending.

Let’s have a look at their season. Until mid-November, it looked as though they were having a decent season. They were 8-5 overall, but that was deceptive at best. Over that stretch, they played Western and Lakehead twice and once against Waterloo – they lost all five games.

Their goaltending has been a problem all season, so that’s probably a good place to start. Rookies Cody St. Jacques and Andrew Loverock played the majority of the team’s games. Collectively, they have given up 59 goals. Loverock has a save percentage of .901 and a goals against average of 2.59. St. Jacques’ numbers were .865 and 3.61 respectively. They would be alright against teams like Brock, but Lakehead and Waterloo absolutely torched them.

While St. Jacques wasn't particularly great for the Gryphons during the season, it certainly didn't help when he went to play for the Brampton Battalion of the OHL. He was considered the goaltender with the most potential, and that was shown by the fact that coach Shawn Camp started him for the majority of their games early on. His numbers were brutal, but they won with him in net. Read into that what you will.

But something happened to them mid-November, right after they dropped two cross-over games against UQTR and McGill. Both were close, overtime games (one went to a shootout) and while I admittedly couldn't tell you for sure, I think that weekend destroyed them mentally.

Case in point: goal scoring is a largely mental process. When a team is mentally sound, the goals are usually flowing and forwards play with ease and look like they enjoy what they are doing. But when they hit a slump, players their stick a little too hard and spurn the easiest of chances. You can see the frustration on the players' faces.

In my mind, the frustration got to them after that weekend and since they have gone 2-5, most of which have been close games right to the end. They have scored just 10 times over that span. Forwards Thomas Kiriakou and Kris Belan lead the team with 10 goals each for the entire season and nobody else is particularly close to those two – that’s not good enough.

But the troubling part is who they are losing to now. Last weekend they were swept by Brock and Windsor. This week, they looked like they turned it around with a 3-2 win over Laurier. But they dropped a game 3-1 to York the night after. In case that didn't sink in the first time, they lost to YORK!

The bad news for Guelph is their remaining games consist of Lakehead, Waterloo, Laurier, Western and those very same York Lions. In other words, teams they have a collective 2-7 record against.

So while they still will probably make the playoffs, they likely aren’t going to do it in style. And their first round is potentially away against Lakehead or Western – in other words, they aren’t getting to the second round.

So much for that championship season they were looking for. Forget annoyed groans. At this point, the only thing they inspire are headaches and mild nausea.

Thursday, January 20

Western 4-3 Laurier (OT)

Goal Scorers
Western: Josh McQuade (2), Kyle Lamb, Yashar Farmanara
Laurier: Benjamin Skinner, Zackory Ray, Ryan Bernardi

Western: Anthony Grieco - 34 saves
Laurier: Ryan Daniels - 43 saves

  • With Aaron Snow done for the year and six guys going to Turkey this week, it is crucial that Western gets this kind of secondary scoring. McQuade, in particular has been on a hot streak, scoring all five of his goals in the last three games.
  • Not good for the Mustangs is the blown 3-0 lead. Luckily Farmanara and Kevin Baker converted on 2-1 in overtime, or this would have been an embarrassing loss.
  • Benjamin Skinner is a bit of Mustang killer. He scored both goals in a 2-1 win a couple weeks back and he started the Golden Hawk comeback in this one. Not bad for the older brother of Carolina Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner.
Players of the Game

  • McQuade deserves a lot of credit for getting his offensive game going at a crucial time. He got the Mustangs rolling early in this one.
  • Ryan Daniels yet again was Laurier's best player. He stood on his head all game and allowed the comeback to happen.

UOIT 4-1 York

Goal Scorers
UOIT: Josh Vatri (3), Nathan Spaling
York: Kyle Lamb

UOIT: Jason Guy - 33 saves
York: David Blair - 29 saves
  • Completely the opposite of last weekend's York-UOIT tilt. This time around, UOIT got very good goaltending from Jason Guy, who nearly pitched the shutout.
  • Josh Vatri has had a disappointing season by his standards. He put up 17 last year with 31 total points. These were only his 7th, 8th and 9th goals of the season. Hopefully, this would have kick-started a scoring streak for him.
  • York looked like an offensive powerhouse, scoring five and chasing Guy from the game last week. Defenceman Kyle Lamb (who apparently is not the same person who plays for Western) scored their only goal and they didn't threaten much.
Players of the Game

  • It's pretty much an unspoken rule that a player who scores a hat-trick gets player of the game - unless you are in Buffalo and Brayden Schenn scores four. So, obviously Vatri gets the honour.
  • David Blair had a pretty respectable game. UOIT may have only fired 32 at him, but had a fair share of quality scoring chances. York's D didn't help with turnovers in their zone.

Friday, January 21

Lakehead 5-2 Brock

Goal Scorers
Lakehead: Brock McPherson, Ryan McDonald, Adam Sergerie, Ryan Magill, Brennan Menard
Brock: Kevin Christmas, Jordan Gignac

Lakehead: Alex Dupuis - 14 saves
Brock: Kurt Jory - 16 saves, Jordan Bent - 5 saves

  • Lakehead has an offence, Brock doesn't. That was the difference. Goals from five different scorers shows how deep the Thunderwolves are offensively.
  • I may have to repeat this for every game, but Brock without Abercrombie and Jory starring will always result in a loss. Jory allowed four and 20 shots, and Abercrombie was held off the score sheet.
  • I've been waiting for this all year. Finally, Kevin Christmas scored. So many headlines. I can't express how mad I was that he didn't score against Western right at the end of first semester.
Players of the Game
  • Adam Sergerie was the only multi-point player for Lakehead. Pretty unusual for a five goal game.
  • I may never have this chance again: Brock's player of the game is Father Christmas. You have to enjoy the little things in life and that just makes me happy.

Waterloo 4-0 UOIT

Goal Scorers
Waterloo: Josh Schappert, Andy Smith, Chris Ray (2)

Waterloo: Keaton Hartigan- 34 saves
UOIT: Jason Guy - 31 saves
  • Slightly better performance against the Ridgebacks than they had last week. Hartigan was clearly unbeatable and Chris Ray continues to put up points. They are going to miss him when he joins the Canadian team at the Universiade.
  • Well, at least UOIT got their win against York. It puts them tied for seventh with Guelph in the West.
Players of the Game
  • Hartigan may not be having as good a season as last year, but this was a vintage performance for him. Granted, he did it against a bad offence, but a shutout is still a shutout. He even got an assist on Ray's first goal, meaning he outscored UOIT's entire team.
  • Jason Guy may have allowed four goals, but he did face 35 shots against a collection of pretty good forwards. It's not like he got an offensive help.

Windsor 5-4 Western (SO)
Goal Scorers
Windsor: Danny Anger, Mark Thorburn (2), Dan Lombardi (Tom Craig with the SO winner)
Western: Julian Cimadamore, Josh McQuade (2), Steve Reese

Windsor: Jim Watt - 29 saves
Western: Josh Unice - 38 saves

  • The Lancers jumped all over Western early and then hung with the Mustangs when they finally got their feet in the second period. Windsor was the better team and they deserved the two points.
  • No team is out of a game when Jim Watt is in net. He will be another player missed when he goes to Turkey.
  • Unice may have taken the loss, but he was more than solid. Western should not be allowing 42 shots against. Blowing their one-goal lead in the last minute was also not good.
  • As I already mentioned, McQuade has been on fire. That is nothing but a good sign for the Mustangs. Reese and Cimadamore will also be counted on to produce in the coming weeks.
Players of the Game
  • McQuade put up another two goals and an assist. Like I said before, he has been on fire the past two weekends.
  • Thorburn saw McQuade's two goals and called him, with two of his own, including the last minute tying goal.

Saturday, January 22

Brock 3-2 Lakehead

Goal Scorers
Brock: Josh Schram, Ryan Allen, Matt Abercrombie
Lakehead: Victor Anilane, Ryan McDonald

Brock: Kurt Jory - 27 saves
Lakehead: Kyle Moir - 16 saves
  • A good rebound game for Brock. And look who scored the winner for the Badgers, and more importantly, who stopped 27 of 29 shots.
  • Lakehead needs better goaltending than the got this weekend. Dupuis and Moir had a collective 35 shots over two games, allowing five. Lakehead is going to have games where they only score twice, especially in the playoffs.
Players of the Game
  • Jory shut down the Thunderwolves after they put five by him the night before.
  • Kalvin Sagert assisted on both goals from the back end. He quarterbacked the powerplay for the first goal.

Windsor 3-1 Waterloo

Goal Scorers
Windsor: Dan Lombardi, Kyle Tront, Brett Vandehogen
Waterloo: Blake Chartier

Windsor: Frank Dayus - 26 saves
Waterloo: Justin Leclerc - 29 saves
  • Windsor had a good weekend taking down two of the top four in the division. They seem to be a player or two short of challenging at the top consistently. Dayus is a pretty solid backup goaltender.
  • Waterloo's Jekyll and Hyde act continues. This semester they have lost to Guelph, York and Windsor, while beating UOIT twice and Laurier. They play to the level of their competition, which isn't good enough.
Players of the Game
  • It was a strong performance from Dayus, as he flat out shut down the Warriors.
  • Leclerc also put in a good night's work. It was 2-1 until literally the last second, meaning he kept them in it throughout. Tough loss for him to take.
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