Surprise, surprise, Queen's, Laurier, Ottawa and McMaster are through to the OUA final four.

For the Golden Hawks, it was somewhat nervy. A goal from Heather Malizia in the second half gave them a 1-0 win over the fomerly powerful York Lions. Laurier didn't do themselves any favours with some shocking finishing and could easily have given up an earlier goal to York.

Queen's predictably beat Carleton 3-0. It only took Jacqueline Tessier ten minutes to score and she didn't look back, adding another later.

The Gaels' win sets up a semi-final with McMaster, who beat Windsor 3-0 on two goals from Natalie Brace. The Marauder's women's soccer web page shows a delightfully ironic highlight package of McMaster getting knocked out 3-0 by Queen's in last year's semi-final, possibly as motivation for this year's team.

Ottawa edged Toronto 2-1 on a late goal on a free kick from Gillian Baggot. Zovel Hyre had been sent off in conceding the foul near the top of the area and it cost the Varsity Blues a chance at the semi-finals. The Gee-Gees will play Laurier which given the Golden Hawks' offensive issues, might be a closer game than the standings would suggest.

Let's take a moment and appreciate the University of Victoria Vikes. After looking out of it a few weeks ago, they won their last three, took advantage of Calgary's tough schedule, and grabbed the final playoff place with a 2-1 win over the Cascades. This earns them the privilege of being (likely) knocked out by Trinity Western in the first round.

Upsets are always possible--but then look how UFV fared this year. The Spartans know all about that and it's hard to think they'll let it happen again. They've lost one game all year on the first day. They haven't looked back since then.

UBC and Alberta will be the game to watch in Canada West. It won't be as beautiful soccer as Trinity Western can play, but it will be a battle of two talented and closely-matched teams. They split the season-series 2-2, with each earning a 2-0 win at home. This time they'll play on neutral ground in Burnaby on the Spartans' pristine field. Both teams prefer an aerial, physical game.

In RSEQ, UQTR did themselves in by losing to the already-eliminated UQAM. Laval's 8-0 win over Bishop's saw the Rouge et Or through to the RSEQ playoffs. They'll play the Carabins, which won't be easy but stranger things have happened and if Laval can defend well, they might frustrate Montreal--maybe.

In AUS, Dalhousie's lacklustre 1-0 loss to Saint Mary's must have been intentional after all, as they'll now play UNB in the quarter-finals. If the Tigers wanted momentum, they'll more than likely get it. The one pitfall might be a strong home crowd for the Varsity Reds, though that doesn't always mean much in AUS.

The finally-number-ten-ranked Saint Mary's will likely get Dal in the semi-final, which should set up a game to avoid for fans of entertaining soccer this weekend. Switch to the men instead: semi-final Saturday is always crazy, although at least they're calling for sun this year.

If Cape Breton do draw UPEI for the semi-final, at least that game will be good. The Capers beat the Panthers in the final last year, but UPEI are much improved. Two rookie strikers will go at each other in Karolyne Blain and Maria Scichilone. Whoever triumphs gets a shot at the lone AUS spot at nationals in the final.
Each week, our Top Ten Tracker will look at the best teams in the nation and how they're faring as the season goes on. The first official CIS Top 10 doesn't come out until tomorrow, but with non-conference play well under way and some preliminary RPI rankings in hand, it's not too early to start evaluating who's going to be around when the rankings come out.

For those who followed the blog last year, this season's first edition of the RPI might look a little strange. Carleton is at no. 7 even though they're undefeated so far and are coming off a championship year. Regina is 0-2 yet finds itself at no. 5. And Waterloo's in the top 10.

Don't worry about all that. This is too small a sample size for the formula to say much about rankings. Instead, let's take the RPI top-10 and try to assess whether they'll be sticking around when the CIS rankings come out. (As you'll be able to tell, some will and some won't.) We'll also look at some "lower-ranked" teams that will actually be in contention once the season kicks off.

  1. ST. FX X-MEN: Three invitationals, three victories. The X-Men have looked good with their re-tooled roster (out are Christian Upshaw, Charlie Spurr, Alberto Rodriguez and Will Silver, in are, well, a lot of new guys) in winning the UPEI, McGill and St. FX Invitationals. Terry Thomas looks like a classic East coast CIS scorer, Tyrell Vernon has spent a year transforming into a legitimate point guard and Jeremy Dunn (6'5", 240) just looks scary in the paint.

    The X-Men are also quickly becoming the mix 'n' match recruiting team of the CIS. They've sniped four former Ontario guys and have players from Sudan (Riiny Ngot), Australia (Shaen Coupland) and the Dominican Republic (Rodrigo Madera) — [insert Spurs/Raptors comparison here]. If they don't live up to preseason expectations, at least they'll ace their first-year geography midterms.

    THE VERDICT: They probably won't hang on to no. 1, but they'll be around in the top-10 all year.

  2. LAKEHEAD THUNDERWOLVES: Apparently the Great Group of Dudes (GGODs from now on, so pay attention) are 6-0, not that you'd know from their site (they also apparently have the world's biggest 11-year old on their roster). Lakehead's big graduation loss from last year, Jamie Searle, was crucial in organizing their offence and keeping it from looking like a really good pickup game. Still, they've got some explosive pieces coming back from their historic OUA Championship team and should have enough talent to stick around.

    Ryan Thompson, the big man with unlimited range (I've seen it: he grew up on my street and was known as that dude who was always knocking down jumpers from the middle of the road), looks to be off to a good start, scoring 32 in a win over Regina. In addition to Thomson, Lakehead just has a bunch of guys (sorry - Dudes) that are tough to match up with — Yoosrie Salhia is an undersized but really strong rebounder, Greg Carter is the smallest guy on the court yet usually the best defender and Venzal Russell has that weird, unguardable combination of size and speed.

    THE VERDICT: The top-10 won't be a strange place to the GGODs this year. They'll be around.

  3. WINNIPEG WESMEN: Note: for the Canada West teams, I'd refer you to friend of the blog Wayne Thomas, who knows approximately 1,372 times more about these teams than I do.

    Here's where we start to get a little tricky with the RPI. A .500 record against CIS opponents (though 3-5 overall) with the fourth-toughest schedule so far is enough to keep them afloat, but they'll have to pull off some sort of miracle to stay anywhere near the top-3, let alone the top-10.

    That's not to say the Wesmen aren't on the rise — a repeat of last year's 6-18 record would certainly be disappointing — but there are too many good teams in the Canada West to make it easy to leapfrog into this top-10.

    THE VERDICT: Probably not a top-10 team this year.

  4. SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES: The Huskies, like the rest of their Canada West counterparts, aren't without their question marks this year, with Jamelle Barrett nursing a minor knee injury and his partner in scoring-a-lot-of-friggin'-points-crime Rejean Chabot gone to graduation. However, a healthy Barrett and the addition former Wesman Peter Lomuro should mean another contending season for the Huskies.

    Between big guys Michael Lieffers, Nolan Brudehl and Chris Unsworth, the Huskies have perhaps the most versatile frontcourt in the conference, with equal parts long, quick, strong and good at basketball. Depth is a question mark, but if they can get anything from some of their youngsters, Saskatchewan should be a force to be reckoned with once again.

    THE VERDICT: These dogs aren't going anywhere. Woof!

  5. REGINA COUGARS: They're 0-2 (not counting wins over Obscure State College and some dudes from Medicine Hat) you say! How are they in the top-10?

    The answer: I'm not really sure. Rob can handle this one...

    [Short answer: not enough games played to have an accurate ranking. Long answer: Since one component of the RPI is opponents' winning percentage, and Regina's opponents haven't lost a game yet, the Cougars have an artificially high strength of schedule. They've played only Lakehead (twice), and as mentioned the GGODs are 6-0. Having opponents who are technically undefeated raises Regina's RPI by quite a lot. —RP]

    Regina's Paul Gareau is a force to be reckoned with and a very, very good big man. But with a high turnover of experienced players and an influx of rookies, contending probably isn't in the cards for the Cougars this year. It's a bit troubling when one of your lead recruits is described as "surprisingly agile."

    THE VERDICT: Nope.

  6. UPEI PANTHERS: 7-13 last year and with a new coach? It might be doable for a new bench boss to contend with a boatload of talent, but there's still a long way to go on the UPEI road to contention. Manock Lual is an interesting player and there are a few veteran pieces around him, but the Panthers aren't on the same level as the contending AUS teams.

    THE VERDICT: Top-10 dreams are likely out to sea.

  7. CARLETON RAVENS: In case you were wondering, Carleton's 31st-ranked SOS is what got them all the way down to 7th place.

    (Keep in mind that the Ravens haven't had Tyson Hinz, Phil Scrubb and Cole Hobin for much of the fall, as they've been busy playing for some other red-and-white team.)

    The question for Carleton this year is whether they'll lose a game at all. Last year's exceptionally young championship core is back, led by Player of the Year Hinz and Scrubb. They've also added local standout Justin Shaver to the mix — another guy that teams will have to double in the paint, leaving the Carletons to rain triples.

    Who knows — maybe another group of dudes (heck, if it's anyone, it probably will be the actual GGODs) can come along and upset Carleton again. But with their core returning and a championship to defend, it's not going to be pretty for the rest of the CIS against the Ravens this year.

    THE VERDICT: Yeah, I think they'll get a vote or two.

  8. WATERLOO WARRIORS: We know Cam McIntyre is going to score a lot of points, but is it going to transfer into wins for the Warriors? For a program that's experienced a ton of turnover in graduating players over the past two years, that's a tough ask.

    The 'years experience' on Waterloo's roster reads like a binary code and though they've got some pieces in place (McIntyre and Wayne Bridge can score), this team isn't likely to fight its way out of the parity-filled OUA West. That's too bad, because McIntyre's final year is likely to be a spectacular one.

    THE VERDICT: Probably not a top-10 team this year.

  9. ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS: This is a big year for the Golden Bears program. It's not every year you get to pair a versatile, dynamic forward and a lights-out shooting guard together with a ton of depth to boot, but that's exactly what Alberta has.

    Jordan Baker and Daniel Ferguson are arguably both top-10 CIS talents, both with different yet complementary skill sets. Baker is a double-double machine and a good shooter while Ferguson can simply fill up the basket. Last year, Baker really came into his own and was also a member of Canada's Pan-Am squad last month, while Ferguson showed he's a real threat in the CIS game, averaging over 23 points per contest in '10-11.

    They've got seniors, size, depth and two awesome players. With some of the other Canada West powers dealing with their own question marks, this is a 'golden' opportunity for Alberta.

    THE VERDICT: They might not be no. 1 contenders, but they'll certainly occupy a top-10 spot for much of the year.

  10. LAURENTIAN VOYAGEURS: Does this one seem out of place? It might not be. Laurentian has quietly developed a nice roster of diverse talent that could surprise some people this year.

    Firstly, the Pasquale brothers (Manny and Isiah) are true basketball players — they shoot it well, play hard on defence, pass the play, play the game the right way, etc., etc., etc. The point is, they're going to have nights where the Voyageurs out-execute other teams on offence because of these guys. Throw in a very solid jump-shooting big man in Mike Hull and your average freak athlete in Tychon Carter-Newman and you've got some very tough matchups across the lineup.

    THE VERDICT: Top-10 might be a bit of a stretch, but if this team goes on a run and gains some momentum it's not ridiculous.

Once again, given the small sample size, we should point out the above is by no means a definitive list of contenders. There are a few teams outside the RPI top-10 that are likely to be mainstays in the coaches' vote and perhaps even feature prominently at the 2012 Final 8. Here's a look at what those teams will need to do to get on the list.

11. UFV Cascades: Good returning group could make for a breakthrough season.

12. Concordia Stingers: They have Kyle Desmarais and it's the QUBL. They'll win.

14. UBC Thunderbirds: With Josh Whyte, Brent Malish and Alex Murphy gone, they have questions to answer. Still have lots of talent but depth is a big concern.

16. Toronto Varsity Blues: Could feast on lesser OUA East foes for wins.

17. Laurier Golden Hawks: Have had an up-and-down preseason, but have tons of talent and good depth.

20. Ottawa Gee-Gees: Can Warren Ward lead them into the top-10?

21. Calgary Dinos: Will need the badly injured Boris Bakovic to return to have a chance, and it seems that won't happen.

26. McMaster Marauders: They have a great rookie class. Is success in their first year do-able?

NR. Trinity Western Spartans: It's tough to predict how a team will do when it just imports senior transfers every year (and when they haven't played CIS competition at all so far this year). My guess is they'll be pretty good though.
This week in AUS men’s hockey saw the No. 1 ranked Varsity Reds remain undefeated, les Aigles Bleus flying high, a surprisingly tough week for the X-Men, a not-so-great weekend for the Axemen, pretty good week for the Huskies, good weekend at home for the Panthers, terrible weekend for the Tigers, and the first win for coach Troy Ryan and the Tommies. Thanks to that STU win on Saturday it was the first night in a long time that the former MacAdam Division teams (UNB, UdeM, STU, UPEI) were all victorious against their former Kelly Division rivals (SMU, StFX, Acadia, Dal).

Fly like an eagle. Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.

The last time Moncton looked this good was in 2006, when they were also 5-1 in their first six games. Game 7 that season and this year will be against their arch-nemeses UNB. Five years ago UdeM lost that one, but then went on a 9-game win streak, finished in first place, won the AUS, and then lost the University Cup, at home, in overtime, to yes, UNB. Quite the year.

This season UdeM was hammered in their first game by Acadia, but have been solid ever since. They’ve also been fun to watch, often playing old-school fire wagon hockey. Three Aigles Bleus lead the early AUS scoring race – Christian Gaudet, Marc-Andre Cote and captain Dean Ouellet (who is tied with Acadia’s Andrew Clark in 3rd place). Gaudet is showing so far that he’s been worth the wait with 12 points in 6 games played. UdeM went hard after him out of Junior (the Memramcook native played for the Q’s Moncton Wildcats) but he decided to play a couple years of minor pro before coming back to Moncton and red-shirting last season while attending school.

Friday – UdeM 4 @ StFX 2
Saturday – UdeM 3 @ SMU 2

Who is out and why is the question at UNB

Just before game time Friday we discovered that UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall would not be behind the bench, as the conference had suspended him two games for the verbal altercation between the bench and SMU defenceman Justin Wallingford on October 15 in Fredericton, for which Wallingford received a game misconduct and was sent to the locker room before the customary on-ice handshakes. He was out SMU’s next game against UPEI. The AUS had apparently made the decision this week that MacDougall would also receive two games, so someone must have filed an appeal or sent in video (Saint Mary’s?). Not a word was communicated to anyone in the media by the AUS about the incident or the decision. You can understand UNB not wanting about to make a big deal about it and keep it quiet, but that’s why the league has to keep everyone informed about what is going on in the back rooms.

I can’t speak to what heated words were exchanged between the UNB bench and Wallingford at the end of the game, but we were broadcasting the game and witnessed some of which drew the V-Reds ire. At 3:45 of the third period the 6’7” defenceman drove UNB’s Dion Campbell dangerously into the boards from behind and the closest referee signalled a penalty. This was followed by a scrum as Campbell’s teammates tried to get at Wallingford and the SMU players stuck up for him. Normal after the whistle stuff. UNB’s bench was soon livid when they discovered that Wallingford was only called for cross-checking and one of their players was given the only minor penalty in the scrum, nullifying the power play. At 9:18 SMU crashed the UNB net and got their only goal of the game. Nine seconds later V-Reds goalie Travis Fullerton was called for slashing after the Huskies came hard to the net again and Fullerton took exception. A player from each team was called for roughing after the whistle at 11:24 and SMU’s Stephen Johnston for boarding at 14:08. So yes, a feisty period. Fast forward to the end of the game and for some reason UNB captain Kyle Bailey slashed Johnston on the legs as time expired. Wallingford, on the point, saw this and skated forward to have words with Bailey. Another scrum ensues and then the UNB bench starts unloading on Wallingford. I’ve only heard second-hand the words supposedly directed at the Huskies player, and it is not pretty. The UNB coaches, like most, are known for being very protective of their players and it was a rough period. That doesn’t condone opposing coaches taking out that frustration verbally on opposing players. I can only guess that is what led to MacDougall’s suspension, because as I said, nothing has been made public.

Back to the past weekend on the ice, UNB welcomed back star forward Chris Culligan on Friday. Culligan has missed the start of the conference games with an undisclosed injury. He had an assist on Friday and a big 4-points on Saturday. The V-Reds lost d-man Ben Shutron late in the second period when he took exception to a cross-check across the side of his head from Acadia rookie Nicholas Chouinard. After a few shoves Shutron dropped the glove and started throwing at Chouinard, who went down quickly and may not even got his gloves off. The both got fighting majors and Shutron the additional instigator minor. UNB’s vaunted depth came into play Saturday, as defenceman Josh Kidd took Shutron’s place in the lineup. It was Kidd’s first game since the preseason, also coming off an undisclosed injury. UNB’s new goalie Dan LaCosta has not played since that controversial SMU game when he took himself out after two periods due to a groin issue, so UNB has been dressing former high school and Junior B goalie Mike MacLean as backup.

Friday – Acadia 0 @ UNB 3
Saturday – Dal 1 @ UNB 10

Shortstaffed Tigers now struggling

Not a great weekend for Dalhousie. Friday night they were outshot 47-22 by UPEI. Already missing several players due to injuries and academic burdens, including top goalie Bobby Nadeau, they lost 1st line forward Pierre-Alexandre Vandall to injury in the game. All star defenceman David MacDonald, who transferred from Saint Mary’s and averages over 30 minutes a game, was called for fighting in the third period in what coach Pete Belliveau describes as “a bogus call, roughing at worst.”

Saturday night they arrived in Fredericton with nine regulars out of the lineup against the top team in the country. They did score the first goal, but UNB dominated territorial play and replied with ten of their own. The only positive for Belliveau was that they held UNB to 36 shots, as he was expecting “50-60 shots”.

Friday – Dal 2 @ UPEI 6
Saturday – Dal 1 @ UNB 10

Tommies finally have a win to show for their hard work

The previous weekend Saint Thomas came back late to tie games, but couldn’t get a win. Friday they had an early two-goal lead on the Huskies, but SMU scored three times in the last half of the first period. STU tied it in the second, but less than two minutes later Lucas Bloodfoff scored what stood as the winner. They were outshot 37-23 in the loss.

Saturday went better in Antigonish. Tied 2-2 after first period. 3-3 after two. X gets a power play goal to take the lead, but the Tommies reply with two goals and an empty netter for the big win. Hero of the weekend is Randy Cameron who scored four goals to get STU’s, and new coach Troy Ryan’s, first win.

Friday – STU 3 @ SMU 4
Saturday – STU 6 @ StFX 4

Are the X-Men still suffering from a Nationals hangover?

Not a good week for the X-Men. They were outplayed Wednesday by Saint Mary’s. Friday they outshot Moncton 38-25 but never had the lead. Saturday they outshot STU 31-22 and lost. All-star goalie Joey Perricone, their most valuable player last season, is looking very mortal and very average right now.

Wednesday – StFX 3 @ SMU 5
Friday – UdeM 4 @ StFX 2
Saturday – STU 6 @ StFX 4

The Huskies look like they're really missing Hotham and MacDonald

For years Saint Mary’s has had one of the best power plays in the AUS. This season, and it is early yet, they have the worst PP in the AUS – even worse than UNB. The V-Reds picked up 2 power play goals in the second period Saturday, so they’re now 3-for-30 or 10%. The Huskies? 3-for-39 or 7.7%. Last season defenceman Andrew Hotham led the team in points with 37, and he scored 7 goals quarterbacking the power play. His defensive partner David MacDonald had 21 points and 3 goals on the PP. They each logged over 30 minutes a game and now they’re both gone, with MacDonald a few blocks away at Dalhousie. Recruits Jamie Doornbosch and Michael D’Orazio have been called upon to try to fill those minutes with injuries to several of the Huskies remaining veteran d-men and are still learning the way through the league.

The Huskies played a simple but effective game against StFX on Wednesday and earned the win. Friday they outshot STU by a healthy margin but were forced to come back in the second period for the win. Saturday they outshot Moncton by a healthy margin but lost. The SMU power play those 3 games? A combined 2-for-17.

Wednesday – StFX 3 @ SMU 5
Friday – STU 3 @ SMU 4
Saturday – UdeM 3 @ SMU 2

Panthers are still streaky

After dropping their previous three games, UPEI won both home games on the weekend. In a penalty-filled game Friday they went 3-for-7 on the PP and outshot Dal 47-22. Saturday they scored four straight goals and held off a furious Acadia pushback to hang on for the win. It was another good night for the Panthers power play that went 3-for-4. Rookie goalie Mavric Parks has now won his last two starts.

Friday – Dal 2 @ UPEI 6
Saturday – Acadia 3 @ UPEI 5

Acadia now finding the games tougher

The Axemen had a great start to the season, but they are now moving into the part of the schedule where they face opponents from the top half of last season’s standings. Friday in Fredericton they held the high-flying V-Reds to 26 shots, but couldn’t score on Travis Fullerton, and didn’t create a ton of chances. Saturday they got down early to the Panthers and dug themselves too deep a hole to get out of. Acadia’s returning top three point guys from last season – Andrew Clark, Jonathan Laberge and Jacob Dietrich – did not score on the weekend and Dietrich was out Saturday.

Friday – Acadia 0 @ UNB 3
Saturday – Acadia 3 @ UPEI 5
The final power rankings of the regular season see UBC and Windsor each jump more than two spots after beating an undefeated team and winning a road playoff game, respectively. Ottawa and Saskatchewan drop out of the top 10.

Teams in red have been eliminated from playoff contention.

As each CIS football team is officially eliminated from playoff contention, we'll reflect on what they did this year and compare their results to our expectations.

Up next: the Jekyll-and-Hyde Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Record: 5-4 (5-3 regular season, lost OUA quarter-final 50-33 to Windsor Lancers)
RPI: 11th
Per-game stats (including playoffs):
Points for: 30.9
Points against: 27.7
Passing yards: 275.7
Rushing yards: 189.6
Passing yards against: 296.8
Rushing yards against: 120.0

Looking back at our preview questions:

Q: Who becomes the new quarterback to replace Hec Crighton-winning Brad Sinopoli, Aaron Colbon or one of four newcomers?

A: Colbon, a fourth-year player from Sir Wilfrid Laurier in Orleans, Ont., became The Man ... or, The Man Who Could Not Make People Forget Brad Sinopoli. That's a terrible label since it is (a) a mouthful to say and (b) no one could replace Brad Sinopoli.

Gee-Gees followers, going back to the late 1990s, have been spoiled by success at quarterback. The line of succession includes two Hec Crighton winners (Sinopoli in 2010 and Phil Côté in 1999), a five-year starter who threw for nearly 10,000 yards (Josh Sacobie) and a dual threat who became a wide receiver in the CFL (David Azzi). At many other programs, Colbon's first year as a starter would rate very well. He was one of OUA's three 2,000-yard passers and his 8.2 yards per attempt was seventh in the country among QBs with at least 150 pass attempts.

The downside is that the counting stats obscured the obvious. Colbon piled up a lot of his 2,052 yards when the Gee-Gees were playing catch-up in road losses at Western, Laurier and McMaster. There were also times when he seemed to be a beat or two late getting the ball out or failed to notice a wide-open receiver downfield. Ottawa also averaged more than one interception per game. In fairness, there were so many cast members to keep track of the receiving corps to track that it almost seemed like a Robert Altman movie, which doesn't sound ideal for any quarterback. Ultimately, Colbon proved himself to be a good game manager. That is enough vs. OUA's lesser lights, but not enough in the arms race against your Austin Kennedys and Kyle Quinlans.

Q: Will the ground game of hometown tailback Brendan Gillanders and returning Franck Ngandui and a retooled defence tide them over until the passing game takes wing?

A: Yay to Gillanders and Ngandui, nay to the defence, which fell apart like Tony La Russa's explanations of his pitching changes in Game 5 of the World Series. Gillanders, aka the 100-Yard Slasher, was well-suited to the Gee-Gees' zone blocking schemes that ask a back to be an aggressive inside runner, but be patient on the outside stretch play before his blockers set up the 'rail' that gives him a path to dart through. Gillanders finished seventh in rushing in CIS with 767 yards, averaging 5.8 per carry. He also finished second in OUA in yards from scrimmage with 974 and tallied a team-high nine touchdowns. Ngandui was a pretty capable change-up back, too.

The defence, though, couldn't hold up. What no one knew in August was that the bills were about to come due, in a matter of speaking, for coach Denis Piché's departure in February 2010. Piché, who guided the Gee-Gees to a Yates Cup in '06, left at the peak of recruiting season, meaning Ottawa basically lost a class. The talent, as a result, was just not there this season. No amount of creating defensive scheming can remedy that shortcoming. Gee-Gees defensive coordinator Cory McDiarmid used a lot of creative, shifting fronts and tried applying max pressure, often to little avail.

Q: Are there sufficient replacements ready to step in and replace the five fifth-year seniors who graduated on both offence and defence?

A: 'Perhaps in time' is the most constructive answer. There were bright spots among the new starters. First and foremost, slotback Simon Le Marquand (867 yards, 15.2 per catch) should be an all-Canadian. The other slot, Bogdan Raic (497 yards, 19.8 per catch), also emerged as a very good complement. Other new pass receivers such as rookie Ian Stewart and Justene Edwards, who did not play until Ottawa's penultimate game, showed they were pretty talented. Young O-linemen such as Devon Millar, Taylor Servais and Adam Valchuk were more than serviceable.

Defensively, though, the Gee-Gees proved wanting. Their stock in trade over the years, sideline-to-sideline closing speed, frankly was not there. Their secondary, which had four first-time starters by season's end with halfback Chris Daly as the lone holdover, got burned repeatedly. They just didn't have enough giddyup and teams exploited it with crossing and seam routes. Ottawa allowed 40-plus points four times and gave up seven 100-yard receiving games, including 201 to Laurier's Shamawd Chambers on Oct. 1 and 198 to Windsor's Jordan Brescacin in the playoff game.

A better question is why was this not so obvious at the outset? Success and star power tend to make outsiders' eyes less prying. Ottawa had gone 6-2 or better in five of the six previous seasons and reached the Yates Cup the one fall it went 4-4. Perhaps we took them for granted. In hindsight, perhaps Sinopoli was the rising tide that raises all boats in 2010. The current Calgary Stampeders rookie QB authored fourth-quarter comebacks to beat Laurier, McMaster, Queen's and Western. All of those games were within a two-hour drive of the uOttawa campus, which surely helped the Gee-Gees' cause.

This fall, Ottawa started great by dusting Guelph and Queen's by a combined 54-14 score. The Gryphons, though, were a hot mess for much of the season and Queen's had no offensive identity whatsoever during the first two weeks. That early success was a vapour.

Q: Will they ever get a fair shake with the plethora of penalty flags?

A: This was a tongue-in-cheek question, in the same vein as Monty Burns wondering, "Oh, Ziggy, will you ever win?" Ottawa was the fourth-most penalized OUA team at 109.1 yards per game. McMaster was the country's most penalized team and they're a Top 5 team. Marauders, indeed.
With the top team in the conference the Manitoba Bisons enjoying a bye weekend, there was some space for some other schools to step up and make a move up the standings this weekend, with the #5 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies and the #10 Calgary Dinos the biggest movers.

Huskies take top spot

Saskatchewan headed into Clare Drake Arena looking to show that they in fact were the best team in the conference and not Manitoba — the Huskies after all would've went into the weekend in first if it weren't for the Zamboni incident earlier this season. By earning a trio of points against Alberta, the Huskies proved they're every bit as good as Manitoba.

Head coach Dave Adolph talked about Saskatchewan's fast start being a byproduct of a relatively easy schedule to start, but with wins on the road against the Bears his team proved those earlier results weren't simply a result of playing non-playoff teams from a year ago.

Friday - Saskatchewan 5 Alberta 4 (SO)
Saturday - Saskatchewan 1 Alberta 2 (2OT)

Calgary looks how they should

After a sweep of Alberta last weekend and the same result against Lethbridge, Calgary head coach Mark Howell has his team moving in the right direction.

The Dinos earned convincing wins this weekend, including Friday night when they scored three powerplay goals and outshot the Pronghorns 36-12. Two wins is the sort of weekend you expect from Calgary against Lethbridge and signals that this team has put behind them their slow start to the season.

Friday - Lethbridge 1 at Calgary 5
Saturday - Calgary 4 at Lethbridge

Strueby stepping up

Regina needed Matt Strueby, a former 30 goal scorer in the WHL, to step up this season offensively after an underwhelming rookie campaign, and he's delievered.

The former Pat sits tied for fifth in conference scoring with eight points (4 goals and 4 assists) after a two goal performance on Friday night in a 5-1 win for the Cougars, before adding an assist Saturday night.

That production is welcome news for Regina after Strueby had only nine points last season as a rookie.

Friday - UBC 1 at Regina 5
Saturday - UBC 3 at Regina 2 (OT)

Powerplay the difference

With a powerplay that's clicking at 13.3% through eight games it's no wonder the Golden Bears are off to a somewhat slow start. All four of the team's losses have come by a single goal, and it's been the powerplay that's been holding them back from making the difference in those games.

Alberta has outshot the opposition in all four of those one goal losses — except for the Bears 2-1 loss Oct. 22 against Calgary in which the two teams had 19 shots a piece — but went a combined 4-for-27 on the PP in the losses.

If this team can get their powerplay rolling at something closer to 20%, they'll be much closer to where people expected them to be at the start of the season.

Friday - Saskatchewan 5 Alberta 4 (SO)
Saturday - Saskatchewan 1 Alberta 2 (2OT)

Midterm exam for T-Birds upcoming

UBC picked up a split against Regina this weekend on the road and returns home this week for their second home series of the season against Calgary — already. The quirky scheduling provides an interesting litmus test for this UBC team. The Dinos come into the weekend hot, while UBC has been consistent this season splitting every weekend series.

If the T-Birds can earn a win like they did during their opening weekend it will tell us a lot about both teams. More in fact than the first meetings between Calgary and UBC did.

Friday - UBC 1 at Regina 5
Saturday - UBC 3 at Regina 2 (OT)

Slow starters again

The Pronghorns are off to yet another slow start this season, thanks in large part to their struggles at home. Lethbridge is the worst team at home so far this season at 1-3-0 (closer to 1-4-0...Zamboni) and lost again this weekend at home to Calgary.

Nicholas Sheran Arena in Lethbridge hasn't been kind so far to the 'Horns, and they'll need to change that right away if they want to salvage another slow first half of the season. They'll get an opportunity to do that this weekend in a rare Saturday-Sunday series against Alberta.

Friday - Lethbridge 1 at Calgary 5
Saturday - Calgary 4 at Lethbridge 1
In the final weekend of regular season in Canada West there was something on the line in every game, but no game was bigger than the matchup between the Regina Rams and Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg where a win meant a trip to the postseason.

Here's our final weekly look at the Canada West regular season, with the playoffs kicking off next weekend.

Regina 31
Manitoba 22

Fifth-year veteran Adrian Charles led the way for Regina, rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown, and in the process accounted for a little more than 40% of the Rams total offence. Regina led from the get-go, building up a 15-0 lead early into the second quarter, and despite a 17 point second quarter from Manitoba, the Rams headed into the half with a 22-17 lead.

Things settled in during the second half, with Regina's Chris Bodnar booting a trio of field goals in the third quarter to make it 31-17 by the end of the quarter. Manitoba mustered only a pair of safetys and a rouge in the fourth quarter, with the offence unable to punch the home side a postseason ticket.

With the win, Regina earned a playoff date with the first place Calgary Dinos, while Manitoba's season is now over. The victory capped off a regular season from the Rams in which they were able to overcome the loss of Marc Mueller, and piece together a 3-2 stretch with Zach Oleynik as the starting QB to make it to the playoffs.

#1 Calgary 23
#7 UBC 36

With a home playoff spot on the line, the UBC Thunderbirds were able to take care of business at home Saturday, downing the lone undefeated team left in the nation the Calgary Dinos thanks to QB Billy Greene.

Greene had 421 yards passing through the air, and four TDs — without an interception — to lift his team to victory and in the process earned UBC a second place finish and a home playoff date with the Saskatchewan Huskies. The veteran QB also led UBC in rushing with 60 yards on the ground, including a 38-yard romp. If there was any doubt heading into the weekend if he would be the conference MVP, which there really wasn't, this game cemented Greene's status as the best player in the conference.

UBC plays host to Saskatchewan this coming weekend, while Calgary returns home after their first defeat of the season to prepare for Regina.

#10 Saskatchewan 67
Alberta 3

While Calgary was unable to go 8-0, Alberta couldn't avoid going 0-8 for the first time in program history, going winless (in a season with multiple games) for the first time since 1936 when they went 0-5.

The loss was the biggest in program history for the Bears, with Saskatchewan's QB Trent Peterson leading the way for the Huskies who were in search of a win to give themselves any hope of hosting a conference semi-final game. Peterson went 19-for-25 for 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while the running game used seven different players to rack up 304 yards in the win for Saskatchewan.

The Huskies, whose 67 points were the most scored in school history and tied for third most in Canada West history, head to Vancouver to take on UBC this weekend in the first playoff game hosted by UBC since 1999.
This is a love-hate week for the CIS Pick’Em Crew – OUA playoffs kick off and the rest of the nation are putting together their final week. It gives the CIS sports world a mixture of meaningless contests or win-and-go-home games. It also can provide for some interesting top-10 movement should a ranked OUA team get knocked out in its first playoff game and an unranked Canada West, AUS or RSEQ team pull out a big win to make the top-10.

Regardless – we’re just about to enter the nitty gritty of the football season so here’s this week's skinny:

Mount Allison @ Saint Mary's (-31) – Oct. 29; 2pm (ADT)

The Huskies have beat Mount A twice this season: 54–14, and 60–6. When you face off against a conference team several times a season, you would think that those margins would be a little thinner… With that said, the Mounties showed some life, almost winning a 42–41 shootout. Regardless if the opponent is a Husky or a walk-on with the Little Giants, this Mounties team can be effective down the field if they can give QB Jake Hotchkiss a second or more to adjust to the pressure and pass. Unfortunately, as they have proven all season, they can be shut down offensively and trail in a game fairly quickly. If the Mounties want a chance, they’ll need to play the game of their lives.

We don’t think the 31-point favourites should cover, even though Saint Mary’s has the gift of a home game. It is the playoffs after all, and the pressure on Saint Mary’s is sky high as always. But, they should have a comfortable lead come halftime—possibly leading to the genius move on sitting starters for the following game against the X-Men.

King’s Pick: Saint Mary’s 42–16

Windsor @ Ottawa (-6.5) – Oct. 29; 1pm (EDT)

Who learned more from the thriller they played two weeks ago? Ottawa escaped with a 32-30 victory on a final-play field goal to earn home field for the quarter-final. The Lancers are exuding upset potential, since they have a more explosive passing game and the better (if younger) quarterback, in Austin Kennedy.

The rub is Windsor played a very good road game on Oct. 15; they won the turnover battle (3-1), moved the ball through the air and had some big strikes on offence with Evan Pszczonak's 40- and 77-yard touchdown catches. It still wasn’t enough. Their first two touchdowns came on fortuitous breaks and the Gee-Gees gift-wrapped a 14-0 lead for Windsor with a poor decision to run a deep kickoff out of the end zone only to get tackled at the one-yard line. This doesn’t mention a wild shotgun snap that was recovered in the end zone for a TD and an unnecessary roughness penalty that turned a second-down sack into first-and-goal to set up the second Lancers score.

The weather could be a lot worse this time and Brendan Gillanders' rushing and receiving (230 yards last time) can help the Gee-Gees establish a tone and a tempo. Ottawa does need a receiver beyond Simon Le Marquand to step up, since he had nearly half their aerial yards last week. Windsor likely will stay in the game for three quarters, but Ottawa might wear them down by the late stages.

Sager's Pick: Gee-Gees 24-17.

Sherbrooke @ Montreal (-5.5)– Oct. 29; 1pm (EDT)

Montreal was dealt a blow this week because it looks like leading sacker Jonathan Pierre-Etienne will be suspended for this game for a cut block on Concordia QB Reid Quest after an interception. That will give more time for Jeremi Doyon-Roch in the pocket and with Sherbrooke's receiving corps, which could spell trouble. Sherbrooke's defence and special teams dominated last time these two teams met and with 2nd place on the line, expect both teams to come out firing. This game will be close, low scoring and really fun to watch. These teams will faceoff next week as well, and this game decides home field advantage. Last time these two teams faced off, it was a 2 minute span in the third quarter that decided things. This time, it may be even less.

Book’s Pick: Sherbrooke 15-14

Laurier @ Queen’s (-12.5) Oct. 29, 1pm (EDT)

I’ve held a cone of silence around the Gaels since I departed Queen’s in September, but since I’ve left they have gone 6-1 with an impressive six-game winning streak. Maybe you can blame a Sports Information Director as the reason your season went down the tubes in 2010...

Laurier’s season has been like a yo-yo and Queen’s has been rock-solid since they thumped the Golden Hawks at Richardson on Sept. 17 (58-35 – and the Hawks were lucky to get 35). The real question isn’t on the Gaels' side. They have everything going for them. They’re on a roll with the offence clicking and the defence coming off a shutout (first time that a Mustang squad has been shut down in almost 40 years – impressive regardless of the circumstances). The field is also “bleh” as one Queen’s employee put it – so this should favour the nation’s leading rusher in Ryan Granberg who has proven he can run in the muck.

No... the real question sits with Laurier and what team will show up? Will it be the team that put up three lopsided victories this season? Or will it be the team that just couldn’t muster any type of offence against McMaster in Week 7 and narrowly eliminated Guelph from the playoffs in Week 8? Remember this team does have a Top-5 nationally ranked offence so the ability is there… but what team shows up?

My bet is that Laurier WR Mark Surya (and SID Jamie Howieson) chose the wrong golden school and will end up watching former teammates and colleagues compete next week against McMaster.

Grobe’s Pick: Queen’s 42-12

Saskatchewan @ Alberta (+19) – Oct. 29; 1pm (MDT)

One game to go and the Alberta Golden Bears are looking to break free from their stay among CIS football's winless squads this season. The Bears go up against a Saskatchewan team with an opportunity to finish second and secure a home playoff date with a win and UBC loss, so the Huskies still have something to play for in this one. Alberta got whooped in their only other game against Saskatchewan this season 38-7 in both teams' opening game. This one won't be quite as lopsided, but the outcome will be the same.

Daum’s Pick: Saskatchewan 31-17

Calgary @ UBC (+13) – Oct. 29; 2pm (PDT)

This is a huge game that will be handled very differently by both squads. Sure, if Calgary wins they go undefeated on the season, but either way they've locked up first place. If UBC wins they are guaranteed to host a semi-final game, a huge end to this turnaround season. And since they would likely host the Huskies, who beat them narrowly in Saskatoon earlier in the season, it's something they definitely want to achieve.

The Dinos have said they will follow Western's lead and rest players (they are nowhere near the injury concerns of the Mustangs but they don't want to risk it either). If the Dinos do rest starters - even just in the second half - that would give the T-Birds more than enough time to get within two scores. Can UBC win though...? It's a strong Calgary D, but then again Billy Greene is one of the greatest threats across the CIS right now. And the last time they played it was only a five-point win for the Dinos. It will be a close game but against Calgary's B team, at home, with the second seed up for grabs, the T-Birds pull it off.

Radoslav's Pick: UBC 31-27

As each CIS football team is officially eliminated from playoff contention, we'll reflect on what they did this year and compare their results to our expectations.

Up next: the talented, but unlucky, Guelph Gryphons.

Record: 2-6
RPI: 19th
Per-game stats:
Points for: 26.1
Points against: 30.8
Passing yards: 268.5
Rushing yards: 111.0
Passing yards against: 213.9
Rushing yards against: 173.6

Looking back at our preview questions:

Q: CAN Stu Lang lead the Gryphons against the OUA’s most talented rosters and coaching staffs in his second season?

A: It certainly wasn’t what Lang had intended. What was labeled a very talented bunch, the Gryphons finished the season losing five of the last six games.

The game that stung the most was the last game against the Laurier Golden Hawks. With a playoff game at stake for the Hawks, the Gryphons probably played their best game of the season, passing for 343 yards. Despite the offensive and defensive efficiency, they did not convert all that much. It was a sad sight, as someone who closely observed their games this season.

That was the narrative of the Gryphons this season, and they will be doing some soul-searching in the winter. They may have just had bad timing, as teams like Windsor and McMaster outperformed their expectations. But, this team should be back next season, with experience in hand.

Q: WHAT will the defence be like without long time stalwarts Adam Dunk and Matt Rossetti anchoring the linebacking corps?

A: The stats say it all: their pass D was pretty stout, but their run defense, where it seemed to count in the OUA this season, let them down. The real narrative is that it was a defense that tried to give their offense a chance at the end of games, and for the most part it did that. Unfortunately, the offense simply didn’t have enough. In their six losses, the team scored 16 points per game. Each of their losses were double-digit margins except for their loss against Laurier.

Did they look good? Not on paper. Despite their D being in the middle of the pack statistically, they were a close knit group that clocked a lot of playing time. With the nation’s second-most tackles recorded, this squad did what they could under the circumstances. With rest, they could have been as effective as most in the conference.

Whatever they have to do to pick themselves up on D, whether an adjustment with personnel or scheme, they will have a long winter to mull their chances.

WILL Chris Rossetti join the ranks of elite OUA Quarterbacks this season after flying under the radar in his debut as a starter?

A: Rosetti was a hit or miss project this season.

When he was good, he was tremendous, but he was a car wreck in his losses. When he won in that September game against Waterloo, Rosetti had four passing touchdowns and completed 68.8 per cent of his passes. In his losses, he wasn’t spectacular.

As indicated above, the defense gave him chances to execute, and he was simply ineffective in the backfield. Now, offensive production may be connected to offensive line productivity—Rosetti was sacked 12 times this season—but at crucial points in games, one should expect their leadership to step up.

For the most part, it did seem like Rosetti was trying to execute out there. In spite of passing for 53.7 per cent of his passes, Rosetti was the guy Stu Lang looked to push this team. Rosetti should have another chance to bring this team along next season.
As each CIS football team is officially eliminated from playoff contention, we'll reflect on what they did this year and compare their results to our expectations.

Up next: Toronto, who saw their playoff chances evaporate with a four-game losing streak in October.

Record: 3-5
RPI: 18th
Per-game stats:
Points for: 13.8
Points against: 23.6
Passing yards: 225.6
Rushing yards: 110.0
Passing yards against: 190.0
Rushing yards against: 156.75

Looking back at our preview questions:

Q: HOW will the Blues show that their [2010] win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees was not a fluke?

A: There are two ways to answer this question. On one hand, some would interpret this question literally: how would the Blues would fare in the very next match against the Gee-Gees? Under that interpretation, they failed miserably. Losing 41-0, the Blues allowed 27 points in the first half alone, and were intercepted four times—amongst a comedy of bad stats. The loss set in motion a four-game losing streak that the Blues couldn’t recover from.

On the other hand, some would interpret this question as how the team performed as a whole this season. Even though they officially matched last season’s win total, that's a little misleading: 2010's 3-5 record included a forfeit win. They had the second-best defense in the conference, and they were largely competitive in every game but one. The team is getting better despite the loss total. Their season’s results are exactly what we expected.

Q: WHAT challenges lie ahead for new Head Coach Greg Gary?

A: There were a few. For a new coach coming from high school regional football, adjusting to the schedule and the speed of collegiate football is a huge hurdle. He also had to sift his way into the current profile of his team and find his niche with influencing the on-field personnel and scheme. Speaking to Gary in August, he seemed to be confident but humble in the current personnel, and I think he stayed true to that.

On the field, he needed to make sure his team stayed in games. That seemed to be the case. By the way, he won more games in his first season than Greg DeLaval did in his. That's not bad, though he may have had more to work with.

Q: WHO will step up on the defensive side of the football?

A: Several players stepped up big time. DB Dorian Munroe was named OUA Defensive Player of the Week the weekend of October 15. DB Marco Rodrigues was a good physical player this season, and LB Wilkerson DeSouza lead the team in tackles (and sixth in the nation).

This defense was very impressive, that is something the Blues can pride themselves on. They will have to be mindful of their offensive woes this winter, but whatever state they were in last year has far improved.
We'll begin in Ontario this week, where a 3-0 loss to Ottawa on the final day of the season has sent the Varsity Blues into third place and a dangerous playoff situation against Ryerson. They'll remember how that ended last year.

Laurentian enter their playoff against Carleton off of two draws, but with one coming against Queen's, there might be some momentum in play. Carleton got thumped 4-1 by Toronto and then beat Ryerson 3-0.

There's enough disparity in the OUA East that handicapping the teams isn't too difficult. It's hard to see anyone but Queen's and Ottawa advancing past whoever comes out of the playoffs anyway. To put it in perspective, Queen's rolled over teams this year. In the second half of the season, Ottawa were better than Queen's, besting them 21 points to 18 in the final eight games. The Gee-Gees' only loss in that span was 3-2 to the Gaels.

In the OUA West, the playoffs should be good, with Windsor and Waterloo playing close games this year. A Warriors upset just means meeting Laurier in the quarter-finals, which would mute the glory somewhat. McMaster might be the one team who could be picked off in the quarter-finals. The Marauders would have finished sixth in OUA East. On the other hand, they've beaten their most likely partners, Windsor, by a combined 6-0 this year. York or Guelph have both caused them some more problems, so McMaster will be hoping Windsor beats Waterloo on Wednesday.

In Quebec, Laval and UQTR keep mirroring each other's results, so the game to watch will be Friday Oct. 28 when they meet in Laval. Both teams were beaten badly by the Carabins on the weekend, and then lost 1-0 to McGill. Laval hold a slight edge over UQTR in goals differential (mostly because they only lost 4-0, and not 6-1 to Montreal), just in case the two draw on Friday. It's hard to imagine either team beating Montreal in the semi-finals.

Sherbrooke are in a nasty catch-22 for their playoff game against McGill, the CIS hosts. Should the Vert et Or win, only the conference champion would qualify for nationals, meaning they'd have to beat, in all likelihood, Montreal. If the Vert et Or lose, whoever wins the other semi-final automatically qualifies as well--again, probably Montreal.

Victoria scored twice in the last ten minutes to squeak past UFV and keep their playoff hopes alive. Shannon Elder was the hero--she had two starts and one goal coming into the game. The two meet again on Oct. 29 in Victoria. The Cascades have nothing to play for whatsoever, but the Vikes need to win and hope Saskatchewan lose at least once and that Calgary lose once and then win by fewer than six goals (or more, should Victoria win by more). The odds aren't great, but if the Vikes can put two or three past UFV, they'll be pretty safe: Calgary play UBC and Trinity Western.

Alberta are probably safe. The permutations would take even longer to write out than Victoria's. Any point would wrap it up for them, but even two losses should see them stay in third, likely facing UBC in the first round.

In the AUS, it's mostly a battle between Dalhousie and Saint Mary's to see who can finish with the bye. Given Dal have managed to crash out after getting a bye in both 2009 and 2010, they might be forgiven if they played to lose Oct. 25 at Husky Stadium. The two played to a mind-destroying 0-0 draw at Wickwire Field on the weekend, so don't expect too much in the rematch.

With Memorial out of the playoffs officially now, all the teams are safe, though St. FX can leap-frog Cape Breton for the benefit of calling heads or tails on the quarter-final coin flip at UNB. Oh, and maybe choice of bench, too. Their game on Oct. 28 should be a treat, then.
For anyone who saw the spreads for the games this week, and thought about placing a bet, I have to ask: why would you want to risk your hard-earned cash? One last week of university football regular season is never easily predictable if you are a casual observer but loose with the wallet. What we had in this weekend’s games in Ontario were a sly mix of playoff teams resting their best guys (though some didn't have a choice), and pack teams attempting to make a statement before the playoffs.

With York, Toronto, and Waterloo already eliminated from playoff contention, the games this weekend were mere chances to gain a home playoff game. Regardless of that, whether it is some sample of the season now past, this weekend’s games were generally boring and/or gruesome. Four of the five games were sheer blowouts.

#1 Western 0
Queen’s 37

If you had the nation’s top rushing attack, and a number one ranking, what would you do on a week like this? The Mustangs opted for rest, of epic proportions.

With first-team starters—including injured freshman RB Tyler Varga and QB Donnie Marshall—seeing no snaps this week, the Mustangs’ backups still rushed for 153 yards, and 378 net yards. It didn’t translate to points, and the Gaels were up by 18 at halftime.

Credit where credit is due, the Gaels end the regular season with six wins. QB Billy McPhee only threw for 192 yards, but was mistake-free. The Gaels did their best impression of the Mustangs rush attack, with Ryan Granberg posting 197 yards. The team possessed the ball for 35 minutes, and sacked Mustangs QB Ian Noble four times.

If there is any team that is more dangerous right now, it has to be Queen’s. All their wins on their streak have had a margin of at least a touchdown. They lead the nation in third down conversions (with the OUA's best conversion rate), and are top ten in multiple offensive categories. They will host a playoff game this Saturday, and possibly have a chance to upset a bye team a week after that.

Windsor 40
York 15

Windsor, unlike Western, played their best guys. But, by halftime, and a 40–7 lead, the Lancers pulled the plug. No worries, though. They kept York at bay, winning by 25.

With a season that peaked with a Top 10 ranking, the Lancers went into this game needing to avoid a .500 season. QB Austin Kennedy got that message loud and clear, passing for 338 yards and scoring all five touchdowns in the first half—four by the pass, one with his legs.

How dominant were the Lancers? They posted over 450 net yards, intercepted the ball twice (thank you, DB Udoka Nwaesel), and allowed only 121 pass yards—a sore spot that the team has been trying to keep in check after allowing 323 against Ottawa and 294 against Queen’s.

I have a soft spot for this team. They should have a home playoff game, but imagine if they had exorcised their demons and beat the Mustangs and Gaels this month…

As for the Lions, there is not much to say at this point. They did break their losing streak this season, but between where they want to be and where they are is a wide margin. Coach Warren Craney and his staff will have many issues to address in the winter.

Laurier 15
Guelph 10

The Golden Hawks may have had their backs against the wall—with a road game against a familiar foe—but they squeaked out a victory, and grabbed the playoff spot in the process.

Statistically, the Hawks had no business winning this game. With a “bend but don’t break” approach, the Hawks allowed over 400 net yards, including 343 passing yards, from the Gryphons. The Hawks only possessed the ball for 25 minutes. But, somehow they denied Guelph touchdown chances, and were able to keep the Gryphons under 100 yards rushing for the game. It may say something to the character of this Hawks squad, or perhaps it exposes offensive woes for Laurier. Regardless, the squad will be playing next Saturday.

As for Guelph, they shall have much to mull this winter. They ended the season in mediocre fashion, with middle of the pack offensive and defensive stats. They were also one of the least disciplined teams in the nation, ranking close to the bottom in penalties and penalty yards. Let’s hope they can pick it up next year. Those pretty uniforms need good football to back them up.

Ottawa 24
McMaster 51

With Western in possession of the regular season crown because of their tie-break win over McMaster, the Marauders were playing for two pivotal things: respect, and a home playoff game next Saturday. They certainly earned a berth, with a sprint over the Gee-Gees, who have not played their best football in the last few weeks.

QB Kyle Quinlan had a solid day, passing for 367 and scoring four touchdowns. They ran for over 200 yards on the ground, and kept Ottawa at 10 points at halftime. Even though the Marauders were sacked four times, they still took risks with their play-calling—there were obvious benefits.

With a home playoff game now secured for the Marauders, the standing question is whether the team is considered in the conversation for a national championship. The drama has been rubber for their locker room, and they executed despise Quinlan’s brief absense. They are scary good, and certainly have a chance for a Yates win.

Meanwhile, even though Ottawa RB Brendan Gillanders had 123 rushing yards, the GeeGees were intercepted three times, and sacked a small handful. They are in the midst of mediocrity in the OUA, and need to work on their numerous issues if they want to compete this coming weekend.

Waterloo 6
Toronto 45

Toronto had high expectations this season, but a lack of offensive production was an issue all season. Was beating Waterloo a statement for the Blues themselves? It had to be. The win broke a four-game losing streak, where they scored an average of 7 points.

This game provided a different narrative. The Blues scored 38 points in the first three quarters, rushing for over 400 yards for the game. RB Aaron Milton had his best game in his collegiate career, running for 140 yards on 18 carries. He also caught a pass for 34 yards. RB Emiljano Daci ran for 156 yards. If there was anything to watch out for next season, it’s Toronto’s best impression of the Mustangs' rush attack. That should be at least consistent with how the Blues have been recruiting and developing their football identity—as they continue to try recruiting big linemen.
It was only the second week in the AUS men’s hockey conference, but it was a mirror image of last weekend with the same opponents playing in the other teams’ barns. This has led to some distortion in the standings as well. StFX and Saint Mary’s have both played first-place UNB twice, while tied-for-second Acadia and Moncton have yet to play a top-3 team from last season (UNB, SMU, StFX). We’ll probably get a better feel where everyone stands next weekend when the Aigles Bleus play the X-Men and Huskies and the Axemen visit the Varsity Reds.

Can you be a top team in the AUS without a good power play and great goaltending?
This season UNB has the worst power play in the conference. It wasn’t until the third period of Saturday’s game that they finally scored on the PP (0-for-16 until then), and then they gave up a shorthanded goal a few minutes later. Last season UNB had the stingiest team defence in the CIS. Saturday night they got into a game of pond hockey with StFX and blew leads twice, but still won. Last season goalie Travis Fullerton had a .928 save percentage and 1.60 goals against average. This season after 200 minutes in nets: .859 and 3.00 GAA. Yet the Varsity Reds are 4-0-0. Go figure.
Friday – UNB 7 @ StFX 6
Saturday – UNB 4 @ SMU 2

Offensive Axemen
So far, Acadia’s offence leads the conference, and is making some poolies happy in the AUS Hockey pool. Andrew Clark sits atop the leader board with 10 points in 4 games and rookie Travis Gibbons leads all defencemen with 6 points, just ahead of teammate Chris Owens. Their schedule gets tougher going forward, so we’ll have to see if they can sustain the attack.
Friday – Acadia 4 @ UdeM 6
Saturday – Acadia 7 @ STU 5

Old school Aigles Bleus
This weekend Moncton looked like the flying “eagles” of the past. Their goals all come off the rush against Acadia on Friday. On Saturday they dominated the Tigers 42-26 in shots. Coveted recruit Christian Gaudet has 7 points, as does veteran Marc-André Côté and they’re tied with StFX’s Bryce Swan for second place early in the points race.
Friday – Acadia 4 @ UdeM 6
Saturday – Dal 1 @ UdeM 5

Short staffed Huskies
Everyone knew Saint Mary’s was going to find it hard to replace defensive horses Andrew Hotham and David MacDonald who probably played 30 minutes a game. Early in the season veterans Kyle Wharton and Tyler Cuthbert have missed games with injuries. This has put tremendous pressure on rookies Jamie Doornbosch and Michael D’Orazio who have been logging big minutes and not looking out of place. Welcoming back veteran Cam Fergus on the weekend, who apparently was going to turn pro, has at least given their forwards a boost.
Friday – UPEI 1 @ SMU 4
Saturday – UNB 4 @ SMU 2

Slow starting Panthers
To be fair, UPEI (who are UNB’s travel partners) have had to play StFX and SMU twice already. 1-3 is a tough start to the season for a team trying to crack the top-3. The Panthers relied on their offence and goaltending last season, but right now they’re being outshot an average of 36-28. Rookie goalie Mavric Parks has a very respectable .910 save percentage, but a 3.25 GAA and 0-2-0 record and sniper Matt Carter only has a goal and an assist so far.
Friday – UPEI 1 @ SMU 4
Saturday – UPEI 2 @ StFX 3

Jeckyll and Hyde X-Men
Normally defensive focused StFX put on a last-goal-wins show for their fans Friday, coming back twice from behind but coming up short in the end. Then they turned around Saturday and came back twice from behind in a comparably low-scoring game against UPEI and pulled off the win.
Friday – UNB 7 @ StFX 6
Saturday – UPEI 2 @ StFX 3

50-50 Tigers
Dalhousie has so far beat St. Thomas twice and lost to Moncton twice. These are the teams they have to beat if they want to make the playoffs again. Now for the next ten games they will face teams who all made the playoffs last season. Test time.
Friday – Dal 5 @ STU 3
Saturday – Dal 1 @ UdeM 5

Rebuilding Tommies showing some heart
We all recognize that St. Thomas is officially in rebuild mode under new coach Troy Ryan. Friday they came back and tied Dal twice in the first two periods, only to have the Tigers score in the third period and add an empty netter. Shots were almost even. On Saturday, they were down 5-2 going into the third period, but tied it up against Acadia, only to watch Joe Gaynor get the game winner and an empty netter. Not wins, but positive signs in TommiesLand.
Friday – Dal 5 @ STU 3
Saturday – Acadia 7 @ STU 5
Laval's back on top, and Queen's replaces UBC in the top 10. We also rip off FOX Sports here, providing an appropriate Simpsons line for each team, from their assigned character.

The playoff picture got a little clearer this weekend thanks to Saskatchewan's single point victory over Regina, while the Calgary Dinos look to be on their way to a number-one national ranking this week after another win.

Here's the second to last look at regular season action from the Canada West conference, which wraps up the regular season this coming weekend.

UBC 39
Alberta 22

After a lightning quick start scoring on their first three possessions, the UBC Thunderbirds found themselves in an unlikely battle with the winless Alberta Golden Bears this past Saturday, that is until a pair of interception returns for touchdowns ended any hopes for Alberta's first win of the season.

Sam Carino and Chris Mark both took throws from new Bears quarterback Ryan Schwartz — a transfer from SFU, who sat out the first four games of the season — both in the second half, to help lift UBC to the win.

The Thunderbirds ran their record to 5-2, but aren't assured a second-place finish just yet. If Saskatchewan wins next weekend and UBC loses, the T-Birds will finish third behind the Huskies, while if both teams lose, or win UBC will take second place. Regardless, the T-Birds and Huskies will face each other in one of the conference semis.

Alberta on the other hand will be looking to do UBC a favour next weekend against Saskatchewan. The Bears will be looking to avoid their first winless season in modern Canada West history.

Saskatchewan 16
Regina 15

The Rams and Huskies didn't exactly put on a clinic for SHAW TV's game of the week Saturday night, combining for 10 fumbles and 3 interceptions. When the clock ran out, however, the Huskies came away on top with a key victory.

The two teams combined for just over 500 yards of total offence, in an abysmally executed game. The win, however, clinched Saskatchewan a playoff spot, while Regina isn't done just yet either when it comes to the postseason. The Rams can earn a playoff spot with a win against Manitoba in Winnipeg next weekend.

Calgary 41
Manitoba 24

Next stop number-one. With a win over Manitoba to run their record to 7-0, coupled with a loss by current number-one Western Ontario, the Calgary Dinos will almost surely takeover the top spot in the nation.

Matt Walter's 141 yard performance for the Dinos against Manitoba sparked Calgary in the win, while Dinos QB Eric Dzwilewski also had a big day with 242 yards passing, 2 TDs through the air, to go along with a rushing TD.

The win overshadowed a big day from Manitoba's QB Khaleal Williams who tossed over 330 yards, but was also sacked three times.

It will be interesting to see what type of lineup head coach Blake Nill goes with this coming weekend in Vancouver against UBC in a meaningless game. Don't expect many changes from the regular look Calgary has gone with this season to start, as the Dinos would like nothing more than to keep rolling and head into the playoffs unbeaten.
Friday wasn’t a night to write home about for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — the conference’s three nationally ranked teams — with those teams all losing, before bounce back performances Saturday by both the Huskies and Bisons.

Here’s our weekly look at the weekend that was in the Canada West conference.

Dinos back from extinction

With a pair of wins over the number-eight ranked Alberta Golden Bears this weekend, the Calgary Dinos proved that maybe they are the team everyone thought they were heading into the regular season.

Calgary managed a sweep of Alberta this weekend, improving their record to an even 3-3-0, getting two much needed wins. Goaltender Dustin Butler got the start both games, backstopping his team to the victories.

The Dinos will play another home-and-home series this coming weekend, this time with the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Friday – Calgary 4 at Alberta 3 (2OT)
Saturday – Alberta 1 at Calgary 2

Cougars use PP to split

Six goals on Friday night, with four of them coming on the powerplay, lifted the Regina Cougars to a surprising 6-1 win over the number-three ranked Bisons in Winnipeg. Brett Leffler led the way with a pair of goals, one coming on the PP and the other at even strength.

While Regina lost the following night 5-1, the split against Manitoba has to be considered a successful trip to Winnipeg, although the fact that the offence was again minimal Saturday is still cause for concern. UBC heads to Regina this coming weekend for a pair of games at Co-operators Centre.

Friday – Regina 6 at Manitoba 1
Saturday – Regina 1 at Manitoba 5

Huskies follow the pack

Just like Alberta (#8) and Manitoba (#3) the number-five ranked Saskatchewan Huskies suffered a loss Friday night. Saskatchewan didn’t put on much of a show for the 1,200 fans who showed up to Credit Union Centre Friday night in a 3-1 loss to Lethbridge. It wasn’t much better Saturday night for Saskatchewan, earning a 3-2 OT win at CUC.

While the fact that Saskatchewan only earned a split is disappointing for the Huskies, so too were the crowds they drew at CUC – the home of the Saskatoon Blades. The Huskies, who usually plays at the dump that is Rutherford Rink on the campus of the U of S, drew around 1,200 fans both nights at CUC. It will be interesting to see how many people come out for Saskatchewan-Alberta in January when the Huskies host the Bears for a game at the home of the Saskatoon Blades.

Friday – Lethbridge 3 at Saskatchewan 1
Saturday – Lethbridge 2 at Saskatchewan 3 (OT)

Power outage in Edmonton

Four straight losses for the number-eight ranked Alberta Golden Bears have people wondering what’s going on in Edmonton. Alberta’s 2-2-2 start has largely been due to an underwhelming powerplay.

The Bears are last in the conference on the PP clicking at under 15%, with Friday night’s loss to Calgary summing up the special teams woes this season, going only 1-for-7, while giving up a short-handed goal as well.

Saskatchewan comes to Edmonton this weekend.

Friday – Calgary 2 at Alberta 1 (2OT)
Saturday – Alberta 1 at Calgary 2

Bisons take issue with decision

Dustin Nielson and myself hit on the topic during our broadcast of the Calgary-Alberta game Friday night, but it’s worth mentioning here as well concerning that disputed game between Manitoba and Alberta from back on October 15.

The Bears won their complaint this week, but Manitoba has appealed that decision — which was made by a committee that unanimously voted in favour of Alberta. I have no idea when a decision will be made official, but I doubt the Bisons will win their appeal. Also the fact this hasn’t been sorted out already makes the conference’s process of dealing with it look bushleague.

Manitoba has a bye this coming weekend.

Friday – Regina 6 at Manitoba 1
Saturday – Regina 1 at Manitoba 5

Strong weekend in Saskatoon

It was a strong showing this weekend by Lethbridge against Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, earning a trio of points against the nationally ranked Sled Dogs. The performances were far better than the five periods the two teams played opening weekend when the Huskies outscored the ‘Horns 8-2.

Rookie Cass Mappin had a pair of PP goals Friday night to lift his team to victory, while goalie Scott Bowles stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced.

Lethbridge has a home-and-home this weekend with Calgary.

Friday – Lethbridge 3 at Saskatchewan 1
Saturday – Lethbridge 2 at Saskatchewan 3 (OT)

This is the opinion of Jared Book and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the CIS Blog or any of its contributors.

You figured it was a last-ditch effort when the University of Montreal appealed the decision by the Quebec conference to get their forfeited win against the Saint Mary's Huskies back. It was a formality that the decision would stand.

Wrong. Friday night, it was announced that the Carabins would get their 11-10 win back for playing with ineligible player Mike Dubuisson. The official reason was (translated literally) a "procedural defect." But Montreal would still be fined because the conference decided that, yes, Dubuisson was ineligible.

So, Montreal played a suspended player, cited they thought that he was eligible. He makes an interception and returns it to the 2-yard-line in a game that ended 11-10 and they are still able to win the game? It makes no sense. Especially considering the league still maintains he WAS ineligible. This isn't a league changing its decision, it's a league softening its penalty which shouldn't be negotiable.

It's obvious there are issues when this could happen, but let's be clear. Sherbrooke knew very well that Beni Djock was ineligible for three games and they were involved in the same incident. What happens if this game was between the Carabins and Vert et Or instead of the Huskies? The precedent is that the team that broke the rules would have an advantage over the team that followed them. Was the win given back because the Huskies are in the AUS and this forfeited win makes the Quebec conference look bad? If this game was against a Quebec opponent, would the decision have stayed?

It's a valid question.

What about Dubuisson's role in the win? We're not talking about a backup who barely saw the field. We're talking about a guy making his first start. A guy who made a big play. Was that taken into consideration?

The biggest problem I see is that a team can plead ignorance and reap the benefits of their error. The sad thing is, if Montreal really wasn't sure, they could have called and asked. Obviously Sherbrooke knew. I've talked to other people who say that other teams knew as well. Why should Montreal benefit from not knowing, and not trying to find out?

For me, something's just plan unsportsmanlike about this. I don't care how it affects the AUS playoff race because Saint Mary's did lose the game and doesn't necessarily merit benefiting from Montreal's error, although it did come into play as they are now resigned to second place after their loss to Acadia.

But Montreal went from behind in the battle for second place (they would be 5-3 after their win vs Concordia yesterday) to right in the middle (they will be tied with the loser of today's Laval-Sherbrooke game which many expect to be Sherbrooke).

Yes, that same Sherbrooke team that didn't play their suspended running back for the season's first three games. Do they get a medal for that? No, they just get to keep $2,500. Seems fair, right?
Another week, another run at glory for our CIS "Expert" crew. With spreads in play, the gang has really started to make some interesting picks. Sager and Daum have shown the rest of us how its done - but the season is far from over and we'll take this all the way to Vanier! With the OUA season winding down this week, there are a few meaningless contests, but across the nation there is still lots of drama unfolding.

Here's the skinny:

Saskatchewan @ Regina (+7); Oct. 22 - 7pm MDT

Regina heads into the weekend after putting up a fight last weekend against UBC in a 23-16 loss, and will be looking to jump into a playoff spot, which the Rams would accomplish with a win coupled with a Manitoba loss. The offence has been all over the map recently for Regina, putting up big numbers last weekend through the air, while Adrian Charles had only 67 yards on the ground meaning it's hard to know what to expect offensively. Saskatchewan is also coming off a loss against Calgary's defence, who held the Huskies to only 74 net yards. Expect that total to improve for Saskatchewan, but not enough against a Regina team that will be in a playoff spot when the weekend concludes.

Daum’s Pick: Regina 24-21

Saint Mary's @ Acadia (+5.5); Oct. 22 - 2pm ADT

This is one of the more interesting games since, the last time these two met (8-3 win for the Huskies in Halifax in week 5), they played in a monsoon. Both of these squads have done a great job keeping their opponents from scoring, but the rest of the competition in the AUS doesn't appear to be world-beaters right now. These two are the top teams out East, and this game will decide who gets the bye week and home field for the Loney Bowl.

Both squads match up in every position with slight differences giving one team the edge here and the other there. They really kind of even out in the end. The forecast says sun on the weekend so expect a very tight contest, with scoring this time, right down to the wire. Give the edge to Acadia playing at home and with a chip on their shoulder since everyone expects another conference win for SMU. But they may not cover the spread.

Radoslav's Pick: Acadia 28-24

Western @ Queen’s (+3.5); Oct. 22 - 1pm (EDT)

Even though they have clinched their first OUA crown since 1999, and the country’s top ranking—albeit a slim one—over the Calgary Dinos, the Western Mustangs can’t step backwards as they head to the playoffs. With a bye next week, and this game against the Gaels potentially a Yates Cup preview, the ‘Stangs will be looking to refine any issues they may have.

Perry’s Pick: Western 31-27

Laurier @ Guelph (+6.5); Oct. 22; 1pm

Yes, Western at Queen’s has all the hype, but the most meaningful game in the OUA this week will be played at Alumni Stadium in Guelph. The Gryphons will need an upset win against a tough Laurier squad and hope for a Toronto win to get themselves into the playoffs. Toronto should dust winless Waterloo – but does Guelph have what it takes to knock the Hawks?

These two teams are more closely-aligned then you might think – they have similar records (Guelph 2-5; WLU 3-4) and both at times have shown they can compete against the top teams, including close games against Western. On the flip side, both have squandered opportunities which could have led them to better records. How Laurier performs offensively will be the difference in this game. If the Golden Hawks can showcase their nationally-ranked offence and keep their points per game average up (39.3 points per game – 2nd in CIS), then it’s a wasted season in Guelph – if not then Stu Lang’s pre-season voice mail greeting still has a chance at being true.

Grobe’s Pick: Laurier 36-30

Ottawa @ McMaster (-9); Oct. 22, 1pm (EDT)

The battle for the bye could turn on the diversity in each team's passing game. Grobe is no doubt wondering what an old wooden ship popular during the Civil War era has to do with CIS football and where the Gee-Gees found a trailer big enough to transport it down Hwy. 403, but there's difference in how each QB spreads the ball around. Kyle Quinlan and Mac lead the country in passing yards per game and the Gee-Gees secondary has been a hot mess since the calendar turned to October, having allowed four 30-yard-plus touchdown passes in its past two games vs. playoff teams. Quinlan and receivers Mike DiCroce, Brad Fochesato, Robert Babic and Matthew Peressini should make it a game of pick-your-poison for the Ottawa defence, which is probably going to need to pull off a few surprise blitzes to slow down the Mac attack.

Whether Gee-Gees QB Aaron Colbon matches that in a tough road enviroment remains to be seen. Last week, when second-leading receiver Bogdan Raic (19.8 yards per catch) was scratched vs. Windsor with a suspected sore hamstring, Simon Le Marquand was the only Gee-Gees wideout or slotback to catch more than two passes. Colbon had 353 yards, but that was padded by Brendan Gillanders gaining about 100 YAC on shovel passes and checkdowns. Ottawa coach J.P. Asselin went away from the pass late in the Windsor game, running Gillanders, who converted three third downs in the fourth quarter, time and again to set up Matt Falvo's winning field goal at the final gun. Mac just seems to have an edge at QB and has no mental out, since a win will keep the home for the semifinal for the first time in the Stefan Ptaszek era.

Sager's pick: Marauders 31-20

Sherbrooke @ Laval (-13); Oct. 23; 1pm (EDT)

This game is a measuring stick for the Vert et Or. Montreal beat Laval but Sherbrooke beat Montreal. Sherbrooke has a chance to get to first place. Jeremi Doyon-Roch had a tough game against Concordia and Laval is trying to get back and assert themselves as Quebec's top dog. I like Sherbrooke to keep it close and they'll have a chance but I like Laval to get the win.

Book’s Pick: Laval 21-15

If anyone is interested in joining the MUBL, the world's most popular CIS basketball keeper league, send me an e-mail (contact info can be found here) and I can provide all necessary information.

Our third season begins in less than three weeks. We have already added an owner to this year's league, and are looking to add one or two more. (You probably won't beat Alex Tourigny, but the fight for second place can be just as motivating...or so we hope.)
From friend of the blog Wayne Thomas at Dinos Hoops News:

Boris Bakovic, who was to have represented Canada with the Pan-Am Team in Mexico for the next 2 weeks, has suffered a knee injury in practice in Toronto. Bakovic, a 5th year transfer forward, has returned to Calgary for medical assessment and treatment, but the injury appears to be very serious, according to Dinos Coach Dan Vanhooren.

“It is devastating, really. Boris has what appears to be serious ligament damage. He will get an MRI to further assess the injury, but we are expecting the worst, unfortunately”, commented a shaken Vanhooren. With Bakovic, a former All-Canadian at Ryerson, Calgary was poised to compete for a Top 10 CIS spot, but losing him would likely make that goal a tough one to reach.

Wayne also provides more detail about a (more minor) injury to Tyler Fidler and the players who might get more minutes as a result. The Dinos open at the Bobcats on November 5, with Vanhooren hoping Fidler is ready to go by then.

Our Brian Decker wrote about Bakovic's return just two months ago, tying it in with other fifth-year transfers in Canada West. (Did someone say, "Peter Lomuro"?) We don't know what will happen to Calgary's big-name transfer just yet, but we do know the coach isn't optimistic. At the 2009 Final 8, we noted Vanhooren's recurring tendency to lose his BlackBerry out of his suit pocket during his more animated moments on the bench. He probably threw the thing against the wall when this happened (if he still had one after last week).

No MUBL owners were available for comment, as they were believed to be frantically updating their organization's draft boards after learning of Bakovic's injury.
It's late enough in the season that it's possible to start looking at who made and who didn't make the playoffs, and judge their performance accordingly.

We'll start in AUS, where UPEI were finally defeated on the weekend by UNB, of all teams, but have already qualified for the playoffs. Their loss is good news for the Huskies who can now grab a share of first place with a win over Dalhousie on Friday.

The Huskies are pretty much in, as are Dal, thanks to weekend wins over St. FX for both sides. How the Huskies aren't nationally ranked yet is a mystery—they haven't allowed a goal in October. They're ranked #1 in our RPI.

Memorial are the team to watch late in the AUS season. Although they're usually near the bottom of the table, they've surprised this year. They'll likely lose their next two games to UPEI and Dal, which will hurt their momentum, but it's conceivable they could finish at home with six points against woeful Moncton. The X-Women have a pretty good edge on the Sea-Hawks, but a brutal run-in, so Memorial have a chance, especially if they pick up a point or two on the road.

The OUA East is wrapped, with RMC, Nipissing and Trent all missing out. Ottawa and Toronto are still slugging it out for who gets the second bye, which will likely come down to their meeting on the last day.

The West is nowhere near sorted yet, but Waterloo's Kaitlyn Barnet knew exactly where Brock were going to finish, so she went and scored in the 92nd minute to eliminate the Badgers, who will look at a run of five losses and wonder where the playoffs went. A win over Waterloo would have given Brock a chance.

Even Western aren't quite out of it yet, but Waterloo control their fate--a single point from the Warriors would eliminate the Mustangs, who will have to win at York to have any chance.

In Quebec, UQAM are mostly out unless they get very lucky. The competition is mostly between UQTR and Laval. With identical records and similarly inconsistent records, predictions are for fools. Our RPI gives the edge slightly to Laval, so that'll have to do. Both will likely lose to Montreal and McGill, but they play each other on the last weekend, too, which should make for some nice end-of-season drama.

In the west, the bards are warming up to sing eulogies for the University of Fraser Valley Cascades. At least there's plenty of landscape inspiration. Unless their first goal in October provided some inspiration for UFV, they're going out after a CIS bronze medal last year.

Quite simply, the Cascades don't deserve the playoffs, Their lineup from last year is almost entirely intact, and yet with their playoff lives on the line, they managed to lose 4-0 to Regina at home. Just try to comprehend that for a second—Donna Pinning couldn't, and promptly got herself sent off instead. A 1-1 home draw against Manitoba isn't much better, but at least Megan Webster scored.

Trinity Western, Alberta and UBC are pretty much safe at the top, leaving Victoria, Saskatchewan and Calgary all within three points of each other. Saskatchewan and Calgary each have two more games than the Vikes. The Huskies and the Dinos all play the same four teams, so it really will be the better team going through to the final playoff spot and the chance to upset the Spartans this year, too.
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