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.