The other shoe has fallen. After UPEI men's hockey rookie Mason Wilgosh was assessed a match penalty for a dangerous hit on Acadia's star defenceman Christopher Owens back on November 30th, AUS followers have waited to see if the conference would follow up on their talk this season about putting a focus on head injuries. They have. It was announced yesterday that Wilgosh received an automatic four-game suspension for the match penalty under CIS rules and that AUS executive director Phil Currie added an additional eight-game suspension in supplemental discipline.

This season the AUS men's hockey conference moved two games from the second half to the first half, meaning that there is only 12 games remaining in the schedule for each team after Christmas. As Wilgosh has already served one game of his suspension, and he won't be permitted to "serve" any of his suspension during UPEI holiday exhibition games, the first-year player won't be allowed to play again until the last regular season game of the second half -- February 8th at home versus St. Thomas.

For that second period half hit on Owens, Wilgosh was assessed a major penalty, a match penalty for intent to injure and an automatic game misconduct -- 25 minutes in penalties on the game sheet. That is more PIMs in one game than Wilgosh accumulated in 59 games played with the WHL's Tri-City Americans last season.

As for the victim, Owens was interviewed the following day shortly before the UNB-Acadia game on Annapolis Valley Radio by play-by-play man Len Hawley. Owens said then that he was doing pretty good and didn't remember anything just before the hit, only that he woke up on the stretcher and saw head coach Darren Burns (by my estimation that was probably half way through the approximately 20 minutes between the hit and when Owens was finally taken by ambulance to hospital).

There's more on Owens current condition in today's Halifax Herald. “It could have been very bad, but fortunately it wasn’t,” Currie said of the hit. “It’s a concussion. He had to defer the writing of his exams to next semester, which is really unfortunate. But we have a duty, especially in university sport, of protecting the student aspect of student-athletes. That’s a position we were public about taking and that’s where we’ll be moving forward.”

So there you go -- a dangerous blindside hit and the perpetrator is assessed almost a half-season in suspensions under the AUS's new focus. Maybe this will get players to think twice before going for that big hit. Cross your fingers.

UPDATE: UPEI has filed a formal appeal on the Wilgosh suspension for "unfairness in the process, and in the severity of the suspension.”
For the third year in a row, McMaster's Kyle Quinlan tops our list of the best passing performances in CIS football. And once again it's not particularly close.

Last year, we found Quinlan to be worth approximately five wins more than a replacement-level quarterback, based on his adjusted passing yardage (including sacks, touchdowns, and interceptions), for both the season and the playoffs. His lead over the second-place QB, Windsor's Austin Kennedy was one win, 4.8 to 3.8, and slightly behind Kennedy was that year's Hec Crighton winner, Billy Greene of UBC.

This year's Hec, of course, went to the Mac pivot, and as mentioned, his lead in our QB rankings was again quite large. He was worth 5.5 wins by our calculation, one and a half ahead of Calgary's Eric Dzwilewski, who has the distinction of being the best non-Quinlan QB in two years by this figuring.

Quinlan's per-attempt numbers were lower (read: human) this year, so in some ways his 2011, especially the playoff run, was more impressive. However, since he did not have a run-in with any undercover police officers this year, Quinlan actually led the country in passing attempts ... and still in adjusted net yards per attempt as well, basically tied with Dzwilewski. Leading in both is remarkable, a Justin Verlander-in-2011 type performance. (Way to use another baseball analogy in a football post, Rob.)

Rounding out this year's top five are Dzwilewski, the Canada West MVP and Hec nominee (4.0 WAR, 5th last year); Laval's Tristan Grenon (3.8 WAR), whose team bettered Quinlan's this time at the end of the season, and who only made 11 pass attempts last year as a backup; Sherbrooke's Jérémi Doyon-Roch (3.5 WAR, 8th last year), who in an only-in-CIS moment, appears in this year's stats as Roch-Doyon, and then again merely as "Roch" on the Sherbrooke roster page; and Regina's Marc Mueller (2.8 WAR), who needs no introduction.

Full rankings:

On the other side of the list, the passing leaders for Alberta and SMU were each barely above replacement—which is to be expected from the 0-8 Bears, but maybe not the 3-5 Huskies (who were a win away from playing in a bowl game, in case anyone needs the reminder). Though again, it is a good reminder that when we say "Quinlan leads the rankings" we really mean "McMaster's passing offence, when led by Quinlan." Team factors and player ability get mixed up in basic football statistics all the time, and not all the blame for Alberta falls on the quarterback, but those basic numbers are all we have for CIS.

The players near the top of this list who are not Kyle Quinlan can take solace in the fact that he has run out of eligibility, so we will have a new leader in 2013. Taking bets now on who that could be ...
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