The Bisons and Evil Monkeys will see their first playoff action Friday night. And by the time their first games end, there may be as few as eight teams left alive in all of the CIS. Here's wazzup.
CALGARY DINOS (15-11-2, 2-1-0, 12th in OHT34)
MANITOBA BISONS (20-5-3*, 2nd in OHT34)
Friday, March 2nd, 7:00 p.m. CST @ Max Bell Arena U of M
Saturday, March 3rd, 7:00 p.m. CST @ Max Bell Arena U of M
Sunday, March 4th, 7:00 p.m. CST @ Max Bell Arena U of M (if necessary)
LIVE LINKS: [Live Stats - Friday - Saturday - Sunday]
TEAM LINKS: [U of M Preview] : [U of M Roster] : [U of C Site]
MANITOBA LS LINKS: [LS Roster] : [LS Schedule/Results] : [LS Stats]
CALGARY LS LINKS: [LS Roster] : [LS Schedule/Results] : [LS Stats]
PRIOR GAMES 1: [Oct 1 Bisons win 2-0] : [Oct 2 Bisons win 2-0]
PRIOR GAMES 2: [Nov 25 Bisons win 8-1] : [Nov 26 Bisons win 4-2]
PRIOR GAMES 3: [Feb 10 Dinos win 5-4 (ot)] : [Feb 11 Bisons win 1-0 (ot)]
OTHER LINKS: [CW Weekly Notes #19] : [Winnipeg Sun] : [Free Press]
So, here we are at long last. After the close race for first place, the Bisons earned their bye. Now they get their reward: home ice advantage in the conference semi-finals and, if successful, the finals.
Now my big problem is that my son's playoff schedule just came out. For this weekend all is good. However, the wrong combination of wins and losses could create conflicts for both the Friday and Saturday night games next weekend. Grrrrr.
The linked stories in the Sun and Press are worth a look. But now for my outlook, which is BETTER!
The Bisons entered the season ranked 4th in the CW pre-season coaches' poll. The Bedrock Boys were 2nd, behind Alberta. The Dinos had qualified for last year's nationals and had a stellar recruiting class. The Bisons were a solid 4th place team last year and had a solid recruiting class, albeit one short on forwards. This left them with 10 d-men capable of playing on any team in the CIS. So, they played most games with 2 or even 3 of them being used as 4th line forwards.
The two sides met one another in the opening week of the regular season. The Bisons walked into Bedrock and came away with a pair of 2-0 wins, with Joe Caligiuri posting the shutouts. When the teams met in Manitoba, the Bisons man-handled the Dinos and frankly outclassed them in every aspect of the game. The final series in Calgary saw each team escape with 3 points. The Bisons blew a 4-1 lead on Friday before winning 1-0 on a shoot-out on Saturday, where Caligiuri racked up his third shutout against the Dinos.
IMO, the things to look for are:
- Goaltending. Each side has three goalies with WHL experience. Calgary's situation appears to have destabilized former CIS all-star Dustin Butler. He was yanked in game one of their series against UBC. Manitoba has gone with Caligiuri since Christmas, as Jesse Deckert has not dressed.
- Penalties. The Bisons love to hit. Some referees call a penalty whenever a body hits the ice. Power plays can be a great equalizer.
- Dittmer-Walker-Macaulay: They are the Bisons' power line. Calgary has oodles of potentially big-time scorers, all of whom are higher touted than this trio but have not produced the goals.
My prediction? One of the first two games will be close. If Calgary wins it then the Bisons will take the series in three. Otherwise, and more likely, the Bisons will win it in two straight.
Blair Macaulay, from the Sun.
SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES (19-6-3, 2-0-0, 4th in OHT34)
ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS (20-6-2*, 6th in OHT34)
|> [Live Stats - Friday - Saturday - Sunday]
|> [Live Video All Games]
|> [U of A Preview] : [U of S Site]
For those not in attendance at the Max Bell, this series will be available on CanadaWest.tv
The Monkeys and Mutts have battled several times, but until now it has been the traditional CW final. After Manitoba eliminated Sask in 2010, and Calgary eliminated Sask in 2011, it is now three years since these two teams have played a playoff series. As usual, this year's series will be in Edmontown.
The Evil Monkeys edged Sask by one point, the one they got in the boardrooms. Otherwise this series would be played in Saskatown. This year Alberta really got rich off the weak sisters. Alberta went 12-0-0 against Lethbridge and Regina this year.
When these teams met in Alberta, Sask won 5-4 in a shoot-out and Alberta won 2-1 in OT. In the return series in Bumpkinville, Sask won 5-2 and 5-4.
The Monkeys have shown some vulnerability this year in all aspects of their game. There is no glaring weakness. But their 3rd and 4th lines are not as dangerous as before and their defence is not as physical. Their goaltenders have been fine but not awe-inspiring.
The Banj-Mutts are very top-heavy with their scoring. Their top line of Hulak-Bortis-Ross are three of the top four scorers in the league. They are clearly dangerous. But, if they are stopped then there is not much left.
IMO, if this series is swept it will only be because one side got the breaks in OT.
OUT OF TOWN SCOREBOARD:
UQTR PATRIOTES 3
MCGILL REDMEN 5
(McGill leads OUAE final 1-0.)
|> [CIS Boxscore] : [LS Summary]
This is the annual "Battle of Quebec", taking place in the OUA-East. McGill is #8 (22-4-2, good for an A) and UQTR is #11 (19-7-2, for an A-) in the OHT34. The winner is guaranteed a place in the nationals, and the loser will play for the wild-card spot.
WINDSOR LANCERS 4
WESTERN ONTARIO MUSTANGS 3
(Windsor leads OUAW final 1-0.)
|> [CIS Boxscore] : [LS Summary]
If it weren't for Windsor these playoffs would be painfully predictable. They rank #24 in the OHT34 (15-12-1, a C+). They knocked off #26 York and #13 Lakehead in order to get a crack at the #9 Urban Cowboys (21-4-3, for an A-). The winner of this will also go to the U-Cup and the loser will play the OUAE loser for the wild-card spot.
UNB VARSITY REDS 3
UPEI PANTHERS 2
(UNB wins AUS semi-final 3-0.)
|> [AUS Boxscore] : [CIS Boxscore]
UPEI had been UNB's bugaboo team this year. UNB clearly reversed the season trend. UPEI was #7 in the OHT34 (18-10-0, good for an A) and beat #10 Acadia (16-10-2, an A-). So being drawn against #1 UNB (20-5-3) is tough luck.
SAINT MARY'S HUSKIES 1
MONCTON AIGLES BLEUS 6
(Moncton leads AUS semi-final 2-1.)
|> [AUS Boxscore] : [CIS Boxscore]
The UNB win has Moncton and Saint Mary's dancing in the streets. Since UNB hosts the nationals, and gets a guaranteed spot, the winner of their series will now be assured of a spot in the U-Cup. I find it odd that each side now has a one-sided victory. Both sides are graded A, with SMU at #3 (17-8-3) and Moncton at #5 (18-9-1).
LINKS AND STORIES:
|> [CIS Standings] : [CIS Schedule/Results/Links]
|> [CIS Playoff Schedule/Results/Links]
|> [Top 10 - at CIS] : [OHT34]
|> [All Links for CIS Hockey]
|> [CIS Blog: AUS Weekly Update]
|> [CP: UNB Story] : [Calgary Herald: UBC series]
|> [Windsor Star: Lakehead series]
* Alberta's OTL to Manitoba was converted to a W