This was the 2nd make-up game from the pre-Christmas mumps epidemic. The last time they had a make-up game Alberta won after having played twice against Regina while Calgary had a weekend off. This time, Calgary had the weekend double-header (against Manitoba) and the Evil Monkeys had the weekend off.
Also, Calgary won 4-3 on Friday, 3-2 on Saturday, and 2-1 on Sunday. Quite a stretch.
[WEEKLY RELEASE (pdf)] - The newest release is out and it confirms that the Bisons hold the tie-breaker over UBC and Regina holds the tie-breaker over Lethbridge. So the Bisons are guaranteed 4th and Lethbridge is 7th. So the Bisons will host either Regina or UBC on February 22nd to 24th.
Remaining Bisons' home games:
February 15th at 7:00 pm at MTS Centre v. Regina Cougars
February 16th at 7:00 pm at Max Bell Arena v. Regina Cougars
February 22nd at 7:00 pm at Max Bell Arena v. UBC or Regina
February 23rd at 7:00 pm at Max Bell Arena v. UBC or Regina
February 24th at TBD at Max Bell Arena v. UBC or Regina (if required)
** WARNING **
SOME OF THE STATS ON THE CIS LINKS ARE NOT ACCURATE. WHEN PLAYERS ARRIVE/DEPART THEY SOMETIMES COMBINE THE STATS OF EVRY PLAYER TO WEAR THE SAME JERSEY NUMBER.
This weekend double-header marks the end of regular season in Canada West this year. Usually we are getting a break in the weather by the time playoffs draw near, but not this year.
Also make note that Friday night's game is at the MTS Centre. The Bison Broads are hosting the Saskatchewan Huskies in a semi-final series this weekend and will be at the Max Bell Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon. This leaves the Bison men's team to use their home rink Saturday evening. Coach Don McGillivray was on between periods of the Moose game Wednesday night and stated they wanted tio try having a regular season game at the MTS Centre and this was the perfect opportunity.
The Bisons and Cougars have already met 4 times in the regular season thus far and all 4 games were played in the capital city of Banjoland. The Bisons won 3 of the 4 games. The scores were:
* October 5th: Bisons 4 Cougars 2
* October 6th: Bisons 3 Cougars 0
* November 23rd: Cougars 2 Bisons 1
* November 24th: Bisons 3 Cougars 2
The Cougars are led by former Winnipeg South Blues netminder Brant Hilton. In a league dominated by WHL grads, a player coming out of a Junior "A" loop really has to prove himself, and Hilton has done just that. He has replaced former Regina Pats goaltender Adam Ward as #1.
The Bisons were led in prior games against the Cougars by Rick Wood, who had two 2-goal games against them. He leads the team in goals (12) whilst Chris Falloon leads in points (25). They have a 1 point/goal margin over one another in each category. I wonder if they have any side bets?
Most of the conference placings have already been decided, which is somewhat unusual. Alberta is #1 and Saskatchewan is #2. They will get byes past the quarter-final round and host the semi-finals. Calgary is #3 and Manitoba is #4, and they will host the quarter-finals. UBC leads Regina by a point. Whichever team places 5th will be here next weekend to face the Bisons whilst the 6th place team will travel to Calgary.
I am wondering if the Bisons will play well given the lack of urgency. I notice that Alberta and Sask tailed off a little after they established their respective destinies. The Bisons will want to avoid such a tailspin since they will need to be at their best next weekend.
The Bisons have been rotating players in and out of the line-up the last while. They appear to be very healthy, which is a great sign heading into the playoffs. Of course, that could all change really fast.
The other series this weekend are UBC @ Alberta and Calgary @ Lethbridge. Sask has the bye.
The Ontario playoffs have already started. (The Quebec teams play in Ontario for hockey.) Since they have a larger league they have a 12-team playoff and require an extra round. Also, since they have generally shorter travel distances than in Canada West they play their playoffs on a home-and-away basis. (Which is of course a lot better.)
In the west division, Lakehead and Brock get byes. The quarter-final series are:
Western Ontario v York (UWO won opener 5-1)
Waterloo v Laurier (Waterloo won opener 5-0)
In the east division, UQTR and Queen's get the byes. The quarter-final series are:
McGill v Carlton (McGill won opener 5-1)
Ottawa v Toronto (Ottawa won opener 3-2 in OT)
The Bisons beat Lakehead (along with a round-robin loss), York, and Toronto in the Thunder Bay tournament at Christmas time. They also beat UQTR the last time they were in the nationals (2005). For some reason, the CIS Top 10 committee have put 4 teams from this weak-sister conference in the top 10 throughout the year. IMO, both Canada West and the Atlantic are vastly superior conferences.
Anyhow, it is interesting to see the Kitchener-Waterloo derby between Waterloo and Laurier. I wonder if there is any truth to the rumour that Jim Balsillie has been rebuffed in his efforts to purchase both of those schools.
UQTR and Lakehead have been the most frequent reps for this conference at nationals in recent years.
The Atlantic conference also wraps up this weekend. Over there, New Brunswick is #1 and have been #1 in the whole CIS all season. Also, St. Mary's is #2 and Moncton is #3. Then it is a dog's breakfast. The next 4 teams are separated by 3 points, and one has to be eliminated. Check out the bookmarks for schedules and standings.
It seemed odd to be attending a Bisons game at the MTS Centre but what the heck. The team played as defensively as I have ever seen them play. There were precious few shots on goal and Regina rarely mounted a challenge. Those poor little kittens. First they leave their back-woods province strumming banjos through the night in a horse-drawn carriage to the land of civilization. Then right after they thaw out they have to look up into the bright lights of the MTS Centre. Freaky.
Anyhow, a scoreless 1st period produced few good chances at either end. However, there were many crunching checks into the boards.
The Kittens were on a power play in the 2nd period when goaltender Brant Hilton flubbed a pass out of his own end. He instead delivered it to the stick of Rick Wood, who then passed the pucked to Jered Walker who had nothing but empty net staring him in the face. 1-0 Bisons.
If the 1st goal was a comedy of errors, the second was a classic. The Bisons were on the power play and Chris Falloon pulled the trigger on a 3-way passing play which involved Wood and Stephane Lenoski. Nicely done.
The only goal of the 3rd period was another PP tally by Falloon. This time he blasted one from the point, converting passes from Walker and Lenoski. So on the night 4 players had 2 points each, and nobody else had any.
It was also nice to see a game where there was not a steady parade to the penalty box. There were only 8 minor penalties in the contest.
Krister Toews blocked 17 shots for the shut-out, and only 3 of those were in the 3rd period as the Kittens surrendered meekly.
The 'Horns are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. However, they are no pushovers as shown by tonight's result. The Dinos had been on a roll. The box score link seems to indicate that Jered Aulin did not play for the Dinos. I don't know if he was hurt or being rested.
Another head-scratcher on the out-of-town scoreboard. The Tweety-Birds from British California walked into Edmontown and beat the 1st place Evil Monkeys of Saudi Alberta.
Now, those with long memories will recall that UBC started the season with a home sweep of the Evil Monkeys and opened eyes across Canada. However, Alberta rebounded to walk away with 1st place whilst UBC scrambled to make the playoffs. However, tonight's win guarantees them 5th place and they will be the Bisons' opponent in the quarter-finals next weekend.
February 16th: Regina @ Manitoba
Calgary @ Lethbridge
UBC @ Alberta
The Bisons took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 semi-final series against the Puppies with a solid win. They held a 2-1 lead going into the 3rd period and then held the Banjolanders to only 1 (yes, ONE!) shot on goal in the 3rd period!
Game two goes Saturday at 3:00 pm at Max Bell and, if required, game three goes Sunday at 2:00 pm, also at the Max Bell.
The Bisons were back in their usual home and right off the bat generated a great scoring chance. However, the shot went wide and the rest of the game was a story of chances gone wrong. Nevertheless, the Bisons held the edge in play and could well have walked off with a win. However, with all Canada West placings already established, the game had a pre-season feel to it. The Bisons thus end their season 13-13-2, good for a .500 record and 4th place. Dead centre of the league, and good enough to host UBC in the quarter-finals.
The Bisons did not dress Krister Toews. The goaltending was split between Justin Harris and Steve Christie.
Harris had a strong 1st period. The game went back-and-forth and the Kittens took a 1-0 lead.
In the 2nd period Harris could have gone selling popcorn and nobody would have noticed. The Kittens rarely mounted any sort of offensive threat. Calin Wild and Rick Wood scored and the Bisons looked ready to cruise with a 2-1 lead.
However, the Kittens mounted a 3rd period rally. Their first goal was a one-timer on a pass to the slot. The second was basically flubbed by Christie. He took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and left the net open for the game winner.
The Bison Broads swept the series 2-0 with this afternoon overtime win. The win puts them in next week's final in Edmontown and guarantees them a berth at nationals. Unfortunately, it was their last home game of the season, no matter what happens next.
The Bisons bounced back after missing last year's playoffs to get back to their usual place, hosting the quarter-final round of playoffs at the Max Bell Arena. They managed a .500 season (13-13-2) and, as such, had their moments where they looked good enough to beat anybody while being vulnerable to every team in the league. In Canada West there really are no weak teams, so IMO the Bisons cannot be written off in this year's playoffs.
One factor which works against upsets is the league format. Due to travel and costs, the higher seed hosts the whole series. Upsets are rare. However, last year Regina lost on home ice against Calgary, Lethbridge lost at home to UBC, and Alberta went down in Edmotnown against Saskatchewan.
The Bisons won 4 straight games over the Tweety-Birds by one goal. When they faced off in November, UBC was riding high after an opening sweep of Alberta and burst into the national top 10. Their off-season recruiting of name WHL grads had many people waiting for them to break through last year and this. However, when they were swept on home ice by the Bisons they went into a bit of a funk and have yet to pull it all together. Frankly, it is hard to imagine them pulling off a sweep against anybody right now. However, if they can split the first two games I guess the Sunday game would be a toss-up.
The change in the Canada West playoff format does away with regional pairings this year. Manitoba and UBC have not met in the playoffs since 1971 when UBC beat Manitoba in the final. Usually at this stage of the playoffs the Bisons are hosting Regina while UBC goes to Calgary.
In this series, I will be looking to see:
* The Bisons balanced attack. Rick Wood and Chris Falloon tied for the team scoring lead (both wound up 13-14=27) and play on separate lines. At least one of those two lines has to be on fire.
* Goaltending. You never win a playoff series without it. Krister Toews had a shut-out last Friday then rested Saturday.
* The physical play and penalties. When UBC was here in January their only sustained pressure came on the PP. The Bisons have to play physical but cannot take penalties unless they are under pressure.
#6 Regina Cougars at #3 Calgary Dinos
byes: #1 Alberta Golden Bears and #2 Saskatchewan Huskies
If Calgary wins, then in the semi-finals they play at Saskatchewan and Alberta will host the Manitoba/UBC winner. If Regina wins then they play at Alberta while Saskatchewan would host the Manitoba/UBC winner.
Laurier at Lakehead
Western Ontario at Brock
Ottawa at UQTR
McGill at Queen's
Acadia @ Moncton
St Francis Xavier @ St Thomas
byes: New Brunswick and St Mary's
What can you say about this royal butt-whoopin'? The Bisons took an early lead and truly dominated the T-Birds from the time the puck was first dropped to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 quarter-final.
Kyle Howarth opened scoring on a PP 7 minutes in on a blast from the point. Calin Wild scored on a scramble about 3 minutes later and things were looking good. Then with about a minute-and-half to go, Chris Falloon zinged home a one-timer to make it 3-0 after one. The Bisons were rolling 4 lines and each was putting sustained pressure on the T-Birds.
The pace did not slow down at all in the 2nd period. The end-to-end rushes seemed to suit the Bisons just fine. Early in the 2nd period, UBC did generate some good scoring chances, in fact a couple guys had wide-open nets. However, it just was not their day. After one of their rushes flubbed, the Bisons broke out and Jered Walker zinged one into the top shelf from the face-off dot and it was 4-0. And time for UBC netminder Gerry Festa to get the hook.
The change in net (probably Barack Obama's idea!) did not do too much. Riley Dudar cashed in on a wide-open net assisted by Walker. In a Mats Lindh-like why-shoot-when-you-can-pass kind of play, complete with crowd shouting "shoot", Dudar cashed in when all he had to do was slide it home with nobody near him. Tougher empty-net goals have been scored!
Falloon scored a late PP goal to make it 6-0 in a 3rd period that was perhaps the most one-sided of the game. Walker collected his 4th assist of the night on that one.
On that note, every member of the Walker-Wild-Dudar line scored a goal.
The only line to go goal-less was the Davison-Benias-Waker unit. However, Chris Benias doled out a good body-check pretty well every shift. He made good use of that 5'7" frame.
The Bisons polished off the T-Birds in a very thorough fashion Saturday night. They went with the exact same line-up as on Friday night and used the "roll-4-lines" strategy. However, the T-Birds were somewhat more effective.
The first half of the 1st period was mostly in favour of the Bisons, yet the game remained scoreless. However, UBC scored about 11 minutes in and thereafter enjoyed the upper hand until the intermission.
In the 2nd period the Tweety-Birds forgot how to fly. They were continually caught flat-footed, would take a penalty, and then would argue about it.
Riley Dudar opened scoring on a 5-on-3 PP. Myles Rumsey scored the go-ahead goal a point shot. Mike Hellyer and Chris Falloon then added their own scores to make it 4-1 Bisons. By that point, UBC has disintegrated. they rallied somewhat when a late goal by Kevin Seibel made it 4-2.
The Bisons basically closed it down in the 3rd. Things got tense when a string of 3 overlapping penalties put UBC on the PP, and for some times a 2-man PP. However, Toews made the stops and UBC never closed the gap.
The game had way more bad blood than any CIS game I have seen. Tweety-Bird Darrell May, who seems to get a misconduct or an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty every game he plays, started a pushing match in the post-game handshake. Four T-Birds got game and/or gross misconducts for their efforts in that one.
The UBC line-up consisted of 10 forwards and 5 d-men who actually saw the ice. They shortened the bench, as I suspected they might. The line-up looked like this:
Curran - Morrison - Allen
Jeff Lynch - May - Billsten
Desloges - Beirnes - Bartley
Schneider - interspersed everywhere
Sheppard and Wasmuth - apparently dressed but never noticed
Zanon - Seibel
Duff - Lineker - Gordichuk
Jason Lynch - apparently dressed but never noticed
The links are short on information as I post. However, the win gives Calgary a 2-0 sweep and means that the Bisons will play the Evil Monkeys in Edmontown next weekend whilst the Dinos travel to Saskatown to face the Puppies.
February 29th to March 2nd: Manitoba @ Alberta
Calgary @ Saskatchewan
"We've had some success against them (a 5-3 win at Max Bell on Oct. 26) and we know we can beat them. Honestly, I don't think they know what we can bring. We haven't played our best hockey against them. People always talk about the dark horse and we don't have any pressure on us to win. We've got to go in there and play mistake-free hockey."
MacGillivray knows exactly what is required in order to knock off the perennial powerhouse club -- win the special teams battle, play physical while being disciplined and get strong goaltending.
"Nobody outside of our dressing room is giving us a chance to win," he explained. "It's us against the world, so to speak. From that standpoint, we can let it all hang out and see where it takes us. There's lots on the line. Our guys want to go to nationals as much as their guys do.
"We match up OK with them. There's no question they're a great team and they've been a great team for a long time. There's no surprises there. Nobody thought the Giants were going to beat the New England Patriots either. We know they're beatable. We just have to believe we can win."
The Bisons are the definite underdogs in this series. However, their dominance over UBC last weekend must give them as much confidence as possible. Especially when just the weekend before UBC split a pair of games against the Evil Monkeys.
Also, the whole best-of-three affair will be held in Edmontown, where those Evil Monkeys are tough to beat. Check out the links above for the gruesome historical numbers.
I say that one of the first two games will be a tight one, possibly an overtime game. The Bisons have to win that one and thereby push matters to a 3rd game. I suspect that 3 games in 3 days would leave both teams scraping the linament jar to get their players ready for battle. A great equalizer. The Bisons have been playing with heart and the Evil Monkeys have been up and down this year moreso than in other years.
I just heard the ending of this one on the Alberta web site. The Bisons poured it on late, and had several power play chances, but were unable to cash in. The shots on goal were something like 31-26. Kip Workman and MIke Hellyer scored for the Bisons. I'll have to wait for the links to get some content before I can say much more.
Wow, the Bears came out like **** in the first and the bisons just jumped all over them. Bison's were doing an amazing job taking away Anderson's point shot, until half way through the second, when the Bear's really started to turn the game around. It got a bit more physical at that point which usually is good for the Bears. I was impressed with the Bison's first period, they clogged the neutral zone and Alberta couldn't get any odd man rushes with speed.
Sad to see Aulin miss the playoffs, he really had that Calgary team playing well with him in the lineup.
Repeat of last year in teh Canada West finals, Huskies vs Bears, should be another good game.
Manitoba was quite impressive this weekend.
They are far more disciplined then I ever recall them being, and likely deserved a better fate on Saturday, as there probably should have been a game #3 in this the series.
The Bisons had the Bears on the ropes for about the first 35 minutes of Game #2, dominating play territorially.
To the Golden Bears credit, they rallied, a feat I don't that last year's team would have been capable of pulling off.
The Evil Monkeys are back on top of Canada West after an easy 2-0 series win over the Puppies from Banjoland. However, both teams will be going to nationals. Looking at the results, the Bisons have to wonder "what if" they had played Sask in the semi-finals.
McGill Redmen 4
Brock Badgers 1 (McGill wins conference, but both go to nationals)
St. Mary's Huskies 2
New Brunswick Reds 3 (UNB leads series 1-0)
UNB has been a dominant team all season long. Brock, meanwhile, was a team that was good by Ontario standards but not at all on the national radar. They got a boost when they surprised Lakehead in the Ontario western final.
Alberta Golden Bears 1
Moncton Aigles Bleus 2 In overtime. [SUMMARY] <> [STORY]
It is tough to beat a host team. And teams that have to fly to the nationals seem to have a really bad record. The Evil Monkeys kept that alive with an overtime loss against the hosts. Alberta must now bounce back to beat McGill then pray that a disheartened McGill can somehow manage to come back and beat Moncton. Ya right.
12:00 CDT: Saskatchewan v Brock
5:00 CDT: McGill v Alberta
12:00 CDT: Saskatchewan v UNB
6:00 CDT: McGill v Moncton
6:00 CDT: Final
Note: Saturday's and Sunday's games will be on SportsNet!!!!!
The Badgers have been sent packing with two straight decisive losses. While it is hard to gauge the strength of the OUA when they are represented by somewhat of a Cinderella team, this pounding must be causing concern. The game stories are very well-written and I would encourage one and all to read them. For this game they pointed out that Sask outshot them 29-3 in the first 36 minutes. One has to wonder whether Sask would have even qualified had Jered Aulin of the Calgary Dinos not been injured. Or if they played the Manitoba Bisons in the conference semi-finals.
Looking ahead: The Saturday match-up between Saskatchewan (1-0) and New Brunswick (1-0) is basically a semi-final match. The winner will win the pool and go on to play in the final.
Alberta pushed McGill around in this one. The final shots were 50-24. Now the Evil Monkeys have to see whether or not McGill can regroup and defeat the host Moncton squad on Saturday. Otherwise, this win is for naught.
Looking ahead: McGill (0-1) finishes against Moncton (1-0) on Saturday and has to win by 7 or more goals to advance. If they win by 6 or fewer goals then Alberta (1-1) will advance. If Moncton wins by any margin then they advance.
12:00 CDT: Saskatchewan v UNB
6:00 CDT: McGill v Moncton
6:00 CDT: Final
Note: Saturday's and Sunday's games will be on SportsNet!!!!!
Won't Saturday be quite a day of hockey viewing? CBC has a triple-header of NHL games and SportsNet has a double-header of CIS games.
I caught this one on SportsNet and while Sask had their chances (more-so than the scoreline would indicate) this was a decisive win by the #1-ranked Squirrels. (I am not exactly sure how they got that nickname.) The win gave them a 2-0 record, while Sask fell to 1-1 and Brock was already gonzo at 0-2. UNB outshot the Banjolanders 40-23. However Sask had the big edge in goalposts and crossbars. Sask wound up surrendering meekly in the 3rd period when, down 3-0, they mustered only 4 shots on goal in the 3rd.
McGill really had little for which to play in this one, yet they surprised the living heck out of everyone, including the hosts and all their fans, with a hrad fought and superbly executed 3-0 victory. I say: "GOOD FOR THEM!"
Heading into the game, Moncton was 1-0 (+1), Alberta was 1-1 (+3), and McGill was 0-1 (-4). So McGill had to win by at least 7 goals to advance. Moncton needed a win by any margin. So, in essence, McGill was playing for Alberta. The win for McGill gave them 2nd place in the pool, but since their is no bronze game it really was a win for pride and pride alone. And for that I give McGill all the credit in the world. Their coach's statements lead me to believe that he was feeling embarrassed for his entire conference, which was frankly warranted.
I was trying to follow this game whilst simultaneously watching the Leafs take apart Ottawa on their March to the Stanley Cup. I was surprised after the 1st period to see a 1-0 scoreline. I then paid equal attention to both games.
The Evil Monkeys tangle with the Squirrels Sunday at 6:00 CDT on SportsNet. They did a great job with Saturday's games so I would recommend watching the final.
Alberta Golden Bears 3
New Brunswick Varsity Reds 2 [SUMMARY] <> [STORY]
I watched the game on "tape delay" and what a game it was. I beieve this is the 8th straight final to be decided by 1 goal, including several overtime games. The Evil Monkeys eliminated the Bisons in double overtime in the Canada West playoffs. UNB had an edge in play but the game was always tight. Alberta took it on an OT goal and then killed their own subsequent penalty to secure victory. And to think of how close Alberta came to elimination!
Thank-you goes out to SportsNet for their coverage, which was very good this year.