1. Last week the Dalhousie Tigers snapped an 11 game losing streak to the SMU Huskies with a 3-1 win. This week, they beat the Huskies once again. Back to back victories for Dalhousie over SMU in CIS men's hockey hasn't occurred since they defeated the Huskies on Jan. 12th, 2007, and then again on February 17th of the same season. Big thumbs up to Chris Donnelly and his boys for being right in the mix out of the gates.
2. The SMU Huskies are the most offensively starved team right now in the AUS, but it really shouldn't be that way. Bad bounces have plagued the Huskies early on this season, and against Dalhousie Corbin Boes made the difference in net. Even so, offence may not be SMU's biggest issue right now. Stephen Gillard, Mark Trickett, and Justin Weller are all out for the Huskies on defence, leaving them seriously short on the back-end.
3. Last time we checked on the Moncton Aigles Bleus, they were having trouble keeping pucks out of the net. One week later, things haven't really gotten any better. Another nine goals allowed against the UNB Varsity Reds on Friday lead to another embarrassing defeat, and goalie Brandon Thibeau's GAA stands at a dismal 6.02 currently. The good news for Moncton is they managed their first win in OT against the UPEI Panthers on Saturday. The OT marker from J.F. Plante gives Moncton their first two points of the season, and reminds us that the first line on the Aigles Bleus is still dangerous as ever.
4. The UPEI Panthers wound up losing both games this week, but still look like a team that can contend for the top seeds in the AUS this year. Matt Mahalak was sensational against UNB on Wednesday, but the 47 shots UNB sent UPEI's way that night was just too much. The new recruits for UPEI continue to lead the way for this team as J.C. Campagna, Cody Payne, Beau McCue, and Gabe Guertler have combined for nine of the 14 Panthers goals to this point in the season.
5. The AUS got it's first look at Chase Marchand this weekend as he started for the StFX X-Men on Saturday against the Acadia Axemen. 41 saves for Marchand in a 5-3 win should silence any doubters of the X-Men crease for the time being, especially with the start Brandon Hope got off to as well.
6. Greg Betzold is back on CIS radars after being released from the Cincinnati Cyclones this past week. At the moment, there's nothing concrete to suggest that he ends up in the AUS, but some teams are certainly mulling the idea over. Bringing Betzold into a program at this point is much easier said than done, and especially with the roster cap, it's going to take a fairly bold move to get him in for second semester. The AUS is definitely a possibility for Betzold, but it's certainly no guarantee either.
7. Add Miles Liberati and Aaron Berisha as candidates for Christmas adds in the CIS. Berisha had been garnering plenty of CIS interest before turning pro this year, and Miles Liberati had been fairly dead set on giving pro a chance before considering CIS. With both players now in the ECHL, if neither gets a shot at the AHL by December, CIS teams will be pitching very hard to bring in either of these two. Worth noting, there is confirmed OUA interest in both players as well.
***Alex Pawelczyk: F Dalhousie Tigers
The aforementioned Dalhousie Tigers are off to a solid start this season, and Alex Pawelczyk has been an instrumental part of that. Brought in to add some serious size for Dalhousie, Pawelcyzk has found the net three times already, and had a pair of key goals this weekend. His game-tying goal against Acadia on Friday ensured the extra point for Dalhousie in overtime, and a game-winner against Saint Mary's the following night gave Dalhousie their second win.
**Holden Cook: F StFX X-Men
On a team featuring Eric Locke, it's hard to bet against him to put up the best numbers on the X-Men, but right now, Holden Cook is standing toe-to-toe with Locke as the team's most productive player. Another three points over two games for Cook including the eventual game-winning goal against Acadia highlight his week.
* Stephen Anderson: F UNB Varsity Reds
Philippe Maillet and Jordan Murray have been stealing the show for the V-Reds offensively, but let's give Stephen Anderson some credit this week. A fairly reputable scorer in the QMJHL who had a relatively quiet rookie season last year with UNB, Anderson has broken out early with seven points in four games. Anderson's speed and skill has been on full display lately, and he hasn't looked out of place at all with UNB's top threats.
Key Games This Week:
UPEI vs Dalhousie, Sat. Oct. 22nd, 7:00pm ADT
This matchup features a pair of programs off to solid starts this season and could feature a great goaltending matchup if both Matt Mahalak and Corbin Boes get the start for their respective teams. UPEI's rookies should be on full display again, and seeing how Dalhousie counters that could make for a very entertaining affair.
UNB vs StFX, Sat. Oct. 22nd, 7:00pm ADT
Breakout your split-screen folks, because this is a can't miss game. A rematch of the 2016 AUS and University Cup final, the V-Reds and X-Men have one of the best rivalries going right now in the CIS. Some elements from what made last year's rivalry so great are now gone, but game one between these two teams offers the chance for anyone in the lineup to step up and be a hero. Expect nothing short of a classic.
1. The instability in the OUA East early on may be the most surprising storyline from this conference at the start of the season. Every team has shown weakness, and even the 4-0 UOIT Ridgebacks blew leads late this weekend to both Laurentian and Nipissing forcing overtime. Perhaps the power in the OUA East isn't as top heavy as we thought it would be this season.
2. The Concordia Stingers came away with a big win this week over the Carleton Ravens on Saturday. Even after losing to the McGill Redmen the night before and allowing six goals, the Stingers rebounded very well to stymie the Ravens, holding them to just two goals. Philippe Cadorette had his first hiccup this season on Friday, but was rock solid again the following night. Anthony DeLuca, Antoine Masson, Olivier Hinse, Scott Oke, and Dominic Beauchemin all got the ball rolling this week for the Stingers offensively.
3. The Carleton Ravens responded to the RMC loss by defeating the UQTR Patriotes rather convincingly 5-1 on Friday night. Francois Brassard appears to be emerging as the early favourite out of the Carleton crease, now with a .929 SV% to his credit, and a 2-1 record. Unfortunately for the Ravens, the momentum from the win against UQTR was counteracted by a 3-2 loss to Concordia on Saturday. Losing to Concordia this year is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Ravens would've loved to get the 2-0 weekend. Either way, better terms for Carleton this week than last.
4. The UQTR Patriotes have had a somewhat disheveled start to their season. Sebastien Auger is still on the shelf, and now Guillaume Asselin joins him after missing Friday's game against Carleton. Luckily for the Patriotes, Carl-Antoine Deslisle has been off to a hot start, and they're still towards the top of the standings. Still lots of time for the Patriotes, but without Auger and Asselin at the moment, this could be the weakest UQTR has been in the last two seasons.
5. The McGill Redmen have had an eventful start to their season, but for the wrong reasons. L.P. Guindon got the start this week against Concordia, and held the fort for about two and a half periods. After going up 6-1 on the Stingers, the Redmen let the flood gates open as Concordia sniped four unanswered past Guindon to make the score a frightening 6-5 final for McGill. The schedule doesn't get any easier for McGill who see Carleton and UQTR this coming weekend. Don't be shocked if coach Kelly Nobes throws Joe Fleschler out for a start sometime soon if things don't settle down.
6. A week after the biggest upset of the season, the RMC Paladins came back down to earth losing to Ottawa and Laurentian. The game against the Gee-Gees wasn't ever close, but the Paladins put together another formidable effort against the Voyaguers on Saturday, losing by a score of 3-1 after conceding a late empty-netter. Early indications are the Paladins are definitely a bigger team than last season, and in some ways, deeper too. Blowouts like what happened against Ottawa on Friday still aren't a surprise, but expect more tight games out of the Paladins like we saw on Saturday against Laurentian.
7. The UOIT Ridgebacks made some program history last week when they became nationally ranked for the first time in men's hockey program history. After going 2-0 again this week, they'll remain high in those rankings. Tyson Teichmann and Brendan O'Neill are statistically the best one-two goalie punch in the OUA right now, which may come as a surprise to some, especially given Teichmann's previous numbers in the CIS. But as one AUS coach told me this week, he can be a good goalie given a stable defence that allows him to see the puck. The Ridgebacks are unquestionably one of the best defensive teams, but guys like Connor Jarvis, Ben Blasko, and Danny Elser have given them some heavy-duty offensive punch too.
8. The Nipissing Lakers are scheduled to get Domenic Graham back from suspension this week. That should help them in net, but credit to Jeremy Pominville who filled in quite well after sitting out the entire 2015-16 season. The Lakers upset Queen's in double OT on Friday, and nearly did the same to UOIT on Saturday. They can be a dangerous team when they skate well.
9. The Ottawa Gee-Gees muster their first win back as a revamped program, downing the RMC Paladins by a convincing 7-2 score on Saturday. It's been a far from perfect start for the Gee-Gees who have seemingly struggled to carry momentum over from the preseason, but they hope the multi-point games from Jacob Harris, Jacob Sweeney, Mathieu Newcomb, and Cody Drover spark something offensively going forward.
***Nick Esposto: F Laurentian Voyageurs
Early indications show that the Laurentian Voyageurs are a much improved team from last season, despite the 1-2-1 record, and this week it was Nick Esposto who provided some offensive punch. Laurentian doesn't have many offensive threats, so it's extremely important Esposto helps deliver timely points this year for Laurentian, and his three point weekend suggests he's ready for the task this season.
**Jimmy McDowell: D Nipissing Lakers
Although held silent against UOIT on Saturday, Jimmy McDowell was the difference maker for the Lakers on Friday night against the Queen's Gaels. A pair of second period goals gave his team the lead, but it was his double OT winner and hat-trick completer that sealed it for Nipissing. 12 career CIS goals in two seasons prior to his big night against Queen's shows McDowell is no slouch offensively for the Lakers on the back-end.
*Scott Oke: F Concordia Stingers
Four points this week for Oke, who was a part of the charge which saw Concordia make a late run against McGill, and had another two points against the Ravens in a big 3-2 win. Oke is no stranger to scoring in this league with 18 career goals to his credit, but he looks to rebound this season after scoring just six a year ago.
Key Games This Week:
Carleton vs Ottawa Wed. Oct. 19th, 7:00pm EST
On paper, this one looks like a mismatch in favour of Carleton, but you could've said the same thing about Carleton's home opener against the RMC Paladins, and look how that turned out. If anything, the atmosphere will be great for this game, with TD Place playing host to what they call, "The Colonel By Classic". Let the Carleton vs Ottawa men's hockey rivalry (re)commence.
Concordia vs UQTR Fri. Oct. 21st, 7:30pm EST
The Concordia Stingers continue to be one of the most watchable teams in the country, and with the UQTR Patriotes weakened with some key injuries, this is the perfect time for the Stingers to strike. Two of the best offences will shine Friday night, and that combination could make for a real flashy battle for supremacy in Quebec.
McGill vs UQTR, Sat. Oct. 22nd, 7:00pm EST
Anytime McGill and UQTR meet, it's always set to be a classic matchup. Passionate fans on either side, and two teams stockpiled with major junior talent essentially make this a QMJHL game. McGill needs to sort out goaltending early, and who knows what we might see from UQTR. Lot's of questions to be answered for both these teams on Saturday.
1. The strangest game I've ever attended in my life happened this past Wednesday between the Ryerson Rams and the Brock Badgers. An 11:30am puck-drop at Meridian Centre in front of a non-existent crowd with a final score of 8-6 made for one head-scratcher of a game. Odd decision to have an 11:30am puck-drop for a non-school day game.
2. The 15 goals conceded by the Brock Badgers this week shows that the goaltending depth may not be as deep as initially thought. Clint Windsor went down with injury last week against Western, and sat out both games this week. Both Adam Beukeboom and Alex Brooks-Potts did little to help Brock out in both losses against Ryerson and Guelph. Disappointing week for the Badgers who looked much less impressive than they did in week one.
3. On the Ryerson Rams' side, they've definitely proven they have as much talent offensively as anyone in this league. They got away with a slugfest against Brock on Wednesday because of offensive talent, and with Chris Marchese returning on Thursday against Lakehead, and Matt Mistele close as well, the Rams will get even stronger on offence. Wednesday's victory also marks the first time in program history the Rams have gone 3-0 to start a season.
4. The Guelph Gryphons dominated the Brock Badgers in a disappointing rematch of the Steel Blade this week, but were more notably stopped by Laurier, 5-1 on Friday. The Gryphons had an offensive hiccup, and Scott Stacjer didn't have his best showing in net, but the Gryphons are still a strong-looking team early on. Chemistry seems to be oozing out of this team right now.
5. The Laurier Golden Hawks should have come away with two wins this week, but handed a 4-3 decision to York on Saturday. The Golden Hawks surrendered four second period goals to the Lions and never recovered, moving to 2-2 on the season. Andrew Fristch, Danny Hanlon, and Derek Schoenmakers all seem to be clicking offensively for the Golden Hawks, but the rest of the team needs to stay consistent in order to close out teams like York.
6. The York Lions rebounded from a disappointing 0-2 start with a pair of clutch wins this week. They barely skimmed by U of T, 1-0, on Friday after being stoned by Andrew Hunt for most of the game, but came up big against Laurier on Saturday. Both Derek Sheppard and Trevor Petersen seem to have found their feet this week for York, and with them clicking, the Lions become marginally better. What the Lions need to stop doing is sacrificing early leads, something they've done in three of their four games this season.
7. The Lakehead Thunderwolves kicked off their season this past weekend with a back-to-back against the Windsor Lancers in front of 2000+ fans each night at Fort William Gardens. The Thunderwolves actually looked pretty good in their first two games, coming back late to beat Windsor in game one, but losing 6-3 to the Lancers on Saturday. Brennan Feasey torched Lakehead on Saturday with his first career CIS hat-trick, and keeping goals out of the net may be a challenge for Lakehead this season. The good news is, the offence doesn't look half bad at all for the Thunderwolves, especially with a returning Kellin Ainsworth.
8. Fabrizio Ricci was recently cut from the Missouri Mavericks this week and is officially a free agent. If he plays CIS, he won't be eligible until second semester, but still offers a good quality add if an OUA team wants to pick him up. Although initially committed to Ryerson, don't expect Ricci to land back there with a lineup already bursting at the seams with forwards. Ricci and the Waterloo Warriors had talks this offseason, so if he lands with a CIS team in second semester, Waterloo may be a serious contender for his services.
***Aaron Armstrong: F Ryerson Rams
Aaron Armstrong's first career CIS hat-trick came at the right time for the Rams this week who needed as many goals as they could get against Brock on Wednesday. Armstrong also set up his teammate John Carpino late for a crucial marker. Maybe the ex-Junior C star finally found his offensive spark at the CIS level.
**Justice Dundas: F Windsor Lancers
After a relatively quiet opening week for Dundas, he left his mark on the Lakehead Thunderwolves. Dundas had the go-ahead goal in a two-point effort despite the loss on Friday. Although Brennan Feasey stole the show on Saturday night, Dundas had a pair of helpers, crucial to his team's 6-3 win over Lakehead.
*Derek Sheppard: D York Lions
Derek Sheppard looked fantastic this preseason, and it's clear he put in the work this offseason to make this year his best of his CIS career thus far. His big four-point night against the Laurier Golden Hawks fueled the comeback for the Lions in the second period. Sheppard is certainly York's number one d-man this season and can make a serious case for OUA First Team All-Star honours if he keeps this up.
Key Games This Week:
Guelph vs Windsor, Fri. Oct. 21st, 7:30pm EST
The three-game playoff series these two teams had in the first round of last year's OUA playoffs was an absolute war. A very physical series capped off by a classic decisive game three lead to some great entertainment, and inevitably, some bad blood.
Laurier vs Waterloo, Sat. Oct 22nd, 4:00pm EST
It's been a tough start to 2016-17 for Waterloo, but anytime they meet their bitter rivals at Laurier, the result is usually a pretty spirited affair. The Golden Hawks on the other hand have been hot and cold in their first four games, so they'll search for some consistency this upcoming weekend.
1. It's not everyday you can say a team scored two goals all weekend and still came out on the other side with a 2-0 record. But that's the situation this week with the Calgary Dinos. Certainly not the most graceful way to sweep the UBC Thunderbirds, but Steven Stanford was perfect in net, and Dryden Dow and Logan Fisher supplied all the offence necessary. Odd way to start the season for Calgary, but they'll gladly take it.
2. The UBC Thunderbirds haven't scored a goal in precisely 204:05 of Canada West game action. You really have to feel for coach Sven Butenschon and his team, because to not score for that period of time with the shot totals UBC has takes some bad misfortune too. Luke Lockhart has the only goal so far for UBC this season, and that needs to change this week against Alberta. On the upside, Matt Hewitt and Derek Dunn have both shown positive signs in net for the Thunderbirds.
3. The Saskatchewan and Alberta series this weekend totally lived up to expectation. In my opinion, it's the best rivalry going right now in CIS men's hockey. Jamie Crooks capped off a thrilling comeback OT win for Alberta on Friday night, but on Saturday the Huskies got their vengeance, beating Alberta 4-2. Watching these two teams duke it out all year will be an absolute pleasure to watch.
4. Interesting start for the Alberta Golden Bears who wound up turning to Kenny Cameron in net for their first two games. Brendan Burke will get a shot this season, and with Luke Siemens in the mix, it's difficult to remember a time when the Alberta Golden Bears crease was this wide open. From top to bottom there's still a ton of talent on paper with Alberta, but it may take awhile for it to all come together this season.
5. Rough start to say the least from the Manitoba Bisons. Outscored 8-2 this week by the Mount Royal Cougars, the Bisons were looking great on paper, but it clearly didn't translate on ice this weekend. Part of that was due to the absence of Jordan DePape, but he is expected to return this weekend. The Bisons are better than what they showed this weekend, but it's certainly not a triumphant start to their season. If they don't find their offensive groove against Regina, they could be in for a tough weekend ahead.
6. The Mount Royal Cougars on the other hand looked very solid against the Bisons. Goalie Colin Cooper was big for the Cougars last year, and doesn't seem to be any different early this season. Connor Rankin appears to have finally arrived on the CIS scene, notching three goals and an assist this weekend to jumpstart his season, and rookie Jamal Watson chipped in with a pair of goals himself. Great start for the Mount Royal Cougars who may end up knocking on the door of the top two this year if Alberta or Saskatchewan slip up.
7. The Regina Cougars and Lethbridge Pronghorns kicked off their seasons with a bit of a dogfight out west. Splitting the weekend, the Cougars got the better of Lethbridge in a 2-1 final on Friday, but the Pronghorns got back at Regina the following day, winning 4-2. Andy Desautels got the nod in both games for Regina and looks good early on for the Cougars. If Regina finds a number one goalie with Desautels, that's huge for them moving forward. We'll find out for sure in the coming weeks if Desautels is the real deal at this level.
8. Parker Bowles was released from his try-out with the Iowa Wild last week and has yet to land anywhere in the pro ranks. The deadline for players to suit up in first semester has now passed, so if a CIS school wants to bring him in, they'll have to wait until second semester to do so. It was rumoured over the summer that U of C managed to get an LOI from him, but I have yet to receive comment from the Dinos, so until that happens, it's purely speculation.
***Jamie Crooks: F Alberta Golden Bears
Crooks finishes his week with two goals and an assist, but none of his points were bigger than his OT winner against Saskatchewan in Alberta's season opener. Not to mention, Crooks' first goal with nine seconds remaining in regulation was the reason the game even went to the extra frame. On a team littered with young stars, Jamie Crooks should lead the charge as the veteran presence on Alberta this season.
**Connor Rankin: F Mount Royal Cougars
Big week for MRU's Connor Rankin, who according to coach Bert Gilling has taken another step forward this season. Three goals and an assist against Manitoba show MRU fans that even without Tyler Fiddler, this Cougars team is more than capable of filling the net. I get the feeling this isn't the last you'll see of Rankin on the three stars list.
*Steven Stanford: G Calgary Dinos
A perfect week for Stanford in net, stopping all 54 shots he faced. The Dino's have another pair of back-stoppers in Coleman Vollrath and Matt Greenfield who garnered great reviews from junior last season, but if Stanford keeps playing like this, crease-time in Calgary could be very, very hard to come by.
Key Games This Week:
Mount Royal vs Calgary, Fri. Oct. 21st, 7:00pm MDT
The Cougars and Dinos have a great rivalry going on right now in Canada West, and both their men's hockey programs are fit to be very competitive with each other. We'll see how Calgary deals with a more dangerous offensive team in Mount Royal, and if the Dinos have a strong showing this weekend, they may warrant more credit than given after the offseason.
Manitoba vs Regina, Sat. Oct. 22nd, 3:00pm CST
The Bisons are in dire need of at least one win this weekend, and after their first week, who knows what will happen in the second game of their mini-series against Regina. The Cougars are a defensively tough team, and if goaltending comes through again for them this week, they are definitely capable of beating the Bisons at least once.
Written by: Victor Findlay