1. The UNB Varsity Reds finally dropped their first regulation game of the season on Friday night, and then proceeded to fall short against Saint Mary's the following game. Friday's game against Acadia was low scoring, at a 2-1 final, which is surprising given both team's high-power offences. But it's even more shocking when you consider the officials handed out 23 minor penalties between the two teams, and UNB went 0 for 11 on the man advantage. Acadia goaltender Robert Steeves had a lot to do with UNB's powerplay frustrations, but even then, UNB have to look at themselves. Two losses this week may end up serving as a teachable moment for Gardiner MacDougall's team. As I pointed out on Twitter, the last time UNB lost back-to-back games was November of last year, oddly against both Acadia and Saint Mary's. UNB gets a chance to reverse their fortunes this week when they take on Acadia and SMU again, but this time on home turf.
2. The Acadia Axemen are winners in five of their last six games, and now sit just one point back of StFX for second in the AUS conference. Acadia's offence continues to be one of the best in the AUS, and their powerplay is finally starting to come around at 18% in the month of November. But it's been the goaltending that has been Acadia's biggest storyline. Robert Steeves is the hero after slaying UNB on Friday and picking up another win against UPEI on Saturday. Steeves was quietly good last season too, with a .923 SV% to his credit, but simply didn't get starts behind Brandon Glover. With Acadia's goaltending having it's issues this year, the opportunity has presented itself, and Steeves has grabbed hold of it. With goaltending like this, Acadia can definitely be a top two team in the AUS.
3. Make it five consecutive wins now for the Saint Mary's Huskies as they take down both the UPEI Panthers and UNB Varsity Reds this weekend. This run is even more miraculous when you factor in SMU still only has four healthy natural defencemen. Credit to the resiliency of SMU for pushing through this stretch, and some recognition must be given to Eric Brassard who has started in all five consecutive wins for the Huskies. Hunter Garlent, Bronson Beaton, and Ben Duffy all continue to fire away on offence, all the while Calder Brooks, Anthony Repaci, Taylor Burke, and Bradley Latour have all chipped in lately too. It's been a full team effort from the Saint Mary's Huskies, and that's why they're winners of five straight games.
4. Although the Dalhousie Tigers came away with just one win this week, they have to be thrilled with their 2-0 shutout win over StFX. The occasion marks Corbin Boes' first career AUS shutout against a team that isn't Saint Thomas, and continues to pad the stats of arguably the best player in the AUS this semester. Dalhousie followed up with a 4-2 loss to Moncton, which hurts considering the standings. Fabian Walsh found the net twice this week, and without Phil Gadoury in the lineup, you can argue that Walsh should be considered Dalhousie's biggest offensive threat. They'll need him again this week against Moncton, but with the Saulnier's and J.F. Plante looming on their schedule, they'll need another air-tight start from Corbin Boes too.
5. The StFX X-Men continue to coast through their season in the AUS, as even though they were shutout by Dalhousie, they took down Moncton by a 6-2 final on Friday. While the AUS goalie spotlight has been on Corbin Boes this semester, Chase Marchand has been waiting in the shadows with his .918 SV%, second best in the AUS. Marchand started both games this weekend, and with the talented Brandon Hope at Brad Peddle's disposal, StFX arguably has the deepest goaltending in the AUS. Their offence is every bit as deep. Now with Holden Cook and Matt Needham on the sidelines, the X-Men lose some punch, but Bryson Cianfrone has put together a nice run with eight points in seven games. The X-Men go at it with Moncton again this week, a matchup they won't be taking lightly at all.
6. Things didn't get better at all for the UPEI Panthers this week, who drop another two contests, and surrender 11 goals in the process. Neither Matt Mahalak or Connor Wilkinson have been very good in net for UPEI recently, which is why their team save percentage stands at a dismal .823% in November. But goaltending isn't the sole reason for UPEI's sorrow, as the Panthers penalty kill has also been very poor in November, operating at just 64.3%. UPEI's defence should be better for a team that features the likes of Austin Levi, Brock Beukeboom, and Nelson Armstrong among others, and UPEI's top offensive producers haven't made much noise either lately. UPEI gets a pair of tough opponents in SMU and Acadia to close out their semester. The Christmas break could be what UPEI needs right now to refocus and get back on track.
7. Not much has changed for the Moncton Aigles Bleus this week, who get offensive contributions from J.F. Plante and the Saulnier twins, but still have some issues in their own zone. With Moncton's juggernaut first line dominating the headlines, Steve Lebel hasn't been getting much credit, but he's been secretly effective for Moncton. Lebel's 10 points in 13 games are the fourth most on the team, and the fourth year forward is on pace to hit a career high mark in points for an AUS season. He's part of the reason Moncton split the weekend and are starting to improve and show signs of getting out of the AUS basement.
***Bradley Latour: F SMU Huskies
Bradley Latour might not be putting up the most staggering numbers in the AUS, but he's making his goals count. Latour finds himself on a nice four game goal streak and has two game-winners (one against UNB) to his credit. Latour now has seven goals on his season, and the long-time Oshawa General looks to be finding his way in the AUS.
**Bronson Beaton: F SMU Huskies
Bronson Beaton has unquestionably been one of the best offseason recruits for the SMU Huskies this season. After posting some great numbers in October, Beaton was back at it again this week, putting up a four point night against UPEI, and then posting an assist against UNB. Beaton registered 29 goals and 60 points with the Quebec Remparts last year, and although he won't attain those numbers this year, his rate of production is right on par.
*Robert Steeves: G Acadia Axemen
Of all the goalies in the AUS to stop UNB in their tracks, who'd have thought it was going to be Robert Steeves? The reality is it was, and he's been Acadia's best option in net. He's won four straight games for the Axemen, and his .936 SV% in November is drastically helping what was at one point, one of the worst team save percentages in the country.
Key Games This Week:
Saint Mary's vs UPEI, Thurs, Dec. 1st, 7:00pm AST
A rare Thursday night showcase in the AUS, this game is important for a number of reasons. Saint Mary's is hot right now after beating UPEI and UNB last week. They get those same two opponents again this week. For UPEI, they've lost six straight, and although the break is a welcome sight, they'll desperately want to flip the script rather than ride a colossal losing streak into the break.
Acadia vs UNB, Sat. Dec. 3rd, 7:00pm AST
It happened last week, so why not do it all over again this week? Acadia is definitely a good team, but it's hard to imagine that UNB won't be better than they were last week when they lost to Acadia. This should be another great showdown from Fredericton and a perfect way to send the AUS into the Christmas break.
1. On one night the McGill Redmen look like an impenetrable force capable of running up the score against any opponent. One night later the McGill Redmen find themselves shutout by the Queen's Gaels' backup goalie. Granted, Jacob Brennan has played like a starting netminder all year, but the point is McGill had two very different games this week. Their 4-2 win over UOIT showed that you can ill-afford to make a mistake with the puck in your own zone against McGill, but the effort against Queen's shouldn't have been as bad as it was considering the magnitude of the game. Jacob Gervais-Chouinard sees his save percentage drop to .876, second last in the OUA, which is extraordinary given his history in the league. But make no mistake, the Redmen are still one of the best teams in the league. This weekend was not their best, and the Redmen will undoubtedly rise once again.
2. Ask any coach in the conference, and they'll all tell you the same thing. The UQTR Patriotes are as good, if not even better than they were last season. It wasn't an ideal start for the Patriotes this year, but now with the offence firing on all cylinders again, there's not a team that can hold UQTR at bay when they execute their gameplan. Sebastian Auger is finding his game lately too, with a .944 SV% in his last five games for UQTR. Both wins against RMC and Carleton were fairly close decisions, but as bountiful as UQTR's offence is, they'd rather score timely goals than have a high volume. UQTR gets RMC again this week, and will be put to the test with the stellar goaltending of the Queen's Gaels on Saturday to close out their first semester.
3. The UQTR Patriotes have an LOI from Antoine Marcoux of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens for the 2017-18 season. UQTR got out to an early start on the recruit front last year when they locked up Gabriel Slight, Elie Berube, and Allan Caron all before the New Year, so it's not a surprise to see them get started this early once again. Marcoux missed a chunk of the season already with injury, but he's healthy now, and he's producing at about a half a point-per-game rate. Being a center, if UQTR keeps him there, he could put up bigger numbers in the OUA, and he's a decent face-off guy too. Marcoux adds depth and flexibility to UQTR's roster in 2017-18 if he indeed jumps to the OUA.
4. The Queen's Gaels have been back and forth since their five game winning streak came to an end, but they still find themselves in a lock on top of the OUA East, which is exactly where they wanted to be at this point in the season. Brett Gibson has told me on a couple of occasions this year that he genuinely believes he has a roster capable of hanging with the best in the OUA East and believes his team can hang around in the top three. With stars like Kevin Bailie, Slater Doggett, Eric Ming, and Spencer Abraham on the roster, there's good reason to believe they can be that team, but I'd like to see some more production from their depth players before I'm convinced this team is as good as the best in the OUA East.
5. After a hot start, the UOIT Ridgebacks have only two wins in their last five games, yet sit just one point behind the leaders in the OUA East. There's no shame in losing to McGill, and the 4-1 win against Ottawa is a source of confidence, so it's definitely not a state of concern for UOIT. However, some of the games they've lost this season are against opponents they're battling with in the OUA East, namely Concordia, UQTR, and McGill. If the Ridgebacks really want to take the next step, they're going to need to beat those other top teams in the OUA East a couple more times this season, especially if they want to parlay their season into an extended playoff run. They'll get their second shot at Concordia this Friday when the two teams meet in Oshawa, Ont.
6. The Concordia Stingers didn't have a particularly great Friday night when they were shutout by the Carleton Ravens, 4-0. But their 7-1, 58 shot win against RMC the following night quickly reminds us that Concordia is still among the deadliest of teams the OUA has to offer. Offensive outpourings from Anthony De Luca and Olivier Hinse against RMC are a good sign for Concordia, and so is the return of Philippe Sanche to the Stingers lineup. Concordia plays just one more game as they round out their semester against UOIT, but given the history of this program, regardless of the outcome Concordia will be happy with their first semester as they find themselves right in the thick of the race for top spot in the OUA East.
7. The Carleton Ravens continue their trend of splitting weekends as they beat Concordia 4-0 on Friday, and then lose 3-1 to UQTR on Saturday. The aforementioned Patriotes are hot right now, so limiting them to just three goals is a pretty solid accomplishment, but after already beating UQTR once this year, Carleton will wish they had a second chance at sweeping away the Patriotes. Francois Brassard has been the clear-cut number one goalie this semester and has maintained a nice statline, which includes two assists, a testament to his puck-moving ability. Brett Welychka has cooled off since his red hot start, but with Corey Durocher scoring for Carleton, their offence isn't any less dangerous than it was three weeks ago. Carleton will hope to close things out with a pair of wins this week coming against York and Brock.
8. The Ottawa Gee-Gees emerge from the week with another impressive victory, this time over Queen's, as their hunt for the playoffs intensifies. It may seem early to talk about the postseason, but with just 28 games in the schedule, the stretch run isn't that far away. Brendan Jacome and Jacob Hanlon each had three point nights in the win against Queen's, as Ottawa appears to be starting to get some depth out of their roster. Kevin Domingue, Marc Beckstead, and Jacob Harris have all pulled weight offensively, but if the Gee-Gees get contributions from players like Jacome and Hanlon moving forward, offence won't be an issue for them like it was in October.
9. The teams from up north, Laurentian and Nipissing, didn't have the best week, but the Lakers will be happy with their 3-1 victory over the Western Mustangs. Western hasn't been very good lately, but Nipissing will still relish the fact they beat a team from last year's national championship as Colin Campbell and Brock Morrison add to their team-leading point totals. Domenic Graham has been terrific for the Lakers lately, meanwhile Laurentian's goaltending wasn't playing their best this week. Losses to Guelph and Western set them back to seventh in the OUA East, but Darcy Haines continues to put up numbers for Laurentian as he approached career-high numbers.
10. The RMC Paladins didn't win a game this week, but they managed to hold UQTR to within two goals on Friday night, which is something to be proud of. Unfortunately Saturday's game against Concordia didn't yield the same results, but if you ask opposing coaches, they'll tell you that RMC is a harder team to beat this season than they have been in previous years. Even after giving up seven goals to Concordia, goalie Austin Hannaford made 51 saves, which is an impressive feat at this level. RMC will get another big test this week coming when they face UQTR and UOIT. Although a win is unlikely, never ever count out the RMC Paladins.
***Domenic Graham: G Nipissing Lakers
If there's anything that's gone well for the Nipissing Lakers this season, it's been the play of Domenic Graham. A decorated QMJHL starter with Ivan Hlinka Memorial experience, his .930 SV% in the month of November is among the league leaders. Graham was tough to beat again this week, posting a .962 SV%, and made 44 saves against the Western Mustangs to steal a win on the road.
**Slater Doggett: F Queen's Gaels
Slater Doggett appeared on the scoresheet just once against Ottawa on Friday, registering only an assist. But on Saturday, Doggett burst out for three points, including two goals in a 4-0 shutout win over the powerhouse McGill Redmen. Doggett wasn't making the saves, but he's been pulling his weight on the other end of the rink with six points in his last four games after a small three game dry spell.
*Tommy Giroux: F UQTR Patriotes
Players like Guillaume Asselin and Pierre-Olivier Morin continue to produce for UQTR, but this week, it was the Tommy Giroux show. He added a pair of assists against RMC which turned out to be difference-makers, and then had a hand in all three of UQTR's goals against Carleton on Saturday. For a guy who scored 20 goals a season ago (fourth most in the country) and had 41 points, we haven't been talking much about Giroux, who is just as capable of lighting up a team as the rest of the UQTR lineup is.
Key Games This Week:
Ryerson vs McGill, Fri. Dec. 2nd, 7:00pm EST
This is a true clash of titans between the leaders in their respective OUA conferences. Ryerson has had substantial time off after last playing U of T on Wednesday, so expect them to be well rested and well prepared. For McGill, they're still without some weapons, but the Redmen are as hard a team as any in the OUA East to beat on any given night.
UQTR vs Queen's, Sat. Dec. 3rd, 7:30pm EST
UQTR downed Queen's in their first meeting a couple weeks back by a comfortable 5-2 margin. The Patriotes look as good, if not better than they did last season, and the Gaels will have to summon all their might to take down UQTR. But of course you can never count out Queen's with Kevin Bailie in the crease. If he comes with his A-game, this game could be a real battle for supremacy in the OUA East.
1. It wasn't that long ago that the Guelph Gryphons were losers of four straight games, and teetering on the edge of a playoff spot. One month later, Guelph has four wins in a row, and are just outside the top two picture in the OUA West. If the Gryphons taught us anything a few seasons back, it's to never count out a team coached by Shawn Camp. He's getting the most out of his players again, as Robert Lepine, Cody Thompson, and Seth Swenson lead the way for Guelph, and right on their heels is Trevor Morbeck, who has been surprisingly offensive this season. Scott Stacjer still isn't playing to his full potential, but the Gryphons' offence has been shooting out the lights recently, and that's why they find themselves third in the OUA West. This week saw them eek out a pair of close wins against Nipissing and Laurentian.
2. The York Lions were announced as the opponents of the UNB Varsity Reds for the Pete Kelly Cup coming up on December 29th and 30th. That should be a great test for the York Lions and could show us whether or not York should be in the conversation as one of the best teams in the country. At the moment, they're certainly one of the best in the OUA. Another two win weekend have them within striking distance of the Ryerson Rams, and with at least one Ryerson loss, the Lions can take control of the division before the semester's end. York's team save percentage in November was a fantastic at .931%, and the Lions have also received key contributions from Greg Milner and Kyle Campbell this month. They'll see both Carleton and Waterloo next week.
3. The Ryerson Rams had a quiet week with just one game against U of T on the schedule, but they made the most of it, winning 5-1 over their crosstown rivals in the 100th iteration of the downtown showdown. The Rams have scored four or more goals in seven of their last eight games, as they sit second to only UQTR in OUA goals this season. Aaron Armstrong had another multi-point game, and Matt Mistele continues to impress with seven points in his last five games. Only York and Carleton have been able to stop Ryerson this year, but apart from a four game stretch, the Rams have been fantastic all season. They'll get a big test this weekend when they visit McGill and Ottawa on the road.
4. The Lakehead Thunderwolves are good at winning one-goal games. Only one win (7-2 over UOIT) for Lakehead this year has been by a margin of more than one goal, and this week Lakehead was pushed to the limit by the Laurier Golden Hawks. Friday night saw the Thunderwolves score three goals in the third period to tie the game, and eventually capped it off with a double OT winner from Carson Dubchak. Lakehead grinded out another close contest on Saturday, winning another 4-3 game, but this time in regulation. Kelin Ainsworth continues to be one of the best players in the conference and leads a Lakehead team which has an average record, but are also one of the most entertaining teams to watch.
5. The Brock Badgers are marred amidst a nasty five game losing streak which saw them drop contests to both Windsor and Waterloo this week. The Badgers are starting to show signs of last year's team, with an offence that's been starved for goals lately. The Badgers are missing two key contributors in Matt MacLeod and Andrew Radjenovic, but they shouldn't be as bad as they are right now, even without those two. Having Clint Windsor sidelined hasn't helped at all either, as the Badgers are a lowly 1-7 without their starting netminder. Their relief goaltending continues to be spotty, and have allowed 26 goals over Brock's five game skid. If Murray Nystrom is able to keep his roster invested in the team this season, this will only be a road bump for the Badgers who are capable of much more. But Nystrom can ill-afford to have a repeat of last year.
6. On the topic of losing streaks, the Western Mustangs finally stopped their dismal seven game losing skid with a 6-3 win over Laurentian. But just one night later against the Nipissing Lakers, the Mustangs wound up with another loss, losing 3-1. It's just so uncharacteristic to see Western have so many offensive difficulties. They ran into a hot goaltender in Domenic Graham on Saturday, but it doesn't excuse their lack of production for the season. Even the goaltending has been shaky in the absence of Greg Dodds, as Lucas Peressini has a disappointing .884 SV% on the season. It's inevitable that the best is yet to come for Peressini, but now with Dodds back in the lineup, Clarke Singer's decision on a starting goalie won't be difficult this week.
7. The Laurier Golden Hawks struggle for consistency continues after they lost a pair of games to Lakehead, one of which was a very winnable contest. One thing Laurier has done consistently this year is shoot the puck. The Golden Hawks' 539 shots on the season is third most in the OUA, but I've said it before, offence is not the problem for Laurier. Goaltending has been hit or miss this season, and the defence has struggled to contain the top offensive threats in the OUA West at times this year. It's becoming an old theme at this point, but if the Golden Hawks simply played better defence, they can be a top five team in the OUA West by season's end.
8. The Windsor Lancers have been a fairly quiet team this month, yet they carry right along in the OUA West. The Lancers aren't a great team, but they've been collecting points against teams they should be, and they've stolen a few wins from teams ranked higher than themselves. There's a few losses scattered here and there, but the Lancers don't seem to be going away any time soon. Kris Joyce had a splendid month in November with a .937 SV%, and a 1.98 GAA, making him a very capable starter, but nobody on the forward unit had a standout month. If the Lancers can find the offensive spark they had to start the season, don't be surprised if they poke into the top three in the OUA West sometime in second semester.
9. The Waterloo Warriors busted off a dominant 6-1 win over Brock on Saturday, ending a four game losing streak. But we need to see more from Waterloo before we can say their offence has finally arrived. This week they'll get Western and York, both teams that can be hard to score against if the goaltenders are hot. Meanwhile, the other team out of the playoff picture, U of T, quietly lost a pair of decisions to Ryerson and York, 5-1 finals in each game. Both Matt Campagna and Aidan Wallace continue to have respectable seasons, but there's still not much to write home about with the Varsity Blues.
***Seth Swenson: F Guelph Gryphons
Seth Swenson didn't score any goals this week, but he's sure been making an impact on the final score, with four assists to his credit this weekend. Swenson drew one assist against Nipissing on Friday, and then had three helpers in a tight 4-3 OT win against Laurentian. Swenson now has 16 points on his season, an OUA career high, and is also on track to best his WHL OA season numbers in 2013-14 spent with Seattle and Lethbridge.
**Kyle Campbell: F York Lions
The York Lions exacted their revenge on the Toronto Varsity Blues this week, handling them by a score of 5-2. Campbell lead the way for York with two goals and an assist on the night, and although Derek Sheppard and Trevor Petersen starred in York's win over Windsor, Campbell added another assist, which lands him on this list. Campbell's four points this week now give him 13 on the season, an OUA career high.
*Kelin Ainsworth: F Lakehead Thunderwolves
Kelin Ainsworth has been fantastic for the Lakehead Thunderwolves in November, racking up an impressive 16 points in this month alone. This week, Ainsworth added three assists against Laurier in game one, then scored the eventual game-winner against the Golden Hawks in game two of the mini series. The fifth year veteran has been huge for Lakehead this season, and is unquestionably one of the best players in the whole conference.
Key Games This Week:
Laurier vs Brock, Fri. Dec. 2nd, 7:15pm EST
The Brock Badgers need to stop the bleeding in the worst way, and Laurier is also looking to rebound after two losses at the hands of Lakehead. We know Laurier have the offensive weapons, but so does Brock. For both teams, goaltending has been suspect at times this year, and defensive inconsistencies have hurt them too. It's a tale of two similar teams looking to exit their first semesters on a high.
Carleton vs York, Fri. Dec. 2nd, 7:00pm EST
The topsy-turvy season of the Carleton Ravens has been well documented, and they'll get another test with York this week. We know the Ravens can beat the best teams in the OUA, but they haven't done that consistently. For York, watching them attempt to shutdown Carleton's offensive threats will be a great storyline. The Lions have found themselves in some really tight games lately, so this could be another 'late-game heroics' type matchup.
1. The Alberta Golden Bears are the new leaders in the Canada West conference after they took three of four possible points from the Lethbridge Pronghorns this weekend. Despite a dramatic OT loss on Friday, the Golden Bears rolled right over Lethbridge on Saturday, winning 5-0, as Alberta's key contributors continue to produce. Saturday's win marked the second shutout of Brendan Burke's young Canada West career, and Graeme Craig tagged on a pair of goals as well. Luke Philp saw his 10 game point-streak snapped by Lethbridge on Friday, but responded with a goal on Saturday. The Golden Bears continue to impress as they get set for Saskatchewan to close out their semester.
2. The Lethbridge Pronghorns continue to play well against nationally ranked opponents, as they beat the Alberta Golden Bears in OT on Friday night. Justin Valentino and Tim Campbell continue to be great, but before the shutout loss on Saturday, Mitch Maxwell had a stretch of eight points in just three games, making him the hottest player on Lethbridge. I spoke with one coach this week who has been impressed with Lethbridge this season, and remarked, "They play with a lot of pace". That pace has been crucial to Lethbridge's success, as has the system implemented by coach Spiros Anastas. But if Lethbridge doesn't come out and set the pace for games like they have against the giants in Canada West, they can run into trouble. Lethbridge needs to continue to hustle and out-work their opponents if they want to keep winning.
3. The Mount Royal Cougars capped off one of the most entertaining nights of the season in Canada West with a dramatic three goal third period comeback to take down the UBC Thunderbirds in a shootout. Mount Royal didn't have a great 40 minutes, but they showed how dangerous their offence can be, even without Luke Simpson and Matt Brown, when they rallied for four goals in the third period to knot the game at 5-5. Jamal Watson, Connor Rankin, Matt Bellerive, and Sebastian Pare all headmanned the comeback, but credit to Cam Lanigan in net, who stayed between the pipes for a full 70 minutes despite allowing five goals. Saturday's game was much less tense for the Cougars, who cruised to a 5-3 victory and showed you can never count them out of a game.
4. It's been a really frustrating stretch for the UBC Thunderbirds who have been losers in four consecutive contests, and still have the country's worst powerplay, at just 5.0%. Their penalty kill isn't very good either, and overall, UBC has been as good as their special teams have been this month. The Thunderbirds still have a solid roster on paper, but consistency issues continue to stricken them. On the upside, they're definitely scoring goals this month, but goaltending has also been a problem at times. If the Thunderbirds can get every element of their game to be good at the same time, they can rattle off a few wins. It seems that there's always been something missing from UBC's games this year.
5. The Saskatchewan Huskies won't be happy about losing their coveted conference lead, but there's still plenty of time in the season to eliminate the one point gap between them and Alberta. Daniel Wapple got his second look at Canada West action when he got the start against Manitoba on Friday, and looked quite good, holding the Bisons to just one goal in a 2-1 victory. Saturday was a different story for Saskatchewan, who went back to Jordon Cooke and promptly lost 5-2. Given Manitoba's roster, it shouldn't be a huge surprise that Saskatchewan dropped the second game, but the lack of offence in November for Saskatchewan definitely raises an eyebrow. With a GPG of just 2.67 in November, the Huskies aren't scoring at the same rate they were to start the season. Although they ran into some good goaltending this week, you have to imagine coach Dave Adolph is looking for more from guys like Michael Sofillas, Logan McVeigh, and Kohl Bauml, who combined for just two points this weekend.
6. Saturday's 5-2 win for the Manitoba Bisons over Saskatchewan is a step in the right direction, but the Bisons need to build off this win for it to mean anything. Manitoba continues to hover around the .500 mark as they search for momentum. Byron Spriggs gave them two really good starts against Saskatchewan, which is a positive, but the Bisons didn't do much to get by Canada West greenhorn Daniel Wapple on Friday. Remi Laurencelle returned to the lineup this week, and Nick Zajac showed some signs of a breakthrough, but Manitoba needs more from it's depth players going forward. When you have a player like Jordan DePape on your roster, you don't want to waste that talent on a sub-par season.
7. The Calgary Dinos and Regina Cougars linked up for an entertaining affair on Friday night which saw every game in Canada West venture into overtime. Steven Stanford didn't have his best game, but after winning 5-4 on Friday, and 6-1 on Saturday, Calgary's offensive numbers suddenly don't look so bad. For Regina, their offence doesn't look so bad either with 15 goals in their last four games. Tristan Frei added another two points this week, and Cody Fowlie boosted his point total to nine, with a goal and an assist against Calgary. Regina is still a ways away from a team like Calgary, but November has brought some positive improvement to the Cougars.
***Nick Zajac: F Manitoba Bisons
Nick Zajac has a terrific WHL resume to his credit after a full five seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, but his WHL success hasn't immediately transitioned into Canada West. This week's four point showing is definitely a step in the right direction for the Manitoba forward, who hopes to ignite his game. He scored the Bisons' lone marker against Saskatchewan on Friday, then posted three points in Manitoba's 5-2 win on Saturday.
**Elgin Pearce: F Calgary Dinos
Elgin Pearce lead the offensive charge for the Calgary Dinos again this week, posting four points, including two goals against the Regina Cougars. Pearce got the scoring started in Friday's contest, and then put up a three-spot against the Cougars on Saturday. Pearce continues to be the heartbeat of the Dinos offence, and is on his way to usurp is 27 points from a year ago.
*Connor Rankin: F Mount Royal Cougars
It was another four point weekend for MRU's Connor Rankin, but he didn't get those numbers the easy way. After going down 4-1 to UBC, Connor Rankin sparked Mount Royal's second marker with an assist, then scored their third goal to kickstart the comeback. On Saturday, Rankin posted another two assists in a 5-3 win, increasing his team-leading point total to 16.
Key Games This Week:
Alberta vs Saskatchewan, Fri. Dec. 2nd, 7:00pm CST
For this matchup, I might as well have their Saturday game in the second slot for this segment, because both matchups will be tremendous. To me, these two teams have the best rivalry running in U Sports hockey right now, and it will show this weekend. There's everything on the line with the conference lead up for grabs, so expect this to be a real dogfight as per usual with these two teams.
Calgary vs UBC, Sat. Dec. 3rd, 4:00pm PST
Despite UBC's struggles of late, their games have been fun to watch. It doesn't seem to matter what the score is, UBC games are never over until the final buzzer sounds. For Calgary, they've had a few thrillers themselves too against Regina and Saskatchewan. Obviously the T-Birds are looking to go out of the first semester on a high, but Calgary will give them all they can handle.