Volume 93, Issue 91
Wednesday, March 22, 2000
Experts predict the champs
LIKE PICKING THE CORNER IN THE TOP SHELF. Canada's superb six will head west to Saskatchewan to battle for national bragging rights in the frozen ballet known as hockey
By Wes Brown
Who will take home the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union crown for men's hockey this weekend in Saskatchewan?
This question, among others, will be answered when the finest university teams from eastern, central and western Canada gather in Saskatoon to muck it out for national glory.
Western, along with the University of New Brunswick, Université du Québec et Trois-Rivieres, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta will participate and the competition will surely be tight between the squads.
So tight, in fact, we had to ask outside sources who they thought would come away with the coveted title.
Ottawa Gee-Gee's head coach Michel Goulet said his money was on the Mustangs for the Ontario University Athletics finals and was disappointed when they didn't walk away with it last week against UQTR. However, when it came to the nationals, Goulet said UNB had a strong chance, as did Saskatchewan.
"Western is a little inexperienced and they have a few missing pieces. They looked great in the semi's against York [University] and if anyone has a chance to be the dark horse, it's them," he said.
Laurier Golden Hawks head coach Tony Martindale said if there was ever a year that Saskatchewan was going to win it, this would be the one.
"They have a lot of experience out West in Saskatoon. They get great crowds out to their games they average 9,000 people, I think. They're also hosting it and this is the last year they are going to get a chance to do it. All of the pieces are there," he said.
Martindale also liked defending champions Alberta, explaining they were well-coached, fast and very determined. However, he added if Western got some timely goaltending from C.J. Denomme, they had the talent and depth to make some noise.
"I thought Western was the better team between them and UQTR. It was just a matter of [Western] running into a hot goalie at a bad time. They've got the team that could make a serious run out there."
University of Windsor head coach Mike Rice said when it comes down to the final six, any team could walk away with the title and in the end every team was going to be tough.
"Alberta is always strong and being in Saskatoon for the past three years, Saskatchewan has always got the advantage of getting a bye," he said about the strength of the West. "All I know is that I hope Three Rivers and Western can find some way of pulling it off."
Toronto Varsity Blues head coach Darren Lowe said although UNB, Saskatchewan and Alberta were tough teams, Western had as good a shot as any to pull it off.
"The biggest thing is that these teams have to make a decision either they make quick adjustments to their opposition or have enough confidence in their game plan to stick with what got them there," Lowe said.
"It's a tough question and that makes for exciting hockey. I can't wait."
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