Will Western drink from the University Cup?
No less than six in the Cup mix
No less than six in the Cup mix
Canada's hockey elite converge on Kitchener
By Benjamin Mills
All sporting eyes in the university world will be focused on Kitchener this weekend as the Candian Interuniversity Sport University Cup men's hockey championship gets underway. Here's a brief rundown of what to expect:
Université du Québec a Trois-Rivieres Patriotes
Record: 15-8-1 (they are also the defending national champions)
Finished: Queen's Cup champions, second in Ontario University Athletics Far East Division
Road to the final: Beat Western in Queen's Cup final.
Top Scorers: Jean-Philippe Paré finished with 43 points and was the Queen's Cup MVP for UQTR. Alexandre Tremblay finished second in team scoring with 35 points. They have speed and skill to burn.
Watch out for: UQTR are fast and have the ability to kick it up a notch when the big games roll around.
University of Western Ontario Mustangs
Finished: First overall in the universe but lost the Queen's Cup final.
Road to the final: Undefeated regular season, but unfortunately had some difficulties during the playoffs ending with a loss to those damned Patriotes.
Top Scorers: The dynamic duo of Joe Talbot and Matt Dzieduszycki combined for a total of 88 points during the regular season. Ryan Held tallied a total of 42 points, good for third on the team.
Watch out for: Western's ability to jump out to a quick lead. Five OUA all-stars, OUA West Rookie of the Year Matt Dzieduszycki, OUA MVP Joe Talbot.
University of Alberta Golden Bears
Finished: First in Canada West, number one seed in tournament
Road to the final: Swept Saskatchewan in Canada West finals. Forty-one Canada West titles in 66 years.
Top Scorers: Ryan Wade and Kris Knoblauch finished with 40 and 35 points respectively. Alberta is a quick team known for their grittiness and experience.
Watch out for: "Da Bears" head coach Rob Daum is the Scotty Bowman of the CIS, boasting a .758 win percentage in 316 games. Goalie Clayton Pool is the epitome of an all-star goaltender having been named a Canada West all-star three years in a row a new conference record.
St. Mary's University Huskies
Finished: Second in Atlantic Division
Road to the final: Upset Dalhousie in Atlantic Division final.
Top Scorers: Brett Gibson and Jim Midgley both put up 36 points, 16th in the CIS.
Watch out for: SMU has a blue collar approach to the game, so watch for the Huskies to lay on the body work and grind along the boards and in the corners.
University of Guelph Gryphons
Road to the final: Automatic berth in the tournament as the host team (lucky ducks)
Top Scorers: Jason Jackman tallied 32 points, but couldn't break the top 25 point getters in the CIS.
Watch out for: Goaltender Andrew Gibson. He held Western to only two goals on Jan. 31. Also, note that being the host team sometimes plays an advantageous role and few teams give Guelph the respect that they deserve. They will be the dark horse in this competition.
University of Saskatchewan Huskies
Road to the final: Second in Canada West, swept by Alberta in finals.
Top Scorers: Canada West MVP Jon Barkman led the CIS in points with 49. Also have Canada West Rookie of the Year in Dan Hulak.
Watch out for: The Huskies are the not-so-jolly giants they possess numerous players over six feet tall and can hit hard and play fast. Had many key injuries during the Canada West final, which could explain being swept by Alberta. Watch for big hits when the Huskies step on the ice.