By: Pierre Rocque
With the final week of the Canada West regular season now upon us the playoffs are far from set. All but two teams still have a shot at the playoffs and most of those teams have full control of their destiny. It will be a win and you are in scenario for Saskatchewan, Calgary, Mount Royal and Brandon. The University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba will need sweeps of their weekends and some splits from around the league to get the math involved.
The University of Winnipeg kept their slim hopes alive by taking the Friday night game from the Calgary Dinos before theDinos responded on Saturday with a win of their own. The split leaves Calgary at 10-10 in a tie for fifth with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Huskies had a split of their own defeating the UBC Thunderbirds at the War Memorial in Vancouver on Friday night 3-0. The ‘Birds returned the favor with a 3-0 sweep the following night, which makes next weekend’s battle with the University of Alberta that much more intriguing as they are both 14-6 and tied for second place in the conference. The Bears continued the weekend trend of splits by defeating the Mount Royal Cougars in three on Friday night and losing in five on Saturday. Mount Royal’s victory kept them at 9-11 and still in a hunt for one of the final playoff spots.
Thompson Rivers has been a pleasant surprise all year, but on Friday they were surprised by the last place Regina Cougars with a 3-1 loss, but redeemed themselves on Saturday with a five set marathon victory. The split leaves Regina at 2-18 and out of the playoffs and Thompson Rivers at 12-8 holding onto home court advantage for the first round of playoffs.
Brandon welcomed the number ranked Spartans into their gym this weekend, and like rude hosts quickly took a 3-0 victory from Trinity Western on Friday night. The tide turned on Saturday as Trinity squeaked out a five set victory to secure the hosting spot for the Canada West final four.
In the only weekend matchup that was not a split the Manitoba Bison defeated UBCO 3-0 and 3-1. With the sweep Manitoba kept their playoff hopes alive at 9-11 and put the Heat down to 4-16 and firmly outside the playoff picture.
All but the final spot of the Canada West women’s playoff spots have been locked up and there are still three teams with a shot at it. Regina sits in the driver seat at 10-10 and with one victory this upcoming week they will secure the spot, while Winnipeg and Saskatchewan at 8-12 will need to sweep their weekend games against Trinity Western and Mount Royal, respectively and hope for two losses by Regina to UBCO to hope for a tie breaker.
Winnipeg took care of business at home with two three set victories over the struggling Calgary Dinos, who sit at 5-15 and will finish outside the playoffs for back to back years. Mount Royal did themselves no favors on the weekend losing in five and then in three to the University of Alberta Pandas. The victories locked up a playoff spot for the Pandas at 11-9 and take their show back home for the final weekend against the UBC Thunderbirds, while the two losses eliminated Mount Royal from the playoffs. The T’Birds had a bounce back week after splitting with Mount Royal, by dominating play with the Saskatchewan Huskies with two, three set victories.
UBCO and Manitoba squared off in the battle for fourth place and a home playoff game, likely against one another if the standings remain the same, with Manitoba winning 3-0 Friday and the Heat winning a five set battle on Saturday. Both teams are 12-8 tied for fourth. Manitoba will be on the road against the winless Thompson Rivers WolfPack, while UBCO hosts seventh place Regina.
Regina hosted Thompson Rivers and swept the WolfPack both nights. The losses put the WolfPack at 0-20 and the Cougars to 10-10 and in the driver seat for the final playoff spot. In the final matchup of the weekend the tie for second place in the conference was not solved as both Brandon and Trinity Western had 3-0 victories, leaving both teams at 15-5. Brandon travels to Calgary to face the Dinos and the Spartans will have home court advantage against the Wesmen.