Friday, March 23, 2012

NATIONALS GAME #4 - UQTR VS. WESTERN

Number 4 hosts number 6 – The fourth game of the 2012 edition of the Cavendish University Cup kicks off at the Aitken University Centre tonight at 7PM when the OUA Runner-up and CIS #4 ranked Western Mustangs host the OUA bronze medalists and CIS #7 ranked UQTR Patriotes. The Mustangs finished in first place in the OUA West division, and second in both the OUA conference and CIS behind only McGill, with a 21 – 4 – 3 record, 7 points ahead of 2nd place Lakehead. It marks the 3rd consecutive year they have won their division. Western was ranked in the CIS top ten for all 18 polls this season, ranking 1st on one occasion and in the top three 6 other times. UQTR went 19 – 7 – 2 in the OUA East this season, finishing 6 points behind McGill and in 2nd place for the 2nd straight year.

The Patriotes were in and out of the CIS top ten rankings all season, spending 12 out of 18 weeks in the polls. They achieved their highest ranking of the season in the 2nd poll of the season in late October, reaching 6th place. In their first game of the tournament last night against the host UNB Varsity Reds the Patriotes were soundly defeated 6-1. They need to win by atleast 5 goals to have a chance at advancing. If Western emerges victorious their game against the Varsity Reds on Saturday at 4PM is a true semi-final with the winner moving on to Sunday night’s championship game.

Playoffs
– Western earned their way to the University Cup after sweeping Laurier and Brock in two games each in the first two rounds of the OUA playoffs. In the semi-finals the Mustangs found themselves facing elimination after dropping the series opener to Windsor before rallying to win the final two games and clinching not only a spot in the OUA Championship against McGill but, more importantly, the University Cup. Despite hosting the 101st edition of the Queen’s Cup the Mustangs lost 4-1, the 2nd straight year they have lost the league final to the Redmen.

University Cup – Western is making a return trip to Fredericton after participating in last year’s University Cup. It will be their 3rd appearance at the event in the past 4 years. Last season the Mustangs defeated Calgary 3-2 in their opening game before falling to UNB 4-0 in the semi-finals. This marks Western’s 11th trip to the University Cup and they have an overall record of 7-13 in their previous 10 tournaments. The Mustangs lone National Championship in school history came in 2002 when they defeated UQTR 4-3 in triple overtime. They have been to two other title games, losing 5-3 to York in 1988 and UNB 4-2 in 2009.

UQTR returns to the University Cup after a one year absence. In the 2010 event in Thunder Bay, Ontario the Patriotes were defeated 4-2 by Alberta in their first game and 7-2 by the host Lakehead Thunderwolves in their second. Overall, though, UQTR has been very successful at Nationals. They are making their 17th appearance at the University Cup since the 1983-84 season and have played in 6 National Championship games during that span, winning CIS Gold on 4 occasions (1987 in Edmonton, 1991 in Toronto, 2001 in Kitchener, and 2003 in Fredericton). UQTR has an all-time record of 19-16 at the University Cup.

Here is a snapshot of the two team’s records at Nationals (NOT including this year):

Team

GP

W

L

GF

GA

PCT

Appear.

Gold

Silver

First App.

Last App.

Western

20

7

13

61

73

0.350

10

1

2

86-87

10-11

UQTR

35

19

16

128

141

0.543

16

4

2

83-84

09-10


Last Meeting
– Despite playing in the same conference the Mustangs and Patriotes have not met since the 2009-2010 season. The teams split their two meetings that season, with Western winning 5-1 at home in the regular season and UQTR getting revenge in the OUA bronze medal game, winning 5-4 at home to earn a trip to the University Cup. Their lone meeting at the University Cup came in the 2002 Gold Medal Game in Kitchener, Ontario. Western avenged a loss in the Queen’s Cup to claim their only title to date with a 4-3 triple overtime victory, a game that remains the longest in University Cup history.

Head-to-Head
– The Mustangs (114 goals, 4th) and Patriotes (127, 1st) are two of the top scoring teams in the country, and each feature a power play that operates at over 20.0% and a defense that is middle of the pack in terms of giving up shots, so there should be no shortage of offense in this match-up. The difference may be penalty killing. Western has the 4th ranked unit in the country (87.2%), which may allow them to have more success against UQTR’s dangerous power play than vice-versa as the Patriotes only rank 27th (79.5%) when playing a man down. The Mustangs also appear to have the edge in goaltending as they had the 2nd best save percentage in the country (0.919) and 6th best goals against average (2.43), compared to 0.886 (27th) and 3.40 (21st), respectively, for UQTR.


#4 WESTERN

#6 UQTR

OVERALL RECORD

21 – 4 – 3 (2nd CIS)

19 – 7 – 2 (7th CIS)

HOME RECORD

13 – 1 – 0

9 – 4 – 1

AWAY RECORD

8 – 3 – 3

10 – 3 – 1

FIRST HALF

11 – 1 – 2

10 – 4 – 0

SECOND HALF

10 – 3 – 1

9 – 3 – 2

RECORD VS. CIS TEAMS

27 – 7 – 3

27 – 14 – 2

PLAYOFF RECORD

6 – 2

5 – 4

PLAYOFF RESULT

OUA Runner-up

OUA Bronze

FINAL CIS RANKING

4th

7th

BEST CIS RANKING

1st (1 time)

6th (1 time)

WEEKS IN TOP TEN

18 (out of 18)

12 (out of 18)

GOALS SCORED

114 (4th)

127 (1st)

GOALS SCORED/GAME

4.07 (4th)

4.54 (1st)

GOALS AGAINST

69 (t-5th)

97 (21st)

GOALS AGAINST/GAME

2.43 (6th)

3.40 (21st)

GOAL DIFFERENTIAL

+45 (2nd)

+29 (8th)

SHOTS/GAME

34.6 (8th)

31.8 (17th)

PP GOALS SCORED

30 (t-10th)

36 (2nd)

PP OPPORTUNITIES

146 (17th)

171 (2nd)

OVERALL PP %

20.5 (7th)

21.1 (6th)

PP GOALS ALLOWED

16 (1st)

32 (t-29th)

TIMES SHORTHANDED

125 (4th)

156 (t-26th)

OVERALL PK %

87.2 (4th)

79.5 (27th)

SH GOALS FOR

3 (t-19th)

3 (t-19th)

SAVES

785 (t-19th)

756 (15th)

SAVE %

91.9 (t-2nd)

88.6 (27th)

PENALTY MINUTES/GAME

13.5 (3rd)

25.8 (33rd)


Who to Watch for on Western – The Mustangs had a quartet of players score more than 30 points this season, led by CIS top scorer, first team CIS all-star and OUA West MVP Keaton Turkiewicz (47 points). Second team all-star and veteran Kevin Baker (37 points), CIS rookie of the year Zach Harnden (17 goals, 31 points), and Steve Reese (13 goals, 31 points) will also be counted on for offense. These four players also led the Mustangs in playoff scoring, with Turkiewicz pacing the conference with 14 postseason points. Defensively, OUA West defenseman of the year Scott Aarssen only had 8 points this season but he will almost certainly be relied on to shut down the explosive UQTR attack. Rookie Andrew Eastman led all Mustangs blueliners with 17 points in 25 regular season games before adding another 4 in 8 postseason contests. Fellow rookie Matt Ashman was the only other Western defenceman to reach double digits in scoring, notching 1 goal and 9 assists. In goal will be OUA West goaltender of the year and first team all-star Josh Unice. Unice started 18 games this season and registered 15 wins, a 2.10 GAA, and 4 shutouts. His 0.931 save percentage ranked 2nd in the CIS.

Who to Watch for on UQTR
– The Patriotes feature 11 rookies in their line-up and are led offensively by OUA East first team all-star Felix Petit, who finished 4th in the country in scoring with 42 points. Forwards Pierre-Alexandre Joncas (32 points), Jean-Sebastien Breton (31), and Alexandre Demers (30) all averaged over a point per game and will be counted on to provide offence. These four accounted for almost half of UQTR’s 36 power play goals. Rookie Charles Bety (21 points) was among three other players who averaged over 0.75 points per game. Olivier Donovan led the team in playoff scoring with 12 points, after scoring 17 in conference play. On defence OUA East first team all-star Pierre-Luc Lessard (26) and Emmanual Boudreau (20) carry almost the entire load offensively as no other blue-liner had more than 8 points. Lessard added 10 points in the playoffs. Overall, UQTR had 14 players reach double digits in points this season. Goaltender Guillaume Nadeau played in 25 out of 28 regular season games and all 9 playoff games for the Patriotes. The heavy workload may have effected Nadeau as he seen his GAA and save percentage of 3.18 and 0.892 respectively in the regular season balloon to 3.76 and 0.883 in the playoffs.

GAME DAY SNAPSHOT
Western – Regular Season/Playoffs
(21-4-3 /45 pts, 1st OUA West, 4th CIS)/(6-2 in playoffs, OUA Runner-up)
#29-F- Keaton Turkiewicz (20-27-47 in 28 games)/(5-9-14 in 8 games)
#10-F- Kevin Baker (7-30-37 in 28 games)/(6-5-11 in 8 games)
#71-F- Zach Harnden (17-14-31 in 26 games)/(3-6-9 in 8 games)
#11-F- Steve Reese (13-18-31 in 28 games)/(4-5-9 in 8 games)
#79-F- Tyler Peters (14-11-25 in 28 games)/(0-0-0 in 8 games)
#1-G- Josh Unice (15-4-0, 2.10, 0.931 in 20 games)/(6-2, 2.26, 0.923 in 8 games)

UQTR – Regular Season/Playoffs
(19-7-2 /40 pts, 2nd OUA East, 7th CIS)/(5-4 in playoffs, OUA Bronze)
#17-F- Felix Petit (18-24-42 in 28 games)/(3-5-8 in 9 games)
#76-F- Pierre-Alexandre Joncas (12-20-32 in 28 games)/(4-5-9 in 7 games)
#19-F- Jean-Sebastien Breton (12-19-31 in 28 games)/(2-4-6 in 9 games)
#25-F- Alexandre Demers (8-22-30 in 25 games)/(0-0-0 in 3 games)
#16-D- Pierre-Luc Lessard (9-17-26 in 24 games)/(2-8-10 in 9 games)
#57-G- Guillaume Nadeau (16-8-0, 3.18, 0.892 in 25 games)/(5-4, 3.76, 0.883 in 9 games)

Special Teams – Regular Season/Playoffs
Western PP – 30 for 146 (20.5%)/6 for 31 (19.4%)
UQTR PP – 36 for 171 (21.1%)/9 for 52 (17.3%)
Western PK – 109 for 125 (87.2%)/27 for 32 (84.4%)
UQTR PK – 124 for 156 (79.5%)/45 for 59 (76.3%)