Everything you need to know for Saturday in U SPORTS hockey

TORONTO, ON – On the two-year anniversary of the men’s and women’s hockey championships being cancelled mid-way through due to the first outbreak of COVID-19 in Canada, the busiest day of the U SPORTS winter semester has arrived. 

Just in hockey, there has yet to be a bigger day on the calendar. On Saturday, teams will fight for conference championships, open their playoffs in a new format, and battle through the final games of the regular season. 

It’s a lot — let’s get to it. 

MHKY: OUA playoff scenarios highlight Saturday night

(Guelph Gryphons Athletics)

Several of the OUA men’s hockey teams have already finished their seasons, meanwhile, others still have two games to play. Although the eastern conference teams have all clinched, it is far from the case in the west. 

To start, this is how the OUA seeding works for both conferences. Each sends eight teams to a bracket-style, single knockout playoff in the search for the Queen’s Cup.  

  • Top seeds in the division are 1-2
  • Second seeds in the division are 3-4
  • Third seeds in the division are 5-6
  • The next best two teams in the conference are 7-8 

Make sense? No? Perfect. 

To find the rankings for the teams, the standings are based on points percentage. Points percentage is the number of points a team has earned, divided by the maximum total points they could have gotten. 

For example, the Lakehead Thunderwolves played 16 games worth two points each — a total of 32. They earned 13 points, making their point percentage .406. This is used to create fair standings with teams playing differing amounts of games. 

Seven of eight possible teams have clinched, including Ryerson, Toronto, Brock, Windsor, Laurier, Western and Waterloo. 

One spot remains, with Guelph, York and Lakehead all searching for it. Here’s how they can clinch.

  • For Guelph (2 games remaining) to clinch, they have to win their remaining two games against Windsor. If Guelph does not claim full points in each game, they are eliminated. 
  • For Lakehead (0 games remaining) to clinch, they need Guelph to not win both games, and for the York Lions to lose to the Ryerson Rams on Saturday. 
  • For the York Lions (1 game remaining) to clinch, they need to win or lose in overtime against the Ryerson Rams on Saturday. 

Whoever comes out on top will take the eighth seed, and likely meet Ryerson in the first round. 

Stream all OUA men’s hockey games for free on OUA TV.

WHKY: UBC could win the Canada West banner

(UBC Thunderbirds Athletics)

The UBC Thunderbirds welcomed the Saskatchewan Huskies to Vancouver this weekend for the Canada West final and dominated the visitors with a 4-0 win in the opening game of the best-of-three series on Friday night. 

The T-Birds have yet to lose in the Canada West post-season, sweeping the 2020 Champion Alberta Pandas, before moving on to host the Huskies in the final. Meanwhile, the Huskies had not lost in the playoffs until Game 1. 

UBC will have a chance to win the Canada West Championship and go into the national tournament as the highest seed from the conference on Saturday night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbirds Sports Centre. 

The Thunderbirds have not won a Canada West title in the last five seasons but were relentless in their attack on Friday night peppering Saskcthewan goaltender Camryn Drever with 43 shots, compared to the Huskies’ 13 shot total. 

With both teams already heading to the National Championships later this month at UPEI, the game does not hold the potential to be the final one of U SPORTS athletes’ careers, unlike the semifinals would have been. 

Game 2 of the final begins at 7:00 pm Pacific Time (10:00 pm ET). Listen for free on HuskieFan.ca

WHKY: OUA women’s hockey quarterfinals get started

(Varsity Blues Athletics)

The OUA women’s hockey playoffs began midweek with the play-in games. Western and Windsor however, did not play their game with the Windsor Lancers being forced to forfeit due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Therefore, the Western Mustangs won the play-in round. On the other side, the Queen’s Gaels defeated the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks to book their place in the quarterfinals. 

On Saturday, the puck drops on all four quarterfinal matchups in the OUA. While normally the teams would battle a best-of-three series, they will play a single knockout this season at the home of the higher seed. 

The matchups are:

  • Western visiting Waterloo (2:30 pm ET)
  • Ryerson visiting Nipissing (7:00 pm ET)
  • Queen’s visiting Toronto (7:00 pm ET)
  • Brock visiting Guelph (7:30 pm ET)

The Toronto Varsity Blues are the top-ranked team in the country and are the defending McCaw Cup Champions from 2020. Coming into these playoffs, they have experience from the championship run, and a desire to get back to the U SPORTS National Tournament in many of their student-athletes final seasons. 

Saturday’s games could also be the last in the careers of outstanding OUA women’s hockey players such as Ryerson’s Rachel Seeley, Nipissing’s Maria Dominico and Toronto’s Gabrielle De Serres three consistent scorers all set to graduate after this season. 

Adding another level of intrigue, the Premier Hockey Federation’s Toronto Six and new Montreal franchise will undoubtedly be looking at these games ahead of the PHF Draft. The Toronto Six currently have Christine Chao and Taylor Davison, a Toronto and York alumni who featured in the last McCaw Cup game in 2020. 

All games can be streamed live for free on OUA TV, with the McCaw Cup final and U SPORTS tournament being showcased on CBC Sports. 

WHKY: StFX and UNB look to advance to AUS women’s hockey final

(UNB Athletics)

After opening their playoffs on Wednesday night with single knockout quarterfinal games, the AUS semifinal best-of-three series could come to a close on Saturday night, with UNB and StFX winning their series openers. 

The UNB Reds played the St Thomas Tommies to a close game on Friday night, winning 2-1 to put themselves in a position to advance to the final on Saturday. 

Led by Head Coach Sarah Hilworth, the Reds have enjoyed success in every aspect of their lineup this season, but it was Kendra Woodland’s goaltending that took the spotlight on Friday with the native of Kamloops, BC stopping 23 of 24 shots. Having relied on Woodland throughout the season, Hilworth will likely send out a top lineup looking to clinch a Championship Finals spot. 

The Reds visit the STU Tommies at 7:00 pm AST (6:00 pm ET), streaming live for free on AUS TV. 

On the other side of the bracket, the high-octane StFX X-Women look to eliminate the Saint Mary’s Huskies when the Huskies head to Antigonish, NS on Saturday night. 

The Huskies will be up for the challenge for sure, with AUS MVP Shae Demale on their team, having scored 13 goals and 25 points this season to lead the conference. However, the X-Women boast a roster with five of the top eight AUS scorers. 

After Friday’s 3-2 StFX win, Saturday’s elimination matchup will undoubtedly be tight. The two teams drop the puck at 7:00 pm AST (6:00 pm ET), streaming live for free on AUS TV. 

WHKY: RSEQ bronze medal playoffs begin

(Matt Garies)

There is no championship on the line, nor a spot at the U SPORTS National Tournament, but there are still games and a new medal. With the addition of the Bishop’s Gaiters this season, the RSEQ expanded the playoff format and introduced the bronze medal playoffs. 

After losing their quarterfinal games, the Carleton Ravens take on the Montreal Carabins in a best-of-three series to advance to the bronze medal game, while the uOttawa Gee-Gees and Bishop’s Gaiters do the same. 

Those series begin Saturday with Carleton hosting Montreal at 2:00 pm ET, and the uOttawa Gee-Gees heading to Sherbrooke, QC to face the Bishop’s Gaiters at 7:00 p.m. ET. Both games are streamed free, live on the respective team’s YouTube channels. 

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