Category: Game Previews


Ravens battle for playoff positioning this weekend

by Eric Balnar

Both the Carleton University Ravens men’s and women’s hockey teams have their fans wondering just what kind of group they are.

At times, both squads look like one of the most talented teams in Canada. Both dismantled the top ranked team, both convincingly downed the second place team and both sit in a playoff position heading into the stretch run.

But a consistent series of puzzling losses against teams well below them in the standings, and probably less talented, have the 2011/2012 editions of the Carleton University Ravens hockey teams looking like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Perhaps after this weekend’s contests, Carleton students and fans alike will have a better idea of where their hockey teams stand.

The men have one game on the weekend – a road date with the No. 1 ranked McGill Redmen on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. The Ravens are in fifth place in the OUA East with 29 points, but only four points clear of the ninth place Ryerson University Rams.

Ravens centre Jeff Hayes says for playoff positioning, this game is a must win.

“The standings are so tight right now. We have to approach every game like it’s a playoff game. If we don’t play well the next two weekends we may not even make it,” he says. “Every shift matters.”

Carleton will have to contend with two former CIS players of the year on McGill. Francis Verreault-Paul is a speedy, gritty forward, who has popped pucks by opposing goalies at a torrid pace the last few years. They also boast Alex Picard-Hooper, arguably one of the best playmakers in the country.

But the Ravens have faired well against the dominant first-place Redmen. They lost 1-0 in a shootout two weeks ago on the road and then beat them 4-2 at home last Saturday.

But great games against McGill have been coupled with tough losses against teams that are lower in the standings. The Ravens lost 3-2 to the then ninth-placed Queen’s Gaels on Tuesday, and then fell 4-1 at the hands of the sixth-placed Gee-Gees on Sunday.

Defenceman Christian Bourdeau-Mifflen is just as confused as everyone else.

“If I knew why this was happening I’d give you an answer. The effort is there but for some reason we can’t beat the teams we should,” he says.

The women have their own searching to do. On January 22, the lady Ravens shut down the McGill Martlets 4-3 in a shootout to grab their first ever win against that school.

They followed that with two of their biggest losses of the season last weekend: 10-0 to the Martlets and 6-2 to the UdeM Carabins.

The losses left the Ravens with a record of 5-6-3 for third place in the RSEQ.

Now, they will host the Concordia Stingers on Saturday at 7 p.m. before heading to Montreal for a rematch with the No. 9 ranked Carabins on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m.

Carleton is a perfect 3-0 against the Stingers this year, and that trend needs to continue. If they can take two points from Concordia, the Ravens will book their ticket to the playoffs.

On Sunday, Carleton tilts with Montreal – a potential playoff opponent.

“In my opinion they have the best power play in the game,” says second year goalie Tamber Tisdale. “They have a good system.”

Carleton needs to shut down the Montreal power play and talented forwards like Kim Deschenes. Tisdale also says they need to get pucks to the net.

“I know this team can score…they do it all the time to me in practice,” she says.

Both teams think they’re national championship contenders, but need to prove it.

This is the most important week of hockey for the Carleton University Ravens men’s hockey team.

We thought they could contend for top spot in the OUA East but a costly losing streak has made that task impossible. Even second place is out of reach.

But this week, the Ravens have a chance to make a statement: That they, like we thought they would be, are one of the best team’s in the country.

These three games this week, against tough competition, will in all likelyhood help determine the playoff positioning for Carleton.

It seem’s like every week a player comes on our show and makes a reoccuring statement. Newest recruit Tim Billingsly was the latest to proclaim, “It’s about peaking at the right time.”

Well gentleman, it’s now time to ascend the mountain and assert yourselves as a dominant force.

Tonight, the Ravens tilt against the Queen’s University Gaels – a team that has provided all kinds of problems for Carleton the last few years. Here’s a review of the last few classic battles:

Queen’s has a game in hand over the fourth place Ravens, and are only five points and in ninth place. If Carleton loses this game, they will slip into danger of missing the playoffs knowing they have two huge weekend contests.

Fresh off stealing 3/4 points on the road, the Ravens have a date with one of Canada’s best on Saturday.

The McGill Redmen pay a visit to the Ice House, and the team seems confident they can beat them.

“We stayed with them the whole way,” said defenceman Mike Lomas. “Our work ethic increases when we play better teams.”

But perhaps Carleton has the chance to BE the better team. They have shut out the Redmen in regulation in three straight contests…something never done by any team against Mcgill – ever.

“That was the best game of the year we played,” he said after last week’s 1-0 shootout loss to McGill. “I thought our guys were up to the challenge.”

Then, on Sunday, the Ravens play the U-Ottawa Gee-Gees. This rivalry always entertains and this season the teams are intertwined in an intense playoff battle. In fact, there’s a good chance they meet in the first round, so this has to be a statement game for Carleton.

This week offers a chance for Carleton to a) bury a team outside the playoff picture b) prove they are just as good as the country’s second ranked team  and c) beat a cross town rival and a team with a similar point total.

An opportunity that can’t be wasted.

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Fans can follow all the action at http://www.ssncanada.com

 

 

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