by Eric Balnar

A few notable changes in the top-10 rankings of the CIS Top Ten this week. Carleton moved up to ninth spot and for the first time in their program’s history the Ravens hold down a top ten spot for consecutive weeks.

We spoke to the coaching staff and a few players this week and all of them played the top ten rank pretty low-key.

Here’s forward Tyler Taylor:

A great attitude to have – especially when playing some of the weaker teams. We discussed this in the show today, but one of the big knocks on Ravens hockey in the past is they play to their level of their opponent. Last year they earned a top ten ranking in the fall, but promptly lost it when the last place RMC Paladins beat them at home. Same story this year. The boys get an autumn top ten ranking but this year they instead respond with two big victories against RMC and Toronto at the Ice House. It earns them a number nine ranking which shows that maybe they’re beginning to garner some respect around the CIS.

When looking at this top ten there are a few questions that immediately pop to mind. Why isn’t McGill number one? Why are teams like SMU and Saskatchewan ahead of Carleton in the rankings? And is uPEI for real?

Let’s take a look at this week’s top ten. (Team record and last week’s rank in brackets)

1. Alberta Golden Bears (1) (7-1-0)

A 7-1-0 hockey team with their only loss coming to the hands of the UBC Thunderbirds early in the season. They’ve rebounded nicely – winning 6 straight since then. They put a lot of pucks in the net. Forward  Chad Klassen is a CIS veteran with a lot of experience and has put up 8 goals and 12 assists in 8 games played so far. He has had a lot of help from Derek Ryan, who has 19 points in 20 games. They have a lot of guys who can score, making them always dangerous to play.

2. McGill Redman (2) (10-0-0)

We’ve talked about them enough on the radio show. You could probably justify a number one ranking for McGill. They are 10-0-0 ad have steamrolled a lot of their competition (ahem, Ryerson, 7-1). For the second straight season it’s been the Francis Verreault-Paul show. The superstar third year forward had a double hatrick on the weekend against Ryerson – 3 goals and 3 penalties. They lead the nation in almost every offensive category except for shots. So this team doesn’t have to bombard you to dominate you. A weakness though, and perhaps the reason stopping them from the top spot, has been at times shaky goaltending from Antoine Tardif and Hubert Morin.

3. University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds (3) (7-1-0)

Two convincing wins over two ranked teams (St. Mary’s and St. FX) catapults the Reds from seventh to third. They have a balanced attack and are starting to hit their stride. They have won seven straight games and none of their opponents have come within three goals.

4. Western Ontario Mustangs (4) (8-0-1)

Talk about athletic success for a school. On the heels of earning another Yates Cup birth on the football field, the Mustangs have proven they are the team to beat in the OUA West. They have yet to allow a powerplay goal and have received solid goaltending from Anthony Grieco and Josh Unice. Senior Aaron Snow leads the team in scoring with 13 points and has provided a nice physical presence as well.

5. Manitoba Bison (5-2-1)

One of the more experienced teams in the CIS. The Bison stumbled a little out of the gate, losing to Lethbridge and Saskatchewan on the road, but have since dominated their next three games. Sophomore forward Blair Macauley is the man to watch here – he has 14 points in just 8 games. He offers a nice complement to their sensational senior goalie Steve Christie (1.84 GAA, .931 Sv%)

6. Saint Mary’s Huskies (4) (3-3-0)

Two weekend losses for SMU. It’s hard to understand why a sixth placed team in their conference has earned them a national sixth place ranking. Confusing, confusing, confusing. Makes you wonder why Carleton didn’t get a higher spot. They have uPEI and UNB this weekend and both are top ten teams so it’s make or break week for the Huskies.

7. Saskatchewan Huskies (7) (4-4)

Another .500 team in front of the Ravens? Yes, the Huskies from the west have been nothing sensational and have struggled scoring goals. They lost to Calgary this weekend, a team with more points than them in the standings. Why aren’t they ranked ahead of Saskatchewan? I think this is another team that has much to prove going into this weekend’s set of games.

8. UPEI Panthers (NR) (5-3-0)

What a weekend for the Panthers! After starting 2-3, uPEI has responded with three straight wins including a dominating 7-3 win over St.FX, a team they are in a dog fight with in the standings. They followed it up with a 4-2 win over ranked St. Mary’s. You can justify a top ten ranking here: this is a hot second place team in one of the toughest conferences in CIS hockey. But they’ve got St. FX and St. Mary’s again this weekend and both with be looking for revenge.

9. Carleton Ravens  (10) (7-1-2)

Talked a lot about the Ravens already. Solid play from all lines. From Jeff Hayes, to Brandon MacLean, to Brad Good, to Joey Manley, to Mathew Dupod…this team can hurt you from anywhere. They probably deserve a higher ranking based on their record, but they have yet to play the real powerhouse teams. Expect Carleton to remain in the top 10 the next few weeks but they probably won’t move higher that 6 or 7 on the list.

10. Calgary Dinos (9) (5-4-1)

Three losses in their last four will knock you down the rankings, but at least two of the defeats have been to the top-ranked Alberta Golden Bears. They have two big road games against Manitoba this weekend and if they can split the series, they should remain in the top ten. After that, the coast is clear as they get a nice stretch of games against some of the weaker teams in the conference.

Other teams receiving votes: StFX (34), Concordia (23), Guelph (5), Acadia (4), UQTR (2), Lakehead (1).