Canada West: Lethbridge clinches, Alberta struggles


Not much more clarity in the Canada West standings after last night’s action other than Calgary, UBC and Manitoba will finish in the Top 3 and that Thompson Rivers, despite their 3rd loss in Explorer Division play, have clinched top spot in that loop – and a quarter-final date with the winner of fifth place vs. seventh place “play-in” series in the Pioneer.  Spots 4 through 6 in the Pioneer remain fluid however Lethbridge is in charge of their own destiny for fourth place after their impressive win over a Winnipeg team that was without Denzel Lynch-Blair last night.  Losses in each of their final three games by the Wesmen – they meet Horns again tonight and then travel to UBC nex weekend – and they may be eliminated ?! (see more speculation and possibilities below).  As well, one can legitimately question how desirable finishing fourth is when the fifth-place team can face an unproven Thompson Rivers team in the quarters while fourth-place travels to third-place in Pioneer (probably Manitoba) – but then again that 5th place team will have to win their “play-in” series against what could be Saskatchewan (see more below).  Spots 5 through 7 in Pioneer participate in the Canada West “play-in” round.  Clarity at this point ?? hardly…

After sweeping Regina this weekend, Calgary travels to Edmonton next Saturday to finish the season at Alberta, where a win clinches first place and, assuming Calgary wins their Best-of-3 quarter final playoff series (which only counts as one game to the ranking committee as decreed by Canada West), the Canada West Final Four will take place at the Jack Simpson Gym, where Dinos attracted almost 3,000 fans on Thursday night.

Assuming UBC defeats Brandon (1-16) again this evening, the Thunderbirds need a sweep next weekend over Winnipeg to ensure a second place finish.  Second place is key because it sets the Birds up with the second place finisher in the Explorer.  Manitoba, which scored 70 second-half points last night at Trinity Western, would thus finish third and meet 4th place team in Pioneer and Bisons would have home court advantage.

Saskatchewan has a legitimate chance to pull a rabbit out of the hat and qualify for the playoffs after a 4-10 start with 3 more wins which could move the Huskies as high as 6th place – assuming Alberta can’t get it done at home next weekend at home vs. Calgary.  Sixth place in Pioneer is also somewhat desirable as it sets up a first-round series with the 3rd place team in the Explorer.  7th place Pioneer meets 5th place Pioneer in one of the two “play-in” series… assuming I’ve got all this figured out properly which is debatable.

Speaking of 7th place in Pioneer, there is a distinct possibility if:

  • Sask beats Alberta tonight and sweeps Regina
  • Calgary beats Alberta
  • Winnipeg loses again tonight vs. Lethbridge and gets swept at UBC

that there could be a three-way tie for the final Pioneer division playoff spot between Victoria, Alberta and Winnipeg – all at 9-11.

Ph.D. analysis (maybe we can truck in the architect of the RPI) may be required to solve which team gets that coveted 7th playoff spot with a sub .500 record.

Thompson Rivers will now officially be eliminated from my Top 10 after losing at Fraser Valley where Cascades Kevon Parchment, celebrating his Senior weekend, busted out for 33 points against the WolfPack which struggled amid foul trouble all night for 6’10” Josh Wolfram.  This does not appear to be a very deep TRU team which in the unique 3-games-in-3-days format (which has been decreed to count as one real long game in the national rankings) could be taxing during the second half of a series-deciding game three.

Here are Canada West Pioneer standings after Friday night’s action:

Calgary 16-3 (one game remaining at Alberta next Saturday)

UBC 13-4 (at Brandon tonight then home to Winnipeg for two next weekend)

Manitoba 14-5 (completes their regular season at Trinity Western tonight)

Lethbridge 10-7 (at Winnipeg tonight and then home to TWU twice next weekend)

Regina 10-8 (home to Saskatchewan twice next weekend)

Winnipeg 9-8 (home to Lethbridge tonight then at UBC twice)

Alberta 9-9 (at Saskatchewan tonight then home to Calgary next Saturday)

——————

Saskatchewan 7-10 (Alberta at home; at Regina for two)

Victoria 7-11 (home to Brandon for two next weekend)

Brandon 1-16

Trinity Western 1-16

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