Unlike most AUS seasons where parity existed virtually every past season one through seven or eight and the playoff dramatics went into the final weekend of the regular season, 2016-17 race to determine the six teams that will participate in the always-dramatic AUS tournament is comparatively simple. Still, parity exists at the top of the standings where at least five teams still have a legitimate shot at the two first-round byes on Friday night of AUS Tournament Weekend.
With winless Cape Breton mathematically eliminated from the tournament this past weekend, the sixth and final spot appears to be a race between Acadia (6-7) and UPEI (4-9) with the Panthers 8 points in arrears heading into weekend action. With just three home games remaining including two this weekend against UNB (9-5), Panthers basically need a sweep of the pair of two-point games, after which 4 of their remaining 5 happen on the road.
Axemen get two, two-point games at home against the winless Capers (Friday night and Saturday afternoon) and with a sweep will drop their “magic number” to just 6 points regardless of what Panthers do at home. UPEI has just 10 points thus far and only 18 points remaining on the table; if Panthers win out, they finish with 28 points so Acadia needs just 10 points (of a possible 20) in their remaining 7 games – note that Acadia owns the tie-breaker having swept UPEI in a pair of 4 point games. Panthers, who must travel to Memorial for two, at Dalhousie (4 pointer), at X and host Cape Breton in a four-pointer clearly have their work cut out for them and could be as good as toast as early as this weekend – not mathematically eliminated but on the verge.
Assuming Acadia keeps winning (Axemen and Panthers do not meet again this season), another fairly remote possibility exists for UPEI as St. FX has 22 points. If UPEI wins out, they max out at 28 points – note that Panthers currently hold the tie-breaker (winning 2 of 3 games) and X-Men and Panthers meet on the final night of the season in Antigonish in what *may* be the battle for sixth. Mark the probability of this happening, however, as remote.
At the top of the standings, UNB and Saint Mary’s currently lead with 28 points while Dal and MUN follow with 24 and X, idle this past weekend, has 22. Plenty of jockeying remains with some clarity to likely be achieved this weekend as Memorial has a pair of four point games at Dalhousie and X with the single game at Saint Mary’s.
Given remaining games and points available, expect Dalhousie and UNB to capture the top two seeds.
AUS Standings as of tonight
UNB 9-5, 28 points, 14 points remaining
Saint Mary’s 10-5, 28 points, 12 points remaining
Dalhousie 10-4, 24 points, 20 points remaining
Memorial 9-5, 24 points, 20 points remaining
St. FX 7-6, 22 points, 20 points remaining
Acadia 6-7, 18 points, 20 points remaining
UPEI 4-9, 10 points, 18 points remaining
Cape Breton 0-14, 0 points, 16 points remaining