CIS Conference play set to start in men’s and women’s hockey

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September 27, 2012, OTTAWA (CIS) – While there is no NHL action on the horizon, one thing is certain — Canadian university hockey is back. The regular season gets under way Thursday night in CIS men’s hockey, while conference action on the women’s side starts on Oct. 4.

The puck drops in men’s play tomorrow in Lethbridge when the Calgary Dinos visit the Pronghorns for the first end of a two-game series on Thursday and Friday. A total of eight Canada West contests are scheduled on opening weekend, including the Mount Royal Cougars making their CIS debut at home against Saskatchewan, Friday night.

League play in the OUA and AUS conferences starts on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12, respectively.

For the first time in school history, the McGill Redmen go into the new season as reigning national champions. The Redmen, the oldest hockey team in the world entering their 137th campaign, captured their first-ever University Cup title last March thanks to a thrilling 4-3 overtime win against Western in the CIS final.

McGill lost many key players following last spring’s triumph, including two-time CIS defenceman of the year Marc-André Dorion, former CIS MVP and scoring champion Alexandre Picard-Hooper, reigning University Cup MVP Francis Verreault-Paul, as well as team captain Evan Vossen, who scored their historic OT goal against Western.

Despite all these departures, the Redmen are off to a good start in 2012-13 with three straight pre-season wins, including a 5-1 decision over RMC on Sept. 14 and victories against Waterloo, 6-3, and Western, 6-2, at last weekend’s Mustangs East-West tournament in London.

“We have lost 10 players, many of them key leaders, from last season but had a good recruiting year and are bringing in solid people with lots of speed, skill, and grit,” says third-year McGill head coach Kelly Nobes, whose troops officially begin defence of their University Cup title on Oct. 5 with a home tilt against cross-town rival Concordia. “We understand that with such a young team we will have to grow and develop as a group but will rely on our work ethic and structure to accomplish our objectives.”

The 2013 University Cup championship, hosted by the University of Saskatchewan, will be held from March 14 to 17 at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon.

On the women’s side, league action begins on Oct. 4 in OUA, Oct. 5 in Canada West, Oct. 12 in the RSEQ, and Oct. 13 in AUS.

The UOIT Ridgebacks and Guelph Gryphons will be the first teams to drop the puck, eight days from now in Guelph, part of a 19-game opening weekend in Ontario and Canada West.

One of the teams that are set to take the ice next week is the Calgary Dinos, who open the regular season with a home-and-away series against Lethbridge on Oct. 5-6.

Like McGill, the Dinos claimed the first CIS banner in program history last March thanks to a convincing 5-1 win over the Montreal Carabins. Unlike the Redmen however, Calgary returns most of the star players from last year’s championship squad, including Canadian hockey icon Hayley Wickenheiser, goaltender Amanda Tapp, who was named MVP of the 2012 national tournament, all-Canadian rearguard Stephanie Ramsay, as well as Russian Olympian Iya Gavrilova.

Following a surprising 2-1 shootout loss to Canada West newcomer Mount Royal in their pre-season opener back on Sept. 8, the Dinos have been dominant in their next four contests against CIS opponents, scoring decisive victories over Toronto, 6-1, perennial powerhouse Laurier, 7-1, York, 5-0, and Western, 3-0.

“It’s a new season, and we have new faces on the team,” says sixth-year Calgary bench boss Danielle Goyette, a nine-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team. “We know we were successful last year, but we need to focus on doing well in our league first – if we do that, we’ll get a chance to go back to the national championship. As a program, we want to push the players to be the best they can be year after year, and that process starts over again this week.”

The University of Toronto will host the 2013 CIS championship from March 7 to 10.

The inaugural Top 10 national rankings in CIS men’s and women’s hockey will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

CIS MEN’S HOCKEY 2012-13: KEY DATES

Sept. 27: Start of Canada West regular season

Oct. 5: Start of OUA regular season

Oct. 12: Start of AUS regular season

March 14-17: CIS University Cup championship in Saskatoon (hosted by University of Saskatchewan)

CIS WOMEN’S HOCKEY 2012-13: KEY DATES

Oct. 4: Start of OUA regular season

Oct. 5: Start of Canada West regular season

Oct. 12: Start of RSEQ regular season

Oct. 13: Start of AUS regular season

March 7-10: CIS championship in Toronto (hosted by University of Toronto)

About Canadian Interuniversity Sport

Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Every year, 11,000 student-athletes and 700 coaches from 54 universities and four regional associations vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well as numerous world university championships. For further information, visit www.cis-sic.ca or follow us on:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CIS_SIC 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cissports 

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/universitysport 

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