October 9, 2012, OTTAWA (CIS) – For the second consecutive year, and for the fourth time in six seasons, the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds open the campaign atop the CIS men’s hockey national rankings.
UNB received eight first-place votes and 152 points from the 17-member selection committee, with the other first-place nods going to the Alberta Golden Bears (5), the reigning University Cup champion McGill Redmen (3) and the UQTR Patriotes (1).
Alberta is ranked second in the first media poll of 2012-13 thanks to a 143-point tally, followed by No. 3 UQTR (117), the No. 4 Saskatchewan Huskies (102), No. 5 McGill (74), No. 6 Western Mustangs (58), No. 7 Calgary Dinos (54), No. 8 Moncton Aigles Bleus (49), No. 9 St. Francis Xavier X-Men (46) and No. 10 Lakehead Thunderwolves (42).
The V-Reds, who claimed the CIS banner three times in the past six years (2007, 2009, 2011) but were upset on home ice by Western in the final pool-play game of the 2012 University Cup championship, are once again among the early favourites to go all the way this year and have been impressive in pre-season action.
UNB kept a 4-1 pre-season mark versus CIS opponents, including a 7-2 road win over national champ McGill and a 3-2 home victory against No. 3 UQTR, and also gave the AHL’s Portland Pirates all they could handle before dropping a 2-1 shootout decision, at Portland. The V-Reds kick off conference play this weekend with a pair of home games, first against cross-town rival St. Thomas on Friday night and then versus Moncton on Saturday.
McGill, which captured the first University Cup title in school history last spring thanks to a thrilling 4-3 overtime win against Western in the CIS championship game, opens lower than expected in the national rankings following a disappointing 0-2 start in league play. After winning three of four pre-season contests, the Redmen were upset 6-5 by Concordia last Friday in their conference opener, before losing 5-2 at home to UQTR on Saturday.
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.
No. 2 Alberta started the regular season back on Sept. 28-29 with a two-game sweep of Manitoba on home ice, 4-2 and 7-2, before enjoying a break in the Canada West schedule on Thanksgiving weekend.
In addition to its impressive 5-2 road win against McGill on Saturday, third-ranked UQTR defeated Nipissing 7-4 at home in its OUA opener, last Friday.
No. 4 Saskatchewan, which will host the 2013 University Cup championship in Saskatoon from March 14-17, opened Canada West play with two road wins against CIS newcomer Mount Royal, 5-4 and 5-3.
NOTE: UNB was ranked No. 1 in 15 of 18 national polls last season, and has topped 58 of the last 83 polls (69.9%) since 2006-07.
CIS MEN’S HOCKEY TOP 10 (#1)
Voting is based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, with a 1st place vote worth 10 points. The CIS Men’s Ice Hockey Top Ten Committee is made up of media members from across Canada.
(regular season record) / votes (first-place votes) / (previous rankings)
1. UNB (0-0-0) / 152 pts (8) / (-)
2. Alberta (2-0-0) / 143 (5) / (-)
3. UQTR (2-0-0) / 117 (1) / (-)
4. Saskatchewan (2-0-0) / 102 / (-)
5. McGill (0-2-0) / 74 (3) / (-)
6. Western (0-0-0) / 58 / (-)
7. Calgary (2-0-0) / 54 / (-)
8. Moncton (0-0-0) / 49 / (-)
9. StFX (0-0-0) / 46 / (-)
10. Lakehead (2-0-0) / 42 / (-)
Other teams receiving votes: Saint Mary’s (21), Manitoba (14), Windsor (14), Acadia (13), Concordia (8), Nipissing (6), UPEI (5), York (4), Brock (3), Regina (3), UBC (2), Ottawa (2), Wilfrid Laurier (2), Carleton (1).
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