Baggataway Cup weekend kicks off with a bang at 6 pm Friday on the campus of Bishop's University. The home team Gaiters, who finished second in the East Conference, take on the two-time defending champion Guelph Gryphons in what should be an excellent contest.
Bishops (10-2) vs Guelph (8-4)
Bishop's: James Malloy (33g, 17a, 50pts), Ryan Dewar (26g, 20a, 46pts), Mason Austen (19g, 8a, 27pts)
Guelph: Brett Ulbikas (30g, 11a, 41pts), Michael Cavanagh (25g, 10a, 35pts), Liam Corbett (16g, 11a, 27pts)
Bishop's: David Bigley (522 minutes played, 5.83 GAA), Perry McDermott (278 minutes played, 7.47 GAA)
Guelph: Michael Lalani (773 minutes played, 7.04 GAA), Dmytro Dutka (137 minutes played, 15.20 GAA)
Recent history between the teams
2014: Guelph beat Bishop's 13-9 in the quarterfinals en route to championship
The teams entered the game in the exact same situation as this year—Guelph was seeded third off an 8-4 season while Bishop's was a second seed after finishing 10-2. Bishops led 9-7 with two minutes left to play in the third quarter, but Curtis Knight scored three more goals to lead a 6-0 run by Guelph that sparked their drive to repeat as champions.
2013: Guelph beat Bishop's 12-10 in the quarterfinals en route to the championship
The teams had the same seeds but their records were slightly different—Guelph finished third at 9-3 and Bishop's was second at 7-3.
2011: Bishop's beat Guelph 12-11 in the semifinals en route to the championship
Guelph was the East's top seed after finishing the regular season with the same 8-2 record as Brock but taking the tiebreaker by outscoring the Badgers in their head-to-head meetings. Bishop's also tied for first, with McGill, and the teams had to go well into the tiebreaker system since they each won a regular-season matchup by one goal. Bishop's wound up second, setting up the semifinal meeting with the Gryphons.
Guelph led 7-2 at the half. Bishop's outscored them 4-1 in the third quarter to pull within two goals, but Guelph responded with the first two goals of the fourth quarter to make it 10-6. Mike Dube and Josh Crone—who wound up with 4 and 5 goals in the game, respectively—led a furious charge that saw Bishop's win by scoring three power play goals in the final 1:07 of the game.
Guelph has had to overcome the loss of last year's four leading scorers and program cornerstones: Curtis Knight, Ryan Serville, Jordan Critch and Mike Burke. That led to them scoring 24 fewer goals than a year ago. Brett Ulbikas has stepped up to shoulder much of the scoring load, but the Gryphons will need to get balanced contributions if they are going to repeat their performance of the last two years, in which they scored upsets in each round of the Baggataway Cup final six weekend.
The Gryphons also miss Knight's presence in the defensive zone, along with players like DJ Nedelko, Kristien Leblanc and Matthew Lyons. They're in good hands defensively, though, with four back end players earning All Canadian honours—LSM Adam Kirchmayer, defenders Justin Martin and Nathan McKenzie, and goalie Michael Lalani.
Bishop's had another great year defensively, leading the country with just 64 goals allowed after surrendering 66 in 2014. Their scoring took a bit of a hit this year, dropping from 164 goals in 2014 to 123 this year, but that is in part accounted for by Concordia not fielding a team this year, resulting in lower scoring throughout the conference. They can still put the ball in the net, that's for sure, as evidenced by the success of All Canadians attack men James Malloy and Ryan Dewar and middie Mason Austen.?