Brock Badgers (11-1)
For the first time since 2009, the Brock Badgers enter the playoffs as CUFLA West’s #1 seed. That season they finished undefeated and captured the Baggataway Cup for the 18th time in team history. Since then, the Badgers have lost in two championship games and were knocked off in last year’s semi-final. In a league that has seen five different champions in the last five years, Brock is looking to once again reach the top of the CUFLA mountain.
Brock has a high-powered offence that has seen very little resistance this season. Led by CUFLA scoring leader Kyle Davis (Caledon East, Ont.), CUFLA goal scoring leader Greg Davidson (Scarborough, Ont.), and CUFLA All-Canadian Brandon Slade (Orangeville, ON), the team scored a CUFLA West-leading 163 goals, reaching the 20-goal plateau 3-times.
Although it didn’t happen often, when the Badger offence has been slowed, the defence has been quick to counter. Led defensively by the Vancouver Stealth’s Justin Pychel (Welland, Ont.), the Badgers surrendered 10 goals or more on only two occasions this season. Even more impressively, they held their opponents to five goals or less on six different occasions. Goaltender Ian Duffy (Pickering, Ont.) has been rock solid in the pipes, earning an Honourable Mention All-Canadian nod. He has been especially impressive in big games this season. Duffy made 15 saves in a 1st place clinching game late in the season and made 18 in a mid-season victory against the 2nd place Western Mustangs. Pychel and Duffy look to continue their steady play as they attempt to lead the defence while their potent attack goes to work on the offensive side of half.
This season, the Badgers have found all kinds of ways to win games. They have shown they have the ability to break games open, but don’t have a problem grinding out wins when they need to. When it comes down to it this weekend, all that really matters for the Badgers is that they do whatever it takes to grab the two wins necessary to bring the Baggataway Cup back to St. Catharines.
As the 1st seed in CUFLA West, Brock has already advanced to the semi-finals on Saturday at 4:30pm against the winner of the quarterfinal game between Bishops and Guelph. Brock defeated Guelph on two occasions this season. The Badgers and Gaiters did not play against each other this year.
Brandon Slade – Attack
Mark Debrone – Defensive Midfield
Justin Pychel – Defence
Kyle Davis – Attack
Gage Board – Midfield
Brandon Staal – Midfield
Kyle Kropman – Faceoff Specialist
Ian Duffy - Goalkeeper
Western Mustangs (10-2)
Last season ended with a heartbreaking 6-4 loss in the Baggataway Cup final to the McGill Redmen. This weekend will see Western travel to McGill’s home turf in Montreal looking for redemption. And as the old adage goes, defense wins championships. Matched up against the Queen’s Gaels, the Mustangs will look to their defence to propel them over the hump and capture their first championship since 2001.
The Mustangs are no strangers to solid defensive play, having ranked in the top two of the West Division in goals against every year since 2009. Western enters this year’s playoffs with the lowest goals against average in the West Division at a stingy 4.75. This is no coincidence as the Mustangs are led by 5-time All-Canadian defender Eric Pitre (Toronto, Ont.). Pitre has been impressive all over the field, having scored the game-winning goal in their 1st round playoff matchup against Toronto. Goaltender Zach Grace (London, Ont.), Western’s other All-Canadian selection, led the West Division with a 4.89 goals against average and nine victories. The team will once again rely heavily on two of the leagues best this weekend to shut down their opponents’ potent offence.
Offensively, Western has gotten the job done by committee in 2013. Typically playing a very controlled style, the squad had four players top the 20-point plateau, with three others cracking the 10-point mark. The offence was paced Ryan McCrory (Clarington, Ont.) with a team high 24 goals as part of the Mustangs balanced attack. With their defensive unit consistently shutting down their opponent’s top players, the Western offence won’t be required to carry the entire load. Rather, they will be relied on to take advantage of the opportunities that they are given and give their defenders enough run support to come out on top.
As always tends to be the case with a Jeremy Tallevi coached team, preparation will be another key to the Mustangs' success. After securing a quarterfinal birth on October 25th, Tallevi and his staff travelled to Kingston in a torrential downpour to scout their next opponent the following day. The team understands the challenge posed by a strong Gaels squad and wanted to ensure they have done everything necessary to be prepared come Friday night’s quarterfinal. With redemption on their mind, Western will travel to Montreal looking to smother teams defensively and ultimately get over the Baggataway hump they have been stuck on since 2001.
The perennial contender Mustangs find themselves matched up against the upstart Queen’s Gaels. The Gaels have shown they can score, notching 1 less goal than the Mustangs during the regular season despite playing 2 fewer games. Western’s defence will need to do what they have done all season and limit the Gaels offense if they want to move on to the semifinals and beyond.
Eric Pitre – Defence
Zach Grace – Goalkeeper
Brendan Chess – Defensive Midfield
Matt Spanger - Defence
Guelph Gryphons (9-3)
Despite their 3rd place finish, the Gryphons are a star-studded team. With as many All-Canadian selections (5) as Brock and Western combined, the Gryphons will rely heavily on those stars this weekend if they want to succeed. This team is led by former Minto Cup winners Ryan Serville (Pickering, Ont.), Jordan Critch (Orangeville, Ont.), and Curtis Knight (Oshawa, Ont.), all of whom have experience playing, and winning, big games. However, the Gryphons enter this year’s tournament as the underdog in the West.
Guelph’s offence was the second best in the West Division this year, having notched 153 goals. Paced by their All-Canadian attackmen Critch and Serville, offence won’t be the concern for the Gryphons this weekend. Statistically speaking, Guelph is matched up against the East Division’s 2nd best defensive unit when they meet Bishop’s on Friday night. It will be a true test for the Gryphons offensive leaders, as they will need to over power a strong Gaiters defence. However, it would not be out of the question to see Guelph come out on the winning end of a high scoring affair.
Even with the leadership provided on the back end by All-Canadian long stick midfielder Ben Van Galen (Orangeville, Ont.), the Gryphons defence will be the question this weekend. Of the six remaining teams in this year’s playoffs, Guelph’s gave up the most goals per game during the regular season. Their defensive troops will need to step it up to another gear. However, that is certainly not out of the question. The Gryphons have 2010 All-Canadian goaltender Jeremy Snider (Kitchener, Ont.) between the pipes. Although he might not have had the regular season he would have wanted, Snider has shown in the past that he has the ability to single-handedly win games.
Ultimately the Gryphons will control their own destiny this weekend. They have shown the ability this season to grind out close victories. Conversely, they suffered eight-goal losses to both Brock and Western, as well as a 1-goal loss to Brock in the final weekend of the regular season. In this single-elimination playoff format, Guelph has the players, leadership and ability to string together three straight hard victories. They haven’t done it since 2008, but the Gryphons are hungry to return home from Montreal with the Baggataway Cup in hand.
W88The Gryphons will head to Montreal to take on a Bishop's Gaiters team that is only 2 seasons removed from their 2011 Baggataway Cup championship and is hungry for another. If Guelph wants to get to the championship game, they will be tasked with shutting down the 2nd and 1st ranked offensive units in the East Division in Bishop’s and McGill, respectively. However, the Gryphons have some proven winners on their roster and the experience to buckle down when necessary to get them back to their first Baggataway Cup final since 2008.
Jordan Critch – Attack
Ryan Serville – Attack
Connor Deuchars – Midfield
Curtis Knight – Midfield
Ben Van Galen – Faceoff Specialist & Long Stick Midfield
Ben Van Galen – Defence
David Nedelko – Long Stick Midfield