What the Puck? – Down to the wire

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He isn’t even our goalie anymore.

He isn’t even our goalie anymore.

Cougars men’s hockey team’s playoff hopes hang in the balance

Article: Autumn McDowell – Sports Editor

With the Olympics in full swing, many of you probably assumed that I would be talking about the latest happenings of Team Canada, including Steven Stamkos being knocked out of contention, and Martin St. Louis’ monstrous legs. But instead, I’ve decided to keep it local this week.

The University of Regina Cougars men’s hockey team is currently deep in the weeds of a playoff serge and they need all of the support that they can get right now, hence why this will be somewhat of a pump-up article for the squad.

During the first half of the season, the Cougars looked stellar and were holding steady at .500 – and then the New Year came. Let’s just say that 2014 has not been very kind to the young Cougars, and that would be somewhat of an understatement.

The Cougars started the New Year only winning one game before losing their next five straight, including three heartbreaking losses to teams that were below them in the standings. The real nail in the coffin was when Regina had back-to-back overtime losses to UBC and Mount Royal. Both games had the Cougars ahead until the final minutes, giving up a late goal and not being able to capture the full two-points. Looking back now, those games have proved to be costly.

This tailspin caused the Cougars to drop drastically in the standings, and so they sit tied for fifth place with the University of Mount Royal. In a conference where the top six of eight teams make the playoffs, and just two points separating the Cougars from seventh place, it is time to turn on the turbo engines, kick it into full gear, bring in the reserves and do everything possible in the last regular season games to squeak into the playoffs.

Right about now you are probably wondering when this desperate and depressing article turns into the pump up article that was promised, so here is the TSN turning point, sort of.

This weekend the Cougars will engage in a home-and-home series with notorious rivals, the Huskies.

The No. 3 team in the conference has continuously been a force to be reckoned with, and with Mount Royal facing the last team in the conference, Lethbridge, it may appear that the Cougars are destined for the fairways. But that is where you are all wrong.

The Cougars have won both games that they have played against Saskatchewan this year, and with a habit of playing up to tougher teams, the Cougars may not be in bad shape after all, but then there is still Manitoba and UBC to worry about. This is where things get confusing.

So let’s say that Mount Royal picks up two wins against Lethbridge – which they most certainly will – they will move into sole possession of fifth place, moving us to sixth, and still in the playoffs.

But then you have UBC. UBC is currently just two points back of a playoff spot but will face the No.4 University of Manitoba Bisons in their final games. UBC hasn’t beaten the Bisons once this season, if that trend continues and UBC loses their final games, boom, we are in the playoffs.

If we end up in a tie for sixth place with UBC, a tie-breaking procedure is used and looks at head-to-head competition. With UBC holding a 3-1 advantage over the Cougars, we would once again be out.

Essentially, the most ideal thing to do would be for the Cougars to be in control of their own destiny and win both games against Saskatchewan this weekend. But just to be on the safe side, if we could all collectively pray for UBC to lose, that would be much appreciated.

See you at the rink.

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