OTTAWA (CIS) – The game of musical chairs continues in CIS men's hockey as the Acadia University Axemen top the final national rankings of the fall semester, becoming the fifth different team to reach No. 1 in nine weekly polls so far this season.
The Axemen (12-2-1), who were ranked second last Tuesday, received seven first-place votes and 147 points from the 16-member media panel to merit No. 1 status for the first time since 1996-97, when they led the first and 11th polls of the campaign (Oct. 22 and Jan. 20).
Despite receiving eight first-place nods, the McGill Redmen (15-2-1) drop to second place in the new poll with 135 points. The last vote for No. 1 went to the reigning University Cup champion Alberta Golden Bears (12-3-1), who hold on to their third position thanks to a 124-point tally.
Rounding out the new Top 10 are the No. 4 Saskatchewan Huskies (13-3-0 / 113 points / no change), No. 5 UQTR Patriotes (15-2-1 / 97 / up one position), No. 6 St. Francis Xavier X-Men (11-2-2 / 90 / down one), No. 7 UNB Varsity Reds (10-3-2 / 72 / no change), No. 8 Carleton Ravens (12-4-0 / 44 / no change), No. 9 Mount Royal Cougars (9-5-2 / 28 / no change) and No. 10 York Lions (10-4-3 / 14 / no change).
McGill, UQTR, Carleton and York were the only Top 10 teams in official action this past week as league play had already come to a halt for the exam break in the AUS and Canada West conferences.
The most anticipated matchup of the past seven days, last Wednesday in Montreal, lived up to the hype as the Patriotes edged the Redmen 5-4 in a shootout. The first 15 skaters in the penalty-shot session were stoned by goaltenders Sébastien Auger of UQTR and Jacob Gervais-Chouinard of McGill, before Anthony Verret finally broke the deadlock.
McGill rebounded on Friday with a 4-3 win at RMC. UQTR added a 4-3 double-overtime victory over Laurentian on Saturday. Carleton beat Nipissing 4-1 and RMC 7-1, while York lost 5-2 to Laurier and defeated Lakehead 3-2 in extra time.
In non-conference action, third-ranked Alberta travelled south of the border to face Arizona State on Friday and Saturday. Both duels ended in a shootout, with the Bears dropping the opener 5-4 and winning the rematch 3-2.
Before CIS men's hockey officially enters the holiday break, 23 all-stars from across the country are headed to Toronto later this week for a two-game series against the Canadian junior national team prospects. Puck drop at the MasterCard Centre is set for 7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday and noon on Sunday, live on CIS-SIC.tv.
NOTE: The first eight polls of the fall were led by Alberta (Oct. 13, Oct. 20), UNB (Oct. 27, Nov. 3, Nov. 10), McGill (Nov. 17, Dec. 1) and Saskatchewan (Nov. 24)... Before Acadia, the last AUS team other than UNB to top the national rankings was Moncton, which led the first 10 polls of the 2006-07 season... The last time at least five different teams led the CIS Top 10 in the same season was in 1995-96, when Ottawa, Lethbridge, UQTR, UNB and Calgary all accomplished the feat.
CIS MEN'S HOCKEY TOP 10 (#9)
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 ranking)
1. Acadia (12-2-1) / 147 points (7) / (2)
2. McGill (15-2-1) / 135 (8) / (1)
3. Alberta (12-3-1) / 124 (1) / (3)
4. Saskatchewan (13-3-0) / 113 / (4)
5. UQTR (15-2-1) / 97 / (6)
6. StFX (11-2-2) / 90 / (5)
7. UNB (10-3-2) / 72 / (7)
8. Carleton (12-4-0) / 44 / (8)
9. Mount Royal (9-5-2) / 28 / (9)
10. York (10-4-3) / 14 / (10)
Other teams receiving votes: Western (3), UOIT (3), UBC (3), UPEI (2), Guelph (2), Queen's (1), Windsor (1).