Post-season prognosis

With two weekends remaining before the OUA playoffs, the Journal’s sports editors evaluate where Gaels teams fit in

Men’s hockey may be in for a first-round date with the second-place Carleton Ravens.
Men’s hockey may be in for a first-round date with the second-place Carleton Ravens.

Men’s hockey

Head coach Brett Gibson’s group has three games to boost confidence before playoffs.

The seventh-place Gaels aren’t likely to move up the ranks; they’ll likely play Carleton in the first round. They’re 0-2 against the Ravens, losing twice by a pair of goals.

To move up, they’d need to string together at least three wins in their remaining four matches — something they haven’t done all season. Their longest win streak lasted only two games, coming in early October.

With 71 goals against, Queen’s is third best in the conference. Veteran netminder Riley Whitlock will have to dominate for the Gaels to advance past the first-round.

The Gaels’ 61 goal total is second worst in the OUA, save for RMC’s 41. Assistant Coach Tony Cimellaro said it best: it’s no secret the Gaels have scoring problems.

If that trend changes in the next few games, watch out for men’s hockey come playoff time.

—Peter Morrow

Women’s hockey

A seven-goal shellacking at the hands of the Guelph Gryphons shouldn’t disrupt Queen’s playoff push.

The Gaels still boast the OUA’s stingiest defence, even after falling 7-2 in Guelph last weekend. The Gryphons have ridden an 11-game winning streak all the way to second place in the standings, setting up a mad dash for the league’s lone CIS berth.

Queen’s sits two points back of Guelph with a game in hand, but massive games against fourth-place Western and top-ranked Laurier loom ahead.

Locking down Guelph’s top forwards will be the challenge in a potential second-round playoff series. Three of the OUA’s top four scorers are Gryphons, but Gaels netminders Karissa Savage and Mel Dodd-Moher are the league’s best, in one order or another.

Queen’s defensive fortitude will prevail in three games against Guelph, but it won’t be enough to unseat Laurier.

The Golden Hawks haven’t lost in regulation since Oct. 6 — their first game of the season. They’ve also won eight of the last nine OUA championships, with Queen’s 2011 title the lone anomaly.

The championship series will go the distance, but Laurier’s home ice edge will deny the Gaels another OUA banner.

—Nick Faris

Men’s basketball

At their healthiest, Queen’s can overcome almost anyone. But injuries have hit them at the worst possible time.

Leading scorer Greg Faulkner and three-point gunner Mackenzie Simpson were both sidelined during the Gaels’ road split last weekend — one week after Queen’s dropped a pair of blowout games in Ottawa.

Their absence has left a predominantly rookie-fueled lineup to face a slew of OUA East heavyweights on their own.

The dynastic Carleton Ravens lead the division at 15-1, followed closely by the Ottawa Gee-Gees and Ryerson Rams. Queen’s sits fourth at a respectable 10-6, predictably tarnished by the grind of a brutal schedule.

Fourth appears to be where the Gaels will wind up, with a home matchup against the Laurentian Voyageurs slated for the first round of the playoffs.

Queen’s will pass that test, but Carleton is utterly untouchable — with or without Faulkner and Simpson.

—Nick Faris

Women’s basketball

The Gaels are smack dab in the middle, which doesn’t bode well for postseason success.

Just like 2011-12, they’re fourth in a seven-team division and will remain as such.

They face the OUA’s top two squads, Ottawa and Carleton, this weekend. To finish off, they face the bottom two squads, York and Toronto.

Assuming they go 2-2, they’ll look to redeem last year’s 71-66 loss against fifth-place Ryerson in the first round.

With the graduation of All-Star guard Brittany Moore, Liz Boag’s led the offensive charge.

Second-year guard Jenny Wright’s provided a spark too, but collectively they’ve been vulnerable in the defensive zone.

They’ve allowed 1037 points against — currently third worst in the OUA. Injuries to Boag and other key players haven’t helped, and a current four-game losing skid could easily reach six this weekend.

—Peter Morrow

Men’s volleyball

The defending OUA champions can’t be overlooked, even in a rebuilding year.

Outside hitters Mike Tomlinson and Philippe Goyer have enjoyed standout seasons, while fifth-year setter Jackson Dakin — the lone returning starter from last year’s championship squad — has stabilized a youthful rotation.

Sitting fourth in the OUA at 9-5, all of Queen’s losses have come against teams ranked higher than them in the standings — Western, Waterloo and undefeated McMaster, who’ll be in Kingston for a final regular season showdown this Sunday.

The Gaels face the York Lions (8-7) tomorrow in a likely first-round playoff preview. It took Queen’s five sets to top York on Oct. 27, but they’ll claim consecutive home victories over the next two weeks.

That’ll set up a semifinal matchup with McMaster (15-0), one year after a decisive Gaels victory in last season’s OUA Final Four.

Anything can happen in a one-and-done playoff setting, but there’s a reason McMaster’s dropped only seven total sets all season. The Gaels have the strength to avoid a shutout, but a repeat trip to the OUA final won’t happen.

—Nick Faris

Women’s volleyball

Head coach Joely Christian-Macfarlane made it clear from the season’s beginning: her team is no underdog.

Last year, they rode a five-game win streak into the playoffs and struck gold. This year they’re in third place, and they’re hungry to be even better.

Team captain Katie Neville was visibly upset with her team’s performance against the first-place Ottawa Gee-Gees last weekend. She said the 3-0 loss had more to do with her team’s sub-par outing than it did with Ottawa’s play.

Regardless, an alarming statistic shows that the Gaels are 0-3 against Ottawa (15-1), York (13-1) and Ryerson (10-4); they’re 11-0 against the rest. A nine-game win streak carried them to third in the OUA, sniffing the coat tails of Ottawa and York.

This Saturday they’ll face York again — offering opportunity for a confidence boost heading into the playoffs.

If Neville’s post-game reaction speaks to anything, the defending OUA champions feel they can repeat.

—Peter Morrow


Gaels, OUA playoffs, Varsity sports

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