Varsity winter power rankings

The Journal’s sports editors rank each winter team’s mid-season performances

Marianne Alarie and the women's basketball team currently have a 9-5 record.
Marianne Alarie and the women's basketball team currently have a 9-5 record.

1. Men's hockey (15-5-0)

Currently ranked second in the OUA East, men’s hockey is riding the hot streak heading into the latter portion of the season.

It doesn’t seem the team is on track to slow down,

Through 20 games, the Gaels have scored 85 goals—forward Slater Doggett is fourth in the OUA with 15—while impressing on the other side of the ice. Young goaltenders Justin Fazio and Jack Flinn have impressed while splitting starter duties. The pair of goalies led the OUA in save percentage: Fazio at .942 and Flinn close behind at .939. 

Paired with his team’s evident talent, Head Coach Brett Gibson reached a 150 win milestone last October. Now in his thirteenth season as the team’s head coach, Gibson will need to keep his team hungry if they hope to reach OUA glory. 

For now, the Gaels have won eight of their last 10, preparing for the postseason on the horizon. 

2. Men's volleyball (7-2)

After reaching the U Sports National Championships last season, the men’s volleyball team’s had the fewest speedbumps of any Queen’s team this year.

Injuries haven’t been a problem; fourth-year Zac Hutcheson is putting up a team-leading 137 kills—putting them third in the OUA—after sitting out most of last season. Developing the Gaels’ youth into leaders has been a breeze for first-year head coach Gabriel DeGroot: second-year Zane Grossinger is third in the OUA for assists per set (9.54) after winning OUA Rookie of the Year last season. 

Importantly, all signs point to a team that’s bought into DeGroot’s game plan after head coach of 31 years Brenda Willis retired at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

Nine games into the season, the Gaels have beat the U Sports bronze-medalists McMaster Marauders, defining them as a contender in the OUA. Perhaps the only thing holding the team back from the first spot in their division is inexperience—two short years ago the team bowed out of the playoffs in the first round after finishing fourth in their division. 

3. Women’s Basketball (9-5)

The women’s basketball team has spent much of the season in limbo.

Suffering from early-season injuries to second-year Sophie de Goede and post Veronika Lavergne, the Gaels are finally near full health. With two players back in the starting lineup, Queen’s has nine games to find its stride in order to make a deep postseason run. 

Most questions surrounding the team are whether they can get past the OUA East’s three powerhouses: Ottawa (12-2), Ryerson (12-2), and Carleton (11-3). They’ll get two more shots at each of the Ottawa-based teams and one more against Ryerson before the regular season ends. One will be a likely playoff matchup down the road, as the third and fourth seeds play either the first or second seeds in the event that they win their first round games.

Women’s basketball has one of the more consistent histories of success at Queen’s—before last season’s quarterfinal loss to Ottawa, the team hadn’t lost in the first round of the playoffs since 2011-12. The next month will show us if they can continue the trend.

4. Women's volleyball (5-4)

With a 5-4 record as they return from the break, the Gaels will have to strengthen in a number of areas if they hope to make the OUA Final Four. Currently, they’re ranked fourth in the OUA east, tied with York (5-4), and trailing both Toronto (8-1) and Ryerson (8-3). 

After taking both Toronto teams to five sets in their first meetings this season—and even besting Toronto—the Gaels have proved they can compete against any team in the league. The real question is if they can do it again.  

After failing to move past the OUA quarter-finals since the 2011-12 season, women’s volleyball has its sights set high to buck its trend of crashing out of the playoffs early.

5. Women's hockey (9-7-0-0)

Coming off two straight seasons of U Sport Championship appearances, the women’s hockey team’s play has dipped this season.

With a current 9-7-0-0 record, the Gaels have matched last season’s mark for games lost. They’ve gone 0-4 against the league’s top three teams in Guelph, Western, and Nipissing.

However, the Gaels have two things on their side. First, they have eight regular season games remaining, four of which are against teams with losing records. Queen’s is also playing in one of the closest leagues in the OUA; they sit just seven points out of first place in the conference, a margin that can be made up with two wins and an overtime loss. Regardless, it’ll be a tight race for them to finish first in the OUA for the second year in a row.

The Gaels have a wealth of experience on their side—all but their eight first-years have played at the U Sports Championships. The current task is to find a way to get the whole team there.

6. Men's basketball (8-6)

After being nationally-ranked for the first-time since 2007-08, the men’s basketball team has struggled to find a consistent rhythm on the hardwood this season. 

Despite an 8-6 record, the Gaels have proved unpredictable relative to both results and play. In their first three wins of the season, the team had an average margin of victory of 21 points—but won their next four by an average of just seven. 

Similarly, Queen’s’ first two defeats of the year came by an average of three points. Meanwhile, the team lost their next three by an average of 24 points. While the Gaels are sitting at the bottom of the rankings, they have the chance to redeem themselves before the season ends. Five of their next nine are against the OUA East’s three strongest teams, laying the ground for change.

Though they currently sit at fourth in the OUA East, if the Gaels hopek to make a dent in the playoffs, they’ll need to string together a number of consistent performances. 

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