Pre-playoff picture: winter varsity teams

With the playoffs upon them, ‘The Journal’ paints a portrait of each varsity team’s postseason journey ahead

Gaels fans are in for a good postseason in 2022.
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Men’s Basketball

At this point in the season, it’s safe to say the Men’s Basketball team has the OUA East’s three seed locked. That bodes well for them, as Heading into the postseason they’ll be playing either York, the University of Toronto (UofT), or Nipissing in the first round—three teams they’ve beaten at least once over the course of this season.
 
However, prior to the postseason’s tip-off, the Gaels have one more obstacle to face. It’s an important one: a two-game series against the Carleton Ravens.
 
Not only are the Ravens the number-one team in the OUA—and undefeated throughout 12 games—but they’re the number-one ranked team in U Sports and a favorite to win the national title.
 
Evidently, these last two games will be the toughest test the Gaels have faced all year and could be a stark indication of how they’ll perform in the OUA playoffs. After all, with Carleton having won the past three OUA championships, there’s a strong likelihood the Gaels would eventually have to go through the Ravens to take home their first Wilson Cup since 1936.
 
Yet, after the season this team has had, it would be wrong to count them out before the fight even begins.
 
More so than previous years, the 2021-22 Men’s Basketball team has decisively established themselves as a winning squad in arguably the toughest conference in U Sports basketball, and that’s something that holds water come playoff time.
 
- Angus Merry, Senior Sports Editor
 
 
Women’s Basketball
 
Although they have a guaranteed spot in the U Sports final eight, the Women’s Basketball team still has to carve a path in the OUA playoffs before they step on the national stage on Mar. 31.
 
With their final two games also taking place against Carleton this week—a team only one win ahead of Queen’s but seeded two spots higher in the OUA East at number two—this last series could have direct implications on the shape of the playoffs at tip-off next Wednesday.
 
Should Queen’s be able to jump to at least one spot in the East after their bouts with the Ravens, they’d have home-court advantage in round one—a good start against the lowest ranked team in the division. However, despite a potential favourable seeding next Wednesday, each of the top six teams in the OUA East have similar degrees of lethality. A shot at the Critelli Cup won’t come easy anywhere they go, even for a stellar squad like the Gaels.
 
Whether it’s in the OUA or the U Sports final eight, the Women’s Basketball team is going to experience a competitive offseason wherever they go. However, one thing’s relatively certain: they’ll be taking a fight to whomever they encounter in the coming weeks.
 
 - Angus Merry
 
 
Men’s Hockey
 
With two games remaining against the Nipissing Lakers, the Queen’s men’s hockey team has virtually sewn up the first seed in the OUA East division. 
 
Heading into the playoffs with a 15-2-0 record, the Gaels are positioned for a deep postseason run and should be considered a favorite for the Queen’s Cup and a contender for the national title.
 
However, even with their sterling record, this weekend’s doubleheader against Nipissing will offer the Gaels a decent benchmark heading into the postseason next Wednesday.
 
Nipissing is currently second in the OUA East, sitting two points ahead of Ontario Tech, and took Queen’s to a shootout last time the two teams met.
 
Even if they drop their final two games over the weekend, the Gaels must be prepared for a series of tough playoff matchups.
 
Facing some classic rivals like Concordia, Carleton, and a strong team from the University of Quebec, Trois-Rivieres, the Gaels will undoubtedly encounter some difficulty along the way.
 
The Gaels’ chances for a provincial title have never been better, but with a single elimination system in place this year, the prospect of bringing home the hardware will remain precarious until the final horn sounds.
 
- Jack Burnham, Staff Writer
 
 
Women’s Volleyball
 
While the Gaels have failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the past five seasons, this year’s picture shows a lot more promise.
 
On the heels of a successful regular season campaign and a 10-2 record, the Women’s Volleyball team secured a bye in the first round of the playoffs, and will touch down in the OUA East semifinals against York on Mar. 12.
 
Given their history, Queen’s is in a comfortable position for this matchup. York sits in third place in the OUA East with a 7-5 record—right below Queen’s—and the Gaels swept them in straight sets last weekend.
 
Even though they’ll likely be playing with an edge after being handed those losses, a lack of home-court advantage won’t help the Lions on Saturday.
 
Elsewhere in the division, the UofT Varsity Blues are also a force to be reckoned with this year. Toronto is currently first in the OUA East, and they are responsible for Queen’s only two losses of the season.  If Queen’s faces Toronto in later rounds, they’ll surely do their best to flip the script.
 
This team has an outbreak of young talent and tenacity that has propelled them to victory and consistency this season. If they keep it up, there is a high chance they’ll make a deep run in the coming weeks. 
 
- Natara Ng, Assistant Sports Editor
 
Men’s Volleyball
 
The Men’s Volleyball team has a title to defend as they enter the 2021-22 playoff —the OUA title, to be exact.
 
Having won the last two Forsyth Cups, they’re also looking to three-peat.
 
Ending the regular season in second place, the team has a bye into the OUA East semifinals, where they’ll face the Nippissing Lakers. The Gaels—who boast a 10-1 record—faced the Lakers just once this season and came out with a win in straight sets. Nippissing sits in third place, right behind Queen’s in the OUA East, with a 7-3 record.
 
Perhaps the toughest opponent the Gaels could face this postseason, however, is the UofT Varsity Blues. The Gaels’ only loss of the regular season was to Toronto, and likewise for the Varsity Blues—their sole defeat was to Queen’s back in November. To add another layer of excitement, the Gaels defeated the Varsity Blues in the 2020 Forsyth Cup final.
 
Despite winning most of their games in straight sets this season, the Gaels have also demonstrated they can bounce back from adversity to win. Take their recent game against York—when they heroically came back from a 2-1 deficit—as an example.
 
All in all, it will be a competitive path towards the Forsyth Cup final, but the Gaels have shown their ability to be consistent, and their fortitude and talent will no doubt shine on the court this postseason.
 
- Natara Ng

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