The CIS Mens Hockey Championships, the University Cup, are currently taking place in Fredericton, New Brunswick. For those unfamiliar with the tournament format, here’s how it works:
- There are six teams in the tournament, divided into two pools. Pool A includes UNB, Western, and Calgary; Pool B includes McGill, St. FX, and Alberta.
- Teams are ranked before the tournament starts. Game 1 is 2nd rank vs. 3rd rank; game 2 is 1st rank vs. 3rd rank; game 3 is 1st rank vs. 2 rank. There are three games in each pool.
- The winner of the round robin advances to the University Cup on Sunday evening. The games are played in the order they are because if the higher ranked team wins the first two games, then the third game is basically a semi-final match with the winner advancing to the finals.
Pool A is basically going according to schedule and UNB and Western will meet Saturday night with the winner advancing to the final. Pool B started out the way it was supposed to with 2nd ranked McGill defeating the 3rd ranked St. FX by a score of 2-1. Then things got a little mixed up when St. FX took down the 1st ranked Alberta Golden Bears on Friday by a score of 3-1. Because St. FX now has a record of 1-1 and Alberta (0-1) still have to play McGill (1-0), there is a chance there could be a three-way tie for first place if Alberta wins. Check out the full standings right here.
So here are the scenarios going into Saturday’s game between Alberta and McGill:
- McGill wins – McGill advances to the finals.
- U of A wins by 2 or less – St. FX advances to the finals based on goal differential.
- U of A wins by 4 or more – U of A advances to the finals based on goal differential.
- Here’s the kicker: U of A wins 3-0 – U of A and St. FX go into a shoot-out to break the tie (each will have the exact same goals for and against).
The shoot-out is not the bizarre part. Remember, Saturday’s game is between Alberta and McGill. If Alberta wins 3-0, a couple of St. FX players, including the goalie, have to come down from the stands, get dressed, and go straight into a shoot-out. What a silly way to settle the tie-breaker!
Fortunately for the University Cup, the U of A is down 2-0 after the first period so the shoot-out scenario will not play out. I hope the University Cup sees this as an opportunity to revise the tie-breakers in the tournament, which is more complicated than simply introducing overtime or something like that due to the tournament format. If they can’t come up with a better solution, maybe some consideration should be given to revising the tournament format. Personally, I hate the three-team round-robin.