Cougars' playoff preview

It's playoff time in Cougar country once again.

Here's a rundown of the coming weeks of action:

Men's Basketball - Quarter-finals (Best of 3 series vs. Lakeland College Rustlers)
Cougar mens basketball

After winning the Canadian Colleges Athletics Association (CCAA) national championship last season, Mount Royal University Cougars men's basketball team will be looking for an encore performance come playoff time.

Led by a trio of returning players, the Cougars will rely on veteran forward Brett Kobe as well as guards Cam Dodd and Steve Trinidad to lead them back to the promised land.

The Cougar men had an outstanding regular season, finishing with a 16-4 record but have yet to play the Lakeland College Rustlers in regular season play.

On paper, the advantage is swayed in the Cougars' favour, as the team finished the season scoring an average of 86 points per game (ppg), while allowing only 72 ppg.

Meanwhile, the Rustlers finished with an 11-13 record, good for fourth spot in the north division, scoring an average of 82 ppg, while allowing 81 ppg scored.

The Cougars host a pair of home games this weekend starting on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m., followed by game two on Friday at 8 p.m., both at Mount Royal's Kenyon Court.

If the Cougars can come out on top in the three game series versus the Rustlers, they will host the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) final-four weekend at Mount Royal on March 5 and 6.
Women's Basketball - Quarter-finals (Best of 3 series vs. King's University College Eagles)

With a pair of weekend wins, the Mount Royal University Cougars women's basketball team secured a spot in the ACAC playoffs after defeating the Briercrest Clippers on Feb. 20 and 21.

The Cougars now move on to ACAC quarter-final action, where they'll take on the second-ranked team from the north - the King's University College Eagles of Edmonton.

The Cougars finished the season with a 9-11 record and will be challenged by the 18-6 Eagles. The Cougars will look to use team speed and defense to their advantage.

The team will rely on the scoring of Rochelle Thoutenhoofd, who finished third in ACAC league scoring, averaging 16 points per game (ppg), as well as the tenacity and all-around play of Danielle Fleming, who averaged 9 ppg to go along with 4.6 rebounds per game.

The Cougars take to the court on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in game two of the best of three series.

Men's Hockey - Semi-finals (Best of 5 series vs. Concordia Thunder)

After finishing the regular season with a 21-5-0-2 record, the Mount Royal University Cougars men's hockey team will be looking to repeat their success from last season, after advancing to the ACAC championship series.

Standing in their way will be the Concordia Thunder, who finished the regular season with an 18-9-0-1 record and moved on to the ACAC semi-final after defeating the Portage Voyageurs in a best of three game quarter-final series.

The Cougars and Thunder have met four times this season, with the Cougars winning three of the four games, most recently including 7-1 and 5-3 victories.

The Cougars will be led into the playoffs by forwards Matt Lamirande, who led the team with 39 points in 28 games, as well as forwards, Ernie Stewart (32 points/24 games), Eric Galbraith (29 points/28 games) and Barry Horman (29 points/26 games).

Goaltender Jordan McLaughlin will be relied upon to continue his stellar play, as he ranks third in the ACAC in goals against average (gaa), with a 2.38 gaa.

The action gets underway at Calgary's Centennial Arena on Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. before the Cougars travel to Edmonton to take on the Thunder in game two on Saturday.

Women's Hockey - Semi-finals (Best of 5 series vs. SAIT Trojans)

Mount Royal University Cougars women's hockey team will be wearing bull's eyes on their backs come playoff time, after securing first place in the ACAC regular season standings.

With a dynamic offence that saw the team score 15 more goals than the second highest scoring team in the league, the Cougars finished the season with a league best 15-6-1-1 record, including five wins against their long-standing rivals, the SAIT Trojans.
Cougar women's hockey
The Trojans have been cool since coming back from the Christmas break, winning just two games in their last 11 contests.

The Cougars and Trojans also met in last season's ACAC semi-finals, in what was one of the most entertaining playoff series in ACAC women's hockey history. All three games in that series went into overtime - with the Cougars coming out on top.

Cougars forwards, Chelsey Morrill (19 points/23 games), Michelle McDonald (20 points/24 games) and former Trojans forward Chilla Fedoruk (18 points/24 games) will be counted on for their offence, while the goaltending duo of Kendall Kilgour and Leanne Pfliger will look to shut the door.

The action gets underway on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7:15 p.m. at Calgary's Centennial Arena.

Men's Volleyball - ACAC Final Eight Championship

The Mount Royal University Cougars men's volleyball team will look to use their home court advantage this Friday, Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. as they take on the King's University College Eagles in the ACAC Final Eight championship.Cougars men's volleyball

Originally scheduled to take place at the SAIT Campus Centre, ACAC Final Eight action will move to Mount Royal for one day due to scheduling complications with the Trojans.

Luckily for the Cougars, that means a home game in front of their faithful fans.

The Cougars and Eagles have only met twice this season, with the Cougars earning a pair of decisive victories in the final weekend of regular season play, defeating the Eagles 3-0 on both occasions.

If the Cougars can come out on top, they'll head to SAIT on Saturday to take on the winner of the Briercrest Clippers/Grand Prairie Wolves matchup.

The team will be paced by rookie setter Jarron Mueller, who hopes to put the ball in the hands of the likes of Kyle Baird, who ranked second in the league in kills per set (kps), averaging 3.5 kps, as well as Levi Nutma (2.2 kps) and Colton deMan (2.2 kps).

Check the Cougars' website for more details. If the Cougars can win a pair of weekend matches, they'll play for the ACAC gold at SAIT on Sunday.

Women's Volleyball - ACAC Final Eight Championship

With a 7-3 record after Christmas, the Mount Royal University Cougars women's volleyball team hopes to stay hot as they begin their journey for ACAC gold.

The first stop on their trek - a visit against the Keyano College Huskies.

The Huskies were a surprise playoff combatant after upsetting the SAIT Trojans in the qualification round.

The Cougars will be leaning on left-side hitters Andrea Price and Breanna Estabrook for offensive output, as the dynamic duo ranked fifth and sixth respectively in the conference in kills per set.

The Cougars finished the season winning their last four matches, and face their stiffest competition in conference powerhouse, the Red Deer College Queens.

If the Cougars are able to get past the Huskies this Friday, they'll set themselves up for a match versus the winner of the Briercrest Clippers and MacEwan Griffins game on Saturday, Feb. 27.

Check out the Cougars in action

Admission is always free for students, faculty and staff come playoff time, so if you haven't had a chance to catch a Cougars game this season - now is the perfect time.

Best of luck to all our Cougars teams as they begin ACAC playoff action and we hope to see a lot more gold medals coming our way!

- Kyle Henry, Feb. 25, 2010