2015 CanWest Playoff Preview

hardy_cupThe CanWest was much the same as the RSEQ with one dominant team sitting at the top for years.

The Calgary Dinos were the equivalent of the Laval Rouge et Or in the west as they were at the top of the conference for years.

They won six straight Hardy Cups in a row and were constantly near the top of the national playoffs.

That was until last year when the Dinos dropped their first Hardy Cup in seven seasons and the Manitoba Bisons punched a ticket to the national playoffs.

The Bisons couldn’t find their way to the Vanier Cup that year but the CIS football world was once again flipped upside down.

It began a theme of the 2015 season with everyone wondering if more changes were coming to the division this year.

There was plenty to wonder about to as the Dinos had lost legendary coach Blake Nill to UBC and Andrew Buckley, the 2014 Hec Crighton Award winner, was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders.

Nill had gone to UBC where one of the most promising Canadian quarterbacks also decided to go after he spent a year under scholarship at Penn State.

Michael O’Connor and the addition of Nill had plenty of people excited about the Thunderbirds’ chances.

Then there was the championship team from last year in Manitoba who had lost some of their best players but were hoping to once again find their way to the top of the west.

As for the rest of the teams there was certain to be a battle between all who had their strengths and weaknesses heading into the season.

As the 2015 year moved on it was clear that the thoughts of a changing in the guard were not going to come true.

Even without their long-time head coach the Dinos were unstoppable on the season as Buckley returned from Stampeders’ training camp for his last year of eligibility.

There were few teams that could give them any kind of challenge throughout the season and they rose to the top of the conference and the CIS rankings.

They were the team to beat and heading into the playoffs they remain the team to beat throughout the country.football-sidebar

That doesn’t mean they can’t be beaten though as the Bisons proved last year when they beat the first place Dinos after ending their season 4-4.

The Bisons are back in the playoffs this year and hoping to make the same kind of impact to win their second straight Hardy Cup.

Joining last year’s top teams will be UBC and Saskatchewan who had different types of seasons getting into the playoffs.

The Thunderbirds were a little up and down in their first year under Nill but in the end they rose to second place after dropping two games this year.

Led by Nill and O’Connor the T-Birds have had one of the best turnaround seasons in the CIS this year and are looking to make the same type of impression in the national playoffs.

The Huskies snuck into the playoffs after a less than great season where they finished 3-5 losing all of their matchups to the top teams in the conference.

They were just good enough to beat out the Alberta Golden Bears and hope that the playoffs mark a new chance for them.

The CanWest playoffs are set to begin and it seems like an obvious choice for who will get the 2015 Hardy Cup.

The Dinos have been simply too good to beat in most aspects of the game. Then again a 4-4 team beat them last year in the finals proving that anything can happen despite a great team being dominant in the regular season.

For that to happen again would be a big surprise but would also show that the regular season means absolutely nothing when it comes to the playoffs and there is a long list of potential champions that can attest to that.

cu-dinos.fw ubc-thunderbirds.fw

A balanced team in the country with the second best defence in the CIS and top five defence. Have to focus on these playoffs and not get ahead of themselves.

Their defence is the second best in the CanWest. Even with O’Connor they have not been able to put up points ranking as the second worst scoring offence.

manitoba saskatchewan

They are the second best scoring offence in the league. They have struggled against the best teams in the league losing every game to UBC and Calgary.

They pass the ball and they get to the quarterback on defence. Everything else is middle of the road struggling to score and defend high scoring teams.


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