PATRIOTES MOVE UP CIS MEN'S HOCKEY RANKINGS

OTTAWA, Ont. - The reigning University Cup champion Alberta Golden Bears top the CIS men's hockey rankings for the sixth time in as many weeks in 2008-09 but are starting to feel some heat from the red-hot UQTR Patriotes.

The Bears received seven of nine first-place votes from the media panel this week for 88 points, while the perennial contenders from Trois-Rivières earned the remaining first-place nods and 82 points to move up one spot to No. 2 in the new national poll.

Alberta (9-2-1) enjoyed a break in the Canada West schedule last week and resumes conference action this weekend in Vancouver with a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against the UBC Thunderbirds (5-8-1). The Bears trail first-place Saskatchewan by four points in the Canada West standings but have four games in hand on the No. 3-ranked Huskies (11-4-1), while the T-Birds are last in the West with only 11 points in 14 outings.

Meanwhile in the OUA, UQTR (14-1) racked up three more victories over the past week and is riding a 11-game regular season winning streak since a 5-2 loss at Carleton on Oct. 17.

The Patriotes defeated Carleton 4-2 and Queen's and RMC by identical 7-1 scores thanks in large part to a 22-point tally by the line of Jonathan Boutin (4-4-8), Alexandre Demers (2-5-7) and Mathieu Gravel (1-6-7). Boutin (13-18-31) and Demers (12-18-30) rank 1-2 in CIS scoring with 31 and 30 points, respectively, in 15 conference games, while Gravel (4-16-20) has 20 points in 12 contests.

The Patriotes, who hold a commanding 11-point lead in the OUA Far East, reach No. 2 in the CIS rankings for the first time since they occupied that position for the first six weeks of the 2003-04 season, following their last University Cup title.

UQTR is off to its best start since posting 10-0-1 and 17-1-2 marks in 2002-03 before concluding the OUA season at 20-2-2. In 2000-01, when they also went on to claim the University Cup, the Patriotes won their first 17 conference games before finishing at 21-1-2. With two games left before the December break, this Friday and Saturday at Queen's (5-8-2) and RMC (4-10), UQTR has already eclipsed its previous team record of 26 points during the fall portion of the schedule, a mark set in 2000-01 when the Pats started 13-0.

Behind the two leaders, Saskatchewan moves up one spot to No. 3 following a two-game sweep (2-1, 5-1) of provincial rival Regina, while the Moncton Aigles Bleus (9-2-2) drop two positions to No. 4 following an 8-3 setback against Saint Mary's and a 3-2 overtime loss to St. Francis Xavier. Moncton has now lost three straight after winning nine of its first 10 conference games.

Rounding out the new Top 10 are No. 5 UNB (7-2-2), No. 6 Wilfrid Laurier (10-2-1), No. 7 Saint Mary's (9-4), No. 8 Lakehead (9-3-2), No. 9 UPEI (8-4-2) and No. 10 Acadia (7-4-1).

UNB stays put in fifth place, Laurier, Saint Mary's and Lakehead are all up one spot, UPEI was unranked a week ago, and Acadia is down four.

Source: CIS Communications