Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Rundown - Week 20

If you've been reading the recaps from earlier this week, you already know that Manitoba went into yesterday's semifinal at the 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship against the Concordia Stingers. I'm not recapping the whole tournament here - that's why I did the work earlier this week - but I will recap the two semifinal games as Canada West had both their teams advance to the medal-round semifinal games. Saskatchewan would play the OUA's Western Mustangs while Manitoba battled the RSEQ's Concordia Stingers, and I'm going to be honest: this recap is coming to you very late, so it's going to be mostly video.

Semi-Final #1

I'm going to be honest in saying that I was pulling for an all-Canada West final with Saskatchewan meeting up with the host Western Mustangs. Call me selfish, but the Huskies and Bisons were looking to bring home hardware just as the Pandas and Thunderbirds did one year earlier. It's a conference thing at this point as the two Canada West teams banded together in the hopes of a rematch from the Canada West Final.

Things were pretty even in the opening period of the semifinal. Western did have a slight edge in possession and shots, but they caught a big break late in the period when Saskatchewan was called for a penalty. Instead, this happened off the draw in the Huskies' zone!

Danielle Nogier made a great play to strip the Western blueliner of the puck, and then she was off to the races where her shot under Carmen Lasis's right arm just got through and across the line for the shorthanded marker and the 1-0 lead. For Nogier, that was her first goal of this season, and it put the Huskies in a good spot heading into the intermission with the lead.

The second period seemed a lot like the first period, but Saskatchewan ran into some penalty trouble early in and midway through the period that cost them. April Clark and Alyssa Chiarello scored at 5:06 and 10:20, respectively, while on separate power-plays, and the Mustangs had a 2-1 lead with 30 minutes to play. Vance was solid throughout the game and Saskatchewan certainly played just as well as Western at five-on-five, but the Mustangs put up a very solid defensive game through the neutral zone to stifle the Saskatchewan speed. Despite having a few opportunities, it seemed more white jerseys were in the Mustangs' zone at all time compared to the Huskies.

The third period played out exactly as the final ten minutes of the second period did - a wall of Mustangs that continually sent the Huskies back into their own zone to regroup. Time and time again, the Mustangs simply closed off passing lanes, got into skating lanes, and angled off Huskies to the outside whenever they tried to cross into the offensive zone. Time became Saskatchewan's biggest enemy, and despite outshooting the Mustangs 9-4 in the final frame, the Huskies could not find the equalizer as they fell to Western by a 2-1 score. Carmen Lasis was excellent between the pipes again for Western as she stopped 24 shots in the win while Vance did all she could in a 24-save performance as well.

As a result, Saskatchewan would move to the bronze medal game while Western advanced to the gold medal game.

Semi-Final #2

Huge props go out to John Gaudes for all his hard work at the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship. The Bisons' social media guru had his cell phone out and his face buried in a laptop for most of the weekend in pulling together all the highlights for the Manitoba Bisons, so a major kudos to his hard work!

With that being said, the Bisons met the Concordia Stingers with the second berth to the gold medal game on the line. I'm not going to exaggerate anything here, but this was the best game of the tournament. These two teams played hard, left everything on the ice, and still needed extra time to solve their differences. Without further adieu, here are the highlights from the game!
With that, here are the post-game reactions from the Bisons. Jason Pchajek from The Manitoban is on the left, and his work all weekend long was outstanding. Give his articles a read when you're done here for more Bisons coverage!
The Bisons advance to the gold medal game with a 2-1 shootout win over Concordia. Yes, no one likes shootouts. I know this, so you don't have to comment on this portion. If it were up to me, I would have let these two teams play until someone scored. Like the four-overtime game against the Pandas in the Canada West semifinal, the U SPORTS National Championship semifinal was a game for the ages, and it just sucks that someone had to lose. Lauren Taraschuk made 21 saves plus two more in the shootout to secure the victory while Katherine Purchase stopped 27 shots in the loss.

As a result of this game, Concordia would move to the bronze medal game against the Huskies while Manitoba would advance to the gold medal final against the hometown Western Mustangs.

Bronze Medal

Based on Concordia's 8-1 victory over St. Francis Xavier and their incredible effort against Manitoba, there was already a buzz around the rink that the Huskies might be up against their most difficult test at this tournament yet. Saskatchewan, however, decided to really stretch their legs as they carried the play at times against the Stingers in the opening frame. Vance was still looking strong as she did all tournament, and Saskatchewan led 14-5 in shots through the opening period. The only problem? The teams were tied 0-0 heading into the intermission.

Consecutive penalties late in the first intermission to both Emma Nutter and Leah Bohlken for holding carried over into the second period, and that was the break that Concordia needed. Claudia Dubois buried a shot 39 seconds into the period to put Concordia up 1-0 on the five-on-three, and they were off and running. Concordia carried the play in the middle frame and looked much more confident with the one-goal lead. With the Stingers flying and getting more shots on Vance, it felt as if it would only be a matter of time before they doubled their lead, and with 1:32 remaining in the period, Sophie Gagnon did just that to send the Stingers into the second intermission up 2-0.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, Brigitte Laganire made it 3-0 at the 4:12 mark of the period for the Stingers when she found the back of the net, and Dubois would ice it with an empty-netter at 17:21 with Saskatchewan head coach Steve Kook opting to pull Vance with three minutes to play. Despite the four-goal deficit, I have to credit Saskatchewan for playing hard right through to the final horn. They could have coasted being down four goals with a couple minutes to play, but they made Concordia play the full sixty minutes. The results may not have been what they wanted in a 4-0 loss in the bronze medal, but they did Canada West proud with their efforts this weekend! Katherine Purchase helped the Stingers claim bronze with her 37-save shutout of the Huskies while Jessica Vance made 24 stops in the loss.

The Concordia Stingers are your 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey bronze medalists!

Gold Medal

The hometown Western Mustangs would be the visitors on the scoreboard thanks to the top-ranked Manitoba Bisons being their opponents in today's gold medal game, but don't let that trick you into any false sense of security for the Bisons. There was a capacity crowd on-hand at Thompson Arena which saw the majority of those fans cheering for the Mustangs. The two rookie netminders - Western's Carmen Lasis and Manitoba's Lauren Taraschuk - would head to the blue paint for their respective teams. The trash-talk and chirping between Radio Western's broadcast team and UMFM's broadcast team was done in fun, but both radio teams wanted to see their side win. Let's go to the video!
As you just heard from the U SPORTS webcast announcers, the Manitoba Bisons are your 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey gold medalists after downing Western by a 2-0 score! Lauryn Keen and Venla Hovi scored the goals, and Lauren Taraschuk delivered another 20-save shutout in earning the gold medal. Carmen Lasis was solid in a 23-save effort, but her team, like so many before, could not solve Taraschuk. To the post-game scrum!
In terms of sinking in, as Lauren Taraschuk stated, it should be sinking in right about now as it's late. Very late, in fact. The only thing that matters is that the University of Manitoba Bisons Women's Hockey Team is the 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey gold medal-winning team!

The Final Word

I'll be honest: I've never had a chance to call or follow a team through to ultimate end of a national championship. Just being around the Manitoba Bisons as much as I was this season, I'm damned proud of these women, the coaching and training staff, the game-day crew, the alumni, and the parents. This was one of the most fun seasons of hockey for me as a broadcaster. I am honoured to have called the games over the last few years for this squad as they matured, suffered some setbacks, accomplished some goals, set some records, and came out in this season looking virtually unbeatable.

I don't know if I'll ever call another one of these games. And quite frankly, it doesn't really matter right now. This one will live with me forever. The banner on the wall, the memories made, the trophy engraved, the medals hung around necks? Those are what matters. I cannot say enough good things about these Manitoba women, and it has been an incredible ride.

To all the teams at the tournament that we rarely see - Queen's, StFX, Saint Mary's, Montreal, Concordia, and Western - well done on your accomplishments this season. Of 37 U SPORTS women's ice teams, you're part of the eight best teams in the nation. 29 other teams aren't able to say that, and that's a heckuvan honour. To Concordia and Western, hold your heads high while wearing your respective medals because Manitoba had to go through two of the best to be able to say they're the top team. Nothing was given. You made these women earn their standing.

To the seven teams in Canada West - UBC, Alberta, Calgary, Mount Royal, Lethbridge, Saskatchewan and Regina - the race to the top begins anew in October. I realize that Manitoba has a target on its back now, and we're looking forward to the fun of playing in Canada's best women's hockey conference once more. Don't hold anything back next season because Canada West is now has consecutive gold medals, and we all need to make one another better to make it three-straight gold medals.

It has been a helluva season, folks. Thank you for following along all season long here on The Rundown, and stay safe until next season!

Until next time, enjoy the summer!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Game Day Saturday

There's an old saying that goes, "If you mess with the bull, you get the horns." Well, the Bisons weren't messing around last night with the Gaels as they laid the horns to them in what most would say was a full sixty-minute game from the top-seeded team. At the end of the mostly one-sided game, Manitoba skated to a 4-0 victory and advanced to the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship semifinal where they are now guaranteed to play for a medal. Which colour, you ask? Well, that will be determined in their game tonight. A win puts them in the gold medal game while a loss would send them to the bronze medal game.

Before we get to who they play, Manitoba looked every bit like the top-seeded team in this tournament in their opening game. Courtlyn Oswald scored the opening goal on a deflection as she redirected Alana Serhan's shot past Stephanie Pascal midway through the first period, and, if you'll excuse the pun, the Bisons were off and running.

A power-play goal by Alanna Sharman at 1:42, another solid deflection by Alexandra Anderson off a Sharman shot at 18:43, and a second power-play goal from Lauryn Keen on a beautiful snap-pass from Lauren Warkentin at 19:44 put the Bisons out in front 4-0, and it was virtually over with just one period remaining.

Caitlin Fyten spoke to reporters after the game about the importance of establishing the power-play early in this tournament.

"I think it's really important for us," she stated, "especially because coming before here, we didn't get a lot of power-play opportunities, so to get it rolling off this first game here is huge for us going forward."

The Bisons only had seven power-play opportunities through the Canada West playoffs, so to strike twice on three opportunities against the nation's best penalty-killing team shows that the preparation put in by the Bisons is paying off in big ways.

So the only question that remains is who are they preparing for this evening in the semifinal?

The RSEQ champion Concordia Stingers met the AUS finalist St. Francis Xavier X-Women, and this one was just as one-sided as the Manitoba-Queen's game. It was 2-0 for Concordia after one period - a not-insurmountable lead for StFX to overcome - but it was extended to 3-0 before Kate Gotaas scored at 7:14 to make it 3-1. Cue the comeback, right?

Five straight goals in the remaining 31 minutes of the game saw Concordia absolutely thrash the X-Women by an 8-1 score. And like the score, the possession numbers and shot total were heavily slanted towards the Concordia side. The Stingers brought their A-games to Thompson Arena last night, and they earned their spot in the semifinal after bouncing the other AUS team to the consolation side.

Tonight, as it stands, will see the Saskatchewan Huskies battle the hometown Western Mustangs in the 4pm ET semifinal while the Manitoba Bisons will grapple with the Concordia Stingers in the later semifinal at 7pm ET. Both games should be exciting, and we're already looking forward to a potential Canada West gold medal final!

Before we get too far with putting the cart before the horse, though, let's get you set for tonight's battle between the Bisons and Stingers. You can listen on your radio in the Winnipeg region on 101.5 FM as TJ and myself broadcast live from London starting with the UMSU Pregame Show at 5:30pm CT/6:30pm ET. If you're outside the Winnipeg region, you can use the UMFM app on your smartphone or tablet that is available for iDevices or for Android devices! If you're near a computer or laptop, you can catch the game via the website or via the UMFM Second Stream!

In other words, there isn't anywhere on this planet where you can't hear the Bisons and Stingers play tonight as this is literally the biggest game of the season for the Manitoba Bisons. Find yourself an audio-enabled device, and get your fill tonight as the Bisons look for a gold medal berth at the 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 16 March 2018


Normally, I'm against using internet acronyms while writing here on HBIC, but I think it's important that we highlight what went on yesterday at the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship in London, Ontario. In case you missed it, there were two games that happened yesterday while we awaited the opening game for the Manitoba Bisons - happening today at 3pm CT on all UMFM apps, websites, and radio frequencies - and one of those games involved our colleagues from Canada West in the Saskatchewan Huskies. The opening day of the tournament for Canada West proved exciting, so let's go over what happened while we watched from our broadcast perch in the sky.

First off, let me say right now that despite our ever-present rivalry with Saskatchewan, TJ, Jason from The Manitoban, and myself are pulling for the Huskies to win their half of the bracket so that we might have an all-Canada West gold medal final. The Huskies might be the seventh-seed, but I'm sure head coach Steve Kook is going to drive home the fact that his team has been disrespected all season when it comes to rankings, so I expect Saskatchewan not to care about where they're ranked or who is ahead of them.

In saying that, the Huskies met the Huskies in the first game of the tournament. No, that's not a misprint - Saskatchewan met the AUS champion Saint Mary's Huskies at 4pm ET yesterday as the two Huskies-named teams opened the tournament. The game started off a little slowly as both teams found their ways on the Thompson Arena ice while trying to solve the other's defences. It would be the Saskatchewan Huskies who struck first, and it was a beauty by Kaitlin Willoughby. I'll let the video do the talking for this one.
Can I just admit here and now that I am a fan of Kaitlin Willoughby? She's just so good! That goal, while looking fairly routine on the backhand, was a thing of beauty. Not only did she pull the puck around the stick-check of the defender to put the defender on her heels, but she caught Saint Mary's goaltender Rebecca Clarke moving and zipped the backhander up and under the bar whole moving away from the far post. That takes strength, skill, and the right amount of moxie to hit that shot where she did, and that's why Willoughby has been one of the best over the Canada West career.

Saskatchewan came out of the first intermission with the 1-0 lead intact, but it didn't last as Saint Mary's re-established a good down-low game to put the western Huskies early on. That allowed Caitlin Pejkovic to find position in front of the net where she deflected a point shot from Beatrice Harrietha past Jessica Vance just 1:44 into the period, and we were knotted up at 1-1.

The eastern Huskies continued to press, and they were rewarded once more when they caught Saskatchewan a little flat-footed at the offensive blue line. Laura Polak broke out of the Saint Mary's zone after blocking what appeared to be a pass from the point, and Breanna Lanceleve raced down the left wing to make it a two-on-one. Polak held the puck long enough until a passing lane to Lanceleve opened up, and she fed the Saint Mary's captain who buried it past Vance at 10:03 to give the AUS champions their first lead of the game.

"You look up and down our bench — they got two unanswered in that second period and our bench was pretty flat, they were chasing their players in our defensive zone," Steve Kook told reporters.

It appeared that the momentum was all on the Saint Mary's side, but a rather unexpected goal from a near-impossible angle changed the entire period. Abby Shirley found room past Clarke over her shoulder with 2:18 remaining in the second period, and these two teams would be tied 2-2 going into the second intermission in a game where Saint Mary's held solid possession numbers, but were even in shots with Saskatchewan at 26-26.

The third period was a tighter-checking affair than the previous two periods as neither team appeared to want to make a mistake that would cost them, but it would be a penalty that would prove costly as Saint Mary's Nicole Blanche was sent off for tripping at 10:03. Saskatchewan set up their power-play at the 11-minute mark, and they finally got a shot through to Clarke that was stopped. Abby Shirley picked up the rebound and found a wide-open Kennedy Harris in front of Clarke, and Harris ripped a shot through Clarke that put Saskatchewan up 3-2 with the power-play marker at 11:38.

Saint Mary's began to play with a lot more desperation as they needed a goal to try and drive this game to overtime, but it was Vance and the Saskatchewan defence that stood tall as they turned aside wave after wave of Saint Mary's attacks. Things got very interesting with 11 seconds left in the game as Saskatchewan's Rachel Lundberg took a bodychecking penalty, giving Saint Mary's an offensive zone start with six attackers on the ice, but Saskatchewan did what they do well in getting the puck to the boards, pinning it there, and eventually clearing the puck to earn the victory and the upset over the second-ranked Saint Mary's Huskies in a 3-2 win! Jessica Vance made 29 saves in the win to help Saskatchewan advance while Rebecca Clarke stopped 35 shots in the loss.

In the 7pm ET game, Western was all over Montreal in a 4-0 win, so Saskatchewan will advance to play the host Western Mustangs at 4pm on Saturday in one of the semifinal games. Saint Mary's and Montreal will move to the consolation side where they will meet at 10am ET on Saturday.

The good news is that Saskatchewan will play for a medal of some colour as they can finish no lower than fourth-place at this tournament, and that's a huge mark for a team that went unranked all season long. I don't care what anyone says, but I felt that Saskatchewan should have been ranked for the majority of the second-half of the season as they continually downed teams such as Alberta and UBC who were ranked in the top-five all season long.

Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Huskies on their victory, and one-half of the Canada West threats has made it to the medal round. The Manitoba Bisons will play today at 4pm ET/3pm CT against the Queen's Gaels, and that broadcast be heard live on 101.5 FM,, the UMFM Second Stream, and on the UMFM app! If you want to watch the game, head down to the University of Manitoba where the game will be viewed live at The Hub, and we'll shout-out to everyone listening and watching back in Winnipeg!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 286

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is on the road tonight as we have a special show live from Thompson Arena on the Western University campus in London, Ontario. I literally just finished up watching the Manitoba Bisons practice for their game tomorrow, so we'll dedicate the full hour - maybe more? - to the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship tonight. While we're on the air, the host Western Mustangs will be playing the RSEQ's Montreal Carabins, so if you hear any cheers or jeers during the broadcast it most certainly won't be for The Hockey Show despite our best efforts!

The entire show is devoted to the tournament tonight, and we're going to feature two key interviews. Jason Pchajek will sit in on the show in place of Beans who is back in Winnipeg, TJ Phillips may join us, Bisons Sports Information Director Chris Zuk may stop by, and we'll feature interviews with Jessica Vance of the Saskatchewan Huskies and an amazing interview with Bisons head coach Jon Rempel. The first half of the show will be dedicated to the seven teams not named "Bisons" as we go through the competition and results - Saskatchewan plays Saint Mary's at 3pm CT! - before dedicating the second half of the show to Jon's interview and the Bisons. It's going to be a show jam-packed with award winners, information, and interviews, so make sure you join us at 5:30pm CT for this show!

I wanna listen to this, you exclaim! We hear you and, for you to hear us, we suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, Teebz and Jason will have all sorts of information and interviews surrounding the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship on The Hockey Show found on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream, and on the UMFM Second Stream! We're everywhere tonight!

PODCAST: March 15, 2018: Episode 286

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Greetings From London

I'm in the air somewhere over northwestern Ontario as you read this as I make my way to London via Toronto on airplanes today. London, as you know from reading this blog, is the home to Western University and the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship from March 15-18, and I am looking forward to seeing how the Manitoba Bisons fare as UMFM assumes the responsibility of broadcasting the Bisons' games once more. There's a pile of stuff I need to get done today, so I'm into London early in order to accomplish all those goals.

One of the things I like to do if I arrive early to an event is to explore the surroundings. I want to visit Western University to get acclimatized with things like parking and where we'll be setting up for broadcasts. Things like that seem so inconsequential, but they can turn out to be enormous problems if, say, the Mustangs play in a medal game. With time to kill before I check in to my hotel, I can knock that stuff off the list of "to-do" early.

I also like to find a good "greasy spoon"-style restaurant where good, inexpensive food can be obtained in case of the travel munchies. I won't have a kitchen at my disposal, so I've already started to make a small list of places that I want to check out. These include Piping Kettles Soup Company, Shawarma House, and Helen's Fast Food, but we'll see what else pops up on the list in the next day or two as I seek local recommendations.

The last thing I like to do, thanks to having a rental car for the four days, is get a general sense of layout of the city so I know where key things are like the tournament's host hotel, some key landmarks, and some fun stuff to do to fill time when games aren't being played. I might check out a few of the local craft breweries tomorrow before the games start, and stuff like that is a great way to find out a ton about the local city and culture.

All of this, however, could change depending on situations, but I am excited to be on my way to London. Expect updates on this blog of everything I get up to in the next few days, and make sure you have your radio tuned to 101.5 FM or hit up to hear how the Bisons are doing in their games.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!