Thursday, 23 January 2020

The Hockey Show - Episode 383

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back in the studio tonight and on the normal channels you receive us to discuss some hockey-related news and stories. In other words, it's Thursday! There are a number of news-worthy pieces and interesting tidbits of stories we'll work through tonight on The Hockey Show as we throw our opinions out for debate on the topics discussed. It's a busy show tonight, so settle in at 5:30pm CT and get ready for some hockey chatter!

Tonight, I am joined by Jason Pchajek, editor of the sports section at The Manitoban, as we have a frank discussion about the Winnipeg Jets falling off the map in all advanced statistical analyses and in the standings. We'll also tear into Bakersfield's Brandon Manning and his poor choice of words towards an opponent, the five-game suspension he received for using a racial slur towards an opponent, and why his conduct likely warrants more than just five games of sitting at home. We'll chat about the Bisons hockey teams as the women are still mathematically alive despite Jason's advanced metrics on the team while the men may have missed a glorious opportunity against UBC last weekend. And we'll wrap things up in the second-half of the show with a discussion about one of the biggest tournaments in Canada for 16-18 year-old women as the 2020 Female World Sport School Challenge goes down next week at BellMTS IcePlex. All of this and perhaps more will be featured on the show tonight, so make sure you tune in on 101.5 FM or at 5:30pm CT!

Where's the best place can you hear us if you're outside Winnipeg or not near a radio, you ask? The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Jason discuss terrible hockey, terrible things to say, a terrible February with no playoffs at the University of Manitoba, one of the best tournaments held annually in our rather amazing city, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: January 23, 2020: Episode 383
RESOURCES: Female World Sport School Challenge

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Outstanding Evening

Take a look at that gang to the left. That's not a group I'd mess with if I were out on the ice. You're likely to end up with broken ankles with all the dekes, jukes, and dangles that would hit you. In saying that, however, I was lucky enough to see these amazing women - Rachel Dyck, Alana Serhan, Venla Hovi, Amanda Schubert, and Maggie Litchfield-Medd, from left to right - at the 2020 Bisons Hockey Scholarship Fundraising Reception last night where I emceed the event. Now you might be asking why the hockey programs at the University of Manitoba need a fundraiser for scholarship monies, and it's because the men and women from the UofM do some amazing work in the classroom and community and should be rewarded for that work.

We have to remember that these athletes are student-athletes with the most important word coming first in that phrase: student-athlete. Watching these great players do their thing on the ice, we may forget the fact that these athletes are, indeed, students first and athletes second at the University of Manitoba, and this is why the Bisons Hockey Scholarship Fund is so important. Without the education component, the hockey wouldn't be an option at university.

In saying that, I want to point out the amazing work being done by all our athletes, both past and present, while in the classroom. We know what they're doing on the ice as we can check the stats and see the boxscores, but it's in the classroom where I believe that these men and women are truly excelling.

Last year, 129 students were awarded Academic All-Canadian status by U SPORTS for maintaining a 3.5 grade-point average – that's an 80% average to the layperson like me. That represents the most Academic All-Canadians at the University of Manitoba ever in one season of athletic competition. It's also the third-straight year where a new record has been set in terms of the number of Academic All-Canadians at the university, and it's the ninth-straight year of competition where the University of Manitoba has featured 85 or more Academic All-Canadians. Of those 129 athletes who achieved the Academic All-Canadian status, it should also be noted that 62 also had GPAs of 4.0 or higher, and 74 of the 129 Academic All-Canadians were women!

If we break this down a little more granular, 21 hockey players achieved Academic All-Canadian status last year, and three Bisons women's hockey players were recognized as an Academic All-Canadian in all five years of their university careers: Alexandra Anderson, Erin Kucheravy, and Alanna Sharman. That take some serious dedication to the work they're doing in the classroom when you consider that all three played five years of hockey that saw them win a U SPORTS National Championship and attend two separate National Championship tournaments. With all of the travel done in Canada West, a lot of the homework and studying these women did was on the road, and they still maintained a minimum 3.5 GPA for all five years! That is OUTSTANDING!

With the hard work being done in the classroom, on the road, in practice, and in games, the Bisons have little time for anything else, right? Well, that answer is "no" when one considers that they're heavily involved in community initiatives as well. In fact, the Bisons hockey programs requires players to be good leaders in the classroom, on the ice, and in the community! The Bisons are certainly doing some impressive stuff in the community as well, showing excellent leadership both for younger fans and their colleagues at the University of Manitoba. These initiatives include:
  • Bisons Book Buddies where Bisons go out to elementary schools and read with students.
  • Bisons Against Bullying where Bisons conduct anti-bullying workshops for students in Grades 4-6 around the city.
  • Siloam Mission days where Bisons volunteer at Siloam Mission to help the most vulnerable people in our communities.
  • One Minute Movement where the Bisons devote one minute to helping someone else for every hour they spend on themselves – whether it be studying, practicing, or hitting the gym – in order to change at least one life; and,
  • Bell Let's Talk where Bisons show their support for mental health initiatives across Canada while pledging support to specific causes on their own.
Now, you might be wondering how these men and women are able to participate in these amazing initiatives, maintain their GPAs in order to play hockey, and play said hockey while representing the university while trying to earn enough dollars and cents to pay for the ever-increasing costs of tuition. Personally, I know it's not easy for these students with all of these responsibilities placed upon them, and that’s where the Bisons Hockey Scholarship Fund comes in because the Bisons Hockey programs feel that our student-athletes, in showing their commitments to their teams, their academic careers, and their community, should be able to earn a bit of a tuition break after working hard in the classroom, making us proud on the ice, and making a difference in our community.

I can hear some of you saying that it's not your job to help put these kids through school. I get that - university tuition is expensive and we all have bills to pay and expenses to cover. Because the Scholarship Fund is a registered charity, though, you will get a credit for it that you can put towards your tax breaks for this year (or any future year)! Maybe you need a little help avoiding the taxman or want to top up your donation levels to keep CRA from grabbing any of those funds, you can get a tax receipt for your donation to the Bisons Hockey Scholarship Fund!

In the end, your money goes to a great cause if you happen to donate, you get a break on your taxes, and a hockey player at the University of Manitoba can continue to earn great grades, bring home big wins, and continue to make out communities better without having to worry about squeezing a few extra minutes out of a part-time job. If nothing else, just take the selfish reason and help yourself with the tax option alone!

To donate to the Bisons Women's Hockey Scholarship Fund, please click here. To donate to the Bisons Men's Hockey Scholarship Fund, please click here. If you have any questions about the Bisons Hockey Scholarship Fund, please email the University of Manitoba here.

To those who attended the 2020 Bisons Hockey Scholarship Fundraising Reception last night, the Bisons Hockey programs are eternally grateful for your support. To those who have given in the past, I can say, on behalf of Bisons Sports, that your support then and now is also greatly appreciated. And for those looking to give to beat the taxman and/or because of your belief in the Bisons Hockey programs, Bisons Hockey appreciates your generosity and your continued support.

A great night was had by all last night, and here's hoping the Bisons Hockey programs raised a ton of money to help their amazing student-athletes get ahead in the classroom, on the ice, and out in the community!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 20 January 2020

Nault A Regular Day

Today is not just another Monday in the United States. It's Martin Luther King Day in the country that is Canada's closest neighbour, and that means that there are a number of people off work and a pile of kids who don't have to be in school. What do minor-league hockey teams do on days like these? They schedule afternoon games, and there were a pile of people on-hand to witness the track meet that the Atlanta Gladiators and Greenville Swamp Rabbits held today in the ECHL. So why is HBIC looking at this game? Well, one former Manitoba Bisons men's hockey player played a major role in helping one team earn a victory today!

Kamerin Nault is a former Winnipeg Blues player in the MJHL where he made a name for himself as a scoring threat every time he came over the boards. That reputation earned him a spot on the roster of the Manitoba Bisons where played two-plus seasons as one of the more dynamic players that the Bisons roster featured. He signed a pro contract with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in 2018-19 where the rookie was a scoring sensation, potting 12 goals and adding nine helpers in 20 ECHL games. The Manitoba Moose called him up late in the AHL season in '18-19 where he scored a goal and an assist in his only appearance, and he was invited back for Moose training camp this season.

After being released by the Moose following a very competitive training camp, Nault signed with the Swap Rabbits again where he has nine goals and nine assists in 20 games thus far this season. However, today's game was the last game before the ECHL All-Star break, and Nault made sure he gave everyone something to talk about prior to the action at the All-Star Game.

Nault scored the second goal of the game at 8:36 of the first period to tie the game at 2-2. He added an assist on Michael Pelech's goal at 7:24 of the second period to put Greenville up 5-3. Atlanta would rally to tie the game in the third period at 6-6, sending the game to overtime where Kamerin Nault showed off his great scoring touch!
Nault drifted into the middle of the slot as the trailing player on the 3-on-2, and he wired the puck high glove-side on Atlanta's Chris Nell in a highlight that has to be one of the more memorable goals of Nault's pro career! That shot is a laser, and I suspect most goalies would have little chance in stopping that shot. Simply awesome by the former Bisons forward!

I'm always proud when I see former Bisons playing at a high level and succeeding in pro hockey, and Kamerin Nault's success at the ECHL and AHL levels is proof that Canadian university hockey players have the talent to play professional hockey. Maybe more teams will begin looking north for professional-ready hockey players?

Congratulations to Kamerin Nault for his big goal, and here's hoping that this continued success lasts for decades to come!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 19 January 2020

The Rundown - Week 12

This weekend is where some of the fuzziness surrounding the playoff picture begins to clear. It's pretty clear that Calgary and Alberta are going to make the playoffs based on their current point totals, and the Saskatchewan Huskies are nearly in the clear as well. Mount Royal and Regina will likely see one of them host a playoff game while UBC is hanging onto sixth-place following their scoring struggles. Lethbridge's free-fall through standings has them looking up at the Thunderbirds, and Manitoba is going to need a win streak and some help to claim a spot. What happened this week? Let's find out on The Rundown!

We'll start in Saskatoon where the Dinos went east to tangle with the Huskies. This weekend series had all sorts of intrigue as Saskatchewan, with two regulation wins, could put some serious pressure on the Dinos with just three weeks of games left. The Dinos, meanwhile, needed to hold off the Huskies while keeping pace with the Alberta Pandas. Kelsey Roberts was in the net for Calgary while Jessica Vance took to the crease for the Huskies.

There were highlights over the three periods, but they were all from the netminders as Kelsey Roberts and Jessica Vance went save-for-save through the entire length of regulation time. Elizabeth Lang came close to solving Vance in the first period, but found only post with her shot. With chances at both ends being thwarted by the netminders, this game would need extra time to find a winner after Calgary outshot Saskatchewan 22-16 over the three periods of 0-0 hockey.

A very one-sided four-on-four overtime period saw Saskatchewan outshoot Calgary 3-0, but find no twine with the puck. The three-on-three overtime period was wide-open as Vance denied a 2-on-1 with a glorious save while Bailee Bourassa couldn't hit the net with a couple of shots late. The second overtime period wouldn't produce a winner, so we were off to a shootout after Saskatchewan was all over Calgary again with a 7-1 margin in shots in the second five-minute frame.

The first three rounds of the skills competition produced no goals, and it felt like this game may go late into the night with how the netminders were playing. However, Leah Bohlken's wrist shot found just enough room to trickle through and past Roberts into the net to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead in the shootout in the fourth round! Dana Wood had to score for Calgary, but Jessica Vance stood tall in denying Wood as the Huskies downed the Dinos 1-0 via the shootout! Jessica Vance picked up her fourth shutout and ninth win of the season by denying all 23 shots plus four more attempts in the shootout while Kelsey Roberts also picked up a shutout, but suffered the loss after surrendering the lone goal in the shootout.

I'm not sure why the Huskies wouldn't have video of this game as it sounded like a heckuva goaltending clinic, but there is no video to be found of this game. Get it together, Huskies!

SATURDAY: After the Dinos and Huskies went 70 minutes plus a skills competition just to see one goal scored over the course of the night before, you had to figure Saturday's game would feature a couple of goal celebrations at least. The Dinos did pick up a point on Friday, but they were looking to go home with the majority of points after this game. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, had a chance to get within striking distance of the Dinos with a regulation win. Just as they did the night before, the Dinos sent out Kelsey Roberts to defend their net while the Huskies answered with Jessica Vance.

We would see a goal much earlier tonight as these teams battled through the first period. It seemed like we were headed for zero goals in 90 minutes of play, but a late shot by Kara Kondrat made it into Roberts who couldn't cover it cleanly, and Kennedy Brown pushed it across the line for a goal at 18:38 to make it 1-0 for the Huskies! It was quite fitting that the Huskies finally scored after dominating most of the period's possession time, and that was reflected at the horn with the 1-0 lead and an 8-2 advantage in shots.

The second period was played more evenly as both teams looked for more goals, but Roberts and Vance were en fuego this weekend when it came to making saves. Both netminders were having none of the offensive outburst, and the 1-0 lead for the Huskies held after Calgary outshot Saskatchewan 9-7 in the middle frame.

The third period saw the Dinos take an early penalty that slowed them down on their comeback, but they killed the Saskatchewan power-play and went back to work. It felt as though the momentum was building for Calgary as we reached the final five minutes of the game, but a bodychecking penalty combined with a bench minor penalty for the protest put the Dinos in some serious trouble. Once again, though, Kelsey Roberts and the Dinos penalty-killers came up clutch to give themselves two-and-a-half minutes of time in which to find the equalizer. It seemed strange, however, that Calgary didn't pull Roberts for the extra attacker down a goal and needing points in the standings, but the final horn would sound with Roberts still in the net and Saskatchewan celebrating their 1-0 victory! Jessica Vance picked up her fifth shutout and tenth win of the season with a 17-save blanking of the Dinos while Kelsey Roberts suffered the loss despite being good on 23 of 24 shot attempts.

Once again, there's zero video evidence of any of this going down for me to embed here as the Huskies seemingly forgot there were hockey games this weekend. That's somewhat tragic as well when one considers that Vance moved into sole position of second-place in the Canada West record books with the 20th career shutout on this night! Congratulations to Jessica Vance on that amazing accomplishment!

Alberta enters the weekend on a nine-game winning streak, and looking every bit like the most dominant team in Canada West. Lethbridge returned home after dropping six-straight games, and they needed to find the win column again if they hoped to make the playoffs this season. That task wasn't going to be easy against the Pandas. Halle Oswald got the nod for the Pandas while Alicia Anderson was tasked with stopping the Pandas.

I don't like celebrating blowouts, so let's just say that Danielle Hardy scored at 12:05 and Kelsey Tangjerd added a second goal at 16:55 of the first period to put Alberta up 2-0 after 20 minutes as they doubled up the Pronghorns in shots by a 10-5 count.

A 2-0 lead isn't so bad, but the wheels came off for Lethbridge before the second period was five minutes old. Kennedy Ganser scored on the power-play at the 3:00 mark, and then she added a second power-play goal just 1:50 later as Alberta was off and running with a 4-0 lead. Tallon Stephenson would cut into that lead at 6:49 with her goal to make it 4-1, but Alberta would tack on a Payton Laumbach goal at 12:07 followed by a Madison Willan goal at 13:59 as Alberta took a 6-1 lead into the third period after outshooting the Pronghorns 16-7 in the second period.

Lethbridge would send Chloe Marshall to the net for the final frame, but it seems that Alberta was content with the damage they had already done as they were outshot by Lethbridge 9-7 in the third period. The only problem was that there were no additional goals for the Pronghorns as Alberta skated to the 6-1 victory over Lethbridge. Halle Oswald stopped 25 shots for her eighth win of the campaign while Alicia Anderson suffered the loss after stopping 15 of 21 shots she faced. For the record, Chloe Marshall stopped all seven shots she faced in her 20 minutes of work.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: After a bit of a butt-kicking the night before, the Pronghorns were looking to show a little pride going into Saturday's game against the Pandas. I expected the Pronghorns to come out and set the pace on this day while limiting Alberta's chances. Alberta had to be expecting a better push from the Pronghorns as well, so I also expected the Pandas to up their games in the back-half of this weekend set. Kirsten Chamberlin was in the Alberta net for this one while Alicia Anderson was between the pipes for Lethbridge.

The first period saw the Pronghorns far more mindful of their defensive zone, but they seemed to sacrifice their offensive output to make up that difference. Alberta certainly carried the play for the majority of the period, but they were unable to solve Anderson with the Lethbridge defence doing their best to clear pucks and second chances away from the net. After one period of play, the score remained 0-0, but Alberta held a significant edge in shots at 7-1.

The second period saw Lethbridge open it up a bit which, in turn, also allowed Alberta to open it up a bit as they found more room to skate and make plays. A penalty to Lethbridge five minutes into the middle frame gave Alberta they break they needed as Taylor Anker's shot from the left side was stopped by Anderson as was the follow-up shot by Kennedy Ganser on the doorstep, but the rebound came out into the slot area where Autumn MacDougall got her stick on the puck before a Lethbridge defender could, sending the puck into the cage to put Alberta up 1-0 at 6:47! Both teams would continue to trade chances as the period progressed, but it was Alberta who would strike once more while shorthanded when, after what looked like a clear bodychecking penalty call against Alberta that went uncalled, Abby Benning streaked down the right-wing, cut to the net at the dot, and found the seam through the five-hole on Anderson at 12:22 to make it 2-0 for Alberta! The remainder of the period allowed Lethbridge head coach Doug Paisley time to cool off as the Pronghorns held the Pandas at bay through to the horn. 40 minutes were in the books with Alberta leading 2-0 and up 19-10 in shots.

The third period saw Alberta tricken with penalties in the first half-half of the frame only to find themselves with two opportunities on double-minor penalties in the latter half of the period. The difference, however, was both Chamberlin and Anderson as the goaltenders continued to play well in this period, denying all shots sent their ways. In the end, the horn would sound without any further goals as the Alberta Pandas downed the Lethbridge Pronghorns by a 2-0 score! Kirsten Chamberlin was solid in earning her fifth shutout and eighth win of the season by stopping all 17 shots she faced while Alicia Anderson suffered the loss despite making 34 stops on the night.

I'll also put an asterisk on this game because there are a couple of comments in The Last Word about this game as a trend that's being seen in a few rinks across Canada West.

Highlights of this game are below!

Regina hosted a little Cougar-on-Cougar action this weekend as the Mount Royal Cougars travelled east to meet the Regina Cougars in what looked like a battle for fourth-place in Canada West! The Regina Cougars have been on some kind of tear through western Canada recently, winning four in a row to set up this weekend's tilt with Mount Royal. The Calgary-based Cougars took a few lumps from Alberta one week earlier, and they needed to hold off the surging Regina-based Cougars to retain their hold on fourth-place. It was a big weekend for both teams as Cassie Shokar got the start for MRU while Jane Kish was in net for Regina.

The first period went up and down the ice with chances at both ends. The green Cougars had a couple of prime scoring opportunities, but Shokar handled those shots well. At the other end, Kish looked as calm as she has over the last couple of weeks in helping the green Cougars through those four wins. However, at the end of 20 minutes, we still had a 0-0 draw despite Regina leading the way in shots at 8-4.

The second period started quickly as Jaycee Magwood picked up a loose puck along the right half-boards in the MRU zone, skated to the top or the right circle, and unleashed a laser beam of a wrist shot high glove-side on Shokar that dented twine as Regina went up 1-0 just 1:05 into the frame! The defence would tighten up after that as shots came at a premium, but there were chances turned aside by both netminders. However, a mid-period push by Regina saw Martin Maskova center a puck for Ireland South-Sorestad from the side of the net, but Shokar made a huge save on South-Sorestad! The only problem? The puck was lying in front of the crease and Maskova, while being tackled to the ice, swept it into the net at 11:26 to put Regina up 2-0! The stingy defence would continue after that goal as Regina outshot MRU 5-3 in the period, but took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.

The third period saw Regina put forth all sorts of shot attempts, but it would be Mount Royal who cracked the shells of the Cougars' egg. Emma Bergesen and Tatum Amy broke into the Regina zone two-on-two after Bergesen emerged from the penalty box, and Amy went for the net as Bergesen's shot bounced off a defender's shin pad. In the confusion of finding the puck, it was Bergesen who spotted it fluttering in the slot, and her second attempt found the back of the net past Kish who had all sorts of traffic in front at 7:58 to make it a 2-1 game! With 12:02 left, this game got a lot more interesting!

However, the Regina Cougars showed all sorts of resolve as they took over in both the offensive and defensive zones, limiting shots on net while driving possession as they looked for an insurance marker. By the time the final horn went, time had run out on a comeback as the Regina Cougars earned a 2-1 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars! Jane Kish made just nine saves in earning her tenth win of the season while Cassie Shokar stopped 22 shots in the loss.

Highlights of this game are below!

SATURDAY: Things got a little tighter in the race for fourth-place with Regina's win on Friday, and they looked to push the win streak to six games with another victory on Saturday. Mount Royal was simply looking for a win of any kind - regulation or extra time - to prevent Regina from passing them in the standings. Kaitlyn Ross was in the crease for Mount Royal while Jane Kish was back in the net for Regina!

Mount Royal came out with much better pace in this game as they drive the offence early through a strong forecheck and good speed. Jane Kish, however, was having none of it in her net, denying Mount Royal on their first-period chances. It would be in the latter half of the period where we'd see our first goal. Off an offensive-zone face-off win while on the power-play, Hannah Pennell's shot from the point was deflected down by Melissa Zerr in front of the net and through Ross' five-hole as the Regina Cougars grabbed the 1-0 lead at 13:46! Kish and Ross would close out the period with just the one goal between them as Regina went into the intermission up 1-0, but Mount Royal had outshot the home side by a 9-5 count.

The second period saw the Regina Cougars ratchet up the defence as they limited shots and chances on Kish, but they didn't throw any additional offensive chances on the board. Had it not been for a late power-play, Regina may have carried the one-goal lead into the third period. However, that power-play was for Regina, and they'd cash in once more using the same template as they did in the first period. Kaitlyn Crowe's point shot was tipped past Ross by Shaelyn Vallotton at 13:54 for the power-play goal and the 2-0 Regina lead! at the conclusion of the middle frsme, Regina held the two-goal lead with Mount Royal up 12-10 in shots.

The third period was more of the same type of play as the second period as Regina continued to be defensively-responsible. Kish continued her strong play as well with shots being absorbed by her so there were no rebounds while being sound fundamentally in the crease. As they did one night earlier, Mount Royal pressed for a goal, but a late penalty while Ross was on the bench for the extra attacker killed any momentum that was building for MRU. They'd pull Ross once more with 58 seconds remaining, but they couldn't find the back of the net on this day as Regina closed out a 2-0 win over Mount Royal! Jane Kish recorded her sixth shutout and eleventh win of the season by stopping all 16 shots she faced while Kaitlyn Ross suffered the loss after making 14 stops on this day.

Highlights are below!

The teams who have struggled to score for long lengths of time this season met in Winnipeg as the UBC Thunderbirds, currently mired in a scoreless drought of 145:16 after going more than 300 minutes without a goal, met the Manitoba Bisons who had previously gone 333:02 without a goal this season. It was anyone's guess as to whether we'd see any goals or a pile of goals based on how these two teams had played this season, but UBC's eight-game losing streak was in need of being snapped if the T-Birds were to hold onto the final playoff spot while Manitoba looked to build on their win over Calgary last Saturday as they looked to get back into the playoff picture. Tory Micklash was in the UBC crease for this game while Erin Fargey got the start for Manitoba.

Despite expecting the Bisons to come out fired up on home ice after their win over the sixth-ranked Dinos last week, Manitoba instead looked slow and plodding in the first period as UBC controlled the play for the majority of the opening period. Had it not been for a few key plays, there's a good chance the entire period may have been played in Manitoba's end. The good news is that Fargey looked calm and cool in her net, and the Manitoba defence did a good job to clear second chances away before they became any more dangerous. Through 20 minutes, the 0-0 tie remained intact despite UBC outshooting Manitoba by a 12-2 count.

The Bisons continued to employ this all-defensive style of play in the second period, barely testing Micklash in the UBC for the second-straight period despite having the only power-play opportunity of the frame. UBC continued to put pucks on Fargey as they looked for chances and rebounds, but the Manitoba netminder was good in absorbing and smothering pucks in the middle frame. Through two periods, the 0-0 draw held strong after UBC outshot Manitoba 12-4 in this stanza.

The third period saw things get a little more even as the Bisons seemingly picked up their game, but Micklash was just as good as Fargey in this frame as the two teams continued to play stalemate. Despite a much closer shot total in this period, the horn at the end of 60 minutes would sound without a lamp being lit, so we would need extra time to solve this game after UBC held an 8-6 advantage in shots in the third period.

The four-on-four overtime saw chances at both ends of the ice as the five-minute period counted down, but it would be a giveaway in the UBC zone off an errant pass that saw the puck land on Jordy Zacharias' stick, and she simply outwaited Micklash as she brought the puck across the crease until Micklash went down, and Zacharias buried the puck high inside the right post to give Manitoba the 1-0 overtime victory! Erin Fargey was outstanding in the Manitoba net as she made 35 saves for her second shutout and fourth win of the season while Tory Micklash likely deserved a better fate after making 13 of 14 stops.

Manitoba's highlight crew seems to have taken Friday night off as there are no highlights available for this game. Don't let this be a habit, Manitoba - we want our highlights!

SATURDAY: After likely feeling like they played well enough to win, but dropping their ninth-straight game, the Thunderbirds had to be stinging following the game on Friday where their goalless drought increased to 209:37. Manitoba, who escaped with their second-straight win, absolutely needed to play a much better game than they did one night earlier, so Saturday's game should feature more goals, right? UBC opted to start Danielle Wierenga in her first Canada West start of her career while Erin Fargey was back in the net for Manitoba for this game.

Again, I'm not sure what's happening in the Manitoba room nor on the bench, but UBC came out like gangbusters and absolutely dominated the Bisons in the first period as the Bisons looked overwhelmed and outmatched in the opening frame. Just 2:07 into the period, UBC snapped their scoreless drought as Ireland Perrott finally solved an opposing goaltender for UBC to end the streak at 211:44! 58 seconds later, the floodgates were open as Jadeon Cooke snapped a shot past Fargey to make it 2-0! UBC wasn't done there as a goalmouth scramble saw Mathea Fischer push the puck across the goal line at 9:11 to make it 3-0! And with UBC on the power-play, Hannah Koroll sniped a gorgeous goal as she went high glove-side on a screened Fargey as Koroll's shot avoided all the traffic to find the twine at 12:56 for a 4-0 lead as the T-Birds went from famine to feast in a hurry in this game! Manitoba had a handful of shots, but Wierenga was good on all pucks she faced as UBC went into the first break up 4-0 and leading 18-7 in shots.

Manitoba opted to have Amanda Schubert start the second period in the net, perhaps as a bit of a wake-up call to the team. Whatever was said in the dressing room between the periods, it seemed to spark a fire in the Bisons as they built momentum in this period. A power-play at the midpoint of the period was the catalyst that Manitoba needed to turn momentum into change, and it would be Sarah Dennehy from in front who would bury the power-play goal behind Wierenga to make it a 4-1 game! 1:32 on a separate power-play, Manitoba would strike again when Lauren Warkentin made a beautiful cross-ice pass from the right half-boards to the tape of Kate Gregoire's stick, and Gregoire sniped the power-play goal to make it a 4-2 game! UBC decided that penalties were a bad idea and cleaned up their game through the remaining six minutes fo play, but the deficit had been cut in half by the Bisons through 40 minutes after Manitoba outshot UBC 8-3 in the period.

The third period was far more north-south with the Thunderbirds and Bisons trading chances as Manitoba continued to press for goals. A couple of early power-plays were killed off by Manitoba as one could feel the momentum building once again, but Wierenga and the UBC defence thwarted a number of chances. With time winding down and Schubert on the bench for the extra attacker, a goalmouth scramble around the UBC net saw Kate Gregoire chip a puck into the net at 19:39 to make it a 4-3 game! With one last rush down the ice following the ensuing face-off, Manitoba looked for the equalizer, but UBC's defence kept the Bisons to the outside as the horn sounded, ending the comeback. Despite the furious comeback by the Bisons, the UBC Thunderbirds claimed victory with the 4-3 score! Danielle Wierenga earned her first career Canada West victory with a 21-save performance while Erin Fargey suffered the loss after stopping 14 of 18 shots. For the record, Amanda Schubert was perfect on all nine shot sshe faced in the 40 minutes she played.

Again, Manitoba's video crew was asleep at the wheel for this game as there are no highlights for the second-straight game. If this happens for a third-straight game, there may be riots!

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
47 65 24
43 46 32
vs ALB
40 38 30
32 39 43
vs MAN
British Columbia
30 32 44
vs SAS
Mount Royal
29 30 32
23 36 59
20 25 47
*teams in yellow have clinched a playoff spot

The Last Word

I made mention of an asterisk above regarding the Alberta-Lethbridge game, so let's get into this because I feel this one change could really make hockey better in the Canada West Conference. I am advocating for Canada West to employ some sort of officiating czar or czarina who will work with the four provincial hockey organizations when it comes to making officiating standards the same in every Canada West rink.

Let me be clear: this off-ice Canada West senior official will not assign or remove officials from any game across Western Canada. Instead, this official will send clips of games where officials are to be commended for their work on the ice or instances where they may need to improve their judgments so that officials from Vancouver to Winnipeg make more standardized calls so that coaches and players no longer have to guess what is and isn't a penalty when they move between provinces and cities.

After seeing the missed hooking call which led to a bodycheck in the Alberta-Lethbridge game which preceded the Abby Benning goal, I can understand why Lethbridge head coach Doug Paisley was incensed at the point. The hooking call was a textbook call by any means - Sawatzky was in the back pocket of Borrow and reached around her with her stick - and the bodycheck that followed was a result of Sawatzky being unable to free her stick from Borrow, leading both players to barrel into the boards with Borrow being checked against the boards by Sawatzky. Even as a non-official, I have watched enough hockey to know that's a penalty, if not two penalties, yet the referees in Lethbridge had no qualms with the play.

This is only one instance in what has been a season in which there have been questionable or missed calls in most games, but the good news is that most haven't had the direct outcome like this missed call did in Lethbridge. However, with two additional teams and more officials being used every weekend, there needs to be a standardization to which teams can refer. A hooking penalty should be the same in every rink. A bodycheck needs to be separated from a pin along the boards. Goaltender interference needs to be defined entirely.

The last thing this conference needs is a missed call or blown call that costs a team a playoff game or series when it could mean the difference between a trip to the U SPORTS National Championship and a chance to showcase their school on a national stage, and going home to plan for the following season. The amateur hockey organizations face no repercussions from the Canada West schools if their officials call a bad game, so Canada West should have an advocate that can work with these organizations to ensure that the level of officiating remains high and continues to get better.

I want the men and women in stripes to succeed as much as the players do. There's a chance that a number of them can work larger tournaments and move up the officiating ladders in their respective provinces with good performances in the games they officiate, and that includes Canada West hockey. On the flip side, Canada West should have a voice in recommending officials for specific conference games based on performances in Canada West games. The only way that happens is if Canada West has someone who is evaluating the officials at the Canada West level.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Second Time Ever

The Saskatchewan Huskies men's team have always prided themselves on their great goaltending. They had Jordon Cooke for the longest time as he was routinely seen as the best netminder as the conference, and his graduation has allowed Taran Kozun to step in and fill the void after his days in the WHL ended. Kozun, pictured to the above-left, has done all sorts of amazing things while wearing the green-and-white, and tonight may have been his best performance in the Saskatchewan crease despite there still being games left on the schedule!

Kozun, who last season broke the Canada West record for longest consecutive regular season shutout streak that totaled 267:32 minutes, decided to add a little offensive flair tonight to his great defensive play in defending the Saskatchewan net as his memorable January events continued!
Taran Kozun becomes just the second goaltending in Canada West history and the first goaltender in University of Saskatchewan history to score a goal! Kozun joins former Alberta Golden Bears netminder Ken Mucha as the only two men in the history of western Canada's men's university hockey to find the back of the net, but Kozun can be credited as the first goalie to actually shoot the puck the length of the ice for a goal!

Mucha's goal came on a delayed penalty call after a Lethbridge Pronghorns forward attempted to bank a puck off the boards back to a defenceman, but missed the angle that allowed the puck to slide the length of the ice into the net abandoned for the extra attacker. In 102 seasons of conference play, Canada West has only had two goalies score, and Kozun is the only one to have shot the puck himself into an opposition's goal. That's a pretty cool statistic for any goaltender to wear, and Kozun absolutely deserves, after all he's done as a Huskie, to have an asterisk beside his name as the first goalie to record a goal with a shot on net.

What makes Kozun's achievement a little more incredible is that not only did he score the final goal of the weekend series against the Dinos, but he also shut them out in both games they played, extending Saskatchewan's win streak to five games, moving them four points ahead of the Dinos for second-place which comes with a first-round bye in the playoffs, and pushes his personal record this season to 13-3-2 to go along with a 1.96 GAA, a .929 save percentage, and four shutouts. That would be first in wins, second in GAA, first in save percentage, and first in shutouts among all Canada West netminders! Does anyone see Taran Kozun not winning the Canada West Goaltender of the Year award after he moved into a tie for 110th-overall in goal scoring?

All joking aside, congratulations to Taran Kozun of the Saskatchewan Huskies for this historic moment in his career and in the history of the Huskies!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!