Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 317

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with our PLEDGE-O-RAMA show! The ol' radio station known as CJUM-FM 101.5 kicked off its annual week-long pledge drive known as PLEDGE-O-RAMA earlier this week, and we're nearing our goal! We do this every year at the radio station as we ask our listeners to give a little back to our independent transmission that goes out on the 101.5 FM frequency, and our goal this year is $36,000! We do need some help from you, my readers and our listeners, as we're still a little short, so will you lend us some support?

What is this annual pledge drive known as Pledge-O-Rama? UMFM, for those that are unaware, is a volunteer-driven, non-profit radio station located on the campus of the University of Manitoba from where The Hockey Show and other great programming originates. The station has been operating since 1998, and your donations via the Pledge-O-Rama campaigns over the years have allowed UMFM to accomplish a number of goals including upgrading the transmitter (hear us farther!), gaining better technology so we can do things like remote broadcasts (Bisons football and hockey!), and making upgrades to UMFM's in-studio equipment and facilities (hear us clearer!). Basically, the money you donate goes directly into making our programming and our broadcast quality better!

If you're a fan of The Hockey Show, all we ask is if it's within your means to make donation in whatever amount it may be that you can afford so that we can continue to do great things like broadcasting Bisons men's and women's hockey, broadcasting from community arenas and events like we did in London, Ontario where the U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship was help, and bring great people on the show like we did all summer. While Beans and I won't see any money directly, UMFM will be using the money this year to set up a digital music library among the projects that have been identified by the Board of Directors so that UMFM continues to break new ground and implement new technology to make your listening experience better!

There are a ton of incentives for donating and UMFM is happy to provide tax receipts as an official non-profit entity in case you need to keep the government from putting their greasy mitts on your hard-earned dollars. When you donate, you can choose the incentive package for which you qualify or the tax receipt, and those will be sent out to you or can be picked up from the radio station itself (note that tax receipts will be produced closer to tax season!). As an incentive this year, The Hockey Show will enter anyone who makes a pledge to our show in excess of $50 into a draw for one of the following beauty prizes:

  1. HOST THE SHOW: you can sit in as a featured host with Teebz and Beans and debate all things hockey on a date of your choosing! We'll give away two of these to be used at any time by the winners within the next calendar year (before next year's Pledge-O-Rama).
  2. WE VISIT YOU: The Hockey Show will come out and do the show from your local rink within southern Manitoba! We'll gather up the gear, make our way out to your local team's rink, promote your team or a team of your choosing on the show, and do our one-hour of craziness from your community! We'll give away two of these to be used at any time by the winners within the next calendar year (before next year's Pledge-O-Rama).
  3. TEAM OF YOUR CHOICE: As you may be aware, The Hockey Show holds its Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest every year. If your name is chosen in the draw and options #1 and #2 don't work for you due to distance or some other factor, we'll give you a chance to call your own shot by selecting the team of your choice in this year's Survivor pool. Once your choice is made, however, there's no going back! The prizing for the winner is always worth more than $50, so your pledge may pay off in a big way if you choose your team wisely! There is one of these incentives to be won.

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there! 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.

Tune in tonight to hear how you can donate while Teebz and Beans discuss concussions and the rash of dangerous hits seen in the NHL lately, the Bisons and their respective schedules, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Follow The Money

See these ladies? They're paid by the NHL. Before you start emailing, tweeting, and commenting how I know nothing about hockey and how the NHL doesn't have any female players, let me assure you that I know these two facts. Yes, I know nothing about hockey and, yes, I know the NHL doesn't have any females who play the nightly games. There's an explanation here that needs to be told, and it will come as a bit of shock that the money actually does tell a story. I'll make a few assumptions here and I'll point those out, but things make more sense once you see the paper trail.

We'll start with the claim that was put forth in an article published yesterday by Associated Press writer John Wawrow. He writes,
The NHL's support of women's hockey included the league stepping in at the last moment to end a wage dispute between USA Hockey and U.S. National team women players threatening to boycott the 2017 World Championships on home ice. Two people familiar with the situation said the NHL agreed to pay USA Hockey to help fund the four-year agreement. The people spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity because the league and USA Hockey have not made that information public.
Ok, so there's always some uncertainty when it comes to anonymous sources, but the Associated Press has some pretty stringent rules for its writers when it comes to using anonymous sources. I will assume that Wawrow and his news manager have vetted the material presented in Wawrow's article, and will stand by its veracity. Note that I am assuming this entire article's base on the Associated Press having done its due diligence regarding anonymous sources. There's some danger in this, but we'll press on.

If the above is true, it seems that USA Hockey doesn't want egg on its face in trying to explain why they had the NHL pay the American women in their demands for better wages as Olympians similar to what Canadian Olympians get. The NHL obviously doesn't want to embarrass one of its partners in USA Hockey with whom it has a solid relationship. Keeping this deal quiet works for both sides, and no one needed to be the wiser about where the money came from to pay the American Olympians.

Except someone talked, and Wawrow published it. This, as you probably can imagine, set off the women's hockey world.
I'm not going to start splitting hairs here, but anonymous sources can't really be your lede as it calls into question all sorts of credibility. Hearsay is not what the Associated Press deals in when it comes to writing articles. You probably want a tabloid for that.

In any case, there was all sorts of outrage and disbelief and gasping and general shock that something like this could ever happen. Rather than taking a look at the actual news and trying to verify its truth, it seems the women's hockey bloggers and writers needed time to continue to build the necessary outrage when it comes to the NHL doing anything positive for women's hockey, let alone their vaunted and idolized gold medal-winning US Olympic women's hockey team.

Here's where thing become a little easier to digest: there has to be a paper trail for this transaction. The NHL and USA Hockey both file tax returns, and, in the case of USA Hockey as a public entity, they post their financial audits on their website. That means there should be some information in there about the NHL dumping some cash on USA Hockey to resolve the players' demands for livable wages similar to their Canadian counterparts.

Before we get into the auditing of the audits, there are a few details I need to spell out here. First, USA Hockey paid the women in the national team program $1000 per month for a six-month period every Olympic year prior to their new agreement. Yes, that's ridiculous for women who are expected to compete at the highest level every four years, so I'm glad that the American women won this battle. They sought fair treatment during the three-and-a-half years between those Olympic camps, and they got it.

While the actual details on what pay and benefits they receive have not been released (nor should they be), let's assume that the agreement they made continues with the same pay from USA Hockey as they received for the six months leading up to the Olympics. That is, let's assume that they'll earn $1000 per month for every month they are part of the national team program. A reasonable assumption, right?

The women were going to boycott the 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship that was being held at the end of March 2017, so we can also safely assume that the deal reached between USA Hockey and the US women's national team would need signatures and ratification by both sides. If we believe that there would be a reasonable time period in which this happened, let's say that this new agreement began in May 2017 after one month of time in which both sides got everything signed, sealed, and delivered. Again, a reasonable assumption, right?

Assuming that the rate of pay and the time period needed to ratify the agreement are true, we should be able to find proof of this infusion of cash into USA Hockey's pockets from the NHL. The next place we should look? Hockey USA's financial statements.

Because this happened in 2017, there is an audited financial statement on Hockey USA's website for that year. Let's get the shovels out and dig into this, shall we?

I might be a little rusty with my accounting skills here, but it seems that the NHL increased its total payment to USA Hockey by $200,000, pushing it up from $9.2 million in 2016 to $9.4 million in 2017. That's a significant amount of money that the National Hockey League is pouring in when you consider that the only larger contribution to USA Hockey's bottom line was "Membership registrations and dues" from programs across the United States.

There is a curious addition to the NHL's line on the statement that reads "Note N". What does Note N state?
Wait, do mine eyes deceive me? Does that note state that the NHL specifically provides cash for initiatives involving women's hockey? Indeed, it does, and that would mean that the balance of the money left over once USA Hockey spends money on "existing costs associated with the national team development program and junior officiating development program", the rest goes towards initiatives that include women's hockey.

You might be asking how this relates to the US women's national team and their fight for livable wages. We'll take those fair assumptions made above and work the numbers at this point.

If there are 25 women on the national program's roster at any one time and they earn $1000 per month each, the total per month that Hockey USA would need to pay the team would be $25,000. If the agreement started in May and ran until December 2017 in terms of the 2017 financials, that would be eight months of pay that the women would receive. Eight months of $25,000 in wages would be $200,000 in total wages for the remainder of 2017.

Assuming the NHL didn't demand a reduction in spending by USA Hockey on "existing costs associated with the national team development program and junior officiating development program" nor a reduction in spending on offsetting "costs associated with new
initiatives, specifically the American Development Model, Women's Hockey, and membership development, plus support for the United States Hockey League and College Hockey Inc.", this $200,000 increase in funding from 2016 to 2017 wouldn't just be some arbitrary funding increase without some sort of impetus for the increase.

What if the impetus was $1000 per month for 25 players until the end of the calendar year? Coincidence?

Let me go on record and state that none of this is concrete evidence. Perhaps there was another reason altogether for the increase that USA Hockey received from the NHL in terms of its financial support. However, it states very clearly in USA Hockey's financial audit that the NHL does provide monetary support for its women's programs, including the US national women's team, and it appears that support is significant based upon the report filed by John Wawrow.

If the NHL is funding the costs for the national team program and the junior officiating programs, this $200,000 increase would perhaps fall under that jurisdiction since the US women's national team would possibly fall under that "national team program" purview. As stated in the audit, "[t]he balance is to be directed to offset costs associated with new initiatives" after those costs for the national and officiating programs are paid, and I cannot see the NHL arbitrarily tossing more money into USA Hockey's remaining pile of money for new initiatives without USA Hockey making a clear case on where the money is going. That's the entire point of accounting - tracking where the money is spent.

While a detailed financial audit would certainly provide more answers than the financial audit posted on USA Hockey's website, there are simply too many puzzle pieces that fit together nicely based entirely on the idea that the US women's national team is earning $1000 per month, similar to their Canadian counterparts. Again, I made assumptions that make the narrative in this article work, but these are reasonable assumptions based on past events.

Maybe I'm entirely wrong. I can accept that. It's the downside of making assumptions, and I prepared to live with that if that's the case. Maybe my understanding of accounting practices is completely out of touch with actual accounting practices, and I can admit that reading financial statements is as much fun as watching paint dry. But if John Wawrow is standing by what he wrote regarding what his sources told him, I feel fairly confident in this breakdown of why the US women's national team is on the NHL's payroll.

All one had to do was follow the money.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Just One Spot?

The U SPORTS Top Ten lists came out today, and there was some apprehension from this writer after the University of Manitoba women's hockey team were shutout twice last weekend by the Alberta Pandas. While I should probably temper my worry a little since the Bisons were 2-2-0-0 last season at the point, the fact remains that they also weren't the top-ranked team in the nation at that point. In any case, I expected some serious movement from Alberta after they played some rather outstanding hockey compared to the top-ranked Bisons in their two meetings this past weekend, and we got that very movement as the voters cast their ballots. Or the mathematical equation that apparently still isn't in place. So back to the voters we go.

So Concordia, who has yet to play a game in the RSEQ after finishing with the bronze medal last season, moves into the top spot in the nation while Manitoba, who dropped two-straight games to Alberta, falls to second-place. Montreal doesn't move despite not having played a game, Alberta jumps up four spots after their impressive showings against Manitoba and Saskatchewan to start the season 3-1-0, and StFX drops a spot despite losing a game to unranked Dalhousie in the shootout to round out the top-five spots.

I seriously don't understand how the voters work. Manitoba, in my view, should have fallen more than one spot after being shutout twice by a team who now has a better record and certainly has had a more difficult schedule to start the season in Alberta. Saskatchewan, who played Alberta to a split before sweeping Calgary with a regulation win and an overtime win, should legitimately be closer to both Alberta and Manitoba as well, and I certainly struggle in seeing three RSEQ teams in the Top Ten when none have played a single second of the regular season yet.

If this were preseason rankings, I can handle seeing a couple of RSEQ teams in the Top Ten, but shouldn't teams have to earn a ranking by actually playing games? Am I misunderstanding how the voting works? I don't care about strength of schedule because none of the teams cross over into each other's schedule, so shouldn't results against Top Ten teams weigh more heavily on who is better than whom?

It might be a good idea to enable that complicated calculus equation found in the Elo Rating System sooner rather than later to determine the Top Ten because I feel that there is still a pile of voter bias that is going into the system right now. I get that Manitoba may still be rounding into form like they did last season when they kicked it into another gear in January for the second-half of the season, but that's why they shouldn't get the benefit of the doubt until they do.

For Saskatchewan Huskies fans, I got your back on this one. You guys are better than eighth-place in the country right now. And as much as I want to be the homer, Manitoba probably shouldn't be the second-best team in the country at this point in the season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 15 October 2018

Matheson For A Pair

In the 1980s, the move that Mike Matheson pulled on Elias Pettersson on Saturday night probably would have been deemed a "good ol' hockey play". The injury that Pettersson suffered would have had fans calling him "soft" for getting "his bell rung", but things have changed over the last thirty years. As you're probably aware, concussions are at the forefront for professional sports, especially when it comes to the lasting effects of concussions, but the NHL seems to be steadfast in its assumption that concussions do not cause long-lasting effects on the human brain. Regardless of the NHL's stance, Elias Pettersson suffered a concussion due to Mike Matheson's body slam, and Matheson was called by the Department of Player Safety today to figure out how long he'll sit for regarding that body slam.

Again, I struggle to understand how old-school players such as Brad May, Kelly Chase, and Jason Strudwick seem to classify Matheson's hit and body slam on Pettersson as an "old-school hockey play" when rugged guys who played against them such as Mike Peluso, Matthew Barnaby, and Stu Grimson all were forced into retirement early due to concussions. Players such as Jeff Beukeboom and Kevin Kaminski had their lives derailed entirely by concussions, yet this gets a pass from the former players named at the top of this paragraph?

Elias Pettersson is 19 years-old, and he already has a concussion under his belt as an NHL player. Do we really expect him to have a long and prosperous career if plays such as Matheson's are allowed?

The Department of Player Safety saw two separate plays in terms of what Matheson did after he got dangled out of his jockstrap by Pettersson in the left corner.

"What causes this incident to rise to the level of supplemental discipline, is that it encompasses two separate and distinct acts," claims the DoPS in the suspension video. "First, Matheson pins Pettersson to the boards in a legal and effective defensive maneuver. Then with the puck long separated from the area, and Pettersson unable to defend himself, Matheson drives him directly downward and into the ice with force, causing an injury."

I agree with this statement 100%. The pin that Matheson put on Pettersson behind the net once he recovered from his defensive lapse is entirely within the rules. He simply uses his body to prevent Pettersson from moving along the boards, forcing Petterson to pass the puck away. Had that been the end of the play behind the net, we'd have no problem. Instead, Matheson follows up the pin against the boards with the body slam that caused Pettersson's head to hit the ice causing the concussion.

Was Matheson looking for a little retribution for the dangle that embarrassed him moments prior to this incident? Possibly. He'll never go on record in saying that, but the video shows that he kept his eye on Pettersson after Pettersson deked him out of his skates.
If anything, the body slam seems like a message to the rookie from Matheson. Matheson seemingly didn't like what Pettersson did in deking him off his feet, giving him the bump with the elbow as Pettersson went behind the net, and he followed up that elbow by dumping Pettersson on his head as a bit of retaliation.

As the Department of Player Safety's video stated, "This is not a hockey play."

It was announced today that Mike Matheson received a two-game suspension for this transgression, and I can't say that I'm surprised that it was a low number of games. Matheson has not been in trouble with the league before about his play, so the Department of Player Safety can't necessarily toss the book at him. Two games seems like it would be the maximum penalty that the NHL could assess without an appeal, so all's well that ends well, I guess.

The only problem? Elias Pettersson's return to the Canucks' lineup seems to be much further away than just two games. For a player who has eight points in five games, he's a big part of the early success of the Canucks. You can understand why Canucks head coach Travis Green and the Vancouver Canucks fanbase were still fuming today over the decision.

Be thankful that Matheson got something, Canucks fans. I had the NHL pegged for a simple fine due to his lack of questionable play, so that two-game break should be seen as something tangible. Yes, it won't bring back your star player, but it's likely the most the NHL could do with the NHLPA appealing this decision.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The Rundown - Week 2

With six teams tied at 1-1-0-0 after the first week of play in Canada West, there was hope that we'd see some separation between the teams as Week Two got underway on Friday. Well, there was some definite movement in the standings after this weekend's games, and we'll take a look at who did what and what affect those actions had. Needless to say, some teams moved up while others moved down, and the only question was which way did your team go. Let's get those questions answered with today's edition of The Rundown!

UBC at MOUNT ROYAL: Two of those 1-1-0-0 teams met Friday night in Calgary as the Cougars hosted the Thunderbirds. Both sides came out of the gate flying as they went up and down the ice, but MRU got an early advantage when UBC's Celine Tardif was sent off for bodychecking at 5:18. Mount Royal went to work, and they capitalized just five seconds into the advantage when Daria O'Neill notched her first goal with a shot from the point off a clean face-off win that got through both the traffic in front of the UBC net and UBC netminder Amelia Boughn to put the Cougars up 1-0! UBC battled back, though, and they found the back of the net at 12:47 when Mathea Fischer unleashed a bullet that Mount Royal goaltender Zoe De Beauville couldn't stop, and the two teams would go to the intermission tied 4-4 in shots and 1-1 in goals!

Both Boughn and De Beauville came out with bricks and mortar in the second period as they both put up walls in their respective nets as neither team could solve the goalies. MRU did outshoot UBC 6-5, but we'd forge ahead to the third period in searching of goals to break this stalemate. Despite these two teams having several stern discussions with one another during breaks in play, neither could find the back of the net. In a scarier situation, Ireland Perrott was helped off the ice following an awkward fall with a few minutes to play, and she did not return. Let's hope she's alright.

With the horn ending regulation time without a winner, we'd go to overtime for a little extra time fun! Both teams had chances in the four-on-four overtime, but neither Boughn nor De Beauville flinched through the first five minutes of extra time, so we'd go to the three-on-three OT period. It was here where MRU's Megan Carver was whistled for a slash, and that gave UBC the opportunity they needed. Celine Tardif's shot with 14 seconds to play was the deciding blast as her shot eluded De Beauville for the 2-1 UBC double-overtime win! Boughn earned her first win with a 20-save performance while De Beauville suffered the loss after making 21 stops.

UBC at MOUNT ROYAL: I was expecting an appearance from Mount Royal backup netminder Emily Severson in this game, but the Cougars went back to De Beauville. UBC predictably turned to Tori Micklash for this game, so it was game-on for Saturday! Both teams brought a determined effort in this game as they went up and down the ice, but nothing would find twine until the 13:59 mark when Jenna Fletcher's shot found room past De Beauville to put the T-Birds up 1-0!

Just 1:38 into the middle frame saw the Cougars down by a pair when Emma Hall struck for the Thunderbirds to make it 2-0. MRU's Morgan Ramsey would be given two minutes to reflect on a bodycheck she threw at 2:48, but UBC would cut that time short when Ashley McFadden's shot found the back of the net at 3:56 for her first Canada West goal off Rylind MacKinnon's third helper of the night to make it 3-0 for the Thunderbirds.

Clearly, the two UBC goals in under four minutes was not how Mount Royal wanted to start the period, but they regrouped and mounted a few offensive bursts of their own. Micklash, however, stared down all attempts to preserve the 3-0 lead through forty minutes of play.

Despite outshooting the T-Birds 6-5 in the third period, Micklash was perfect on this night as MRU could not solve her. UBC played solid defence in front of their goaltender, and the result was a 3-0 win! Micklash stopped all 16 shots she faced for her first shutout of the season while De Beauville stopped 16 of 19 shots in the loss.

SASKATCHEWAN at CALGARY: Saskatchewan entered the weekend at 1-1-0-0 after their split with Alberta while the Dinos hosted their home-opening games with an 0-2-0-0 record following a sweep at the hands of the Manitoba Bisons. It wouldn't get any easier for the Dinos as they welcomed the other half of the last season's Canada West Final to Father David Bauer Olympic Arena. And it went pretty much how one would expect with Saskatchewan carrying the play in the first period to a large degree. If it weren't for another spectacular period by Kelsey Roberts who made 15 saves, this game may have gone off the rails early for Calgary. Instead, we went to the first intermission with no score despite the Huskies leading 15-4 in shots.

Just ten seconds into the middle frame, Delaney Frey was caught for slashing to join Merissa Dawson in the sin bin from the end of the fist period, and the Huskies went to work on the five-on-three power-play. 40 seconds after Frey was sent off, it was 1-0 for Saskatchewan when Leah Bohlken continued her torrid start to the season by notching the power-play marker past Roberts from the top of the face-off circle for her third goal of the season. The lead would be short-lived, though, as Calgary responded just 1:58 later.
Rookie Elizabeth Lang continued what she started in Manitoba as she potted her third goal of the season in as many games past Jasey Book as she finished off the three-on-two to make it a 1-1 game at 2:48! The scoring ended there, however, as the teams tightened up the defence and the goalies did their part. Through two periods, Saskatchewan held a heavy advantage in possession, a major lead in shots at 23-8, but the teams were deadlocked at 1-1!

It was only a matter of time before Saskatchewan finally broke through Roberts' wall, and they finally got the goal they needed late in the game when Bailee Bourassa found a wide-open Kayla Kirwan in front of Roberts, and the Huskies forward made no mistake in beating the Calgary netminder at 15:25 to put Saskatchewan up 2-1! Calgary would press late, pulling Roberts for the extra attacker with 57 seconds to play, but they wouldn't solve Book again in this game as Saskatchewan skated to the 2-1 victory! Book made ten saves in the win while Roberts was outstanding with a 30-save effort in the loss.

SASKATCHEWAN at CALGARY: In the second-half of the weekend series, it felt a lot like the first game in terms of how the opening period was played. Saskatchewan came out flying, dominated both time of possession and shots, but were thwarted time and again by Calgary's Kelsey Roberts. Like the night before, there was no score between the two teams despite the Huskies holding a 13-2 advantage in shots.

Like they did in the first period, Saskatchewan carried the play again. However, on one of their few opportunities, they mad eit count!
The Calgary Dinos grabbed the lead as Holly Reuther's centering pass was perfect in finding an unchecked Sara Craven at the top of the crease, and the Dinos forward made no mistake in beating Jessica Vance at the 14:19 make to put the home side up 1-0! Kelsey Roberts was still the big story as she was keeping the Dinos in this game far more than she should have need to as Saskatchewan held a 21-5 lead in shots through two periods of play.

An early third-period penalty on Rachel Paul at 1:27 for holding put the Huskies on the power-play, and they'd use it to tie the game. Kayla Kirwan scored her second goal of the weekend as she beat Roberts 29 seconds after Paul sat down in the penalty box, and this game was knotted up at 1-1. Both teams traded chances, and Jessica Vance needed to be at her best when she robbed Chelsea Court from claiming a game-winning goal, but there would be no winner found through sixty minutes so we were rewarded with free hockey!

In the four-on-four overtime period, the Dinos actually had the Huskies pinned in their zone for periods of time, outshooting Saskatchewan 4-1 in the five-minute span, but no goals would be recorded. In the three-on-three period, a scramble in front of Vance resulted in a two-on-one the other way for Saskatchewan, and Bailee Bourassa made the right decision in keeping the puck as she wired a wrist shot over Roberts' glove for the overtime winner at 3:48 of the double-overtime period for the 2-1 win! Vance picked up the win in stopping 20 chances while Roberts suffered her fourth loss of the season despite making 37 saves.

MANITOBA at ALBERTA: In the last five seasons at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton, the Pandas have literally owned the Bisons with a 7-1-0-0 record. Manitoba, who entered the weekend with a 2-0-0-0 record, were looking to continue their two-game winning streak against the Pandas that they posted in Games Two and Three of the Canada West Semi-Final last season, including that exciting 1-0 Game Three final that went to four overtime periods! Would the Pandas continue their dominance over Manitoba at home?

I'll answer this one upfront: yes. The Pandas controlled the game from start to finish, and looked entirely like the best team in Canada West. Lauren Taraschuk was peppered early and often, and a Megan Neduzak penalty for holding at 6:05 was the first break that Alberta needed.
Autumn MacDougall would bank a pass from behind the net off Courtlyn Oswald who was defending out front, and Taraschuk had no chance to stop the puck as the Pandas grabbed a lead on the power-play at 7:29! At the end of the period, it was all Pandas as they held a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard and an 11-2 advantage in shots.

Alberta would continue their solid play in the second period, but Manitoba had chances on Dayna Owen. The only problem was that Owen was ready and willing to stop all shots as the Pandas closed out the period with the 1-0 lead intact and an 18-7 advantage in shots.

Manitoba needed to come out in the third period and get a goal, so they mounted furious pressure with a total of zero shots in the period. Yes, you read that correctly. Erica Rieder did hit the goal post with a shot, so it wasn't like they went twenty minutes without a shot, but they had no recorded shots on net as per the boxscore. With no recorded shots, that means there were no goals, and that means the Pandas took this game by that 1-0 score! Owen earned her first shutout in stopping all seven shots she faced while Taraschuk made 23 saves in suffering her first loss in ten months!

MANITOBA at ALBERTA: Manitoba certainly wouldn't have been happy with their performance one night earlier, but there's something to be said with Alberta kicking off the season against both Canada West finalists from last season. Head coach Howie Draper certainly had them ready, and the Pandas came to play once again on Saturday. Alberta started Manitoba-born netminder Halle Oswald in her first Canada West game while the Bisons were without leading scorer on the blueline Lauren Warkentin after she suffered an arm injury the night before. Would the changes make any difference?

Alberta brought the heat in the opening frame once more as they sent wave after wave of attacks at the Bisons only to be turned away by Lauren Taraschuk on all 13 opportunities. Oswald wasn't that busy at her end of the ice in making just six saves, and these two squads would enter the first intermission with no goals recorded.

The second period was a lot like the the first period with Taraschuk being the busier netminder and the Bisons chasing the puck. Autumn MacDougall has a glorious chance stolen away by Manitoba's big netminder, but the lack of execution by the Bisons was the bigger story in this period as they were once again outshot 11-3 and trailed 24-9 at the second intermission. If it wasn't for Taraschuk, Alberta would have built themselves an impressive lead by that point.

The third period saw the special teams come alive for the Pandas, and that led to the opening goal of the game.
Taylor Kezama broke out of her zone, escaped the checking of Karissa Kirkup, and spotted Alex Poznikoff who skated right by Alison Sexton in to open ice where she collected the pass and sniped a beautiful goal past the glove of Taraschuk just 42 seconds into the period while shorthanded to put the Pandas up 1-0! And they weren't done there.
Hannah Olenyk's shot zipped by Brielle Dacquay-Neveux and got through Taraschuk on the power-play at 13:23, and that was more than enough for the Pandas to ice this game as Manitoba couldn't solve Oswald with their eight shots in the period as Alberta posted a second-straight win via shutout with the 2-0 victory! Oswald won her first career start in Canada West with a 17-save shutout - also her first shutout in her career - while Lauren Taraschuk suffered her second-straight loss in a 27-save effort.

REGINA at LETHBRIDGE: Normally, games between Regina and Lethbridge have little fanfare. It is expected both of these teams will compete for the final two playoff spots once all is said and done this season, but tonight's game featured a little record breaking as one player went off and did something pretty amazing. We'll get to her performance in a second, but let's get down to business with the goal scoring.

Both teams dame out a little more on the defensive side as it appeared neither wanted to make the first mistake. Midway through the period, we finally got some solid offence as Martina Maskova showed some impressive speed in tracking down a loose puck that slid a little too far for a breakaway, but she turned it into a solid wraparound that got past a laterally-moving Alicia Anderson as Maskova got to the post first, and the Regina Cougars grabbed the 1-0 lead at 10:48! The remainder of the period would see an uptick in the offensive chances, but the Cougars closed out the period with the 1-0 lead and the 8-7 advantage in shots.

Early in the second period, Lethbridge's Alli Borrow beat Jane Kish with a shot, but the iron behind Kish kept the score at a 1-0 game. Whatever was said in the dressing room by head coach Michelle Janus seemed to resonate as the Pronghorns were certainly the more lively bunch in the middle frame, but it would Regina who doubled their lead. Lilla Carpenter-Boesch sent Jordan Kulbida streaking down the wing with a pass before she cut to the middle and made a great deke on Anderson to score on the backhand to make it 2-0 for Regina at the 12:30 mark! Despite being outshot 16-9 in the period, it was Regina leading by a pair of goals after two periods!

Again, the Pronghorns brought every bit of offensive they could find in the third period, putting pucks on net from every angle at every opportunity. The only problem was that Jane Kish had other ideas about this offensive onslaught. Brett Campbell and Alli Borrow were stoned on the power-play early in the period. Tricia Van Vaerenbergh was turned aside on a couple of opportunities. Kenzie Lausberg was denied on an outstanding post-to-post save by Kish. When the dust settled, the Pronghorns had outshot the Cougars 22-8 in the period and 45-25 on the night, but the final score was 2-0 in favour of the Cougars! Jane Kish was simply incredible in stopping all 45 shots she faced for the shutout while Alicia Anderson made 23 stops in the loss.

It is here where we'll write a little history because Jane Kish broke the Canada West record for most saves in a shutout performance on this night with her new 45-save standard! Kish broke a record shared by former Regina Cougar Jennifer Schmidt, set on October 18, 2013, and by Lethbridge's Alicia Anderson one week earlier. Her shutout was also the eighth of her career, tying the school record held by Schmidt. Needless to say, Friday night was a pretty historic night for the 21 year-old Kish when it comes to the record books at Regina and in Canada West! Congratulations, Jane!

REGINA at LETHBRIDGE: For the first two weeks of the Canada West season, defence has ruled the conference for the most part. We've seen a team hit four goals in a game just once - Manitoba over Calgary - and we've seen a combined five goals scored by both teams in one game just three times in 15 games this season. Regina and Lethbridge decided to show the rest of the conference what goal scoring looked like in this game.

These two teams came out flying with chances at both ends of the ice early on. Jordan Kulbida's slash at the 4:28 mark put the Pronghorns on the power-play, and they would cash in. Mattie Apperson found Alli Borrow open, and the Pronghorns sniper finally found a way to beat Jane Kish with her shot at 5:09 to put Lethbridge up 1-0. Late in the period, a harmless-looking shot from the wall by Jordan Kulbida handcuffed Alicia Anderson in the Lethbridge net, allowing the puck to find the twine as Regina tied the game at 14:55. The teams would head to the intermission knotted up at 1-1 with Regina holding a 14-11 edge in shots.

Early in the second period with Jodi Gentile in the sin bin, the Cougars power-play went to work. Jordan Kulbida fed Nikki Watters-Matthes, and she went high on the glove side past a screened Alicia Anderson for the 2-1 Cougars lead at 3:51. Later in the period, the Regina power-play struck again from the same combination of players as Kulbida fed Watters-Matthes, and she went high over the glove of Anderson again, this time from the top of the face-off circle, as Regina jumped ahead 3-1 at the 12:28 mark. Kish, however continued her stellar play in this period, denying all 13 shots by the Pronghorns as the third period loomed with Regina out in front.

Kish brought the solid goaltending into the third period as she denied all chances on an early Lethbridge power-play to shift momentum back to Regina, and they would capitalize once more on a power-play of their own after Tricia Van Vaerenbergh was given a break for tripping a Cougar. Jordan Kulbida would pick up her fourth point of the night when she set up Chelsea Hallson for the power-play marker to make it 4-1 at 8:16, and it appeared that Regina had this one wrapped up.

Or did they? Van Vaerenbergh got one goal back when she cleaned up a scramble in front of Kish by potting her third goal of the season at 11:40, and the Pronghorns were down 4-2. They would continue to pressure the Cougars as the game wore on, and they pulled Anderson with just over two minutes to play. That strategy would pay off for Lethbridge as Mikaela Ray was able to score in a goalmouth scramble at 19:20 to make it 4-3! However, Jane Kish and the Regina Cougars were able to weather the final 40 seconds of the game to claim the 4-3 victory on this day! Kish picked up her second-straight win with her 29-save performance while Anderson suffered her second-straight loss despite making 32 stops on the night.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
9 5 2
vs MRU
9 11 8
vs MAN
British Columbia
8 8 4
vs CAL
8 6 4
6 7 5
Mount Royal
4 6 10
3 6 9
vs SAS
1 4 11

The Last Word

This is entirely not about Canada West because there was a pretty big moment that happened out in the Maritimes where the UNB Varisty Reds women's team took to the ice for the first time in a decade! UNB's first game came last night when they hosted the Mount Allison Mounties in AUS action, and the woman pictured in the UNB uniform is Jennifer Bell. Why is she important? Well, she scored UNB's first goal of the season on the power-play just 21 seconds into the second period, so there's a little history for all of you U SPORTS trivia buffs. Unfortunately for the Varsity Reds, they fell in overtime to the Mounties by a 2-1 score, but they recorded a point in their first game back on the AUS circuit! Congratulations to the Varsity Reds on an amazing night of hockey, and you can watch the game in its entirety by following this link and going to the "Archive" section of page!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!