Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Rundown - Week 24

There are only a couple of games left in the conference playoffs as we approach next weekend's CIS National Championship. The CIS has posted the schedule for the tournament, and we'll take a look at the set of eight teams who will compete in Calgary at the Markin MacPhail Centre. The tournament kicks off on Thursday, March 17, so we'll have a new national champion by next Sunday! Let's take a look at the couple of remaining games on The Rundown!

Maritime Undecided Final

G3 - ST. THOMAS at SAINT MARY'S: This game went on Tuesday, and it was closer than the score suggested. Saint Mary's opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period when Caitlyn Manning beat Taylor Cook at 10:16 to put the Huskies up 1-0. The second period would see that lead extended as Nicole Blanche scored at 14:34 and Laura Polak added a power-play goal at 16:46 to make it a 3-0 game for Saint Mary's. The Tommies would need a big effort in the third period to win the AUS Championship.

Caitlyn Schell would throw more dirt into the St. Thomas grave when she found the back of the net on the power-play at 5:42 for the 4-0 lead. The Tommies would break the goose egg at 8:48 when Kenya Marcelline scored on the power-play past Rebecca Clark to make it a 4-1 game. Schell, though, would add another power-play goal at 16:36 to ice this game as the Saint Mary's Huskies won the AUS Championship with a 5-1 Game Three victory! Clark stopped 21 of 22 shots in the victory while Cook came up short for the Tommies.

Saint Mary's and St. Thomas both advance to the CIS National Championship with Saint Mary's gaining the higher seed thanks to their AUS Championship.

Ontario Final

So apparently I misunderstood that the McCaw Cup Final was not a three-game series, but instead a best-of-one, winner-take-all game between Guelph and Western. I'm not sure why they make two teams battle through two best-of-three series for a one-game final, but that's why I'm not in charge. Instead, let's take a look at the final.

McCAW CUP - WESTERN at GUELPH: There are distinct advantages to playing at home, and the Guelph Gryphons showed their fans why they were the top team all season. Kaitlin Lowy opened the scoring at 10:23, and Christine Grant scored on Kelly Campbell 1:16 later to open up an early 2-0 lead. Leigh Shilton used a power-play goal to make it 3-0 at 16:24, but Western would get one back before the horn when Katelyn Gosling scored on Valerie Lamenta with the man-advantage at 18:47.

Penalties would haunt the Mustangs in the latter half of the second period. Lowy scored her second of the game on the power-play at 14:18 to make it 4-1 for the Gryphons, and Averi Nooren would add another power-play goal at 18:32 for the 5-1 lead. Guelph was already playing a strong defensive game, but the final period was just a shutdown period as the Gryphons won the McCaw Cup with a 5-1 score. Lamenta stopped just 14 shots in the win while Campbell suffered the loss.

The good news for Western is that they will return to the CIS National Championship to defend their CIS Championship. They proved last year that anyone can win it, so I'm certain they'll be ready once the tournament starts. Guelph will go into the tournament as one of the top seeds after a dominant regular season and playoff in the OUA. These two teams could, theoretically, be playing for the national title in one week's time.

Who's Left?

There are eight teams still in contention for Canadian University women's hockey's biggest prize.
  • (4) University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (CWUAA)
  • (7) University of Calgary Dinos (host, CWUAA)
  • (1) University of Guelph Gryphons (OUA)
  • (6) Western University Mustangs (OUA)
  • (2) University of Montreal Carabins (RSEQ)
  • (5) University of McGill Martlets (RSEQ)
  • (3) University of Saint Mary's Huskies (AUS)
  • (8) University of St. Thomas Tommies (AUS)
I'll admit I was shocked that the Calgary Dinos were ranked higher than the St. Thomas Tommies considering that the Dinos didn't even win a playoff game in Canada West, but there hasn't been a rhyme or reason to any of the rankings all season. In other words, seedings mean nothing. Have at it, ladies!

Who Plays When?

I've included the TV or webcast info at the bottom. Please check the schedule and then plan your viewing times accordingly!

Thursday, March 17
11am Quarter-final 1: No. 8 St. Thomas vs. No. 1 Guelph
3pm Quarter-final 2: No. 5 McGill vs. No. 4 UBC

Friday, March 18
11am Consolation 1: Loser QF 1 vs. Loser QF 2
3pm Quarter-final 3: No. 6 Western vs. No. 3 Saint Mary's
7pm Quarter-final 4: No. 7 Calgary vs. No. 2 Montreal

Saturday, March 19
10am Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4
2pm Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 2
5:30pm Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4

Sunday, March 20
8:45am: Bronze Medal Game (at Joan Snyder Arena)
9:00am: 5th-place game
12:30pm: Gold Medal Game

Webcasts for all games can be found on the CIS Webcast Portal and can be viewed for free up to the semifinal and final games. Webcasts of the semifinals and final are on pay-per-view basis. However, if your TV cable package has it, the CIS semifinal games will be shown on Sportsnet ONE while the CIS final will be shown on Sportsnet 360 and TVA Sports!

Who Ya Got, Teebz?

I'll tell you right now that my prognostications are usually entirely wrong. However, since you've asked, I think you'll see Montreal and Guelph in the final on Sunday, and Montreal will win in a close game. I think McGill has a chance to really upset the brackets, though, and I wouldn't count Western out of any game.

As Western proved last season, a hot goalie can change everything, and all eight teams have shown some incredible goaltending at times during the season. There's no shortage of goal scoring on any of these teams, so we may literally see a championship won on the strength of defence and goaltending.

I can tell you one thing: this is going to be an incredible tournament!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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