Canada West ResultsALBERTA at CALGARY: The battle of these two Alberta teams was certainly buoyed by the fact that Calgary had Sasha Vafina return for another season while Alberta recruited well and brought in some dynamic young players after a number of key graduations. The Dinos, who rallied to make the playoffs in the final weeks last season, got off to a hot start in this one!
Just 2:36 in, the Dinos were on the board. Rookie Kira Makuk netted her first CIS goal past Alberta netminder Lindsey Post on a nice spin that allowed her to sweep the puck past the outstretched netminder for the 1-0 lead! Two minutes later, the Russian phenom struck as Vafina beat one defender and then wired a puck into the top corner past Post at the 4:36 mark for a 2-0 Calgary lead! Rylee Smith assisted on both goals to put her on top as the leading scorer in Canada West early in this season!
For the next 35 minutes, there was little to talk about as both teams settled down and defended well. Alberta, however, seemed to carry the play in the second period more than Calgary, and they came close to scoring on a couple of power-play chances. If the tide was turning in this game, Alberta would need to carry that momentum into the third period.
The Pandas would finally strike at 3:58 into the third period. Alex Poznikoff, who had an outstanding rookie season last year for Alberta, buried a pass from Amy Boucher past Hayley Dowling, and it was suddenly a 2-1 game. Alberta continued to press throughout the period, but Calgary would only bend under the pressure as they continued to deny the equalizer. Howie Draper pulled Post from the net for the extra attacker, and his gamble would pay off in the final minute as Poznikoff found the puck in a scramble and dented the twine behind Dowling for her second goal of the game with 36 seconds to play! Canada West would see its first overtime game of the season on the first night!
In the extra frame, Sasha Vafina was whistled for using her body too aggressively just 28 seconds in, and that would be the opportunity that the Pandas needed. 1:04 later, Amy Boucher wristed a shot high on the blocker side that Dowling couldn't stop, and the Pandas captured their first win of the season with the 3-2 overtime victory for two important points.
CALGARY at ALBERTA: Game Two between these two rivals went Saturday in Edmonton for the first home-and-home series of the Canada West season. Despite the effort put in by the Dinos on Friday, Saturday's game was far different. The Pandas scored a pair of goals in each period as Sasha Lutz and Kennedy Ganser on the power-play staked the Pandas to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, Amy Boucher and Ganser with her second of the game made it 4-0 after two periods, and Autumn MacDougall and Hannah Olenyk on the power-play gave the Pandas a 6-0 win. Dayna Owen had a fairly quiet night, needing just ten saves for the shutout while Hayley Dowling surrendered the six goals on 36 shots. Calgary's scoreless streak on the first weekend extended to 115:24 after scoring two goals in 4:36 in the opening game.
MOUNT ROYAL at REGINA: The Cougars opened their season by hosting the Cougars on Friday night, and... oh, I guess that's not really helpful when both teams have the same team name. Regina has a new starting netminder in Jane Kish after Toni Ross graduated last season, and the usual suspects of scoring threats is back with Magwood, Gavelin, and Waldenberger being the prominent names. Mount Royal, who battled hard only to miss the playoffs last year, returns with Emma Pincott between the pipes and the likes of Sarah Weninger, and Cylenna and Channia Alexander carrying the offensive load. In the first meeting between these two teams this season, which Cougars would prevail?
The opening goal for the Regina Cougars would come at 16:05 of the first period when Emma Waldenberger separated a Mount Royal defender from the puck, and Lilla Carpenter-Boesch scooped up the puck and went the opposite way. Waldenberger joined her to make it a two-on-oh from the blue line in on netminder Emma Pincott, and the two Regina forwards kept Pincott on her toes as they passed the puck back and forth before Waldenberger took the puck back at the top of the crease and slipped it past a prone Pincott for the 1-0 lead.
Rookie Elise Endicott made it a 2-0 game in the second period when a turnover in the Mount Royal zone that deflected off the skate of teammate Meghan Shervan found Endicott's stick, and her shot from the slot deflected off a defender's stick past Pincott for a 2-0 Regina lead at 12:40.
Mount Royal came out determined in the third period after posting few chances through the first 40 minutes. Jolene Kirkpatrick was forced to use the body to slow down a Mount Royal attacker, and that led to her watching from the penalty box at the 2:05 mark. She wasn't there long, though, as second-year player Gabrielle Seper found the back of the net off a scramble on a rebound in front of Kish at 2:40 to make it a 2-1 game. Regina's big line would answer back, though, as Jaycee Magwood's low shot was stopped by Pincott, but Kylie Gavelin was all alone to deposit the rebound in the back of the net for a 3-1 Regina lead at 11:01. An empty-net goal by Lilla Carpenter-Boesch with 14 seconds to play sealed the deal for the Cougars as Jane Kish picks up the 4-1 win while Emma Pincott suffers the loss.
MOUNT ROYAL at REGINA: Mount Royal would need to be better defensively on Saturday after a few key breakdowns on Friday night. Regina came in looking to wrap up a six-point weekend on home ice, and they got the start they needed at 4:54 of the first period when Bailey Braden pulled off a wrap-around attempt that got through Emma Pincott, but Melissa Zerr was on the far post to bang home the rebound for the early 1-0 Regina lead and her first CIS goal.
Jumping ahead to the second period, Mount Royal squared the score early after Alexis Larson was caught for tripping just 59 seconds in. The man-advantage saw Shawni Rodeback fire a shot at Jane Kish from the point, but it hit Gabrielle Seper's skate. Seper was able to kick it to her stick, wheel around, and slide a low shot that got under Kish's pad at 2:39 for her second goal of the season and the 1-1 tie. Another tripping penalty would result in a goal as Mount Royal's Rachel Piitz was sent off at 15:06 for two minutes or less, and it would be less. It took Regina 1:39 to find the back of the net on the power-play, but Krista Metz's shot from the wing was deflected in front by Jaycee Magwood past Emma Pincott, and the Cougars would go up 2-1 on he power-play marker at 16:45!
The two teams would play a little four-on-four after penalties 33 seconds apart negated a Mount Royal power-play, but it was the Megan Carver tripping penalty at 4:43 that would cost Mount Royal. From the top of the right circle, Alexis Larson wired home a high wrist shot on the glove side that Pincott couldn't corral, and the Regina Cougars jumped out to a 3-1 lead on the power-play goal at 5:46. From there, it was all about puck and zone management for head coach Sarah Hodges. Despite pulling Pincott, Mount Royal got no closer as the Regina Cougars took this game by a 3-1 score. Jane Kish earned the win while Emma Pincott took her second loss of the season.
SASKATCHEWAN at UBC: The Huskies and Thunderbirds met in Vancouver on Friday night to open the season. Saskatchewan has another strong team with a number of key returnees such as goaltender Cassidy Hendricks and forwards Kaitlin Willoughby and Lauren Zary. UBC, after earning a silver medal at the CIS Championship last season, saw a number of key players depart, but they'll be paced by Nicole Saxvik, Kathleen Cahoun, and Celine Tardif. Will the loss of Danielle Dube set the T-Birds back?
In Friday night's game, that answer was no. The first period was played without a goal, but the second period saw the Thunderbirds explode for three goals. Nicole Saxvik scored at 3:51, Alexa Ranahan added another at 6:37, and Cassandra Vilgrain made it 3-0 at 16:40. Add ina fourth goal in the third period by Madison Patrick, and the Thunderbirds had this one in the bag with a 4-0 lead. That would end up being the final score as Amelia Boughn earned her first CIS win and shutout in stopping all 17 shots she faced. Cassidy Hendricks was on the losing end of this one after allowing four goals on 23 shots. Saxvik and Vilgrain both had a goal and two assists in the efforts as UBC kicked off their Canada West Championship with an impressive victory!
SASKATCHEWAN at UBC: There was no doubt that the Huskies were going to need a better effort on Saturday. They would find that effort in a big way. With Madison Patrick off for interference at 13:35, Saskatchewan's Kaitlyn Willoughby went to work on the power-play! First, she found some room through Amelia Boughn to make it 1-0 at 14:56. UBC's parade to the sin bin continued as Kenzie Robinson was sent off for bodychecking at 15:37 and Kelly Murray joined her at 16:15 for hooking. With the Huskies playing 5-on-3, Willoughby struck again as she wired a wrist shot to the far side that Boughn couldn't knock away, and it was 2-0 for the Huskies at 17:15!
UBC cut the deficit to one goal early in the second period as Cassandra Vilgrain scored high on Cassidy Hendricks on a breakaway at 4:04, and it was 2-1. 1:04 later, a deflected puck found Saskatchewan's Brooke Patron all alone beside the UBC net and she made no mistake in burying the puck behind Amelia Boughn to make it 3-1. Vilgrain was back at it at 10:55 when she got Hendricks to open up along the ice, sliding the puck underneath the Huskies' netminder to make it 3-2.
At 15:05, Saskatchewan's Rachel Johnson was hauled down on a breakaway, so that meant one thing: penalty shot! Johnson made no mistake as she went five-hole on Boughn to make it a 4-2 lead for Saskatchewan. With 52 seconds remaining in the second period, though, UBC would pull within one goal again when Kenzie Robinson split the Huskies defenders and found the back of the net to make it a 4-3.
Things seemed to settle down in the third period, but there was one moment of craziness when Elizabeth Salyn scored a goal off a puck that took a crazy hop and settled on the tape of her stick where she fired home her first of the season at 13:34 to make it 5-3. The final horn would show that same score as the difference as Saskatchewan rallied back on Saturday for the win. Cassidy Hendricks stopped 24 of 27 shots she faced while Amelia Boughn was on the losing side of the ledger on this day.
MANITOBA at LETHBRIDGE: Manitoba comes into the season hungry after losing in Game Three of the Canada West Final last season, and they've added a number of skilled players to their roster. Lethbridge, after taking Canada West by storm in the first-half last season, is looking for consistency as they push for a playoff spot in 2016-17. Would we see them start the same way as they did last season with an upset over UBC?
No. No, we would not. Both teams came out of the gates firing, but neither team could find the scoreboard despite there being 26 shots fired at the two nets. Manitoba led 14-12 in shots through the opening frame, but the two teams remained tied at 0-0.
Amber Yuha was sent off at the 5:03 mark for tripping, and Manitoba would break the stalemate. After a couple of chances by Courtlyn Oswald and Karissa Kirkup, Alana Serhan picked up the loose puck off Jessica Lohues' pads and found room to slide the puck into the net for the Bisons at 6:27 for the 1-0 lead. The two teams traded chances and power-play opportunities through the remainder of the period, but the Bisons would enter the intermission with the one-goal lead, having outshot the Pronghorns by a 19-5 margin in the stanza.
The penalties would continue into the third period as these two teams continued to play physical. At 10:49, Mattie Apperson would be called for cross-checking, and it would prove costly. Alanna Sharman, Manitoba's leading scorer the last two seasons, took the puck off the wall, skated into the face-off circle, and fired a shot that found room on the short side for the 2-0 lead with 8:30 to play. Head coach Jon Rempel effectively swapped lines and kept the Pronghorns off-kilter for the rest of the game as Rachel Dyck closed out her first win and shutout in stopping all 23 shots in the 2-0 victory. Jessica Lohues stopped 46 of 48 shots in the loss.
MANITOBA at LETHBRIDGE: The second half of this weekend's clash between the Bisons and Pronghorns was less competitive than Friday night's tilt. Manitoba jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period off goals by Lauren Keen at 10:37, a power-play goal by Alana Serhan at 17:59, and a marker by Erica Rieder at 18:10. Venla Hovi would score her first of the season at 19:12 of the second period to make it a 4-0 game. Alanna Sharman would add a power-play goal at 1:19 and an even-strength goal at 4:51 to make it 6-0 for the Bisons before Sarah Spence broke Amanda Schubert's shutout at 7:31. That would be all the scoring, though, as Manitoba rolls to the 6-1 win. Schubert stopped 10 of 11 shots she faced while Jessica Lohues was under fire once more, stopping 43 of 49 shots sent her way.
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Ontario ResultsThe Ontario University Athletics Conference has played just one game thus far, so there wasn't much happening there.
The Western Mustangs beat the Guelph Griffins 3-2 in overtime on goals by Shana Alexander, Amanda Pereira, and the winner from Marlowe Pecora at 1:59 of the extra frame. Guelph had goals scored by Kelly Gribbons on the power-play and Mackenzie Wong in the loss. Katie Jacobs stopped 20 of 22 shots for the win while Valerie Lamenta stopped 36 of 39 shots in the loss.
With only one game being played this weekend, I'm not posting the standings. There is a full schedule of games next weekend as the OUA officially kicks off the season, so I'll have a full rundown of those games next week.
Quebec ResultsThe regular season for the RSEQ doesn't start until Friday, October 14. Ottawa will play Concordia on Friday, and Montreal meets Concordia on Sunday as the only RSEQ games for next weekend. I'll have info on both games next weekend.
Maritime ResultsThe Atlantic University Sports Conference starts their regular season on Friday, October 14, so stay tuned for those results. There will be a pile of scores as the Atlantic teams get their seasons underway.
The Last WordWhen was the last time I could proudly say that Manitoba is the best team in the country statistically? With Regina facing Lethbridge and Manitoba facing Mount Royal next weekend, the October 20 home opener for Manitoba against Regina could be an early battle of undefeated teams. As we saw in Canada West last year, no lead in the standings is ever safe, so circle your calendars on that date as we might be previewing the Canada West Championship on that night!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!