Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Rundown - Week 8

This week's edition of The Rundown had all sorts of good match-ups on the docket as the three Canada West teams ranked in the USports top-ten looked to solidify their positions while fending off the other five teams in their quest to unseat the ranked competitors. Two of those ranked teams would find them squaring off against one another, though, so we'll work through the final games in November as the eight Canada West teams jockey for position prior to the Christmas break!

CALGARY at REGINA: Both teams were looking to right their ships after posting losses in three-or-more consecutive games. Calgary desperately needed to string together a couple of wins to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot while Regina needed wins to keep pace with the four teams ahead of them, if not pass them if they faltered. It would be the Dinos, however, who got off to a good start midway through the first period as Cheyann Newman followed her own shot to the net and batted the airborne puck past Regina's Morgan Baker to put Calgary up 1-0 at 9:52. That lead would last all of 29 seconds, though, as Jaycee Magwood dangled a defender before roofing a wrist shot on Kelsey Roberts that the goalie couldn't corral, and it was a 1-1 game.

A scoreless second period gave us no answer when it came to a winner, but the third period saw Regina strike early. Bailey Braden decided to go for a skate and she carried the puck from her own end into the Calgary zone and fired a shot from what looked like a nearly impossible angle, but the puck found its way behind Roberts for the 2-1 Cougars lead just 2:24 into the final frame. Exactly eight minutes after that goal, the Cougars used a power-play and a Kylie Gavelin shot from the top of the face-off circle to make it 3-1. Calgary would not go away, though, and Sasha Vafina's wrist shot at 12:57 found room past Baker to make it a 3-2 game.

Despite furious action from the Dinos, Baker and the Cougars' defence corps held strong in the final seven minutes to preserve the one-goal lead and the victory in this game. Baker earned the win with an 18-save performance while Roberts took the loss despite making 39 saves on the night.

CALGARY at REGINA: The second-half of the double-dip was a different story. Regina got on the board early when Kylie Gavelin deposited a rebound off an Alexis Larson shot for the 1-0 lead just 3:19 into the game. The Cougars would double their lead on the power-play when Jaycee Magwood on the left wing and streaking in on Roberts where she calmly zipped a wrist shot past Roberts at 16:31.

Magwood struck again in the second period when Bailey Braden got past a defender on the right side before centering to Magwood who waited for Roberts to flinch before denting the twine behind her at 4:05. It looked like this game might get off the rails for the Dinos, but a power-play at 4:43 was the panacea needed. Megan Grenon's point shot missed the net, but the rebound came out to Chelsea Court on the backdoor and she potted the easy goal to make it 3-1 at 5:16. Regina, however, would restore the three-goal lead at 18:13 when Braden picked up the face-off win from Magwood, and she would wire home a shot from the slot to make it 4-1.

Morgan Loroff would pull the Dinos within a pair with 3:15 to play as her high shot beat Jane Kish, but the Dinos would get no closer as the Cougars picked up another three points in a 4-2 victory. Kish stopped 17 shots in the win while Roberts made 28 stops in the loss.

UBC at MOUNT ROYAL: The top-ranked UBC Thunderbirds went into Calgary for a date with the Mount Royal Cougars looking to build on their impressive ten-game win streak. The Cougars, meanwhile, were looking for the upset in the hopes of keeping pace with the Regina Cougars while fending off the Lethbridge Pronghorns. The only problem? The #1-ranked UBC Thunderbirds.

A scoreless first period led to the second period where Mathea Fischer's deflection of a Kelly Murray shot finally broke the stalemate with 2:34 left in the period. Kudos to the Cougars for hanging tough with Canada's best team through 40 minutes.

Fischer picked up her second goal of the night when a shot from a tight angle on the power-play found its way behind Emma Pincott just 56 seconds into the period for the 2-0 lead. The T-Birds would use another power-play to make it a three-goal cushion. Mairead Bast's wrist shot found its way through the screen and past Pincott up high at 5:16, and the Thunderbirds were in control of this game. Despite some opportunities, the Cougars couldn't solve netminder Tori Micklash on this night as UBC picked up the 3-0 victory. Micklash stopped all 18 pucks sent her way for the shutout win while Pincott made 23 saves in a losing effort.

UBC at MOUNT ROYAL: After a solid road game the night before, UBC wanted the same effort on Saturday, and they certainly started well. They got things started just 1:31 into the game when Hannah Clayton-Carroll converted a rebound given up by Zoe DeBeauville off a Celine Tardif shot for the 1-0 lead. Mount Royal would finally solve Tori Micklash on Saturday when Rachel Piitz's shot was kicked out by Micklash to a waiting Sarah Weninger who easily potted the rebound at 7:14 to make it a 1-1 game.

Both Micklash and DeBeauville posted clean sheets in the second period, but the third period would see a winner emerge. Celine Tardif found Kathleen Cahoon open at the side of the net with a pass from the point, and Cahoon fed the puck across the crease to Logan Boyd who had little trouble in finding the net from that distance to give UBC the 2-1 lead at 7:45. Micklash held the fort the rest of the way as she picked up her second win of the weekend in the 2-1 UBC victory. Micklash made 24 stops on the afternoon while DeBeauville stopped 25 shots in the loss.

LETHBRIDGE at ALBERTA: I was going to build the importance of this game up for both teams, but when the puck dropped it was a one-team show. Amy Boucher opened the scoring at 5:22 of the first period to make it 1-0. In the second period, Kennedy Ganser scored at 3:50, Alex Poznikoff added a third goal at 14:16, and Boucher potted a power-play goal at 17:01 to make it 4-0. Throw in a shorthanded goal by Poznikoff at 12:12 of the third period, and that was all that Alberta needed on this night as Lindsey Post shut the door on the Pronghorns. Post made 17 saves in the 5-0 shutout win while Alicia Anderson stopped 35 shots in the loss.

LETHBRIDGE at ALBERTA: I'd like to say that this game was different, but the hits just kept on coming for the Pronghorns. Amy Boucher scored at 6:13 after serving a penalty. Boucher hopped out of the box and joined Alex Poznikoff on a two-on-one where Poznikoff went tape-to-tape and Boucher found the back of the net for the only goal of the first period as Alberta jumped out in front 1-0.

The second period was all Alberta as they completely dominated the middle frame. Autumn MacDougall scored on the power-play when she found the five-hole through Alicia Anderson at 13:43, and she added a second goal at 18:40 after taking a Poznikoff pass and ripping a shot past Anderson for the 3-0 lead. When the dust settled, Alberta had outshot the Pronghorns 15-1 in the second period.

Sarah Spence showed a flash of life in the third period for the Pronghorns as she beat Abby Benning with a great move before going high on Lindsey Post to snap the shutout at 1:24. However, the Pandas would answer once more just 70 seconds later when Poznikoff ripped a one-timer past Anderson off a MacDougall feed to make it 4-1. Post would hold the fort and the Pandas would skate to the 4-1 win on Saturday. Post stopped 14 shots in a fairly light afternoon's worth of work while Anderson made 35 stops for the second-straight day in the loss.

MANITOBA at SASKATCHEWAN: In what was anticipated to be the best games of the weekend, the seventh-ranked Bisons traveled west to Saskatoon where they met the ninth-ranked Huskies. These two teams were separated by a point in the standings, so these two games had all sorts of implications on the standings.

The Huskies opened the scoring 8:56 into the first period when Kaitlin Willoughby was sprung down the left wing on a breakaway. The speedy forward went stick side on the deke past Rachel Dyck to give Saskatchewan the 1-0 lead. The goalies took over for the next 45 minutes, but the Bisons would end the scoring drought when Venla Hovi's shot from the point hit the back of the net under the crossbar behind Cassidy Hendricks with 4:12 to play. Neither team would score again before the final horn, so it was off to overtime to find a winner.

The first overtime period ended with the two teams still locked in the 1-1 draw. It looked like the shootout was going to be necessary, but a late scramble in front of Hendricks saw Lauren Keen push a rebound across the goal line with two seconds to play, and the Manitoba Bisons claimed the 2-1 OT win! Rachel Dyck stopped 27 shots in the five periods of play for the win while Hendricks made 21 saves over 69:58 of play.

MANITOBA at SASKATCHEWAN: With the two teams tied in the standings after Manitoba's win on Friday, Saturday's game became even more important, and Manitoba got the scoring started early in the second period. After a scoreless first period, Charity Price found Jayden Skoleski in the slot, and her shot went stick-side on Cassidy Hendricks and into the net for the 1-0 just 50 seconds into the frame. Saskatchewan would respond near the midway point of the period. After some good pressure by the Huskies, Emilt Upgang's shot from the point eluded traffic and Rachel Dyck to dent the twine at 7:23, and these two teams would enter the third period deadlocked at 1-1.

It would be the Huskies who grabbed an early lead at the 3:40 mark. Bailee Bourassa's shot was stopped by Dyck, but Elizabeth Salyn pushed the rebound past a prone Rachel Dyck for the 2-1 lead. The Bisons continued to press for the equalizer, and they would find it with 5:55 to play in the game. Skoleski teed up another shot from the blue line, and this shot would find the wickets of Hendricks and just get across the line after she got a piece of it. With no other goals in the remaining time, we'd need overtime once more to decide things between the two prairie rivals.

1:06 into the first overtime period, Elizabeth Salyn was called for tripping, sending Manitoba to the power-play. 1:28 into the man-advantage, the game ended off a Karissa Kirkup snipe from the slot area to give Manitoba the 3-2 overtime victory! Rachel Dyck picked up her second overtime win in as many days, stopping 20 shots in the victory while Cassidy Hendricks was on the losing end of the result for the second night despite making 25 saves.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
37 49 22
28 42 21
vs MRU
27 32 27
24 35 24
vs SAS
23 34 35
Mount Royal
14 21 33
10 22 47
vs REG
5 20 46
vs UBC

I'm not gonna lie: UBC will probably take 13 wins into the Christmas break based on how they and Calgary have been playing. For the Thunderbirds, they had 16 wins all of last season in their CWUAA championship season, so it's very easy to see why they are the top university team in the nation. I'm not expecting much movement for Manitoba and Saskatchewan after two hard-fought overtime games, so expect the Bisons to remain seventh and the Huskies to remain ninth.

The playoff picture is beginning to emerge as we get ready for the last week of action in 2016. UBC will most likely have an opening-round bye and have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs unless they falter in the second-half of the season. I just don't see that happening. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Regina will all make the playoffs unless someone takes a serious nosedive in their second-half, but where they finish is still up for grabs when you look at the standings. It appears Mount Royal is headed back to the playoffs this season, but Lethbridge will certainly make a push in the second-half to try and knock the Cougars out of that sixth spot. Calgary has their work cut out for them, and they will most likely enter the Christmas break without a regulation win.

Get down to your local university for this weekend's Canada West women's hockey action! Three of the nation's best teams play in the four western provinces, and that means there will be great hockey all weekend long!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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