MANITOBA at CALGARY: Calgary had to win out and get some help if they wanted to see the playoffs this season, and having the fifth-ranked Manitoba Bisons would be a tough test for the Dinos. Things didn't start well for the Dinos as Manitoba struck first. Courtlyn Oswald picked up the puck behind the net, stepped out in front of Kelsey Roberts, and roofed a backhander past the netminder at 11:57 to put the Bisons up 1-0. It would be the only goal of the opening frame that saw Manitoba double-up on Calgary in shots by a 10-5 margin.
The second period would see Manitoba's top setup woman get in on the goal-scoring. Lauryn Keen picked up a Jayden Skoleski rebound and potted it behind Roberts at 7:13 for a 2-0 lead. Calgary would respond, however. Sara Craven took a pass from Heather Berzins in the high slot and spun around while shooting, catching Rachel Dyck off-guard as the puck went up high for the goal at 14:00 to make it 2-1. 1:09 later, Merissa Dawson's slap shot deflected off Kira Makuk who was in front of Dyck providing the screen, and Dyck couldn't stop the redirection as the Dinos made it 2-2. The Bisons would grab the lead back 2:06 after Makuk's goal. After a fantastic end-to-end rush by Venla Hovi that Roberts stopped, Jordyn Zacharias was on the doorstep for the rebound that slid under Roberts at 17:15 for the 3-2 lead.
The third period saw chances at both ends of the ice, but the netminding and posts were up to the task in keeping this a one-goal game. Late in the period with Roberts on the bench and the extra attacker out for the Dinos, Lauryn Keen picked up a loose puck in her own zone and lifted a puck high down the ice that found the yawning cage with 1:22 to play that gave Manitoba the 4-2 victory. Rachel Dyck was good on 14 of 16 shots for the win while Kelsey Roberts stopped 23 shots in the loss. Unfortunately, with the loss on Friday night, Calgary was eliminated from the playoffs entirely.
MANITOBA at CALGARY: Saturday's game became a game of spoilers for Calgary as they looked to derail the momentum of Manitoba as they tried to continue their move up the standings. The star of today's game almost stole the points entirely for the Dinos. Kelsey Roberts and Rachel Dyck allowed nothing by either of them in the opening frame, but Roberts was outstanding in the first period. Manitoba outshot the Dinos 12-4 and that total included a breakaway by Venla Hovi who was turned aside by Roberts.
Calgary caught a break early in the second period. Merissa Dawson dumped a puck in on Rachel Dyck that looked like an easy catch with the glove, but the puck deflected off her glove and into the air before coming to rest behind Dyck and the goal line for the 1-0 Dinos lead at 3:04. Manitoba, after the goal, simply applied more pressure. It would take some time, but they'd finally beat Roberts. Karissa Kirkup started the play off by giving the puck to Jayden Skoleski who hit Alana Serhan with the pass, and Serhan spotted Kirkup behind the defence and threaded the needle. A breakaway with a move stick-side by Kirkup gave the Bisons the equalizer at 16:44. Minutes later while on the power-play, Lauryn Keen found Jordyn Zacharias in the slot who fired a low shot stick-side past Roberts at 19:14 and the Bisons were up 2-1 after two periods.
The third period was a goaltending clinic put on by Kelsey Roberts as she stopped Alana Serhan on a partial breakaway and somehow kept a Jenai Buchanan shot out of her net in a 16-save third period. The Dinos, though, could only muster four shots and no additional goals as the Bisons escaped an outstanding performance by the Calgary netminder in a 2-1 win. Dyck would make just 10 saves in the win while Roberts was brilliant in a 41-save performance on the night.
MOUNT ROYAL at ALBERTA: The first game of this home-and-home series went in Edmonton, and it was a classic in every sense of the word. It would take 67:37 for a goal to be scored as Mount Royal's Zoe Beauville was unbelievable in the blue paint. Honestly, Alberta dominated almost every aspect of this game. Had it not been for DeBeauville, this game could have been over early.
The only goal was scored in three-on-three overtime. Cayle Dillon's shot glanced off a Mount Royal defender that caught DeBeauville off-guard, and the dented twine signaled the end of this amazing game as Alberta took the 1-0 double-overtime victory. Lindsey Post stopped all nine shots she faced for the win while DeBeauville deserved much better in a 34-save performance.
ALBERTA at MOUNT ROYAL: After a game like we saw on Friday, what would Saturday bring with the series shifting back to Calgary? If you had said, "Another one-goal game," you should be buying lottery tickets. It would take 45:09 to get that goal, but Alberta capitalized on a power-play. Kennedy Ganser wired a shot past Emma Pincott on the blocker side, and the Pandas grabbed the 1-0 lead. While Mount Royal did mount two additional shots of offence in this game, it didn't matter to Dayna Owen as she recorded the 11-save shutout win in the 1-0 Alberta victory. Pincott, like DeBeauville, played exceptionally well in making 26 saves despite the outcome.
LETHBRIDGE at UBC: You might think there's a trend developing here. The top-ranked UBC Thunderbirds hosted the Lethbridge Pronghorns who needed some points, but it would be Lethbridge's netminder who nearly stole the show. After a scoreless first period where Alicia Anderson made some incredible saves, the T-Birds would finally solve the cagey stopper. Katie Zinn poked a puck from inside a scrum just inside the post as Anderson struggled to locate the puck in among the skates, and UBC grabbed the 1-0 lead at 14:51 of the second period. That would be the only time either lamp was lit, though, as both Anderson and UBC's Amelia Boughn were up to the task in this one. However, the final horn sounded with UBC taking the 1-0 victory. Boughn needed 13 saves for the shutout win while Anderson played out of her mind in a 33-save performance.
LETHBRIDGE at UBC: I've been preaching it all season, and the same fate happened to Lethbridge on Saturday as it has for a number of teams this season. You cannot take copious amounts of penalties against the UBC Thunderbirds and expect to survive. UBC got a power-play goal from Nicole Saxvik at 19:42 of the first period, another from Celine Tardif at 8:50 of the second period, and a third extra-man goal from Stephanie Schaupmeyer at 18:24 of the third period to pace the T-Birds to the 3-0 win. It was a big effort from the Thunderbirds who dressed just 16 skaters on Saturday due to ongoing injury problems for the team. Tori Micklash stopped all 17 shots she faced for the shutout win while Jessica Lohues stopped 33 shots in her net in the loss.
SASKATCHEWAN at REGINA: This series could determine who gets home-ice advantage in the first round of the CWUAA Playoffs. Both teams were missing stars due to the Universiade Games with Regina down three players - Jaycee Magwood, Kylie Gavelin, and Alexis Larson - while Saskatchewan went into battle down one player - Kaitlyn Willoughby. How much of an impact would this have on either team? We found out 24 seconds into this game. Emily Upgang picked up a loose puck along the boards and wheeled and fired a slap shot that Morgan Baker couldn't get the blocker on, and it was 1-0 Saskatchewan before the ice had even frozen.
Things settled down for the remainder of the first period and for most of the second period, but the Cougars found their claws. A Saskatchewan defender fumbled a pass at the blue line, and Sam Geekie was off to the races. Her low shot on Cassidy Hendricks was stopped, but the puck sat loose near her pad in the blue paint. With the mob of Huskies and Cougars crashing in on Hendricks to try to gain control, it was Meghan Sherven who found the loose puck and slid it across the goal line at 15:30 to make it a 1-1 game heading into the third period.
Both teams had opportunities to jump ahead, but goaltending was on display at both ends of the ice. The time ticked down to the final horn in regulation with the score still knotted up at 1-1, so it was off to free hockey! The four-on-four period saw Bailee Bourassa thread a backhander over to Lauren Zary who made a great move to deke around Baker and tuck home the winner with the backhand as Saskatchewan ended this game at 4:26 of overtime with the 2-1 win! Hendricks picked up the win in a 18-save performance while Baker suffered the loss despite making 25 stops.
REGINA at SASKATCHEWAN: The series shifted back to Saskatoon for Saturday where it was apparent that the Regina Cougars needed a win if they hoped to track down the Huskies in the standings. What we got from these two teams was a defensive battle! The only goal of the game was scored late in the first period while Regina was on a five-on-three advantage. Lilla Carpenter-Boesch found a rebound on the power-play and went five-hole on Cassidy Hendricks at 18:37 to put the Cougars up 1-0.
And that was it. Ok, not quite it as both Hendricks and Regina's Jane Kish went into lockdown mode, but the final score in this one was another 1-0 decision. Kish was the busier of the two goalies in making 29 saves for the shutout while Hendricks made 20 stops in the loss.
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As you can see, the top-six teams on the standings table have been bolded and italicized. Those will be your playoff teams this spring for the CWUAA title that is currently held by the UBC Thunderbirds. There's still some room for movement as both second-place and fourth-place need to be decided, but if Calgary can pick up a couple of wins against their crosstown rivals in the Calgary Dinos the race for fifth-place or even fourth-place could get tighter depending on the other results this upcoming weekend.
The final weekend where Manitoba meets Alberta in Edmonton, Saskatchewan hosts Lethbridge, Regina visits the Dinos in Calgary, and Mount Royal goes into UBC could be the best weekend of hockey this season. Get down to your local rink and support these amazing women! You're missing a ton of outstanding hockey!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!