Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Rundown - Week 8

This may prove to be one of the most important weeks in Canada West women's hockey this season. We have the top-ranked team in the nation traveling to the second-ranked team's barn for a weekend series, the fourth-ranked team on the road against a team that has pitched shutouts in three of their last four games, a team struggling to score visiting a team with one of the best netminders this season, and a team that has lost three in a row hosting a team that desperately needs wins to remain in the picture. In other words, the storylines were a-plenty this week, so let's start working through them on this week's edition of The Rundown!

MOUNT ROYAL at SASKATCHEWAN: Mount Royal came into this weekend trailing Lethbridge by five points and sixth-place Calgary by seven points, so the Cougars really needed to hunker down and start earning points any way they could. Saskatchewan, having dropped two-straight games at the hands of the Pandas, fell from first-place to fourth-place last weekend, so they needed to rally this weekend to stay in contention for first-place. The first period of this series, though, went to the goalies as the game remained scoreless through twenty minutes. Mount Royal's Emily Severson stopped 13 shots while Jasey Rae Book was perfect on nine shots. Despite Severson having to stop Kaitlin Willoughby on a breakaway, both goalies looked strong as these two teams took the stalemate into the intermission.

The second period saw more chances as both teams looked to open the scoring. While neither goalie would budge early on, we would finally see the first goal scored late in the frame. Rachel Piitz hit Tianna Ko with a perfect pass, and she spotted Andrea Sanderson standing open in front of book. The tic-tac-toe passing worked to perfection as Sanderson zipped her shot past Book at 17:28 to put Mount Royal up 1-0! With Mount Royal outshooting Saskatchewan 9-3 in the period, the Huskies would have one final period to try to tie - and, possibly, win - this game!

Saskatchewan brought the firepower in the third period as they tossed 13 shots at Severson including a couple of scrambles in front of the Mount Royal net. Despite their aggressiveness, Severson was having none of it as the rookie was outstanding in denying the Huskies time and time again. Anna Purschke would ice this game with 36 seconds to play when she hit the empty net, and the Cougars would pick up the three points with a 2-0 victory. Severson was fantastic in denying all 29 shots fired at her for the shutout while Book suffered the loss after stopping 22 shots.

MOUNT ROYAL at SASKATCHEWAN: As they say, one good shutout deserves another. Ok, maybe no one said that, but Saturday's game saw Emily Severson back in the net for Mount Royal after her clean sheet the night before. At the other end, Jessica Vance took to the blue paint as Saskatchewan looked to reverse their fortunes. It was good news for the home crowd on this night as Saskatchewan found the scoresheet! Abby Shirley fed Chelsea Broadhead in the slot as Severson committed to the shot. Broadhead, though, spotted Courtney Cormack and fed her the puck, and Cormack ripped it past Severson who couldn't recover at 13:51 mark to put the Huskies up 1-0! The entire first period was wild, though, as the two teams traded chances back and forth, but with Mount Royal leading 14-11 in shots, the Huskies went into the intermission with the 1-0 lead.

The second period didn't slow down as both teams wanted more. Severson made a couple of gorgeous saves to keep the Cougars in the game while Vance made at least three saves that keep the doughnut on the Saskatchewan side of the scoreboard. Another entertaining period of hockey would come to an end as Saskatchewan outshot Mount Royal 10-9, and still led on the scoreboard 1-0.

The third period saw Mount Royal pour the pressure on as they peppered Vance with shots, but it would be Morgan Willoughby's point shot that found its way through the forest of legs in front of the net and beat Severson at 9:40 to make it a 2-0 game. The insurance marker was more than was needed on this night, though, as Saskatchewan returned the favor to Mount Royal with their own 2-0 victory. Vance made 31 stops for the shutout win while Severson stopped 26 shots in the loss.

REGINA at LETHBRIDGE: The Regina Cougars are mired in a scoring drought of biblical proportions, having scored just one goal in their last four games. Lethbridge owns the most anemic of all Canada West offences as they average less than 19 shots on net, so this weekend's games might be low-scoring affairs. Regina was certainly the more aggressive team in the opening frame, and they would get rewarded by putting shots on net. Late in the period, Emma Waldenberger would use a Merissa Zerr screen to beat Alicia Anderson!

At 17:20, the Cougars took the 1-0 lead off that Waldenberger snipe! Kish would keep all puck from denting the twine behind her as Regina doubled up Lethbridge in shots 14-7 and led 1-0 after twenty minutes.

For two teams that have struggled to mount offence over the last few weeks, the struggles continued. Regina outshot Lethbridge 27-9 over the final forty minutes, but neither team could find the back of the net. Anderson was solid once more, and the Pronghorns defence kept a puck from crossing the line in the third period as they swept the puck off the line. At the other end, Kish wasn't tested often, but Lethbridge used a third period power-play to get some extended offensive zone time, but they couldn't solve Kish. In the end, Lethbridge simply ran out of time as Regina prevailed on Friday by a 1-0 score! Kish stopped all 16 shots she faced for her second shutout of the season while Anderson made 38 stops in the loss.

REGINA at LETHBRIDGE: There was hope that we'd see more offence on Saturday from these two teams after the one-goal game the night before. Regina was the more offensive team in the opening frame again, and they'd capitalize just as they did the night before. In her first start of the season, Jessica Lohues stopped Martina Maskova's shot, but Jordan Kulbida corralled the rebound, reached out past Lohues' pad, and banked in her fourth goal of the season off the post as the Cougars grabbed the 1-0 lead at 16:33. The Cougars would carry that one-goal advantage into the intermission after outshooting Lethbridge 13-8 in the frame.

The second period saw the Cougars really pressure the Pronghorns defence and Lohues, but they kept shots to the outside and cleared the puck wen necessary to relieve the pressure. Saves on Waldenberger, Magwood, and Lohues highlighted Lohues' work early in the period. The Pronghorns would finally get some room to breathe on a power-play late in the period, and they would find the net shortly after the power-play expired while holding the zone. Jodi Gentile fired a laser that Denzelle Bourgeois redirected through the five-hole of Morgan Baker at 16:01, and this game was all tied up at 1-1! That score would hold through the second intermission with Regina leading in shots 22-20!

With everything back on even terms, neither side was giving the other much room to operate in the offensive zone. It would be a turnover in the neutral zone that setup the next goal as Katelyn Breitkreuz picked up the errant puck and fed Tricia Van Vaerenbergh who went high over Baker's shoulder after breaking into the zone, putting the Pronghorns up 2-1 at the 10:54 mark! The Pronghorns would extend their lead four minutes later on a two-player advantage. Eryn Johanson's point shot was stopped by Baker, but no one picked up Kyra Greig and she potted the rebound at 15:37 for the power-play and, more importantly, the 3-1 lead.

Regina wasn't done, though. They used a power-play of their own to cut Lethbridge's lead to one. With baker on the bench, Tamara McVannel took a feed from Emma Waldenberger, walked in from her point position, and snapped a great shot past Lohues at 18:10 to make it a 3-2 game! Baker would head to the bench again as Regina finished this game off with the extra attacker, but Lohues held the fort to record her first win of the season in the 3-2 victory! Lohues stopped 28 shots in the victory while Baker made 27 saves in the loss.

MANITOBA at CALGARY: Kelsey Roberts and the Dinos welcomed the Bisons to town while riding a two-game shutout streak shutouts in three of their last four games. The Bisons, meanwhile, were riding a seven-game winning streak, so at least one of these two streaks was bound to end on Friday. Manitoba used their speed and skill early on to really put the Dinos on their heels, but it would be the Dinos who struck first on the scoreboard. Carley Wlad slid a puck over to Morgan Loroff, and her slap shot went off a Bisons defender's skate, surprising Rachel Dyck on the deflection as it found the twine.

Loroff's goal came at 13:32 as the Dinos went up 1-0! Despite keeping the pressure on the Dinos and outshooting them 13-6 in the period, the Bisons could not get anything past Kelsey Roberts in the opening frame.

Before the ice had frozen, the Bisons ended Kelsey Roberts' 176:46 shutout streak. Natasha Kostenko received a pass from Megan Neduzak and wired a puck past Roberts for the equalizer just 55 seconds into the frame! 3:10 later, Sheridan Oswald would get a stick on a blast from Alex Anderson, and her deflection was just enough to get past Roberts as well as the Bisons went up 2-1!

Calgary would rally back midway through the period. Chelsea Court fed Carley Wlad with a bank pass off the boards. Wlad streaked into the Bisons zone and let a wrist go from inside the face-off circle that Dyck stopped, but Wlad followed up on the rebound and snapped it home at 10:18 to make it a 2-2 game! 2:20 later, Manitoba jumped ahead again on the power-play as Jordy Zacharias beat Roberts, and 40 second after that goal, Alanna Sharman ripped a shot past Roberts on the power-play at 13:18 as Manitoba's lethal power-play came to life. The last six minutes of the period had no other goals as Manitoba outshot Calgary 11-7 in the middle frame and took a 4-2 lead into the second intermission!

Both sides decided to lock down their defensive zones in the third period. Manitoba still carried the play, outshooting Calgary 11-4 in the period, but neither side had any quality scoring chances. The Bisons were happy just to run out the clock on this game as thye skated to the 4-2 victory! Dyck made 15 saves in the win while Roberts stopped 31 shots in the loss.

MANITOBA at CALGARY: The pace in Saturday's game was a little slower with the short turn-around time. Just because the players were moving a little slower didn't stop their ability to score. Just like in Friday's game, Calgary would open the scoring as Delaney Frey's shot was stopped by Lauren Taraschuk, but Frey had the awareness to bank the rebound in off the Manitoba netminder.

Frey's goal came 5:35 into this game as the Dinos went up 1-0. That lead, though, would last all of 1:07 when Canada West's hottest scorer finished off a gorgeous two-on-one with Alanna Sharman, beating Kelsey Roberts at 6:42 to tie the game at 1-1! The Bisons would have more chances in the period, but the Dinos' defenders and Roberts were up to the task as the period came to a close. After one period, the Bisons led 10-7 in shots, but were tied 1-1 with the Dinos on the scoreboard.

Manitoba was all over the Dinos in the second period with periods of sustained pressure, but the Dinos continued to fend off the Manitoba chances. It seemed like Calgary found ways out of every situation, but Manitoba would finally get a puck to the back of the net. It looked like Calgary was going to clear the puck once again, but Natasha Kostenko forced a turnover. Alana Serhan found Courtlyn Oswald in the slot out of the scrum, and her initial shot was stopped. Oswald, though, followed her shot, grabbed the rebound on the doorstep, and buried the second opportunity at 13:48 to put Manitoba up 2-1! Despite Manitoba outshooting the Dinos 16-5 in the period, the Bisons only led 2-1 heading to the third period!

It was more of the same in the third period as the Bisons simply did not let up. They continued to retain possession in the Calgary zone for stretches of time, and absolutely smothered the Dinos when they did break the puck out. One of those breakout passes was intercepted by Manitoba's Venla Hovi, and the Finnish Olympian made a gorgeous move to deke Roberts before sliding the puck between the five-hole 12:19 to make it 3-1 for Manitoba. In the end, the Bisons were simply too much on this day as they outshot Calgary 15-3 in the final period to eliminate any chance of the Dinos coming back. In the end, the 3-1 score stood as the final! Lauren Taraschuk made 14 saves in her return to the Manitoba net while Roberts stopped 38 shots in a losing effort.

ALBERTA at UBC: The first-ranked team in the nation crossed the mountains to visit the second-ranked team in the nation as we got the heavyweight battle for which we've been waiting all season. The Pandas and Thunderbirds finally met for their first series of the season in Vancouver, and there was electricity in the air as the puck was dropped. The two teams showed speed and play-making early, but neither UBC's Tory Micklash nor Alberta's Kirsten Chamberlin flinched. An Alberta penalty would be the cause of the game's first goal. With Autumn MacDougall in the penalty box, Ireland Perrott found Cassandra Vilgrain who had enough time and space to fire a puck past Chamberlin at 12:14 to put the T-Birds up 1-0! Late in the period, the Pandas looked to tie the game, but the officials determined that Kennedy Ganser cross-checked a UBC defender before the puck found the back of the net, so the goal was waved off. Alberta would kill off the late penalty, but UBC would take the 1-0 lead to the intermission.

Another early penalty take by the Pandas would prove costly. Hannah Clayton-Carroll's shot was stopped by Chamberlin, but Logan Boyd was on the doorstep and she jammed the rebound home for the power-play goal at 1:29 to put UBC up 2-0! The back-and-forth affair continued, but Alberta would get one back six minutes later as they used the power-play to their benefit. Lindsay Weech's point shot found room past traffic in front and eluded Tory Micklash at 7:12 to cut the deficit in half as UBC led 2-1! The two teams would trade chances over the last twelve minutes, but we'd go to the break with UBC still up by a goal.

Alberta came out of the tunnel with a fire in their skates, and they looked for equalizer early. Micklash turned away a couple of opportunities, but a UBC mistake midway through the period was costly. The T-Birds turned the puck over inside their own zone, and Amy Boucher picked up the loose puck and skated in alone on Micklash. She snapped the puck past Micklash at 11:19, and we had ourselves a 2-2 game! Alberta continued their assault on the UBC net, but Micklash withstood the barrage as Alberta outshot UBC 13-3 in the period. And that meant we would get some free hockey between the top-two teams in the country!

The T-Birds killed off the remaining 23 seconds of a Brielle Bellerive penalty to start the overtime period, and then were rewarded with a power-play midway through the period after Alberta's Taylor Kezama was called for elbowing. On that power-play, Ireland Perrott fed a streaking Shay-Lee McConnell from the half-wall, and McConnell made a great deke to get past Chamberlin and backhand the puck into the yawning cage for the overtime winner at 3:09! UBC takes this game by a 3-2 score! Tory Micklash stopped 25 shots in the overtime win while Chamberlin suffered the loss in a 16-save effort.

ALBERTA at UBC: If Friday's game was any indication of how these two teams play the game, Saturday's game was going to be mighty entertaining! The two teams would switch their chosen goalies for the game as Alberta's Dayna Owen got the call while Amelia Boughn set up in the blue paint 200-feet away. Normally the veteran starters, both Owen and Boughn were outstanding in the opening frame as Boughn stonewalled a fired-up Pandas team early on following their overtime loss the night before. Alberta controlled the play for the majority of the period as they led 8-2 in shots, but it was Boughn who shone brightly as the Pandas and T-Birds went into the first intermission in a scoreless game.

An early penalty in the middle frame called on the T-Birds looked to be the edge that the Pandas needed, but it would be UBC's penalty killers who made good while down a player. Dayna Owen misplayed a puck badly behind her net, and the puck slid into the slot area where Jaedon Cooke pounced on it and scored perhaps the easiest goal of her season thus far to give the T-Birds a 1-0 lead at the 1:00 mark with the shorthanded goal! The Pandas would be given another power-play opportunity later in the period, and they wouldn't make any mistakes on this one. Hannah Olenyk set up Autumn MacDougall as she beat Boughn on the power-play to make it a 1-1 game! The remainder of the period again saw Alberta peppering Boughn with shots once more, but Boughn stood her ground to take this 1-1 game into the second period with Alberta leading in shots by an 18-6 margin overall!

The third period was another example of just how good Alberta is as they buzzed Boughn and the UBC net while holding sustained pressure for lengths of time. And just like in the second period when Alberta was generating chances and was given a power-play to work with, the T-Birds took advantage. Off a face-off win, Alexa Ranahan chipped the puck off the glass and let Emily Costales catch it as she beat the Alberta defence down the ice. Costales drove to the net and punched the puck past Owen for the T-Birds' second shorthanded marker of the night and, more importantly, the 2-1 lead at 7:24 of the third period!

The Pandas wouldn't go quietly, though. Alex Poznikoff took a pass from Kiara Machry and somehow slipped the puck past Boughn while below the goal line for a rather uncharacteristic mistake by the UBC netminder, but the goal would count regardless as Alberta tied the game at 2-2 at 9:45. It looked like the onslaught that the Pandas were delivering would pay off a few minutes later as Alberta got another puck past Boughn, but the referee ruled there had been interference with Boughn from the traffic in front and the goal was disallowed! Despite Alberta's 14-2 margin in shots in this period, this game would go to overtime!

In the scrum that happened at the end of the third period, Jaedon Cooke was assessed a cross-checking at the 20:00 mark, so the T-Birds would start the overtime period with three skaters to Alberta's five skaters as Cooke joined the already-penalized Kirsten Toth in the sin bin. The T-Birds managed to kill off the Toth's remaining penalty, but they just couldn't turn away the Pandas any longer. With two seconds remaining in the penalty, Autumn MacDougall took a pass from Cayle Dillon, squared up to the net, and wired a shot over Boughn's shoulder into the top corner at the 1:58 mark to give Alberta the 3-2 overtime win! Dayna Owen had a rather quiet night as she stopped six of eight shots she faced in 61:58 of work while Boughn deserved a better fate after stopping 31 shots fired at her in the overtime loss.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
32 36 25
vs UBC
27 34 24
vs MRU
British Columbia
27 31 23
25 25 21
18 25 30
vs SAS
15 17 20
14 13 22
vs LET
Mount Royal
10 17 33

The Final Word

With the midway point of the season now played, it's time to hand out some midseason awards compliments of yours truly. These are completely of my own choosing, and the randomness of the awards is strictly on me. If you don't like it, you're welcome to submit your votes in the comments. In the end, I don't get a say on wins what award, so it's all for fun anyway!

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MIDYEAR: Jordyn Zacharias - Manitoba. She leads the conference in goal-scoring and points. This one was pretty easy.
Honourable mentions: Alberta's Autumn MacDougall and Manitoba's Venla Hovi.

OFFENSIVE DEFENDER OF THE MIDYEAR: Cayle Dillon - Alberta. Same as above - she leads all rearguards in scoring. No surprises here.
Honourable mentions: Alberta's Taylor Kezama and Manitoba's Alexandra Anderson.

GOALTENDER OF THE MIDYEAR: Alicia Anderson - Lethbridge. I was really torn over giving this to Anderson when it could have gone to Manitoba rookie netminder Lauren Taraschuk, Calgary's Kelsey Roberts, or Regina's Jane Kish, but it came down to three things: goals-against average over the amount of work, team standing in the conference, and where would the team be without that player. Calgary would still miss the playoffs if they started today, so Roberts was eliminated. The workload that Anderson has compiled versus Taraschuk took the Manitoba netminder out of the race, and I'm not sure that Jessica Lohues can win games like Morgan Baker can for Regina when it comes to making the playoffs. Because of that, Anderson's importance to Lethbridge's success moved her a hair's breadth ahead of Kish.
Honourable mentions: Calgary's Kelsey Roberts and Regina's Jane Kish.

ROOKIE OF THE MIDYEAR: Lauren Taraschuk - Manitoba. The rookie netminder has been more important to helping Manitoba attain first-place in the first-half of the season than anyone else. While Ireland Perrott is having a great season for Vancouver and Kirsten Chamberlin has been a steadying force for Alberta's netminding, Taraschuk's statistical superiority over Chamberlin makes her the obvious choice for this award.
Honourable mentions: UBC's Ireland Perrott and Alberta's Kirsten Chamberlin.

POWER-PLAYER OF THE MIDYEAR: Autumn MacDougall - Alberta. Given to the player who excels when her team has the extra player, this really came down to who is helping her team rack up the power-play goals. The diminutive MacDougall has been a giant on the power-play where she has scored five of her six total goals on the season while adding two power-play assists. Of her 11 points, seven have come with the extra attacker. MacDougall has scored just under half of her team's power-play goals. No one else has that percentage of points on her team's power-play.
Honourable mention: Manitoba's Erica Rieder and Manitoba's Alanna Sharman.

COACH OF THE MIDYEAR: Jon Rempel - Manitoba. It's rare that a coach can win Coach of the Year in successive years with all the player movement that happens in university hockey, but Jon Rempel has his Bisons on a nine-game winning streak, they're first in the conference, they're the highest-scoring team, and they have the best power-play. For a guy who doesn't coach offence, he sure has recruited a helluvan offensive team!
Honourable mentions: Lethbridge's Michelle Janus and Alberta's Howie Draper.

BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE MIDYEAR: Deanna Morin - Alberta. This award is given to the non-rookie player who has exceeded all expectations based on last season's performance. Morin is leaps and bounds ahead of where she finished last season. In 27 games last season, Morin scored one goal and added five helpers. In 13 games this season, she has four goals and six assists. She's on pace to break her career highs of six goals and 18 points that she scored in 2014-15, and that will be a huge help to the Pandas down the stretch.
Honourable mentions: Saskatchewan's Emily Upgang and UBC's Hannah Clayton-Carroll.

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER OF THE MIDYEAR: Alanna Sharman - Manitoba. While some will say I'm a homer for this pick, Sharman has been everything for Manitoba this season. She's tied for second in conference scoring, she plays in all situations, Coach Rempel will often move her to lines that need an offensive spark, and she's one of the leaders on the ice for the Bisons. Her absence last season was noticeable on the ice and the bench for Manitoba, and she has been a force at both ends of the ice for the Bisons this season. Without her, the Bisons are just a different team. That speaks volume to how outstanding she has been for Manitoba this season.
Honourable mentions: Lethbridge's Alicia Anderson and Saskatchewan's Kaitlin Willoughby.

Agree? Disagree? Think I'm absolutely a homer? Sound off in the comments!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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