Hockey Headlines

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Rundown - Week 18

This week's edition of the Rundown will be shorter than most thanks to the fact that only four teams in Canada West women's hockey saw action. Two teams unfortunately did not acquire enough points to make the playoffs while those that had all too many points for their own good got a week off as a reward for finishing atop the standings. The four teams in the middle squared off in the opening round of the CWUAA Playoffs with their reward for winning being a road trip while losing would end their seasons. Who would move on? Let's find out on this week's episode of the Rundown!

REGINA at SASKATCHEWAN: The fifth-place Regina Cougars traveled north to Saskatoon to meet the fourth-place Huskies in the battle of Saskatchewan with a trip to either Vancouver or Edmonton on the line. Like any good playoff series, this best-of-three saw the first period go scoreless as both teams began to feel one another out for weaknesses. Regina would carry a 10-8 lead in shots into the second period, but both Regina's Jane Kish and Saskatchewan's Cassidy Hendricks played well in the opening frame.

Lauren Zary's bodychecking penalty with 28 seconds left in the first period carried over into the second period, and it would kick off the scoring for both teams. Saskatchewan would grab the lead just 48 seconds into the period while shorthanded as Kaitlin Willoughby got just enough blade on the puck sent over to her by Kayla Kirwan to get it past Kish for the 1-0 lead. 39 seconds later, Regina ended the power-play when Melissa Zerr took a pass in the slot and went high stick-side over the shoulder of Hendricks to make it a 1-1 game at 1:27. Saskatchewan's Kira Bannatyne would head to the sin bin 23 seconds later, and Regina would use this new power-play to gain the lead when Alexis Larson's shot from the point found its way through traffic and was tipped by Tamara McVannel past Hendricks at 3:02 to make it 2-1 for the Cougars! Saskatchewan, though, would use a power-play of their own to tie the game as Willoughby's rush into the zone saw her zip a shot past Kish at 7:32 to make it a 2-2 game! The remainder of the period saw the teams trade chances, but they would enter the second intermission deadlocked at that 2-2 score.

Saskatchewan went up 3-2 just 4:52 into the third period when - who else? - Willoughby found a puck in the slot and wired the puck stick-side past Kish. Exactly two minutes later, Kori Herner was sent in on a breakaway off a neutral zone turnover, and she made no mistake in beating Kish to make it a 4-2 game for the Huskies. Regina would make a desperate push late in the game as Jaycee Magwood was able to close the deficit to one when she beat Hendricks off a scramble in front of the Huskies net at 16:18, but the Cougars couldn't get the one they needed in the end as Saskatchewan emerged victorious in the 4-3 victory. Hendricks made 28 saves in the victory while Kish stopped 25 shots while coming up short. Saskatchewan gained a 1-0 advantage in the series.

REGINA at SASKATCHEWAN: Regina would have last change in this game, and they needed a win to keep their season going. Saskatchewan would be the road team on home ice, and they were looking to close out this series. Both teams had their chances early on, but it was a goal late in the period that would put the Huskies up 1-0. Bailee Bourassa's shot from the right face-off circle found a path through traffic and Jane Kish to dent twine at 17:51 to put pressure on the Cougars.

The second period was more defensive in nature, but the chances that were generated were stopped at both ends so we'd be forced to move to the final 20 minutes of regulation with the Huskies still leading 1-0. Midway through the third period, Kylee Kupper's shot was stopped by Cassidy Hendricks, but the rebound came out on her stick-side and Jolene Kirkpatrick was there to bang home the loose puck at 9:33 to get the Cougars on the board and tie the game at 1-1! It would be a mistake and a turnover in the neutral zone that would lead to the next goal as Kori Herner picked up the mishandled puck, broke into the zone, and fed Kaitlin Willoughby for the shot on Kish that pinged in off the post at 16:25 to put Saskatchewan back up by a 2-1 count.

Desperation set in quickly for Regina as they needed a goal badly. Kish was on the bench with nearly three minutes to play, and a late power-play for the Cougars had everyone on the edges of their seats, but the final horn would end this game with no further scoring as the Saskatchewan Huskies survived the late pressure by the Cougars to win the game 2-1 and sweep the series by a 2-0 count. Hendricks stopped 31 shots in helping her team advance while Kish made 21 saves as the Cougars' season comes to an end.

MOUNT ROYAL at MANITOBA: The sixth-place Mount Royal Cougars traveled east to visit the third-place Manitoba Bisons for a battle to determine who would advance to play either the Thunderbirds or the Pandas. This game started off quickly as both teams pressed early in trying to force a mistake by their opposition. It would be Mount Royal who flinched first as a failed clearing attempt up the boards was corralled by Caitlyn Fyten, and her slapshot after changing the shooting lane was deflected perfectly by Venla Hovi past Emma Pincott at 2:55 to put Manitoba up 1-0 early. Even with the furious pace, the two teams couldn't find the net again in the first period as Manitoba took the lead into the intermission.

The battle continued in the second period, and Mount Royal would finally solve Rachel Dyck on the power-play. Gabrielle Seper cut into the Bisons zone and received pass from Sarah Weninger before throwing a low shot on net that eluded Rachel Dyck's outstreched left leg and somehow found the inside of the far post to even the game at 1-1 at the 10:57 mark. The Cougars actually took control of this game for a portion of the period after the goal, but it would be a veteran who changed the tides of momentum. Manitoba's Karissa Kirkup pulled off an incredible individual effort as she chipped the puck past her check, put the puck on her backhand, skated into the slot, and went top-shelf with the backhander past Pincott at 16:47 to score one of the prettiest goal this season in giving the Bisons the 2-1 lead!

The two teams went back and forth at the start of the third period, and it would Kirkup who would strike at the midway point of the frame. She carried the puck into the Cougars zone, stopped in the face-off circle, and ripped a shot through Pincott at 10:12 to put the Bisons up 3-1. Five minutes after that, the Bisons were killing penalty when Alanna Sharman forced a turnover at the point and led a two-on-one the other way. Her feed over to Nicole Carswell was perfect as Carswell poked the puck between Pincott's legs for the shorthanded goal and the 4-1 lead at 15:13. Alex Anderson would tee up a point shot at 18:47 that appeared to change direction to elude Pincott with 1:13 to play, and that would be more than enough for Rachel Dyck to close this game out as the Bisons win 5-1 and go up 1-0 in the series. Dyck stopped 26 shots in the win while Pincott turned away 20 shots in the loss.

MOUNT ROYAL at MANITOBA: Game Two of this series saw the Cougars shift to the home team while the Bisons, playing on home ice, would be the road team. This would give the Cougars the last change, and they would use that advantage to match lines and get key players on the ice in specific situations. Quite literally, Mount Royal played a perfect road game despite being the home team in clogging up the neutral zone so Manitoba couldn't attack with speed and keeping the Bisons on the outside when they did gain the offensive zone.

Through 40 minutes, the Cougars and Bisons played scoreless hockey with a few chances, but both Rachel Dyck and Zoe DeBeauville were flawless in their netminding. However, the third period saw the scoreless draw snapped as the Bisons' third line made their presence felt. Caitlyn Fyten cleared her zone with a perfect bank pass off the boards to Erin Kucheravy who evaded a defender at the blue line and broke down the left-wing wall. She threw a centering pass across the ice where Alana Serhan, who had a step on her check, reached out and redirected the puck past Zoe DeBeauville whose sliding save wasn't quite stretched far enough to stop Serhan at the 8:18 mark.

With the Bisons leading 1-0, the Cougars began to throw everything they could at Rachel Dyck. Late in the game, the Bisons were down two women due to penalties and head coach Scott Rivett pulled DeBeauville for a six-on-three advantage. Blocked shots, big saves, and desperate clears kept Manitoba in the lead until the final horn sounded as the Bisons survived Game Two by a 1-0 score to win the series 2-0 and move on. Dyck was perfect on all 12 shots for the shutout win while DeBeauville was outstanding in making 15 stops in her final game this season.

Up Next

The top-four teams in Canada West women's hockey will play in the semi-final series as the Saskatchewan Huskies will travel west to Vancouver and play the UBC Thunderbirds in that best-of-three series while the Manitoba Bisons will head northwest to Edmonton to visit the Alberta Pandas for a best-of-three series.

UBC and Saskatchewan were 2-1-1-0 this season against each other with the teams splitting the two-game series in Vancouver in early October. Obviously, things have changed since then, but Saskatchewan is the only team in Canada West to have defeated UBC twice this season. That could be important as the two teams were similar in their defensive play - UBC had 45 goals-against while Saskatchewan had 52 goals-against. UBC, however, scored 30 more goals than Saskatchewan did this season, so we'll have to see if UBC can get that potent offence running. If I were a betting man, I think this series goes three games with UBC prevailing.

The other series is decidedly in one team's favor. Alberta has had Manitoba's number all season in going 3-0-1-0 against the Bisons. Three of the four games, though, were one-goal decisions, so there may be something to build on if you're a Bisons fan. Both teams had similar positive goal differentials, so they question of scoring and stopping goals shouldn't be an issue. It's just a matter of who can stop more pucks, and right now the Pandas have that advantage on paper. If we learned one thing from this Manitoba team, though, it's that they can play on the road and win a series in Edmonton as they did last season. I'm going to bet against common sense here to say that Manitoba wins this series in three games.

These two series should be exciting and fun to watch, so find a way to get to the rinks or tune in via Canada West TV. It might be some of the best, most spirited hockey you see all season as neither team in either series likes one another!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Not Like Last Time

Claude Julien was back in the NHL today with his new team as the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Winnipeg Jets. Julien has had one full practice with his team thus far so I don't expect the Canadiens to pull out of their floundering ways, but a coaching change usually puts a little jump into each player's step as they try to impress the new coach. There's a big difference between a .500 Canadiens team in 2003 and a division-leading team in 2017, but in watching this Canadiens team it is clear they need a different voice.

I don't know if Julien can stop the flat-lining that this team seems to be going through, but watching them today against the Jets was like watching a team in disarray. They started strong, but they looked awful by the end of the game. Shea Weber doesn't look anything like his normal, dominant self. Gallagher, Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, and Radulov seem to be going through the motions when it comes to generating offence, and Carey Price isn't getting a lot of help from the rest of the defence. In short, this team looks a lot like a Michel Therrien team after a number of years.

The one thing that Julien will do is bring accountability to his players just as he demanded in Boston of his players there. No one will get a free ride when it comes to hard work, puck battles, and races to loose pucks. That's just how it is with Julien. If you don't like it as a player, you might as well have La-Z-Boy drop off a recliner in the press box because Julien will have none of it.

In saying this, players like Shaw and Gallagher will be given more responsibility when it comes to their pest-like play, but they'll still be expected to contribute much in the same vein that Brad Marchand was allowed to evolve in Boston's system. Shaw's penchant for temper tantrums and suspensions won't be tolerated by Julien, but it will be expected that he plays tough-as-nails on the opposition. Gallagher will still get his minutes, but he can't rest on the fact that he's a non-scoring pest. He'll need to bring some offence in Julien's systems.

As of right now, I'd say that David Desharnais, Alexei Emelin, and Torrey Mitchell are fighting for their jobs. All three are underperforming based on what Julien will need out of them, and that's not good. If these three cannot find some sort of effective role within Julien's system, I can see all three being dangled as trade bait when the trade deadline rolls around this year.

Overall, the changes will come. Julien will make the Canadiens a better squad overall, but one practice won't do much as we saw today. Julien started his Montreal coaching gig in 2003 with three wins and two ties in five games, but his second stint started with a lifeless 3-1 loss to the Jets. Expect that to change before the end of the month.

If it doesn't, the personnel will change.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Kenora Experience

While we only got to interview one of these two broadcasting legends, the day yesterday in Kenora was nothing short of magical. Whether it be visiting the world famous chip truck to seeing a number of NHL legends on the ice, the town of Kenora put on one heckuvan event on Thursday, and we still have two days of festivities to go! None of us from The Hockey Show really wanted to pack up and head home on Friday, but other duties called and we needed to get back home. However, today is all about why hockey needs to return to its roots when it comes to events like this as Kenora, Ontario may have hosted the best Thursday of a Hockey Day in Canada event ever!

As one reaches the Ontario border from the Manitoba side, it feels like one has been transported from fields of green to lakes of blue, especially on this warm Thursday. The winding highway through lake country is surround by faces of rock and small cliffs thanks to the Canadian shield, making the drive to Kenora feel more like a trip through a small, picturesque mountain range. But as one nears Kenora on Highway 17, it becomes apparently clear why this is cottage country as the lakes take over the landscape.

Kenora itself isn't a huge city by any means. The town boasts about 15,000 people as its populace, but that number can swell to double the size in summer as thousands flock to the area for boating, fishing, and cottage life. I expected a quiet town on Thursday as I pulled into the city, but what I expected was far different than what I found.

The city had not only embraced Hockey Day in Canada, but personified it in every way. From billboards welcoming people to Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada to every shop and store in town having a Hockey Day in Canada logo in its windows to jerseys of every team and every generation of Kenora Thistles hockey, Kenora was living and breathing the game of hockey with every foot I went deeper into town.

My first stop was the Kenora Recreation Centre which houses the Kenora Thistles Rink and the Kenora Aquatic Centre. The rink can be described as a modernized "old barn" as it still has the feel of an old-time rink, but has a number of modern amenities that allow it to host all sorts of events. Located at 18 Mike Richards Way in the city, the 1900-seat facility plays host to the vast majority of hockey events in and around the Kenora area including high school and AAA hockey games.

My arrival coincided with meeting Bob, an amazing man who runs the merchandise stand in the rink. Bob is a lively gentleman who loves his hockey almost as much as he's proud of his city, and his knowledge of the history of the Kenora Hall of Fame players is second-to-none. He and I must have spoken for an hour about all the history and great players who have grown up in the Kenora area, and his knowledge on the Thistles teams from the Stanley Cup-winning squad through to today was a lesson in hockey history I'll find nowhere else. Bob is a gem of a human being, and I highly recommend stopping by the merchandise stand if and when you visit Kenora.

The next person I met was a young lady by the name of Casey who was in charge of all things happening at the rink. If I had a question, she had the answer. To call her a resource would be doing her an injustice because she's quite literally the lifeblood of the Rec Centre. She was on the go the entire time I was there, but had time to stop for every question, every fan, and every visitor to ensure that they were doing well. I don't know what she's earning in her role, but I'm quite certain she's worth double the amount with how vital she was during the day in my time at the arena. She's everything that one could hope for in an ambassador, and that only scratches the surface of what I saw from her.

Bob caught me again, and this time he had guests to introduce. Bob introduced me to Len "Kroppy" Kropioski's niece and her husband. Kroppy, as you may be aware, is a legend in Winnipeg thanks to his unwavering support of the Winnipeg Jets who he would drive in to see for each and every home game from his hometown of Kenora. This couple were two of the nicest people one could ever hope to meet, and I feel blessed having met them.

From there, I was able to speak with Sportsnet's Ken Reid, pictured in what he called a "Kenora Dinner Jacket" above, for about ten minutes prior to the Skate with Stanley event happening at the Kenora Rec Centre. I also got a nice nod and smile from Hall of Fame legend Bryan Trottier after I said hi to him. He was also there for the Skate with Stanley. Mark Napier was late and blew by me as he rushed to get his skates on, but he blurted out as he entered the arena, "Man, look at this great old rink. I love it!" Clearly, the appeal of the Rec Centre was not lost on the NHL legends.

I ran around a little in the afternoon as I picked up a few groceries and checked into my hotel room. In both the grocery store and the hotel, every staff member was wearing a Hockey Day in Canada or Kenora Thistles shirt! While the hotel staff is managed by an independent owner who certainly can approve this choice of uniform, the national grocery store chain I visited has an approved uniform. However, it appeared management was entirely in the spirit and had their staff in the spirit as well as they all were in hockey gear!

Upon returning to the Kenora Rec Centre, I went about getting the radio broadcast set up. Lots of people using the concourse walking/running track stopped by the table I was getting set up on to ask what I was up to and pass on stories about their meetings with NHL legends and local hockey heroes. I can't express how incredible this interaction was as people literally were brimming with excitement in being able to tell someone that they met their favorite hockey players. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing their excitement and listened enthusiastically as they told their stories.

The show, if you listened, went off without a hitch as we chatted hockey and had some laughs. The women's hockey game that went on while we went to air between Beaver Brae Secondary School and St. Thomas Aquinas was nothing short of epic as they took a 4-4 tie into the shootout where there played about 30 rounds of the shootout before St. Thomas finally prevailed. Ok, maybe 30 isn't entirely accurate, but we watched a number of shooters score and be denied before a final goal caused a massive celebration on the ice. Honestly, it was one of the best women's high school hockey games I've ever watched.

We were fortunate to feature Mr. Ken Reid on the show as well, and that man is a professional. Ken was gracious enough to spend about an hour with us as he told stories of new books, his time on Sportsnet and working his way up to that illustrious position, and he had some great views on some of the topics we covered on The Hockey Show. He knows his hockey, he's well-versed in broadcasting, and he was a delightful guest. Ken Reid is truly one of the best men in the business!

I also need to give thanks to a number of people as we wouldn't have had this experience without them.

First and foremost, Joel Darling of Sportsnet was incredible to speak with when it came to granting us this opportunity. He understood the importance of this broadcast and made it clear that we were to cover the game with the utmost professionalism, but he also was quick to remind me that it was about having fun. I hope we made you proud with our broadcast of the NHL/Kenora alumni game, Mr. Darling. I would not hesitate to jump at the opportunity if you asked us to work with you again. Thank you, Mr. Darling.

I also want to thank Bruce Johnson, Thistle Alumni Coordinator, for allowing us to set up in our broadcasting location for the game. Bruce was vital in getting a pile of Thistles alumni to play in the game, and he was the man in charge of the game's progress once the seats were filled. He allowed me to stand between the benches for a unique perspective on the game while allowing TJ and Beans to broadcast from the concourse at center ice. Bruce was a gentleman, a professional, and he ran a tight ship. The alumni game wouldn't have been possible with his efforts. Thank you, Mr. Johnson.

Lastly, but in no way least in any way, I want thoroughly thank Miss Kerri Holder, Communications Clerk for the City of Kenora, for being my point of contact in getting me in touch with Mr. Darling, Casey, and Bruce. She was vital to UMFM's experience in Kenora despite her being incredibly busy on Thursday. I cannot express how much gratitude for her efforts in getting our little show down to Kenora to be part of the festivities, but she absolutely deserves the recognition. Thank you, Miss Holder, for everything you did to help us.

Of course, this event would have been nothing if not for the people of Kenora, and I want to thank them as a group. My time in Kenora barely spanned 24 hours, but the warmth and welcoming nature of the town was more than I ever expected for some little radio broadcaster. Thank you, Kenora. I love visiting, and you're going to be exceptional hosts for the entire country on Saturday for Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada.

You may have heard us on The Hockey Show during the World Junior Championship wrap-up talking about how the smaller communities live and breathe junior hockey when it comes to their towns. Kenora is a shining example of an entire city embracing their moment in the spotlight and running with it. While personalities such as Ron MacLean, Don Cherry, Darcy Tucker, and Lanny McDonald visit, the star of this weekend will be the city and citizens of Kenora because of how they are embracing the event.

We implored the World Junior Championship to return to its roots where hockey is a part of the culture and brings people together from all walks of life at all hours of the day in every season. Kenora is the embodiment of this plea from our show, and its citizens are exceptional ambassadors of this wish. Look to the communities where hockey's stars found their path, and you'll find the passion for this game once more. Hockey is still a game. In the end, it shouldn't be about record-breaking profits or the most-attended event in the game's history. It's always been about the love of the game, and I think I saw my passion re-ignited in Kenora thanks to its citizens' outpouring of passion for the game.

I'm proud to have been a part of this event and to have had the privilege of working with some exceptional people. But the real stars of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada are the City of Kenora, its citizens, and the memories made as a result of these important pieces. Thank you, Kenora. It's an experience I will not soon forget.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 230

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is on the road today as we broadcast from an entirely different province! Your humble hockey program is out east as we invade the city of Kenora as part of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada this weekend! We are beyond excited to bring you the show - and more! - from the city of Kenora as we get ready for a fun-filled, action-packed day that will expand beyond the borders of our one-hour timeslot! You're going to want to be near an internet-enabled device today because The Hockey Show is going mainstream!

We are honoured and humbled to be welcomed to the city of Kenora to participate in Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada. It isn't often that a show like ours is invited to play on the big stage, but, like any call-up from the minor leagues, we're gonna give it everything we have under the bright lights! Tonight, we'll bring you our normal crazy hockey chatter that will include discussion about Claude Julien being hired by the Montreal Canadiens, Gustav Nyquist's and Antoine Vermette's indiscretions, did Alex Chiasson's spear deserve a major and a game misconduct, the passing of Mike Ilitch, and we'll go over all your Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada events happening in and around the Kenora area!

But we're only getting started, folks. If you tune in on the UMFM Second Stream found on the UMFM webpage at 5pm, I'll be running down some exclusive content from the events happening earlier in the day in Kenora, and we'll carry past the 6:30pm mark on the Second Stream as Sportsnet's Ken Reid joins us for a quick chat prior to the NHL/Kenora hockey alumni game happening at the Kenora Rec Centre tonight! Ken has had a storied career as the pride of Pictou, Nova Scotia, and we'll chat with him about his time on the anchor desk at Sportsnet as well as being an accomplished author!

At 7:30pm on UMFM's Second Stream, we will bring you the first-ever broadcast of an NHL alumni game on UMFM as names like Lanny McDonald, Darcy Tucker, Mark Napier, and Carey Wilson suit up against Kenora hockey alumni such as Mike Richards and Rick St. Croix! Joining the alumni teams will be distinguished guests such as Jets owner Mark Chipman, Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean and Scott Oake, and Sportsnet's Ken Reid. Rounding out the alumni will be local Kenora hockey alumni, and we'll be bringing you all the action from the Kenora Rec Centre as the two teams have a little fun on the ice prior to Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada kicking off on Saturday!

You'll be able to tune in to the show tonight by downloading the UMFM app! Like now. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today!

I'm going to be all over social media today, so follow as you see fit! Email all show questions and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Make sure you hit UMFM's Second Stream found on the UMFM webpage to get access to all the action tonight, and join us for the NHL/Kenora hockey alumni game as part of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada live from the city of Kenora, Ontario! It's going to be a big day for The Hockey Show on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, and on UMFM's Second Stream!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Big Day Tomorrow

HBIC will be closed today. I hope you don't mind. I know there has been a ton of hockey stuff happening - Claude Julien becoming the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Michel Therrien cut loose for the second time, Gustav Nyquist's vicious high-stick on Jared Spurgeon - but there are even bigger things afoot here at the ol' blog. As you might be aware, the radio show is on the road tomorrow as we invade Kenora, Ontario as part of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada! This is a huge opportunity for UMFM and The Hockey Show, so I'm closing up shop for the day in preparation of my journey east!

We'll discuss the topics above on the show tomorrow that will air live from the Kenora Recreation Centre, the 1900-seat facility that houses all the big hockey games in the Lake of the Woods region. We'll be on the air a little earlier than normal, but we'll be running an extra-long broadcast on the UMFM Second Stream all night long. Staring at 5pm, we'll be on the air talking all things hockey in Kenora, we'll have our normal show time from 5:30 to 6:30 on both the Second Stream and on UMFM's airwaves, and we'll stick around after the show to continue to talk hockey with a special guest as we lead up to the premiere broadcast of the NHL/Kenora hockey alumni game live from Kenora!

Honestly, this is one of the biggest things we've ever done on our show by a large margin, and I'm pretty sure it's a first for the radio station in having their presence at a major hockey event like the NHL alumni game. There are some people that I feel the need to thank before we get out there, so let me take a moment to do that.

First off, I cannot say thank you enough to Bruce Johnson and Kerri Holder who live in Kenora. Bruce is the man who organized the NHL/Kenora hockey alumni including getting a number of the players from the local community to unretire for one night and come back and play in the big game. Kerri is the lady who is coordinating all the media releases and put us in touch with the powers-that-be when it comes to the broadcasting rights. Without these two, I don't think adventure would have gotten off the ground, and I want to thank them immensely for giving us a shot at joining the fun tomorrow.

Secondly, I think a big thank you needs to go out to Rogers Sportsnet and, in particular, Joel Darling, Executive Producer of NHL Special Events for Rogers Sportsnet Hockey. Mr. Darling and I had a great conversation abut the event, and he graciously allowed us the opportunity to broadcast the game to the world. We are forever indebted to Mr. Darling for this opportunity as well, and we're going to give this broadcast a professional touch in every sense of the word.

In saying all this, I have some stuff to do tonight in getting ready for tomorrow's adventure, so HBIC is calling it a day today. Kenora, Ontario is the destination tomorrow, and HBIC and The Hockey Show are going to bring the fun we have to the celebration they are throwing as we join Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada for one evening!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Dramatic Turnaround

With five games remaining on their schedule, the Aalborg Pirates of Denmark's Metal Ligaen are still playing meaningful games into February. That's not to say that head coach Brandon Reid doesn't have them focused on the goal as the Pirates appear to be on the verge of entering the Metal Ligaen's postseason as the top-ranked team in the ten-team circuit after finishing last season below .500 and in eighth-place. To say that Brandon has turned this team around in one season with a few key additions would be an understatement, but it goes to show that Reid's efforts in becoming an effective communicator and coach from his past coaching stints have paid off for the city of 112,000 people!

Aalborg isn't quite out of the woods yet when it comes to securing top spot in the Metal Ligaen, but they're very close. The Odense Bulldogs are right on their heels followed by the Frederikshavn White Hawks. Odense beat Sonderjyske Ishockey earlier today by a 4-2 score, so Aalborg will need a win against Rungsted tomorrow to stay atop the standings. Needless to say, the race is on for first place.

In 2015-16, Aalborg finished the season 14-24-3-4 for 52 points and eighth-place in the league. They were a quick four-and-out in the playoffs at the hands of Sonderjyske who finished 41 points ahead of the Pirates as the top team in the league. Flash forward to today, and the Pirates are on pace for a 90-point season buoyed largely by the systems and teachings of Brandon Reid and the recruits he brought in to help play his system.

One of those recruits was former Brandon Wheat King Peter Quenneville who has torn up the league in the second-half of the season. Quenneville is a goal back for top goal-scorer in the league, and there's no sign of him slowing. The Edmonton, Alberta native and former seventh-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets played with the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones in 2015-16 where he had 11 goals and 15 assists in 58 games, but the sniper has rediscovered his goal-scoring touch in Denmark where it appears he may hit 30-or-more goals for the season. Quenneville currently leads the league in shots, and is near the top of the game-winning goal category as well. Needless to say, the addition of this piece was one of Reid's best moves in helping Aalborg get to where they are now.

However, the systems that Reid has put in place have also dramatically changed the way the team plays the game. In 2015-16, Aalborg was -45 in goal differential during the season on the strength of 129 goals-for versus 174 goals-against which, in part, led them to that eighth-place finish. Today, the team has a goal differential of +29 on the strength of 112 goals-for versus 85 goals-against - nearly half as many goals-against as one year ago. It's not that they're scoring a ton more goals; rather, it's simply because the defensive system is better, and that points directly to Brandon Reid and the coaching staff in getting the players to execute the game plan.

The best finish this team has had was in their initial season of 2013-14 after they were founded exclusively as an Aalborg team. They finished third that year with a 23-12-2-3 record, and it appears that franchise-best mark will be eclipsed this year by a large margin. The last two seasons were eighth-place finishes that saw Aalborg win a total of one playoff game. I have a feeling this season will see those memories erased as well.

It's amazing to think that Brandon has gone from coaching Vojens to working with the Canadian national sledge hockey team to becoming the head coach back in Denmark with Aalborg. I'm happy to see he and Jessica, his wife, doing so well, and to see the newest addition to the Reid family, baby daughter Clover, getting bigger by the day. He's already signed an extension to stay in Aalborg next season, and that might be the best move this club has ever made.

Brandon Reid is humble enough to say that it still takes a team to execute the game plan and systems, but it was he who put those systems and game plans in place day-in and day-out. The dramatic turnaround started in the summer before he arrived in Denmark where phone calls and visits to players he wanted on his team were made. While Brandon is entirely right that it DOES take a team to execute the game plan, the foundation for this season was being laid before any of the players pulled on a jersey or stepped on the ice.

That credit goes entirely to Brandon Reid.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Goal Of The Year Candidate?

I'll be honest in saying that I have very little knowledge about the USHL simply because I never get to see the games. I try to read up on players and interesting stories from the USHL, but I admit there are still large gaps when it comes to what's happening in junior hockey in the United States. However, when a great goal is scored, everyone seems to talk about it. The USHL might have seen one of the greatest goals scored this year, and it's only February.

The Omaha Lancers and the Tri-City Storm are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings this season, so there's been little to cheer about for either team's fanbase. They both sit more than ten points away from the pack who are competing for playoff spots, so there hasn't been much joy in Joyville. However, there was a major bright spot on Friday night as Linus Weissbach went off for Tri-City's first goal of the evening against Omaha.

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Wow. The dangle around Zak Galambos was nice enough that it could be considered for the goal of the year honours, but the stick-handling in tight against Tommy Nappier to deke around him just adds to the amazing play. Linus Weissbach's 15th goal of the season was, in every sense of the word, a beauty. The 18 year-old Swedish prospect is draft-eligible, so I'm guessing there were a few scouts scribbling in their notebooks after that sequence.

Unfortunately, the Storm coughed up a two-goal lead and lost in overtime to the Lancers by a 3-2 score. That might be why they're at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Regardless of where they are or where they finish, the Storm have a pretty special player in Linus Weissbach!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Rundown - Week 17

It's the final week of play in Canada West women's hockey this season, and there were still a few playoff spots to be determined. With everyone back at full-strength after the Universiade Games finished in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the competition for these playoff spots was fierce. We'd see the scoring race finalized, the playoff spots cemented, and we'd find out who was hosting next weekend. Without further adieu, let's get this done!

LETHBRIDGE at SASKATCHEWAN: Lethbridge was looking to spoil Saskatchewan's fun as a regulation win by the Huskies would clinch fourth-place in the conference. After Saskatchewan outshot Lethbridge 8-3 in the first with nothing to show for it, the team in green would find the back of the net in the second period. Courtney Cormack found the rebound off a Kori Herner shot on the power-play that hit the post, and she buried the puck behind Jessica Lohues at 5:14 of the middle frame for the 1-0 Saskatchewan lead. The Huskies would double the lead ten minutes later when Cormack forced a turnover in the neutral zone and set up Kaitlin Willoughby at 15:58 for a 2-0 lead.

Lethbridge would capitalize on a Huskies mistake as Tricia Van Vaerenbergh caused a turnover in front of Cassidy Hendricks and Delaney Duchek would snipe a shot past Hendricks at 6:20 to make it a 2-1 game. While it looked like this game might get exciting down the stretch, Emily Upgang would have none of that as she beat Lohues on the backhand at 15:40. That was all that Hendricks needed as the she kept it a 3-1 game through to the final horn. Hendricks stopped 11 shots in the win while Lohues took the loss despite making 25 stops.

LETHBRIDGE at SASKATCHEWAN: In a game that meant nothing to either side, this was almost an entirely one-sided affair. Saskatchewan dominated almost every facet of the game, finishing the day with 42 shots while only giving up 13. Goals by Kaitlin Willoughby at 11:44 of the first period and a power-play goal by Bailee Bourassa at 8:26 of the second period was more than enough for Hendricks to earn the win and share a shutout with Jasey Rae Book.

There was some ugliness at the end of this game as Delaney Duchek was called for a cross-checking major and a game misconduct, but Saskatchewan would come away unscathed with a 2-0 win. Hendricks, as stated, earned the win with three saves in the first period while Alicia Anderson took the loss despite making 40 saves in this game. Book stopped ten shots over the final 40 minutes of play.

REGINA at CALGARY: With you know the results of the aforementioned games, these games became a little less meaningful for Regina. They still had some work to do, however, as Mount Royal could catch and surpass them depending on their results against UBC. Calgary, of course was looking to spoil Regina's weekend. And the Dinos went to work on that idea early! Delaney Freytook a pass from Sasha Vafina on the power-play, and she wired a shot past Morgan Baker at 4:10 for the 1-0 lead. That lead would be doubled seven minutes later when Rylee Smith cashed in a turnover in front of Baker at 11:19!

The Cougars wouldn't take that lead lightly. 40 seconds after the Smith goal, Kylie Kupper walked in all alone on Kelsey Roberts and the Calgary netminder for the 2-1 goal. The Cougars would use the man-advantage to even the score later in the first period. Emma Waldenberger tapped home a loose puck from the crease that just got past Roberts, and we had a 2-2 game entering the intermission.

Heather Berzins would put Calgary back on top as she found the back of the net from the high slot at 2:30 of the second period to put Calgary up 3-2. Three straight penalties from the midpoint of the second period spelled trouble for the Dinos. On the second power-play, Waldenberger scored her second of the game off a great rush by the Cougars as she went high over Roberts to make it 3-3 at 14:14.

Midway through the third period with Bailey Braden in the penalty box, Calgary's Sage Desjardins broke the deadlock. Paige Michalenko teed up a point shot that banked off the end boards. Desjardins teed up a one-timer that a diving Baker couldn't stop, and the Dinos led 4-3 at 11:17! For the remainder of the period, Roberts threw up a wall in the Calgary net as she denied chance after chance for the Cougars. When the dust settled, Calgary had defeated Regina 4-3, ending Regina's chances at moving to fourth-place. Roberts was brilliant in stopping 32 shots for the win while Baker made 19 stops in the loss.

REGINA at CALGARY: Regina still needed points to put pressure on Mount Royal from catching them while the Dinos were looking to really complicate the lives of the Cougars. And like Friday's game, the home squad jumped out to a first-period lead. Delaney Frey was sprung for a breakaway, and she made no mistake going five-hole on Jane Kish at 17:16 for the 1-0 lead.

After a scoreless second period where there were a few good chances, the third period saw the Cougars tie the game. Melissa Zerr took a pass in the slot and went high glove-side on Kelsey Roberts for the 1-1 equalizer at 9:53. That goal seemed to spark the Cougars, but they were turned away repeatedly by Roberts. At the final buzzer, the game remained tied so it was off to extra time!

In the free hockey, Alexis Larson picked up a puck in the corner, walked it out front, and fired a shot on Roberts that was deflected by Jaycee Magwood into the back of the net at 2:35 for the 2-1 Cougars win! With the four points on the weekend, Calgary guaranteed themselves seventh-place as well! Kish stopped 16 shots in the win while Roberts was outstanding once again as she stopped 44 shots.

MOUNT ROYAL at UBC: With Regina faltering on Friday and grabbing just two points on Saturday, Mount Royal had a golden opportunity to break up the battle of Saskatchewan. The only thing that stood in their way was the top-ranked team in the nation in the UBC Thunderbirds. To say that this game might have been a mismatch was quickly put to rest thanks to Mount Royal playing some tenacious defence against the T-Birds. We'd see no goals through 40 minutes of play, and the shot totals were 9-5 in favor of the Thunderbirds. In two periods of play.

There would be a goal in the third period, and it would stand as the only goal of the game. Moments after a Mount royal penalty expired, Logan Boyd grabbed a loose puck at the top of the crease and zipped a shot past Emma Pincott at 13:37 for the 1-0 lead. Despite putting intense pressure on the T-Birds and pulling Pincott with 2:22 remaining, the Cougars couldn't claw their way back into this game as UBC takes it by a 1-0 score. Amelia Boughn was perfect on 13 shots for the shutout while Pincott stopped 13 of 14 shots in the loss.

MOUNT ROYAL at UBC: The Cougars could not catch Regina after losing on Friday night, so the results of this game only mattered to UBC who were looking to set a Canada West record with their 24th win of the season. However, it was a spirited effort in keeping the pride for Mount Royal that ruled the storyline on this night. Shawni Rodebeck's shot from high in the UBC zone found its way through traffic and a screened Amelia Boughn to open the scoring as Mount Royal grabbed a 1-0 lead at 12:32. UBC looked a little sluggish in the period as they only managed five shots in the frame.

The second period was more of what we were expecting when these two teams tangle as scoring chances were seen on both sides. Channia Alexander put the Cougars up 2-0 when she scored a power-play marker late in the period at 18:42, and that would setup an entertaining third period. Would we see another vintage UBC comeback?

That answer took 20 minutes to figure out, and it would be a "no". Despite carrying the offence in the third period, the T-Birds simply could not solve the goaltending of Zoe DeBeauville on this night. At the final horn, the Cougars had taken this game by a 2-0 score and prevented UBC from setting the Canada West record with their 24th win. DeBeauville was solid in making 24 saves for her second shutout of the season while Boughn made 15 saves in the loss.

MANITOBA at ALBERTA: In perhaps the biggest games of the season for these two teams, the Pandas played host to the Manitoba Bisons with second-place in the conference on the line. The Bisons needed four of a possible six points on the weekend to earn second-place while a regulation win would be enough for the Pandas as they held the tie-breaker scenario. Because of this, Friday night's game was critical for both teams. The home side struck early and often in this one. Ashley Morin beat Rachel Dyck just 3:24 into the game to put Alberta up 1-0. Jordyn Zacharias continued her hot play by elevating her rebound attempt off her own wrap-around over Lindsay Post at 11:19 to make it a 1-1 game.

However, Alberta began to capitalize on mistakes. Jaslin Sawatzky picked up a loose puck in front of Dyck after Manitoba was careless in their own zone, and she sniped her first USports goal just 39 seconds after Manitoba had tied the game. Lisa Lloyd picked up her first USports goal later in the period as she deflected an Abby Benning shot past Dyck at 18:04 to put Alberta up 3-1, and the Pandas are dangerous when they have a lead.

Manitoba came out in the second period with guns a-blazing, but it was Lindsey Post who was the story as she stopped all nine shots she faced in the frame. Lisa Lloyd must have enjoyed her goal in the first period, though, because she made it two career goals just 1:32 into the third period when she went five-hole on Dyck to make it 4-1. Megan Neduzak scored a goal from in front of the net as she crept in from the point to beat Post at 10:44, but the Pandas were simply too much for the Bisons on this night. Autumn MacDougall would ice the game with six seconds to play with an empty-netter as the Pandas took Friday's game and second-place in the conference with a 5-2 win. Post stopped 20 shots for the victory while Dyck suffered the loss in making 18 saves.

MANITOBA at ALBERTA: With Alberta having locked down second-place and relegating Manitoba to third-place, Saturday afternoon's game meant little in terms of standings. However, both teams were looking to go into the playoffs on a win, so it mattered psychologically. And the Bisons took that note to heart as they came out flying in the first period. Alanna Sharman had some incredible zip in her step, and she danced around defender Lindsay Weech before undressing Lindsey Post on a forehand-backhand move at 7:02 to put Manitoba up 1-0. Rachel Dyck, to her credit, made a number of key stops to hold the 1-0 lead as the teams entered the intermission.

The second period was more of the same as the two netminders put on a display of goaltending. The Pandas, however, would finally solve Dyck through some crisp passing as Cayle Dillon hit Erica Nelson tape-to-tape, and Nelson fed Amy Boucher with a cross-ice feed as she was in full stride. Boucher broke in on the partial breakaway on Dyck and went high blocker-side at 18:36 to make it a 1-1 game through 40 minutes!

It came down to a period of hockey, and it be Lisa Lloyd who struck for the third time this weekend. Hannah Fouillard made a nice pass across the crease from one knee to Lloyd who found nothing but net to shoot at with Dyck being down and out, and she made it 2-1 at 13:08. From there, the Pandas controlled the puck and kept everything to the outside for Post as she shut down the Bisons the rest of the way in the 2-1 victory. Post made 12 stops in the win while Dyck took her second-straight loss in a 24-save performance.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
67 86 45
62 74 39
56 84 46
vs MRU
44 56 52
vs REG
39 62 65
Mount Royal
36 44 56
18 42 91
14 37 91

The CWUAA women's hockey playoffs start Friday with Mount Royal travelling to Manitoba and Regina heading north up the highway to Saskatoon. The unfortunate thing about Canada West hockey is that there are only two spots at the USports National Championship for Canada West teams, meaning one of the three top-ten teams in this conference will miss the big dance hosted by Queen's University. As it stands, one of Manitoba or Alberta will get to play two ranked teams prior to advancing to the National Championship provided that Manitoba advances past Mount Royal in the opening round.

If you're looking to catch the Manitoba-Mount Royal games, we'll have all the live action on Friday night on the radio at 101.5 FM, on the UMFM website, or via the UMFM app starting at 6:30pm. Saturday will see the broadcast move to UMFM's Second Stream found on the UMFM website where we'll kick things off for Game Two at 6:30pm again. If necessary, we'll be back on the Sunday for Game Three on the Second Stream at 3:30pm. Join us for the action as the Canada West women's hockey playoffs get underway!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Skills Competition Winner

I'll be honest in saying that I don't talk much about Canadian university men's hockey. I had the privilege of doing the broadcasts for the Manitoba Bisons men's hockey team this weekend, and I have to say that things were far different from calling the women's action. There were over 100 minutes in penalties last night, and tonight's game saw some of the bad blood between Alberta and Manitoba carry over. That being said, there's a lot of skilled players in USports Men's Hockey, and one such case came from a city not too far from the Manitoba campus as the Lakehead University Thunderwolves from Thunder Bay, Ontario hit all the highlight reels!

If you've never heard of Lakehead University, you're probably in the majority. I know of it due to a reader who sends me info about the team, but I'll fully admit that I've never really paid much attention to the Thunderwolves simply because they play in a different conference than the Manitoba Bisons. Last night, however, Grant Valiquette put Lakehead on the map with his move against the Western Mustangs in the shootout!
Grant Valiquette's baseball shot might be one of the best shootout goals you'll see all year! Valiquette beat Western's Lucas Peressini for the only goal of the shootout for either squad, and it gave Lakehead an important 6-5 victory. That move is pretty crazy when you consider that Peressini tried to glove it before Valiquette batted it out of the air. Something like that would never even occur to me as an option when it comes to a shootout move. That's creativity at its finest, folks!

Valiquette is no stranger when it comes to Manitoba. He played parts of three seasons in the MJHL with the OCN Blizzard before finishing his MJHL career with the Portage Terriers. All told, he recorded 42 goals and 91 assists with 82 penalty minutes in 164 MJHL regular season games. That's a solid career, and now the freshman is in his first OUA season where he's pursuing an education degree. Thus far, he's recorded five goals and 13 assists - including a goal in the first period and an assist in the third period in win over Western - to go along with eight penalty minutes in 31 games for the Thunderwolves thus far.

While there aren't always highlight-reel goals like this in university hockey, there's a lot of great hockey you may be missing. Lakehead plays against Western again tonight with a chance to catch Windsor and Waterloo to setup a tie-breaking scenario among the three teams. Perhaps Valiquette will play the hero again!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 10 February 2017

A Detroit Icon Gone

When it comes to owning a professional sports franchise, I know very little. I do that these men require passion, commitment, and dedication to their teams and cities in which their teams play, and they often are required to make tough decisions when things don't go as planned when it comes to front office changes. Mike Ilitch was one of these exceptional owners, but he rarely had to make a front office decision thanks to how the Detroit Red Wings are run. Today, someone else will be making the executive decisions going forward as it was announced that the long-time Little Caesars Pizza chain, Red Wings, and Tigers owner passed away at the age of 87.

I will fully admit that this shocked me as I wasn't even aware the billionaire was ill. He was always present and accounted for at both Red Wings and Tigers games, and he was one of the men who was leading the downtown restoration of the city of Detroit. Born on July 20, 1929 as the son of Macedonian immigrants, he played baseball at a Detroit high school and was good enough to be drafted by his hometown Tigers. After serving four years in the Marines, a knee injury ended his baseball career in the minor leagues. And that's when Mike Ilitch became a businessman.

At the age of 30, he founded Little Caesars Pizza Treat in 1959 with his wife Marian in Garden City, Michigan. His empire grew over the years to the point where he was listed in Forbes for being one of America's richest men. It was his move into sports ownership, however, that saw him revitalize the Detroit sports scene.

In 1982, Ilitch bought the Detroit Red Wings for $8 million from Bruce Norris. There were certainly some lean years early on, but Ilitch continued to spend money on improving both the team and Joe Louis Arena. His investment saw the likes of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, and many other NHL legends drafted and developed in the Red Wings' system. Ilitch saw his Red Wings win Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008, and he was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003 as a member of the builders' category.

"With the passing of Mike Ilitch, the Red Wings have lost the consummate owner, the National Hockey League has lost a cherished friend and passionate builder, Detroit sports has lost a legend and the city of Detroit has lost not only a devoted native son but a visionary and driving force in the rebirth of downtown," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"Mike's commitment to excellence and to winning were unparalleled and his commitment to the community was unrivaled - as was his boundless support of youth hockey. He was a prolific philanthropist, and, above all, a devoted partner and husband to his wife of 62 years, Marian. At this moment of heartbreaking sorrow, we send deepest condolences to the entire Ilitch family and to all who were privileged to know him, play for him or work for him."

The man known to most simply as "Mr. I" was truly an icon in Detroit, and his work will not soon be forgotten. He realized that he had to spend money on his facilities and franchises to make them successful, but he also hired smart people to run the day-to-day business sides of those franchises. Whether it was one of his seven children or Ken Holland or Dave Dombrowski, Ilitch put his businesses in excellent hands, and they became pinnacle franchises in their respected industries.

It's hard to measure just how big the void will be in Detroit without Mike Ilitch's presence. What I do know is that the world and the game of hockey lost a man whose dedication, passion, and commitment to his teams, his business, and his city may be unparalleled. Rest in peace, Mr. Ilitch. Your legacy will live on for many generations.

Until next time, raise your sticks high in honour of Mr. Ilitch!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 229

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is often proud, honoured, humbled, and privileged to welcome excellent guests, but that won't happen tonight. We were working with a couple of people to try to secure what would have been one of our best guests to date in the five seasons we've been on the air, but it turns out that he's actually playing hockey during our show's timeslot. With that minor scheduling mishap, we return to our regularly-scheduled program on The Hockey Show!

We'll have a ton to talk about tonight with Claude Julien hitting the open market when it comes to coaching vacancies. Is it time for the Jets to move on from Maurice with all the excellent candidates available? We'll also toss around Maurice essentially making Hellebuyck compete for the starter's spot with Pavelec again, the Universiade results for Canada, gear up for a big weekend for Bisons women's hockey and what they need to do to lock down second-place in Canada West, and promo the hell out of our road trip next week to Kenora and Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada!

If you're gonna be out and about tonight, but still want to hear the show, you really should download the UMFM app. Like now. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows, so get to it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today!

If you're all over social media, we try to be as well! Email all show questions and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, we talk coaching changes, goaltending changes, a changing of the hockey guards, changing the standings, and changing broadcast locations on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: February 9, 2017: Episode 229

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Buy Beer, Get Hockey

As you're probably aware, I have a bit of thing for this game of hockey. I like good stories, I enjoy watching the game, and I really should get to more live games than I currently attend. I'm also a bit of a techie in that I work in the field for my job as well as keep a close eye on the happenings around the tech world so that I may be informed if anyone has questions. Being that I like hockey, I am aware of what the adult beverage of choice is at most games, so seeing today's announcement from Sportsnet and Molson Canadian was rather exciting for a hockey fan like myself!

I have yet to see one of these new cases of Molson Canadian, but according to the release today there are "special virtual reality viewfinders" inside "select cases of Molson Canadian across Canada". There viewfinders will allow fans to watch NHL hockey broadcasts via Sportsnet in virtual reality from their own homes using 360 VR (Virtual Reality) on and the Sportsnet app! In other words, it will be like you're at the game without ever leaving the comfort of your own home!

Ok, maybe I'm a little too excited for this development. I've seen some virtual reality ideas already that have been incredibly cool, but seeing live broadcasts of hockey in virtual reality is a whole new dimension of viewing live hockey. According to today's statement,
For six consecutive Saturday night hockey broadcasts, fans will be able to watch the games live in 360 VR on and the Sportsnet app by using special virtual reality viewfinders. These viewfinders are currently available exclusively in select cases of Molson Canadian across Canada. Three different 360 VR cameras will be used during the games, allowing viewers to experience the live action on the ice and take in the arena's lively atmosphere. Adding to the immersive experience, fans can also watch behind-the-scenes footage from select NHL® teams and on-demand highlight videos – all in 360 VR.
Ok, colour me anxious to try this service out. I'll be scouring the aisles at my local adult beverage store the next time I'm there for one of these virtual reality viewfinders so that I can get a better sense of whether or not you should spend some money on Molson Canadian product. Any product endorsement on this blog is only done with some vigorous testing of said product!

As per the statement, the following games will be available via the virtual reality offering:
  • Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks on February 18
  • Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs on February 25
  • Detroit Red Wings @ Edmonton Oilers on March 4
  • Calgary Flames @ Winnipeg Jets on March 11
  • Chicago Blackhawks @ Toronto Maple Leafs on March 18
  • Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens on March 25
Let me make something very clear: I do not work for Molson Canadian so I cannot tell you how to get a viewfinder without actually going down to your local adult beverage store and finding a specially-marked case while supplies last! The limited-edition viewfinders come with a PIN code which is used for accessing the content via Sportsnet. If you have any further questions on this, please follow this link for more information that will hopefully answer your questions!

If I happen to get my hands on one of these VR viewfinders, expect a full review. If you get one, send it through and I'll feature it here. I'd love to see if this virtual reality idea is really the next big thing in sports broadcasting.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A Lotta Options

If there was ever a time that an NHL team wanted to make a coaching change, now might be the best time. The announcement that the Boston Bruins relieved head coach Claude Julien from his position today only makes the available coaches on the market that much deeper. Gerard Gallant and Ken Hitchcock are already out there, so adding Julien to those names makes for an impressive list of unemployed, high-level coaches. You have to wonder if a number of NHL teams aren't biding their times to figure out when to make a move when it comes to the talent not on a bench right now.

Julien was Boston's all-time leader with 419 career victories, amassing a 419-246-94 record in 759 games with the club. In seven of nine seasons behind the bench, Julien guided the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a Stanley Cup parade being organized in 2011 after the Bruins downed the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final. His 57 postseason wins was also a club record with the Bruins, captured a Jack Adams Award in 2008-09, and led the Bruins to the Presidents' Trophy in 2014. If there is any "blemish" on his record, it's a loss in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Needless to say, Boston has never had a better man behind the Bruins' bench in their illustrious history.

And now he's gone.

The term "philosophical differences" came out as one of the reasons for Julien's dismissal today, but his record alone speaks for itself. I'm not sure what philosophy the Bruins want to take under Don Sweeney and Cam Neely, but it's hard to argue with the success Julien had while behind the Bruins' bench.

"In moving this group forward, with an eye towards the plan we had put in place, I wasn't ready to commit on a longer-term basis with Claude," Sweeney told reporters at a news conference. "I thought there was a frustration with wins and losses, and what he was subjected to, on a nightly basis.

"I couldn't get past the fact that I wasn't committed, in my own mind, to go beyond where are right now with Claude. With our organization, I don't know if those two things lined up, as far as the level of success he's had with the way we were playing. The roster wasn't a complete and finished product."

So if I read that statement correctly, Don Sweeney delivered a team to Julien that "wasn't a complete and finished product" that led to Julien having frustrations when it came to the Bruins' record this season, so the right move was to replace the coach who got more out of a number of pieces than most coaches would.

If you're the Vegas Golden Knights, you're literally sitting on a wealth of coaching talent if any of them want the job. If you're an NHL GM who is thinking about making changes, now might be the time. Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock might have said it best today when he told reporters, "I mean, you ain't getting better. When you make these decisions, you better have a guy in mind that's better than that guy. Not many, I can tell you that."

Boston moves forward with Bruce Cassidy who isn't a slouch by any means. He'll help this Bruins team, but I'm not sure he has the chops like Julien did when it came to dealing with some of the personalities in the room and in the media. The shoes he's filling can't be filled very easily, so the best thing for Cassidy to do is to approach this like Julien had never been there. The players and media won't forget Julien, but Cassidy needs to start making this team his own as soon as he can.

If Boston misses the playoff this season, Sweeney and Neely can say that firing Julien was justified based on results. If they make the playoffs, they can spin the firing into getting a new voice in the room in Cassidy and how important that was for the organization. Regardless of where the Bruins finish, there's a good chance they aren't making a deep run in the playoffs unless something dramatic changes on the ice where the Bruins look like a middling team.

The reason they're a middling team isn't Claude Julien's fault. It falls on the shoulders of GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely who decided to move in a different direction when the Bruins discarded Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, and Reilly Smith for draft picks or allowed them to walk in free agency. They lost organizational depth in making deals for the 13th-, 14th-, and 15th-overall picks to draft Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zachary Senyshyn at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. While the jury is still out on all three players, the loss of NHL depth seriously hurt the Bruins. The guys Sweeney brought in to replace that depth - David Backes, Matt Beleskey, and Jimmy Hayes - have woefully underperformed compared to the players that left. Put it all together, and you get a team that may miss the playoffs this season.

Perhaps fielding a team that "wasn't a complete and finished product" is the main problem, but Sweeney handed this Bruins team over to Julien and expected to see the playoffs once again. While those expectations probably were lofty based on the roster, dismissing the man who has brought the most success for the franchise since Pat Burns stood behind the bench seems dumb.

"Sometimes, to be honest with you, it's time to move on," Babcock told reporters. "Julie was a helluva coach, though."

He'll be back if and when he wants it. At least 20 of the 31 NHL teams should have a vested interest in Claude Julien's services when it comes to coaching an NHL team. He's too damn good at what he does to be unemployed for any period of time.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Beyond Proud

If you were up early enough today, the bronze- and gold-medal games at the 2017 Winter Universiade Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan were happening in women's hockey. In the bronze-medal match, USA met up with China and I fully admit I was not up early enough to catch this game. I won't keep you in suspense over those results as the Americans will return home with bronze medals after downing China by a 3-0 score. Well done, Americans! What I was interested in, however, was the gold-medal game which featured a rematch from two years ago when Russia beat Canada for the gold medal in 2015.

Instead of me explaining and recapping the goals, though, I'm taking the easy way out and posting the video highlights of the goals in the game. Yes, it's lazy, but I'm tired from being up to watch the game live from Kazakhstan.
Ok, there were a couple of goals that Guelph's Valerie Lamenta probably wanted a mulligan on, but the real story of this game was Canada's inability to generate any offence on SIX (6!) five-on-three power-play opportunities. Far too often, the Canadians either couldn't break into the Russian zone or they made questionable passes that didn't need to be made. No one was out there scoring points on style, so put the puck on net, crash the net, and chip in a rebound or two.

Canada would try to carry the puck into the Russian zone and the Russians would turn them away time and again. With the Russians lining up on their blue line, Canada needed to attack with speed, chipping the puck deep into the Russian zone and winning the race to recover the loose puck. This rarely happened, and the Russians continued to watch the Canadians return to their own zone to pick up the puck that had been cleared. It was frustrating to watch since it appeared no adjustments were being made on the Canadian bench.

But that's not why I'm here today. Yes, losing is never fun, but a silver medal is still a heckuvan achievement for women who have hardly played together. Most times, these women are doing their best to ruin each other's dreams, so getting them on the same page in a short amount of time is nothing short of a miracle. That being said, there are two women in particular of whom Winnipeggers - and, to a degree, Reginians? Regina-ites? Regina citizens - should be proud!

We'll start with this gal who calls Regina home, but has found a following in Winnipeg thanks to her style of play, her ability to be a game-changer, and her always-smiling face. Erica Rieder is one of the key cogs for head coach Jon Rempel's Manitoba Bisons team, and getting her back on the ice this upcoming weekend against Alberta is exactly what the Bisons need in terms of adding offence from the blue line. In 77 games with the Bisons, the third-year rearguard has 15 goals and 22 assists while being a +28. She's already posted a career-best for goals, assists, and points this season, and she still has games to go. Rieder loves to push the puck and can often be seen leading a rush as much as she's first person back in the defensive zone when the play comes back down the ice.

Seeing her named to the Canadian Universiade this season shouldn't come as a surprise as she's often mentioned among the elite rearguards in Canada West. She's excellent with stick checks, and players rarely skate around or past Rieder with the puck. She scored a goal in the semi-final against the Americans and added a helper earlier in the tournament, but she was a +9 through the tournament in helping Canada to a silver medal. That's the kind of effort that fans of the Bisons have come to expect from Rieder!

The other woman that Winnipeggers should be proud of based on her performance is Alanna Sharman. The third-year forward for the Bisons arrived on the CIS scene with a bang as she racked up 17 goals and 40 points in her rookie season in 2014-15, winning CIS Rookie of the Year honours for her efforts. Since then, Sharman has rounded out her game in becoming more responsible defensively, but she still has an ear-to-ear smile after scoring and setting up goals. She's better than a point-per-game player in her career, scoring 35 goals and 79 points in 73 career games thus far, and she's one of Jon Rempel's go-to players when he needs some offence.

What makes Alanna special is her vision on the ice. She has great instincts when it comes to the offensive side of the game, and often reads plays in the defensive zone to create turnovers and race down the ice. She often is looking for a gap to open that she can jump into for a scoring chance or she's reading the play in order to thread the needle to one of her linemates for an easy tap-in goal. This was evident in Almaty where she scored one goal and added seven assists in five games while posting a +7. Alanna's evolution has made her one of the best players in Canadian university hockey, and the Bisons will welcome her back for their series against Alberta!

These women, along with 20 other women, busted their behinds to earn a silver medal against some of the best players on the planet between the ages of 18 and 28. These are the best and brightest hockey stars that our country's institutions of higher learning have to offer, and they're playing in front of crowds of 200. Sometimes more. Often, they play in front of less. It's hard to understand why when there are outstanding efforts from players like Sharman and Rieder every weekend, not to mention all of the other talented women across the great hockey nation.

I'm damned proud of our Canadian Universiade athletes, and especially of this women's hockey team for coming home with hardware. It's a great honour to represent one's country, and it's outstanding that these women maintain solid GPAs while playing hockey at an extremely high level. The vast majority of us who attend games have never had to manage their student lives and/or hockey careers quite like these women do, and it's something that needs to be highlighted in how well they do to represent the student portion of "student-athlete".

If you cheer on Team Canada's national women's team, you're cheering on a number of women who have done what Sharman and Rieder are doing in their careers. For this reason alone, you should be down at your local university rink to see these women play. If you need other reasons, I post a weekly Canada West recap that highlights the amazing things the eight teams of women are doing week-in and week-out. You should be witnessing those things in-person. If you cheer on Team Canada at their international events, players like Charline Labonté, Hayley Wickenheiser, Shannon Szabados, Iya Gavrilova, and Venla Hovi all have suited up or are currently members of Canadian university teams and all have played in the Olympics.

Stop making excuses and go see these women play. I'm proud of what Alanna Sharman and Erica Rieder did in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and I'm looking forward to seeing them get back to Canada West action this weekend and as the fourth-ranked Manitoba Bisons move into the playoffs. While losing sucks, especially in a gold-meal game, these two ladies left it all on the ice in Kazakhstan, and that's exactly what they do each and every night as members of the Manitoba Bisons.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Rundown - Week 16

With a number of teams still missing stars due to the Universiade Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan, there were opportunities for teams to move up the standings based on results. As you're very aware, nothing comes easy in Canada West women's hockey when it comes to gaining ground, so we'll have to see how the teams fared. The battle for second-place in the conference was up for grabs, there's a three-way race for fourth-place, and one team was looking to wrap up home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs!

CALGARY at MOUNT ROYAL: The kickoff game to the second installment of the Crowchild Classic went on Thursday night as the Dinos and Cougars met at the Scotiabank Saddledome! Mount Royal needed points to creep up on Regina and Saskatchewan while Calgary was looking to play spoiler against their cross-town rivals! It was the home side, however, who got the party started! Nicolette Seper got a stick on a Gabrielle Seper shot at 6:20, and her deflection went over the shoulder of Kelsey Roberts while on the power-play to put Mount Royal up 1-0! A second power-play goal in the first period doubled the Cougars' lead when Shawni Rodeback dented twine off a feed from Kate Hufnagel at 18:13, and the Cougars carried the two-goal lead into the intermission!

The second period saw the two teams trade chances, but neither would find the net. In the third period, Cheyann Newman cut the deficit to one goal when she beat Emma Pincott just 30 seconds in, and we had a brand-new game on our hands at 2-1! Minutes later, the Cougars restored the two-goal lead when Rachel Piitz converted a wraparound past Roberts at 3:18. Emma Pincott was the story of the night, though, as she shut the door on the rest of the Dinos' chances in helping her team to the second Cougars victory on Saddledome ice in five years as Mount Royal took this one 3-1! Pincott made 14 saves in the victory while Roberts stopped 25 shots in the loss.

MOUNT ROYAL at CALGARY: The home-and-home of sorts returned to Calgary's Father David Bauer Arena on Friday. The ice conditions weren't as great as we're used to seeing in the Dinos' den, but they made the most of it on this night. After a scoreless first period, Rachel Paul was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped on a breakaway. After conferring with head coach Danielle Goyette, Paul picked up the puck, broke in on Zoe DeBeauville, and faked a backhand before going upstairs on the forehand past DeBeauville for the 1-0 lead with 46 seconds to play in the middle frame!

The third period saw Paul strike again as she cut through the slot and deflected a Delaney Frey shot past DeBeauville at 11:27 to put Calgary up 2-0! Full credit goes to Kelsey Roberts who had an outstanding game as she kept the Mount Royal shooters at bay all night. Not one puck got past her in the 2-0 Dinos win! Roberts made 21 saves for the shutout victory while DeBeauville stopped 22 shots in the loss.

ALBERTA at LETHBRIDGE: The other "spoiler" team is the Lethbridge Pronghorns, and they were looking to derail the Alberta Pandas in their quest for second-place in the conference. Lindsey Weech, however, would have none of that as she crept in from the point and found the loose puck off a Lisa Lloyd rebound where she flipped it up and over Alicia Anderson at 11:41 for the 1-0 Pandas lead. Lethbridge wasn't about to let that slide. The Pronghorns pushed back through the remainder of the period, and it would be Mattie Apperson who whacked home an Aislinn Kooistra rebound past Lindsey Post with 33 seconds to play, and these two teams would enter the intermission tied at 1-1.

The two teams traded chances early on in the second period, but we'd see a lead grabbed in the late stages. Deanna Morin's pass went off a Mount Royal defender's skate and directly onto the tape of Morgan Burr who had nothing but cage at which to shoot. Burr dented twine for her first USports goal, and the Pandas led 2-1 at 14:50. Morgan Burr suddenly liked this goal-scoring idea, so she went off and did it again! At 6:14 of the third period, Burr converted a Jessie Olfert pass to beat Anderson again, and the Pandas went up 3-1. With Anderson on the bench with over two minutes to play, Ashley Morin hit the empty net to make it 4-1. Sarah Spence would make it a little more respectable with a power-play goal with 16 seconds to play for the Pronghorns, but the Pandas would win this game 4-1 in the end. Post was good on 23 shots for the win while Anderson turned away 29 shots in the loss.

ALBERTA at LETHBRIDGE: There's no denying that Alberta is one of the better teams this season across this nation, but Lethbridge got a dose of reality on Saturday when it came to just how good the Pandas are with their special teams and possession play. Despite the Pandas dominating almost every statistical category in the first period, it would be Lethbridge who jumped out in front when Sarah Spence banked a shot into the net off Pandas netminder Dayna Owen at 13:23 for the opening goal. That score would hold through the intermission.

34 seconds into the second period, Sasha Lutz was sent in on the breakaway on Anderson while shorthanded, and the speedy forward made no mistake going five-hole on the netminder to make it 1-1 - special teams goal #1. Lethbridge would use a power-play to regain the lead when Mackenzie Gal banged home a rebound off a Brett Campbell shot, and the Pronghorns were ahead once more at 3:06. And then they ran into penalty trouble. With a pair of Pronghorns watching from the sin bin, Ashley Morin went five-hole off a rebound on Anderson at 4:30 to make it a 2-2 game. Eight seconds later with the Pandas still on the power-play, Regan Wright put a rebound into the back of the net through the five-hole for a 3-2 Pandas lead as they scored special teams goals #2 and #3! Late in the period, the Pandas were on the power-play once again, and Wright scored her second of the game as she fired a Sasha Lutz rebound high over a sprawled Anderson for the 4-2 Pands lead at 19:07 - special teams goal #4!

The two teams went into the third period looking to add to their goal totals, but Owen and Anderson were equal to the task. Late in the game, Lethbridge pulled Anderson for the extra attacker, and the move worked to their advantage as Delaney Duchek deflected a Mackenzie Gal shot past Owen at 18:46 to make it 4-3 for the Pandas. Owen, however, would allow nothing further as the Pandas used an exceptional night with the special teams to capture the 4-3 victory. Owen stopped ten shots for the victory while Anderson made 21 saves in the loss.

SASKATCHEWAN at MANITOBA: We know that Alberta grabbed six points, so Manitoba had to match if they wanted to hold onto second-place for this week. Saskatchewan was looking to end a losing streak while jumping further ahead of Regina and Mount Royal. The problem? Only one team showed up on Friday night for this game. Jordyn Zacharias continued her torrid pace since moving to the top line in the absence of Alanna Sharman, and she potted a Lauryn Keen feed past Cassidy Hendricks at 3:29. The Bisons controlled most of the period, and continued the same pressure into the second period where Keen found a pinching Megan Neduzak who went high glove-side on Hendricks at the 49-second mark to make it 2-0. Zacharias would hit the scoresheet again when she took a dro-pass from Venla Hovi, made a move around a defender, and tucked home the puck past a stretching Hendricks for a 3-0 lead at 10:35.

Both teams had chances with Saskatchewan hitting a couple of posts on the night, but the third period ticked away until time expired. Saskatchewan couldn't solve Rachel Dyck in finding twine as the netminder pitched her fifth shutout of the season in the 3-0 victory. Dyck made 24 saves for the clean sheet while Hendricks stopped 28 shots in a losing effort.

SASKATCHEWAN at MANITOBA: As in any case, it was expected that Saskatchewan would come out much better on Saturday and we saw that in the first period. The only problem was Rachel Dyck. Despite Saskatchewan playing well, they still couldn't solve the Manitoba netminder. On the other side, Manitoba used a power-play to grab the lead. With Caitlyn Fyten and Karissa Kirkup playing catch on the right side on the power-play, Kirkup spotted Sheridan Oswald sneaking in from the half-boards and hit her with a perfect cross-ice pass that Oswald made no mistake with as she buried the puck at 4:27 for the 1-0 lead. Jordyn Zacharias was in on the action as well as she converted another Lauryn Keen pass into a goal with her shot at 19:06 for the 2-0 Bisons lead.

Early in the second period, the persistent Huskies found pay dirt as Kori Herner broke away from the pack to earn a breakaway on Rachel Dyck, and she made no mistake in going bar-down on the glove-side for the Huskies goal at 2:50 of the second period to make it a 2-1 game. While there weren't any additional goals, there was a historic moment at the 18-minute mark of the second period. Cassidy Hendricks, the goaltender for the Saskatchewan Huskies, set the all-time Canada West record for minutes played in a career. That, folks, is downright impressive, and I want to congratulate Cassidy on an outstanding career!

Unfortunately for Saskatchewan, the Bisons would strike again in the third period. Lauryn Keen drove the puck to the net, got knocked down, and still had the ability to stickhandle the puck in front of the crease until she found an opening through the five-hole past Hendricks for the 3-1 lead at 4:36! Rachel Dyck shut the door the rest of the way despite the Huskies pulling Hendricks for a 6-on-5 opportunity, but it would result in zero gain as Manitoba wins 3-1. Dyck stopped 24 shots in the victory while Hendricks made 25 saves on her record-setting night.

UBC at REGINA: With Saskatchewan losing and Mount Royal gaining points, Regina had an opportunity to jump into fourth-place with at least two points against the Thunderbirds. UBC needed points to secure first-place and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs with Manitoba and Alberta winning, so this series was important to both teams! It was the Cougars who roared out in front in this one. UBC got into penalty trouble, and the Cougars went to work. First, Emma Waldenberger tapped home a Lilla Carpenter-Boesch shot that Amelia Boughn couldn't corral at 15:32 on the man-advantage, and then Melissa Zerr put home a Krista Metz rebound on the power-play at 16:33 as well as the Cougars took a 2-0 lead into the intermission.

The Thunderbirds would get one back on a power-play of their own in the second period. Stephanie Schaupmeyer's blast beat Jane Kishat 4:35 to make it 2-1. Both teams would rally back and forth, but the netminders preserved that 2-1 score through the remainder of the period despite the opportunities.

It was in the third period that the number-one team in the nation came to life, and they did it in spectacular fashion. The first fifteen minutes of the period saw both teams turned aside by the goaltenders. However, the T-Birds caught fire in the last five minutes. Cassandra Vilgrain beat Jane Kish with her shot at 15:33 to make 2-2. Sam Geekie would restore the Regina lead on a breakaway after she beat Boughn on a breakaway at 18:27. But with Bailey Braden in the penalty box with a double-minor, the T-Birds would tie the game with Boughn on the bench. Mathea Fischer made a great pass out front to Logan Boyd, and she ripped a shot past Kish for the 3-3 goal at 19:18!

It looked like we'd be heading to overtime, but UBC wanted none of that. Cassandra Vilgrain threw a pass out in front late in the game as players drove the net, and the puck deflected off a Cougars player's skate and past Jane Kish at 19:50 for the improbable 4-3 win as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat! Amelia Boughn picked up the win while making 22 saves. Jane Kish was on the losing end in a 14-save effort.

UBC at REGINA: After Friday night's crazy game, things were a little more normal on Saturday. Cassandra Vilgrain opened the scoring on the power-play at 3:07 when she potted an Alexa Ranahan rebound past Jane Kish for the early 1-0 lead. The ice was definitely slanted in UBC's favor as they entered the intermission with the 1-0 lead and a 10-1 lead in shots!

Emma Waldenberger tied the game at 3:43 into the second period. Waldenberger took a pass from Kaitlyn Crowe, deked inside on a defender to find some open space, and went top-shelf on Tori Micklash to even the game at 1-1. The ice was sloped towards the UBC end in this period as Regina scored the only goal, but outshot the T-Birds by a 15-7 margin.

Both teams opened the third period with chances, but it would be another goal with five minutes to play that sealed the deal. On a power-play, UBC's Stephanie Schaupmeyer deflected an Alexa Ranahan shot off the post and in past Jane Kish with 5:07 to play for the 2-1 lead. Regina did everything they could to try and get that one back, including pulling Kish for the extra attacker, but Haneet Parhar would score into the open net with a second remaining for UBC's 3-1 win. Micklash was solid in making 20 saves in the win while Kish suffered the loss in a 23-save effort.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
64 85 43
vs MRU
56 81 39
56 67 36
vs MAN
38 51 51
vs LET
37 57 60
Mount Royal
33 42 55
14 37 86
vs REG
14 36 86

Ok, so there's bookkeeping to do here. UBC, in gaining all six points this weekend, have earned enough points to guarantee themselves first-place in Canada West. That also means they get home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

Manitoba will travel to Alberta to determine second-place in Canada West. Obviously, both teams are looking to win the majority of the six points available, but they could split which would see tie-breaker rules com into effect. Here's how the tie-breaker rules work.
Since the both Manitoba and Alberta have the same number of wins and losses based on how overtime wins and losses are viewed the same as regulation wins and losses, we'd jump to rule #1 where Alberta holds the tie-breaker. Alberta went into Manitoba and beat them twice on November 18 and 19 for six points. So the only way that Manitoba can finish ahead of Alberta is by winning the weekend series this upcoming weekend. If they split and remain tied, Alberta officially becomes the second seed in Canada West.

Saskatchewan and Regina will battle for home-ice advantage in the battle of Saskatchewan. Regina has to win against Calgary and needs Lethbridge to slow Saskatchewan down in order to have a shot at fourth-place and home-ice advantage. Lethbridge and Calgary legitimately have shots at playing spoilers this weekend for one of these teams depending on wins and losses.

Mount Royal has a stiff test against UBC, but they have an outside shot at catching both Regina and Saskatchewan depending on those tow teams' results. No one ever said it would be easy for the Cougars, but a win over UBC would be a huge momentum boost potentially going into the playoffs against either Alberta or Manitoba.

That, friends, is how Canada West will be won.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!