Friday, 19 January 2018

A Friday Laugh

Intermissions and commercial breaks at hockey games provide all sorts of opportunities for hockey franchises to really push local promotions. The USHL's Green Bay Gamblers have never failed to drop some advertising on their fans as a way to pay their bills, and they have a unique little race that features three randomly-chosen fans dressed as beer cans. If there's one thing I know about wearing top-heavy costumes, getting up from a fall is certainly no easy task.

While no one is going to complain about Budwesier, Busch Light, and Natty Light's efforts in this race, Bud Light might have a little explaining to do after ending up looking like an overturned turtle on the ice.
Tripping over one's feet in a race is never good, but when one is wearing a fairly rotund beer can? Devastating. There are no medals for effort in this race, Bud Light. How the once-mighty have fallen!

All jokes aside, the Gamblers have had other beer races hit social media for some epic wipe-outs and miraculous recoveries. Case in point? Check out Busch Light bailing at the start of this race only to find a second wind from January 2016!
Not bad at all, Busch Light. Excellent job at roaring back in this race!

If there's one thing you can say for both Bud Light and Busch Light aftr watching these two clips, it's that both brands of beer seem to go down easy! And with that, I'll show myself out.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 278

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with a special guest! We normally like to have guests booked early on our show, but this one required a little scheduling before we could confirm her attendance. She has been recognized on ESPN as the Greatest Hockey Player in the World This Week, and she overcame some incredible odds to do some incredible things! We'll feature this young dynamo on the show tonight as Beans and I go over a pile of happenings in the hockey world from this past week. There's also a major anniversary today in the NHL. so we'll talk to our guest, talk some news, and highlight this anniversary tonight on The Hockey Show on 101.5 UMFM!

That young sniper is Riley Scorgie. You may have heard of her thanks to her story in the Edmonton Journal or maybe because I nominated her to be the Best Player in the World of the Week for this week. You may recognize her last name as we had her father, Adam Scorgie, on with us to speak about his film, Ice Guardians, back in March. Well, it turns out that Riley has an incredible story to tell after she scored her 50th goal in just her 19th game of the season during the first game of Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week! Why is that important? Because Scorgie was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome last October, a syndrome that affects the hands, arms, legs, and feet after the immune system attacks the body's nerves in those areas. This is the same issue that is currently affecting Anaheim's Patrick Eaves and keeping him out of hockey. Riley overcame the disease and has become one of the best scorers that Edmonton has seen since the lofty days of Wayne Gretzky! We'll talk to Riley and her mother, Lauren, tonight about winning the fight against a disease that threatened her hockey career as well as getting to know Riley! Depending on time, Beans and I will discuss some other news, but we're focused on a special girl tonight as The Hockey Show welcome Riley Scorgie to the program!

So how do I hear Riley's interview, you ask? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, 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, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! 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, Teebz and Beans talk to Riley Scorgie and find out what she went through to get back to playing the sport she loves on The Hockey Show found only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: January 18, 2018: Episode 278

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

A Capital N And O

If you've been following Hockey Blog In Canada for a while, you know that I hold the logo on the jersey to be sacrosanct. It is the brand of the franchise, it is the mark of professionalism, and it is what people instantly identify when it comes to one's team. In short, it's the team's identity. You simply don't mess with a team's logo for any reason when you're talking about an identity. It was the driving factor in the New York Islanders scrapping the Fisherman logo and reverting back to their classic logo in the mid-1990s. It's one of the reasons why the Pittsburgh Penguins scrapped the Robot Pigeon for the Skating Penguin. And it's part of the reason why both the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning saw their alternate jerseys lag in sales compared to other teams. It's simple: don't mess with a logo that is instantly recognizable and a part of a team's success.

When the Washington Capitals were announced as one of the Stadium Series teams this season, I wasn't overly excited. Their last attempt at the 2015 Winter Classic left something to be desired, and the NHL as a whole has seen the design of the jerseys for their outdoor games get worse as the years roll on. Sure, there have been a few solid designs like what Toronto wore at the Centennial Classic in 2017, but the vast majority of the jerseys seen on players at the outdoor games have been mostly forgettable.

Ladies and gentlemen, let the tradition continue.
This is ridiculous. Who in their right mind designs something like this, steps back, and says to one's self, "That's an NHL uniform right there"? This uniform has "burning tire fire" written all over it, and the NHL is going to make the Capitals wear these monstrosities in Annapolis on March 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. What a joke.

For the love of all things good and sensible in this world, the team's name is not "Caps". As a nickname and when used colloquially, the term "Caps" works. On internet hockey forums, "Caps" is acceptable. "Caps", however, is not the team's name. It never has been, and it never was. They're the Washington Capitals. This idea is as dumb as it was when Ottawa wore "Sens" and Tampa Bay wore "Bolts". That's not your identity. It's a nickname. It's not how the team and franchise is identified. This is utter crap, and shame on anyone who thinks it's even on the same planet as "acceptable".

Can someone explain the foot-tall hem stripe to me? Can someone explain the six-inch arm bands? Is it the NHL's intention to dress their teams in what appears to be pajamas?

Honestly, these are officially the worst jerseys in the history of NHL hockey of all-time. Without doubt. The fact that the Capitals will only wear these uniforms once this season - for now, at least - is the only redeeming quality I can find. There is nothing from which one can derive pride regarding these jerseys, and I'd probably revoke my fan status if I were a Capitals fan after seeing this jersey. I kid you not. Zero hyperbole. I hate these jerseys THAT much. Collect them all, douse them in gasoline, burn them, and then douse the ashes and burn them again. Have I made it clear how awful I think these jerseys are yet?

You're welcome to leave comments, but it's not going to change my opinion. WORST. JERSEYS. EVER.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

How Swede It Is

Just as I stated yesterday, nations are beginning to get themselves set for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, and Sweden followed the Czech Republic's lead in naming their men's Olympic hockey team today. With a vast number of talented players currently under NHL contracts, there would be no Zetterbergs, Sedins, Hedmans, or Karlssons going to South Korea. There will be, however, a Lundqvist that goes to South Korea, but it will be his first Olympiad despite being a long-time national player. Who will wear the Tre Kronor? Let's take a look.

Sweden's men's Olympic team will be assembled from the following players.
Just like the Czech sqaud, there are some notable names from their times in the NHL. Linus Omark, Anton Lander, Viktor Stalberg, Joakim Lindstrom, Staffan Kronwall, Erik Gustafsson, Jhonas Enroth, and Viktor Fasth should all be fairly recognizable names after spending time with NHL clubs. Having two former NHL netminders will certainly play into Sweden's favour, and both men are having solid seasons with their KHL clubs statistically.

The second wave of players will need to provide some extra scoring punch, and I think they'll be alright. Carl Klingberg played in the Winnipeg Jets' system for a while, Oscar Moller was in the Kings' system for a few seasons, Dennis Everberg served under the Avalanche's watch for a couple of seasons, and Jonas Ahnelov played for Arizona's affiliate in the AHL. They weren't flashy or prolific scorers at those levels, but Klingberg and Moller showed a knack for the net at times. They could be important scorers down the stretch for Sweden at this tournament.

Let's take nothing away from Joel Lundqvist either. The twin brother of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Joel will be the graybeard for the Swedes at age 35, but he brings a ton of international hockey experience, spent three seasons with the Dallas Stars, and has been a solid producer for Frolunda since returning to Sweden. He will captain this Swedish squad, and he's looking for his first Olympic medal to place alongside his three gold medals and two bronze medals from the IIHF World Championships and the bronze medal he earned at the 2000 IIHF World Junior Championship. If there's one guy who will be motivated to win, I'd suspect that Joel Lundqvist would be that player.

The Swedes have solid goaltending and good scoring, but they'll need a solid tournament out of their defensive unit. Kronwall and Gustafsson are your NHL-experienced rearguards and Rasmus Dahlin will be allowed to showcase his offensive flair, but there's not a lot of offence coming from the other five defenders.

And that leads me to ask why Sweden would only select twelve forwards and eight defencemen? That's an odd number of defencemen to take unless they plan on using a defender up front in case of an injury to a forward. It makes no sense to take an extra defenceman unless you're anticipating an injury or two, so does that mean we'll see an aggressive Swedish defence? Lots of blocked shots? I guess we'll find out.

Sweden looks like a team that is built to medal. They have solid scoring up front, they should get good goaltending throughout the tournament, and they'll most likely play a very fundamental defensive game. Just as they are in most tournaments, they should be a favorite for the gold medal, and I suspect they'll own one of the podium spots at the end of the 2018 Winter Olympic tournament!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Czechs Name Their Olympians

With the Canadian men's Olympic team named and the vast majority of the American men's Olympic team named, the world waited with anticipation for the remaining countries to submit their Olympic lists as the tournament begins to take form. We're less than a month away from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, so expect a number of teams to begin making announcements over the next couple of weeks. With no NHL players to name, who will make each team's list?

The Czech Republic announced their team today, and the list is posted below.
There are some recognizable names on that list from their time in North America. Most notably, Martin Erat, Jiri Sekac, and Roman Cervenka should be the stand-out Czech players in South Korea, but there are some players whose North American exploits may not have them as A-list stars but should still make them solid players. Michal Jordan had a solid run with the Carolina Hurricanes organization, Tomas Kundratek was a key component with Washington and Hershey, Jakub Nakladal and Roman Horak spent time in the Flames' system, goaltender Patrik Bartosak tended the nets in the LA Kings' system, and Michal Repik spent time with the Florida Panthers and its affiliates.

On top of those players, Jan Kovar has been a top-flight player in the KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Milan Gulas has been a solid offensive player for Färjestad in the Swedish Elite League, and netminder Dominik Furch has been the starting netminder for the KHL's Avangard Omsk for the last three seasons.

In other words, this Czech team isn't just smoke and mirrors.

Notably, one 45 year-old Czech superstar opted not to play in these Olympics, but I'm not sure this team really needs a Jaromir Jagr. Yes, his inclusion would be a major lift for everyone on this squad, but there is some good to great talent still on this Czech squad.

If you were asking me, I'd wager that one of Cervenka, Kovar, or Sekac will lead the Czechs in scoring. Like we've seen with the Czechs in other tournaments, their top players can likely run-and-gun with the big teams in this tournament, but the scoring falls off pretty hard after Repik and Erat, and those two weren't known for their explosive scoring in the NHL as it is.

In saying that, though, I think the Czechs have assembled a very solid team. They have a good defensive core with Jordan, Kundratek, and Nakladal carrying the bulk of the ice-time, and their goaltending will be solid but unspectacular. Scoring may be their Achilles' heel, but the Czechs might be able to score just enough and defend like demons to shock a few nations.

Of course, the house could collapse at any moment if things unravel as we've seen happen at a number of international tournaments, but the Czechs, at least on paper, look like they could be medalists based on this squad. In reality, they'll most likely end up in fourth- or fifth-place, but the Czechs could just shock one nation in one game and find themselves competing for a medal.

We'll have to see if they play for the Czech-mate.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Rundown - Week 11

Last week's games saw a few surprises as the Mount Royal Cougars moved within striking distance of both the Calgary Dinos and the Regina Cougars who sit in sixth- and fifth-place, respectively. Manitoba has UBC, Saskatchewan, and Alberta breathing down its neck, so every point mattered this week for the top-four teams. And Lethbridge, despite being in a bit of a losing streak, still have a shot at catching and passing the bottom-four teams if they can find the win column. Every game had importance this week in Canada West women's hockey, so let's take a look at what happened on this week's edition of The Rundown!

MOUNT ROYAL at LETHBRIDGE: Mount Royal entered the weekend just two points out of a playoff spot while Lethbridge trailed Calgary by five points. Both teams needed big efforts if they were to leap-frog the Dinos while holding each other back! The Pronghorns would start this game off right just eight minutes in when freshman Kyra Greig found her own rebound and beat Mount Royal's Zoe DeBeauville at 8:47 for the 1-0 lead.

That lead would last for seven minutes as Rachel Piitz made a nice move coming out of the corner and getting a shot off. Her shot would be stopped by Alicia Anderson, but Piitz picked up her own rebound and beat Anderson at 15:57 to make it 1-1. Lethbridge, though, would score late in the period when Brett Campbell took a pass in the slot and slipped a backhander past DeBeauville at 19:49 to put the Pronghorns up 2-1 going into the intermission!

The second period was rolling along nicely with chances at both ends before Anna Purschke finished off a two-on-one at 10:57 to tie the game at 2-2! 2:01 after that, Piitz picked up her second goal of the game when she deflected home a Mairi Sorensen shot past Anderson on the power-play, and the Cougars led 3-2! DeBeauville took care of the final seven minutes by keeping that one-goal lead intact, and we'd head to the third period with Mount Royal leading!

Despite Lethbridge bringing all sorts of heat in the Mount Royal zone in the third period, DeBeauville was outstanding in turning aside all 14 shots she faced in the frame, including several of the spectacular variety. Without denting twine, though, the Pronghorns couldn't find the equalizer in this 3-2 Mount Royal victory! DeBeauville stopped 24 shots in the win while Anderson suffered the loss in the 23-save effort.

LETHBRIDGE at MOUNT ROYAL: The second half of the home-and-home series went in Calgary as the Cougars welcomed the Pronghorns to Flames Community Arena. Lethbridge really needed a win to keep pace with the Cougars and the Dinos while Mount Royal was looking to win five games in a row for the first time since being promoted to the U SPORTS level! The Cougars got themselves rolling when Nicolette Seper found the puck on her stick off a Reanna Arnold point shot, and Seper fired home the game's opening goal at 13:48 for the 1-0 lead! After a quick stop at the bench to catch her breath, Seper found the puck behind the net, walked out in front, and beat Jessica Lohues through the five-hole at 15:58 to make it 2-0! Lethbridge found themselves in a bit of a hole through one period of play.

Like the previous night, the Cougars and Pronghorns traded chances in the second period that tested both Lohues and Zoe DeBeauville, but it would be the Pronghorns who finally found daylight late in the frame. Alli Borrow's initial shot was stopped by DeBeauville on the power-play, but Borrow grabbed the rebound and slipped it by DeBeauville at 17:50 to make it a 2-1 game!

Once again, Zoe DeBeauville stood tall in the third period in denying all ten shots fired towards her - including one absolutely fantastic save that required the splits and possible chiropractic appointment - as she backstopped the Cougars to another one-goal win in this 2-1 victory! DeBeauville stopped 30 shots in total in the win while Lohues made 29 saves in the loss.

ALBERTA at CALGARY: Alberta was looking to move up from their fourth-place standing as they opened the weekend in Calgary against the Dinos while the home squad needed some points to try and catch Regina for fifth-place. The problem with this setup, though, is that Alberta is firing on all cylinders and they look unstoppable. Lisa Lloyd scored at 10:46 and Autumn MacDougall added a power-play goal at 14:40 in the second period, and Dayna Owen really didn't have a lot to worry about as the Pandas skated to a 2-0 victory. Owen made just eight stops in the game for her second shutout of the season while Kelsey Roberts made 29 stops in the loss.

CALGARY at ALBERTA: I'd love to say things got better as this series moved to Edmonton, but the Pandas simply are in a different class than the Dinos. Hannah Olenyk opened the scoring 48 seconds in, Autumn MacDougall made it 2-0 at 12:33, and Amy Boucher made it 3-0 at 13:24 as the Pandas were off and running as Calgary pulled Kelsey Roberts and replaced her with Kira Wasylak.

The second period went scoreless before Amy Boucher scored on the power-play at 10:34 and capped off her hat trick at 18:46 of third period as the Pandas closed out the weekend with a 5-0 victory. Kirsten Chamberlin stopped just five shots - only one through the first two periods! - for her second shutout of the season while Kelsey Roberts took the loss in her 13:24 of work while making five saves on eight shots. Wasylak, for the record, stopped 25 of 27 shots she saw on this night.

SASKATCHEWAN at MANITOBA: Sometimes as a broadcaster, you're limited in the information you get prior to games. Saskatchewan came into this game having won three-straight game while Manitoba had split with the Pandas the week before. This should have been a clash between two dangerous teams, but the Bisons came out flat and looked a step slow all night. In saying this, the Huskies opened the scoring just 2:38 into the game when Kayla Kirwan pinched in from the point as Manitoba got caught running around in their own zone, leaving the right side of the ice wide-open where Kirwan found a rebound off Danielle Nogier's shot that she chipped up and over the left shoulder of Rachel Dyck to give Saskatchewan the 1-0 lead!

It took nearly thirty minutes for the Bisons to mount any sort of sustained pressure, but Jessica Vance was in denial mode all night. She turned aside all 15 shots through two periods while Rachel Dyck surrendered just the lone goal in the opening frame. The Huskies took their 1-0 lead into the third period where the teams exchanged chances before the Huskies struck again. Alexandra Anderson turned the puck over in front of the net after she was pressured by the forecheck, and Rachel Lundberg picked up the loose puck at the top of the crease and fired home a shot inside the far post at 12:02 to make it 2-0.

It looked like this one was over, right? Manitoba's Caitlin Fyten threw a puck at the net just two minutes later, and it went off of Lauryn Keen's skate and skipped past Vance into the net at 14:41 to make it 2-1! Manitoba would continue to press for an equalizer, pulling Rachel Dyck with two minutes to play, but Emily Upgang would end all hopes of a comeback when she hit the empty net at 18:48 to give Saskatchewan the 3-1 win over the top-ranked team in the nation! Vance was outstanding as she stopped 22 shots for the win while Dyck stopped 16 shots in the loss.

As I was saying above, we're sometimes limited in the information we're given. Manitoba's apparent lack of effort on this night was due to a rampant flu bug going through their dressing room. More than half the team was affected by the flu in the days prior to the game, and most were just getting over it by Friday. Needless to say, a good night of sleep, some fluids, and some medication might be needed if Manitoba hopes to salvage a split!

SASKATCHEWAN at MANITOBA: After a big win on Friday, Saskatchewan was looking for the sweep while Manitoba needed to find a way to gain three points after dropping the contest the night before. The home squad would get on the board early. The fourth line sustained some excellent possession after losing the puck and recovering, and Caitlin Fyten's shot from the point would be stopped by Jessica Vance only to have the rebound pop out to Nicole Carswell who potted her first of the season at 2:41 for the 1-0 Manitoba lead!

Vance was excellent again on this night as she surrendered just the lone goal to Manitoba as the former third-string Manitoba netminder had an incredible weekend in the Saskatchewan nets in returning to face the team that recruited her, but she had a goaltender at the other end of the ice who was looking to improve on her own stats!

Down the Manitoba end, Lauren Taraschuk was making her first start since December 1, and she was sharp in between the pipes all night. Despite a number of good chances by the Huskies on this night, Taraschuk would allow nothing by her as she lowered her conference-leading goals-against average in the Manitoba 1-0 win! Taraschuk stopped all 26 shots she saw for her third shutout of the season while Vance stopped 19 shots in the one-goal loss.

REGINA at UBC: The Cougars came into Vancouver with two teams hot on their tails, so they needed to find points against one of the nation's best teams. UBC, on the other hand, was trying to hunt down Manitoba, so they needed points as well. On a night where UBC wore gree for Mental Health Awareness and Regina wore green as theuir standard colours, it seems that all the players saw was red. Let me just preface this game by saying that these two teams may have worn out a few pens at the scorekeeper's table in this Friday night game with the amount of time spent in the penalty box. Every goal was scored on special teams in this game, so let's get at it.

UBC opened the scoring when Hannah Clayton-Carroll took a feed from Emily Costales in the slot, and wired a shot past Jane Kish on the power-play to put UBC up 1-0 just 5:29 into the game. Costales then got one of her own on the power-play when she backhanded home a shot past Kish at 10:02 to make it 2-0 for the Thunderbirds. The Cougars wouldn't let UBC run away with this one, though, as Jaycee Magwood found a seam on Tory Micklash at 17:39 for a power-play marker to make it a 2-1 game.

The second period is when the sin bins got a solid workout, and the Birds opened up their two-goal lead again. Ta the 5:01 mark, Costales scored her second goal of the night on the power-play when she tipped home a Madison Patrick shot past Kish, and it was 3-1 for UBC.
Patrick really wanted a power-play goal of her own, so she went and got one from a nearly-impossible angle at 15:37 when she somehow beat Kish to make it 4-1 for UBC. Melissa Zerr would get one back for the Cougars in the third period while shorthanded as she was sprung on a breakaway after exiting the box, and she tucked the puck past Micklash on the deke to make it 4-2, but that's as close as the Cougars would get as UBC skated to the 4-2 victory. Micklash was solid in picking up her ninth win on the strength of 19 saves while Kish suffered the loss despite making 29 saves.

As for the pens? There were 28 penalties called on the night, leading the final boxscore to look a little off compared to what is normally seen in women's hockey.
Yes, you're seeing that correctly. That's 25 power-play opportunities on the night between the two teams. UBC's fifteen total power-plays means that they almost played half the game five-on-four or five-on-three! Would we see the same parade to the penalty box on Saturday?

REGINA at UBC: Both teams came out more focused on Saturday as UBC opted for Amelia Boughn in their net while Regina responded with Morgan Baker between their pipes. The first period saw chances at both ends, and it appeared that we'd go scoreless until a late power-play in the opening frame. A Madison Patrick shot from the point was stopped, but the rebound saw all sorts of bodies and traffic end up in front of Baker where Mathea Fischer finally found the loose puck and she went shelf on Baker with 19 seconds to play in the period for the 1-0 UBC lead!

The Cougars would find the equalizer less than six minutes into the second period when Jaycee Magwood's shot handcuffed Boughn as she knuckle-pucked the shot, and the result was a goal for the Regina forward at 5:47 to make it 1-1. The two teams played some tight-checking hockey through the middle frame, but the Thunderbirds would restore the one-goal lead with a goal midway through the period. Cassandra Vilgrain showed off her wheels and her hands when she rushed the puck from her own end up the ice, finishing the rush with a gorgeous bar-down goal at 13:37 to put the T-Birds up 2-1!

Down a goal and needing point this weekend, the Cougars came out of the room into the third period like they were on fire. The final count in the period saw Regina outshoot UBC 15-1, but would the find the goal they needed? In a word, yes! Lilla Carpenter-Boesch tossed a centering pass from below the goal line that found the stick of Emma Waldenberger, and the big Regina forward wired home a shot at 4:24 to make it 2-2! Since Boughn stopped the other fourteen shots and Baker was good on the only third period shot she saw, this game went to overtime!

The four-on-four overtime period solved nothing. The three-on-three period solved... wait a second! With 23 seconds remaining in the period, a scramble around Baker's net saw a Cougars defender close her hand on the puck while in the crease, and that means we'd get a penalty shot! Head coach Graham Thomas selected Vilgrain to take the shot, so let's go to the video!
The head fake and the move to the backhand opened up enough room on Baker's right side for Vilgrain to dent the twine, and the UBC Thunderbirds take the win in a 3-2 double-overtime win! Amelia Boughn picked up the win in a 31-save performance while Baker was saddled with the loss in a 21-save effort.

CANADA WEST WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
British Columbia
12-4-2-2
42 47 29
W4
@ LET
Manitoba
12-5-2-1
41 45 36
W1
vs MRU
Alberta
9-4-4-3
38 48 35
W3
@ REG
Saskatchewan
12-7-0-1
37 34 26
L1
@ CAL
Mount Royal
6-11-3-0
24 33 39
W5
@ MAN
Regina
6-10-1-3
23 32 42
L5
@ UBC
Calgary
6-12-0-2
20 17 36
L4
vs SAS
Lethbridge
3-13-2-2
15 22 35
L6
vs UBC

The Final Word

Don't look now, folks, but the Mount Royal Cougars are currently sitting in fifth-place after being at the bottom of the standings in December. Zoe DeBeauville is playing incredible hockey with three shutouts and just three goals-against over those five games, and the Cougars are playing great team defence. They're beating the teams they need to beat - Regina and Lethbridge - to get themselves back into the playoff picture, but they'll face a stiff test when they visit Manitoba next weekend.

There are some outstanding battles happening as Calgary, Regina, and Mount Royal battle for two playoff spots, Saskatchewan and Alberta clash for third- and fourth-place while looking upwards at second- and first-place, and Manitoba and UBC continue to flip-flop for the top spot in the conference. With four weeks and eight games remaining, the race for Canada West playoff spots will only tighten, making for one heckuva finish this season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Just Ducky

It's hard to believe that it's been 25 years since The Mighty Ducks movie hit theaters. I guess I don't really look back on my life with respect to movie premieres, but that seems like a long time ago when I start thinking about it. The fact that there were three Mighty Ducks movies might be more indicative of just how much time has passed since those movies premiered in North America. That being said, January 27, 2018 will see the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones bring all three movies to the present day as they will wear jerseys from each movie in their game against the Fort Wayne Komets!

As you may be aware, Cincinnati used to be a Mighty Ducks town when the AHL's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks called the city home. From 1997 until 2005, the former Baltimore Bandits franchise played at the Cincinnati Gardens as the primary affiliate of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks from 1997 until 2000 when the Detroit Red Wings affiliated with the Mighty Ducks for three seasons after the Adirondack Red Wings folded. In 2003, the Red Wings moved their affiliation to the Grand Rapids Griffins, leaving Anaheim as the sole affiliate with Cincinnati until 2005. After voluntarily suspending operations and failing to reach their season ticket goal, the franchise was moved to Rockford, Illinois in 2007 where they became the Rockford IceHogs.

The history, however, is barely important when one considers the jerseys being worn in two weeks.
There are three periods in a hockey game, and three different jerseys to be worn that associate with the three Mighty Ducks movies. With the coincidence of Cincinnati once being the home of the Mighty Ducks, this game's jerseys almost seem surreal when one considers the hockey history in the city.

Nevertheless, all three jerseys were designed by Jeff Tasca, and he did a fabulous job. The first jerseys depict a skating cyclone on the original Mighty Ducks jersey when they won the state championship. When the Cyclones come out in the second period, they'll wear the Team USA jerseys the Mighty Ducks wore in the Goodwill Games in D2 with the word "Cyclones" written on the sleeve. And the third period jerseys will depict the modern Mighty Ducks jersey from D3 with a logo representing the Cyclones' secondary mascot known as Puckchop. Just so we're clear, they aren't representing the IceHogs... despite it looking like they might be. Clear as mud? Alrighty then.

Jeff's designs are outstanding with his accuracy of the jerseys and the playfulness of the logo changes. He dropped me a note about the night coming up that feature his designs, and he's doing amazing work. Full credit to him on making the Cyclones look as good as the Mighty Ducks did in their Disney movies. Athletic Knit put together the final product for the night, and the three sets of jerseys will be auctioned off following the game with proceeds going to the Cincinnati Cyclones Foundation which aims to help children in the Greater Cincinnati Area discover a love and a passion for the game of hockey.

In most cases, the final product on the ice looks better than the artwork for the jerseys does, and I have a feeling that the Mighty Ducks Cyclones will look amazing when they take the ice in each period against the Komets. The fact that those jerseys will help raise money to help ease the costs associated with playing hockey for kids in and around the Cincinnati area makes this venture worth the effort!

Now that's something for which it's worth quacking open the pocketbook!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 12 January 2018

They're Right

If you happen to listen to the broadcasts of the Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team, we often have two writers from the school's student-produced newspaper, The Manitoban, on during the intermissions. I have to say that we're fortunate and lucky to have two outstanding writers in Ryan Stelter and Jason Pchajek join us regularly to discuss articles they've written about the sport, but the newspaper really has an outstanding group of individuals that turn in superb stories. One such story appeared on my Twitter feed today, and I have to say that Austin Frame's work, combined with an earlier article written by Ron Mahon who is a former Bisons men's hockey broadcaster, hit the nail on the head when it comes to the amount of overlooked talent playing in U SPORTS men's hockey.

NHL and AHL teams are always looking for good players to plug holes, fill in for injuries, and simply upgrade their levels of talent. There are draft picks, free agents, and possible undrafted NCAA players they could use to improve their teams, but the one pipeline that seems to be overlooked consistently is men's hockey at the Canadian university level. As Rob Mahon points out in his article, the AHL's Manitoba Moose have found some solid players that are making impacts at the AHL level after their U SPORTS eligibility was fulfilled. The Aalborg Pirates in Denmark's Metal Ligaen have tapped the U SPORTS pipeline to pick up some quality talent to bolster their roster. The AHL's Ontario Reign went out and signed a significant U SPORTS prospect as well.

What does all of these notes mean? Well, as Austin Frame wrote, it might be time for Hockey Canada and the professional hockey ranks to really start scouting Canada's university hockey system for high-quality talent, especially after the U SPORTS team downed the Canadian World Junior selection squad in a pair of games played prior to the tournament.

"I think a lot of the guys felt that U SPORTS gets overlooked as a whole. For lots of guys this is still a stepping stone to professional hockey and I don’t think people realize that," Saskatchewan Huskies defenceman and U SPORTS all-star captain Kendall McFaull said.

"So for us to showcase the talent against the [Canadian] world juniors and prove that this is how good U SPORTS hockey is was something really important to us and we treated it like they were big games and not just your typical all-star games."

Make no mistake that U SPORTS is not going to push the allure of the NCAA off the map. It's not designed to be that way, but is designed to fill a niche that other programs do not. If players in the Canadian Hockey League graduate out of that program, they get one year's worth of tuition for every season played in the CHL. That allows older players to return to school to gain a post-secondary education after having sacrificed years in helping their chosen teams in the CHL. It's a pretty good deal when you look at it, and one that I think more players should utilize when it comes to their futures.

In saying this, U SPORTS is seeing the level of talent rise across the country as more and more players take advantage of the tuition program. In turn, this has allowed the Canadian university hockey program to move from glorified beer league to one of the best leagues no one watches on the planet. There are now former NHL draft picks playing in all four Canadian university conferences, and the university teams have had to up their recruiting processes to try to fend off suitors from across the land when it comes to talented hockey players.

Now you may be saying that this is all nice and well for these players who probably will never play in the NHL, but let's be honest when it comes to anyone taking one of those 800-or-so NHL jobs. It just doesn't happen all that frequently, but there is greater turnover in leagues around the world.

One example of a player who was a highly-touted NHL player who came back to U SPORTS following a major injury and retirement from the NHL is Jared Aulin. Aulin, who was bartending in Calgary when he decided to give hockey one more try, joined the Calgary Dinos and parlayed that university stint into a highly successful career in Europe in Sweden and Switzerland. It's my pleasure to report that Jared signed a one-year contract extension with the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers at the age of 35. For a guy who thought his career was over, U SPORTS provided a springboard back into the game, and he has been enjoying life in Europe ever since.

The key in U SPORTS men's hockey is that most of the players are already in their mid-20s when they graduate from their respective university programs, making them more physically mature than their NCAA counterparts who graduate from their respective American universities. Getting a 23 or 24 year-old free agent who has four years of university hockey and four years of major junior hockey under his belt is something not many teams can boast, and these players are having impacts at the AHL and ECHL levels in North America and in leagues across Europe the moment they hit the ice. It's like signing a physically-mature, mid-draft selection who can score and play immediately without having to actually use a draft pick on him.

The talent in U SPORTS is there. There's a goalie who was at the Spengler Cup playing in Saskatchewan right now (with that article penned by Ryan Stelter). There are NHL draft picks scattered across the country on various teams. There are players who were highly-touted junior players that NHL teams passed over in their draft years. The talent level is deep at the U SPORTS level.

The only question to ask is why aren't you watching?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 277

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight on a rather frigid Thursday after we enjoyed some minus-single-digit temperatures for the first time in a long time while in the throes of January. How is it that our city can be -2C one day and -36C with the wind the next day? If you don't like the weather in Winnipeg, literally wait five minutes. In any case, we have a lot to talk about as the Canadian men's Olympic squad is announced today, so Beans and I will have a lot to say on that. Don't expect names like Iginla, Doan, and Fisher to be on the list unless Sean Burke has lost his mind, but we'll go over who made the cut and who didn't tonight on The Hockey Show on 101.5 UMFM!

Tonight, Teebz and Beans will have a chat about Cale Makar turning down the opportunity to be a part of Team Canada in South Korea and whether that's the right decision, who made the cut for the Canadian men's Olympic team, and how we figure they'll fare in South Korea in a month's time. We'll also talk about the Jets rolling along without the services of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Connor Hellebuyck being named to the NHL All-Star Game, the Bisons women's hockey team controlling their own destiny with the Saskatchewan Huskies in town, the UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team going green tomorrow night for a good cause, Jaromir Jagr's time being up in Calgary, and the Brandon Wheat Kings cleaning house and stocking up for the future! It's going to be another busy show, so make sure you find a radio or internet-enabled device to listen at 5:30pm CT!

Ok, so how do I check this hockey-infused show out, you ask? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, 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, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! 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, Teebz and Beans talk Olympic invites, Olympic declines, All-Star invites, winning while down players, controlling destinies, and doing the right thing on The Hockey Show found only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: January 11, 2018: Episode 277

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

TBC: Young Leafs

I have torn to admit that I was torn when I received today's entry in Teebz's Book Club. I love reading, and I try to squeeze a little in every day. I admittedly don't go searching for articles on the Toronto Maple Leafs, though, so I wasn't sure I wanted to wade into the pages of this book. However, I did crack the spine over the holidays, and Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Young Leafs: The Making of a New Hockey History, written by Gare Joyce and published by Simon & Schuster Canada. Thanks to TSN and Sportsnet, I thought I knew more about the Leafs, Auston Matthews, and their young guns than I'd ever care to, but Mr. Joyce does an outstanding job in this book in giving better perspective about their players than either of the television networks have.

From his Simon & Schuster page, "Gare Joyce has written about sports for over thirty years, winning four National Magazine Awards and landing on The Best American Sports Writing notable list seven times. Joyce is the author of eleven books, including Sidney Crosby: Taking the Game by Storm and The Devil and Bobby Hull. He is a senior writer with Sportsnet and was previously a hockey columnist for The Globe and Mail and a staff feature writer for ESPN The Magazine and espn.com. Joyce lives in Toronto, seven subway stops from the Air Canada Centre."

I am a fan of Mr. Joyce's long-form writing for Sportsnet and other outlets, and his books have always been entertaining in both the topics he has chosen to write about and his writing style. He is a master of prose, often using excellent descriptors in his sentences and paragraphs that give you a deeper understanding of the topic. In knowing this, I felt like Young Leafs could be a good and entertaining read despite it being on a topic that I feel has been told over and over about the infusion of youth on the Leafs roster.

Knowing that this book was going to focus on the young Leafs players, I went into reading this book with an open mind. I was surprised to read about a number of things concerning players such as Matthews, Marner, and Nylander that had yet to be reported anywhere else. Granted, I wasn't actively seeking this knowledge, but the depth and great detail that Mr. Joyce put into illustrating the passion each of these players had in getting to the NHL and, ultimately, playing in the NHL really shines through in Young Leafs.

Joyce looks at the struggles and successes of each player in their first year of NHL play, but he also goes back in time to tell the stories of each player in their development, their path to the NHL, and some of the people who helped them take the necessary steps in following their dreams. Parents, former coaches, billets, and a number of other people all contributed stories about the future NHL stars, and Mr. Joyce really proves in Young Leafs that it takes a community to raise an NHL player.

One of the more interesting sections in Young Leafs was about Mitch Marner nearly walking away from the game while with the OHL's London Knights. After being a standout in his rookie season with the Knights, Marner's game suddenly disappeared in his draft year, and was highlighted by a 6-2 loss to Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters where Marner walked away from the team for a few days after he felt he was an "embarrassment". All it took was a session with one of the people who had helped Marner become a potential NHL draft pick for him to rediscover his game.
After three days, Marner told his parents that he wanted to get on the ice and skate with Desveaux. They made a call and set up a time. Desveaux was well aware of Mitch's slump, and the temptation might have been a kid-glove treatment, to tread delicately or go slow. Instead, Desveaux decided to be direct and break down the elements of the game that he had drilled into Mitch. Since the start of the Knights' training camp, a matter of two months, Mitch had fallen into a bunch of bad habits. They were plain to Desveaux in just a matter of minutes. He was shooting off the wrong foot. He wasn't prepared for passes because his stick was off the ice. Even the most basic elements of his skating were off - he was standing too high in his stride, his crossovers were a tangle. Marner had been keenly aware of all the things he was trained to do when just in grade school, and it wasn't simply a matter of repetition on the ice - his father had videoed almost every one of Mitch's workouts with Desveaux and they had watched them together, breaking down his performance in the drills. It was like a man of the cloth had somehow forgotten the Ten Commandments, all ten at once. "Mitch was relieved that there was something technical that we could point to and that it wasn't just one thing," Desveaux says. "He had been pretty down about how things were going. It was good just to get him smiling again.
If nothing else, this passage goes to show that even players at the top of their games get into bad habits on the ice, and it occasionally takes an outside view to correct those bad habits/ If younger hockey players read this book, this one passage should be proof that despite practicing the same drills a million times in their careers, there's a purpose in continuing to do the same drills when it comes to ensuring success.

The players that Mr. Joyce reviews in Young Leafs obviously focus on Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander, but there are examinations of Kasperi Kapanen, Connor Brown, Zach Hyman, and Nikita Zaitsev as the Leafs' young core begins to take flight. Mr. Joyce highlights key sections of the schedule where the Leafs' young players faced adversity, found successes, and worked through some issues. He goes through the playoff series versus the Washington Capitals where the young Maple Leafs put a jolt of fear through the highly-touted Capitals before finally being dispatched by Washington. There were lessons learned there as well, and Mr. Joyce does an excellent job in capturing the atmosphere around the Leafs' young guns.

Overall, if you're a fan of the Maple Leafs, Young Leafs is a book that should be in your collection. Mr. Joyce does an outstanding job in looking at the youth movement happening around the Leafs and how these players will be the key to future success. Mr. Joyce doesn't sugar-coat any of the situations nor does he use hyperbole in talking about the Leafs and their kids in Young Leafs. He does, however, give the reader an honest assessment and a candid look at the first year of a number of young Leafs players, and it allowed me to enjoy this book more than my initial judgment would have had me believe. Because of this, Young Leafs absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find Young Leafs: The Making of a New Hockey History at all major bookstores and libraries today!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

UBC Goes Green

It will be a bit of a weird sight this Friday at Father Bauer Arena when the green-and-gold Regina Cougars square off against the green-and-white UBC Thunderbirds. Wait, aren't the Thunderbirds usually wearing blue? What is happening out in Vancouver that would cause this kind of colour problem?

The Thunderbirds usually wear blue and gold, but the T-Birds are asking everyone who is headed to the game on Friday to wear green! No, they aren't throwing their support behind the visiting Regina Cougars in some sort of strange psychological experiment. Instead, the T-Birds are asking everyone to wear green to support Mental Health Awareness!

Admittedly, the above image looks a little off when one considers how the T-Birds normally look, but Mental health Awareness is a significant cause to the UBC fmaily, and I'm happy to see the Thunderbirds women's team throwing their support behind this caus by wearing green to help stimulate a conversation around mental health issues.

For those that may not be aware, Laura Taylor, a former goaltender with the UBC Thunderbirds, suffered from bipolar disorder and crippling depression for nearly half her life. Taylor was diagnosed as bipolar in her first year of undergrad at the University of Saskatchewan where she also played hockey. In a tragic ending, Taylor would commit suicide on April 7, 2016 just days before her 34th birthday. Her suicide came as a shock to all who knew her, including many players on the UBC roster.

Taylor connected with head coach Graham Thomas about possibly joining the team as a practice goalie when she enrolled at UBC as a medical student. Teammate Kelly Murray spoke of her dedication at the time.

"We struggle with taking four classes and getting to the rink on time," Murray told the Canadian Press in 2017. "Here she is a full-time med student working shifts at the hospital and still coming to practice. She was definitely an inspiration."

While Taylor knew she wouldn't get into games, she wanted to mentor the UBC netminders who were getting the minutes in big games in Amelia Boughn and Tory Micklash. While her efforts on the ice were noticed, her struggles off it were not.

"She just carried herself so well," Graham Thomas told the Canadian Press. "There was never really any kind of sign... nothing really jumped out at us."

The UBC Thunderbirds played their first Mental Health Awareness last season, and it's encouraging to see them making this an annual event. Laura Taylor's story is one that shouldn't be forgotten due to how quiet she kept it during her life, and I hope that UBC's efforts on Friday in wearing green and getting their fans to wear green help to save lives. Mental health isn't something that is always apparent as in the case of Miss Taylor, so getting people to talk about it is an important first step.

Kudos to the UBC Thunderbirds in getting that conversation started so that we have fewer endings like the one that Miss Taylor wrote. She may be gone, but she's not going to be forgotten thanks to the efforts of the UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team.

Until next time, let's have a conversation about mental health!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Rockford Goes Peachy

When the Rockford IceHogs were announced as the revived franchise that was once the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in 2007, it immediately hit me that we'd be seeing Rockford Peaches crossover promotions until the cows came home. Instead, there have been numerous promotional games with very few lending themselves to the Hollywood movie that featured the Peaches and even less with the historic connection to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. At least until Friday, January 26 when the IceHogs will become members of the AAGPBL for one night!

Commemorating the 75th anniversary this summer, the Rockford IceHogs will take to the ice in 18 days wearing the following uniforms when they play the Ontario Reign!
The Rockford Peaches won four AAGPBL championships in the league's eleven-year run, so it's nice to see the IceHogs pay a little respect to the women's baseball league. On top of that, the city of Rockford, Illinois was made pretty famous thanks to Penny Marshall's movie, A League of Their Own in 1992, which featured the Rockford Peaches in the main storyline of the movie.

Honestly, I'm not sold on the colour of the uniforms above when it comes to wearing what the women wore in the AAGPBL. The Rockford Peaches wore a peach-coloured road uniform in the 1940s, and the only pink team to speak of in the AAGPBL were the Minneapolis Millerettes who played just one season in 1944. Outside of that, no other team in the eleven-year history of the AAGPBL wore pink, so why are the IceHogs wearing pink?

If anything, more teams wore gray than any other colour in the AAGPBL, and there were a significant number of yellow and gold teams that the IceHogs could have used had they wanted true majority representation. But pink? That seems to play into a female stereotype that certainly doesn't represent the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League or the women that played in it. No offence, IceHogs, but you're better than this.

I will give the team credit for honouring the 75th anniversary of one of the greatest women's leagues of all-time. They certainly didn't have to take that step if they didn't want, but they're going to be the first Rockford team to honour one of the best women's teams and certainly one of the pioneering women's leagues. That's a solid mark for the AHL to make despite their obvious colour blindness in the attempt.

With the jerseys being auctioned off after the game and a portion of the proceeds going to breast cancer initiatives and research, I guess one could say that the IceHogs, despite their failings in the uniforms, have their hearts in the right place when it comes to honouring the league's anniversary and women who played in the AAGPBL. And that's better than nothing when it comes to raising money that will save women's lives.

It may not be a homerun's effort, but the IceHogs will score with a solid base hit.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Rundown - Week 10

With classes having resumed this past week, the battles in Canada West women's hockey also resumed as teams looked to strengthen positions, overtake opponents in the standings, and secure playoff spots as we inch towards the February conference playoffs. The top-three teams in the nation - Manitoba, Alberta, and UBC, respectively - were looking to hold onto those impressive rankings with strong showings once again, but Manitoba and Alberta met this week with a possible flip-flop of rankings on the line! With school back in, let's see who did a little teaching on the ice this past weekend here on The Rundown!

LETHBRIDGE at SASKATCHEWAN: When we last saw Lethbridge, they had lost their last two games and had fallen out of the sixth-place spot in the conference. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, had split with Regina in a home-and-home series, but sat just two points behind Alberta in the standings. Both teams needed wins, but it would just be one team that put numbers up on the scoreboard. Kayla Kirwan's first-period power-play goal was all that Jessica Vance needed on this night, but Saskatchewan would get an insurance marker in the third period from Chloe Smith. When the final horn sounded, the Huskies had downed the Pronghorns by a 2-0 score. Vance stopped all 18 shots she faced for her fourth shutout of the season while Anderson suffered the loss despite making 29 saves.

The Huskies looked a little different on Friday than they normally do, and that's because they were hosting the Play for a Cure game! Wearing specially-made jerseys for this night's game, the Huskies participated in their 10th annual Play for a Cure game, and they've successfully raised over $25,000 in that time. Well done on charitable efforts, ladies, and those uniforms are gorgeous!

LETHBRIDGE at SASKATCHEWAN: Saturday's game was big for both teams again as the teams they were chasing both lost on Friday. The opening period saw both Saskatchewan's Jessica Vance and Lethbridge's Alicia Anderson showcase some goaltending, in particular Anderson who stopped all 14 shots she saw compared to the six that Vance faced. After one period, there were some big saves, but no goals to be found.

The second period did see goals, and it would be the visitors who struck first. Katelyn Breitkreuz sprung Keely Chalk and Kyra Greig on a two-on-one with a nice stretch pass, and Greig would convert the rush when she beat Vance on the stick side at 8:42 to make it 1-0 for the Pronghorns. That lead lasted for just over seven minutes when Saskatchewan found the equalizer. Brooklyn Haubrich fed Kaitlin Willoughby who zipped a shot past Anderson's glove at 16:24 to make it 1-1.

The third period needed someone to break the deadlock, and it would Huskies rookie Abby Shirley who stepped up to snap the tie. Shirley was parked out front in the perfect spot as the Kori Herner won a battle behind the net and fed her in the slot, and the rookie looked like a savvy veteran beating Anderson over the glove at 3:53 to put the Huskies out in front 2-1. It looked as though Lethbridge's Mattie Apperson was about to tie the game with just under 1:30 to play as she found the puck on her stick and a yawning cage in front of her, but somehow Vance recovered to get just enough of the puck to keep it from denting twine and tying the game. After that monster save, Kaitlin Willoughby iced the game by hitting the empty net to give the Huskies the 3-1 victory. Vance collected her second win of 2018 by stopping 18 shots for the second-straight night while Anderson was on the losing end in a 26-save effort.

REGINA at MOUNT ROYAL: Regina came out of the break having dropped their final game of the first half of the season, and they needed points to stay ahead of the charging Calgary Dinos while trying to factor back into the picture with the four teams above them. Mount Royal needs points - any and all points - if they hope to climb out of the hole they put themselves in over the first-half. Let's just say that this game was not what one expected as the opening game of the second-half of the season.

First period? No scoring.
Second period? No scoring.
Third period? No scoring.
First overtime? No scoring.
Second overtime? No scoring.

When the final horn sounded on regulation time, the two sets of Cougars were still knotted in a scoreless tie and tied with 23 shots apiece, so it was off to the shootout to snap this stalemate of a game!

First shooters? No goals.
Second shooters? No goals.
Third shooters? No goals.
Fourth shooters? No goals.

Bailey Braden would be stopped on the fifth shootout attempt for Regina before Tianna Ko skated to center ice with a chance to end this scoreless battle.
Beauty leg kick, Jane Kish moved the wrong way on the deke, and Ko deposited the puck in the back of the net to secure the 1-0 Mount Royal win! Both netminders would earn a shutout in this game officially, but Zoe DeBeauville picked up the win in the shootout while Kish suffered the loss despite only allowing one goal all evening.

REGINA at MOUNT ROYAL: Would we see another defensive battle in Saturday's game? One of the two teams threw up a wall once again. Nicolette Seper opened the scoring at 19:10 of the first period, Andrea Sanderson doubled the lead at 15:21 of the second period, and Tianna Ko salted this game away with a power-play marker at 8:53 of the third period as Zoe DeBeauville tossed up her third consecutive shutout in blanking the Regina Cougars for the weekend after this 3-0 win. DeBeauville was strong once again as Regina crashed her crease time and again trying to break the goose egg that followed them to Calgary, but the Mount Royal netminder stopped all 26 pucks sent her way for the win while Jane Kish suffered the loss after stopping 22 of 25 shots.

CALGARY at UBC: Calgary rolled into Vancouver on a two-game win streak while UBC split with Manitoba to close out their first-half. Calgary's Kelsey Roberts was one of the best goalies in terms of save percentage and goals-against average while UBC's Tori Micklash was tied for the most wins while also being among the league leaders in save percentage and GAA. Something had to give in this game. And it did as only one goal was seen beating a netminder on the night when Jadeon Cooke's second-period goal at 2:53 went high over Roberts to put the Thunderbirds up 1-0. An empty-netter with 45 seconds to play by Shay-Lee McConnell put this one to bed in a game where Micklash had very little to do thanks to UBC's dominance in a 2-0 win. Micklash recorded her second shutout with eight saves while Roberts stopped 23 shots in the loss.

CALGARY at UBC: The third-ranked team in the nation in the UBC Thunderbirds proved why they're one of the top teams as they were better in every facet on Friday. Would that domination continue Saturday? Well, in a word, yes. Cassandra Vilgrain scored at 8:24 and Hannah Clayton-Carroll scored at 11:02 to pace UBC to a 2-0 lead through the opening frame.

Mathea Fischer made it 3-0 at 15:21 of the second period after some relentless UBC pressure.
Fischer's second goal of the season would be the final goal in this game as Amelia Boughn shut the door just as Tory Micklash did the night before in the 3-0 win over the Dinos on Saturday. Boughn pitched her third shutout of the season on the strength of 19 saves while Roberts took the loss after making 27 saves.

MANITOBA at ALBERTA: The top-ranked team in the nation traveled west to the second-rank team's barn as the Manitoba Bisons visited the Alberta Pandas. Manitoba came off the break having split with UBC while Alberta had split with Mount Royal to end the first-half. This one had all the makings of a classic series as the defence was tight, the goaltending was great, and the scoring was low!

It would be the home squad that struck first when Alex Poznikoff hit a streaking Lisa Lloyd down the right wing. Lloyd's shot to the far side of the net would be kicked out by Manitoba's Rachel Dyck, but Autumn MacDougall was in the right place at the right time to give Alberta the lead!
MacDougall's eighth goal of the season at 6:09 had the Pandas up 1-0.

Manitoba would respond five minutes later when Sheridan Oswald submitted her name for goal-of-the-year candidate!
Oswald blocked a dump-in at center, corralled the puck outside the blue line, put on a burst of speed usually reserved for sprinters and cheetahs, beat the Alberta defender to the net, and then out-waited Kirsten Chamberlin before tucking home her third goal of the season at 13:11 to even the game at 1-1!

The remainder of the first period and the second period rolled by with the two teams playing chess as they matched one another move for move and surrendered very few chances. In fact, we'd need eleven minutes of the third period before we'd see another goal, but Manitoba would find the back of the net once more.
Sheridan Oswald's centering pass found a pinching Erica Rieder from the point, and she found room between the wickets of Chamberlin at the 11:00 mark to put Manitoba up 2-1! From there, it was Rachel Dyck and the Bisons weathering the storm for the final nine minutes as they ran out the clock for the 2-1 win! Dyck stopped 14 shots in the victory while Chamberlin made 12 stops in the loss.

MANITOBA at ALBERTA: With Manitoba taking the first game of the two-game set, Alberta needed points to keep pace with UBC and the Bisons while trying to hold off the Saskatchewan Huskies who were chasing them. Instead, it was Manitoba opening the scoring on Saturday when Alanna Sharman faked the shot and spotted Jordy Zacharias who had a step on her check.
Zacharias' conference-leading tenth goal of the season put Manitoba up 1-0 just 1:01 into the game!

They weren't done there in the first period.
Caitlyn Fyten's second goal of the season came on the power-play after she pinched to capitalize on the rebound at 8:22, and the Bisons held a 2-0 lead through to the end of the first period despite being outshot 12-4!

The Pandas were certainly the far more aggressive team in the second period, and their efforts were thwarted time and again by Rachel Dyck. However, the onslaught of offence finally paid off at 17:13!
Alex Poznikoff's one-timer off the feed from Abby Benning found a seam on Dyck and landed in the back of the net as she cut Manitoba's lead to 2-1 after outshooting the Bisons 25-9 through two periods.

The third period was far more defensive as the Bisons really clamped down on the Alberta offence, alloowing only four shots in the third. The only problem? One of those shots came from Cayle Dillon with 15 seconds to play!
Dillon snatched at least a point from the jaws of defeat with her shot from the point that somehow eluded the traffic in front and got past Rachel Dyck at 19:45 to make it a 2-2 game! With that goal, we were off to overtime for some free hockey between the nation's two best teams!

The first overtime would prove fruitless as neither team found the back of the net, but the second overtime period would bring us a winner!
The three Bisons on the ice got caught deep in the Pandas' zone, and Autumn MacDougall and Regan Wright simply outskated them down the ice where MacDougall fed Wright with the cross-crease pass, and Wright made no mistake as she buried the overtime winner at 3:53 of the second overtime period to give Alberta the 3-2 win! Dayna Owen made just ten stops in the double-overtime win while Rachel Dyck suffered the extra-time loss despite making 30 saves on the afternoon.

CANADA WEST WOMEN'S HOCKEY
School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Manitoba
11-4-2-1
38 43 33
L1
vs SAS
British Columbia
11-4-1-2
37 40 25
W2
vs REG
Saskatchewan
11-6-0-1
34 31 24
W3
@ MAN
Alberta
7-4-4-3
32 41 35
W1
@ CAL
Regina
6-9-1-2
22 28 35
L3
@ UBC
Calgary
6-10-0-2
20 17 29
L2
vs ALB
Mount Royal
4-11-3-0
18 28 36
W3
@ LET
Lethbridge
3-11-2-2
15 19 30
L4
vs MRU

The Final Word

The schedule in the second-half of the season mirrors the first-half, so Manitoba can really do themselves a favor by beating Saskatchewan twice and hoping that Alberta wins twice against Calgary. If that were to happen, Alberta would move ahead of Saskatchewan by four points, and Manitoba only has games versus the bottom-four teams in the conference for the remainder of the season. Getting Alberta to claim that third-place spot means that the Bisons would avoid both the Pandas and Thunderbirds until the Canada West Conference final.

Of course, Manitoba still has to entertain the Mount Royal Cougars who are coming off a shutout of the Pandas in December and their two shutouts over Regina. Nothing will be given to the Bisons as they look to hold onto that top spot in Canada West, so they'll have to go out and earn it. Having the ability to influence who you may play in the playoffs in the second week of January, though, is a nice luxury if one can get it.

Second-place could be out of reach for the Huskies and Pandas depending on results as we move forward, but the T-Birds will play the Huskies on January 26 and 27 in Saskatoon before visiting the Pandas to close out the season on February 9 and 10. To make matters a little more interesting, the Pandas and Huskies meet February 2 and 3 in Saskatoon on the second-last week of the season, so those last three weeks of the season could very well determine places one through four in Canada West depending on what happens down the stretch.

If you're the Bisons, though, you literally control your own fate from this point onward. If they truly are the best team in the nation, winning the next ten games should be the goal with an emphasis on making Saskatchewan's push for third-place as difficult as possible next week. That's a heckuva good position to be in at this point in the season, and the schedule is literally set up for the Bisons to succeed.

The next five weeks of hockey is going to be amazing in the Canada West Conference. Don't miss it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!