Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Rundown - Week 13

The races for playoff spots in Canada West women's hockey is getting tighter and tighter as the weeks wind down. Including this week's games, there are only six games remaining with a possible eighteen points on the line if someone can win out. There's a legitimate battle for top-spot in the conference happening with home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs on the line, the battles for second-, third-, and fourth-places are still up in the air, and the final two playoff spots are being hotly contested for among three teams with one team still alive mathematically. The top-four teams have clinched a playoff spot, so let's find out how this week shook out on The Rundown!

MOUNT ROYAL at CALGARY: The rare Thursday night game went at the Saddledome in Calgary as part of the Crowchild Classic between the two Calgary-based teams. The Dinos came into this game having yet to score in 2018 while mired in a scoreless drought of 381:49 while the Cougars were coming off being shut out twice by Manitoba. Would we even see a goal in this game?

The first period saw no goals, but it was Mount Royal who was certainly the more aggressive team despite them looking a little sluggish. Defensively, the Cougars were on their game, but Calgary's Kelsey Roberts denied all chances at the other end in the opening frame as the Cougars mounted a 10-2 advantage in shots despite not finding the back of the net.

The second period started with a little more vigor from both sides as the pace picked up, and that benefited both teams. Mount Royal's Zoe DeBeauville stoned a Delaney Frey chance while Roberts was turning aside Cougars chances time and again! However, we'd see that unfathomable scoring drought come to an end when Merissa Dawson's low shot was deflected by Cheyann Newman past DeBeaville at 8:36 to stop the drought at 410:25!
The Cougars mounted some furious offensive chances in the last half of the period, but Roberts would deny them all to maintain Calgary's lead. Newman's goal would be the only puck to get across the goal line in the second period with Calgary leading 1-0 despite being outshot 18-7!

The third period saw the Cougars continue to pressure the Dinos as they searched for the equalizer, but all they found was a wall named Roberts. The Cougars led in shots in this period as well., but it was all for naught as the final horn sounded on this game that saw Dinos win 1-0! Roberts was outstanding in stopping all 27 shots she faced for her sixth shutout of the season while DeBeauville stopped 11 shots in the loss.

CALGARY at MOUNT ROYAL: The second-half of this all-Calgary series would move to Flames Community Arena. Both teams came out flying in this one, but Mount Royal played a solid possession game in the opening frame to really set up a number of chances. Rachel Piitz was stopped on a breakaway by Kelsey Roberts following a good power-play, but it was the same story as the night before as both teams went to the intermission scoreless despite Mount Royal leading 8-2 in shots.

An early power-play in the second period proved fruitless for the Dinos, and a power-play for Mount Royal a few minutes later would also turn up goalless. The second Calgary penalty of the period to Kate Lumley, however, turned the tides. After Lumley was sent off for slashing at 14:38, Mount Royal needed 1:57 of the two-minute advantage, but they finally snapped their scoreless drought. After some great puck movement late in the power-play, Anna Purschke fired home her fourth of the season off a tic-tac-toe passing play from Nicolette Seper and Channia Alexander at 16:35! The Cougars would take the 1-0 lead into the intermission after leading 17-5 in shots through two periods.

The Dinos came roaring out of the intermission, firing a number of shots on Zoe DeBeauville early on in the final period, but the Mount Royal netminder stood tall. Despite leading in shots in the period, the Dinos simply could not solve DeBeauville on this night. The Mount Royal Cougars would exact a little vengeance with their own 1-0 victory over the Dinos! DeBeauville stopped eleven shots for her fifth shutout of the season while Roberts made 20 stops for the losing side.

LETHBRIDGE at ALBERTA: The Pronghorns visited Edmonton where Alberta had been on one heckuva streak, pitching shutouts in four-straight games. Lethbridge, though, was coming off a weekend where they had given UBC everything they had, so it was another tough battle for the 'Horns. The opening period saw both teams using strong defence to keep good scoring chances at bay. It would be a late too-many-players penalty on Alberta where we would open the scoring. Alberta's Alex Poznikoff was just open enough to get her stick on the rebound off Regan Wright's shot while shorthanded.
The goal at 18:05 put the Pandas up by a goal through the opening frame.

The second period would feature no scoring as both Lethbridge's Alicia Anderson and Alberta's Dayna Owen were perfect on all shot attempts, so we'd move to the third period with Alberta leading 22-8 in shots. Midway through the period, the relentless Pandas attack would strike again as Autumn MacDougall and Poznikoff skated away on the two-on-one.
Poznikoff's second goal of the night was more than Dayna Owen needed as she helped Alberta to its fifth-straight shutout of its opponents, and a streak totaling 351:38 of clean-sheet hockey in the 2-0 win! Owen stopped 13 shots for her fourth shutout of the season while Anderson was outstanding in the 28-save loss.

LETHBRIDGE at ALBERTA: Three games thus far on the weekend, and three shutouts. Would Alberta keep the streak going by playing more shutout hockey? If you needed some instant gratification, they would.

It took 53:40 to get a goal in this game, but the Pandas absolutely smothered the Pronghorns in this game. They led 24-4 in shots through two periods, and it would be Alex Poznikoff who would finally break the deadlock.
Poznikoff's redirection of Autumn MacDougall's centering pass was enough for Kirsten Chamberlin as she had a very quiet night in helping Alberta set the second-longest shutout streak in Canada West history at 411:38 as the Pandas skated to the 1-0 victory! Chamberlin made ten stops for her fourth shutout of the season while Anderson was incredible in stopping 31 of 32 shots in the one-goal loss.

MANITOBA at REGINA: Manitoba was looking to improve their standing while keeping pace or catching UBC. Regina was trying to fend off both Mount Royal and Calgary as they tried to regain fifth-place. The Bisons came out with guns a-blazing in this one as they peppered Jane Kish early on. It would take them the majority of the period, but the Bisons would finally break through on the power-play when Alanna Sharman went cross-ice to Alana Serhan's wheelhouse, and the big winger one-timed a blast past Kish at 16:36 to put the Bisons up 1-0. At the end of the period, that score stood, and Manitoba had a 12-1 advantage in shots!

It didn't take the Bisons long to double their lead in the middle frame. Lauryn Keen tore up the left wing and left a shot go that Kish appeared to have, but the puck ended up just trickling across the goal line behind her on the short-side just 37 seconds into the period, and it was 2-0 Manitoba. Six minutes later, Makaela Fisher scored her first Canada West goal in her career when she whacked home a bouncing puck in the slot that fooled Kish at 6:49, and Manitoba was out to a 3-0 lead.

The Cougars would find the board five minutes later when Lilla Carpenter-Boesch picked up a Kaitlyn Crowe rebound off Lauren Taraschuk's save, and Carpenter-Boesch potted the puck in the net with Taraschuk out of position at 11:23 to make it a 3-1 game.

Regina found all sorts of pressure in the third period as they came to life needing a pair of goals to tie the game, but all 13 shots they sent at Taraschuk were turned aside. With Kish on the bench for the extra attack with 40 seconds to play, Alana Serhan iced this game with 10 seconds to play when her shot found the empty net. Manitoba skates to the 4-1 victory on Friday! Taraschuk stopped 18 of 19 shots for the win while Kish made 29 stops in the loss.

MANITOBA at REGINA: Saturday's game has a decidedly different tone as the Cougars and Bisons came out buzzing just as they finished the game the night before. It wouldn't be long before the visitors found the scoreboard, though, as Erica Rieder jumped into the play, picked up a rebound off Lauryn Keen's shot, and went high glove-side on Morgan Baker at 4:15 to make it 1-0 Manitoba.

And then... nothing. Rachel Dyck and Morgan Baker stared down every other shooter for the remaining 55:45. There were chances at both ends of the ice, but neither goaltender would relinquish a goal. At the final horn, Rieder's single tally stood as the winner as the Bisons took this game by the 1-0 score. Dyck made 29 saves for her third shutout of the season while Baker played exceptionally well in a 25-save loss.

UBC at SASKATCHEWAN: In a clash that had all sorts of playoff implications written on it, the first-place Thunderbirds visited the fourth-place Huskies. Points were needed by both teams, but Friday's game saw only one team do any damage on the scoreboard.

In what turned out to be a very tight-checking game, Leah Bohlken would open the scoring in the second period when she swept in from the point, picked up a long rebound, and went high stick-side on UBC's Tory Micklash at 15:01 for the 1-0 Saskatchewan lead.

The third period saw Saakatchewan's near-dead power-play come alive as Emma Nutter's one-timer found room through traffic to get by Micklash at 6:40. Jessica Vance, however, is otherworldly right now, and she denied the T-Birds on all chances on this night. Saskatchewan downs UBC with the 2-0 win! Vance posted her seventh shutout of the season in stopping all 13 shots she saw while Micklash suffered the loss after making 16 saves.

UBC at SASKATCHEWAN: After the loss on Friday and seeing first-place slip out of their grasp, you knew UBC was going to respond with a better effort on Saturday. However, similar to Friday's game, we'd play a scoreless first period as UBC's Amelia Boughn and Saskatchewan's Jessica Vance were perfect through twenty minutes.

The second period looked much the same, but it would be UBC who finally figured out how to beat Vance. Hannah Clayton-Carroll got credit for the goal, but I'm pretty sure she set up Logan Boyd's goal on the stick side at the 17:00 mark for the 1-0 UBC lead.

Saskatchewan would be the far more aggressive team in the third period, and it paid off on the power-play. With Kathleen Cahoon in the sin bin for tripping, Kori Herner's shot missed the net but took a Huskies-friendly bounce back towards the slot. Kennedy Harris made short work of it as she settled it and fired it past Boughn at 12:35 for the 1-1 equalizer!

The final 7:25 saw no additional goals scored, so this game would need extra time! Unfortunately, both overtime periods also proved fruitless, so this game would be decided with the skills competition! Kaitlin Willoughby's goal in the second round would be the only one to get by either goalie, and Saskatchewan skated to the 2-1 shootout victory! Vance made 21 stops for her conference-leading eleventh win while Amelia Boughn stopped 39 shots on the wrong end of this one.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
53 53 37
50 59 35
British Columbia
48 53 36
vs MRU
48 41 27
vs ALB
Mount Royal
27 34 43
23 18 40
vs REG
23 33 55
16 25 43
vs MAN
Teams in yellow have clinched a playoff spot.

The Final Word

The four teams who have clinched playoff spots will have home playoff dates for their first playoff series. That's really all that has been finalized with two weeks and four games remaining. However, as the race for first-place nears the finish line, there's one thing that is certain: if the Bisons capture ten of the remaining 12 points on the schedule, they clinch first-overall and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

This week's games could have major impact as Alberta visits Sasaktchewan with two points separating the teams and Alberta on that insane shutout streak. Saskatchewan, though, just finished its season series with UBC in taking all four games and only allowing two goals in those four games. The Huskies are a big-game team, it seems, and this weekend's games will be the biggest of their season in trying to capture one of the top-two spots.

UBC has a chance to really derail Mount Royal's playoff chances this weekend, and Regina meets Calgary with fifth- and sixth-place on the line in Canada West. If you want playoff intensity, this weekend should ramp it up nicely at four schools as playoff spots are on the line! Get down to your local campus and check out this great hockey action!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: