Sunday, 20 January 2019

The Rundown - Week 11

It was seemingly a week where the top-four teams in Canada West could pad their point totals as each faced off against a team occupying the bottom-four spots in the conference. However, if I've learned anything from watching Canada West hockey over the last few years, it's that no team can be taken for granted. Lethbridge has beaten UBC this year, Mount Royal split with Alberta earlier in the season, and Regina has taken a game off Saskatchewan - literally anyone can beat anyone on any given day! With that being said, let's get into this week's action on The Rundown!

FRIDAY: Saskatchewan was looking to keep pace, if not catch, UBC in the standings this weekend with a pair of wins over Lethbridge while the Pronghorns needed points to hunt down one of the two Cougar-named teams in Regina and Mount Royal. Both teams started their aces in the paint as Alicia Anderson got the call for Lethbridge while Jessica Vance went to the net for the Huskies. And not to foreshadow this too much, but their names will get mentioned a number of times in this recap.

Both teams came out with some fire in their skates as they tried to establish the pace, but the two netminders were ready for all attacks as they kept the opposition off the scoreboard. Despite the two teams trading power-play chances and Saskatchewan holding a 13-8 advantage in shots, this game would go to the second period deadlocked at 0-0.

The second period would be more of the same as the teams were whistled for two penalties each, but the nets remained closed to all pucks thanks to the efforts of Anderson and Vance. Both goalies put in another clean period of play, so we'd move to the third period with the game still tied at 0-0.

The third period? More stalemate hockey despite both teams pushing for a winner. Again, the teams would exchange power-play opportunities only to be denied, and this game would need some free hockey to determine a winner despite Saskatchewan leading 49-20 in shots through regulation time!

Stop me if you've heard this before, but there were no goals scored during the four-on-four overtime period. It would take a fifth period to find a winner, and a turnover deep in a defensive zone is the key to this goal.
Leah Bohlken took the drop-pass from Bailee Bourassa, and she wired a shot past Anderson to give the Huskies the 1-0 double-overtime victory! Jessica Vance stood tall for the Huskies in recording her fifth shutout and ninth win in a 23-save effort while Alicia Anderson was brilliant in a losing effort while making 56 stops.

SATURDAY: After Friday's goaltending clinic, one had to wonder whether Alicia Anderson and Jessica Vance would be ready to go one evening later. Again, with critical points up for grabs, both Huskies head coach Steve Kook and Pronghorns head coach Michelle Janus went with their number-one netminders as Anderson and Vance got the calls once again. The good news is that both teams came to play again tonight as the Pronghorns had chances early before the Huskies rallied back with their own offensive output and really controlled the period. The goalies, however, were still in the zone from the night before. Midway through the opening frame, though, Emily Upgang drove the Lethbridge net hard where Anderson made the save, but Brooklyn Haubrich was there to net the rebound as the Huskies went up 1-0 at 11:42. It appeared we'd head for the intermission at that score, but a late power-play gave Saskatchewan the opportunity they needed to double their lead when a scramble in front of Anderson with the seconds ticking down saw Bailee Bourassa get the puck past Anderson at 19:54 to put the Huskies up 2-0! At the break, Saskatchewan held a 19-3 lead in shots as well as Alicia Anderson was under siege for 18 of the 20 total minutes.

The second period was more of the Huskies dominating home-ice possession and shot stats, but it also featured some rather incredible netminding from a goaltender who is relied upon by her team far too often. Anderson stood tall to keep Saskatchewan from pulling away with two early power-play chances, and Lethbridge began to find their legs thanks to a power-play in the latter half of the period. However, Jessica Vance was solid when called upon as well, and we'd move to the third period with the Huskies still up a pair.

The third period began with Lethbridge on the power-play, but the Huskies would kill that chance off. The teams traded shots at either end, but nothing would find twine until the final five minutes when Saskatchewan converted on a partial two-on-one.
Sophie Lalor sent a perfect feed across to Leah Bohlken who beat Anderson with her shot to put the Huskies up 3-0 at 15:40, and it was simply a matter of helping Vance keep the scoresheet free of ink at that point. Despite Lethbridge having a late power-play, the game would come to a close with that 3-0 score intact as Saskatchewan claimed victory! Jessica Vance stopped 19 shots for her tenth win and sixth shutout of the season while Alicia Anderson made another 46 saves in the loss.

FRIDAY: With Calgary still mathematically in the race, they should be in desperation mode for the remainder of the season. It's likely they'll end up playing the spoiler against teams who need points, but Calgary came into this weekend needing every point possible. The UBC Thunderbirds were looking to hold off Saskatchewan while trying to gather points and close the gap between themselves and Manitoba. Tory Micklash got the nod for UBC as the starting goalie after her big weekend against the Pandas one week ago while Kelsey Roberts was in her usual spot in front of the Calgary net.

UBC had most of the chances in the first period, but Kelsey Roberts was content with the zero next to UBC's name on the scoreboard as she made several key saves in the opening frame. Micklash was not nearly as busy as she pushed aside two pucks sent her way, and these two teams would go into the intermission still tied at 0-0.

The second period saw the tams trade power-play chances in the first-half of the frame, but we'd sit on that goalless mark for another few minutes. With less than five minutes left in the period, though, we'd see our first goal of the game!
It seemed as though Rachel Paul lost the puck in a UBC defender's skates, but the Dinos forward found it in time to snap it past Tory Micklash at 15:34 to put the home side up 1-0! That would be the only puck to dent twine in the second period as Calgary took the slimmest of leads into the third period.

Early in the third period, UBC's Jenna Fletcher was sent to the penalty box, and the Dinos didn't waste any time.
Rachel Paul won the draw back to Delaney Frey whose shot goes upstairs on Tory Micklash just four seconds into the advantage, and Calgary found themselves with a 2-0 at the 5:11 mark of the third period! That second goal seemed to trigger the UBC Thunderbirds as they roared back in looking to cut the deficit, but Roberts and the Dinos' defence stood tall. UBC would finally get to Roberts, though, when Emily Costales found the puck in a scramble and beat Roberts with 45 seconds on the clock, but the Dinos would hold on for the 2-1 win! Kelsey Roberts was at her best in stopping 30 shots for her third win of the season while Tory Micklash suffered the loss in a ten-save effort.

SATURDAY: After the loss one night earlier, UBC found themselves further behind Manitoba while Saskatchewan closed the gap between themselves and the Thunderbirds. While we're not quite in "must-win" territory yet, this may have been as close as the T-Birds have been all season. Calgary, having recorded their third win of the season, kept the hope alive with three points, and they were looking to build on that win today. Kelsey Roberts was back in net for the Dinos while Amelia Boughn drew the assignment for UBC from head coach Graham Thomas. And the Thunderbirds decided to waste no time today as they scored early and often.

Just two minutes in and with all the pressure on in the Dinos' zone, UBC's Ashley McFadden picked up the puck in a scramble and zipped it up high over Roberts to give UBC the early 1-0 lead just 2:25 into the game! Two-and-a-half minutes later, the score became 2-0 when Ireland Perrott beat a couple of defenders to get a shot off that was deflected by Celine Tardif at the 5:56 mark! The period saw the Dinos find a little life thanks to a power-play, and it would be moments after the penalized player returned that the Dinos got a goal back.
Sage Desjardins finishes off the solid rush by Rachel Paul as Desjardins converts the pass at 17:06 to make it a 2-1 game! That score would hold into the intermission as both teams look to add more in the second period.

The second period saw Calgary run into penalty trouble as they failed to find any sustained pressure on the T-Birds, and UBC used some of that extended offensive zone time to make the hole a little deeper for the Dinos. Ireland Perrott's pass found its way through two Dinos defenders to the wheelhouse of Mikayla Ogrodniczuk, and she one-timed a blast past Roberts at 8:17 to make it 3-1 for the T-Birds. Thanks to four minor penalties, the Dinos needed a better third period if they hoped to salvage points in this one.

The third period was much better for the Dinos as they skated stride for stride with the T-Birds, but they simply couldn't find room past Boughn. Late in the game, Ashley McFadden would ice this contest as she scored a shorthanded goal with 2:22 to play as the UBC Thunderbirds skated to the 4-1 win! Amelia Boughn earned her fourth win of the season in a 20-save effort while Kelsey Roberts absorbed the loss after stopping 25 shots.

FRIDAY: Manitoba was within striking distance of Alberta to start this weekend, and had put a solid gap between them and UBC. The Bisons had a mission this weekend to win both games and keep the heat on the Pandas. The Regina Cougars needed to find a way past the Bisons in order to hold off both Lethbridge and Mount Royal while trying to catch their provincial rivals in the Saskatchewan Huskies. Morgan Baker would head to the net for the Cougars on this night while Manitoba sent out Lauren Taraschuk to defend their nets.

The pace was set by Manitoba early on home ice as they had a couple of glorious chances only to be denied by Baker. That pressure would continue over a power-play, but the Bisons failed to convert on that opportunity midway through the period. They would not be denied for the entire period, however, as Alanna Sharman scored her third goal of the season after picking the pocket of a Cougars defender and going shelf over Baker at 13:57 to put Manitoba up 1-0! Regina pushed back, but the Bisons would find the net again before the horn went. Megan Neduzak unleashed a slapper on net that Baker could not stop, and the Bisons owned a 2-0 lead heading into the second period.

Both teams came out focused for the second period as they hunted for goals, but both Baker and Taraschuk were there to spoil the party. Manitoba would find themselves with a power-play to start the third period after a penalty was assessed to Emma Coulter with less than a second to play in the frame, and Manitoba maintained the two-goal lead through 40 minutes.

Why did I mention that penalty above? Just 19 seconds into the third, Alanna Sharman's initial shot was stopped, but Sheridan Oswald was in perfect position to pot the rebound, and the Bisons were up 3-0 on the power-play marker. However, Lauryn Keen would be sent off 20 seconds later, and the Regina Cougars would get their own power-play goal 14 seconds after that when Jaycee Magwood got a stick on an Emily Middagh shot from the point that eluded Taraschuk, and the Cougars were down 3-1 after 53 seconds of play in the third period. The remainder of the period saw no additional goals despite some chances for either side, and the Bisons claimed the front half of the two-game set by a 3-1 score! Lauren Taraschuk made ten saves for her 12th win of the season while Morgan Baker took the loss despite making 24 saves.

It should be noted that with the victory tonight, combined with Lethbridge's loss in overtime, Manitoba became the first team to claim a playoff spot in this season's Canada West playoffs.

SATURDAY: It was a new day, but the same storylines continued as Manitoba and Regina both looked to track down teams ahead of them while holding off teams behind them. Lauren Taraschuk was back in the net for Manitoba, but Regina opted to start Jane Kish in the matinee game.

Kish may have wished to have been sitting where Morgan Baker was on the bench because Manitoba came out firing on all cylinders, and they put Regina in a deep hole before the game was 12 minutes old. Jordyn Zacharias scored on a breakaway at 6:05, Sheridan Oswald tipped home a puck on the power-play at 8:25, Oswald added a second goal on a set face-off play where she simply had to tap home a backdoor feed from Zacharias at 10:48, and Lauryn Keen rounded out the outburst of scoring when she scooped up a loose puck and deposited it behind Kish at 11:30 to put Manitoba out in front 4-0.

At this point, Regina head coach Sarah Hodges called her team over and calmly rallied the troops as her team needed to break out of the shell-shock. The Cougars did come back to life as they looked to chip away on this lead that Manitoba had built, but the 4-0 margin would carry into the intermission after the final minutes of the period would ramp up the physicality between these two teams.

The Cougars came out of the break seemingly on a mission as Elise Endicott just missed a chance before Ireland South got a shot through on a screened Taraschuk that beat the netminder at 1:06 to make it a 4-1 game. However, the Bisons would respond minutes later when Erin Kucheravy's shot went off a Regina player in front and eluded Kish at 4:48 to make it a 5-1 game. The physical play didn't slow down as there were several egregious penalties that weren't called to go along with a few that were. At the end of the period, bumps and bruises were present for a number of players, but the Bisons still led 5-1.

The physicality spilled over into the third period as neither team backed away from taking a shot or delivering a hit. As the period progressed, it seemed one team was heading to the sin bin more often the other, but they would find a positive in one of those penalties. Regina was down a player when Emma Waldenberger drove the Manitoba net hard, and her pass across the crease was chipped in by a pinching Shaelyn Vallotton for the shorthanded goal at 7:24 to make it 5-2! However, the penalties against Regina would cost them when they went down two players and Manitoba struck. First, Jenai Buchanan loaded up a clap-bomb and beat Kish at 11:56 before Katie Charyrbok was on the doorstep to clean up a rebound for her second goal and first career power-play goal at 13:19 to make it a 7-2 advantage for Manitoba.

After nine-straight penalties had been called against the Cougars, Regina finally saw some power-play time with five minutes to play. Emma Waldenberger would make a couple of impressive moves around Bisons penalty-killers before roofing a backhand over Taraschuk who had Jenna Merk in her crease, but the officials said it was a good goal for the Cougars and it was 7-3 was 4:29 to play. The final minutes would tick off with a few more hits and shots thrown, but the Bisons used the high-scoring first period to capture the 7-3 victory! Lauren Taraschuk claimed her 13th victory of the season in stopping 18 shots while Kish absorbed the loss after making 32 stops on the afternoon.

FRIDAY: The last time that Alberta visited Flames Community Arena, they were on the losing end of a 3-1 decision. They were looking to erase that from their memories while maintaining their first-place standing. Mount Royal, on the other hand, was looking to catch Regina while fending off the Pronghorns who were chasing them. Dayna Owen got the call in the Alberta goaltender rotation while Zoe De Beauville donned the mask for the Cougars.

The Pandas seemed like they were content to develop control of the game and dictate the pace, but it would be Mount Royal who struck first when Nicolette Seper made a gorgeous outside-inside move off the wing around a defender to find daylight in the slot, and her shot found room through Owen's five-hole at 9:49 to put the home side up 1-0! Minutes later on the power-play, Kate Scidmore stepped out from behind the net and beat Owen from a bad angle between Owen and the post while on the power-play to put Mount Royal up 2-0 at 15:56! That score would hold for the remainder of the period as the Cougars went to the break very happy.

The Pandas came out in the second period looking like they had business to conduct, but an early penalty slowed that attack. And it would get worse as Tatum Amy teed up a blast from just inside the right face-off circle that got past Owen at 5:09 to put Mount Royal up 3-0! Despite outshooting the Cougars 13-9 in the period, they still did not have an answer for the superb goaltending of Zoe De Beauville as the Cougars took their three-goal lead into the third period.

Early in the third period, the Pandas would finally solve De Beauville as Danielle Hardy's shot from the outside found a seam on De Beauville at 5:54 as the Pandas cut the lead to 3-1. The Pandas would continue to send waves of attackers in, but De Beauville continued to repel the attacks. That would pay off past the midway point in the period when Morgan Ramsey would get over the Alberta line and drop a pass for Mackenzie Butz, and Butz's shot appeared to hit someone on the way into Owen as the puck went up and over her glove and into the back of the net for the 4-1 lead at 13:07! The Pandas would get one more goal with 1:29 to play when Autumn MacDougall converted a feed from Kennedy Ganser in the slot, but the Cougars would be too much for the Pandas on this night as they won for the second time this season over the Pandas on home ice by a 4-2 score! Zoe De Beauville was outstanding on a night where she made 31 stops for her eighth win of the season while Dayna Owen was on the losing end after making eleven stops.

Highlights of the game are below!

SATURDAY: With the series shifting to Edmonton for the second half of the home-and-home, the Pandas were looking to even the season series at 2-2 with the Pandas while clinching a playoff spot. Mount Royal wanted to keep the good times rolling despite the 7-0 loss the Pandas hung on them the last time they visited Clare Drake Arena. Emma Pincott got the start for the Cougars while Kirsten Chamberlin was tasked to defend the Pandas' net.

Both teams seemed to be a little more cautious to start this game, but the Pandas would take the lead eight minutes into the game when Cayle Dillon's point shot went through traffic past a screen Emma Pincott at 8:53 to put Alberta up 1-0 as they took their first lead of the weekend. The Couagrs had a couple of Grade-A chances in the period, but Chamberlin not only shut the door but took away any second chances by not giving up rebounds. After one period, Alberta held the 8-6 advantage in shots and the 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.

The second period was played up and down the ice with chances at both ends, but both Pincott and Chamberlin were at their best in denying the chances. Unfortunately for the Cougars, Alex Poznikoff fired a laser over Pincott's shoulder at 15:57 that put the Pandas up 2-0, but it would be the only goal scored in the frame as Alberta went to the third period up two goals.

The final period was all about protecting the lead, and Alberta did that very well as they allowed just three shots through to Chamberlin through the frame. None of those found twine, and Alberta would cap the game off with an Amy Boucher empty-netter at 19:11 to secure the 3-0 win! Chamberlin made 17 saves for her seventh win and fourth shutout of the season while Emma Pincott made 24 saves in defeat.

With the victory, Alberta clinched a playoff spot in the Canada West playoffs!

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
48 67 33
47 52 20
vs REG
British Columbia
40 46 29
vs SAS
39 38 28
28 39 56
Mount Royal
27 32 52
23 26 48
vs MAN
12 25 59
vs MRU
NOTE: Teams in yellow and italicized have clinched a playoff spot.

The Last Word

After this weekend, we have two teams who have clinched playoff spots. We have a new team in first-place in the standings. And we've seen virtually any team able to beat any other team on any night. This is one heckuva season, and we still have three weeks of games to play! There are some things that need to be pointed out after the dust settled on this weekend, so let's take a look at these things.

The Manitoba Bisons and Alberta Pandas can finish no lower than fourth-place if the world were to fall out beneath their skates based on the total number of points still available to every other team. That guarantees them at least one home game in the playoffs at this time.

It's possible that the upcoming series between UBC and Saskatchewan may decide who finishes in third-place and who finishes in fourth-place. If the two teams were to split the points, that would leave UBC with games at Manitoba and at home versus Regina while Saksatchewan would finish with games at Mount Royal before ending the season at home against Manitoba. Ultimately, Manitoba could determine who finishes where in the standings.

With 18 points left on the table, UBC would need one point on Friday against Saskatchewan OR a Lethbridge loss of any kind on Friday to clinch a playoff spot. The season series is tied at 2-2, but UBC holds the tie-breaker against Lethbridge once one gets deeper into the tie-breaking rules.

With 18 points left on the table, Saskatchewan would need two points on Friday against UBC OR a Lethbridge loss of any kind on Friday to clinch a playoff spot. The season series is 4-0 in favour of Saskatchewan, so they hold the tie-breaker over the Pronghorns.

By this time next week, four of the six playoff spots could be claimed. We could see more movement in the standings as Regina and Mount Royal battle for the fifth-place spot while Manitoba and Alberta continue their battle for first-place in the conference.

It's another great stretch run in Canada West! Don't miss it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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