Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Rundown - Week 13

We're back to our normal Sunday placement of this article following the Crowchild Classic pushing last week's edition of The Rundown to Tuesday. That means it was a short week for Calgary and Mount Royal when it came to preparations for this weekend's games, and both teams were desperate for points. Alberta looked to hold onto top spot, Manitoba was looking to end UBC's attempt to catch them, Saskatchewan was looking to lock up a home playoff series while Regina was looking to simply lock down a playoff spot of any kind, and Lethbridge was trying to hunt down both Regina and Mount Royal. We could see the playoffs set this week, so let's get into The Rundown!

FRIDAY: We'll start in Regina where the Dinos had to win all of their remaining four games to have a chance at the playoffs. Any loss of any kind would end their run for the postseason. Regina, with three points this weekend AND a pair of losses this weekend from the Lethbridge Pronghorns, would book their ticket to the playoffs. Kelsey Roberts took the assignment for Calgary while Regina sent Jane Kish out to defend the net.

The home team looked good early on with chances on Roberts, but she would deny all opportunities. Kish made a couple of stops, but wasn't tested. A mid-period power-play proved fortuitous for Cougars as Tamara McVannel's shot was deflected by Ireland South only to be stopped by Roberts, but big Emma Waldenberger was in perfect position on the doorstep to clean up the rebound at 12:39 to make it a 1-0 game! Minutes later, though, the Dinos would get their own power-play goal when Dana Wood found Delaney Frey in the slot who lost her balance, but the veteran forward still managed to get a shot away through traffic and past Kish at 17:52 to tie the game at 1-1! When the horn sounded, these two teams would go to the second tied at one goal apiece, but with Regina doubling up Calgary in shots at 12-6!

The second period was literally all claws and teeth as the Cougars came out and mauled the Dinos in the second period in outshooting Calgary 14-2! There were no penalties called in the second period as well, but with Roberts and Kish doing their parts in trying to get their teams into the playoffs, we'd move to the third period still tied 1-1!

The Dinos seemed to find some energy in the break as they looked more dangerous, but they could not beat Kish. Midway through the period, Frey was sent off for bodychecking, and that penalty would be the advantage that the Cougars needed as a dump-in by McVannel was recovered and centered by Waldenberger from the corner, and the puck deflected off a Dino directly to Ireland South who deposited the puck past Roberts to make it 2-1 at 11:12!

The Dinos came roaring back as they pushed for the equalizer, using a power-play to generate a handful of chances, but Kish would not falter. With her effort, the Cougars were able to hold on for the 2-1 victory! Kish was solid in a 15-save win for her seventh celebration of the season while Roberts would suffer the loss in a 30-save performance.

Officially with the loss, the Calgary Dinos were mathematically eliminated from the playoff race on this night.

SATURDAY: With nothing to lose and the chance to play spoiler in the Cougars' efforts to lock up fifth-place or better in the conference, the Dinos opted to start Kira Wasyluk in just her fourth appearance this season. Jane Kish went back to work for the Cougars with her team searching for more points.

The two teams came out in a relatively even period. Shots were had at both ends, saves were made, and the teams found themselves still tied at the end of 20 minutes by a 0-0 score with Regina leading 9-6 in shots.

The second period looked a lot like the Friday's second period as the Regina Cougars came out in the middle frame and dominated the Dinos as they had chances that included an Ireland South shot that pinged off the horizontal bar behind Wasyluk. Late in the period, Chelsea Hallson and Emma Waldenberger broke in on a two-on-one, and Hallson was forced to shoot as the Dinos' defender made a good play in taking away the pass. The shot was stopped by Wasyluk, but the rebound was batted out of the air by Waldenberger past the surprised netminder at 16:10 to put Regina up 1-0! In a period where they outshot the Dinos 11-2, the Cougars would lead the Dinos 1-0 after two periods of play!

The third period started with more vigor as the Cougars doubled their lead early. Shaelyn Vallotton's blast was tipped by Adela Juzkova past Wasyluk at 3:46 to make it 2-0 for Regina. Calgary, however, wasn't prepared to go quietly as they began to mount some offence. That would pay off four minutes later when Sage Desjardins drove the net hard with a defender on her, but managed to beat Kish's pad with a backhander at 7:21 to cut the deficit to one goal. A late penalty to Vallotton saw Calgary with a number of chances to tie the game, but they would be turned aside by Kish as the Cougars would hold on for the 2-1 victory! Jane Kish stopped 15 shots in earning her eighth win while Kira Wasyluk stopped 25 shots in the loss.

FRIDAY: The Mount Royal Cougars were looking to lock up a playoff spot, and they could make that happen by picking up three points this weekend AND seeing the Lethbridge Pronghorns lose both of their games. Saskatchewan had clinched a playoff spot one week earlier, but could clinch a home playoff date in the quarterfinals with three points earned this weekend. Friday's game would see Jessica Vance get the call for Saskatchewan while Mount Royal opted to start Emma Pincott.

The Huskies were the far more offensive team to start the game, peppering Pincott with shots from the opening face-off. It would result in the game's opening goal minutes later when Courtney Cormack's clap-bomb low on the stick side found twine behind Pincott at 6:34 to put the visitors up 1-0! That goal seemed to awaken the Cougars as they roared back to get a number of chances on Vance, but the Huskies netminder stood tall in the opening period as Saskatchewan took the 1-0 lead into the intermission.

The second period was all about goal scoring. Brooklyn Haubrich loaded up a slapshot from the point in the opening minute that found room through the pads of Pincott to make it 2-0 for Saskatchewan just 41 seconds into the frame. Three minutes later, Breanne Trotter cut the lead to one goal when she poked home a puck in traffic past Vance while on the power-play as Elizabeth Salyn watched from the sin bin at 3:49. The Cougars would keep coming, and it would be Tianna Ko whose efforts around the net would be rewarded when she beat Vance at 7:24 to tie the game at 2-2! The final goal of the period came minutes after the tying goal as Shyan Elias one-timed a pack past Pincott off an Abby Shirley feed at 11:30, and it was 3-2 for the Huskies! In a period where Mount Royal outshot Saskatchewan 12-11, the Huskies held the one-goal lead after 40 minutes.

In the third period, the Cougars once again threw a number of pucks at Vance only to be denied. Seven minutes into the period, Elias used a pair of Cougars as a screen as she wristed a shot past Pincott to put Saskatchewan up 4-2 at 7:53. The Cougars would respond seven minutes later themselves when Nicolette Seper found room past Vance on the power-play to make it a 4-3 game with 5:09 to play. Despite some furious pressure at the end with Pincott on the bench with 1:23 to go, Vance and the Huskies withstood the storm to claim victory by the 4-3 score! Jessica Vance stopped 26 shots for her 11th win of the season while Emma Pincott made 20 stops in the loss.

Highlights from the Mount Royal side of the ice are below!

SATURDAY: After picking up the three points necessary to claim a quarterfinal home date, the Huskies met the Cougars on Saturday evening. The Cougars still were battling for their own playoff life, needing three points along with some help to claim one of the final two playoff spots. Zoe De Beauville got the nod for Mount Royal in this game while Camryn Drever was assigned the start for the Huskies.

I'm not sure that we need to have a long write-up on this one when one team decided to fill the other's net with pucks. Breanne Trotter scored on Mount Royal's first shot at 2:31, but Saskatchewan would tie the game on the power-play late in the first period when Emily Upgang beat De Beauville. After the first period, the teams were tied 1-1.

And that's where the wheels fell off for Huskies. Second-period goals by Trotter at 9:21, Shawni Rodeback at 13:02, and Anna Purschke on the power-play at 16:50 gave Mount Royal a 4-1 lead through two periods. The three-goal outburst also prompted Saskatchewan head coach Steve Kook to make a change at the break as he sent Jessica Vance to the crease to start the third period, but it wouldn't help as Purschke scored her second of the game at 15:26 before Kennedy Bozek added another power-play goal at 16:22.

When the dust settled, the Mount Royal Cougars claimed victory with a statement in a 6-1 win! Zoe De Beauville was solid in a 25-save effort for her ninth win of the season while Camryn Drever was saddled with the loss after stopping 11 of 15 shots she faced. For the record, Jessica Vance stopped 10 of 12 shots she faced in the third period.

Highlights of this game are below!

FRIDAY: Alberta was looking to increase their lead at the top of the standings while Lethbridge needed wins to track down Regina and Mount Royal or, at worst, keep their playoff hopes alive for another week. Beating the Pandas wouldn't be easy, but Mount Royal had down it twice already this season so there was hope for the Pronghorns. Halle Oswald got the start for the Pandas while Alicia Anderson was given the job of stopping the Pandas.

The Pandas would kick this game off right after drawing a penalty just 1:33 in, and Autumn MacDougall scored the power-play goal from the doorstep after a nice cross-crease feed from Kiara Machry just 1:56 into the game to put Alberta up 1-0. Lethbridge seemed to settle in after that and, despite Alberta controlling the pace, kept the Pandas from making the score at any worse. At the end of 20 minutes, the Pandas held the 1-0 lead and a 10-5 margin in shots.

The second period saw a different approach by both teams as a parade to the sin bins began. Lehtbridge was called for four minor penalties while Alberta had three, yet we only saw one power-play goal scored in the frame. Early on, Danielle Hardy broke into the Pronghorns zone and unleashed a low slapper that trickled through Anderson's pads into the net for the 2-0 Alberta lead at 2:29. Minutes later, Kennedy Ganser went in on a partial breakaway and faked a move that allowed the puck to find room through Anderson's five-hole once more, and the Pandas were out in front 3-0 at 6:50.

Lethbridge used a power-play midway through the period to chip away at that lead. Eryn Johnson's shot from the point was turned aside by Oswald, but Katie Breitkreuz picked up the rebound, fed an open Delaney Duchek, and Duchek's quick shot went off Oswald and into the Pandas' cage to make it 3-1 at 12:35! However, the celebration was short-lived as Alex Poznikoff weaved some magic by cutting into the Pronghorns' zone one minute later, forcing the defenders to open up, before feeding a streaking Autumn MacDougall for her second goal of the game at 13:44! That 4-1 lead would hold through the remainder of the period as the Pandas were 20 minutes from a 20th win on the season and 16th win in regulation time.

The third period was rather quiet as Alberta outshot Lethbridge 8-5, but neither side could use a power-play apiece to add to their totals. When the final horn sounded, the Pandas had secured the 4-1 victory. Halle Oswald was good on 17 shots for her eighth win of the season while Alicia Anderson made 29 stops in the losing effort.

SATURDAY: With Alberta winning the night before, the Saturday game between the Pronghorns and Pandas became a must-win for Lethbridge if they hoped to keep their playoff hopes alive while needing some help from other teams in the conference. Do-or-die games always add to the pressure felt by teams to perform in this already-competitive Canada West conference, so could Lethbridge fend off the Pandas on home ice? Alicia Anderson was sent to the crease again by Lethbridge while the Pandas turned to Kirsten Chamberlin.

Alberta once again dominated play for much of the night in this game. Their stingy defence was on display in the opening frame as they allowed just two shots through the opening half of the period. That defence would pay off slightly past the midway point of the period when Autumn MacDougall controlled the puck behind the Lethbridge net before feeding Jaslin Sawatzky out front who beat Anderson at 10:54 to put the Pandas up 1-0! Lethbridge wouldn't mount offence int he second-half of the period as well, but Anderson was doing all she could in keeping her team's playoff hopes alive as the Pronghorns trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes despite being outshot 15-4 in the frame!

The Pronghorns killed an early penalty in the second period, and they used that momentum to come back down the ice and find the back of the net. Jodi Gentile hit Delaney Duchek with a pass, and her feed into the slot to Jordan Doram was on the money as Doram went shelf past Chamberlin at 2:28 to tie the game at 1-1! That goal sparked the Pandas back to life as they suffocated the Pronghorns time and time again in their own zone with Lethbridge unable to mount any sustained offence through the remainder of the period. That suffocating forecheck and continued pressure would pay off late for the Pandas as Amy Boucher converted a feed in front from Alex Poznikoff, and the Pandas were back in front 2-1 at 16:27! The two teams would head into the intermission with that one-goal Alberta lead back in place and with the Pandas leading 28-8 in shots!

The Pronghorns, knowing what needed to be done, came out like gangbusters in the third period only to have their momentum stunted by consecutive penalties that gave the Pandas a 5-on-3 advantage. The Pronghorns dug deep, though, and thwarted the advantage which became an advantage of their own when Kennedy Ganser was sent off two minutes before the midway point. The only problem? The Pronghorns turned the puck over during the power-play, and Autumn MacDougall hit Regan Wright with a pass that she zipped past Anderson for the shorthanded marker and the 3-1 lead! Moments later, the Pronghorns would be whistled for interference, and the Pandas' power-play would make them pay for the indiscretion. Off a face-off, the puck slid into Anderson, but she couldn't cover it cleanly and Poznikoff would deposit it behind her to make it 4-1 at 10:36!

With the game slipping away, Anderson would be pulled in favour of Jessica Lohues for the final 9:24, but the Pandas would get to her as well. Poznikoff would get her second of the night at 18:33, and the Pandas claimed the 5-1 win when the dust had settled. Kirsten Chamberlin made 13 stops for her ninth win of the campaign while Alicia Anderson was assessed the loss after stopping 29 shots in 50:36 of action. For the record, Jessica Lohues stopped nine shots in 9:24 of play.

FRIDAY: Manitoba and UBC entered Friday's contest with Manitoba looking to lock up a top-two spot in the conference, ensuring a bye through the quarterfinals. To do so, they needed three of six points against UBC this weekend, so the task was laid out for both teams long before they even arrived at the rink. Lauren Taraschuk was given the job for Manitoba in their effort to reach their goal while UBC opted for Tory Micklash to disrupt the Bisons' plans for the postseason!

The teams would trade power-play chances in the first period with neither side able to capitalize with advantage. The Thunderbirds, however, would use their penalty to their advantage as Ireland Perrott came out of the box and picked up a lead pass which she skated into the Bisons' zone. She spotted Mikayla Ogrodniczuk and hit her with a tape-to-tape pass that Ogrodniczuk roofed past Taraschuk at 9:33 to put the T-Birds in front 1-0! The two netminders would settle things down after that, but UBC took that 1-0 lead into the intermission along with an 8-6 lead in shots.

UBC would double that lead early in the second period after Natasha Kostenko was given two minutes to think about the slash she inflicted. Again, the T-Birds looked high on Taraschuk as Rylind MacKinnon's shot went under the bar at 6:12 for the power-play marker to make it 2-0! That goal seemed to be the alarm clock that Manitoba needed because they began to tilt the ice in their favour as the period progressed. With six minutes to play, Lauryn Keen cut the deficit to one goal when she pinged a shot off the goal post and in past Micklash at 14:02 as Manitoba now trailed 2-1. The T-Birds wouldn't give up another before the horn, though, as they took another one-goal lead into the break.

Manitoba came out and dominated puck possession in the third period, but Micklash wasn't allowing anything by her as she stood her ground. Manitoba's waves of attack finally paid off late in the period as Lauryn Keen scored her second of the night on a scramble where Karissa Kirkup found Keen, and Keen found the back of the net with 5:39 to play! Moments later, it seemed as though the Bisons were about to lock this game up off a two-on-one where Mekaela Fisher seemed to have a yawning cage to shoot at, but Micklash showed incredible athleticism to reach back with her stick and sweep the puck off the goal line before it ended up in the net! That save would cement the score at 2-2 at the end of regulation time, so it was off to overtime!

Just 2:30 into overtime, this happened.
Natasha Kostenko's long wrist shot beat Micklash high on the glove side, and the Bisons claimed victory with the 3-2 overtime final! Lauren Taraschuk made 16 saves for her 16th win of the season while Tory Micklash was on the losing end in this one despite making 24 stops.

SATURDAY: Despite the win one night earlier, the Bisons still needed a point to prevent UBC from catching them in the standings. UBC knew what it needed to do as a regulation win would be huge in their push for a top-two spot. And just like the night before, Lauren Taraschuk took the net for the Bisons while Tory Micklash stood 200-feet down the ice from her in the UBC crease.

This game would get off to a frantic pace as both sides looked to establish the tempo early while hunting for the first goal. Despite the back-and-forth action, not a lot of shots were getting through to the netminders. We'd finally see a goal late in the period when Alison Sexton fired a low shot from the right side that seemed to handcuff Micklash, going off her blocker and between her arm and body and into the back of the net at 16:47 to put the home side up 1-0! That score would hold through to the horn as Manitoba led on the scoreboard in goals and in shots with a 7-5 margin.

The second period was a lot like the first as both sides continued to press for goals, but the two netminders weren't having any of it. Despite both sides having a power-play, nothing would come of them as the goalies were comfortable in making all the saves in the period. Through two periods of play, the 1-0 for Manitoba held up as the teams were even in shots with 15 apiece.

A couple of hooking calls in the first-half of the third period cost Manitoba the lead. First, Shay-Lee McConnell scored on a backdoor pass from Ireland Perrott on the power-play at 4:30 to tie the game at 1-1. Five minutes later, Hannah Koroll pinched in off the point and found the puck in a scramble in the crease after the T-Birds tried to run the same backdoor play, and Koroll's marker at 10:27 on the power-play put the T-Birds up 2-1! Manitoba, knowing they needed a point, kept coming at UBC following the second goal, but Micklash and her defence continually thwarted Manitoba's chances.

With Taraschuk on the bench and UBC down a player due to a penalty, they would clear the puck with just over 15 seconds left into Manitoba's end. Erica Rieder rushed back, head-manned the puck to Alanna Sharman who was checked, but the puck came to Sheridan Oswald who immediately put it on net. THe puck bounced of Micklash and she couldn't cover it in time before Nastasha Kostenko crashed the crease and jammed the puck between Micklash's pads and across the line with three seconds left to tie the game 2-2! The Bisons had forced overtime!

There were no scorers despite the insane amount of high-quality scoring chances the two teams had in the overtime periods, so we'd need to settle this one with a shootout. After Jordyn Zacharias was stopped, Mathea Fischer beat Taraschuk with a backhand after she missed the poke-check, and UBC took the lead in the shootout. The remaining four shooters were all turned aside, resulting in Fischer's goal in Round One being the winner! The UBC Thunderbirds claimed victory with the 3-2 shootout win! Tory Micklash stopped 28 shots and all three shooters in the skills competition for her 12th win of the season while Lauren Taraschuk absorbed the loss after stopping 19 shots in regulation time and two more in the skills competition.

More importantly for the Bisons, though, that extra point earned by going into overtime was the point needed for them to clinch a top-two spot in the conference!

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
59 70 23
vs CAL
56 78 41
British Columbia
49 54 34
vs REG
42 43 40
vs MAN
34 44 67
Mount Royal
31 43 61
24 31 63
vs MRU
17 31 65
NOTE: Teams in yellow and italicized have clinched a playoff spot.

The Last Word

So the six-team field has been set with one week to play. We still need to see whether Regina can hold onto fifth-place or if Mount Royal can overtake them in the last week. We also need to see if Alberta can clinch first-place in the conference and guarantee themselves home-ice advantage throughout the Canada West playoffs. We'll break down these scenarios below, but UBC will finish in third-place and Saskatchewan will finish in fourth-place, so both teams can rest a lot of their veterans if they like in order to get ready for the Canada West QuarterFinals which will begin on February 15 as best-of-three series on that weekend.

In order for Alberta to clinch first-place, they simply need to pick up three points if Manitoba wins both of its games. If Manitoba were to lose in regulation in either of its games, they cannot catch Alberta due to Alberta holding the tie-breaker over Manitoba this season as Alberta earned 11 of 12 points available in the season series (Tie-Breaker Rule #1). In short, Calgary has a real shot to play spoiler against their provincial rivals in the Pandas while the Bisons have to finish ahead of Alberta in all situations when it comes to points earned.

In order for Regina to claim fifth-place, they are on the same points plan as Alberta - three points would be enough to clinch fifth-place if Mount Royal were to win both games. If Mount Royal were to lose in regulation in either of its games, they cannot catch Regina due to Regina holding the tie-breaker over Mount Royal as Regina earned 7 of 12 points available in the season series (Tie-Breaker Rule #1). Depending on how UBC and Lethbridge play these games, it could lead to Mount Royal travelling to Vancouver for that quarterfinal series while Regina would go to Saskatoon for the second quarterfinal series.

It will be interesting to see how UBC plays Regina in particular as UBC currently is 2-0-0 against Regina this season, but 3-1-0 against Mount Royal. If UBC goes 4-0-0 against Regina and allows MRU to overtake Regina, that could benefit the T-Birds in terms of opponent match-ups in the quarterfinals. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, is 2-1-1 against Regina and 2-2-0 against Mount Royal this season, so they likely will be hoping for Regina to beat UBC based on this season's results. In three of the four games against MRU, Saskatchewan was 2-1 with all three of those games decided by one goal. Needless to say, UBC can almost choose who they'd like to face in the quarterfinals if Mount Royal can defeat the Pronghorns.

Every team likes to go in on a winning note, so we'll see where we're left standing after next weekend's games. The match-ups are nearly set for the Canada West QuarterFinals as we get set fore the most wonderful time of the year!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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